With each new generation comes the opportunity to introduce new perspectives and reflect on societal norms. This is especially true when it comes to parenting.
As we observe how our experiences differ from those of our parents and grandparents, today’s modern dads are standing out for their increased desire and stronger commitment to spend more time with their children. Once seen as primary providers and disciplinary figures, fathers are now playing a much broader role as parents. The more involved, affectionate, and supportive a father is, the greater the developmental benefits are for his children— cognitively, emotionally, socially and beyond.
Let’s take a look at how today’s Millennial dads compare to fathers of past generations.
Today, 97% of fathers take on the task of changing diapers, compared to just 60% as found back in a 1982 study. This basic act of caregiving, in addition to similar acts like bathing, grooming, and dressing, is the start to a strong father-child relationship.
Between 1989 and 2014, there has been a 70% increase in fathers who choose to stay home and raise children. In the past few decades, gender roles have shifted from longtime traditions, strengthening the social acceptance of stay-at-home dads. Nowadays, 17% of stay-at-home parents are dads, and 24% of those dads are at home primarily to care for the children.
Post-birth bonding time is now seen as an integral part of fatherhood. Since the 1990s, nearly four times as many fathers are taking paternity leave after the birth of their children, which has been proven to be a basis of more involvement throughout childhood.
Dads are spending three times as much time with their children than 50 years ago – from 25 minutes per day in the sixties to 75 minutes per day in modern times. This is in part due to the growing mindset that being a good father is one of the most significant factors in self-identity for dads today. It’s also worth noting that inspiring modern fatherhood role models are emerging through outlets like social media and film, supporting the idea that being a dad is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling achievements in a man’s life.
In 2016, it was reported that dads are spending triple the amount of time caring for their children than fathers in 1965. On average, eight hours are spent on child care per week, and ten hours per week are spent contributing to household chores. As a result, children have a more balanced model of their own identities and contributions as well as increased self-confidence and sense of well-being.
While certainly more common than in the sixties, the number of fathers raising children solo is still on the rise – up from 12.5% in 2007 to 16.1% today. Men now make up for 25% of single parents, a number that is growing with factors like changes in the legal system or the rise of non-marital births.
With increasing involvement at home, working dads are beginning to experience the same challenges as working moms. Many men still believe they should be the breadwinner but are torn by their growing desire to bond with their children, which may explain why a 2015 survey revealed that 50% of full-time working fathers feel they spend too little time with their children as opposed to 39% of full-time working mothers.
Fatherhood has progressed significantly in just a few generations. As you consider your own role in the parenting of a child, we hope you are inspired to help continue the positive evolution of dedicated child care.