- Prince Harry is reportedly looking to take two weeks of paternity leave when his wife, Meghan Markle, gives birth.
- That’s one of several ways millennial dads are parenting their kids differently than previous generations did.
- According to a 2016 Cornell University study, dads who take longer paternal leave tend to be more engaged with their kids in the long run.
Prince Harry will take two weeks of paternity leave when his wife, Meghan Markle, gives birth, according to news reports on Monday.
But apart from members of the Royal Family, it’s hardly newsworthy these days for a dad to take time off to be with his newborn.
In fact, millennial dads are far more likely than their fathers were to take time off work after the birth of a baby. And according to a 2016 Cornell University study, dads who take longer paternal leave tend to be more engaged and involved with their kids in the long run.
Taking paternity leave isn’t the only thing dads these days are doing differently than in the past. Here are six notable ways millennial dads are doing fatherhood differently than previous generations.
Dads are leaving work altogether to serve as the primary caregiver
According to a recent Pew Research Center analysis, about 18% of parents in the United States today are stay-at-home parents. That figure has been almost unchanged in the past 30 years.
What has changed, however, is the gender balance. In 1989, only 10% of these stay-at-home parents were dads, whereas today, stay-at-home fathers account for 17% of such caregivers. Women still account for the vast majority of parents in this role, but the numbers are on a course toward more balance.
Millennial dads take on more of the household work
Whether they’re working or they’re taking time away from a career to raise the kids, millennial dads are much more involved in household matters than dads of previous generations. That goes for childcare, but also for other tasks, such as cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, and so on.
In about half of the two-parent households surveyed in a recent Pew Research Center analysis, parents said they split household chore duties equally.
Millennial dads are not the household’s sole breadwinner
In stark contrast to the family dynamic of the mid-20th century, most homes these days have two working parents. And in many dual-income millennial homes in which both parents work full time (that’s 46% of households, according to Pew), the mother is the primary earner.
Today’s dads see fatherhood as central to their identity
In decades past, a man was primarily defined by his career, with his role as a father taken for granted. Some 57% of millennial fathers, on the other hand, treat fatherhood as the central component of their identity, another Pew Research Center survey found. Tellingly, mothers responded only slightly higher to the same identity survey, with 58% of mum’s calling parenthood the central element.
They spend more time with their kids
Millennial dads spend significantly more time with their children then dads from generations past, according to a joint study between Brigham Young University and Ball State University.
“We found that today’s dads spend more time, provide more care and are more loving toward their kids than ever before,” Kevin Shafer, a BYU sociology professor and co-author of the study, told BYU News.
A Pew survey from 2015 also found that fathers spend roughly seven hours a week on child care, compared to the 2.5 they spent in 1965.
They take paternity leave
As we can see from examples like Prince Harry, millennial dads are taking more paternity leave than ever before. Parental leave, in general, is an issue of extreme importance to millennial parents. An Ernst & Young report found that 86% of millennials would be less likely to quit a job at which paid parental leave was offered.
However, dads still have a long way to go – there are roughly 300,000 babies born in the US each month, only about 22,000 fathers a month take paternity leave, according to an Ohio State University study from 2017. That number is up from about 6,000 fathers in the early 1990s.
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