Stay-at-home dad numbers will never reach the levels of stay-at-home moms. First of all, moms have centuries on the job and it has only been across the last couple of decades that SAHDs even registered a blip on the parenting radar. But a look at today's stay-at-home dad shows that blip is getting bigger and more diverse.
Even if it's hard to come up defining figures. Numbers have steadily climbed, especially over the past 10 years or so, official U.S. Census Bureau figures still fall well below 200,000.
At-home dads grew to 165,000 in 2007 from 159,000 the previous year, according to the bureau’s latest figures. There were nearly 5.6 million stay-at-home moms.
Given that, only about 3% of full-time caregivers are dads, a number that has stayed relatively stable over the past few years.
But if you consider those figures only include married fathers who solely care for the kids and don’t make any money, there are a lot of true at-home dads who don’t make the cut. Those include part-time at-home dads who may work non-traditional hours outside the house, work-at-home dads who still provide full-time care, dads in single-sex relationships or any other parenting variable out there you can think of.
When those fathers are included in the role, it is estimated up to 20% of primary caregivers are dads. That’s a good chunk considering that in most current SAHDs’ lifetimes there was no such thing as an at-home father.No SAHD is the Same
So who is today’s stay-at-home dad?
Given some of the facts above, there is a variety.
A 2007 survey of 213 men by the University of Texas researcher Aaron Rochlen said the average age of the stay-at-home dad is 37, 93% are white, 98% are married and the average number of kids they have is 1.8.
But the reasons for why men became at-home dads and how that defines them could be viewed as unique as a SAHD in 1950s.
There are stay-at-home dads who willingly chose what they are doing and those who may have had their hand forced. Some who like it, some who don’t. Some who are still searching for an identity and others who feel the role defines them.
It could be a temporary path on the fatherhood road or a long-term career goal.
There are new dads who decided to get in the game right off the bat and veteran dads who opted for a change.
Some felt it was in the best interest of the family to have a parent look after the kids and dad best fit the profile. No doubt there are those whose fathers weren’t around much when they were kids and they didn’t want their own children to suffer the same fate.
There are the better halves of same-sex couples who raise the kids while their partners work.At-Home Econmoics
The world of economics dictated the decision for many.
There are those who were laid off or contract workers whose jobs dried up and the next best move was to watch the kids. There are SAHDs who work odd hours allowing them to be with the kids. Work-at-home dads can be with the kids and make money around naptimes.
A group certainly exists where it was a financial advantage to stay home and their spouses’ careers were better for their families.
Some at-home fathers put their careers on hold because their wives’ professional ambitions took more time and effort than their own presently does. Maybe a dad or two has achieved what he wanted in the workforce and thought caring for the children would be a more fulfilling goal.
Some may have straight swapped places with their wives who had an itch to get back out there.
This is just a sampling. There are many more reasons that men are watching the kids, and many other things that define them, well beyond Census Bureau numbers and research survey results reveal.
And most, in some way or another, are doing it for the kids and that’s a good enough for look for them.