Like most of America’s 37 million families with children under 18, I’ve been at home with my child all day, every day, since the start of widespread coronavirus lockdowns. There is no escape from parenting — no bar, no office, no work event I absolutely can’t miss. It’s a stereotype to say all fathers are absent to some degree, but for my part, I’ll say I never imagined spending months on end sitting on the couch playing with my baby.
Even before lockdown, American dads were putting in more time parenting and helping around the house than ever before. According to Pew Research data, the average dad today spends almost three times as much of his week on childcare and housework as his predecessor did in 1965 — now eight and ten hours per week, respectively — though moms continue to contribute almost twice that. Dads are also more likely to stay home to look after their kids, though the numbers are still low. Only 7 percent of fathers are stay-at-home, accounting for just 17 percent of all stay-at-home parents, though it’s a dramatic upswing from the number who stayed home in 1989. But perhaps most important, more than half of American fathers now report thinking parenting is central to their identity.