The Brotherhood of the Stay-at-Home Dad

Lean In contributor Jessica Bennet discusses the changing statistics around stay-at-home fathers

Did you know that stay-at-home dads now account for more than 16 percent of at-home caretakers? Or that a majority of full-time working men wish they, too, could stay at home with their kids if their wives’ incomes gave them the opportunity?

These statistics are changing the way the world perceives stay-at-home fathers, but as Lean In contributor Jessica Bennett notes in her New York Times article, “The Brotherhood of the Stay-at-Home Dad,” a stigma still exists. Bennett writes:

In recent months, the engaged father has become a subject in men’s magazines, as well as a bevy of advertisements (among them: Cheerios and Tide). At Boston College, the study of the “New Dad,” as it’s called, is now the major focus of the university’s Center for Work and Family. At the dads’ convention, researchers from Notre Dame and Arizona State were looking at stay-at-home dads in the context of social class and identity.

And while there is new research showing that the daughters of active fathers are healthier and have higher self-esteem, the research has not focused just on the positive. A study at the University of Toronto recently determined that the so-called “motherhood penalty” — the idea that moms are penalized at work — applies to men, too, only worse. While women who talked about their children at work were deemed worse employees but better women (read: taking on their feminine role), men who talked about being a parent at work were viewed as both lesser workers and lesser men.

“Has there been an attitudinal shift? Yes,” said Brad Harrington, the executive director of the Center for Work and Family. “But we’re still in a period of transition.”

Learn more about the latest stats on stay-at-home dads and resources available to support them in Bennett’s full article from the New York Times.