News / USA

Modern Dads More Engaged in Child Rearing

New York Dads Reflect Trend of More Engaged Fatherhoodi
X
October 09, 2013 10:42 AM
In many countries, more women are moving into the labor force, even in cultures where women with careers were once a rarity. With mothers at work, many families have had to reorganize. One result: some new fathers today are more likely to be involved in child-rearing - either by choice or for practical reasons. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on what experts call a global trend.
Carolyn Weaver
The most dedicated fathers in the world may be the men of the Aka, a nomadic pygmy people of central Africa.

Fathers spend nearly half their time in close contact with their babies, according to Barry Hewlett, an anthropologist at the University of Washington. His book about the Aka, “Intimate Fathers,” describes how mothers remain the primary caregivers but also go hunting frequently - and in the mothers’ absence, Aka fathers cook the meals and let crying babies suckle on their own nipples.

That custom aside, the Aka sound a lot like the fathers in the U.S. and many other countries who have embraced a deeply engaged, affectionate paternal style, spending nearly triple the time caring for their children as fathers in the 1960s did.

Sixteen-month-old Luna Benjoya, for example, toddles around her Brooklyn apartment most weekdays in the care of her father, Dave, a musician and web developer, while her mother teaches school.  Benjoya has found fewer jobs lately, but says he feels lucky.

“I like my work, and when I find work, I’ll pick it up and do it, but how do you compare that to spending all this time with this new person in the world that you love more than anyone? It’s such a gift. I mean, my daughter’s not going to remember what things were like when she was a year old, 16 months, but I’m still connecting with her in a way that’s irreplaceable,” explained Benjoya.

Lance Somerfield, co-founder of a group called NYC Dads, left his job to be an at-home dad when his son was born five years ago - a choice that would have been seen as emasculating for men of his father’s generation, he said.

“My father thought that being the caregiver to me, and the provider of the family, didn’t mean providing hands-on, engaging interaction with me on a daily basis. It meant earning for the family,” he said. “That was the culture back then. These days, I think our cultural assumptions are starting to shift. You see it in pop culture, in the media, commercials, in how dads are portrayed.”

NYC Dads co-founder Matt Schneider agreed. “The difference between even eight years ago and now is pretty astounding,” he noted. “You go to any playground, any doctor’s office, school pickup, you’re going to see a lot of dads very involved with their kids. The role of dads and families, the relationships between moms and dads, is changing by the day, it seems.”

The trend is worldwide, according to Stony Brook University sociologist Michael Kimmel, driven by women’s entry into the workforce, including in some cultures where women with careers once were a rarity.

“All across the world, men are becoming more engaged as fathers, more active as fathers,” said Kimmel, the author of “Guyland,” and “Manhood in America.” “In Japan, in Singapore, in Australia, men are very more highly motivated to be good fathers.”

“Younger men, Generation Y men, are far more family-oriented than previous generations,” he added. “They assume that their wives are going to work outside the home and be committed to their careers, and they assume that they are going to be really involved fathers, dedicated to their families; they’re going to be great dads.”

“In Europe as well, men are far more involved as fathers,” he said. “But there you have government policies that encourage families to balance work and family better: free onsite child care, flexible working hours, parental leave,” Kimmel added.

The “new” fatherhood, as it’s been called, is especially evident at “boot camp” training sessions for expectant fathers that NYC Dads offers around the city. Experienced fathers, with babies six months or a year old, return to demonstrate their new skills in things like diaper-changing and bottle-feeding.

“For dads-to-be, to be in a room with other, confident veteran dads who come in with their live babies, it’s a real confidence booster,” explained Somerfield. “We hope that through three hours they’re in a room with other dads, talking about their experiences, best practices, and walking out of here saying, ‘You know what, I’m not going to break the baby.’”

Michael Kimmel noted that the egalitarian trend in child rearing is not across the board. He said that heterosexual men tend to spend more time on the “fun” side of child-rearing, taking their children to the playground, for example, while leaving the more tedious aspects, such as scheduling appointments and laundry, to their wives. And he observed that child care can be pretty boring.

Dave Benjoya probably wouldn’t agree with that latter point, however.

“Everything is undiscovered: seeing the simplest thing, and focusing on it because you want to teach it to her,” he said. “Watching like her consciousness, like the communication come from nothing: a little spark here and there, and then she understands words and then she says word. The whole experience is so overwhelming, I could spend all day thinking about it, even when I’m not with the baby,” he said.

Kimmel said that however fathers feel about spending time caring for their children, the benefits to children are clear. He said studies have found that the children of more involved fathers are happier, healthier, do better in school, and are less likely to be the victims or perpetrators of violence.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
October 13, 2013 12:17 PM
The only thing that I can think of after reading this : men know that their spouses are working women who work outside their homes, so they have adjusted themselves into a role that is more into taking care of their children. Well, okay - that's their choice. I am still a little too old-fashioned for that.


by: Keen from: Philippines
October 10, 2013 8:49 AM
I'm elated to read this article because fathers are getting hands on with their children nowadays which is integral in the child's development...This phenomenon also tells us that our society at present is undergoing a major metamorphosis breaking the boundaries of sexism and stereotyping...


by: Jerime.bellbell from: Cebu,Philippines
October 10, 2013 8:14 AM
My hats off to Mr.Benjoya! Parenting truly requires great effort and labor...Nevertheless the joy is beyond comparison especially when you see your child's first...You did a pretty good job Mr.Benjoya and I hope most father or dads in the world are as responsible as you and the rest of NYC dads..Little Luna is quite an adorable baby with a very optimistic attitude already!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid