I’d like to help out more around the house while I’m here, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.
– Father of three who works night shift while wife works days
Throw me a frickin’ bone here, people!
– Doctor Evil
Women and society say that families need engaged fathers who actively participate in their family life. But men are apparently caught in the trap of trying to make that happen with few, if any, guides on how to how to pull it off.
A recent study released by the Council on Contemporary Families finds that the amount of family-oriented work (housework/childcare) performed by men increased significantly over the past 40 years. Men doubled their housework contribution from 15 to 30% – not where most wives want it, but a significant change – and tripled their time spent on actual childcare.
Despite the positive results shown in the study, fathers are hamstrung by a public perception as a borderline idiot. This is even demonstrated in the AP article about the study:
“The average dad has gradually been getting better about picking himself up off the sofa and pitching in, according to a new report in which a psychologist suggests the payoff for doing more chores could be more sex.”
And nowhere in the AP article is sex even mentioned.
Granted, most guys don’t frequent the family section of your neighborhood bookstore, but there is a huge imbalance between resources available for mothers and those available for fathers. A brief review of the Barnes/Noble magazine rack showed magazines for mothers with none for fathers. And a like inspection of the family section shows an imbalance as well.
The public image of the father has also taken a drastic hit in the preceding 30 years. Starting with Archie Bunker, the typical media father is a loudmouthed, (c)rude, boor who doesn’t know how to relate to his family, even if he is a closet sentimentalist. There is the occasional Reverend Camden from 7th Heaven, but he’s offset by Al Bundy, Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin.
If you want men to take an even greater role in their family’s life, try giving them the resources and public support that they need. Please, throw them a frickin’ bone, huh?