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men who change diapers change the world


Tuesday, 20 January 2004
Research - Bob Frank
Topic: Research (Robert Frank)
New Page 2  

                             Exclusive At-Home Dad Survey Results  

                                     By Peter Baylies - At-Home Dad Newsletter

 With the help of his young son, Kevin, our researcher, Dr Robert Frank, mailed out 1,081 surveys to the readers of At-Home Dad, and got 573 back, making this survey the largest ever taken of at-home dads. In this exclusive survey, Dr Frank focused on the 368 dads who spent 30 or more hours per week alone with the child. Many were anxious for the results, here they are: You are 38-years-old, married, and live in the suburbs with your 2 kids. You have been an at-home dad for nearly 3 years and feel somewhat isolated. You stay home with the kids because you did not want to put your kids in daycare and your wife made more money than you did. Speaking of your wife, she is "extremely satisfied" with the current arrangement and so are you. Your parenting skills come from your own intuition and by being with your own children. Oh yes, I almost forgot, your future: once your kids are in grade school you plan on returning to work at-home or outside the home.

Now that I have you targeted, you will all be receiving your gift for filling out the survey... dinner for you, your 36 year old wife and 2 children. What? You didn't write your name on the survey? Too bad!!

OK, maybe you do not fit the "average" at-home dad reader profiled above, but the survey yielded some interesting results. When mothers were asked the level of satisfaction with having their husband at home, 43% of them circled "extremely satisfied". More revealing, however, is the fathers' response, an overwhelming 51% indicated they were also extremely satisfied. In the many letters and calls I have received the last few years this comes as no surprise.

In one such letter, a dad wrote, "I find that it gives me the time to get to know him better, teach him, play with him and love him."

One mother wrote, "He is proud of being an at-home dad and caring for our daughter, a lot of friends wish they were in his shoes. Thankfully, I can support us on my salary and we both think this is the best thing for our son." She goes on to say, "I enjoy working and am amazed at the father-son bond."

 While many couples emphasize the benefits reaped with dad at home they are quick to point out that the isolation is still there. In the survey 63% of the dads noted that they were "somewhat isolated" and 6% were totally isolated.

One mother from Van Nuys, CA relates, "My husband has no support group here in L.A., no friends who are in our situation. He feels very alone and frustrated at times. When I was at first pregnant and then home on leave with the babies, I had a circle of women friends who were going through the same thing I was. We learned a lot from each other and we still call on these women for advice and support. There is no one for my husband to call when the baby has spent the past two weeks fussing at everything without respite, pushing my husband to the limits."

One dad from California who has been home with his 2 young sons, says, "The hardest part is not knowing anyone and everyone else is at work all day. After talking to a 3- year-old all day, I can't wait for my wife to get home."

Why are we staying home? The #1 reason was to keep the kids out of daycare. Timothy Nohe of Catonville, MD, who cares for 3 boys (7, 2 and 11 mo), notes, "I quit my electrical engineering job 18 months ago and haven't looked back. 5 yrs of college down the tubes. I hated that job. All government work and programming. Yuck! We had a 17 year-old daughter, 5 year-old son and a 6 month-old-son we had adopted as an infant. The baby was in daycare. My wife made more than 60% of household income. More than half of my share went to daycare and before and after care. What's wrong with this picture?" One reader, Andy Doetsch, took his kids out of daycare and resigned his secure teaching position in Georgia to stay home because "neither of us liked having to take the kids to daycare every day and hearing second hand what new progress they had made that day."

65% of the mothers answered that having dad at home did not affect career either way, while 39% of the dads reported no effect. However, 30% of the dads noted that being home with the kids hurt their career somewhat and 24% reported that the arrangement hurt career a lot. Many of the dads noted that they miss their former jobs. One such dad, Larry Cohen, of Brookline, MA, worked part-time but was still the primary parent as his wife worked "ridiculously long hours as a medical resident." Last summer he decided to stay home with his daughter, Emma, around the clock. He states, "I miss the adult companionship of my former work (as a clinical psychologist in a group practice) and I feel cheated about not being paid for all I do...and finally resenting doing housework."

Nohe says of his career ambitions, "Go back to work? Only if I am allowed to think without Mike screaming (the baby. He is a screamer. Nothing wrong. Just screams). We've already determined that when they go to school, I'll get something so I can be here for them. But hey, I have 5 years to think about that." Another dad says, "I'm not itching to get back in the work force. Maybe part time when both kids go full time to school. I am too independent to take someone's BS at the workplace though. I guess I have this type of nerve right now because my wife is making good money." Comparing this survey to the one completed last year where he compared 44 at-home dad families, (published in the Winter 95 issue), Dr Frank notes the time spent with the kids alone by moms (20 hours) and dads (50 hours) in at- home dad families were about the same.

There was one question that had a predictable answer: Who drives the car when both parents are in the car. Can you guess? 80% of you said that dad drove. Bob Frank says of this 80% figure, "This is a revealing clue that the at-home dad is still sticking to their core gender roles such as driving the car and doing the handyman work around the house."

He goes on to mention that you don't want a complete role reversal but rather, "a more equal balance in parenting..this way kids see the dad and the mom in both roles, which results in a less stereotypical attitude."

66% of the mothers answered that having dad at home did not affect career either way, while 39% of the dads reported no effect. However, 30% of the dads noted that being home with the kids hurt their career somewhat and 25% reported that the arrangement hurt career a lot. Many of the dads noted that they miss their former jobs. One such dad, Larry Cohen, of Brookline, MA, worked part-time but was still the primary parent as his wife worked "ridiculously long hours as a medical resident." Last summer he decided to stay home with his daughter, Emma, around the clock. He states, "I miss the adult companionship of my former work (as a clinical psychologist in a group practice) and I feel cheated about not being paid for all I do...and finally resenting housework."

Nohe says of his career ambitions, "Go back to work? Only if I am allowed to think without Mike screaming. (The baby. He is a screamer. Nothing wrong. Just screams.) We've already determined that when they go to school, I'll get something so I can be here for them. But hey, I have 5 years to think about that." Another dad says, "I'm not itching to get back in the work force. Maybe part time when both kids go full time to school. I am too independent to take someone's BS at the workplace though. I guess I have this type of nerve right now because my wife is making good money." Comparing this survey to the one completed last year where he compared 44 at-home dad families, (published in the Winter 95 issue), Dr. Frank notes the time spent with the kids alone by moms (20 hours) and dads (50 hours) in at- home dad families were about the same.

There was one question that had a predictable answer: Who drives the car when both parents are in the car. Can you guess? 80% of you said that dad drove. Dr. Frank says of this 80% figure, "This is a revealing clue that the at-home dad is still sticking to their core gender roles such as driving the car and doing the handyman work around the house."

Dr. Frank goes on to mention that you don't want a complete role reversal but rather, "A more equal balance in parenting..this way kids see the dad and the mom in both roles, which results in a less stereotypical attitude."

 

Survey Stats:

What % of the time do you make social arrangements for yourself?
Father 39% Mother 59%

Who tends to keep track of what needs to be cleaned around the house?
Father 37.5% Mother 13.3% Both 48.9% Other .3%

Hours per week each adult work for pay?
Mother 47 hours Father 8 hours

How much income did you lose due to your child care arrangement?
$26,000

Do you currently run a business out of the home?
Yes - 26.4% No - 73.6%

How long have you been an at-home dad?
33 months

What will you do once all of the children are in school all day?
Go back or continue to work outside the home - 37.8%
Go back or continue to work inside the home - 25.3%
Not sure - 23.6%
Not work at all .8%
Children in school 9%

Why are you an at-home dad?
#1 - Didn't want daycare
#2 - Wife made more money
#3 - Wife wanted to work more.
#4 - Dad had greater desire to stay home.


Posted by athomedad at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 20 December 2004 12:54 PM EST
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