Just in time for Father's Day, we now have a brand-new reason to applaud all the wonderful dads we know. New research has found that today's dads are engaging with their kids more than ever before — and we think it's long overdue.
The June 2018 study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family used data on 2,194 fathers of children ages 2 through 18. Researchers evaluated these dads' responses to statements about fatherhood and masculinity, including, "It is essential for the child's well-being that fathers spend time interacting and playing with their children," and "It is difficult for men to express warm and tender affectionate feelings toward children." The study's results are guaranteed to warm your heart.
"We found that today's dads spend more time, provide more care and are more loving toward their kids than ever before," said study co-author Kevin Shafer, PhD, in a press release. "Most dads see themselves as playing an equally important role in helping their children as mothers do. At the same time, however, there is a group of dads who believe they are to be breadwinners, disciplinarians, and nothing more."
As you're probably aware, the latter group of men used to be the majority several decades ago. But since then, sociologists have observed a major shift in societal fatherhod ideals from an emphasis on financial support to emotional support. While some men still struggle to balance traditional "tough guy" masculinity with tender love and care for their children, it seems like most of them are adapting just fine.
"Fathers continue to navigate changing social expectations," said study co-author Lee Essig, a graduate student at Brigham Young University. "As current social trends are pushing for men's increased familial involvement, we see more fathers stepping up to engage more actively in their children's lives in various ways."
Essig addded, "As we teach boys and men to be more emotionally aware and cultivate emotional well-being, these men and boys will be able to become better fathers for their children, as they will be able to provide for them not only through financial contributions, but by being emotionally and mentally present for their children and their well-being."
How wonderful is it that dads are now more invested than ever in their children's financial and emotional security? We can only hope this trend continues in the future — and gets even better by the time our kids grow up!