Does (or did) your child's father change diapers?
We all know the "detached dad" myth. That guy who reclines in his easy chair, reading the paper, while mom chases the kids and cooks dinner simultaneously. That guy who has never changed a diaper in his life because that's not his job. That guy with selective deafness who never seems to hear his baby crying at night or the kids arguing at the dinner table. Dad the "apprentice parent." Well guess what? A new survey is busting that detached dad myth wide open. Dads are into this hands-on parenting thing, in a big way.
In a nationwide survey of 4,000 dads, 9 out of 10 fathers of kids 5 or younger said they change diapers and bathe their kids several times a week. They also said they play with their kids and eat with them all the time. And 2 out of 3 read to their kids several times a week. Fathers of kids over 5 also claim to take an active role in parenting. Dads are more involved overall than they were just a few years ago in 2002. And they know it -- nearly 90 percent of dads said they thought the were doing at least a good job of parenting.
Well, that last one isn't surprising. Men usually aren't as riddled with guilt and self-doubt like moms are. (SIGH) I mean, if they're changing all those diapers, they're clearly living above expectations, so of course that makes them awesome dads. Also, it's worth mentioning that no one asked these dads' partners if they're really doing all this work. It's all self-reported data. But still, let's go with it.
Moms, I have two take-aways for us all.
1. Guys want to be good dads and they think they've got this whole daddy business down. So fine, let's hold them to a higher standard and let them really perform. Go for it, guys! We'll be at the bar down the block if you need us.
2. We should lower our expectations for ourselves to dad levels, because clearly that is working for the guys. Changed diapers "several times a week"? You get a gold star! Bathed your kid? High-five, you are doing "at least a good job" of parenting.
Seriously, though, I'm happy to see how seriously dads seem to take their jobs. They get it! Dads know that the real emotional fulfillment of fatherhood comes in all those little tasks they do for their kids every single day.
How do you think your husband or partner would respond to this survey? Does he think he's a great dad, too?