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Daddy Daycare? U.S. Census Bureau Counts Fathers Among Childcare Providers

Do you consider your husband your partner in parenting? According to the U.S. Census Bureau you are wrong.

In their recently released report, “Who’s Minding the Kids?,” the mother is referred to throughout as the “designated parent” and any person or facility who cares for her children while she is away from the home or working is part of a “childcare arrangement,” including her husband, you know, the children’s father.

Alternatively, when the father works and the mother stays home with their children the Census Bureau does not consider this a “childcare arrangement.” Rather, this is just a woman doing what she is supposed to be doing, parenting children.

KJ Dell’Antonia of Motherlode spoke to Lynda Laughlin of the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch who had this to say: “Regardless of how much families have changed over the last 50 years women are still primarily responsible for work in the home. We try to look at child care as more of a form of work support.” According to Laughlin, mothers are providing care for their children around the clock anyway and so a man’s ability to work is not dependent upon the mother’s agreement to care for the children in his absence.

To be clear, if you are a working mother whose husband parents your children while you are at the office, according to the U.S. Census Bureau that’s not parenting, that’s a “childcare arrangement.” When asked if they collect data on the “work support” offered by mothers to their husbands Laughlin said the Bureau does not “report in that direction.”

Despite the fact that the percentage of men caring for their children while women work outside the home or attend school has risen from 26 in 2005 to 32 in 2010 and that women now make up approximately half of the workforce, it seems this government department is intent on collecting data in the spirit of the 1950s.

Funny, but when my husband and I decided to have children I don’t recall discussing which of us would be the “designated parent.” Now more than ever families require two incomes in order to make ends meet and in doing so “work support” (or parenting as most people refer to it) must be taken on by both parties, not just the mother.

Photo credit: Flickr

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