What Makes Millennial Dads Different?

Millennial dads are different. And it’s not just because 97% of fathers now do diaper changes — as opposed to back in 1982, when a study found that more than 40% of dads said they had never changed a diaper.

From time invested in parenting to valuing closer relationships with their children, millennial fathers (ages 23 to 38) are more engaged and involved than ever. Nearly four times as many fathers as in the 1990s now take paternity leave after the birth of a child, according to a 2017 Ohio State University study. A recent Pew Research study also found that the number of dads who continue to stay at home to care for children has increased by 70% since 1989.

Paternal involvement in the later years has also increased. According to Pew Research, dads now spend three times as much time with their children as they did two generations ago, and a majority view being a good father as a priority and central to their identity.

The positive impact of fathers spending more time and energy with their children is significant. A Cornell University study has shown that dads who take longer paternity leave tend to be more involved with their children over time. More than any other generation, millennial dads believe in equally sharing parenting duties and housework. This translates into closer, more positive relationships between all family members. While women still tend to do more childcare and housework, dads now average 30 minutes more than their fathers did handling housework each day, a significant change.

It’s important to note that increased parental engagement and involvement are not without challenges for millennial dads. Like previous generations, many report feeling conflicted and guilty about balancing the demands of parenting with the demands of work, according to a recent study by Boston University. Addressing and supporting work/life balance remains a challenge, and working through public policy, social institutions and workplaces to effect change in support of families is key.

While it may take some time for our society at large to catch up, fatherhood has still come a long way in just a few generations. Here’s to all the dads making a difference — Happy Father’s Day!

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