Mr. Mom: Stay-At-Home Dads Double Since 1989

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A large number of dads are staying at home full time with their kids, but it’s not necessarily by choice.

After hitting an all-time high of 2.2 million stay-at-home dads in 2010 right after the Great Recession, the number has dropped a bit, a new Pew Research survey shows. Two million fathers stayed at home in 2012, compared with 1.1 million in 1989. Pew said:

High unemployment rates around the time of the Great Recession contributed to the recent increases, but the biggest contributor to long-term growth in these “stay-at-home fathers” is the rising number of fathers who are at home primarily to care for their family.

About 73 percent of stay-at-home moms do so specifically to care for their family, compared with just 21 percent of stay-at-home dads.

Pew provided this breakdown of the reasons why more fathers are staying at home:

  • They can’t find a job – 23 percent.
  • They want to care for their family – 21 percent. That figure was 5 percent in 1989.
  • Illness or disability – 35 percent.
  • In school/retired/other – 22 percent.

“So while it’s encouraging that dads are increasingly playing full-time nanny, it’s clear that they’re not always doing so because they think it’s the best arrangement for the kids,” The Atlantic said.

Interestingly enough, while the public is supportive of the idea of mothers staying at home with their children, they place far less value on having a stay-at-home father, Pew said.

In a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, fully 51 percent of respondents said children are better off if their mother is home and doesn’t hold a job. By comparison, only 8 percent said children are better off if their father is home and doesn’t work. On the other hand, 34 percent of adults said children are just as well off if their mother works, while 76 percent said the same about children with working fathers.

It will be interesting to see if the number of stay-at-home dads changes as the economy improves.

Are you a stay-at-home dad? Why do you stay at home? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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  • flyinhigh

    Study after study has shown that kids whose fathers are involved in their lives do better in school, delay becoming sexually active, have a lower incidence of drug use, and are more likely to complete high school as well as pursue post-high school education (trade school or college). My dad was not exactly Father of the Year, but knowing he was around made me think twice before doing something stupid.