We start with the question, "How many men would consider to be a stay at home dad?". Well, quite a few it seems. There was nice resource on rebeldad, a site that is sadly down. Via the wayback machine:
MEN CONSIDERING AT-HOME FATHERHOOD
Spike TV survey, 2004
"Almost half" (UK)
Pregnancy and Birth Magazine survey, 2004 (based on newspaper report)
Pregnancy and Birth Magazine survey, 2003 (based on newspaper report now in paid archives)
There was also an interesting Study:
As our 1st hypothesis predicted, men prefer full-time work, whether in the home or out of the home, to part-time work or staying home. Not, however, by much. Parttime work at home is only slightly less popular than full-time work outside the home (5 points out of 100) and staying home or working part-time outside the home are only about 15 points behind. So while men do prefer the conventional role of full-time breadwinner, the other options are not as universally reviled as was expected. Men place all the options fairly close together, all with in 15 points of one another. This illustrates clearly that we cannot infer preference from practice: looking at what men actually do we would expect full-time work to be by far the most popular with other options barely considered where as in reality many option come in fairly close together with no universal favorite. [...] Also, most strikingly, many men would like to stay home full-time without a job to care
for young children. Perhaps this means that companies should offer "child care leave" instead of maternity leave and allow couples to choose whether the mother or the father stays home to care for the children.
An interesting issue, which should be considered in future research, is why men rarely follow their stated preferences. Is it because they need the money? Because their wife wants to stay home more? Because they do not want to take time out of their careers? Because they don't feel it is socially acceptable to stay home? Is it for some other reason entirely? These and other motives should be investigated to determine the cause of the wide gap between practice and preference. We have shown that it would be a great mistake to assume that men's work behavior is a good guide to their preferences.
Overall, the most striking result is that full time work it not the universally favored option (many options being fairly popular) and that less than half of men consider standard full-time work outside the home to be one of thier favorite choices. Strikingly, too, 51% of men would very much or somewhat like to stay home when they have children under 6. It is also interesting that among men opinions are not as polarized as one might expect. - Stay-At-Home Dads: Men's Non-Traditional Work Preferences - C.G.E. Kelley, S.M.C. Kelley, - May, 2007
The rebeldad site also gives us an answer to the question "How many stay at home dads are there?":
AT HOME DAD NUMBERS
17.3 percent of all children aged 0-4 with employed mother
Census Bureau, 2007 (based on 2005 data, Excel file)
Or maybe it's 25 percent (Press release)
Or 17.2 percent ("historical table")
Or 18.2 percent ("detailed table 2b")
Census Bureau, 2007 (based on 2006 data, Excel file)
Census Bureau, 2006 (based on 2005 data, CSV file, sorry)
Census Bureau, 2005 (based on 2004 data, Excel file)
Census Bureau, 2004 (based on 2003 data)
Census Bureau, 2003 (based on 2002 data)
18.5 percent of fathers with working wives
Census Bureau, 2003 (based on 1999 data)
Census Bureau, 1997 (based on 1993 data)
22 percent of fathers
Spike TV survey, via Time magazine, 2004
Social Insurance Agency, as cited in newspaper report
Cited in newspaper report, 2004 (story now in paid archive)
11 percent of fathers (UK)
Early Learning Centre, 2004
One has to say that the number of SAHD as given by the Census Bureau is strict as they do not consider dads that work part-time and do not care for the kids:
“According to U.S. census data, there were around 5.5 million stay-at-home parents in 2003,” said Rochlen, “and 2006 census data indicate there are about 159,000 stay-at-home fathers. The number of stay-at-home dads has grown over 60 percent since 2004, but getting an accurate number for just how many there are out there is very difficult.
“The census doesn’t count dads who are the primary childcare provider but who earned any income in the previous year, are part of a same-sex couple or are single fathers. It’s a new phenomenon to even be counting stay-at-home parents. ”
Of the more than 200 men who participated in Rochlen’s national survey, the average age was 37, about 97 percent had been employed prior to becoming stay-at-home fathers, 30 percent reported working part-time and 98 percent of them were married. About 72 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher and the average number of children was two. - Source
True, only 159,000 men are classified as full-time fathers according to the 2006 U.S. Census Bureau numbers. That’s compared with 5.6 million full-time moms. But when you throw in the part-time at-home dads or those who do most of the caring for the kids – they work at night and watch the kids during the day, for example – the number of men as primary caregivers is as high as 20%. Additionally, the number of men staying at home has nearly tripled in the past decade and continues to grow. Full-time dads are increasingly visible. - Source
How many stay-at-home fathers are there in the United States?
Data from the 2007 Census suggests there are 165,000 stay-at-home fathers in the United States. Most likely, this is a gross underestimate of the number of men in these roles. Among other restrictions, the census data excludes guys who have worked in the past few years, are currently employed, or considering returning to work. Yet what the census data does accurately reflect is the growing number of SAHFs. For example, in 2003, there were an estimated 98,000 SAHFs. This reflects a 64% increase in just 4 years. There are also different ways of looking at the data provided by the census. A 2008 census-sponsored press release suggests there are 11.3 million children (under the age of 5) whose mothers are employed on a full-time basis. Twenty-five percent of these kids (2.8 million children) were cared for by their fathers. Having looked at these numbers in different ways, I would realistically estimate about 2 million men who would consider themselves SAHFs. - Source
about two million fathers in the United States stay home to take care of their children while the children’s mother works outside the home (Allen, 2001; Fisher, 2000; Gill, 2001) - Cited via - STAY-AT-HOME FATHERS: MASCULINITY, FAMILY, WORK, AND GENDER STEREOTYPES - David John Petroski, Paige P. Edley - 2006
Based on one demographer's estimate, the number of stay-at-home dads who are the primary caregivers for their children reached nearly 2 million last year, or one in 15 fathers. The official census tally was 154,000, based on a narrower definition that excludes those working part-time or looking for jobs.
"We're not saying the census definition of a 'stay-at-home' parent is what reflects families today," said Rose Kreider, a family demographer at the Census Bureau. "We're simply tracking how many families fit that situation over time." She said in an interview that the bureau's definition of a stay-at-home parent is based on a 1950s stereotype of a breadwinner-homemaker family that wasn't necessarily predominant then and isn't now.
Beth Latshaw, an assistant professor of sociology at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., notes the figures are based on a narrow definition in which the wife must be in the labor force for the entire year and the husband outside the official labor force for the specifically cited reason of "taking care of home and family."
Her own survey found that many fathers who had primary child-care responsibility at home while working part time or pursuing a degree viewed themselves as stay-at-home fathers. When those factors are included as well as unmarried and single dads, the share of fathers who stay at home to raise children jumps from less than 1 percent to more than 6 percent.
Put another way, roughly one of every five stay-at-home parents is a father.
The remaining share of households without stay-at-home parents — the majority of U.S. families — are cases in which both parents work full time while their children attend school or day care or are watched by nannies or grandparents, or in which fathers work full time while the mothers work part time and care for children part time.
"There's still a pervasive belief that men can't care for children as well as women can, reinforcing the father-as-breadwinner ideology," said Latshaw, whose research is being published next month in the peer-reviewed journal "Fathering." She is urging census to expand its definition to highlight the growing numbers, which she believes will encourage wider use of paternity leave and other family-friendly policies. - Source
64.3 million - number of U.S. fathers
159,000 - number of stay-at-home dads in 2006
2.9 million - number of preschoolers cared for by their dads while mom is at work.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau via wiki
The number of men in the U.S. who regularly care for children under age five increased to 32 percent in 2010 from 19 percent in 1988, according to Census figures. Among those fathers with preschool-age children, one in five served as the main caregiver. - Source
So what is societies perception toward these men?
[...] the present research is the first to empirically document prejudice against stay-at-home fathers, a stigmatized category that has received insufficient attention in the literature. Participants’ beliefs about other people’s reactions to stay-at-home and employed mothers and fathers were further examined in Study 1, revealing that perceived social regard was lowest for stay-at-home fathers. [...] Notably, perceived social regard for employed mothers was just as high as for traditional parents. [...] Participants apparently felt little compunction about expressing negative attitudes toward nontraditional parents. [...] Remarkably, no gender differences in attitudes toward traditional and nontraditional parents were observed. One
might expect that female participants would feel more positively toward employed mothers and stay-at-home fathers, given that women should be less likely to endorse and act on prescriptive stereotypes that are detrimental to their own life opportunities. [...] It is equally important to note that men’s life choices are also limited by restrictive gender roles and prescriptive
gender stereotypes. Some men may want to care for their children full-time rather than working outside the home, but the stigma attached to being a stay-at-home father may prevent them from doing so. Prescriptive gender stereotypes and the stigma attached to violations of them limit and restrict both men’s and women’s opportunities and lives. Previous research that has examined the consequences of prescriptive stereotype violations generally has not focused on whether men who violate prescriptive gender stereotypes experience similar “backlash” effects as women who violate gender norms. The media, however, has recently paid a great deal of attention to the stigma that stay-at home fathers face. For example, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (“Stay-at-home dads,” 2003) reported that employers view stay-at-home fathers either with disdain or confusion. Sometimes employers even “wonder whether ‘stay-at-home dad’ is a cover for ‘couldn’t find work.’” (“Stay at-home dads,” 2003). Anecdotal reports have even surfaced of parents not allowing their children to socialize with the children of stay-at-home fathers and employed mothers (“Your career,” 2001). To our knowledge, the present studies are the first to document this stigmatization of stay-at-home fathers. - ATTITUDES TOWARD TRADITIONAL AND NONTRADITIONAL PARENTS - Victoria L. Brescoll and Eric Luis Uhlmann - 2005
Children's evaluations of two parental roles, working outside the home, and staying home to take care of children, were assessed in second (M = 7.13 years, SD = .39) and fifth grade (M = 10.42, SD = .57) students (N = 121). Children viewed it as acceptable for both mothers and fathers to work full-time, and used personal choice and social conventional reasons as justifications. In contrast, children found it less acceptable for fathers to stay at home than for mothers to stay at home, and they used gender stereotypes about domestic roles as justifications. With age, children were more flexible in their reasoning and used fewer stereotypes in their evaluations; children from traditional family structures used more stereotypic expectations than did children from non-traditional ones. Overall, children's interpretations of competence in a caretaker role was highly contingent on the gender of the parent. - Moms at Work and Dads at Home: Children's Evaluations of Parental Roles - Stefanie M. Sinnoa & Melanie Killen - 2009
Men can face societal sanctions if they chose to be full-time caregivers [...] it appears men who make the decision to become stay-at-home dads may be in even more career hot water.
Men have the added problem of trying to return to work in a society that just doesn’t get why they made the decision to leave a budding career in the first place. Even though women face similar discrimination, experts say, society is more accepting of moms making such a choice. Men, on the other hand, are thought of as “unmanly” when they decide the become nurturer and take time away from the traditional hunter role. [...]
“In our culture, we look at work and family issues as women’s issues and don’t acknowledge men have at least the same kind of concerns about their families. And the additional thing we dump on them is that so much masculinity is tied up in our salaries and professional accomplishments. When you disconnect from that, are you a man anymore?”
Men put this pressure on themselves, and their working wives often do this as well, not fully accepting the uncommon family structure, Brott adds. The feminist movement was supposed to open the world to such role reversals, but alas it’s been a tough sell at home and in the workplace. “Men face more prejudice when they decide to return to the workplace than women do. In fact, some companies have a lot of prejudice, so many men simply take vacation leave instead of Family Leave when a new baby comes. They know it would affect their career promotional path to advertise loudly ‘family is first’ in many companies,” says Robin Ryan, career coach and author of “What to Do With the Rest of Your Life”.[...]
Nearly 160,000 men stay home with their kids today, almost three times the number that were staying at home just ten years ago, according to the U.S. Census. And many more men would take on the role, experts say, if there wasn’t so much macho baggage out there.[...]
“While indeed it’s extremely tough for women to get back to work after a long time away, it gets even tougher for a man to do the same. Society has unwritten rules for dads that decide that their family is more important than corporate America.”
It does, agrees Scott Haltzman, MD Clinical Assistant Professor, Brown University Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior.
“How does the workplace view a man that takes time off of his career to raise children? They tend to look at him as not having the kind of drive or seriousness of purpose that they would want in leadership positions,” he says about what he sees as a pervasive stereotype.
And a double whammy for stay-at-home dads when they return to work, is they usually have little support at the office or plant because there are rarely dads who made a similar choice to commiserate with.
“It’s so important for men to have the support of other men, to receive the validation they need to make tough choices. Men get that support from men’s groups where men get the fathering, the wisdom and the tough love they need to make unpopular decisions,” says Wayne Levine, a clinical psychologist and founding director of BetterMen.org
“They’re in an identity vacuum,” adds Haltzman, “because the workplace doesn’t have anything to guide them when they show up at the doorstep saying, ‘I’m ready to get back to work.’”
Despite the challenges, Haltzman suggests men hold their heads up high when they return to work instead of feeling sheepish or embarrassed of his choice: “He needs to be able to paint it in the most positive light.” - Source
About the link of biology and fatherhood:
Earlier this year, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States showed that fatherhood leads to a drop in testosterone. Fathers who are most actively involved in child rearing and caretaking experience the biggest decline. These findings, far from suggesting that men become wimps as they become parents, instead illustrate that women aren’t the only ones biologically adapted to be parents; male parental care actually shapes the physiology of men, too. As Dr. Peter Ellison, a Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology, said in the New York Times, “[The research should make men] realize that we’re meant to be active fathers and participate in the care of our offspring.” - Source