In the 2011 BCCWF research study, we found that most fathers believed they should share their children’s caregivingequally with their spouses; however, only about 30% claimed to be actually doing that.
In spite of this reported shortfall, there is ample evidence that fathers not only want to be involved with their children but that they truly are involved with them. Today, fathers are primary caregivers for approximately 21% of children under the age of 5, and 7% of children aged 5-14. These percentages vary dramatically depending on the working status ofthe fathers (Laughlin, 2013).
The question remains, even if the fathers are involved as caregivers, are the children benefiting from their involvement? In order to evaluate the impact of fathers’ involvementon children’s developmental outcomes, an international group of researchers (Sarkadi et al, 2007) examined 18 different research studies on this topic and found that 17 of them reported positive outcomes from paternal involvement. The researchers concluded that “there is evidence to indicate that father engagement positively affects the social, behavioral, psychological and cognitive outcomes of children.”
There are also data to suggest that moms benefit whentheir husbands are serving as primary caregivers. In a 2012 BCCWF study of at-home fathers, we found that thewives of the at-home dads were very positive about their husbands’ parenting and its impact on both their families and their careers. The mothers reported a very high level of trust in and appreciation for their husbands’ role as at-home parents. They also recognized that having an at-home husband did a great deal to enable them to take on roles at work that increased their career options.
Finally in a 2015 study we conducted with colleagues fromother Boston area universities, we found that companiesbenefit as well. The more time fathers spent with theirchildren on a typical day, the more satisfied they werewith their jobs, and the less likely they were to leave their organizations (Ladge, Humberd, Watkins & Harrington).