If advertising is a legitimate measure of a society’s current desires, targets and priorities, then fathers are indeed a desired, targeted priority, according to a new study.
Yahoo, alongside strategy firm Audience Theory, recently released “The New Face of Fatherhood,” a study that delves into the difference between modern Millennial and Gen X fatherhood. In it, they identify who the modern father is, how they see themselves, and what their relationship is to things like tech and advertising.
We’ve noted before that you can find more active fathers in commercials now than ever before, targeted by brands that had never in the past thought to depict dads cooking, cleaning and changing diapers. There’s a reason the guys with the money are aiming for this image of fatherhood.
There are more stay-at-home dads than ever before, a result of many factors such as more moms being in the modern workforce and that gender roles aren’t as rigid as they once were. Yahoo’s study also points to the “mancession” of recent years: post-recession men out of work by chance (30 percent) or by choice (70 percent). While almost half of moms admitted that they prefer more traditional gender roles in the household, Millennial dads are far more comfortable than the Gen Xers were at taking responsibility around the home.
In fact, Yahoo’s study found that 50 percet of their respondents said that they do the grocery shopping, a task that had been seen in past generations as “woman’s work.” Back in 2012, The Parenting Group (publisher of Parenting Magazine) and the Edelman firm put out some similar numbers, finding that between 40 and 70 percent of dads said they did the grocery shopping. But one of the big crossover stats here is that only 32 percent of the fathers in that study said that their own fathers used to do the grocery shopping.
It’s not just grocery shopping that dads are leaning into. Dads are also driving their kids to sports activities (52 percent), managing their kids’ digital time (47 percent) and bathing their kids (42 percent):
Beyond household tasks, modern fathers also have emergent values systems. For example, of fathers polled:
- 73 percent don’t put boundaries on their kids’ play and activities based on gender.
- 93 percent want their kids to come to them when they have tough questions.
- 91 percent want to their kids to pursue their own interests.
- 76 percent want their kids to have “sophisticated tastes,” but 90 percent take pride in raising kids who are not selfish or spoiled.
Overall, 74 percent of respondents spend more time with their kids than their fathers did with them, but 44 percent feel like they’re still not spending enough time with them.
Time is, however, not an infinite resource. Yahoo detailed the “You Can’t Have it All” Dilemma:
While more companies in the United States are offering paternity leave (2 percent), support is still sparse. Other countries still eclipse the U.S. in their support for new dads. For example, Sweden offers new parents a total of 480 days per child (no, that’s not a typo) that can be shared among both parents (with 60 days specifically allocated to dad). Though capped at a certain dollar amount, Swedes can take these 480 days at 80 percent of their wages.
Elsewhere, Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson recently announced his company is giving some new parents — both mothers and fathers — up to one year of fully paid parental leave. The policy only applies to the estimated 140 members of the upper management, but it’s still a step forward.
The bright side is that society is changing. Fathers are noticing more positive images of dads in commercials even if they still feel like advertising aimed at them is rare. Yahoo found that 60 percent said that it’s about time advertisers recognized that fathers also do the shopping, and 53 percent welcome the targeted advertising.
Yahoo’s research is indicative of a new interest in the science of men. It’s a promising step forward in gender politics, benefitting both fathers seeking resources to allow them to stay home with their children and mothers looking to expand their careers out of the home. As we work toward a society that supports both parents, research like this enlightening for the community, advertisers, and governments alike.