The following was produced in partnership with our friends at Johnson & Johnson.
The first State of America’s Fathers report acknowledges parenting progress and potential, and that optimism was on display Tuesday during the report’s public unveiling at the Paley Center For Media in New York City. But the report’s authors, parenting advocates, and researchers who were on hand to unpack the report’s findings did not shy away from the fact that the U.S., as a society, isn’t exactly Father Of The Year.
“It boils down to three big, overarching messages here,” said Gary Barker, President and CEO of Promundo-US, which partnered with Fatherly and Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday’s event. “One is about time, and who does what at home. It’s also about inequality. And third, it’s about support – fathers not being able to do it alone.”
The report’s lead author, Brian Heilman, bemoaned a “time famine” in the U.S., where 74 percent of parents who work 40 or more hours a week feel like they don’t spend enough time with their kids. Heilman also explained that the effort to equalize caregiving in U.S. homes and in the professional world is not merely an attempt to cultivate “warm and fuzzy” feelings (not that there’s anything wrong with warm and fuzzy feelings). “We’re really advocating for this equal sharing of care at work because it stands to produce such broad benefits across society,” Heilman said. “When men are actively involved in positive and nurturing ways in their children’s lives, their children benefit enormously.”
One huge potential benefit Heilman shared from the report: If women were able to participate in the work force at the same rate as men, U.S. GDP would increase by 5 percent, which amounts “several hundred billion dollars.” That’s billion, with a “b,” and this is what economists mean when they say that a rising tide lifts all ships.
The first State of America’s Fathers report, with its deep, data-driven observations and studied solutions, is only a starting point.
“I’m optimistic about the fact that we’re studying this, documenting it, identifying areas for improvement,” said Scott Behson, an author and professor of management at Fairleigh-Dickinson, who provided academic review for the report. “And I have no doubt that if this report were replicated 5 years from now, we’d see significant advances in many of the areas.”