Fatherhood 2.0


Happy Father’s Day everyone. Now that the US is opening back up after a long pandemic, my hope is you were able to celebrate in person this year with the Dads in your life. Whether it’s your own father, your husband or even those Dog Dads out there because that’s important too! Unfortunately I was not able to see my Dad as he lives in Seattle and I’m in Chicago. That’s probably the hardest parts of having parents that live out of state right? You can’t just pop over for a celebration or even just to hang out. My Dad and I have lived in different states since I went to college, so we have our own way of connecting now, but it’s still hard especially on days like Father’s Day when you wish you could be in the same place.

But anyway, today’s episode is about how fatherhood and parental duties are changing and Millennial dads are starting to step the F up compared to previous generations. Hallelujah for that! Can I get an Amen? I’ve always said, it takes two to make a baby and two to raise one. Now, in saying that – big shout out to all those single parents out there. The struggle is real and we see you and celebrate you. I honestly don’t know how you do it and you amaze me.

So let’s dive in and see how our male counterparts compare. According to a Pew Research Study, 97% of fathers now do diaper changes as opposed to 1982 when more than 40% of dads said they had never changed a diaper. Ok, can we just talk about that for a second? 40% of dads at one point said they had never changed a damn diaper?! Shame on you! Are you serious? How is that even possible? Do you know how many times a baby needs a diaper changed and you’re telling me at no point were you like, honey, I got this one. No wonder the divorce rate is so high! Wow. That’s just embarrassing.

Also, spending time with family has become more of a priority (um, thank goodness for that!) as almost 4X as many fathers as in the 90s now take paternity leave after the birth of a child. I’m sure a lot of this also has to do with more companies offering paternity leave as well, but let’s give them credit nonetheless. I will say – it’s still nothing compared to other countries, but it’s a step in the right direction.

The number of dads who continue to stay at home to care for children has increased by 70% since 1989! There ya go! Hells yes to the “Stay at Home Dad”! Now, I will say, I’m curious on this data point as to what the starting number was to generate such a large percentage increase. Because if the old number was 1% of men were Stay at Home Dads, a 70% increase is only 1.7% so let’s not get our panties in a bunch throwing a big celebration on this yet – but hey, movement is movement. I will say, it’s 100% unfair how society looks down on men that want to stay home with the kids. And for those men that do, I give them a lot of credit for being way before their time. My dream would be one day it’s not assumed who would stay home, instead, it’s a discussion and totally normal if the man chooses to stay home.

Paternal involvement has increased as dads now spend 3X as much time with their children as they did two generations ago, a majority viewing being a good dad as a priority in their identity. More good news – Millennial dads believe equally sharing parenting duties and housework – what?! Don’t get me wrong, you know my ladies still carry the brunt of this, but dads now average 30 minutes more than their dads did handling housework each day. Isn’t that cute? 30 min more? Again, what’s the denominator here, but improvement nonetheless.

As I look ahead, past my wedding and into looking to start a family, I feel the discrepancy between the parental expectations. We still use phrases like “Dad is babysitting” and we still assume the female will take the majority of the role. I know I had a conversation recently with my mom about traveling and she was surprised that I would consider leaving Christian “alone with the baby” and traveling within the first 5 years. 5 years? You expect me not to travel for 5 years?! Ha! Also, why not leave the father alone with our child that he helped create and will help raise? We are partners and will be doing this together.

It was clearly a generational viewpoint difference and she thinks I’m just naïve I’m sure. But Christian and I have approached everything in our relationship as partners. The only time things tend to fall on me is more because I take it upon myself not because he’s not willing to help me or take it on.

If we are blessed to have a child, we won’t really have a choice but to share responsibilities. We both work full time, we both have hobbies and friends and goals outside of our work that we support in each other. I’m sure we’ll have some ridiculous calendar situation to split up duties lol. We’ll need a project manager to help us figure that shit out. But we’ll make it work as a modern, Millennial couple that we are.

I will say, I actually had a good example of parental partnership growing up and would say my dad was ahead of his time in this arena. I would equate him more to the Millennial fathers we just talked about than to his Boomer counterparts. He was never the 9-5, barely around dad like was portrayed of the past household. Both my mom and dad worked, so they shared responsibilities and my dad thrived in this space.

I remember many nights when my dad would cook dinner for us; his specialty passed down from his mom where he could make a new recipe based on the most random left-over ingredients in the house. It really is a skill, I must say. I remember one time he took left over potato skins (imagine the appetizer version from like a TGI Fridays) and then made a breakfast casserole with them the next morning. Genius!

He also would come to our sporting events, even my Cheerleading competitions. If you’ve never been to a Cheerleading competition, let me paint the picture for you. You have to first meet the team so all the moms can do the hair and makeup together so they were the exact same because you would get points deducted if they were different. The competition would usually start early, lets say around 9am so this means at like the crack of dawn you were driving your daughter to get her hair and makeup done and by the time you got to the competition you already had a headache from breathing in Aqua Net for the past three hours.

Then your headache continues as you are in a gymnasium for eight hours surrounded by cheerleaders practicing and performing to blaring music and their parents chatting away the entire time. Maybe you get a lunch break where you can feast on a hotdog, bag of chips and a coke from Sams Club and then back to the competition. The stands were filled with moms judging each other and gossiping and then there’s my dad. Right in the middle of it. Lemme tell you, the moms loved that a dad would come so I’m sure he at least got plenty of attention from them. But needless to say, there’s no way he enjoyed spending the whole day in a hot gymnasium waiting for me to perform for 5 minutes and then waiting another couple hours for the award ceremony. All on a weekend that he earned from working all week. Thankless job for sure, and that was my dad. He was present. After the divorce, he would always make me feel special.

We had our date nights where we would go to Hot Tix (this discount ticket window that you could get last minute tickets to plays or whatnot) and we would go to dinner and a show or to a museum whatever. But we called it our date night and I felt so special. We also got to experience so much together that way that I really looked forward to it.

Or he would take me shopping – not to buy me things but just so I could try on beautiful gowns and play dress up. So what if this lasted through high school, don’t judge. I loved it though. I mean, a father that would spend three hours in a Macy’s so his daughter could try on dresses they were never going to purchase should get a medal. I don’t even know if I could do that now even if I needed to buy a dress! I think no more than 1.5 hours and I’m toast when I go clothes shopping. It’s exhausting.

I didn’t know any of my friends growing up that spent so much quality time with their dads. I felt really lucky then, and I do now. I am proud to say I don’t have daddy issues and I owe that to him. Because the father being present does matter. It makes a difference and he understood that way head of a lot of his generation. It is thrilling to me that Millennial men are starting to play this out at a greater scale.

So Happy Father’s Day to all those dads out there that are present. To the dads that take on more of a role in the childcare and household duties. To the dads that understand they are not babysitting, they’re caring for their children and taking responsibility. To the fathers that are excited for the responsibility of being a present parent. Happy Father’s Day and thank you for being you, for moving the needle forward to a more balanced household and for pushing against societal norms. We appreciate you and the example you are setting for future generations!

Until next time!

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