Fathers are increasingly present in their children’s lives, according to Census Bureau statistics and academic research. Men are changing more diapers, driving kids to activities more often and providing a base of emotional support they might not have had from their fathers. As a result, many families are reevaluating gender roles that were once taken for granted. And as men’s identity changes, so does their health. More paternal involvement is associated with “decreases in depression, substance abuse and risky behaviors for low-income fathers. It also improved their self-reported physical health.”
What’s the Big Idea?
As men embrace parenting responsibilities that were once the domain of women, gender roles in marriage are changing too, but with less clarity. W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project, says there is a cultural script for a ‘new dad’ but not for a ‘new husband’. “That married people with children now often refer to themselves as a ‘stay-at-home mom’ or ‘stay-at-home dad’ instead of as ‘wife’ or ‘husband’ signals that we now prioritize parenthood over marriage itself.” In households with two working adults who are also committed parents, less energy is left to sustain a marriage.