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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.

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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.

It may have been hard to imagine just a few weeks ago, but life with your baby is probably starting to feel like the new normal. From establishing sweet rituals throughout the day to finding ways to carve out that all-important time for yourself, you are really doing great, mama!

Your baby is also getting the hang of life on the outside, too. Especially if you two waged a battle against colic together, this is the point where you are probably claiming victory, which means interactions are getting all that much sweeter. As your baby feels more comfortable with their new world, you will probably notice that some new routines are falling into place, which makes this a good time to reinforce some healthy habits around nap time and bedtime.

With more reliable sleep schedules, you two might also have more energy to take on some stimulating at-home activities. If returning to work is also on the radar, whether in a home office or in a workplace, you might be wondering how you will balance it all. Trust us when we say that you can and will figure it out, just like millions of mamas and babies before you. Thankfully, you can also learn some of the best tips and tricks from them, too.

As you continue to settle into this exciting phase, here are some of our 3-month essentials for you and baby:

To takealong a favorite toy anywhere: Infantino Playtime Pal

Infantino Play Toy

Now that your baby is awake for longer stretches of time, a tactile toy can help keep their focus while you cross tasks off the list around the house.

$14.99

To keep organized: GO by Goldbug stroller organizer

stroller organizer

Why is it that blow-out diapers happen at the worst times?! Keep everything you need organized and within reach with a stroller organizer so you don't spend precious time searching for the wipes.

$16.99

To bottle-feed with ease: Dr. Brown’s bottle set

Dr. Browns

Cleaning bottles can feel like a part-time job, so make it as simple as possible for yourself with a set that is easy to clean. (A bottle-specific brush helps, too!)

$39.99

To offer tummy-friendly formula: Up&Up gentle formula

Babies often arrive in this world with mighty sensitive stomachs. If you are formula or combo-feeding, finding an option you both feel good about can do wonders.

$19.99

To entertain your mini Mozart: Baby Einstein ocean orchestra

baby einstein

Piano lessons might still be years in the future, but it's never too soon to start fostering your baby's music appreciation! By stimulating multiple senses during playtime, research shows babies experience even stronger cognitive benefits.

$19.99

To simplify pumping breaks: Spectra breast pump

breast pump

Whether you are going back to a job outside the home or simply want to help your baby get comfortable with an occasional bottle, breastfeeding mamas are going to want a workhorse pump that makes those pumping sessions as easy as possible.

$200

To keep breakfast simple: KIND breakfast bars

Kind bars

Gone are the days of taking your time to get ready in the morning. Make sure you always have breakfast covered with a supply of nutritious bars you can eat while multitasking.

$2.99

To get past the midday slump: Keurig k-mini single serve

Keurig

Unfortunately, multiple wake-ups during the night doesn't mean you'll get to sleep in longer. If the alarm went off too early, it can help to have a midday coffee break (or two).

$89.99

To protect your lobes from a grabby baby: A New Day stud earrings

New Day earrings

If dangling earrings are suddenly feeling like quite a hazard in the proximity of a handsy baby, swap them out for some stylish new studs. Your ears will thank you!

$7.99

To manage your day: The Time Factory mom life planner

mom life planner

Show mom brain who is boss by keeping all of your tasks and commitments together in one place. Now you'll know exactly what you're supposed to do on any given day.

$8.19

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

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.

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The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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