Americans Aren't That Comfortable With Stay-At-Home Dads

More people think children should have moms at home over dads.

ByABC News
May 30, 2013, 11:40 AM

May 30, 2013— -- More moms than ever before are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families.

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census data, moms financially support in whole or in most part a full 40 percent of all homes with children under the age of 18.

This new normal is great news in many ways, but there's also a flipside. While more than half of the Pew survey respondents say children are better off if a mom is home and jobless, just eight percent say the same thing about dads. That suggests few believe Dad is capable of doing Mom's job.

One reason may be that fewer fathers have experience staying home full time or grew up with stay-at-home dads. There may also be some trepidation from women who feel that they're somehow more qualified to bring up children. Some surveys even suggest that women might find stay-at-home dads less alluring than employed fathers.

But there's no study that shows children who grow up with stay-at-home dads fare worse than children with stay-at-home moms.

And while the number of moms who are the primary breadwinners in their families is nearly 30 points higher than it was in 1960, the idea that the figure is driven by single moms or women who enter the workforce out of financial necessity isn't entirely accurate.

More married moms are choosing to work because they want to. A previous 2012 Pew study found that a third of all moms say their ideal situation would be to work full time. Just one in five actually want to be home full time. And, broadly, Americans say they reject the idea that women should reprise their traditional role as housewife and child-rearer.

But saying and actually believing are two different things. What the Pew analysis brings to light is that not all people are comfortable with this switch, or think that men can serve as equal caretakers of children.