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Number of dads staying home with the kids doubled

The number of dads staying home with the kids, while
still small, has more than doubled in the last decade,
according to U.S. Census data. That’s up from 1.6
percent in 2001 to 3.4 percent last year.

But it’s not the result of job losses in the recession,
according to new research from Boston College. A growing
number of men are deciding to stay to raise their children
to benefit their families, help their wives’ careers and
bring them closer to their kids, say the researchers from
the Center for Work and Family in their recent report, “The New Dad: Right
at Home.”

Census data says 81,000 dads stayed home with the kids in
2001, compared to 176,000 last year in the United States.

The Boston researchers conducted lengthy interviews with
31 stay-at-home dads and 23 of their spouses to get
insight into the shift.

“Contrary to media reports about laid-off fathers who re-
invent themselves as full-time caregivers, most of the men
we interviewed report that being a stay-at-home dad is a
choice, not simply a reaction to an unanticipated job
loss,” said study author Brad Harrington, the center’s
director, in a written statement accompanying the

“The existence of at-home fathers greatly enables and
facilitates the careers of their working wives or
partners. The overwhelming response from wives was that
having an at-home spouse has enabled these women to pursue
their careers in a much more assertive fashion without the
limitations that virtually all working mothers

The center said the study follows two earlier reports that
also show how much the roles of both men and women in the
workplace are changing. Employers will need to “adapt
their thinking and their actions regarding who needs
support to do so adequately,” Harrington noted of
caregiving roles.

More than half of 1,000 fathers who were surveyed last
year said they’d feel comfortable staying at home full-
time with their children, according to one of those

“That’s a real change in attitude,” Harrington told the Boston Herald’s Margery Eagan.

Eagan wrote: “So is this: These fathers aren’t
particularly uncomfortable answering the ‘what do you do?’
question. Their wives aren’t turned off (‘most said they
love having husbands at home,’ Harrington said). Some
mothers are bothered when baby falls and toddles first to
dad, not her. But having husbands at home also means they
can accept promotions and added work responsibilities
without worrying about even more separation from their

Keith Miller, a stay-at-home dad, told Eagan that he’s not
replacing his wife in his daughter’s heart. “There isn’t
anything like mommy. They haven’t lost their mother.
They’ve gained their father.”

An article in MailOnline used movies that were
popular in their day to show the evolving attitudes toward
dads who stay home with the kids. “When the comedy ‘Mr.
Mom’ hit the big screen in 1983,” wrote Snejana Farberov,
“it portrayed Michael Keaton as a clueless stay-at-home
dad who is laid off from work and is forced to learn how
to take care of his children without setting the house on

“Fast forward to 2012, the fathers in the new comedy ‘What
to Expect When You’re Expecting’ are portrayed as much
savvier caretakers to their brood, but still, old
stereotypes die hard.”

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