Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The myth of the tyrannical dad and the reason why there are not that many stay-at-home-dads

We start with this BBC News Article:

We tend to picture them as tyrannical patriarchs whose children were seen and not heard and lived in fear of father's punishments. It is only in recent decades - or so we imagine - that dads have become approachable, caring and committed to the wellbeing of their children. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The testimonies of fathers, and of their sons and daughters during the first half of the 20th Century, reveal just how prevalent the loving and devoted dad was.
This is not to say that corporal punishment wasn't sometimes used, or that some fathers weren't cold and distant figures. But the popular myth of the tyrannical father has seriously distorted our view of the care and commitment shown by generations of fathers towards their children.[...]

The research of academic historian Dr Julie Marie Strange, of Manchester University, reveals how the temperance movement helped demonise and create a working class folk devil father that bore little resemblance to most, who only drank in moderation, worked hard and were devoted to their children.
If schoolteachers tried to cane children who were naughty, they would often find themselves confronted by angry fathers who strongly disapproved of any physical punishment of their children - especially their daughters. Social reformers often criticised working class fathers for being too spoiling and indulging their young ones.[...]

In Professor Joanna Bourke's study of 250 working class autobiographies written during the first decades of the century, she found that "for every one who said that father did not do childcare, 14 explicitly stated that he did."

I glanced over the first comment that is listed at the end of that article. The words "thoughts provoking" were used, to describe that dads in the past were not tyrannical monsters. That is quite sad.

We continue with stay-at-home-dads and some statistical tomfoolery:

When both parents are present in the household, the Census Bureau assumes for the purposes of its “Who’s Minding the Kids?” report, that the mother is the “designated parent.” And when the designated parent is working or at school, the bureau would like to know who’s providing child care.

If the answer is Daddy, as it was 26 percent of the time when these numbers were last released, in 2005, and 32 percent of the time in 2010, the Census Bureau calls that “care.” But if Mom is caring for a child while Dad’s at work, that’s not a “child care arrangement,” but something else. Parenting, presumably. [...]

[A]ccording to the U.S. Census Bureau you only count as [stay-at-home-dad] if you have gone 52 weeks of the previous year without making any income. In fact, just looking for job, even part-time or freelance work, means you’re no longer a “stay-at-home dad,” you’re just an unemployed member of the “work force” and acting as temporary “primary caregiver” in the meantime.

(If you ever wonder why the number of stay-at-home dads is seen as so low, this is why. By this self-reported definition, the Bureau reported only 174,000 stay-at-home fathers in the U.S., perpetuating the idea that dad-as-primary caregiver is a rare thing and making those who do it out to be some sort of aberration. Yet, by their own numbers, they also reported that fully one-third of fathers with working wives regularly acted as primary caregivers for their children. One third!)

It might be interesting to have the full citations of the Study for future references:

US Census: Who's Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2010

Among fathers with a wife in the workforce, 32 percent were a regular source of care for their children under age 15, up from 26 percent in 2002, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. Among these fathers with preschool-age children, one in five fathers was the primary caregiver, meaning their child spent more time in their care than any other type of arrangement.


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