Page last updated at 23:25 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 00:25 UK

Stay-at-home fathers 'up 10-fold'

Parents pushing a pram
Some dads find childcare more rewarding than going to work

The number of stay-at-home fathers in the UK has risen 10-fold in the last decade, a survey suggests.

The results of the survey of 1,000 parents suggest around 6% of fathers, or 600,000 men, are now their child's primary carer, up from 60,000 in 2000.

The majority of stay-at-home fathers quizzed said the reason for this was because the mother earned more money.

The web survey for insurance firm Aviva said the mother earned more in one in six of all the households it surveyed.

Men [are] becoming aware that they haven't had it their relationship with their children they've had less contact
Adrienne Burgess, the Fatherhood Institute

The figures also suggested 18% of couples shared childcare responsibilities equally.

Adrienne Burgess, research director at the Fatherhood Institute, said the findings showed men wanted to spend "more time" at home.

"It just isn't the same [now], there are more women in higher education and are starting to earn quite a lot," she said.

She acknowledged rising childcare costs mean some parents are forced to give up work, but said some men also want a closer relationship with their family.

Happy fathers

"Men want to spend more time with their children, men [are] becoming aware that they haven't had it all," she said.

"In their relationship with their children they've had less contact than the mother."

The study suggested the men that stayed at home were happier with this arrangement than the women, with 75% of fathers saying they were lucky to spend so much time with their children.

Nearly a third of fathers also said they found childcare more rewarding than going to work, but 10% admitted running around after their sons and daughters made them feel less of a man.

In more than two-thirds of households surveyed, one parent had reduced their hours or given up work completely in order to look after their family, with a third saying they did so because of childcare costs.

Some women found the role reversal difficult, with 37% admitting they felt guilty going out to work and leaving their children, but only 9% said they would swap places with their partner and stay at home.

Louise Colley, from Aviva, said: "While both roles are equally valuable, nowadays it's quite likely that women will be heading off to the office while men are changing nappies and doing the school run."

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