By Karen Hendricks
Here at Off the Merry-Go-Round, because our contributors are all women, we tend to talk from a mom’s point of view but a lot of our articles truly can and do apply to our spouses, “the dads,” too. We have several dads who follow our posts, and we welcome more fathers to join our community–because all of the latest research seems to point to a growing number of dads who are “stepping off the merry-go-round” and either trimming back on their careers or switching to “stay-at-home” dad status.
The latest stats on fatherhood, in the news thanks to this weekend’s Father’s Day, are pretty surprising:
- Nearly half (46%) of all American fathers say they don’t get to spend as much time with their children as they’d like.
- About half of all parents say they spend more time with their children than their own parents spent with them (46% of fathers and 52% of mothers said this).
- There are 2 million American stay-at-home dads (2012 figures)–a number that has nearly doubled since 1989.
- 35% of all stay-at-home dads say that illness or injury is the reason they are home with their children.
- Nearly half of all stay-at-home fathers (47%) are living in poverty.
- Nearly half of all working parents say they’d rather be at home raising their children, but they need the income from their jobs (48% of working fathers and 52% of working mothers said this).
- 27% of all American children under the age of 18 are living apart from their fathers.
(All of these statistics are credited to the Pew Research Center.)
So, while some dads are more connected with their children by staying at home as primary caregivers, there’s also a large number of dads who are not living with or connected to their children’s lives. What an extreme spectrum of family life. Doesn’t it feel like so many other areas of our society, especially reflecting political values, where people are moving further and further away from each other’s viewpoints and finding they have less and less in common?
We talk about the struggle to balance our working lives with our family lives quite often here at Off the Merry-Go-Round… it would be great to include more fathers in that discussion. It is a challenge, whether you are a mother or father, single parent or married, working part time or full time, etc. There is indeed a lot of common ground that we can share among all parents.
I think there’s a lot of “food for thought” here… so while I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day, celebrating with your Dad, husband and/or other significant father figures in your life, take time to reflect and think about our society’s changing roles. How involved was your dad, what is your husband’s role, and what are you observing from your friends/family?