The millennial generation of fathers are doing things very differently. The traditional times associated with the full-time dad and the doting, stay-at-home mum are becoming increasingly outdated. In fact, the number of working mothers in the UK alone has risen by no less than one million over the past 20 years. As working women are increasingly pursuing their goals without having to worry about the judgements of friends, family and solciety, the role of the father is changing dramatically.
Let’s look at five examples which highlight this shift so that we can better understand how modern fatherhood is really defined.
The Modern Day Dad: A Change of Masculinity
One of the most profound changes has happened on an emotional level. Many young fathers are the products of divorced parents, and many have grown up with a strong desire to make up for what they did not have in childhood, and not wanting to make the same mistakes. They tend to be much closer to their children (males in particular) and they are not nearly as afraid to openly discuss problems. While this is not necessarily a departure from “masculinity”, it is certainly a paradigm shift in regards to how it is displayed.
The Working Woman and the Domestic Dad
As the gender pay gap continues to narrow, though not nearly as quickly as it needs to in certain areas, a growing number of mothers are entering into the full-time workforce. Not only are women starting families later, but over two-thirds now work away from home. Thus, many fathers are taking on the role of the primary caregiver. Expressions such as “you just wait until your father gets home” are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Dads are now actively involved in common activities such as craft time, planning meals and instilling discipline. This naturally enables them to represent an excellent role model. As fathers appreciate their importance, they will be better able to shape their child’s view of the world from an early age.
In the past, many questions addressed to the father would be answered with the phrase “ask your mother”. However, children are now beginning to expect the father to have answers; particularly if the mother is away working. Dads will therefore need to cope with this interesting situation while still reminding their young ones that no one has all the answers. To put this another way, children are now just as likely to learn important everyday life lessons from their father as well as their mother. The key takeaway point here is that dads will need to be ready for whatever interesting questions await when their little ones arrive home from school.
The Increasing Role of Empathy
Millennial dads certainly want to be good fathers and yet, research suggests that they are not entirely sure how this can be accomplished. Their main goal is to become actively involved with the lives of their children and to present a solid emotional foundation (particularly if they had grown up without reliable fathers themselves). In the past, males were more likely to display the “strong and silent” type. They are now beginning to appreciate that this is not always the best role. Notions such as caring, support and emotional openness are fully acceptable within the father-child relationship; a situation that would have seemed rather out of place a few decades in the past. With areas like e-safety becoming increasingly important for parents, it’s even arguable that dads can no longer just sit on the sidelines. There are far too many important areas of their child’s upbringing where they need to play an essential role.
Proud and Present
A recent survey has concluded that up to 40 per cent of millennial fathers stay at home while the mother works. In the past, this situation may have been viewed with a certain amount of shame; men were always intended to be the breadwinners. Now, they are proud to take on the role of a full-time father and they are much more ready for the responsibilities that await. Who knows, even the expression “father knows best” could very well be more and more appropriate in the future!
Millennial fathers have certainly broken the mould of traditional familial responsibilities. As they continue to adapt to changing situations, it is likely that they will become an integral part of parenting; an ideal scenario for the family of the 21st century.