In March 2021, Promundo and Dove Men+Care carried out a nationally-representative survey in the United States focused on the links between men’s care for themselves (physical, emotional and mental, and social) and their care for the people in their lives. Importantly, this research showed that men embracing care has a ripple effect that impacts everyone for the better. Men who make self care part of their regular routine spend more than 3 hours a day caring for others and are twice as likely to help with household work.
The timing of the survey was particularly important given that participants had been settled into a “pandemic routine” for the past year, which allowed the study to examine their behaviors in the pandemic more deeply. Promundo and Dove Men+Care also conducted 23 in-depth interviews with individuals to gather insight into their attitudes and practices on a wide variety of topics related to care.
The global pandemic has shone a light on care – how we care for ourselves and for those in our lives. The overall despair, disconnection from others, and burden of unemployment and distance learning have put enormous pressure on many people’s psychological well-being. Women’s struggle under the substantial weight of the pandemic has been captured by several important pieces in the media, spotlighting the devastating impact of job loss and/or disproportionate childcare responsibilities. As men – the focus of this paper and research – rally to support their partners and families, there is an urgency to help chart a pathway for being effective allies to the women in their lives, equitable caregivers, and empathic supporters.
To this end, we must recognize everyone’s emotional and mental well-being and their needs for social connection as vital to their role as caregivers. It’s also important for the institutions in our lives to support these efforts: workplaces offering paid paternity leave and flexible hours, communities ensuring that all individuals feel safe and protected, and the TV and movies we consume should embrace expanded, transformative narratives of manhood, care, and families.