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Number of stay-at-home dads at an all-time high

About 14% of dads with young children are out of the workforce, not actively looking for a job and taking care of the kids full-time.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Stay-at-home parenting is nothing new. 

When you think of a stay-at-home parent, the first person to come to mind is likely the mother and you'd probably think the dad goes to work.

Nowadays, things are starting to change.

More mothers are headed to the office, while more dads chose to take on the full-time gig at home.

The number of stay-at-home dads has nearly tripled in the past few years.

"I love being a dad. I absolutely love it," James Stewart, stay-at-home dad, said.

Stewart quit his job as a golf pro when his now 11-year-old daughter, Noelle, was just 10-months-old.

"I just wasn't at home a lot and I felt like my role as a father and as a husband and what God wants me to be as those, I wasn't able to fulfill that," Stewart said.

He said he and his wife, Kimberly, looked at their finances. Stewart commuted an hour away for work. They believed the time and money didn't add up.

"What better solution for me to stay at home as their dad, to be plugged in and in our marriage to be a better husband," Stewart said.

Credit: James Stewart

Add in a second kid, their now 9-year-old son, Levi, and then Kimberly's battle with cancer, Stewart said through the hardships, it's been a blessing to be home.

"He would always be there to help us when we had troubles," Noelle Stewart said.

"He's really special to me," Levi Stewart said.

Noelle and Levi are certainly not the only kids with dads at home.

"Stay-at-home dads are at an all-time high," Arielle Kuperberg, an associate professor of sociology and women's, gender, and sexuality studies at UNC Greensboro said.

Kuperberg has spent nearly 10 years researching stay-at-home parenting. She said right now about 14% of dads with young children are out of the workforce, not actively looking for a job and taking care of the kids full time. Pre-COVID, that number was in the 1-5% range.

"As more people move into this role, I think more people will consider it in the future, especially as they grow up with that being their normal," Kuperberg said.

Stay-at-home dads are still in the minority. Kuperberg said about 25-30% of young kids have stay-at-home moms. She said because of traditional roles, men go to work and women stay at home, there's always been a stigma for dads who chose to stay home.

"The absolute worst question is to say oh, are you babysitting the kids? I'm like no, I'm not babysitting the kids, I'm their father. Like, I'm dadding right now," Stewart said.

Kuperberg said men are staying at home with the kids to save money on childcare while women in the workforce are making more money than ever.

Her interest in the topic comes from her own life experience. Kuperberg's husband is a stay-at-home dad.

"To me, its people should have the freedom to shape the kind of family they want to have," Kuperberg said.

For the Stewart family, it has been more than an A+ on a school project or even a home run at a ballgame, it's being able to spend time together that's a big win.

"It's an honor and it's something I'll never forget and always cherish," Stewart said.

Kuperberg's journal article is published in the June issue of the Academic Journal "Gender and Society." She also has a free blog post with a summary of her findings.