In the past two decades, the number of stay-at-home dads has almost doubled. According to a study from Pew Research Center, almost two million fathers are staying at home, up from the 1.1 million in 1989, and nearly half of those stay-at-home dads are below the poverty line. A senior researcher for Pew, Gretchen Livingston, suggests that the biggest reason that fathers are home is because they are ill or disabled. which, she believes, is a major contributing factor to their low income.
Another group of stay-at-home dads cite their inability to locate employment as their reason for their lifestyle. Livingston said that 22 percent don’t have a high school diploma, and 36 percent have no college experience. The largest increase, however, is men who choose to stay home to provide child care, rising from five percent in 1989, to the current 21 percent. Black fathers are twice as likely to become stay-at-home fathers.
The book The Nurturing Father, byfollows 17 families with stay-at-home dads during a five-year period. The children of those families exhibited signs of increased intellectual advancement with no impairment to the sexual identification that evolves during the developmental stages of life. The book also describes that all of the 17 families experienced criticism from grandparents, peers, employers, and other parents. One of the fathers in the book cited an instance where police went to his home after answering a call from a neighbor saying that a man was keeping a young child in the apartment.
Despite the number of stay at home dads rising, moms still make up the vast majority of stay-at-home parents. The difference between the mothers and fathers is that 73 percent of mothers say that child care is the primary reason for their being at home, a sharp contrast to the 21 percent of stay at home dads. In a public opinion survey, 51 percent of people stated that it would be better for child development if their mother stays at home. In the same survey, only 8 percent of people had the same thing to say about fathers. The number of females who are going to work instead of staying home is on the increase as well in two of every five American households, four times the number in 1960. In families where both parents work, the mother usually provides the bulk of child care.
Mark Portis, a former auto mechanic in St. Louis, dropped out of high school his junior year. He has two young children with his wife, and three older daughters with other women. Portis is a stay-at-home father on his accord. He says he loves it, and enjoys spending all his time and effort on his children, although he does face challenges from peers’ prejudice and his own apprehension for not working.
When his wife got a job as an accountant and started to earn more than he, they decided that their children needed a parent to spend time with the kids. Portis volunteered himself considering how much more his wife makes. He says that both the mother and father need to contribute to their work life and family life in this evolving society, and being a stay at home dad is his contribution to that equation.
By Andres Loubriel