By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Father’s Day was first recognized more than 100 years ago, when the role of dads was quite different.

So, how has fatherhood changed?

When fathers are asked, “What’s the secret to being a good dad?,” the responses range from providing for your kids, watching them, guiding them, listening, being available, and being a nice husband to your wife.

“Now, to be a good dad, you’re expected to do more of what mothers used to do,” says Dr. Bill Doherty, professor of family science at the University of Minnesota.

He says the change has been underway since the early 20th century, but accelerated in the 1960s, a time of major generational change. More women were entering the workforce and traditional gender roles were being re-examined.

“Our ideas about masculinity have shifted too,” Doherty says.

According to Pew Research, fathers worked an average of 46 hours per week. They spent four hours on housework and two-and-a-half hours on childcare. Now, dads work slightly less at 43 hours, but do more than twice as much housework (10 hours) and three times as much childcare (8 hours).

Doherty says whether fathering now is better is subjective. But, given his role as a family science researcher, he believes the answer is yes.

“I think that kids benefit when both parents can do love and nurturing and limit-setting,” he says.

At the same time, he says a big challenge for contemporary fathers is to be more nurturing than previous generations and not set limits as much.

“It’s important to take each generation by its own standards and its own norms,” he says.

Pew Research also finds dad are now just as likely as moms (57 percent) to say parenting is central to their identity. More than half (52 percent) of working dads say it’s difficult to have a work-life balance.

Heather Brown