There are two generational effects that seem to have a bearing on today’s fathers. First, young people today are less likely to have reached the traditional milestones of “adulthood” by age 30 than previous generations. A 2014 study by the Pew Research Center found that they are get- ting married later and having children later.
Second, these so-called “Millennials” are less likely to think about their work and family roles as being defined by traditional gender norms. Most believe that they will have partners in life who also have careers and who see their roles as both parent and professional as a shared respon- sibility (Gerson, 2010). In our 2011 study, 94% of the 1,000 respondents agreed/strongly agreed “If I were considering taking a new job, I would consider how much that job would interfere with my ability to care for my children,” with fathers under 40 even more committed to this than those 40 and above. But the question remains, have these and other factors led today’s dads to be more involved with their children than those of prior generations?
Recent research from Jones and Mosher (2013) evaluated how often men engaged in certain parenting activities and compared involvement by age. A greater percentage of younger fathers (age 25-34) reported playing with and bathing, dressing, or diapering their children each day than older fathers (age 35-44). However, the older fathers were more likely to read to their children and feed them each day.
Fathers living with children aged five to 18 were asked about the following activities: talking; eating; helping with homework; and bringing/picking their children up from activities. The younger fathers were more engaged than older fathers in all of these activities.
Lastly, while nearly half (47.5%) of younger fathers living with a child under 18 reported feeling that they are doing a “very good job” as a parent, a lower percentage (41.6%) of older fathers reported the same. Being a hands-on parent and assisting with the activities of daily living seem to be more of a “given” for young fathers.