The stereotype about raising a family used to be simple: Mothers raised the kids and fathers worked to make it financially possible. Men often did not care for the children and did not seem all that invested in them.
That’s all ancient news. Things are changing — and have changed — massively in America. Today’s fathers are getting more and more involved with the children, and they really like the change.
Parenting time and childcare
First off, let’s take a look at childcare. A study in 2016 found that fathers averaged roughly eight hours of dedicated childcare on a weekly basis. That’s a huge gain from what fathers reported in 1965; over the decades, the time that fathers spend with their kids basically tripled.
You may think that eight hours a week doesn’t sound like that much, but remember that it’s for childcare duties alone. Children also spend plenty of time at school, with friends or with both parents. The same study showed that mothers put in roughly 14 hours of childcare per week. While that’s still notably more, the gap isn’t as wide as some people assume and fathers have been making up ground at a tremendous rate.
Fathers value this time
It’s also important to understand fathers’ mindsets when watching their kids. They’re not just doing this out of some sense of obligation. They enjoy it.
For example, when asked if parenting felt rewarding to them at all times, 52 percent of mothers said that it did, compared to 54 percent of fathers. They’re clearly invested in this. They were also asked if it was enjoyable all the time, rather than just rewarding. Only 41 percent of mothers claimed it was, while 46 percent of fathers made that same claim.
Another way to look at this is in terms of the fathers’ personal identities. Researchers asked them about the importance of parenting to their identity, and 58 percent of mothers said it was “extremely important.” They really felt that having and raising children made them who they were. The same was true for fathers, though, as 57 percent claimed that same level of importance.
Protecting your rights
Many times, it seems that people who adhere to more outdated ideas about custody assume that fathers do not want to spend time with their children and are unable to do so. This research goes a long way toward showing how false that is. Fathers are passionate about parenting, they want to be involved and they put in a significant amount of time working toward that goal.
This is why it’s so important for fathers to know what they can do to protect their rights and their relationships with the children during divorce.