From fathers to 'fatherhood'

Starting this Father’s Day, let’s celebrate men and women able to perform as both a father and a mother. A 'Fatherhood Day,' perhaps?

Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor
A mother with her baby chats with a father and his baby in a square in central Stockholm, Sweden. Sweden has generous maternity leave for parents. Fathers are expected to take time to bond with their children.

With so many news stories about people trying to reinvent their identities, it is a wonder Americans look forward to celebrating a time-honored and stable identity this Sunday: fathers. 

Yet even that progenitor title is shifting. A rise in the number of working moms and single dads has pushed more fathers to fulfill the duties traditionally performed by mothers, just as more mothers have had to learn to act like a father.

Parent-bending is becoming the norm. In 1965, fathers in the United States spent an average 2.5 hours a week on child-care duties to a mother’s 10 hours. By 2011, according to the Pew Research Center, fathers spent 10 hours to a mother’s 14 hours. The shift has been similar in hours spent on housework.

Who in Hollywood today would satirize this trend with a mocking movie title like “Mr. Mom”? And why does a TV show like “My Three Sons” now seem so dated?

Father’s Day is still distinctly celebrated from Mother’s Day. But maybe not for long. For more than half a century, the once-separate roles of parenting – from diaper changing to breadwinning – have been steadily shared or switched as more women seek equality in marriages and the workplace. As child-rearing responsibilities get divvied up, a “Parents’ Day” could soon be official.

Or, Father’s Day could become “Fatherhood Day,” a celebration of the qualities often associated with men but able to be expressed by women. And a “Motherhood Day” would become a fete of care-giving and nurturing.

Many companies and governments have enabled this shift by creating flextime, parental leave, and day-care support. Many “modern” dads now join parental support groups. One study of parent-friendly policies in wealthy nations finds fathers who take time off when their child is born are more likely to take care of their kids in later years. Another study in Norway found daughters do better in life when their dads are home more often.

As parenting has become more unisex, no man who stays home with his children should be denigrated for mothering. They should be celebrated for taking on new roles, and not just one day a year.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to From fathers to 'fatherhood'
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today