July 19, 2019

Can Dads Have It All

“In the discourse of the upper-upper, don’t-call-us-rich middle class, an old stereotype of fatherhood — the dim, affable, useless-for-housework Pop — has lately been supplemented by a new one: The credit-hogging, pleased-with-himself Good Dad, who does just enough housework to pretend that he’s an equal partner, and swans about in a BabyBjorn reaping applause from people who wouldn’t give an overburdened mom a second look.

This stereotype is rooted in observable social reality; it really is true that when I wheel my brood around the mall or supermarket I get a friendly affirmation that my wife in similar circumstances is less likely to enjoy. (Though the grim set of my jaw may also inspire a certain, “Quick, smile at him or he’ll run us down” reaction.)

But on Father’s Day the honor of the Good Dad must be defended. Yes, fathers still do much less work around the house than moms, even when both spouses hold down paying jobs. But as Robert VerBruggen points out in an essay for the Institute of Family Studies, “The Myth of the ‘Lazy’ Father,” when you add up housework, paid work and child care, married fathers today are doing slightly more work than married mothers.”

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