It’s quite obvious that over the past few decades the role fathers play in their children’s lives has evolved.
Traditionally, it’s probably fair to say, dads have been expected to play somewhat passive roles when it comes to parenting. Dad provides the financial support by working all day while Mom is the nurturer. Sure, Dad might take little Tommy out in the yard to teach him to throw a football, but don’t expect much more than that.
That is changing. Big time. Studies show that dads who live with their kids are spending three times as much time with them as they were 20 years ago. That’s probably due in large part to the amount of research that has been done that shows the positive impact fathers can have on their children’s overall well-being.
And with the recent research that has been done showing the importance of shared parenting for divorced families, expect Dad’s comeback trend to continue.
Here are three ways the role of the traditional father is changing.
Dad is around more.
According a report published by The Council of Economic Advisors titled “Nine Facts About American Families And Work” fathers are devoting 4.6 more hours of childcare and 4.4 more hours of housework each week than they did in 1965.
More fathers are also taking on the role of primary caregiver as the number of stay-at-home dads increased from 1.1 million in 1989 to 2 million in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center.
Dads are forming stronger emotional ties with their kids.
Although it is true that dads are spending more time with their kids, it’s not enough for them to just “be there.”
According to Jay Fagan, who is a professor of social work at Temple University and is leading a five-year national project called the Fatherhood Research and Practice Network that evaluates fatherhood programs on a national level, it’s important for fathers to form strong emotional bonds with their children.
“There have been quite a few studies showing that with fathers who are sensitive to their young children’s emotional states and needs, there is a better sense of a more secure attachment bond with their parents,” Fagan recently told the Orange County Register.
The image of a stern, stoic father governing his household isn’t cutting it anymore. The amount of quantity time a dad spends with his kids is more important than the quantity of time he spends with them. Fagan also explained to the Register that newer research has shown fathers who engage and play with their kids can help contribute to their self-regulation of emotions and behavior.
A supportive, emotionally available father is quickly becoming the expectation. In a survey by Pew, nearly six in 10 Americans said it is “extremely important” for a father to provide values and morals to his children.
The number of “alternadads” is growing.”
According to a WebMD feature titled “The Changing Face of Fatherhood,” only 38 percent of children born in the last three years of the 20th century will make it to 18 years old having lived the majority of their lives with both of their biological parents.
It’s become more socially acceptable for divorced dads, older dads, stepdads, and gay dads to raise their children.
That isn’t a bad thing. Untraditional fathering can work just fine. Although it is ideal to have both parents involved, Kyle Pruett, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale Medical School and the Yale Child Study Center told WebMD that fathers are “the single greatest untapped resource” in the lives of children in the United States.