Dads in America are spending more time with their children and more time doing house work than ever before, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center released last week. A few weeks ago a New York Times article reported on the growing number of stay-at-home Dads and even an active group of Daddy bloggers. What’s going on in America’s households, and what does it mean for our views of the traditional definition of fatherhood?
For decades, the United States has seen an evolution of the meaning of fatherhood and in the roles that fathers play in the lives of their children. Traditional definitions of fatherhood tend to focus on men’s ability to support their families financially, whereas contemporary expectations include men’s direct involvement in the physical and emotional care of their children. Families have also experienced changes in how men and women allocate their time spent at work and at home. Recent demographic, social and economic changes have contributed to the growing diversity and complexity of families, with important implications for fathers. Here are a few key facts to help illustrate these trends:
While there is considerable variation among resident fathers and their role in the house and with children, it is clear that fatherhood in America is much more diverse and complex than ever. The changing role of fathers has generated research, media coverage, and even greater attention from advertisers. Consumer marketing companies are studying these trends and increasing efforts to target fathers as consumers who are making decisions about the products that their families are buying. Over time researchers will seek to fully understand who these fathers are, how many are there, what their motivations are, how they spend their time with children, how fathers’ involvement with children differs from mothers’ involvement, and how their increased involvement in family and child care may affect couple relationships, parental stress and well-being, and child well-being.
Mindy E. Scott, Senior Research Scientist
 Latshaw, Beth A. 2011. Is fatherhood a full-time job? Mixed methods insights into measuring stay-at-home fatherhood. Fathering 9, (2): 125-149.
 Hofferth, S.L., Pleck, J.H., Goldscheider, F., Curtin, S., & Hrapczynski, K. (2012). Family structure and men’s motivation for parenthood in the United States. In N.J. Cabrera and C.S. Tamis-LeMonda (Eds), Handbook of Father Involvement, Multidisciplinary Perspectives, Second Edition. Routledge Academic.