Today, more than ever, young fathers are choosing to be stay-at-home dads. They bathe the baby, help their toddler with the alphabet, impose screen time rules, and figure out how to sneak more vegetables into the spaghetti sauce.
It’s a slap in the face for traditional gender roles, but these dads are fighting the system – and loving it.
The househusband lifestyle only started gaining traction a couple of decades ago, some studies have found. Before then, a dad who voluntarily stayed home to be literally the man of the house was generally made fun of, with society giving him antiquated (and unsolicited) gender advice.
But progressive families stuck it out. They waded through a sea of stereotypes and social stigmas. So today, it’s slowly becoming normal for a dad to take over home and baby duties from his partner.
A changing world
Househusbands are a sign of changing times. As recently as 2019, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that about 56 percent of the 2.3 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) deployed then was made up of women.
More foreign employers (then and now) preferred to fill positions in healthcare, household service, and waitstaff with women workers. So the moms left to work, leaving behind their husbands and partners to man the fort.
We might find the Filipino stay-at-home dad movement’s origins here: as an economic decision. But as we will see, it has evolved into a lifestyle preference.
It’s a generation thing
Take note that many of the stay-at-home dads today belong to Generation Y—the millennials. This is due to two reasons: first, generally, they are within the age range of parents with small children. Generation X parents are raising pre-teens and teens now; Generation Z are still being raised themselves.
Second, according to recent studies, it’s the millennials who most strongly reject gender stereotypes. As a result, they’re the ones shattering gender roles at home. Gen Y parents are a bit more enlightened than Gen X and Gen Z, and can teach a boomers a thing or two about the subject; the older generation who still prefer a clean separation male and female roles are finding their lessons falling on deaf ears.
They’re media official
“Pics or it didn’t happen.” Ironically, this social media challenge, dripping with doubt, helps validate today’s house husbands. Filipino celebrity dads, for example, like to post photos of them with their babies on Instagram, to the delight of their fans. Sure, these stars are probably not stay-at-home dads. But by merely showing off photos of themselves being doting fathers, they normalize the notion of dads taking care of their children.
Elsewhere in the world, other celebrity fathers actually did quit the limelight, at least for a while, to tend to their flock. John Lennon, Rick Moranis, and David Beckham are a few of those trailblazers.
Even animé is getting in on the action. The Way of the House Husband is an upcoming Netflix Original comedy animé series based on the Japanese manga series Gokushufudō by Kousuke Oono.
In the animé, Tatsu is a yakuza—a member of the Japanese mafia—who quit the criminal underworld to become a house husband for his wife Miku. From his days of beating up rival gangs, the animé shows Tatsu struggling in a different kind of combat setting: the domestic household.
If a legendary gangster can trade his steel pipe for a kitchen spatula to cook baon for his wife, so can regular dads, right?
A sign of the times
The “new normal” has also convinced more fathers to choose staying home with the kids over commuting to the office.
It’s simply safer (and more economical) for one parent to stay home while the world outside grapples with the present situation. And if the wife can earn more from her full-time job, liberal gender norms today make it more acceptable for the husband to take over the home duties.
That doesn’t mean that house husbands don’t hold down jobs, too. They probably do. One thing the new normal has done is to push businesses to shift their operations online. Because of this, it’s become convenient to work from home—while cooking lunch and tutoring the kids for online schooling.
Look at how far society has come. Sixty years ago, fathers who voluntarily stayed home to watch the kids while their wives worked were usually pitied and used as punchlines. Today, these house husbands, who are steadily growing in number, have succeeded in reshaping parenthood according to their more liberal generation’s ideals: raising children in a home where dad and mom are not limited by traditional gender roles.
● Pew Research Center. "Growing Number of Dads Home with the Kids." Retrieved on April 12, 2021.
● The Filipino Times. "‘Househusbands’ increase in PH as demand for Pinay OFWs grow." June 16, 2019.
● Insider. "Gen Zers are less progressive than Millennials about gender identity and stereotypes, a new survey says." February 28, 2021.
● DaddyTypes.com. "John Lennon, Househusband." September 16, 2008.
● Today.com. "Rick Moranis returns to acting after leaving Hollywood to be a single dad." September 10, 2020.
● Ireland Independent. "David Beckham embraces house husband duties since retiring." February 22, 2014.
● Wikipedia. "The Way of the Househusband." Retrieved on April 12, 2021.
About The Writer
Cecile is a freelance writer and editor who's been working professionally in the publishing industry for more than two decades.
When she’s not busy raising and homeschooling two kids, she writes (and edits) lifestyle stories, profiles of celebrities and politicians, and travel pieces. She’s served as contributor and editor for a wide range of outlets, including Edamama; SciDev.Net; GetCraft; Manila Bulletin; Panorama; FHM Philippines; Seventeen Magazine; ABS-CBN Foundation’s Green Initiative; and Everything Alternative Australia.
Cecile graduated with a degree in AB Interdisciplinary Studies from Ateneo de Manila University, with tracks in Communication Arts, Languages, and Theater. When she’s not mothering, writing, or homeschooling, Cecile likes to upcycle old furniture and grow vegetables.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.