You've seen them on Facebook and Instagram: videos of dads braiding their daughter's hair or saving the day. If dads seem to be more hands-on with their kids' care today, it's because they are.
Polling indicates that today's fathers are spending more time than their grandfathers on caregiving and taking on what has traditionally been considered women's roles in the households.
According to the Census Bureau, roughly 60 percent of American men (75 million) are dads to biological, step or adopted kids.
In time for Father's Day, Pew Research released updated data on how fatherhood is changing.
Take a look at these facts about dads today:
- 8: The number of hours a week as spent on child care in 2016 compared to just 2.5 hours in 1956.
- 10: The number of hours a week fathers spent on household chores in 2016 compared to 4 hours in 1956.
- 27%: The percentage of families (couples with kids under 18) where only the father is employed – down from 47% in 1970.
- 66%: The percentage of dual-income families today compared to 49% in 1970.
- 54%: The percentage of dads who say is parenting is rewarding all of the time – compared to 52% among mom.
- 46%: The percentage of dads who say parenting is enjoyable all of the time – compared to 41% of moms.
- 44%: The share of childless men who hope to become fathers at some point.
The importance of a father in the life of a child cannot be understated.
Dads and daughters have a special bond that remains a powerful influence throughout their lives. Dr. Peggy Drexler, a professor of psychology at Weill Cornell Medical College, explained the need for dad's approval among daughters based on her research:
No matter how successful their careers, how happy their marriages, or how fulfilling their lives, women told me that their happiness passed through a filter of their fathers' reactions. Many told me that they tried to remove the filter and—much to their surprise—failed.
We know that fathers play a key role in the development and choices of their daughters. But even for women whose fathers had been neglectful or abusive, I found a hunger for approval. They wanted a warm relationship with men who did not deserve any relationship at all.
And when dads are absent, research confirms what most people observe: Kids suffer.
Girls are especially vulnerable to risky promiscuous behavior when their fathers are not in their lives. The Wall Street Journal reporting on research explains:
… “The prolonged presence of a warm and engaged father can buffer girls against early, high-risk sex,” Dr. DelPriore said. This doesn’t mean that divorced fathers can’t provide quality care. “A silver lining,” she adds, “is that what dad does seems to matter more than parental separation.” In other words, a divorce may be less harmful for a girl than more years with a bad dad.
As Dr. DelPriore phrased the question, “What is it that dad does that shields a daughter from sexual risk?” Dr. Ellis phrased the answer: “It’s all about dosage of exposure to dads; the bigger the dose, the more fathering matters—for better and for worse.”
Boys raised without their fathers are at higher risk of ending up behind bars and one study by researchers from the University of California and Princeton found that each year a son spent without his dad in the home increased his odds of future incarceration by 5 percent.
Parenting today does not look like when our grandparents were our age. Men take a more active role in both caregiving, but also in the household roles that were commonly left for women. We can only hope that involvement and engagement by fathers in the caregiving of their kids will lead to better outcomes for future generations.