This is just mind-numbingly offensive. I, and many men I know, are first and foremost dads. We define ourselves by our ability to care for our children in partnership with our spouses. I like to say that I am a baby whisperer. Give me a kid, my own or somebody else’s, 18 months or younger who is having a tantrum and I can tame the beast. Something about broad shoulders, a certain rocking of the hips, and cheek to cheek contact that soothes the savage in every soul. I wish I was as successful at many other aspects of life as a 47 year-old man.
But when I am taking care of my own kids in my own home, apparently the Federal Government views the mother of my children as the real parent and me as nothing more than a nanny:
When both parents are present in the household, the U.S. Census Bureau assumes for the purposes of its “Who’s Minding the Kids?” report, that the mother is the “designated parent.” And when the designated parent is working or at school, the bureau would like to know who’s providing child care.
If the answer is Daddy, as it was 26 percent of the time when these numbers were last released, in 2005, and 32 percent of the time in 2010, the Census Bureau calls that “care.” But if Mom is caring for a child while Dad’s at work, that’s not a “child care arrangement,” but something else. Parenting, presumably.
“Regardless of how much families have changed over the last 50 years women are still primarily responsible for work in the home,” said Lynda Laughlin of the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch. “We try to look at child care as more of a form of work support.” A mother, said Ms. Laughlin, is “not only caring for the child only while Dad works. She’s probably caring for the child 24 hours and so Dad is able to go to work regardless.”
That bears repeating. If, every morning, I go off to work and my husband stays home with a child, that’s a “child care arrangement” in the eyes of this governmental institution. If the reverse is true, it’s not. I asked Ms. Laughlin if the Census Bureau collected data on the hours mothers spend offering “work support” to their husbands. “No,” she said. “We don’t report it in that direction.”
This is the kind of stuff that I just don’t understand. I am all for equal rights for women, moms, lesbians, muslims, blacks, browns, the blind and any other minority you can dream up.
So how about Dads?