For the last 200 years a lot of dads have been out of the house, working their tails off. It’s not their fault they weren’t around to help with the kids and the duties at home, but “times are a changin’.” Gone are the days of coming home and putting on the slippers, kicking up the heels and reading the newspaper.
Dads are strapping on the man apron and helping out.
Maybe you’re like me – you’re doing 10 times more domestic work and caring for your children than your dad did when you were a child. We are not alone. This is a national trend. A good trend. From 1965 to 2011 fathers nearly tripled the time they spent with their children and doubled the amount of domestic work. (source: The Economist). I’m certain these figures have continued to rise.
What else is interesting is that divorce rates started rising in 1965, peaked around 1980 and then started to drop. (source: New York Times) It’s my assumption that our culture got a healthy slap in the face in the late 1960s due to the influences and effects of urbanization, war, hippie culture, women’s rights movement, and the industrial revolution, all of which brought about a trend of increasing gender equality. At first, women began standing up for their rights and their needs and men were slow to respond (and still are, me included) which initially led to the increase in divorce, but as more women joined the workforce and as more men started showing up at home and with their children, more marriages stabilized. Divorce rates went down.
The rough part of all of this is that we still don’t know how to manage this shift. Roles between moms and dads aren’t clearly defined so there is a tendency to have resentment toward one another. “In today’s era of dual-career couples and egalitarian relationships (not to mention single-parent families), the strict division of labor has eroded. Dads and moms are now focused on both providing and parenting. Today, we face a different set of expectations.” (The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home, by Dr. Scott Behson) Communication is a 13 letter word: The number one thing that needs to happen with men is they now actually have to communicate. (Do you suck at this as much as I do?) Check in with your partner. Figure out what shifts need to take place? Does she feel resentment toward you? Do you feel resentment toward her? Who needs more time for self-care? Who needs to show up more? And what are some small steps you can do initially to move the needle in these areas?
Welcome to the complexity and the joy of modern parenting.
It’s hard, it’s complex, but if we stick with it and can be crafty enough to figure out new ways of integrating ourselves into this semi-foreign domestic environment, our partners and our children and our work places will all benefit!
There is a massive upside to all of this. As Dads spend more time parenting, children are receiving a more balanced upbringing. (As long as parents aren’t rely too much on “screens” to raise their children for them. But there’s plenty to read on that subject!) We’re at the beginning stage of a massive explosion in a new family dynamic and we get to be on the forefront of this exciting new development. To learn more download the ebook “Why Modern Dads Change Diapers.”