June 14, 2016

For Father’s Day: The Truth About Dads

Josh Levs with his daughter.

Josh Levs with his daughter.

Dads are the most misunderstood members of the modern American family.  And the misconceptions don’t just hurt men.  They also hurt women, and the entire cause of gender equality.

Despite the revolution that has reshaped fatherhood, popular images and many news reports still present stereotypes out of the Mad Men era: incapable, lazy and clueless at home, leaving all the real childcare and housework to moms.

Myths about dads prevented me from being able to care for my preemie daughter, sick wife and two sons.   

In my book All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families and Businesses — And How We Can Fix It Together, I set the record straight.  (You can read the intro and first chapter here.)

Here’s the reality:

  • Today’s moms and dads put in equal time on behalf of their families, when you combine paid work with childcare and household work, government data shows.  And dads don’t get more “leisure time,” despite numerous reports suggesting they do.
  • Virtually all dads who live with their children care for them in every major category (bathing, clothing, feeding, helping with homework, talking with them about their day) at least several days a week if not every day, the CDC found.
  • Working fathers spend an average of three hours caring for their children every workday, according to the Families and Work Institute.

The U.S. workplace is stuck in a time warp.  To fix this, we need to update our laws and corporate policies to allow men and women equal opportunities to be caregivers.  This begins with paid family leave.

But we also need to correct the false impression of dads provided by pop culture.  I’m partnering with Dove Men+Care on a new project to do just that, including through a new video that celebrates dads as heroes to our kids, just as moms are.

To all the great dads out there, and the families that are celebrating them, Happy Father’s Day!

Josh Levs is the author of “All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families and Businesses – And How We Can Fix It Together” and a former reporter for CNN and NPR.

Hear more from Levs and others in our full show on fathers and the workplace.

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