Thoughtful Parenting: Hats off to the modern dad
He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
— Clarence Budington Kelland
On June 19, American families will honor dad by celebrating Father’s Day. Not surprisingly, the role of fathers has changed through the years as the American family and lifestyle have changed. Gone are the days when dad was considered a “helper” to mom, without equal parenting responsibilities and rights.
This is a giant step in the right direction, as evidenced by a large body of research showing the importance of the father/child connection to healthy youth development cannot be overstated. Research clearly shows that children have reduced rates of juvenile delinquency and perform better socially, emotionally and academically when both parents are involved in their lives.
As someone who has been honored to have had discussions with many fathers, I never fail to be profoundly moved by the intense emotion shown by so many men when sharing their feelings about their children (as well as when discussing their own fathers). My experience is backed up by a national survey showing that 90 percent of surveyed dads say being a parent is their greatest joy (2,200 parents surveyed by zerotothree.org).
Recent research by the Pew Research Center, pewresearch.org, sheds light on some ways in which being a dad has changed though the years:
• Fewer dads are their family’s sole breadwinner. Among married couples with children younger than 18, 60 percent of households are dual-income. In 1960, only 30 percent of households were dual income.
• Dads’ and moms’ roles are converging. As the share of dual-income households has risen, the roles of mothers and fathers have begun to converge. In 1965, fathers’ time was heavily concentrated in paid work. Since 1965, dads have more than doubled time spent doing household chores and nearly tripled in time spent with children.
• Work-family balance is a challenge for many working fathers. Pew Research surveys have found that, just like mothers, today’s fathers find it challenging to balance work and family life. Working fathers are as likely as working mothers to say they would prefer to be home with their children, but that they need to work, because they need the income.
• Dads spend at least as much time with their kids as their own fathers spent with them. Forty-six percent of fathers said they personally spend more time with their children than their own fathers spent with them. Even so, many fathers feel they’re still not doing enough, as nearly half of all fathers said they spend too little time with their kids.
• More dads are staying at home to care for kids. Today, 7 percent of U.S. fathers with children in their household do not work outside the home — that’s roughly 2 million dads. Though stay-at-home dads represent only a small fraction of fathers, their share is up from 4 percent in 1989.
Clearly, fatherhood has traveled a lengthy path to reach this point in history, and no doubt, the journey will continue to evolve. As we reflect on the special role fathers play in our lives, we honor responsible fathers wherever they are on their journey — on Father’s Day and every day. Thank you, dads.
Susan Phillips is the coordinator for the Fatherhood Program of Routt County. She can be reached at 970-870-5289 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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