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Dove Positive Masculinity

Active fatherhood: The amazing benefits for dads + society

What is fatherhood when it’s ‘active’ and ‘modern’? We spoke with Josh Levs, award-winning author of ‘All In’ and an expert on dads in the workplace, to learn why active fatherhood isn’t just about caring for our kids – it’s about challenging gender roles and inspiring future generations, too.

What is the definition of ‘active fatherhood’ or ‘modern fatherhood’?

“Modern dads are active dads. We are involved in every aspect of our kids’ lives. As I explain on my website, data shows dads and moms work equally hard on behalf of their families. And when dads are home, we are equally active with our kids.

“The problem lies in the laws, policies and stigmas that push men to work longer hours and push women to do more caregiving. This is where we all need to come together and be ‘all in’ for fixing these structures.”

What are the benefits of active fatherhood for kids + the people we love?

“The benefits are across the board. Kids who have substantial time with their dads do better on average in basically every way that's measured – mental health, confidence, social skills, physical health, academically and more. Of course, this doesn’t mean kids without dads are automatically going to fail on these measures. Not at all! Some kids have no dads or moms. But when there is a dad, him being caring and involved benefits kids in every way.

“Active fatherhood also benefits dads. The more we balance work and life, the better our mental and physical health is. When dads can be equally involved, our partners benefit, too. They have much greater equality at home and have more opportunities to pursue and advance their careers.”

Why is paternity leave + active fatherhood from day one so important?

“Lots of research shows the difference begins at day one. In most societies, boys are not raised to know as much about taking care of babies. To develop confidence, men need to be engaged in all tasks from the beginning. Long-term studies show that, in general, the earlier this happens in a baby’s life, the more gender equality that child grows up with.”

How can men support each other to be caring, active dads?

“Just like moms, dads need support too! I’m a part of several Facebook groups in which dads offer advice, help and more. We’re there for each other in all the same ways moms are. Being an engaged, loving parent comes with all sorts of joys and challenges. For far too long, fathers (and men in general) have struggled in the shadows, suffering from stress, anxiety, work-life conflict and more. The more we do to care for each other, the stronger we are.”

How can active dads inspire the next generation to care, too?

“Ultimately, the most impactful way to create gender equality is to make sure kids grow up seeing active dads in action. They need to know that all people, regardless of gender, can engage in caregiving and have careers. The more they see it, the more they recognize how to make it happen.

“International work I’ve done shows this in action. In countries that have done more to tackle this problem, kids grow up seeing greater gender equality – and they carry it over in their own lives.”

Whether you’re a dad, brother, guardian, mentor, friend, colleague or partner, discover even more ways you can be a positive role model every day.

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