The Changing Roles of Fatherhood

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Fatherhood ain't what it used to be - and that's a good thing. Many dads are pitching in with the kids more than ever before, and that means everybody wins.

If you think your hubby’s better at the fatherhood gig than dads of the previous generation, you’re in the majority. A new article from the Pew Research Center says working moms are modern dads’ biggest cheerleaders:

Fully 72% of married moms who work at least part-time and are raising young children say dads are now doing as good a job or better than their counterparts did a generation ago; only 26% say they’re falling short.

I’m not surprised. Once dads have to share the dual roles of breadwinner and parent with moms, they adapt. They get good at fatherhood through on-the-job training.

I saw this with my own husband, Jay. Right after our daughter was born, I stayed home on maternity leave. I didn’t have to work; my sole responsibility was caring for Cassie and keeping the house up. He continued working full-time, and helped when he could. At that point, I would have rated him a 6 on the Good Dad Scale (1-10). Interestingly, the Pew article said more dads are rating themselves pretty low on that scale:

Only 41% of men say today’s dads match or better the performance of the dads of the 1970s and ’80s, compared with a majority (55%) who say today’s dads are doing a worse job.

It wasn’t until I went back to work–and Jay took care of Cassie while he worked from home– that he became adept at fatherhood. Suddenly, I wasn’t there to change her poopy diapers, soothe her back to sleep, or keep her entertained. It was all Daddy. He got so good at it, so confident, I was amazed (and relieved). I felt like she was in equally good hands with me or with him. My rating of him as a dad went straight up to a 10.

Not every dad has the chance to be the primary caregiver for his child. But even just taking on more of the kid stuff, such as dropping them off at daycare or putting them to bed at night, helps dads do better at fatherhood. I’m glad to hear most working moms are seeing at least generational improvement when it comes to their parenting/life partners.

Susan Wenner Jackson

Susan Wenner Jackson is the cofounder and editor of Working Moms Against Guilt. She lives in her hometown of West Chester, Ohio, with her husband, two children, and their dog.

4 Comments

  1. I think my DH is a wonderful father. I don’t know about you but there is somthing about watching him play with the boys that is amazing.

  2. Yes! My dad was a great father, too, I think. He really took a lot of responsibility – I think he and mom were about equal, probably because they both worked. But my husband is awesome, too. I rarely feel like it’s all on me. And when I do feel like that, often it’s because I’ve taken it all on me. I know he’d be happy to do more. Here’s to good men! It’s all about working families, isn’t it?

  3. You know what really makes a diff? Going from one to two children. My husband didn’t step up until after my second child was born. And I take some responsibility because I didn’t really push him. But even the supermommiest supermom needs serious help juggling career plus two small children.

  4. My father was a great father but he did nothing around the house. Never changed a diaper, and even left his dirty underwear on the bedroom floor for my mother to pick up. He drove me crazy because of that, but he still was a great father. Funny thing, somehow he taught me to not accept anything less than the husband I have now. He helps with everything. It was never an issue. It was just what he did. Lets not be surprised when men help with the home and the children. We should only be surprised when they don’t.

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