How the Fatherhood Revolution Is Changing Modern Families

By Holly Rosen Fink

June 19, 2016

Men are as hard-wired to take of children as women are. – Gary Barker, Promundo US

Have you heard about the fatherhood revolution?  With Father’s Day taking place in the U.S. today, the discussion is as timely as ever.

Photograph by Kiefer Wolfowitz

Photograph by Kiefer Wolfowitz

According to the second-ever State of America’s Fathers 2016 Report,  while dads are still spending half the amount of time caring for young women as women, they want to do more and are taking on more childcare and domestic work than ever before. We’ve come a long way toward achieving gender equality in parenting, but there are key areas where the U.S. is failing to achieve equality.

This week during the State of America’s Fathers Summit, influencers and policy makers including Allan Houston from the NY Knicks, J. Ivey the poet, Coss Marte, an ex-prisoner, Vicki Shabbo from National Partnership for Women & Families, Manoj Raghunandanan  from Johnson & Johnson, Esta Soler from Futures Without Violence, Ellen Galinsky from Families and Work Institute, and Joseph T. Jones from Center for Urban Families, talked not only about these weaknesses but also  promoting men’s involvement as equitable, nonviolent fathers and caregivers in order to achieve family well-being, gender equality and better health for mothers, fathers and children. The event was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and Promundo.

Related: Allan Houston on Paying Fatherhood Forward and Raising 7 Kids at Once

During the keynote address, Gary Barker of Promundo-US gave an update on what the state of America’s fathers is in 2016. Changes are taking place — and they’re rapid. The last half-century saw incredible progress when it comes to mothers and fathers proactively and equitably sharing household work and childcare responsibilities, yet while dads are spending more time with their kids and on housework, women continue to do more of both. Barker said no one can do it alone: “We only achieve the equality women and girls deserve if we engage men in the process.”

State of America’s Father’s provides recommendations on what it will take to reach equality in caregiving, to achieve work-life balance for parents in all their diversity and, to support nonresident, low-income father, of which there are  8-10 million estimated in the U.S. An increased role of the father in family care has proven to be better for all members of the family. The healthiest families are those in which fathers are doing their part to support sexual health and healthy pregnancies, where all family members are seeking and receiving adequate healthcare and no one is using violence.

Paid family and medical leave is a major issue for all Americans. According to Vicki Shabo from the National Partnership for Women & Families, just 12% of workers in the U.S. have paid family leave, and there is no paid maternity leave or leave for dads or adoptive parents. Yet 76% of voters favor a 12-week national paid family and medical leave, so it is more important than ever to push for national paid leave for all genders.

Esta Soler from Futures without Violence summed up the father revolution well when she said: “We can change the arc of human history with compassion and equality. If we stand together and work together, I believe, and I am an optimist, we can create futures without violence for women and girls, men and boys.”

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