Dads, You’re Doing More Than You Think

Raising kids is hard work. And, dads, you have been stepping up more than ever. You are more involved and spend more time with your kids than in previous decades. And you are now as likely as moms to view parenting as central to your identity.

And while there’s been a lot of attention on how hard the pandemic has been for moms, dads have also been carrying a heavier load —and it hasn’t been easy on you either.

But as hard as it has been, this time, effort, and attention seem to be paying off.

And it’s not just your own kids who benefit from your parenting. Dads are positively changing the way we view men. While societal views of women have changed over the years, our views and expectations of men haven’t changed as much. Our male stereotypes have been more rigid—and negative.

When University of Colorado psychologists Bernadette Park and Sarah Banchefsky asked participants in a 2018 study how well various traits described the average man or woman, they found that participants rated men as having fewer positive traits and more negative traits than women.

Participants viewed the average man as less considerate, calm, clear-thinking, patient, and understanding and more aggressive, arrogant, pushy, and selfish.

But when asked to rate dads, participants’ views were much more favorable. Compared to the typical man, participants viewed the typical dad as having fewer negative traits and more positive traits.

Banchefsky and Park also found that people’s views of dads were dynamic. And it seemed to be dads’ perceived role changes that drove their perceived trait changes. In other words, we expect that as dads take on more nurturing and attentive parental roles (e.g., taking care of their kids when they’re sick and comforting them when they’re upset), they will actually become more nurturing and attentive.

Moreover, they found that highlighting the social role of dads also helped shift participants’ views of men as a whole. When the researchers first drew participants’ attention to men’s role as fathers by having them read about current trends in fatherhood or to their role as workers by having them read about current trends in the American workforce, they found that participants rated men more positively when they first thought of them as dads than as workers.

So, dads, as you spend more time with your kids, know that you’re not just benefiting them; you’re also helping to positively change society’s views of men.

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