Brad Harrington, Fred Van Deusen and Iyar Mazar from the Boston College Center for Work & Family released a study yesterday on the make up of a stay at home dad. The New Dad: Right at Home provides an insightful and not all that surprising (at least not to me) snapshot of stay at home dads. The key message in their research is stay at home dads are happy and fulfilled in their roles.
The key points made in the study are:
For the majority of stay at home dads, it was a role they chose, not one that outside forces (like the economy) had forced them to assume. I am in the majority on this point. It was just over a year ago that I quick my job as a Retail Manager to become a Child Manager. While there were financial elements to the decision, it was a choice I wanted, not one I had to take.
There was no cookie cutter stay at home dad. The was a wide range of backgrounds and experiences of the men surveyed. This is also my experience, all of the stay of home dads I have come in contact with bring different strengths and experiences to their role.
The feelings of social isolation and stigma regarding the role of at-home parent are even greater for men than women. This one is also bang on. In a recent interview I did with the Canadian Press, I stated “I hadn’t earned my stripes” as a stay at home parent and it’s only recently that I feel I’m finally belonging.
The wives of the stay at home dads felt having an at-home spouse enabled them to pursue their careers in a much fuller fashion, without the limitations that virtually all other working mothers experience. A recent conversation with my wife confirms this is the case for her as well. She is able to travel for training, go in early or stay late if necessary and doesn’t have to worry about imposing on a caregiver. The additional responsibilities she has taken on at work also reflect it’s the case.
The at-home fathers are having a positive impact on their wives’ careers while their own careers may be suffering. On this I would have to disagree, but only because the “career” I’ve chosen involves blogging and online sales. I have significantly more time now to pursue my personal interests than I ever did when I was working.
At-home dads are very good parents. Yes, we are. Enough said.
And their final conclusion was “the at-home fathers are not simply stepping up to their responsibilities; they are increasing the fundamental sense of meaning in their lives.”
It’s nice to see that my experiences as a stay at home dad are in line with others, especially when it comes to feeling I am making a real difference in the lives of my girls and equally as important in the life and career of my wife.
Did any of the key points surprise you? If so, which ones and why? I’m in a biased role and would love to know what those not directly involved think of their findings.