Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Confident Dads

Paul over at the Working Dad (The Site Formerly Known as Family Man Until the Trademark Police Got Involved) pointed yesterday to one heck of an interesting survey from BabyCenter. BabyCenter polled 2,000 expectant and new moms and dads from Gens X and Y and, essentially, asked then how good they were as a parent.

The answer, for a lot of guys, was "quite good." 78 percent of fathers say they're better than their spouse at at least one parenting skill (the release mentions discipline, bedtime, comforting, shopping and playing). The "78 percent" number is slightly misleading -- 39 percent of guys believe they're the better disciplinarian, but I'm not ready to link self-described discipline skills with great parenting (also, when asked, only 11 percent of moms thought that dad was better at meting out justice).

But there were some other facts that show there's a shift on. 24 percent of dads say they're better at getting junior to be (only 8 percent of moms agree, though). 11 percent of fathers think they're better at comforting their children, with another 50 percent claiming they're equally good. Also interesting: Gen Y dads were more likely to consider themselves superior at playing and shopping than Gen X dads were, more evidence of the generation shift to involved fatherhood.

Leaving aside the two obvious objections to the whole exercise (1. Asking parents to self-assess is inherently dangerous 2. Asking parents to essentially compete with their spouse devalues the whole enterprise), I found this had an important take-home: a lot of dads are really involved (or think they are). This sound like an obvious statement to make, but I'd be willing to bet that if you asked the "comforting" question to dads of my father's generation, you wouldn't get 61 percent claiming they were as good or better than mom.

The survey suggests that playing an active, daily role is part of modern fatherhood -- with younger dads playing an even more active role than older dads (though I feel funny, as a Gen Xer, being lumped with the old dads :) Good news.

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