stay-at-home fathers, parental well-being, fathers, affect during social contact, social isolation


Stay-at-home fathers (SAHFs) face negative stereotypes and social stigma, which may be linked to negative feelings during social contact. In this study, we compare SAHFs' social contact and time alone to that of stay-at-home mothers and parents of other work/caregiving statuses. In addition, we analyze SAHFs' subjective well-being when with their children, spouse, noon spouse adults, and when alone to more accurately capture the positive and negative valences of their experiences. Using individual-level time-use diaries form the American Time Use Survey (N = 35, 959), a nationally representative sample, we find that compared to fathers working full time, SAHFs spent more time alone, more time with only their children, and less time with adults. SAHFs reported that this alone time was meaningful, not negative. They reported more happiness when interacting exclusively with children. These findings refute some stereotypes that primary caregiving fathers only stay home with their children as a last resort and further support the new fatherhood ideal that contemporary fathers desire to be more actively involved in child rearing. Unfortunately, SAHFs reported significantly more sadness, more stress, and less happiness while interacting in a variety oof contexts with adults. Connecting our work with previous research, we believe these findings are best explained by either exclusion of SAHFs or increased salience of social stigmas felt by SAHFs in social situations with adults. These indicators of emotional well-being during social contact have important implications for parent physical and mental health.

Original Publication Citation

Holmes, E. K., Wikle, J., Thomas, C. R., Jorgensen, M. A., & Egginton, B. R. (2020, November 5). Social Contact, Time Alone, and Parental Subjective Well-Being: A Focus on Stay-at-Home Fathers Using the American Time Use Survey. Psychology of Men & Masculinities. Advance online publication.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Psychology of Men & Masculinities




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor