We’re entering a new age of fatherhood, says new study

But here's what dads need to keep the momentum going.

We’re entering a new age of fatherhood, says new study
@rohane via Twenty20

The last few months have been a non-stop barrage of bad news, but on Father's Day we can appreciate some good news that's come out of 2020: New research from Harvard finds nearly 70% of fathers United States feel closer to their children now than they did before the coronavirus pandemic.

Fathers of all races, political affiliations, education and income levels are closer to their kids due to COVID-19, say the researchers behind the new report How the Pandemic is Strengthening Fathers' Relationships with Their Children.

This report comes from the Making Caring Common project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and saw thousands of fathers across the country surveyed about how the pandemic has impacted their parenting. "I think that it has reinforced the importance of family as we try to spend time together every day now," said one dad.

Another father said his relationship with his child has improved remarkably during this historically difficult time: "Staying and working from home has greatly helped in improving my bond with my little girl. It has brought us together closer than before. She freely shares her thoughts with me, what interests her and what she wants from me. We play games together nearly every other day and I have become her partner in so many other things too."

Motherly's own COVID-19 survey found moms are reporting an increase in their partners' participation in household responsibilities (including childcare). Taken together, the data from the Making Caring Common project and Motherly's Third Annual State of Motherhood survey suggest we are approaching a new age of fatherhood, one where dads can be the fathers they want to be and one where moms aren't carrying a disproportionate load of family responsibilities.

"Despite women having entered the workforce in high numbers over the past 50 years, mothers have remained the primary caregivers of children," says Richard Weissbourd, Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Faculty Director of Making Caring Common, and co-author of the Harvard report. "What we're seeing here is that fathers, many of whom had previously been consumed by their work, have developed a new sense of closeness to their children during the pandemic."

This is why parental leave and flexible work options cannot be seen as women's issues, because they benefit fathers so much, too.

Stephanie Coontz is the Research Director for The Council of Contemporary Families (CCF) is housed at the University of Texas at Austin, where a recent study showed that moms and dads both say dads are doing more of the lifting at home since the pandemic (but disagree about how much).

"The bad news is that dads still expect moms to figure out what the kids need, so when a new responsibility comes up, like having to take over home schooling, women end up doing the heavy lifting," says Coontz. "The good news, when you combine these findings with other studies on the long-term effect of paternity leave, split shifts, and work from home, is that once men begin to see and participate in the invisible labor they used to be able to ignore, most of them step up their game."

According to Weissbourd, the gains in closeness between dads and kids could "easily evaporate after the pandemic," if families, lawmakers and employers don't make the effort to allow this trend to continue.

So this Father's Day, on behalf of America's fathers, their partners and the children who are finally getting to know their dads, we're asking employers to think about what lasting change can come from the pandemic, and how a father shouldn't have to be laid off or working from home to find time for a relationship with his kids. We're asking for change so that our kids can feel as close to dad next Father's Day as they do today.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

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