It’s happening slowly, but it’s happening: more and more dads are opting to be the stay-at-home parent and tend to childcare as the mom acts as the primary breadwinner. According to the PEW Research Center, an estimated 2.1 million fathers were stay-at-home dads in 2021, which is up 8% since 1989.
This upward trend of dads being the primary caregiver for children has been slowly increasing, thanks to a variety of societal factors. More and more women are earning college degrees and entering the workforce — whereas men seem to be doing the opposite, with a 71% enrollment decline at colleges and universities over the past five years, according to Wall Street Journal.
Remote and flexible job positions have made it possible for some parents, including dads, to supplement household income with part-time work and pitch in more with the kiddos. The decrease in typically “male” jobs, like manufacturing, are also disappearing.
The cost of childcare has also skyrocketed, leaving some parents wondering why they are spending a good chunk of their income on daycare when they could work from home or fulfill the role of stay-at-home parent and save as their wife brings home the bacon.
The 2008 financial crisis also had a lot of dads out of work, which led to 2.2 million fathers becoming stay-at-home dads, according to CNBC. Like the 2008 crisis, the pandemic also shook up the typical gender roles of child-rearing. As of November 2022, over 7 million men that full in the category of “prime age male labor force (25-54 years old) are not currently working or looking for employment.
“It’s pointing to us inching towards a more fair division of labor,” explained Bloomberg US Economics reporter Jordan Yadoo, adding that “it’s important to reiterate that it’s still women primarily taking on this work. But the fact that we’re seeing some movement in this direction is not necessarily such a negative.”
And while a lot of these factors may come off as dismal — disappearing jobs, a decline in interest to pursue higher education, and crisis after crisis — it also signifies a step in the right direction in terms of equal work between parents.
And the fact that some men are *gasp* bucking the stereotype of feeling emasculated by childrearing, arguably one of the most difficult jobs on the planet, is absolutely a step in the right direction for everyone.