June 15, 2012
This Father’s Day, perhaps the perfect gift for dad isn’t a new tie or a tool — but a scrubbing brush.
That’s because today’s fathers do 42 minutes more housework per day than they did in 1977, according to the Families and Work Institute, adding up to about 2 hours of housework each workday. And a recent survey by the Parenting Group/Edelman found that 26 percent of dads do all the grocery shopping for their families, and 22 percent do all of the cooking.
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They’re also taking on more of the childcare. For those fathers with a working wife and children under the age of 15, one third provided care at least one day a week, up from 26 percent in 2002, according to the 2010 Census. And many are volunteering to do the extra work. A 2010 British study found that working fathers are happier when they do more housework, spend more time with their children and have a spouse who works at an office as often as they do.
The change in household duties is partly due to the “mancession” in 2007 that caused more workers from male-dominated fields to join the unemployment lines and be stuck at home. Between 2007 and 2009, men suffered 82 percent of the job losses. In turn, more men opted to stay home and take care of the kids while their spouses worked. There are now an estimated 176,000 stay-at-home dads in the U.S., up 14 percent from 2010.
But since the job market has recently seen a strong “hecovery,” with men gaining the majority of those jobs back and women taking longer to find full employment, the shift could also be due to a change in attitudes, and more women out-earning their husbands. In 2008, over a quarter of women in two-income households had an annual income that was at least 10 percentage points higher than her spouse, according to the Families and Work Institute.
Stay-at-home dad Lance Somerfeld told CNNMoney that it made more financial sense for him to stay home with their child since he was making 20 percent of the household income and she was making 80 percent. But he was also proud to take on the role. "Being my son's primary caregiver is something I have truly cherished and embraced and never looked back," he said.
Despite the advancement dads have made with childcare, few companies give dad a break when they have a new baby at home. Just 17 percent of employers provide paternity leave with pay, according to a 2010 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management. A handful of companies, however, do offer excellent paternity leave benefits (click here to see eight great companies for new dads), and more have started to offer general “paternal” leave benefits that can be used by either parent.
So this Father’s Day, be sure to show gratitude to all the dads who are pitching in more around the house — even if it means they loaded the dishwasher wrong.