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Mom vs. Dad: Who's Doing the Work?

Are dads leaving most of the babycare to moms? Or are they equal partners in parenting? The 26,500 mothers and fathers who answered our exclusive national survey couldn't wait to give us the scoop. And the story they tell about what's happening in American homes today is full of love, frustration, and hope.

C'mon, let's admit it: When you get a few moms together in a room, the talk can quickly degenerate into husband-bashing. Every mom's got a story  -- like the one about the dad who can cook a gourmet meal for 12 but can't remember to warm a bottle of formula. Or the father who loves to read his toddler bedtime stories but isn't quite clear when bedtime is.

But the fact is, dads today are dramatically more involved than their fathers were. From their presence in the delivery room to their role as baby-bathers, they're doing things the past generation never would have done  -- and they're loving it. So we at BabyTalk wondered: Is moms' view of fathers fair? What do dads have to say about who's doing what? Just how much have old gender roles changed?

We decided to run "his-and-hers" surveys in our March 2002 issue  -- one poll for mothers and one for fathers. It was a gamble, because literally 98 percent of BabyTalk's readers are women. Well, the gamble paid off. We heard from 15,000 moms  -- and an astonishing 11,500 dads. As it turns out, nobody had really asked the men about their views on parenting before. Once we did, the floodgates opened, and the dads had a lot to say (as did the moms). So first, the good news...

Sally S. Tusa is the articles editor for BabyTalk magazine. Additional reporting by Alison Damast.