Do dads parent? Of course they do, but often it seems their role in the raising of kids is reduced — in media portrayals and patriarchal stereotypes — to bringing home money, not actually raising and caring for them.
But fathers play an important role in child development, as a 2016 study from Michigan State University illustrated. For example: the mental health of fathers — if they are depressed during a child's upbringing, for exapmle — has a longer, lingering effect on children than that of mothers.
This is why the Instagram account @dontforgetdads is a breath of fresh air.
The account is dedicated to showcasting caring dads as parents instead of as hapless babysitters. Through photos of dads with kids, @dontforgetdads is fighting stereotypes.
The account was started in April 2015 by January Harshe of @birthwithoutfear, with the help of her husband, Brandon Harshe. It all got going thanks to a hashtag that intended to support dads, particularly as it relates parenthood issues like postpartum depression.
“I noticed that dads are kind of forgotten,” Harshe told ATTN:. “When a woman is pregnant, it’s all about her and the upcoming birth. Then the baby is born — and it’s all about the baby — and, a lot of times, the moms are forgotten in the postpartum... so where does that leave dads?”
Harshe explained that a lot of times the only person dads have to confide in are their partners, who are in a similar need of validation after just having a child.
“I know that women feel a lot of times that they’re alone in this whole journey,” Harshe said. “And men definitely do too.”
Only 30 percents of parents in the U.S. share parenting responsibilities, highlighting both cultural and policy lapses that discourage dads from taking part.
Even something as simple as paternity leave has been proven to help: paternity leave benefits everything from a child’s well being to how much women get paid. While paternal leave is on the rise, less than 20 percent of US employers offer time off to dads. Pair this with the U.S. having the worst family leave policies of any developed country and you see there are clear problems with how we handle parenting.
“In our culture, it’s very much like mom has her role and dad’s role is outside of the home,” Harshe said. “The more and more we can show in social media that dads are engaged, the more we can break through the stereotypes.”
“We’re finally getting to the point where we’re speaking up more about what it’s like for dads," she added.