By Melissa Grant
The number of stay-at-home dads in Australia remains small but is slowly rising.
An estimated 80,000 fathers in two-parent families stay at home, according to a Australian Institute of Family Studies report based on 2016 ABS Census data.
This means there are stay-at-home dads in 4.6 per cent of two-parent families, compared to 4.2 per cent in 2011.
Stay-at-home dads are classified as men not doing any paid work, who reside with dependent children aged under 15 years and a spouse who is doing some paid work.
“As such, this is indicative of a role reversal that has the mother as the breadwinner and the father caring for children,” the report says.
The report states economic factors and the parents’ attitudes towards parenting and gender roles are likely to contribute to the way the share care and devote time paid work.
Child care and housework have traditionally been viewed as female tasks, while providing the family income has been seen as the male’s job.
“In recent decades, these boundaries between female and male tasks are perhaps less distinct, as mothers are now more engaged in paid work and fathers in caring for children,” the report states.
In 1981, fathers stayed at home in only 1.9 per cent of two-parent families.
The report also indicates that stay at home fathering mostly happens later in life, when fathers and children were older and when a family’s finances were more secure with mum having returned to full-time work.
Mums stay at home in an estimated 29 per cent of two-parent families, while both parents did paid work in 60 per cent of families.
In 6.8 per cent of families, neither parent did any paid work.