Men in the US want to care, and they are doing more of the care work than ever before. The State of America’s Fathers study and report start from the belief that empowering and supporting men to be caregivers is necessary for all of us – for women and gender-diverse individuals and the equality they deserve, for children, for men themselves, and for our country. Promoting men’s caregiving is not instead of the work that needs to happen to support women who continue to do the majority of care in this country. This is bringing men into that conversation as allies, and acknowledging the millions of men who already are allies, for the care policies, supports and equality we all need. Discussing men’s caregiving is also an opportunity to break out of political polarization and call all men into being their most connected, empathetic, equity-seeking selves, and achieving the care policy advances we all need to thrive.
Achieving men’s greater participation in caregiving requires supporting men and fathers to be fully involved caregivers and, crucially, transformations in the structural factors that drive and influence the value of care in society and who undertakes that work. We must make changes in culture that shift us away from seeing care through an individual lens and toward shared problem-solving and public solutions. Specific interventions – large and small – can help lead us to a world where we can all manage our professional and personal lives with dignity, opportunity, and inclusion for all people and families.
This includes changes in laws and policies, with adequate resourcing and clear implementation plans; changes in schools, workplaces, and health facilities; changes in cultural narratives; changes in gender norms around care work; and changes in our public and private lives and livelihoods.
Specifically we must:
- Support national paid leave policies along with workplace policies that support men (and all caregivers) to take leave and to step up to care.
- Affirm that care matters to men, a that point should be reinforced both online and in all the physical spaces where men hang out.
- Engage men as activists and advocates for care policies and encourage them to vote accordingly.
- Support the media to tell the stories of men’s caregiving.
- End the pernicious racist stereotypes about fathers of color.
- Activate the corporate and private sectors in the US to an even greater extent to be allies for better leave policies – in the workplace and in national and local legislation – and to encourage norm change so that workers feel empowered to take it.
- Start with boys: revolutionize the way boys are taught about care by teaching boys from early ages that care is also their responsibility.
“The State of America’s Fathers research confirms what we have long known: Parents, and all people, who care for a child or a loved one deserve the ability to provide love and care without risking their job, their financial stability, or their well-being — and are willing to activate in support of government investments in care policies. Care provides connection and grows the pie in both concrete and intangible ways that benefit people, businesses, communities, and the economy. It’s not zero sum. Paid family and medical leave for all, policies that expand access to care for our children and loved ones, wages for professionals who provide care, and economic support for families are all essential, not optional — and it’s great to see the Congressional Dads Caucus at the forefront of the fight for policies that our families and country need.”
– Vicki Shabo, Senior Fellow: Paid Leave, Gender Equity & Care Policy and Strategy, Better Life Lab @ New America
State of America's Fathers 2023PDF Preview