The US Census Bureau Says Dads Are The Same As Nannies

Posted February 16th, 2012 by Rebekah in News, Politics

Last week, the NY Times Motherlode blog reported that the US Census Bureau doesn’t consider what dads do with kids actual parenting. Instead it’s a child care arrangement.

According to the new census report “Who’s Minding The Kids?,” the Census Bureau assumes the mother is the “designated parent” and any time she is not caring for the children, there is a “child care arrangement” in play, even when it’s a father doing the child caring.

Huh? Does that mean I should be paying my husband the same hourly rate I’d pay a nanny when he takes our son to his sports class on weekends? And how do I it break to him that the father-son bonding they do over Kinect football is actually daycare?

This regressive designation of the mother as the parent who provides “work support” for the father as the only paradigm for families fails to acknowledges single fathers, families where dads stay home while mom works, and two-dad families. It slides right into an outdated view that moms are the “real” parent and their work takes a backseat to the kids and the spouse. And when Daddy steps up to hang with the kids, it’s quaint and special but not real parenting.

It pisses me right off.

Sure, I’m a stay-at-home-mom these days but I’m not my son’s only parent. My husband may act primarily as relief pitcher but he’s still on the team. He’s not a free-agent doing a tryout at camp. He’s a fully functioning player here on Team Kuschmider and his role as dad is no less a parenting role than mine is as mom.

Not only is this model of thinking insulting to dads everywhere, it diminishes the role of women in the workplace. This assumption that men need, and get, “work support” from a spouse but women do not reinforces a message that women’s professional work is less valuable than men’s. In an economy where two incomes are often necessary just to keep the lights on, this is not a safe line of thinking. Women’s non-home jobs need to be given as much respect as men’s because they are just as critical as men’s for family financial support.

It’s time for the Census Bureau to put all parents and all workers on equal footing. Gender is not a measure of an employee or a parent.

Rebekah is the author of the blog Mom-in-a-Million, the column So Here’s The Thing at the Washington Times Communities and a contributor to The Broad Side.

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7 Responses to “The US Census Bureau Says Dads Are The Same As Nannies”

  1. aimee @ smilingmama

    UGH. This really burns me, too!! And as someone who is currently working outside the home full-time while my husband is a stay-at-home dad, I’d like to know where my federal childcare tax credit is for all these hours he’s providing “child care.” Ridiculous!

  2. amy

    WTF seriously??Who are these writers of the census and where do they get these ideas? Are they high?

  3. Elaine

    Is the issue with always naming the mom the “designated parent”? Because I’m not reading the report as saying dad = nanny, I’m reading it to say dad = relative care, which is true. Just like mom would be (and is) relative care. I’m probably missing something though.

  4. Kristi

    This is infuriating. In addition to diminishing the role of women in the workplace, I think that this designation seriously diminishes the role a dad plays in their child’s life. As a working mom, with a working husband, I think that our parenting is pretty evenly split. I can’t imagine how pissed my husband would be to have his time with our daughter compared to childcare!

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