“We are seeing the masculinization of domestic tasks and routines”
There may be cause for celebration in daddom. Lance Somerfield, of NYC Dads, shared this article from today’s Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Mom is dead.
At least, the pop-culture image of the inept dad who wouldn’t know a diaper genie from a garbage disposal has begun to fade. In his place, research shows, is emerging a new model of at-home fatherhood that puts a distinctly masculine stamp on child-rearing and home life.
At-home dads aren’t trying to be perfect moms, says a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Instead, they take pride in letting their children take more risks on the playground, compared with their spouses. They tend to jettison daily routines in favor of spontaneous adventures with the kids. And many use technology or DIY skills to squeeze household budgets, or find shortcuts through projects and chores, says the study, based on interviews, observation of father-child outings and an analysis of thousands of pages of at-home dads’ blogs and online commentary.
Love that last line. The noise dads have been making amongst themselves for over a decade is getting corrective attention by mass media outlets and, more significantly, social scientists.
Kyle Pruett, a leading child-development researcher and co-author of a 2009 book, “Partnership Parenting,” says…[parenting] differences, typical for many couples, can benefit the children. Dads’ hands-off style tends to instill problem-solving ability, while the more engaged style typical of mothers often instills a sense of security and optimism, he says. (He cites cultural conditioning; the same behavioral differences show up in same-sex couples, he says.) Over the long term, having an involved father is linked in research to better self-control in children, less risky behavior and better grades, says Dr. Pruett, a clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.
The number of at-home dads are increasing, but it’s still a slight percentage:
the Census Bureau counted 189,000 last year, up 78% from a decade ago. But men still comprise only 3.6% of all at-home parents, fostering a sense of isolation for some. One father in the Journal of Consumer Research study lamented that when he took his kids to public parks, “moms would talk over me as if I was not even there.”
Acknowledging a difference in parenting styles—and the benefit of the differences—is great, even if it does conform to gender stereotypes. At least those stereotypes are showing competencies for both genders, instead of shortcomings. For more on what we’ve been seeing on this trend, check out this piece, which might need a new title: What They Don’t Know: The Dads Movement Has Never Been Stronger.