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In praise of the modern dad: New research explores the complexity of fatherhood

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As Australia prepares to celebrate Father’s Day this Sunday, leading cultural insights and strategy company The Lab has revealed the changes and challenges faced by the nation’s dads.

The Lab spoke to 60 fathers aged between 28 and 69, with one to four children each, ranging in age from three months to 37. The aim was to understand the distinct challenges dads face today in comparison to previous generations, including the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The four key differences in being a dad today revealed by The Lab’s research are:

1. Changed Boundaries: The boundaries have changed. We have now shifted to “organic fathering”, which is creating opportunities and challenges.

2. Holistic-ness: Dads feel a need to be holistic, with more than one dimension. Dads are more than just the provider of food, shelter and education.

3. Uncertainty: There is a greater uncertainty about their children’s future – can they afford to buy a house, will they get a job – in a world that they, the fathers, don’t have experience in.

4. Technology: Dads worry about how technology is affecting their children, which is a concern their fathers did not have. This is new territory for most of them.

The Lab Co-founder, Paul Labagnara, said: “There are a lot of forces shaping parenting. The past two decades have brought about a huge amount of change, in particular, in terms of gender roles and the roles parents play in the home.

“We thought Father’s Day was a great time to hone in on the men in our lives – to see what makes them tick, and to try to understand the complexities associated with being a father in a world that’s rapidly changed.”

Being involved with their children is one of the things that most excites men about being a father today

Dads continue to see their roles in their families anchored in the traditional cornerstones of provision and protection, especially for those with children over 10, as concerns for the ills and temptations of social media come into play. However, The Lab’s research uncovered one other major perspective to fatherhood: involvement.

Dads are increasingly looking to create connections with their children. They are cognisant of having an impact on them and how they can add to each other’s worlds. Involvement with their children is both an aspiration and a source of tension, stemming from a perceived lack of time, which has been made worse by lockdowns.

Pearls of wisdom from dads to their younger selves

The 60 dads were asked what advice they would give their younger self about fatherhood. They key pieces of advice were:

· It’s different for everyone and that’s ok.

· Take things as they come – be fluid.

· Be patient.

· Provide your children with love, and a hug when they need it.

· Don’t stress… shit happens.

Mr Labagnara said: “Many of the dads in our research compare themselves to their own fathers, and with that, the single-dimensional father who may have gotten home and sat in the recliner or worked in his shed.

“Dads today perceive their roles to be much more engrossed in the lives of their children and finding their own ways of being a part of those lives that works for them.

“The advice and the results of our research paint a unique picture of growth for fathers, and how pivotal they are in the lives of their families, even more so as they take on new roles. This Father’s Day, we want to congratulate all dads out their doing their thing, their way.”

Source – Medianet

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