More dads are staying at home full time with their kids than in decades past, but a new report finds that many of them are doing so because of health reasons or a lack of employment.
Still, the new analysis from the Pew Research Center shows there has been a sharp jump in the share of dads who say they are at home primarily to take care of their families, rather than for other reasons.
Noelle Chesley, an associate professor sociology at the University of Wisconsin who has studied stay-at-home dads, thinks there has been some increase in dads who made the choice to stay home with the kids.
But Chesley, who was not involved in the Pew report, said many of the dads she spoke with for her research ended up as a stay-at-home parent because their wives' careers were advancing and it made more sense for her to take the breadwinner role, or because they lost a job or had another career setback.
Jeff Jones had never considered being a stay-at-home dad until his wife suggested it to him.
"This came out of left field," Jones said. "At the time, I wasn't even aware that there was such a thing."
That was 17 years ago. Back then, Jones had an 18-month-old son and was working in the restaurant industry, but his wife had just landed a new job that meant moving across the country.
At first, Jones said being a stay-at-home dad was occasionally both scary and overwhelming. But as he got more settled into the role, he said he came to cherish the opportunity to watch his kids grow.
"Just being there and witnessing things that my son was going through as he developed, it just kind of made it seem like this was where I had to be," he said.
Jones, 55, is still a stay-at-home dad. His older son is 19 years old and in the U.S. Navy, and his younger son is 13 and still at their home in Columbus, Indiana.
Jones said he has absolutely no regrets about becoming a stay-at-home dad, even though it has involved some tough times and financial sacrifice.
"Once we became a stay-at-home dad kind of family, that was the game plan we were going with for the duration," he said.