50% of parents are dads but still 99% of research on parenting focuses solely on the mothers! This is indeed frustrating and depressing for the dads who are trying to engage themselves in as much childcare as possible to the extent that many of them are even ready to become stay-at-home fathers to devote their entire attention to the child. Gone are the days when mothers held sole responsibility for bringing up children, teaching them good behaviour, attending to their educational needs and tracking their progress in life while a dad’s primary aim was to provide strong monetary support to ensure that his family’s needs are met. How many of you remember the days when 80s and 90s kids roamed around the streets wearing t-shirts with a caption stating “MY DAD IS MY ATM”? Now, the situation has progressed or even been reversed such that moms love providing kids with money while dads take pleasure in keeping their young ones happy and content showering them with love and affection. The idea of a ‘good father’ has seen a stupendous change over the decades and dads these days are supported for being sensitive, caring and attached. Researchers have now started showing genuine interest in the role played by a dad in his child’s life and how he can contribute towards well-being of the kid.
Celebrating the Birth of the Kid: Society’s Clause on Male Gender
Maternity leaves and the politics behind them have been unending and it has been only during recent years that some blessed women have started enjoying increased maternity leaves. Paternity leaves have never been a topic of concern and dads were never expected to take leave and stay at home with the wife and child. That’s how the male gender has been groomed by their parents! Guys availing paternity leaves might be looked down as being too emotional or it is even seen as a sign of emasculation. In Australia, only one dad of every 500 moms avail this leave, in the UK 40% dads choose not to avail the leave and in the US 76% men take lesser than a week’s time off after the baby is born. But if you are curious on what’s so important about the paternity leave then you are in for a surprise!
Research tells us that fathers are happier around their kids when it comes to childcare and that’s mainly because of the different roles played by both the mum and dad in the child’s development. We might be happy that dads these days come forward to offer childcare but we don’t see many of them changing their kid’s nappies or putting them to bed. It’s mostly the mums who do such work while dads enjoy playing outside with kids or taking them around. Paternity leaves help mums take some time off their stressful routine, help the dad establish an emotional connect with the child, learn all aspects of childcare including changing nappies and also gives the woman much more strength and a positive feel to return to work and excel. Dads who take paternity leaves experience more satisfaction as they get more time to spend with their kids.
The Fruits of Increased Father-Child Time
“Daddy only” time has a significant positive impact on the baby as the child connects emotionally well with the dad and dads too experience a hormonal boost when caring for their child. Research shows that babies with emotionally engaged dads show better mental development as toddlers and are less likely to suffer from mental problems later in life compared to other babies. In older kids too, those whose fathers display emotional support are more satisfied in life and also express better relationships with teachers and other kids at school.
Kids whose dads are involved right from birth display better cognitive skills and experienced fewer behavioral difficulties. Dads who take up paternity leave develop parenting instincts as good as the mums (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/10/want-better-dads-happier-mums-and-healthier-kids-make-men-take-paternity-leave). Its even been shown that the more time working fathers spend time with children likelier they are to get more satisfaction on the job and less desire they have to shift to another organization. Men spending more time with their kids feel better about their jobs (https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2015/01/12/the-more-time-dads-spend-with-their-kids-the-happier-they-are-at-work/#37311db1cc3b).
Its also been observed that parenthood brings about increased well-being of dads compared to moms. Fathers experience elevated levels of well-being, satisfaction, competence, autonomy and uplift compared to mothers and other men without children. Men also were found to be happy caring for their kids compared to performing other daily activities. Parental leave helps dads take up more childcare activity and this helps improve the well-being of the mother too who always has the notion that there is an uneven allocation of labour between the two genders and this is in fact true. It is time that men around the world start taking Finland as an example, the only country where fathers spend more time (an average of 8 minutes more daily) with kids than mothers.
Every dad today wishes to spend more time with his kids, is ready to opt for flexi work timings, work from home jobs and even compromise on work time to be happy with his baby. By doing this, he is offering more scope for the mother to focus on her job that gives her satisfaction and a sense of completeness. There are few fathers who still believe that it’s a mother’s job to take care of the kids! Parents are looking out for a work-life balance that needs to be understood by the employer as well to reap greater benefits from his employees.
Dds, you are heading towards the right path by wanting to spend more time with your newborn and young kids which makes you happier and satisfied in life. Cheers to all the dads who love parenting and are supportive to their spouses sharing childcare jobs. It doesn’t stop with providing financial support but has to be extended to emotional support and physical presence as well.
Parenting is More Likely to Make you Happy if You’re a Man: https://psmag.com/social-justice/parenthood-more-likely-to-make-you-happy-if-youre-a-man
Finland: The Only country Where Fathers Spend More Time with Kids than Mothers: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/dec/04/finland-only-country-world-dad-more-time-kids-moms
Children Make Parents Happy, After All: https://www.economist.com/international/2019/07/10/children-make-parents-happy-after-all
The Secret of Being a Good Father: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190606-how-to-be-a-good-father-to-a-newborn-son-or-daughter
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