This article was originally published by AskMen UK.
It’s 2016 and fatherhood is in flux. As traditional notions of gender, family units, and masculinity break down, the idea of fatherhood changes too. Yes, it might be a confusing and hard-to-navigate time, but there’s also something exhilarating about cutting through the crap and getting to the heart of what really matters as a dad, and pioneering your own kind of parenting.
Someone who’s thought a lot about this is writer Doug French. Along with entrepreneur John Pacini, Doug is the co-founder of the Dad 2.0 Summit, a gathering where dad bloggers and various members of the media delve deep into what it means to be a father today. It’s sponsored by Dove Men+Care, whose recent research shows that 9 in 10 men agree that caring makes a man stronger. But alarmingly, only 7% of men say that they can relate to depictions of masculinity they see in society today.
So in 2016, what unique challenges do dads face, and what does it even mean be a “good dad” any more? Here’s what Doug had to say.
Dads are expected to integrate their life and work in a way that women have for decades
“As parenting becomes an even playing field, or as we approach that, we hold the idea that it’s just as important and worthwhile to take women seriously in positions of power and in the office. And it’s just as important, in a symmetrical way, to take dads seriously as parents and caregivers.
Caring for somebody is an important aspect of masculinity
“[Sociologist] Michael Kimmel, our keynote speaker from last year, said that the biggest impediment to men embracing this role is other men. Because there are still perceptions among men and a cultural shift needs to happen; for example, men get access to paternity leave in record amounts but they’re still not taking it. It’s one thing to offer [paternity leave] but it’s another thing to have it become associated with the normal course of business and something that every man should do.”
Don’t worry about how the media portrays men
“You can look at music videos, advertising, social networking, sports – they’re coming along. Over half of men think that there’s still work to be done in these areas. You just do you, be the best dad you can be, and all this other stuff is going to catch up.”
Younger men don’t subscribe to gender roles
“I think that Millennial couples know the importance of playing to your strengths and doing whatever you can to make things work. If the woman can make more money, or if the dad’s better off taking care of kids, it doesn’t matter what gender you are as long as you get what needs to be done, done.”