It might be time to give your dad some credit.
Because, according to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, chances are he’s doing a pretty good job.
While experiences and cultural standards about fatherhood vary, it’s still one of the hardest jobs a man can have in his lifetime.
The traditional American family is changing in surprising ways, and the role of the modern father is evolving as well. Today, dads are more involved, more engaged, and less concerned about the “Brady Bunch”-style vision of the American dad.
In honor of Father’s Day, here are 6 ways that fathers have been stepping it up in America in big ways.
They spend more time with their kids, but still say it’s not enough
- Pew Research Center
According to the report, 46% of fathers say they spend more time with their kids than their parents did with them. That means that just one generation of fatherhood has drastically changed the amount of engagement between father and child.
And 48% of fathers in the study still thought they didn’t spend enough time with their kids in general, suggesting they are more concerned with fostering a healthy relationship through bonding time and shared interests, apparently even enjoying shopping together.
They are more concerned about work-life balance
Many working fathers feel the struggle of balancing work and parenting, with 52% of fathers saying it’s a challenge to juggle the responsibilities of work and family and 29% saying they always feel rushed to fit it all in. In 1977, only 35% of fathers reported having problems balancing work and family.
It’s still relatively new for companies to offer decent parental leave for fathers after becoming parents, but some companies are leading the way in providing new dads with some quality time with their newborns.
They aren’t always the sole breadwinner anymore
- Pew Research Center
About two-thirds of households today are dual-earner families. In 1970, there were about 25% less than that. Having two income earners has allowed parents to more comfortably split their time raising their children and working, allowing dads to spend more time with their kids than 50 years ago.
The percentage of working mothers has steadily risen in the past 10 years, challenging the idea that women should stay home and men should be the primary breadwinner. The American Psychological Association found that two-income families can be happier and healthier due to a more balanced lifestyle.
They don’t mind being the stay-at-home dad
- Oksana Kuzmina/Shutterstock
In 2012, 7% of American fathers, about 2 million, were staying home with the children and not working outside of the home. While still a small percentage, it’s up 4% from just 15 years ago. The increase in jobs that can be worked remotely, along with declining stigmas about gender roles in the home, has resulted in more dads caring for the children.
Slate highlighted a misconception that Americans still hold about stay-at-home dads, such as calling them “heroes,” for just caring for their children full-time. The modern dads that do this don’t agree. It’s simply part of a new normal.
They handle more housework and child care
- Pew Research Center
In 1965, data shows that fathers spent a majority of their time working, while mothers handled pretty much all housework and child care. For perspective, dads spent an average of 42 hours working per week and only 6.5 combined hours of housework and child care.
Fathers now boast a much higher average of housework and child care at 17 hours per week. This indicates that dads are taking on more responsibility at home and with the kids, with things like regularly cooking dinner and even sometimes providing overly detailed lists for the babysitter, though mothers still carry a majority of the responsibility.
They see parenting as central to their identity
Around 57% of American dads say that parenting is extremely important to their identity, with 54% saying parenting is rewarding all of the time and 46% saying parenting is enjoyable all of the time.
The assumption that fathers focus more on their career and providing for their family than on parenting is disappearing. Parenting is central to molding their identity. In fact, being a father can touch every facet of a man’s life, even his level of success in his career.