On Father’s Day, let’s celebrate what’s normal (not special) about dads caring for kids
Men and women divide their time differently, but they're all caring for kids and fed up with TV stereotypes of bumbling, lazy or incompetent dads.
For the past five years, up until the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve traveled the country talking about modern fatherhood. As a modern dad myself, I limit my travel to five days a month and work from 真人百家家乐官网网站home the rest of the time. So I’m the one generally 真人百家家乐官网网站home with the kids when they get 真人百家家乐官网网站home from school.
Often, when I speak to businesses and organizations, women tell me that they’re “lucky” because their husbands are so hands-on with the kids, equally committed to family life. I always respond the same way: “That’s terrific, but you’re not lucky. You’re normal.”
This is the secret, unknown reality of the modern dad, a fact buried beneath TV stereotypes of bumbling, lazy or incompetent fathers, as well as misleading data. In reality, time use surveys show that while mothers and fathers divide their time differently, both are working hard on behalf of their families through a combination of paid work, unpaid work and childcare.
'Mad Men' workplaces can be a barrier
The biggest force holding back gender equality at 真人百家家乐官网网站home isn’t laziness or lack of interest among fathers. It’s a set of workplace structures, vestiges of the 'Mad Men' era, that push women to do more of the caregiving, while also pushing men to spend more and more hours in paid work. My book, “All In,” is filled with research and stories of men who were fired, demoted or lost job opportunities for daring to take paternity leave or seek a flexible schedule.
In a survey by Promundo with Unilever Dove Men+Care — a brand I partner with on research and projects about modern fatherhood — 85% of men across seven countries said they “would do anything” to be more involved at 真人百家家乐官网网站home after having children. But their families can’t afford for them to risk their livelihoods. Large majorities of men and women agreed that “attitudes among colleagues and managers often leave fathers feeling unable to ask for paternity leave.”
survey by EY found that U.S. men are even more likely to switch jobs or careers, take pay cuts, give up promotions or move to have more time with family.
COVID gives dads a chance to change
But most business leaders are unaware of this. Why is that? Because the images of dads being less involved at 真人百家家乐官网网站home have had a deep impact. I’ve spoken with executives who believe that if a man says he wants paternity leave or a flexible schedule, he’s really going to go 真人百家家乐官网网站home, kick up his feet, crack open a beer, watch sports and wait for his wife to do everything. So these executives believe they should keep him productive with work and give women more flexibility. The net result is that families are left with no choice but to fall into more traditional roles.
This helps explain why, in the Promundo and Dove Men+Care survey, even larger numbers of women than men expressed frustration with media images of incompetent fathers.
Now, COVID-19 has changed the landscape. Suddenly, millions of parents are teleworking. It’s an opportunity for fathers to do more at 真人百家家乐官网网站home.
research by three professors found that more than 40% of fathers report spending more time on housework and childcare. Smaller numbers of mothers say the same about their husbands. “Parents also agree that between 11-16% of mothers and 6-8% of fathers have decreased their time in domestic work.” But it will likely be some time before research shows anything conclusive.
What is clear is that people in positions of power, particularly in businesses, need to understand the reality of the modern family, in which men are caregivers. This is why it’s so important to normalize images of #DadsCare campaign.
It’s time to stop seeing instances of dads caregiving as special or unusual, and start seeing them for what they are: completely normal. This Father’s Day, let’s celebrate that.
Josh Levs, a business consultant and former journalist, is the of "All in: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses–And How We Can Fix It Together." Follow him on Twitter: @JoshLevs