We’ve all seen the traditional 50s father in movies and on TV. Dad gets home from work and settles down in the living room with a newspaper and a cigar while mom scampers to get dinner on the table. This dad’s domestic duties were limited to mostly outdoor activities: taking out the garbage and washing the car.
We’re a long way from that old-fashioned image.
Dads are playing a bigger role than ever in the household, from buying groceries to staying at home to care for the kids while mom works. And this new-style dad is reshaping the modern Canadian family.
AGB: Welcome everyone! Let’s talk about what it means to be a modern dad.
One U.S. study showed that one-third of men are now the principal shoppers in the home. In your households, who buys the food and who cooks the meals?
Ricky Shetty: We usually go shopping together – I take care of the baby, she gets the groceries!
Adam Dolgin: My wife and I also usually shop together – on weekends with the kids
Buzz Bishop: I do all the grocery shopping at our house. I do all the cooking in the house as well.
AGB: Wow! That’s impressive, Buzz! Especially since a recent U.S. study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that even in households where both parents had full-time jobs, women still do more of the domestic duties. Is that statistic surprising? And how does it work in your homes? Do modern dads really want to take on an equal share of the cooking and cleaning?
BB: My wife and I have a division of labour. As I said, I cook and shop. She cleans. I only learned how to turn on the dishwasher last week. I find it so much easier to have each person managing specific tasks all the time.
RS: My wife tends to cook and clean and I do the technical stuff, the driving and plan most of our outings with friends. I am more of a big picture person and she is a details person…so we tend divide all the responsibilities up pretty evenly.
AD: My wife will admit I’m a better cook, cleaner, shopper, etc., than she is… but she puts together a mean Ikea bookcase.
AGB: Adam, good on you for marrying someone handy with an Allen key! Such an important life skill!
AD: We both work outside the home, on overlapping schedules, so we split up all parenting and domestic tasks. There isn’t a single thing that goes on in my home that I can’t take care of. Sure, my wife and I both have our strengths and weaknesses, but we’ve got each other covered on every single detail.
It’s about teamwork and dividing and conquering to get everything done and making sure everyone is taken care of…
AGB: Adam, It’s always good to share the responsibilities, especially when it comes to parenting.
It seems that more and more dads want to connect with their kids in ways that weren’t considered “manly” a generation or two ago…But do dads still feel pressure to be the “tough-guy” parent and throw the ball around?
AD: To be honest, I don’t care what society tells me to be; I’m defining it for myself. My 3-year-old daughter and I like to play catch with her stuffed animals, have tea, set up her princess action figures and knock them all down, and play a game we call “one, two, three” where I hold a pillow and she runs into it (she came up with it). She also likes to use my stomach like a trampoline and be swung upside down. I’d play dolly with her…but she never invites me.
My son’s only 6-months-old. We mostly play “I’m not going to eat that” at meal time, and “Hold me over your head Daddy so I can drool on you.”
AGB: Haha! That’s adorable.
AD: I have a great time taking my daughter anywhere. Her favorite place is the reptile museum. She loves watching the boa constrictor eat the frozen rats.
AGB: Ahaha! Frozen rats!?
AGB: What about you, Buzz?
BB: I am a ‘not at home dad’. When it comes to playing with the kids, I like getting out of the house. Park, playground, hike, geocache, whatever. I just find at the house they tend to wrestle, roll around, run, and it drives me nuts. But if the weather is terrible we’ll play board games, or Lego, or play checkers on the iPad and just hang out at home.
AGB: Ricky, you’re a stay-at-home dad. Do you think some dads feel like society still doesn’t accept a stay-at-home-dad?
RS: Yes, I believe the traditional role of fathers as “providers and protectors” is still very prevalent. Even as a stay-at-home dad part of me feels guilty that I am not bringing money into the home.
However, the reality of the situation is that my wife has a strong, stable job in IT and my income was fluctuating, so the best financial decision was for her to work and for me to take care of our daughter.
AD: I think SAHDS are setting the stage for the future of manliness – a guy who isn’t afraid to stand up and be seen caring for his kids. But, I’m sure it’s not so easy being picked on at the golf course by your buddies and being ignored by the Moms on the playground, when you’re the only guy in your town who’s a SAHD.
AGB: I also want to ask you guys about advertising. A Yahoo study found that dads are more likely to buy premium or branded products than women, as they are more brand-conscious than moms. Yet, they also feel that advertisers don’t speak to them when it comes to food, child and household products. Do you feel ignored when it comes to advertising?
AD: I think advertisers are getting better, but it’s hard to rewire people’s brains to see the “New Dad.”
BB: Advertising to dads is terrible.
AD: Yeah, a diaper company had to pull commercials two years ago because dad bloggers got really mad about how dads were depicted.
AGB: How so, Buzz?
BB: We’re presented as meatheads…The branding and language used by marketers needs to change. I saw an ad that blared “give Mom the night off.” PARENTS share responsibilities. Dads cook. Dads clean. Dads do diapers. Dads stay home. I tell ya, if my wife had a big enough salary and she loved her job enough to chase that pay-cheque, I’d have no problem being a SAHD.
AGB: Thanks for all your insight guys! In conclusion, some dads cook and some moms assemble furniture, cool dads play tea party with their daughters, reptiles eating frozen mice is repulsive but interesting for kids, stay-at-home-dads often get a lot of flak (even though they rock), and dads in general want and deserve more credit and aren’t really the meatheads we see in ads.
Dads out there, do you think attitudes towards active dads are changing? Let us know what you think!