When I joined Babytalk three years ago, it was as if the editorial staff (made up entirely of moms and women) had discovered Encino Man. They dug me up from the yard, thawed me out, and gazed at me in wonder. I can’t believe it! A real live dad! While they were skeptical at first (Can a dude write a stroller review?), they quickly came to view me as an asset. And as long as they had a Fatherus Izodus Khakipantsipus in captivity, they were going to put him to good use. Pop-centric op-ed columns, books, blogs, and big investigative stories about the modern dad ensued.
But as most of you know, there's more than just one of us. (I've heard there are thousands--even tens of thousands--of fathers running loose in our cities and neighborhoods! Hide your grills and golf clubs!) So isn’t about time we took a real temperature reading about the state of modern fatherhood? Parenting thinks so. After all, dads have come a seriously long way in the past 20 years (Exhibit A: Al Bundy now has a Latina wife and stepson). What household duties do today's fathers primarily handle? How are they divvying up responsibilities with their wives and partners? Are they being treated fairly?
Parenting’s “Meet the Modern Dad” survey, done in conjunction with Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, is the biggest and most comprehensive fatherhood survey the magazine has ever attempted. Here are some of the findings, released earlier today. These stats and factoids will help inform my panel discussion this Friday at the Dads 2.0 Summit in Austin, TX.
Fathers feel dissed. Today’s generation of first-time dads feel a significantly higher level of prejudice versus fathers with older kids. 82 percent of men whose oldest child is less than 2 years old believe an anti-dad societal bias exists, compared with 66 percent among all dads. Interestingly, our survey results were released the same day stay-at-home dad Chris Routly started a campaign on Change.org to convince Huggies to rethink its new ad campaign, which he believes portrays dads are inferior caregivers. “If you ever wonder why... so many men feel like they are naturally incompetent in caring for their own young child, it’s because of advertising like this," Routly states in his press release. Huggies' Facebook page states that they "loves dads," and the campaign is meant to celebrate them.
Welcome to Dad’s Diner. 26 percent of dads say they do all of the grocery shopping for their families; 22 percent say that they do all of the cooking. When asked which job most accurately describes their role in their family, 31 percent chose “short-order cook.”
Mom’s the coach, Dad’s the waterboy. One in four first-time dads describe the parenting dynamic with their wife/partner as “she’s the coach, and I’m the waterboy.” In other words, we clean up the throw-up, and Mom tells us the spots that we missed. (Hey Proctor & Gamble: It ain’t Mom pushing the Swiffer over those Spaghetti-Os.)
When it comes to parenting advice, we’re asking women or no one at all. The largest number of respondents (35 percent) admitted to turning to their wives/partners for the majority of the childcare advice. But 27 percent say that they don’t seek out advice--they just go with their instinct when it comes to raising kids. Perhaps the most sobering of all the factoids in the study: Only 4 percent seek advice from their own fathers.
For more from the "Meet the Modern Dad" survey, stay tuned for our first-ever Dads Issue this June.