This has been an unprecedented year all-round, and as we approach International Men’s Day in 2020, many dads may find themselves at a juncture of reflection, possibility ahead, and hopefully a little dash of continuous evolution.
Let’s discuss these in more detail, and what this means for dads in 2021.
It really shouldn’t be new news to you by now that modern day dads are fully involved in day to day parenting. The results of our dad index showed that more and more dads are getting involved in so many more day to day parental tasks than any generation before them – the changing, the cooking, bath time, bed time, and just about everything in between – including the choosing and buying of products/clothes.
However something else has happened because of lockdown, even more dads than just those already fully involved got a chance to experience the possibilities of being more involved. Within the DaddiLife community we heard more and more stories of new dads who had joined who couldn’t believe the quality family time that they were starting to see, and seeing the possibilities of making it the norm in their family lives.
This has been a point of reflection for dads to see what being more involved within their family life could really mean – not just for them, not even just for their children – but for the entire family unit.
Even those dads who were already fully involved got a chance to reflect on what family success meant. From a personal point of view, I’ve spent more time with my own son in his teepee tent than I can ever remember. And we’ve used that tent for a huge variety of stories, sleep-ins, and whole new games! It’s given me a lot of reflection about really being present, and for a lot of dads as a whole if we’re going to make strident moves toward real gender equality, we need to take the lessons of this period of reflection, and take the necessary action.
The results of our own dads in lockdown survey earlier in the Summer showed one possible route ahead for dads. 76% said they felt like they were a more involved dad since the pandemic, and 25% were looking at making flexible working a way of working that’s here to stay for them.
Those results support our research programme last year, The Millennial Dad at Work, which was the first piece of research looking at the experiences of modern day dads at work, in-depth, right across the country. One of the key areas of research was around flexible working, where we found that 2/3 of all the 2000 dads we surveyed right across the UK had requested a form of flexible working since becoming a father, but only a minority of those had those granted.
A case in point was ‘working from home 1-2 days per week’ – where 14% of all the dads we had surveyed had requested. However of that group, less than one in five (19%) had had that request granted. Until we can turn the tide on those sorts of figures, it’s going to be a challenge to get the real balance of work and family that modern day dads are striving for.
What our research above shows is that there are still a tremendous level of challenges ahead that sits largely at a cultural level within workplaces. There are unfortunately still far too many workplace beliefs that dads should ‘just be at work.’ It’s a challenge that dads need to meet head on, and start challenging this within their own day to day experiences – and making it more overt of their parental responsibilities and desires.
The challenges ahead don’t just sit with organisations though. As I mentioned before, more and more fathers are getting more involved in the doing of parenting, but as we start to think about evolution ahead in 2021, is there more that needs to be done when it comes to the mental load?
Many mums that I speak to are quick to say that when it comes to parenting tasks, there is more and more equality in the household, but that they are still the ones doing the vast majority of the thinking – all the plans, the preparation, the things that are constantly revolving in the mind around parenting. Perhaps in 2021 we can start to challenge ourselves as dads not to just be happy anymore being congratulated for being more involved, but to start to think of ways we can discuss and shape the mental load with our family too.
by Han-Son Lee, founder of Daddilife