Fewer than 1 percent of dads stay at home, though their ranks are growing, according to the 2013 DDB Lifestyle Study. Tough job markets, working moms and blurring of traditional gender roles are all reasons dads become primary caregivers. But the number one reason? They want to spend more time with their kids.
To paint a picture of today’s stay-at-home dad, the DDB study surveyed a group of these dads about their attitudes toward things like parenting, school and household chores. Then they compared the responses to stay-at-home moms and dads who work.
Adjusting to the role as primary caregiver can cause a sort of identity crisis for men. Said one respondent: “For months I was dwelled on the stereotypical role of male breadwinner that I was not fulfilling.” While they are just as devoted to their children, stay-at-home dads are more likely to say parenting is a burden (29 percent, compared 18 percent of working dads and just 13 percent of stay-at-home moms).
Another notable difference is that more stay-at-home dads prefer their children to think of them as a friend rather than an authority figure—45 percent feel this way, as opposed to a third of working dads and just a quarter of the moms. Yet alongside this friend role, they tend to be more hands-on when it comes to their kids’ behavior. Stay-at-home dads are more likely to take the lead with discipline than the stay-at-home moms surveyed, and 10 percent more likely to get involved, for instance, with problems at school instead of letting kids resolve issues on their own.
When it comes to housekeeping, traditional gender roles aren’t always flipped. Just 45 percent of stay-at-home dads consider themselves the primary housekeeper, and fewer than half say they’re the primary cooks at home. Still, the report suggests that stay-at-home dads are an important segment for advertisers to consider for products that typically have been targeted toward moms. The report concludes that “those marketers who recognize and portray this group without resorting to the ‘Mr. Mom’ disparagement of their parenting skills stand a greater chance of winning their favor and loyalty.”