A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
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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

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.

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The holidays are quickly on their way, and while there are tons of ways to celebrate, you should feel free to get a little creative with it and make your own traditions (there's no law requiring you to dress everyone in matching red velvet jumpers to sit on Santa's lap). So instead of battling between getting the perfect picture and your baby's natural urge to wiggle, harness the power of those inevitable Hallmark moments—the first giggle, the budding personality, the two-toothed grin—to make your December super special.

Here are six new traditions you can start to meet your little one where they are and celebrate joy in this season—without all the stress.

1. Make DIY ornaments

Decorating the tree is a beloved tradition, and having a little one is all the more reason to get into the spirit of it. Get the baby—and the rest of the family—involved in the fun by letting everyone color or paint on an unbreakable, homemade ornament and hang them towards the bottom of the tree. And sure, your infant may not create any masterpieces at this age, but not only will the precious family heirlooms stay higher up (read: away from tiny hands), you'll also be creating keepsakes to build on for years to come.

2. Bring a holiday scene to life

Connecting your children to the spirit of the season is an important part of teaching them what it's all about, but it's not always so easy to do through books and stories alone. Instead, offer them the chance to live it out! Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas or another significant holiday, playing pretend is the ideal way to teach and have fun along the way for everyone in the family. Use a kid-friendly nativity book as a guide or make your own menorah as you explore the story of the oil that burned for 8 nights—whatever your religion, there's an important tale to tell.

3. Make video cards

There is joy in receiving physical mail and holiday cards are a wonderful way to make your loved ones feel special. But don't stop there! Record a video greeting to send to your nearest and dearest to keep even the most far-away relatives feel like they're right there with you. Everyone will love seeing the baby's latest milestones in live-action, and it's a great way to spread the season's warmest greetings.

4. Start a time capsule box

Making (and maintaining) a baby book is a fabulous idea, but sometimes keeping it up-to-date gets lost in the shuffle of parenthood. Use the holiday season as a time to reconnect with all those beloved memories for your kiddo by starting an annual time capsule box: Each year, have all members of the family add one item of their choosing (or your choosing, depending on age) to the box and label it with a little note. Things can range from a favorite holiday-themed blanket or toy to something they no longer need but aren't ready to throw away.

5. Begin a culinary tradition

Nothing says "cozy" like a yummy-smelling kitchen filled with laughter. While your tot may still be too small to really help in the kitchen, it's never too early to kickstart their love of cooking. Pick a recipe you'll make every year and get them "involved" with a spoon and an empty mixing bowl. You'll get to enjoy the fruits of your labor together and it'll help encourage them to cook with you more year-round, too.

6. Play king for a day

We all know that as babies grow up—independence is a priority, no matter how ready for it we really are. This year, give them the gift of being in charge. By allowing your little one to eat what they want, wear what they pick (a sparkly tutu? No problem. An adorable Christmas cape? Great!) and play with what they prefer, you'll be empowering them with a sense of self and giving yourself the gift of hilarious photo ops for years to come.

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As an ESPN anchor Kevin Negandhi talks to a lot of pro athletes. But as a parent he knows that sometimes raising kids is as hard as training for the big leagues (seriously, science proves that kids energy levels surpass endurance athletes' and parents are running after those kids).

Negandhi knows what it's like to be face-to-face with athletes that so many people idolize, but he also knows that a parent can be more influential than any big league idol, and that's why he's working with Dove Men+Care SPORTCARE to put real dads in the spotlight.

"We have a platform to showcase what they do as everyday athletes, but also as everyday men, everyday fathers," says Negandhi, who has three kids himself. He tells Motherly he tries to make sure he's active with his kids—playing sports with them so that they understand the importance of staying active—but also staying active with the kids when the touch football ends and the real parenting endurance test begins. Like many modern fathers, Negandhi is committed to doing more childcare than his own father did.

"My mom did everything in our house," he tells Motherly. "My dad worked, but my mom worked as well. And she did everything. She raised us. But at the same time she showed me another side. And many times growing up I said, 'How can I be different than my father?'"

Being involved with his kids and doing more of the unpaid work in his household than his own dad did is how Negandhi is doing it, and he's taking time to showcase three fellow dads who—while sharing their names with professional athletes—certainly don't get as much credit as the pros.

That is actually something of a problem in media right now. According to a recent survey by Dove Men+Care, 70% of men wish regular guys who are athletes (but not professionals) got more attention in sports media. Because as much as winning the Superbowl or making it to the major leagues should be celebrated, being a dad who is physically active and active in raising his kids should be celebrated, too.

Research shows that when kids grow up seeing dads exercise they are healthier, and while these three men happen to share their names with famous athletes, they don't get the same glory. So Negandhi and Dove Men+Care are giving these hard working dads some recognition.

Alvin Suarez

Alvin Suarez is teaching his kids that having a disability doesn't disqualify you from being an athlete. As a visually-impaired person, Alvin isn't the standard athlete we see represented in media. He plays Goalball, a sport that relies on keen ear-hand coordination, and he is certainly a keen father, chasing after his twin girls.

Alvin says the difference between sports and fatherhood is that you can train for sports, while parenthood takes you by surprise. "I try to be a good role model for my daughters and I want everyone to know that everyone has potential and that there is no such thing as a nobody."

Alvin has won championships as a Goalball player, but says holding his daughters in his arms for the first time was like winning a medal but multiplied by a million.

Sean Williams

Sean Williams is committed to his community and his kids. He uses physical fitness to connect with his kids and to, literally, save lives. A volunteer firefighter, Sean keeps fit so that he can use his body and energy to maximum impact. He isn't just changing the lives of people impacted by fires, but also his fellow dads.

The founder of The Dad Gang, an organization committed to celebrating and telling the real story of black fatherhood, Sean has created a space for dads to connect with their children and each other while staying active.

"One of the challenges we put out on social media is where you do pushups with our kids on our backs and that merges fatherhood and fitness," he explains.

If there was a Super Bowl for community service, Sean would be wearing the ring.

Chris Paul

A Marine Corps veteran, Chris needs a ton of energy to keep up with his blended family. It started out as an "all-girl Brady Bunch" he explains, as his wife and he had six daughters between them, but they've since added a boy to the family which now included seven kids. .

He's basically got his own sports team at home so it makes sense that Chris is super committed to staying fit for them. The Marine turned realtor takes time to help other dads in his community stay fit and knows when to draw boundaries to protect his time with his kids.

He's got some good endurance, but he's not going to work 15 hours a day when his kids are waiting at home for him. Chris says in former times dads were often passive figures in their kids' lives as the child rearing was done by others.

Like the other men, he's changing that. "I'm an active participant and I want to make sure that I can contribute to my children's lives."

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Back in 2017 when we learned Beyoncé was starring in a new remake of The Lion King I was thrilled. My son (my only child) was almost 2 years old and I told my partner I wanted The Lion King to be our son's first movie theatre experience. Going to see the original Lion King in a movie theatre was a big deal to me as a kid and I wanted to recreate that experience for my son.

Flash forward to July 2019 and The Lion King is in theaters—but my son and I are not. Turns out I really overestimated how long 3-year-olds can sit still. While my son loves watching 1994's Lion King at home (he always stands on the couch and lifts his stuffed animals to the sky during "Circle of Life") he's just not quite subdued enough for the cinema yet.

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So we have been waiting to see The Lion King at home, and now we finally can! October 11 marks the film's digital home video release, and the Blu-ray hits stores on October 22.

Rob Legato, a VFX supervisor on the film, tells Motherly that "the visuals are so well preserved on 4K and newer television sets that it is literally the mini theatre experience and you're not missing much by seeing it at home."

Basically, the digital version is going to be just as awesome as seeing it in theaters, except that we will be able to pause for potty breaks and my kiddo can stand on his seat pretending to be Rafiki without blocking anyone's view.

The movie is, of course, incredible, but so are the animals it's based on. Screening the movie at home is an amazing way to start conversations with your kids about the various animals in the film as they are of course more similar to the real animals they are based on then their animated counterparts were in 1994.

The filmmakers went to Africa to research the animals they were bringing to life and they also spent a ton of time at the Harambe Wildlife Reserve inside Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida watching various species to try to make their movements as realistic as possible. There, 34 species live on 110 acres and the filmmakers got to watch them closely, making this film incredibly detailed.

Some of the animal experts who work with these animals on a daily basis say that when they watch The Lion King, they can actually tell which characters are based on which of the animals they know in real life.

"This film presented a really wonderful and unique opportunity to bring the production crew to the animals here at Disney's Animal Kingdom. They spent about 6 weeks here collecting reference footage of the animals here and we partnered really closely with the animal care teams at Disney's Animal Kingdom to make sure that all of the filming that we were doing, the impact to the animals was minimized," says Jon Ross of Disney's Animals in TV and Film department

The film crew watched the animals from a distance, which is something families can also do at Disney's Animal Kingdom by taking the Kilimanjaro Safari or staying in Jambo House at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, where giraffes and other animals can be seen right from hotel balconies.

But the work Disney is doing with the animals is more than a tourist attraction. The company is serious about conservation and protecting the animal species featured in the park and in its films. "Tied to the Lion King film we launched the Protect the Pride initiative," Claire Martin of Disney's Conservation & Partnerships team tells Motherly. "We realized that we'd lost half of the world's lions since the first Lion King film debuted and we want to turn that around, so we're working with the Wildlife Conservation Network's Lion Recovery Fund to help their vision to double the amount of lions in the wild by 2050," she explains.

Marin suggests that parents watching The Lion King with their kids can use the film to talk to their children about conservation issues and continue the education long after the end credits roll. "We encourage people to learn more, visit the website, get involved and learn more about how they can make an impact on lions and other wildlife across Africa," says Martin.

Through the website, parents can even download an activity packet (you can print it and make your kids a cool book) with all kinds of information and cool activities and to help kids feed their lion obsession in an educational way even when screen time is over.

The Lion King is available to stream now and will be on Blu-ray October 22 (with even more educational features about the animals!)

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Sometimes data tells you very important information you need to live your life. Sometimes it's just a curiosity. When it comes to the many analyses people have done on baby name popularity through the years, we're kind of on the fence. On the one hand, if you're trying to look for what to name your unborn child, it's useful to know just how many other kids in the playground are going to look up when you yell out, "Onyx, don't eat that!"

A new study just revealed the most popular gender-neutral baby name since 1910:

  • Casey has been the No.1 unisex name in the most states for the most years, popping in and out of popularity since the 1960s
  • Riley and Jessie follow close behind
  • In recent decades the most popular gender-neutral names also include: Jamie, Jackie, Taylor, Hayden, Finley and Charlie

This comes from the enterprising people at the online loan company NetCredit, who decided to have some data-visualization fun with baby name statistics, and the results are pretty cool to look at. Plus, they might reveal something surprising about parenting trends and gender norms.

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While gender-neutral names went up 88% from 1985 to 2015, choosing a gender-neutral baby name is not some millennial thing. They've been around for a long time.

What NetCredit did was look at the Social Security Administration's list of baby name popularity by state, and then found out the top gender-neutral baby names for every year since 1910.

Watch the animated results of NetCredit's project below:



NetCredit conducted one more little experiment with this information. They asked two sketch artists to come up with illustrations of Caseys, Rileys and Jessies. It turns out, no matter how neutral you think a name is, people will usually form ideas of a person's identity in their heads, based on other people they've met before, as well as famous and historical holders of those names.

This is what one of the sketch artists, Jon Allen, sees when he hears the name "Casey." He knew a couple of Caseys when he was growing up and that influenced his portrait.

It seems there are always going to be extra factors influencing how people perceive your child's name, but it goes the other way, too. Your child may have such an impact on someone that decades from now, when someone hears the name you picked, their mind's eye will show them the child you raised, not necessarily a particular gender. In 2019, names aren't defined as belonging to boys or girls, but rather by the individuals we give them to.

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When dads take paternity leave, the whole family benefits. Researchers know this and so do a growing number of families. Unfortunately, cultural norms often prevent fathers from taking time to be with their newborn babies. Companies don't always offer paid parental leave to men, and even when they do, some men don't feel they can justify taking it. But if we want fathers to be equal parents, they need an equal opportunity to parent in those early weeks and months.

That's why we love to see high-profile fathers talking about paternity leave. By showing the world that they're playing this important role in raising their children, they can change attitudes everywhere.

From tech founders to athletes to musicians, these fathers understand the value of paternity leave:

1. Daniel Murphy

Murphy was an infielder for the New York Mets in 2014 when his wife gave birth to their son Noah by C-section just before the first game of the season. He flew to Florida to be with his family, and was actually criticized by some for missing two games.

"My wife and I discussed it, and we felt the best thing for our family was for me to try to stay for an extra day— that being Wednesday—due to the fact that she can't travel for two weeks," Murphy told WFAN at the time. "I can only speak from my experience—a father seeing his wife—she was completely finished. I mean, she was done. She had surgery and she was wiped. Having me there helped a lot, and vice versa, to take some of the load off. ... It felt, for us, like the right decision to make."

2. Alexis Ohanian

Before his daughter Olympia was born, the Reddit co-founder announced his plan to take six weeks off to care for her. But when wife Serena Williams suffered life-threatening complications during childbirth, Ohanian changed his plans and took 16 weeks off—the full amount allowed at Reddit.

Two years later, he wrote about how important that time off was for him and his family in an essay for the New York Times.

"Spending a big chunk of time with Olympia when she was a newborn gave me confidence that I could figure this whole parenting thing out," he wrote. "Taking leave also set me off on the right foot for sharing parental responsibilities. Two years later, there is no stigma in our house about me changing diapers, feeding Olympia, doing her hair or anything else I might need to do in a pinch. They're all just dad things (not 'babysitter' things—I hate it when people refer to dads spending time with their kids as babysitting)."

3. Mark Zuckerberg 

Facebook offers four months of paternity leave to employees, and its founder wasn't about to skip out on the opportunity (though he didn't take all four months). He took two months off when daughter Max was born in 2015. In 2017, when wife Priscilla gave birth to their second daughter August, Zuckerberg split his leave, taking one month off when she was born and another a few months later.

"At Facebook, we offer four months of maternity and paternity leave because studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, it's good for the entire family," he wrote on Facebook at the time. "And I'm pretty sure the office will still be standing when I get back."

4. Prince Harry 

In the U.K., the standard paternity leave is two weeks, which is what Prince William took with his first two children, George and Charlotte. (Poor Louis got the third-child treatment when his dad went back to work two days after he was born.)

When Meghan Markle gave birth to baby Archie in May, Harry was widely expected to take time off as well. Much to everyone's surprise, he appeared at an official engagement just three days later. It turns out the Duke of Sussex decided to have a partial leave, appearing at just one event a week for the first month of his son's life.

5. Chance The Rapper 

After the birth of his second daughter, Marli, in September, Chance the Rapper took to Instagram to announce that he had decided to postpone his tour to stay home with his wife and daughters.

"When Kensli was born, I went on tour 2 weeks later and missed some of the most important milestones in her life, but more importantly I was absent when her mother needed me the most," he wrote of his first daughter. "At this point as a husband and father of two I realize that I can't make that mistake again. I need to be as helpful and available as possible to my wife in these early months of raising Kensli and Marli."

6. Jalen Ramsey 

When the Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback took paternity leave in September for the birth of his daughter in Nashville, things were complicated, to say the least. Ramsey had already requested to be traded to another team, so many saw paternity leave as some kind of excuse not to play.

"Months ago in the offseason, Jalen notified me that he was expecting the birth of his second child in late September," Jaguars coach Doug Marrone announced. "We spoke about this recently and again today after practice and decided it was best for Jalen to fly to Nashville tonight after meetings to be with his family during the birth of their daughter. He will return to the team when he's ready, and we will provide an update at that time."

Critics and commenters made this about everything but the baby, but it when dads take paternity leave it's not because they want to upset their bosses. It's because they want to bond with their babies. Can't Ramsey's decision to take paternity leave just be respected as that?

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