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One Big Way Dads Have Changed in the Last 50 Years

Photograph by Twenty20

Times have definitely changed. New findings from the Pew Research Center show that dads are more involved in child care and household chores than they were 50 years ago.

Although mothers are still putting in more hours on child care than men every week, fathers are now spending, on average, “eight hours a week on child care—about triple the time they provided back in 1965,” according to Pew Research results.

Fathers are also putting in more hours on household chores than previous generations: 10 hours a week, up from four in 1965.

“By comparison,” Pew Research reports, “mothers spent an average of about 14 hours a week on child care and 18 hours a week on housework.”

The results come from several studies that asked parents questions such as, “How important is parenting to your identity," with 57 percent of dads and 58 percent of moms reporting that it is "extremely important."

A 2017 survey by the research center also showed that "a sizable minority of childless men (44 percent of those ages 18 to 49) hope to become fathers at some point."

Although mothers are still putting in more hours on child care, fathers are now spending, on average, 'about triple the time they provided back in 1965.'

Men are making some progress when it comes to taking on a more hands-on approach to fatherhood, especially when you consider that, according to research from the University of Warwick, a 1982 study showed 43 percent of fathers had never changed a diaper! Thankfully, by 2000 another study showed this figure had fallen to 3 percent.

Although fathers seem to be spending more time with their kids in most cases, they also feel that they could be doing more. According to Pew Research, 63 percent say that they spend “too little time” with their kids (compared to 35 percent for mothers). Both parents cite “work obligations” as the main reason for these feelings.

The results also show that only 27 percent of couples with children live in homes where only the father works. That number is down dramatically from results in 1970, where almost half (47 percent) lived in families with only the father working outside the home.

This seismic shift has also led to increasing numbers of men who identify as “stay-at-home dads.” According to census data, back in 1970 “only six U.S. men identified themselves as stay-at-home parents.” As in six men in the entire country, not 6 percent!

Those numbers are now up to close to 2 million (when last studied in 2015).

Fathers still have a ways to go to keep up with mothers when it comes to the sheer number of hours spent on child and household duties (especially with more moms working outside of the home), but they are demonstrating a more hands-on approach to fatherhood than many of their fathers and grandfathers before them, and that is a positive development for families.

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