Thursday, June 25, 2009

Do Fewer Fathers Want to Become Stay-at-Home Dads?

CareerBuilder announces: The number of guys who'd consider becoming stay-at-home dads has dropped from 49 percent in 2005 to 31 percent this year. This is based on a survey of 800 working fathers.

How can we reconcile that number with the staggering number of Father's Day stories about laid-off fathers becoming stay-at-home dads, or the rising visibility of caregiving fathers in our culture?

That's easy: We are now in the midst of an all-hands-on-deck economic emergency. Even employed parents feel under the gun at work, and many are facing furloughs, salary cuts, and benefits reductions. In that kind of situation, every able-bodied adult in every family needs to think about how he or she might contribute to the family's income, not to mention health care coverage.

That includes my family, by the way: I'm being laid off as senior editor of Greater Good magazine and my wife's employment situation has been rocky for awhile now. Am I going to go back to being a stay-at-home dad? I loved taking care of my son and would welcome the opportunity to do so again, but we as a unit can't afford voluntary stay-at-home parenthood. Not right now.

And so, based on that perspective, I have a prediction: Over the course of the next few years, we're going to see more involuntary stay-at-home dads--those created by layoffs--and fewer voluntary stay-at-home dads.

Here's the important thing: During the Great Depression, unemployment would destroy men. They were told that money was all they had to contribute to their families; if employment vanished, they saw themselves as worthless. They couldn't become "stay-at-home dads" because that role did not exist. Few mothers worked and fewer earned enough to support families. Today, most moms work and we can say to unemployed fathers: you still have value to your family, they need for you to see to their well-being.

That's a message that a decade's worth of voluntary stay-at-home dads can send to today's laid-off dads. That's something men need to hear right now, that they can play caregiving as well as breadwinning roles in their families.


Vincent O'Keefe said...


Good analysis of the recent statistics. I would imagine stay-at-home parenthood for both mothers and fathers is under siege right now due to the economy. Hopefully this will only be a temporary trend.

Danger Daddy (dad blog) said...

Hi. I'm a 40-year-old voluntary stay-at-home dad as of January (I'm also a freelance photographer/reporter). I found your site mentioned in a USA Today article, which also lists and as other parenting blogs written by fathers. My blog is Danger Daddy, located at (click on the Blog link or you can find me at one of the following links: Home, Utah or Life).

Looking at all of the sites listed above, I've noticed very few reader comments. Compare that to the mommy blog at my host site and sites like the New York Times' parenting blog, daddy blogs seem to generate so few interactions with readers or sharing of ideas and opinions - unless we write about something provocative or controversial.

I'm not sure how or when that will change. Perhaps as the economy forces more fathers to stay at home we'll see more traffic and exchanges of dialogue at our sites.

If you'd like, you can reach me at, or feel free to leave a comment at my Danger Daddy blog. You can also find me at


Stephen Speckman, Stay-At-Home Dad

Drake Studebake said...

I'd give my right pinky toe to become a stay-at-home dad.

My domestic skills are unparalleled:

Anonymous said...

As one who is about to be unemployed, I too would love to be a stay at home Dad - my wife could easily find work as a full-time RN, but she's not willing to leave her role either.

Readers of my blog, know that I am crazy about my kids and my role as a husband/dad.

@Danger_Daddy (aka; Stephen) mentioned the lack of comments on Daddy Blogs. I too have noticed this - especially compared to Mommy Blogs. However, because I receive comments on Twitter, Friendfeed, my Facebook wall, and the Daddytude fan page - as well as email, SMS, IM, and personal comments - I don't worry about it too much. I probably receive a total of about 15-20 comments per post. (If I were like Chris Mesina, I would take the time to aggregate them on my site.)

Men in particular are not as prone to share their feelings - either because they aren't sure what they're feeling, or because of cultural pressures. For the many reasons, I believe they are less willing to write their feelings - but they will find alternative ways to share and comment.

Unknown said...

I've noticed that men tend to avoid posting any comment unless we feel that it brings something substantial to the conversation that is lacking. So there are far fewer short and simple posts, therefor fewer comments overall.

XtinaS said...

My partner and I don't yet have a child, but we're hoping to be able to arrange things so that he can be a stay-at-home dad.  I take care to point out to him that he is very good at the emotional support and general caregiving, and he is definitely looking forward to it.

SAHD DAD said...

This survey was only of working fathers, e.g., men who are working outside the home. So, the other way to reconcile the numbers is that there's only a certain number of men in our society who would consider being SAHDs and, because of the increase in SAHDs since 2005, most of those men are already home being SAHDs. In other words, the number of men who are willing to be SAHDs might even have increased but if enough of them had already left the workforce, this study would show exactly the kind of decrease it did because it only asked those men who have chosen to not become SAHDs.

My SAHD Life

Robert said...

I am a volunteer stay at home dad. Every dad I spoke to about becoming a stay at home dad said they would if given the chance. Meaning that if they were not the bread winners, which is why I am at home. Here lately thought we have been flirting around with the idea of me going back to work. I hope we can ride this out.

Dad Blog said...

I would also love to be a stay at home dad but it would be the first time that my wife would try fist fighting me for something. I think she would win too.

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