It’s wonderful to have Han-Son, founder of Daddilife share his experience and research on the modern day dad, here on the blog.
Over to Han-Son…
I recently had the pleasure of working with Vicki on a live show for Aldi talking about dads, and she kindly invited me to write for her to share my perspective on modern day dads and some of the challenges ahead that needs both mums AND dads to lean in on.
Well, to be honest it came from a personal problem that when I first became a dad I knew I wanted to be a very different father than what I had in growing up, and I felt that many new dads around me were looking to be more involved than ever. But there was a problem – almost every resource, book, and course spoke to one person…mum.
‘Why are today’s dad so different?’
DaddiLife exists to represent and further encourage this generational shift in fatherhood.
When I first set up DaddiLife, I interviewed Dr Peter West, who had just completed a long research project with new dads. He interviewed new dads as well as their fathers to uncover why modern day dads were so different in their parenting approach compared with the previous generation of dads.
The conclusion was twofold – firstly more working parents, and changing family structures have created an energy towards challenging what real equality should be- and secondly that modern day dads are a by-product of their upbringing, and with these new age dads having been children themselves at a time of divorce rates being higher than ever in the 80’s and 90’s, Dr West found evidence of dads wanting to subconsciously ‘make up for what they themselves had lost as children.’
It was a profound insight and one that alongside the changing shape of family as a whole, runs deep into why and how dads are so much more involved in parenting, today.
In fact when we interviewed just over 1200 dads nationwide for DaddiLife’s The Dad Index (a piece of research we conducted in 2018 looking at the detailed breakdown of parental tasks that more modern day dads were taking charge of) where we found that many ‘Millennial Dads” were infact taking on a lot more of the hands-on day to day role.
87% said they were fully involved in day to day parenting.
85% are involved in the choosing and purchasing of children’s clothes.
67% involved in the choosing and purchasing of all the pre-items.
More than just buying behaviour we saw through the research, how dads were increasingly taking on certain routines too – most commonly bath time and owning more of that entire bed time routine time which traditionally featured the mother.
This should only be the start, not the end.
The last few months of the pandemic has given us all pause for thought, and while the changing shape of modern day parenting has been encouraging over the past few years, there are 3 areas I think dads (and mums) need to start joining forces on together in order to create a thriving modern day family.
What’s real quality time to you?
It’s been a question I’ve asked myself a lot, and if there’s one good thing that has come out of Covid for me, it’s a real reflection of how important being present is, with my son. Too often I’ve been physically present but mentally thinking about that meeting or work deadline. Carving real ‘present’ time has been a blessing. I’ve even found myself getting a and us both making the most of days out together on the bike! I definitely couldn’t have said that pre-Covid, and I’ve noticed how my own mental health has benefited from it too.
It’s time to change the conversation for dads at work
While a quiet revolution is happening in our homes, the workplace has been much slower to change. There have been far too many incidents of maternity discrimination taking place, particularly around Furloughing decisions and it’s time that dads make more of a stand at work.
Our own dads in lockdown research recently revealed that 25% wanted to make flexible working a consistent pattern post Covid, and for many dads I’ve heard of how the pandemic has made them reflect on the type of work-life balance that’s really right for them.
I think we now to keep our foot on the pedal to make sure that work is representative of our family goals too. This means more dads speaking up for what they want to change. I know that can be tricky for guys to be truly vulnerable at work but we need to start being more open in what is ultimately going to drive more success- at home and at work.
There are two ports of call when it comes to speaking up – the official and unofficial. If your workplace has a dedicated HR function, then start by making an appointment to speak to them about your situation and why you think a change will be of benefit to you and to work. In workplaces without an official HR function, look to those who you would consider having changed something at work due to their own parental goals. Perhaps it’s another dad who successfully applied for a different working practice, or a mum who’s pioneered more flexible working? Learn how those people achieved their own change and do the same.
I really hope we’re moving swiftly out of a phase where dads are overly celebrated for changing a nappy. It’s really just what we should be doing.
One area I hope more dads can start leaning into is the mental load. Mums discuss the mental load a lot but for dads (and men in general who can be wired very differently) much of the mental load is often not in consideration. It’s something I’d love to see dads being more open to, and in fact both mums and dads finding the right ways talking about it more together. It might be a tough conversation initially, but we should be brave and start having those conversations that really matter, in a manner that is truly productive.