Number of dads as main carers rises tenfold

The number of dads staying at home to care for young children has risen 10 times in as many years, according to new research.

A study from Aviva reveals that an increasing number of men are taking on the childcare while their partner goes out to work, often simply because the woman earns more than her ‘significant other’.

One in six couples (16%) with dependent children say that the main wage earner is female.

Compared to only 60,000 men who took on the role of the primary carer 10 years ago, Aviva found that now more than 600,000 UK men – or 6% of men with dependent children – regularly look after their children while their wife or girlfriend works, signifying a ten-fold increase. A further 18% of parent couples say that they share childcare equally in their household.

The research, which was carried out to support Aviva’s ‘Free Life Cover For New Parents’ initiative, found that in 85% of households with dependent children, at least one parent had reduced their hours or given up work altogether after having children. In one in three cases this was due to the cost of childcare.

The study also revealed a number of emotive responses from role-reversing parents:

Of women who are the main breadwinner:

  • four in ten (37%) feel guilty going out to work and leaving their children
  • one in seven (15%) say they occasionally resent their partner because they have to go out to work
  • although fewer than one in 10 (9%) say they’d actually want to swap places with their partner to be the stay-at-home parent.

Whereas men who are the stay-at-home parents say: – three quarters (75%) feel lucky to be spending time with their children

  • around a third (29%) find looking after children more rewarding than going out to work
  • although one in 10 (10%) say looking after children makes them feel ‘less of a man’
  • and one in five (17%) wish they earned more so they could go out to work while their partner cared for the children.

Louise Colley, head of protection marketing for Aviva, says: “Since launching free life cover for new parents last summer, it’s been interesting to see that applications have been more or less equally split between mums and dads.

This shows how the lines of ‘traditional’ roles and responsibilities are becoming blurred – it’s no longer necessarily men who look after the money and women who look after the children.

We then thought it would be interesting to understand exactly how parenting roles are changing in order to understand the protection needs of our customers.

“While generally speaking it’s still more usual for men to take the more conventional role of the main income earner, our research shows that this is shifting and more women are becoming the breadwinners.

While both roles are equally valuable, nowadays it’s quite likely that women will be heading off to the office while men are changing nappies and doing the school run!”

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