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Every morning, Shawn Carew, 46, wakes up at 6:30 a.m. That’s when his toddler, Garrett, stirs from his crib. Then it’s juice and breakfast, diaper-changing, and time to get dressed. Sarah, his 3-month-old, is raring to go shortly thereafter. It’s tummy time for her, and then dad and kids are off to the South End’s Ringgold Park for a couple hours — usually until noon, when it’s time to fix lunch and nap Garrett. After that short breather, and as the end of the day draws near, Carew admits he’ll text his wife, wondering when she’ll get home.
Carew, a part-time IT project specialist, is the primary caregiver for his two children. He’s among a growing group of dads who are primary caregivers, a trend attributable to many factors: the prevalence of telecommuting and flexible work arrangements, job loss among men during the recession, and the evolving generational desire of fathers to become more active participants in their children’s lives.
According to U.S. Census data from the National At-Home Dad Network, 32 percent of married fathers — 7 million dads — are a regular source of care for kids under 15, up from 26 percent in 2002. That’s good news for working moms, and it’s great news for fathers who want to cast off traditional parenting roles.
Indeed, the sitcom stereotype of dad as a frazzled Mr. Mom who can’t fold laundry or warm a bottle has grown quaint. As moms have done for years, dads are cobbling flexible work schedules, downshifting to part-time to make parenting a priority, or in some cases opting out of the workforce entirely, at least for a while.