Thursday, June 24, 2004

While I was obsessed with stories about at-home dads, a couple of other bits worthy of analysis flew by me, and I wanted to address them now, before my mind goes.

For starters, I mentioned an Alijon Finance survey last week on how tough it is for at-home dads to re-enter the workforce. It was, in a great many ways, a weak study in that it asked a random sampling of people how hard they thought it would be for men to go from home to work (as opposed to business execs or HR officials or someone who might actually have some perspective on the issue). So the survey is probably better to considering what stereotypes are entrenched, rather than an actual job-market snapshot.

But one of the interesting items in the survey that didn't make the press release was this question about at-home dads: "In general, which of the following statements BEST describes your opinion of men who take time off from work to raise children?" Here's the good news: 42 percent said they don't think of them any differently than women who stay home. Another 42 percent said either that those men are strong enough not to worry about manly men stereotypes or that they have strong family values that trump career. That's 84 percent with awfully positive impressions. (Four percent admitted to thinking we're submission to our successful wives, and another 4 percent said we're staying home because it's easier. Seriously.)

In my mind, those are great numbers, and I only wish I had historical data to compare. It suggests that, one way or another, much of the country has come to see this choice as no big deal. Which is exactly as it should be.

It's also worth pointing out the Dads and Daughters poll that was just released. I can't say there's much there that was all that interesting (the men surveyed seem to have had rather tepid responses: most said they had a good relationship with their daughter, but only 33 percent said they're involvement was vital to their daughter's health and well-being), but a one stats does bear mention: only 18 percent said mothers are naturally better at raising daughters. My bet is that's a number that's been falling, and it's small enough to give me reason to smile. (See the poll results here.)


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