Recent research over in the States has added yet more weight to the increased speed to which the role and desire of the modern day dad is changing.
One of the common perceptions of the stay-at-home-dad (SAHD) is that he doesn't really want to stay at home. The number of stay at home dads stated as 'looking for work' while being a SAHD has been consistently higher than those 'not looking for work' over the past few decades. However, data from the IPUMS population survey shows that the share of stay-at-home dads not looking for work has risen from less than 1% in 1970, to about 4% now of all married fathers with a child under 18. In the last 5 years alone something has changed dramatically, and more fathers are choosing to be stay at home dads, where those actively looking for work is now less than 3%, while those SAHDs 'not looking for work' has risen to over 4% and growing.
Behind the change
The figures also show that in 1989, only 5% of stay-at-home-dads said caring for family was the main reason for staying home. By 2014 that figure had risen to 21%.
More modern dads want to be the primary carer, and this picture is mirrored in the UK. The Office for National Statistics show that, in 2014, there were 229,000 stay-at-home-dads, a figure that has doubled in a decade.
Beyond working mums
In recent years there has been much commentary on the connection of the rise in SAHDs to the shift of more working mums back in the workplace. That mums are continuing to break boundaries in the workplace is absolutely right, that must continue. While that has been a significant factor around more SAHDs as a whole, it doesn't explain the shift fully, as these results show something more fundamental at play - which is that more dads WANT to stay at home.
The new dad energy - are you ready?
What's particularly interesting about Millennial fathers compared to generations before them is that they have a greater sense of being energized as the primary stay at home parent.
Dr Peter West once wrote about his study on modern day fathers, and how a great number were making up for increased fatherlessness they had experienced in their own childhoods.
From a personal point of view, I can attest to that feeling, but powering this new dad energy is about more than just bad memories. Those memories alone don't sustain efforts. When I think about Millennial dads, what's behind the change in the main is about the changing virtues and values of us as men.
Alpha males no longer rule the roost, emotions are no longer buried far and deep, and hey it's even ok to sing Justin Bieber out loud (ok, I took it too far there), but you get the point.
Dads have a new energy, and Stay At Home Dads might just be the new rockstars.