For the past five years, up until the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve traveled the country talking about modern fatherhood. As a modern dad myself, I limit my travel to five days a month and work from home the rest of the time. So I’m the one generally home with the kids when they get home from school.
Often, when I speak to businesses and organizations, women tell me that they’re “lucky” because their husbands are so hands-on with the kids, equally committed to family life. I always respond the same way: “That’s terrific, but you’re not lucky. You’re normal.”
This is the secret, unknown reality of the modern dad, a fact buried beneath TV stereotypes of bumbling, lazy or incompetent fathers, as well as misleading data. In reality, time use surveys show that while mothers and fathers divide their time differently, both are working hard on behalf of their families through a combination of paid work, unpaid work and childcare.
‘Mad Men’ workplaces can be a barrier
The biggest force holding back gender equality at home isn’t laziness or lack of interest among fathers. It’s a set of workplace structures, vestiges of the ‘Mad Men’ era, that push women to do more of the caregiving, while also pushing men to spend more and more hours in paid work. My book, “All In,” is filled with research and stories of men who were fired, demoted or lost job opportunities for daring to take paternity leave or seek a