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For much of the 20th century, the nuclear family archetype included a working father and a stay-at-home mother. This division of labor was largely influenced by cultural norms and economic necessities. This model was reinforced by post-World War II economic prosperity in Western countries, which enabled single-income households to thrive.

However, the modern family structure is becoming increasingly flexible, allowing both parents to share responsibilities more equitably. This family dynamic shifted in the latter half of the century due to several factors, including the feminist movement, economic changes, and evolving social attitudes toward gender roles.

According to the Pew Research Center, the rising trend of stay-at-home dads is driven by several factors, such as women’s advancement in education and the workforce, economic trends, and the impact of the financial crisis.

The growing number of dual-income families, largely driven by women’s educational accomplishments, has resulted in more fathers taking on caregiving responsibilities. With the emergence of remote and flexible work arrangements, many fathers are now able to work from home while simultaneously caring for their children, thus contributing to the family income. Therefore, the trend reflects a changing societal perception of traditional gender roles and family dynamics as fathers increasingly take on a more active role in parenting and household duties.

A study published in a peer-reviewed open-access The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, explained that the Filipino family culture has always placed extreme importance on the family as the most crucial social group in society. From a family systems viewpoint, mothers and fathers have distinct and interconnected roles and contributions within the family, with fathers being the sole breadwinners.

However, the traditional structure of a Filipino family has evolved due to the effects of globalization and migration, leading to a significant shift in family dynamics. The study claims that the increasing trend of demand in labor has resulted in many mothers seeking job opportunities. Consequently, the traditional roles of breadwinner fathers and housekeeper mothers are becoming less common, and there is a noticeable increase in the number of stay-at-home fathers.

Fathers at work

A study published in Academy of Management Perspectives has shed light on the positive work-related outcomes that can benefit organizations when fathers take an active role in parenting. The study found that more involved fathers experience greater job satisfaction and work-family enrichment. They also reported less work-family conflict and were less likely to consider quitting their jobs.

While it may seem counterintuitive, the study also revealed that more involved fathers had lowered career identity. However, this factor was balanced by the perceived support from management that they received, indicating that when organizations acknowledge and support the parenting responsibilities of fathers, they can effectively minimize the potential impact on their career identity.

The Shriver Report supports these findings, indicating that the 21st-century man prioritizes personal success within the context of family. The report suggests that many men place greater importance on fulfilling the roles of a good father, husband, son, or friend over traditional markers of success such as financial independence and professional achievements. In fact, three in five men consider personal achievement at home to be the primary indicator of success, with financial success and independence following at only 24%.

The report also highlights a generational difference in attitudes, revealing that younger men between the ages of 18-49 are more inclined to value the importance of being present in their family lives. On the other hand, older men aged 50 and above still emphasize the significance of being a provider.

Increased involvement at home

Research has consistently shown as well that involved fathers have a positive impact on their children’s development. In fact, a report published by the US-based Institute for Research on Poverty found that positive father involvement is associated with a range of benefits for children. These include higher academic achievement, greater school readiness, stronger math and verbal skills, greater emotional security, higher self-esteem, fewer behavioral problems, and greater social competence compared to children who do not have involved fathers.

Research from Children’s Bureau’s The Fatherhood Project also revealed that when fathers are involved from the start, infants develop strong emotional bonds with them, similar to those they share with their mothers.

The impact of paternal involvement extends well into the future, as children who feel emotionally connected to their fathers are twice as likely to attend college or secure stable employment after high school. These children are less likely to exhibit disruptive behaviors in school or engage in risky behaviors during adolescence. Specifically, children with engaged fathers are 43% more likely to earn A’s in school and 33% less likely to repeat a grade.

The positive influence of engaged fatherhood is also evident in the behavioral outcomes of children, with high levels of father involvement being associated with increased sociability, confidence, and self-control. Furthermore, they are 75% less likely to experience a teen birth, 80% less likely to spend time in jail, and half as likely to suffer from multiple symptoms of depression.

Conversely, the research also indicates that father absence is linked to delayed developmental milestones from early infancy through childhood and into adulthood, emphasizing the enduring impact of paternal influence.

The importance of support

The traditional concept of the “ideal worker” as someone who dedicates their life to their full-time job while their spouse takes care of the home and children is being challenged by the increasing involvement of men in child-rearing. According to Academy of Management Perspectives, this shift conflicts with the prevailing notion of the ideal worker, who is expected to prioritize work above all else.

The research indicates that men’s active participation in childcare contradicts societal expectations of masculinity, which often emphasize men’s dominance over women and traditional gender roles. Men who diverge from these norms by taking on caregiving responsibilities may face marginalization and social disapproval.

The concept of hegemonic masculinity also emphasizes traditional masculine norms, which can create barriers for men who choose to take on caregiving roles. This can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and isolation as men struggle to reconcile their masculine identities with their new responsibilities.

Although some organizations are leading the way by offering flexible schedules and parental leave policies, many companies are slow to adapt to the changing dynamics of modern families. This lack of support from employers contributes to the growing conflict experienced by men as they try to balance their work and family responsibilities.

In response, the role of fathers will likely become even more integral to both the workplace and the home, benefiting individuals, families, and society as a whole if they are given significant opportunities.

A study by Great Place to Work found that employees who feel supported by their employers are more likely to be productive and satisfied in their roles. This support can take many forms, including flexible work arrangements, parental leave, and a culture that values caregiving roles. Hence, the support allows fathers to be more involved in their children’s upbringing and to prioritize family responsibilities without compromising their careers. — Mhicole A. Moral