Traditional parenting roles have gone by the wayside over the past several decades. Women earn more than they did in the past, there are more single family households than ever, and the current economic climate has forced many fathers to stay at home. In fact, the number of domestic dads has nearly doubled in the past 15 years, according the US Census. Aside from unemployment or economic factors, there are many other reasons that couples choose to have dad stay home with the kids. Some fathers believe they are better fit to raise their children than the mother. Other men genuinely want to be with their kids and get to know who they are. And mom’s outlook influences the decision too. “In other words, the mother’s attitudes toward female and male parenting roles and her own investment in childcare may serve to limit or expand the father’s participation in childcare,” said Jessica Fischer of Indiana State University. “For example, women who are employed and who believe that men should participate more in childcare may be more likely to encourage their husbands to stay home than a woman with more traditional child rearing beliefs.”
Fischer and her colleague Veanne N. Anderson, interviewed 49 employed dads, who did participate in parenting, and 35 stay-at-home dads, to determine how they viewed gender stereotypes and their reasons for deciding to stay home or not stay home with their children. “Although stay-at-home-fathers had signiﬁcantly less traditional gender role attitudes than employed fathers, the two groups reported similar levels of masculine and feminine characteristics,” said Fischer. She described the participants of the study when she added, “They may be an example of a subset of men who are transcending gender stereotypes and challenging the more traditional conceptualizations of masculinity.” Fischer went on to say, “Clinical and counseling psychologists and other health care professionals who work with fathers would beneﬁt from recognizing the diversity of reasons men become stay-at-home fathers and the potential inﬂuence those reasons may have on the fathers’ health, well-being, and satisfaction with family life.”
Fischer, J., & Anderson, V. N. (2011, September 26). Gender Role Attitudes and Characteristics of Stay-at-Home and Employed Fathers. Psychology of Men & Masculinity. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0024359
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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