For a while there, we were all buying the talk about how more families had stay-at-home dads. And no wonder we did: Those Mr. Moms felt like the Superman heroes who would forever prevent working moms from feeling as if they were sacrificing the day-to-day tasks of family life for the growing to-do lists of their busy jobs.
But it looks like that sliver of hope about the prevalence of stay-at-home dads may have been just a speck.
Time reports that, according to recent Census data, although the number of stay-at-home dads (who have been out of the workforce for at least a year) has doubled in the last decade, they account for the makeup of only 0.8% of families—a number that’s too small to really support the idea that fathers are rushing to exchange their briefcases for diaper bags. What’s more: that percentage is most likely skewed by the number of men who have been laid off due to the recession (and who aren’t necessarily homebound by choice).
The Census survey also shows that men aren’t spending as much time at home in other ways, too: Working dads take off less time than working moms after the birth of a child. Although the majority—85%—of men do take paternity leave, most don’t take more than two weeks. Women, meanwhile, take an average of 10 weeks off, according to Women’s Health USA. (The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave for companies with more than 50 workers.)
The reason for the disparity, men say, is that they believe that even taking two weeks of paternity time, though legally allowed, is still somewhat socially taboo and that the status quo in most business cultures is still to expect maternity leave for new mothers, but not for new fathers. As a result, men feel more pressure to get back to work.
Even if the Mr. Mom trend hasn’t taken flight just yet, we’re sure many moms are glad their stay-at-home superheroes are still around.