Why fathers can’t be more involved parents

Topic Selected: Families and Parenting

General Article icon Type: General Article

By Kevin Shafer

In most families, mothers and fathers both work hard. Pew Research recently reported that mums and dads in the US work essentially equal hours when paid work hours are combined with household chores and child care hours.

Pew also reports that fathers are putting more time into their families than ever before. Yet, many social scientists argue that subtle forms of parenting inequality endure. Some scholars and commentators argue that this inequality results from a patriarchal gender ideology: a power dynamic that affects how parents socialise their children and what roles men and women take on in families.

As a scholar who focuses on fathering and men’s health, I see my research paint a more complicated picture. While traditional gender attitudesand expectations tell an important part of the story, inequalities between mums and dads are not driven solely by beliefs or interpersonal interactions.

Fathers repeatedly tell researchers t

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