What is Dad's role?
Most will agree that gender inequalities have declined over the last 50 years. If you don’t believe me, just ask Peggy Olson from the hit TV show Mad Men. I’m sure she’d much rather work for any of today’s tech companies, even with their record of gender inequality, than her early (1950’s) days at the fictitious firm she worked at in the show. However, have we really made much progress? Are we still stuck in the routine of women having control over raising kids while the men have the sole responsibility of bringing home the bacon?
What did you buy your dad?
Father's Day is coming up this weekend and it has me reflecting on if and how the role of “father” has evolved in our society. I remember as a child whenever Father’s Day came around, my brother and I would always get our dad either a coffee mug or a tie to go with one of his dress shirts. One year, we might have even bought him a new brief case. You know, those archaic things people carried papers in before the advent of the Internet. All of the gifts we got our dad were perfectly suitable gifts for dads, but when I took a deeper look, I noticed every gift we ever gave him revolved around his job.
My mom also worked (part time), but she always got gifts related to sewing, the kitchen, or jewelry. She was the primary caretaker and my dad was the primary income earner. Now that I’m a father, I look around at my contemporaries and notice so many dads that are engaged in raising their kids. Am I just living in a bubble? My anecdotal experience tells me that more than 80% of the users of Kwaddle are moms, but, at the same time, I’ve never seen as many engaged and dedicated dads as I know today in my own network. It’s hard to reconcile both opposing pieces of anecdotal data.
Let's Talk Statistics
To dig deeper into this question, I first checked Facebook. By looking at the metrics for Kwaddle’s Facebook Page, we have 62% females that have liked our page versus 38% males. That’s not a very promising statistic, considering that Kwaddle is a good proxy to measure how involved a parent is in the extracurricular life of a child. Even more surprising is when I looked at two comparable Facebook groups in Austin. The Austin Moms’ Network has over 8,000 members while the Austin Dads’ Network has only 344 members. This is shocking because the Austin Dads’ Network has less than 5% of the membership of the Austin Mom’s Network Facebook group.
Does that mean that only 5% of the dads are interested in nurturing, educating, and finding enrichment activities for children? Maybe it’s just a fluke because more women happen to be on Facebook, so all the Facebook stats are skewed. It’s hard to say. Maybe the moms are the ones gathering information from digital outlets like Facebook and the dads are behind the scenes making lunches, providing rides, and playing catch with the baseball in the backyard.
A little more research...
In the process of doing additional research, I stumbled upon a survey done by the National Center of Fathering. This organization did a survey in 1999 and a follow up of the same survey in 2009. The trends they found over the 10 year period are surprising. The survey asked questions about the degree to which fathers are involved in the lives of their children. Key findings showed that there has been a significant increase in fathers involvement with their children at school. For example, the number of fathers walking or taking their kids to school jumped 16 points from 38% to 54%. Similarly, the number of fathers attending class events went up 11 percentage points from 28% to 35%. The number of fathers attending parent-teacher conferences went up 8 points from 69% to 77% over the ten year span!
Keep up the great work!
From our data-driven approach, we can all see that this Father’s Day is truly a time to celebrate dads. So, whether you’re a stay at home dad, a working dad, a step dad, a long distance dad, a foster dad, or a new dad just trying to figure it all out, it’s time to kick off your shoes and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. But, dads should also not keep their eyes off the prize, hopefully this article will motivate you to explore new ways to play a bigger part in the lives of your kids.
I was thrilled to see the results of the survey and the progress that dads are making in carrying the workload at home. For those that are still thirsty to make bigger improvements on the front lines of fatherhood, below is a checklist of some easy things that all dads can do in order to be more involved in the lives of their children.
Tips For Fathers To Get Involved
- Read to your child
- Visit your child’s classroom
- Volunteer at your child’s school
- Have lunch with your child at school (74% of fathers have never done this before)
- Schedule a Day Out with Dad
- Visit our Pinterest page for ideas on activities you can do with kids.