Popular culture that conveys the modern family likes to depict single-parent households, homosexual couples, the younger woman with the much older man, and so on. More recently, another “character” has been added into the mix – the stay-at-home dad, and not only as a means for comedic respite. One only needs to look at the success of current Australian TV show House Husbands to see that this a growing trend.
These dads may still make up the minority but as the reports show, numbers are definitely on the rise. A recent article points out that the Australian Bureau of Statistics lists 39,300 stay-at-home dads. I’m actually quite surprised at this number, even with 426,000 stay-at-home mums still in the picture. It makes sense though, with the breaking down of traditional roles and women becoming more career-driven.
The concept of stay-at-home has been left rather unexplored until recently, and so it still seems a fascinating new world. So much so that I can’t even claim a readily-held opinion on the whole thing. I do know that a father holds such an important role in a child’s life; one that definitely cannot be replaced. As for them being the dominant care-giver while mum’s at work – every family functions differently and I guess that research (years into the future) will one day show us if that was a good idea or not. Personally I can’t see harm in this choice. And so far, research and media on the subject only point to the differences between the way a man and woman approach the running of a house: generally silly little things.
What could be problematic however is the cultural view held towards stay-at-home dads. Even though we don’t like to admit it, there tends to be a perception of men in this role as weak and not so masculine. There’s something so charming about a man with his child, but putting him in the role of stay-at-home dad doesn’t have the same appeal. The fathers themselves are airing these kinds of concerns through the new “daddy bloggers”. Forget mummy bloggers, we can now be a fly on the wall while dad takes control of the house.
What do you think of the stay-at-home dad concept? Is it the woman’s job to have the dominant child-rearing role, or it completely fine for the father to take this on?