Most studies conducted on working fathers confirm that a pervasive ‘macho culture’ perpetuates the fear of being soft. In these interviews, men have recalled being mocked by co-workers for working part-time to accommodate childcare responsibilities. Many fathers admitted that they had lied or bent the truth to their employer in this regard. The irony lies in the fact that while there may be limited societal expectations from fathers in terms of caregiving, men feel and think otherwise. In 2013, when J. Walter Thompson Intelligence asked 500 adult British men to identify the primary things that define men today, 51 % said providing ‘financial support for family’ and 46% said providing ‘emotional support for family’.
Typically, most parenting guides and magazines portray the mother as the chief caregiver of the family. Some relegate fathers to a secondary role and emphasize their alleged lack of ‘natural’ parenting skills. In children’s picture books, one sees less and less of a father involved in physical contacts such as hugging and kissing. The father’s contribution to the health and psychosocial well-being of their families is almost never recognized.
Moreover, in a post-recession universe, gender roles have undergone radical transformations. Women have become breadwinners. Dual income families are the norm now. And, fathers, well, they remain invisible.
Evidence suggests that children with involved fathers experience quicker mental development. Yet, in a gender-ambiguous world, there is talk about change, but no way to manage its outcome. What happens to the development of children in the light of stereotyping? With more women working for pay, the father must share the responsibility of childcare along with the mother.
Research from the Pew Research Center stresses the importance of the active involvement of both the father and the mother for a child to realize its potential. On Fathers’ Day, SmartHug wishes for a world where organizations and policymakers will work out a roadmap for working fathers to find time and energy for the family. While cultural values may take time to evolve, a concerted effort to achieve this goal is desirable. The future depends on how we plan our present.
SmartHug supports a world of involved fathers.
To read the research, go here.