Father’s Day 2023: What Modern Day Father’s Really Want by Han-Son

When I was growing up, I was obsessed with Family Guy. Its crude story line and wise cracks quickly became a guilty pleasure in my late teens and twenties, and of course Peter Griffin in particular.

These days, as much as I can still enjoy the humor of it, I find myself wincing at the way Peter is portrayed. Why? Because what I didn’t realize until my thirties was just how much it was typical of the way society as a whole tends to view dads. He is very much the secondary parent. He barely has much connection with his children, and frankly fatherhood doesn’t seem top of his priorities in any way.

With so much having changed for dads in the last few years, and ahead of Fathers Day this year I find myself asking – beyond just the presents and (potential) lay ins – what do dads really want this Father’s day?

Dads Parenting Differently

Our latest Dad Index research shows that 89% of modern day dads are actively  involved in day to day parenting, with nearly 6 in 10 (58%) saying they are as equally involved as their partners. In fact the ways that men are now preparing for fatherhood shows the depth to which a modern generational of dads has shirted beyond the traditional view.

New dads have become more active, more caring, and dare I say more connected to a version of fatherhood that goes beyond just being at work, and then coming home and sitting in an armchair. Dads are becoming more involved with everyday parenting tasks, taking that responsibility and having parenthood define a large part of their true identity as men.

Ahead of this Father’s Day, what do dads really want, and how can we facilitate this even more?

  1. Keep challenging the fatherhood stereotype

As we now know, modern day dads are going through a generational shift when it comes to their parenting. For too long dads have been thought of in a traditional way – where their day to day parental role is seen as a limited one, and most of their time spent at work instead. There are still far too many limited beliefs that dads are just the ones looking for the fun times with their children and don’t lean into any of the more serious stuff.

But a great shift has begun for the past few years, with a recent study by the Families and Work Institute finding that fathers are more likely than mothers to report wanting to reduce their hours or take a less demanding job in order to spend more time with their families.

This shift in attitude is indicative of a larger trend, and one that is likely to have a significant impact on the workplace in the years to come. Which brings us nicely onto…

  1. Recognizing ‘dads at work’

With nearly 50 million families in the US having both partners working, it brings into focus how we treat dads at work. Paternity Leave is shockingly lacking at a federal level, and we have to start to look at models across Europe and Australia (where increasingly leading organizations are looking at equal parental leave across 12 months) as a refreshed starting point. This isn’t just about the change that dads want to see, it’s about the impact on partners, and families as a whole.

Until we unlock the change for dads, we can’t get the true potential of family thriving that we should be looking to achieve all round. 

  1. Don’t just change the packaging

A number of brands have notice the change in parenting and started to focus their attention on dads too…but only in so far as the packaging, with more dads on the packaging of diaper products and various other baby products. This is a lazy approach, and just having a dad on the package doesn’t mean that everyday parenting products are really thinking about how dads use them.

We’ve seen and heard from thousands of dads who shop very differently to their partners, but brands don’t recognize the opportunity ahead in re-thinking and expanding their product propositions, and it’s something that Father’s Day as a landmark should start to challenge even further.

I’ve been witness to many a dad shopping trip where the way products are thoughts of, bought and used would open up so many more brand opportunities, and in an age where representation has become a vital marketing focus, isn’t it time that we focus that lens on dads too?

  1. It’s time to open up

Get dads to open up: Having the ambition to address dads at work isn’t enough. There’s something that dad’s themselves need to do, and it stems from a reality that men just aren’t the best at opening up, and culturally we need to move past the traditional notion of dads being stoic and silent.

We’re living in an age where mental health matters, and recent research has shown that 1 in 10 new dads suffer from Post Natal Depression, and it’s often something they aren’t aware of until it’s pointed out to them.

We can solve this in part by putting dads on the agenda through Dads at work programs, but that alone won’t solve the issue. It needs dads themselves to be brave, speak up, and challenge their own feelings. This needs to happen not only at home, but also at work. Only through that will it be recognized for the impact it needs to have, and only at that level can it address the tensions culturally that continue to hold so many organizations and families back when it comes to dads and mental health.

Wherever you are for Father’s Day this year, I hope its one where we’re not just celebrating dad for a day, but using it as a landmark to drive the wider change for dads and families that’s truly needed.

Han-Son is the founder of DaddiLife – the leading site for dads, with a mission to shine a light on the generational shift of fatherhood.