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Dads now spend 3 times as much time with their kids than previous generations 👏👏👏

They're changing the world by changing diapers. Now the workplace needs to change, too.

Dads now spend 3 times as much time with their kids than previous generations 👏👏👏

Our children are growing up in a world very different from the one we were raised in. Their car seats have them looking backward, but our children are facing the future head-on. People often point to digital devices like the iPhone and Alexa when discussing how childhood has changed over a generation, but there's a huge human element transforming how kids experience the world.

Fatherhood.

Research indicates that today's dads are more involved than ever before (👏👏👏) and it's changing the way kids see the world, and see themselves. Today's dads are going great, but society could make it easier for them to be the dads they want to be.


Dads want to be equal parents

Modern dads take parenting seriously, spending three times as much time with their children as men did two generations ago, and they're doing a lot more during that time.

Back in 1982, a whopping 43% of fathers admitted they'd never changed a diaper. Today, that number is down to about 3%, and that's great, because research indicates that when dads dress, diaper and bathe their babies, the father-child relationship grows stronger as the child grows.

Today's dads get that. Research shows millennial dads have more egalitarian beliefs about childcare, and are striving to see more even distribution of parenting duties in their own households. The numbers prove things aren't perfect—many dads admit things aren't yet even in their homes (mom still does more)— but one recent study found modern dads devote 30 more minutes to daily household chores than their own fathers did, and they're spending more time with their kids than previous generations.

That's huge. Engaged fathers create all kind of benefits for kids. They're teaching our daughters that they are not less than boys and teaching our sons that dishes and laundry aren't "women's work" (those things are just a part of being an adult).

This trend of dads doing more at home isn't just good for our kids, it's good for our marriages (which is also good for our kids). Research indicates that when 60% or more of the parenting responsibilities fall to mom, the relationship between mom and dad suffers. But, when dads do their part around the house, couples have stronger relationships. Simple things, like dad loading the dishwasher, are so powerful.

Dads feel #dadguilt, too

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Despite how far they've come, today's fathers often feel conflicted and struggle with dad guilt, and, in most households, mom is still doing more. This can result in some differences in perception between partners. Jill Whitney, licensed marriage and family therapist, previously told Motherly a dad today may "compare himself to his own father and see the ways he's much more involved than his dad was—when his partner may see the ways things aren't really even."

(Indeed, a recent study found working moms typically have less than an hour of less than an hour of leisure time, while dads had nearly two, and studies show moms are multitasking more than dads.)

Dads get that though. Pew polling found about half of dads want to be spending more time with the kids than they do, they just can't get over some of the work-life barriers.

Dads need support, too

According to Kevin Shafer, an associate professor of sociology at Brigham Young University, dads "repeatedly tell researchers they want to be more involved parents, yet public policy and social institutions often prevent them from being the dads they want to be—hurting moms, dads and children alike."

According to Shafer, paid parental leave for moms and dads, and a change in overall work culture is desperately needed. His research found "fathers were more nurturing, emotionally engaged and better co-parents if they worked for organizations with cultures and policies that promoted family involvement."

Dads are doing so much these days, it's time for society to step up and support them. As the authors of a recent study out of Boston College note, many of today's dads are highly conflicted. They want "to climb the corporate ladder but at the same time want to spend more time with their children. [These are] fathers who assert that their children's interests are their top priority but who are also highly susceptible to the demands of their corporate cultures."

It's clear workplaces need to change to support all parents. Maybe then, the number of fathers who do an equal share of the childcare (currently 1 out of 3) will be be more reflective of the number of fathers who want to (2 out of 3).

Dads are being seen

Yes, there are challenges that this generation of fathers is figuring out, but we have to admit they've come so far. We see it in our families, and in our social media feeds, as celebrity dads like The Rock and John Legend are being very public about the hands-on role they play as parents.

Here's to the dads who are changing the world by changing diapers. We know you wish you could do even more. Thank you. We see you.



This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But, a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4 year old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year...

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keeping an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Following children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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