Ward and June Cleaver, Archie and Edith Bunker, Homer and Marge Simpson, and more recently, Andre and Rainbow Johnson: this list of names brings up strong images of television families and dads. These shows portray just a slice of how media has exemplified the changing role of the American dad during the last 70 years. The dad of today is different than what we’ve seen on TV over the years. It was the topic of our first podcast episode. Today we are looking forward with these seven parenting trends of American dads in 2019.
Reevaluating Cultural Expectations of Fathers
As media shows, the changing cultural expectations of fathers in many areas have affected how dads parent. Seventy years ago, fathers worked from during the day, came home, ate dinner with the family and relaxed before going to bed. Fathers in 2019 might be just as likely to work swing shifts, telecommute or be stay-at-home days. When they aren’t working, they are much more hands-on with raising kids and with household tasks.
Balancing Work and Family
While fathers previously focused on work, the demands of working mothers have changed the work-family balance for men. About half of all working dads acknowledge that they struggle to balance the two. While they wish they could spend more time with their children, they need to work to provide for their families.
Changing Gender Roles
Gender roles for dads have changed since 1965 to today:
- Three hours a week vs. eight hours a week spent on child care
- Four hours a week vs. 10 hours a week spent on household chores
- About half of all dads as the sole breadwinner compared with one-fourth of all dads as the main income provider
Even so, dads feel that work responsibilities keep them from spending as much time as they’d like with their kids.
Fatherhood as an Important Part of Identity
Most dads express that fatherhood is extremely important to who they are as a person. They feel that parenting is always rewarding and enjoyable.
Rising Numbers of Stay-at-Home Dads
The number of American stay-at-home fathers has almost doubled in the last 30 years. Books, websites, Reddit groups, meet-up groups and numerous resources offer great counsel for stay-at-home dads as they navigate what has traditionally been a woman’s role. Reasons for an increase in these numbers include saving money on child-care expenses, a desire to spend time with their children and the recession and related job losses.
Increasing Numbers of Older Dads
A delay in marriage has meant a delay in the age of becoming a father for many men. In addition, this delay is more evident in college-educated men. According to the Seattle Times, about one in four men 40 or older now have at least one child under the age of six. In 1980, that number was just over one in ten men. While younger men might have more energy and grow up with their kids, older fathers report that they are more patient with more confidence and life experience.
The Importance of Bonding with Dad for Children
About three in four parents believe that it’s equally important for newborns to bond with both mom and dad. Even so, new fathers only take an average of a week off work to spend time with a new baby or newly adopted child.
Fathers today are more involved than ever in caring for children and helping with household tasks. The numbers of stay-at-home dads has skyrocketed in recent years. These new roles will hopefully lead to improved relationships between fathers and children and stronger families overall.
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