We all know that when dads spend more time with their kids, everyone wins—right? Right! But new research points to the notion that when and how dads spend time with kids matters a lot when it comes to building solid relationships.
About that, though: Do any other moms feel like Dad more frequently gets to be the fun one while Mom shoulders the lion’s share of gettin’ ‘er done tasks? In other words, does Dad wrestle, toss the ball in the backyard, and do all the hilarious silly voices — while Mom’s stuck with the unsexy stuff like making sure the kids are washed, sporting non-stained clothes, doing their homework, and eating their veggies?
Even though dads these days take on a lot more childcare duties than they used to, stats show that moms still do 46 hours a week of combined childcare and household chores compared to dads’ 18 hours. This holds true even in households where both parents work.
Look, no one’s saying that playtime isn’t important. It is. But let’s face it, the majority of parenting—especially on weekdays—comes down to the grind, aka tending to those basics: feeding, grooming, organizing, driving, getting kids to bed on time.
But there’s good news for anyone looking to get the dad in their life into taking on more workday childcare duties. This study at the University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences shows that dads who spend significant time with childcare tasks on workdays are more likely to have a secure attachment bond with their kids. You read that right: during the bustle of the workweek, it’s not that uproarious reenactment of a scene from My Little Pony that counts; it’s things like food preparation, backpack-checking, and—yes—even butt-wiping.
The study, published in The Journal of Family Psychology, evaluated 80 father-child pairs in which the kids were around three years old. Using in-home observation, video, and interviews with the subjects, Brown and his team assigned each pair a score representing “attachment security,” which, simply put, is a combination of the child’s trust and affection for the caregiver.
Professor Brown says that of course playtime between fathers and their children is important and absolutely strengthens bonds, whenever it’s done. But, he said, “the most important thing on a workday, from the perspective of building a good relationship with your children, seems to be helping to take care of them.”
So there you have it: Dads should forevermore take on bath duty. Also homework monitoring. Hey, it’s science.