In 2011, only 16 percent of American households contained a breadwinner husband and a stay-at-home wife, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Until recently, stay-at-home fathers made up a tiny sliver of the American family spectrum. Few in number, and lacking voice, they tended to keep to themselves, trying to avoid the inevitable raised eyebrows.
In the last decade, though, the number of men who have left the work force entirely to raise children has more than doubled, to 176,000, according to recent United States census data. Expanding that to include men who maintain freelance or part-time jobs but serve as the primary caretaker of children under 15 while their wife works, the number is around 626,000, according to calculations compiled from census bureau data.
Meanwhile, the identity of the at-home dad is evolving, on the playground and in the culture at large. To this new cohort, the decision to stay home with the children is seen not a failure of their responsibilities as men, but a lifestyle choice — one that makes sense in an era in which women’s surging salaries have thrown the old family hierarchy into flux; and men have embraced a more fluid interpretation of a career that places a premium on fulfillment, not money and status.
Without question, more men are available to tackle family duty around the house because of fallout from the financial crisis. Federal statistics show that men lost two and a half times as many jobs as women did in the recession.
Source: The New York Times, August 12, 2012
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