“Are Dads the New Moms?”: The Generation of the Hands On Father

Dads have raised the ante with the role of fatherhood. While I’ve seen plenty of dads at park outings, I’m seeing more and more of them taking an active role in the daily routine. On Facebook, my dad friends post blurbs about helping with homework or taking their kids to the doctor’s appointment. In my own home, my husband isn’t merely the occasional babysitter and instead feeds, bathes, and regularly interacts with our toddler. And recently, my brother—long known for packing his daughters’ lunches, doing their laundry and playing ridiculous games with them—proudly proclaimed, “I know how to do a French braid!”

"Are Dads the New Moms?": The Generation of the Hands On FatherWelcome to the new dad: men who no longer see themselves merely as husbands or providers, but have stepped up their game as amazing the hands on father.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal writer Susan Gregory Thomas asks, Are dads the new moms? She writes:

Whether it is because today’s men were raised amid the women’s movement of the 1970s, or because they themselves experienced the costs of that era’s absent fathers, there is little question that the age of dads as full partners in parenting has arrived.

I’ve long since been a fan of hands-on dads for several reasons:

  • When more dads want to be the primary caregiver just as much as women want to be the company CEO will we truly blur the gender lines found at home and in the workplace.
  • In dual-income families, women end up assuming not only the role of the income-earner but the role of child-care provider alone.
  • Kids benefit from having an active relationship with their dads, whether through stronger bonds with both parents or a less fearful view of the disciplinarian dad.

I’m excited that dads are stepping up to the plate. With both mom and dad attempting to balance it all, perhaps we’ll see a cultural shift that will support working parents as they attempt to create a healthy work/life balance. And to all the awesome SSBE dad readers: Happy Father’s Day! My hats off to you on this well-deserved day of yours.

What role does your partner play in your family? How does dad balance career, marriage and fatherhood? What was your father’s role growing up, and how has it affected your own perceptions of fatherhood?

Nina

Nina is a working mom to three boys—a five-year-old and toddler twins. She blogs about parenting at Sleeping Should Be Easy, where she writes everything she's learning about being mom and all its joys and challenges. She also covers topics like how kids learn and play, family life, being a working mom and life with twins. Download her free ebook, "Time Management Strategies for the Overwhelmed Mom" for more tips.

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  1. says

    Well said. My husband is a great example of a dad who steps up his game!! He takes 2 of our 3 girls to the park, beach, oceanographic center, movies, museums, helps with bath, puts the older 2 to bed, reads to them, tickles them, helps me cook/clean, takes our oldest to swim lessons, soccer practice and attends to my needs. I don’t know what I’d do without him! I’m so spoiled. It is so important that children have a close relationship with their fathers; they set the example (for little girls) of how they should be treated by boys. I am so thankful this fathers day!!!

  2. says

    My husband is a wonderful father. He is always coming up with fun ways to play with our toddler and looks after him at least once or twice a week while I play sport or catch up with friends. It hasn’t been easy for him in some ways because our toddler is incredibly attached to me, but he persists and I’m sure one day soon ‘dad’ will be the favourite!

    Happy Fathers Day to your husbane

    • says

      Thanks, Laura—I’ll let him know; I’m sure he’ll appreciate it! Like you, I have to give extra props to my husband considering that the little guy tends to be more attached to me than him. I can’t imagine how frustrating that can be, so all the more reason to celebrate them. And happy father’s day to yours as well. He sounds amazing, and yes, I’m actually looking forward to when dad is “favorite” to give us moms a break hehe!

  3. says

    I think this is great. Dad’s are undervalued these days. There importance to family life is also largely overlooked. Thanks for the post.

  4. says

    I simply couldn’t manage without my hubby! His work hours are fairly flexible and he sometimes works from home, so he can join us for a few playing minutes as well as bigger adventures. My mom is amazed by what he does–I doubt my dad changed more than 3 diapers total for my 4 siblings and me! I don’t know what I’d do without my hubby!

  5. Kerry says

    My hubby has always had a major role in every aspect of our lives together. Let me just say that with one of our babies, pretty sure the 1st one, I didn’t change a single diaper until week three. And now with child 4, who is almost 3yo, he is just as helpful – still. And he cooks! Gotta love that – any help in the kitchen is welcomed help these days.

    I do believe there’s been a shift in the ‘man’s role in the home’ … I know my guy and many others are way more involved with family life than their ( or my ) dads were. Definitely.

  6. says

    My hubby is super hands on. I work at night, so he is in charge of the nighttime routine with Eli. Hubby comes home around 4, when I leaving, so he gets to spend lots of quality time with the boy!

  7. says

    My husband has been amazing from the start. He did all of the lifting etc when we came home as I was a bit sore after my c-section. Has been pooed, peed, vomited, sneezed on and doesn’t bat an eyelid. My son adores him as do I. I couldn’t ask for a better husband and Isaac could not ask for a better daddy. Xx

  8. says

    Wonderful post! My husband is truly an awesome father. My mother-in-law tells her coworkers that my son has two moms: me and him. He truly puts in all of his energy to help raise our son.

    There isn’t enough space (or time) to express the lack of “father presence” both my husband and I experienced growing up. Although, I always find the good in the negative…I really believe without these experiences we had (or didn’t have) we are both better parents for it.

  9. tdblue says

    I’d like to add that the hands-on approach that fathers now take toward parenting seems to be catching on with the older generations of men. My Granny said my Papa was the typical dad in the ’60s, who occasionally played sports with my mom but never performed parenting chores, like feeding her or changing her diaper when she was a baby. He is now a changed man. He has fed, bathed, diapered, burped, consoled, and played games with my son (his great-grandson) through his first fifteen months. It amazes Granny, and it has allowed my grandfather to have a really close relationship with my son. So glad things have changed for the better from the “good ole days.” :)