Men traditionally played the role of breadwinners, while the wives acted as primary carers for children, but a role reversal of sorts is emerging in Australia.
The number of men who take on the primary carer role for children remains small, but the group has been steadily increasing over the last few years. In fact, an Australian Institute of Family Studies report indicates that stay-at-home dads are part of nearly 80,000 Australian families, which is at its highest ever.
According to APO, still regarded as low in comparison to the overall population of the country, the numbers have steadily increased from 68,500 families in 2011 to 80,000 in 2016. Of course, this is small when you compare it to the 498,900 stay-at-home mother families.
Stay-at-home dads are typically older and average around 43 years in comparison to families with stay-at-home mothers averaging around 38 years.
Previously regarded as unthinkable for fathers to look after kids while the mother works, the trend is slowly shifting, as more and more women are keen to enter and remain in the workforce soon after giving birth.
This trend can also be seen because many stay-at-home fathers tend to have lower educational levels than their spouses. This suggests that the arrangement has been chosen because the mother may be able to command a better salary for sustaining the family than the father.
Stay-at -home dads are a diverse group. They include men who have voluntarily decided to look after their kids, dads battling ill health, dads with disabilities and dads that have been made redundant from their workplaces.
Dads who stay at home to look after children tend to be older and have older children, which is not necessarily similar to stay-at-home mother families.
Fathers are also increasingly staying at home, so that they don’t miss out on their child’s life. Many consider it a privilege to watch their children grow without having to worry about missing out on the important milestones.
The world is changing, but gender stereotypes still make it difficult for dads to make the decision to stay at home. Another increasing call from experts is to see fathers exploring more flexibility while employed and reducing work hours to spend more time with family.
Workforce employment may be evolving, but things are not moving as quickly as many have hoped. Attitudes are still traditional in many cases, so it’s important to change them in order to facilitate a real shift in the workforce.
Employers too can support families who choose to have fathers staying at home, allowing them some time off so that they can spend more time with their children while the mother gets back into the workforce.