I know what you are thinking… you’re all sick and tired of this election and have zero interest in hearing about another damn POLL. But wait! Keep reading because I’m not talking about Trump vs. Clinton. I’m talking about the online poll conducted by yours truly just one short week ago. You may recall my all-important poll question was:
“Could YOU be a stay-at-home Dad?”
THE RESULTS WILL COMPLETELY ASTOUND YOU!
(Sorry folks, I’m using some tried and true clickbait tactics to pique your interest. Is it working?)
The truth is, my very unscientific poll revealed some very interesting results. Let’s dive in shall we? Here are the straight goods after seven days of intense online voting:
You might be asking… what does all of this mean? The only way I can interpret this mountain of raw data is to compare it to the research I did for my forthcoming book “Dad@Home: A Life of Primarily Caregiving”, coming soon to a bookstore? website? car trunk? near you! OK, now that I’ve plugged my unpublished book, let me plug your brain with some statistics.
First of all, I was very encouraged to see that a little over half of the poll’s respondents said they could be a stay-at-home Dad. YES! Progress! However, after a bit of poking around on the internets, and it would appear that my poll number differs wildly from some actual studies… or in other words, “real studies”. A 2014 article in the Washington Post suggested that 16% of fathers in the United States say they’d ideally stay at home, if money were no object. Less than 10% of them are actually abstaining from the labor force by choice. Now look at mothers: 22% say they would ideally like to stay at home and not work, while 30% actually do so. In other words, more dads say they want to stay at home than actually do, and fewer moms say they want to stay at home than actually do.
It looks like my very unscientific poll also promotes the idea that there’s a much greater affinity towards the idea of being a stay-at-home Dad as opposed to what is actually happening in real life. So, what exactly is happening out there? Well, according to numbers released by Stats Canada, in 1976 only 2% of men in Canada identified themselves as a stay-at-home dad. Today, that number has jumped all the way up to 12%, and while that sounds like a seismic shift in gender and family dynamics, a lot of it has to do with economics. A major spike was noted in 2010, after the recession hit male-dominated industries far more than female. But even with the number of stay-at-home dads tripling in the past thirty years, that still leaves less than 60,000 of us across the entire country. As a group, we are hardly mainstream, but if there is one stat that is encouraging, it’s this. Thirty years ago, only one in every 100 stay-at-home parents were Dads. Today, it’s one in eight.
The United States has witnessed an even more dramatic increase in the percentage of stay-at-home dads. Since 1989, the number has nearly doubled, from 1.1 million to almost 2.2 million but like Canada, much of the recent surge can be attributed to the lengthy recession that began in 2008. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of 2014 U.S. Census Bureau data, 16% of American households have a father staying home to take care of children and household duties. But almost a quarter of them are doing it only because they cannot find a job. Only 21% of the over two million American men staying home say the main reason is to care for their home or family. Compare that to the 73% of American women who report that they are home specifically to care for their home and family and the picture I’m painting becomes crystal clear.
Sure, there are more and more of us out there, but for many, the decision to stay home still comes down to necessity over nurturing. I actually chose this life, while many guys have their new role thrust upon them by external factors that are completely out of their control. It doesn’t help that many men still face a stigma when they stay home to nurture their kids. A 2013 Pew survey found that only 8% or respondents said children are better off if their father is home without a job. Wow! It looks like we still face an uphill climb for complete acceptance in our civilized society.
So, what have we really learned today? Well, despite my online poll that suggests there are plenty of men out there who would choose this life, the reality of the situation suggests otherwise. Part of the reason I wrote my book, (and started this blog), was to inform and educate the world at large as to what stay-at-home fatherhood looks, sounds, smells and feels like. (I don’t think it has a definitive “taste”, in case any of you were thinking that I missed one of the senses.) I’m simply hoping my experiences can show other men out there that what I do is… well… actually very doable. Who knows? Maybe my humble story will convince or possibly inspire some guy to take the plunge into a completely domestic life of caregiving.
So, thanks to those who participated in my online poll. And, for those stats nerds who care about this stuff, please note my poll is accurate within plus or minus 87 points, 2 times out of 100.