Dads: The New Working Mothers
Nor would we have seen so many men who view their role as father as the central part of their identity. "When we begin our research, we say to people, "Tell me about yourself," to get a sense of how they identify," explains James Chung, president of Reach Advisors, a marketing-research firm that studies emerging lifestyle trends. "We're finding that younger dads start off by saying, 'I'm Caitlin's daddy. I coach soccer. We like to spend as much time outdoors as possible.' These guys fundamentally think of themselves as dads." He says that older fathers also identify as dads but view that role as one component of their busy lives. "With younger men, it's really 'Dad.' Period," Chung says. "Work is no longer their source of identity. It's just one of the things they do."
Naturally, moms are embracing this tidal wave of paternal pride, eager for help on the home front. But they are also keenly aware of the challenges their husbands face as they struggle to balance the competing demands: Is it better to miss a soccer game or to pass up an all-important business trip? Is it worthwhile to sacrifice those family dinners and go for that promotion? "Men are asking themselves the same questions that working mothers ask," says Dr. Pruett. "They've joined their wives in the wrestling match."
The contest is a challenging one: A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 59 percent of men and 62 percent of women believe current dads have it tougher than fathers a generation ago. Just 12 percent said it was easier being a dad today. But the upside is the wealth of benefits for kids when their father is involved. "Children are the biggest winners in all this," says Kevin Krippner, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Normal, Illinois, who works with families.