Involved Dads = Happier Husbands

Roughly half the fathers in a recent survey said they're not doing enough at home — here's why they should fix that

by Jon Beaty | Updated 14 Jul 2017 at 10:07 PM

A new dad often feels he’s in competition with the kids for mom’s attention. As brood are added to the nest, that feeling often intensifies. For dads who share in child care responsibilities, a new study shows that a dad’s feelings about his relationship with his wife tends to be quite different.

Moms carry the heaviest share of the load when it comes to child care. The situation has improved compared to what it was 50 years ago. A recent survey by Pew Research Center reveals that today’s dads participate in child care more than dads did in the 1960s. In 2015, fathers helped moms with child care seven hours a week, compared to the 15-hour average load carried by moms.

Many dads recognize the disparity between the amount of child care they do, and what mom does. In the Pew survey, almost half the dads admitted they're not doing enough. Counting the potential benefits to their kids, there are plenty of reasons to do more. Studies show kids stand to benefit from greater health, intelligence, and social adjustment, compared to their peers whose dads are not involved.

Adding to the reasons to get involved is research from Georgia State University in Atlanta showing that a dad who shares in his children's care is also likely to benefit from a stronger bond to the mother of his children. These dads report a higher-quality relationship and more satisfying sex life with mom. The study was done by Daniel L. Carlson, assistant professor of sociology, and graduate students Andrea Fitzroy and Sarah Hanson.

The researchers reviewed data from 487 heterosexual couples with children and grouped them into three categories, relationships in which:

  • women did 60 percent or more of the child care
  • men did 60 percent or more of the child care, and
  • men and women split the child care between 40 and 60 percent.

Looking at each couple's relationship quality, the researchers concluded that when women were responsible for most or all of the child care, men and women reported lower-quality relationships and less satisfying sex lives, compared to couples that split child care responsibilities.

Related: Kids Don't Want Perfect Dads — They Want This

Perhaps the most surprising finding was that when dad took on most or all of the child care responsibilities, couples were just as satisfied with their relationship and reported having as much sex as couples who had split their child care arrangements.  However, these men were the least satisfied with the quality of their sex lives (perhaps they were too tired to keep up with their wives). (go to page 2 to continue reading)

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