Holmes Report 11 Mar 2012 // 12:00AM GMT
Today’s generation of fathers plays a more significant role in childcare and household responsibilities than their own fathers, but the majority of them feel there is a societal bias against dads, according to new research from Edelman and The Parenting Group, publisher of Parenting and Babytalk magazines and Parenting.com.
Millennial fathers and first-time dads feel a significantly higher level of prejudice versus fathers with older kids: 82 percent of men whose oldest child is less than 2 years old believe an anti-dad bias exists, compared with the average of 66 percent among all dads.
“Our research with Edelman underscored a growing trend that we’ve been witnessing among men who have become fathers in the past couple of years,” says Shawn Bean, executive editor of Parenting magazine and father of two. “As today’s generation of dads takes on more responsibilities, the more attuned they are to misconceptions about their role by society at large, It’s no coincidence that 82 percent of first-time dads feel that they share childcare responsibilities evenly with their partners, yet the exact same amount feels that a societal bias against dads exists.”
The survey also found that dads are assuming sole responsibility of several household tasks, most notably those related to feeding their families: 26 percent of dads say that they do all of the grocery shopping for their families; 22 percent say that they do all of the cooking. When asked which job most accurately describes their role in their family, 31 percent thought of themselves as a “short-order cook.” Millennial dads are also more likely than moms to buy locally-grown products, even if they cost more.
The older their kids, the more likely dads are to share childcare responsibilities equally with their partner. So 60 percent of dads with kids 13 or older feel that they are teammates with their partners, while one in four first-time dads feels that his partner is the coach, and dad is just the waterboy: he does a lot of the grunt work, but she still calls the shots, even though, compared to when they grew up, dads are buying more groceries (from 32 to 70 percent), taking care of children (from 33 to 70 percent), cooking (from 22 to 67 percent) and cleaning (from 10 to 70 percent).
One in four dads doesn’t seek out parenting advice from anyone or anywhere. While the greatest number of respondents (35 percent) admitted to turning to their wives/partners for the majority of the childcare advice, 27 percent say that they don’t seek out advice; they just go with their instinct when it comes to raising kids. Only 4 percent seek advice from their own fathers.
The exception to that rule: first-time dads, who are more likely to seek outside help from their wives, family members and blogs than any other group; only 9 percent trust their own parenting instincts.
When it comes to making brand decisions, dads behave much differently: 59 percent of dads say they use four or more sources of information to help them make purchase decisions, compared with only 44 percent of moms.
First-time dads are more likely than dads of older kids to share information about their family via social media, with 42 percent posting family-related status updates on a daily basis; 56 percent posting family photos at least a few times a week; and 21 percent posting videos at least a few times a week.
Millennial dads are also more likely to have more online friends than millennial moms: dads report an average of 96 online friends, but moms only have 70.
“Dads’ role and voice needs to be taken seriously,” says Missy Maher, Edelman’s director of mom foresight. “Long gone are the days when dad’s primary responsibility was financial security and disciplining their children. Dads today demand work-life balance and play a larger role at home by choice. In fact, more than 50 percent of both moms and dads agree that moms and dads roles are defined; it’s about being a parent. Marketers in particular need to think about how dads are impacting and influencing decisions when it comes to their families and the brands they are choosing.”