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Why is a video of a man in a beard playing classical music going viral?

Well, because of his love for his child.

Watch this video and pay attention to the look on the dad’s face as the child falls asleep.

The lovingly smile.

Then after watching the video skip over to YouTube and read the comments that people are leaving.

They can basically be summed up in three categories:

  1. I love that song
  2. I wish I had a dad like you.
  3. You are an awesome dad (Can I marry you?)

And all he does is put his baby to sleep.

I guess a cynic would say that that shows where the bar has been set for being a good father: “Put your child to sleep and you are a great dad.”

But I hope it means more than that. I hope it shows that people really love to see a father love his child.

The comments around “I wish my dad had done this to me/smiled like that to me/cared like this for me” are sad in a way. But they also show why it is so important for fathers to play an active role in parenting. Fathers not being there puts scars into many people growing up.

And it’s such an easy thing to fix.

Just spend more time with your kids.

The comments around “you are an awesome dad (Can I marry you?)” are the ones who really inspire me. The fact that there are so many of those comments. The fact that the video is going viral (+600 000 views when I write this). The fact that it has so many more positive comments than negative (6335 vs 35) (who puts a negative comment on a video like this?). All of this, to me, shows that people are starting to appreciate when a man takes responsibility for being there for his child.

I guess I am saying: “Here is a video of a man putting a baby to sleep where the message is: it’s time for fathers to wake up.”

 

 

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Here are some depressing statistics when it comes to fatherhood:

  • 46% of fathers think they spend too little time with their children.
  • Fathers spend an average of 50% less time with their children than the mother.(7 hours per week for the fathers – that is one hour per day… – compared to 14 hours per week for the mothers.)
  • Just 64% of fathers give themselves a rating as doing an excellent or very good job as a parent (for mothers that number is 73%.)

The numbers are taken from a study by Pew Research Center studying the attitudes of American parents.

As you might expect the study also shows that there is a correlation between how high of a grade the fathers give themselves as parents and how many hours they spend with their children. (The parents who think they spend the right amount of time with their children also rate themselves as being good parents.)

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Now here is the good news: The study found that fathers have nearly tripled their time with children since 1965.

And here is the bad news: that just means an increase of 4.5 hours per week over the last 50 years: from 2,5 hours per week (yes, I had to re-read that number a few times to see if I got that right..) to today 7 hours.

But, you might now say, fathers work more and can not be expected to both work hard and parent hard.

Well the study also showed that fathers spent 3 hours more per week than mothers on “leisure activities”, defines as “watching TV, playing games, socializing and exercising”(28 hours vs 25 hours).

Now here is a thought exercise for you:

If the fathers decided to reduce their “leisure activities” by 3 hours per week and trade the “watching, socializing and exercising”  for an additional three hours of “parenting” per week they would essentially increase their “time spent with their children” by almost 50%”.

And maybe, just maybe, that would push the fathers into feeling that they are now spending enough time with their children.

When the 46% of fathers are saying that they spend “too little time with their children” they are basically saying “I have prioritised my leisure activities over my father activities.”

“Leisure” literally means “free time”.

Perhaps the unhappy fathers should reduce the “free time” just a little and exchange it with some “be time” – as in “be a better father’.

Just saying.

Oh, and spending time with your child can be some of the most “free and leisure times” of your life. Like, in the picture above, hanging out on the beach with your daughter.

 

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Talk about an unlikely hero.

Last months Games Industry reported that the computer game developer Unity would start offering all its US employees (and soon all employees worldwide) who are the legal parent of a child 12 weeks of fully paid leave. They will also offer the parents an additional eight weeks of part-time work with full-time pay.

A computer games company in the USA is championing parental leave!

Wait? What?

A company that help create computer games like “Hitman Sniper” and “Lara Croft: Relic Run” (not your typical “family entertainment”) is pushing ahead to get fathers to spend time with their toddlers.

I am still trying to wrap my head around this.

But when I think about it a little bit more it starts to make sense.

The computer game industry is a relatively young industry which still has a bit of a “rebel label” to it (even tough it is by now a almost 100 Billion (!) dollar industry). This means that the industry is not stuck in how things “used” to be done.

It is also an industry that is extremely trend sensitive (The computer game industry is notoriously fickle and a hit yesterday does not mean you are guaranteed a hit tomorrow so you need to constantly feel where the wind is blowing.) This means that the computer games industry is probably one of the best industries in the world right now at seeing and understanding trends.

Finally the industry that Unity is in is very male dominated and there is a huge competition for the best talent. And unity has probably understood that offering paternity leave to dads (and maternity leave to the mothers) is a great way to retain staff, especially more experienced staff who is coming into the “getting-ready-to-have-a-kid-years.

So I guess it makes sense that a computer games company is pushing for better paternity terms for it’s employees.

But then I read a quote from the HR director of Unity, Elizabeth Brown, where she explains why they are doing it.

She said:

“It’s a common occurrence (in Scandinavia) to see men walking around with strollers in those cities as an example but that’s not the case in the US, and we want to change that. We want to help make it the social norm here in the US, and eliminate the stigma of taking time off to take care of children.”

Wow. Blown away.

A gaming company pushing to change the social norms in the USA of what it means to be a man.

Respect.

And no, I do not think that Unity, by itself will change any social norms about fatherhood in the USA, but I do think that small changes like this matter.

And attitudes in societies can change.

In 1983 only 23% of Americans stated that they knew someone who was gay, lesbian or bisexual. In 1983 that number was 24%, in 1993 it was 55%, in 2000 it was 62% – and in 2001 it was 73%.

If you ask how many Americans who know of a father who has gone on paternity leave, I am guessing that the number will probably be even lower than the 23% who knew a homosexual in 1983.

But if you ask in Sweden today I think you will probably hit 95-100%. And 20 years from now you might reach 73% – or more- in the USA as well.

All thanks to small changes like the ones introduced by Unity that creates other changes that create other changes and then suddenly the tipping point is reached.

As anyone who plays computer games knows: there is only one way to beat the high score – and that is to slowly collect more and more points until you have reached your goal. Unity just collected some new points for the daddy’s of the world.

For that I salute them.

(Picture Credit: jordannypoo (Creative Commons.)

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South Korea is, to say the least, not a country know for dads going on paternity leave.

And if you want to paint a gloomy picture of the state of South Korean men taking time off with their children it is easy to find depressing statistics.

Like the fact that just 3,421 Korean men took out paternity leave in 2014.
Or that fathers only make up 5 percent of parents taking leave.
Or that the Korean Women’s Development Institute found that just 2% of Korean men had taken out leave.

But then again, if you prefer to take a positive approach to what is happening in South Korea you can instead read the statistics like this:

The 3421 men who took paternity leave in 2105 was double the number who did so in 2012.
Or, that the number of fathers taking paternity leave increased by 40% last year.
Or that 64% of Korean men are WILLING to take paternity leave.

I think this is a classic example of seeing the early stages of a strong trend.

If you double 1 you get 2. If you double 2 you get 4 and if you double 4 you get 8.
With a quick glance it might look like not much is happening, but as we all know if we go on for a few more steps we quickly reach big numbers.
16, 32, 64, 128, 256 and 1024.
In 10 steps we increase the number with a factor of 1000. In 20 steps we increase it by a factor of 1 million (!)

But when the increase is small in the beginning it’s hard to see what is going on.

I think it is very much the same with the attitudes and behaviours around men’s (and society’s) view on the fathers role in bringing up the children of a family.

Call me an optimistic optimist – and perhaps I am – but perhaps I am instead just good at spotting a trend …

In an article on Reuters (where the statistics above also are taken from) they write about the success of the TV show “Return of Superman” where male celebrities are taking care of their own children and about how reality shows like “Return of the Superman” changed Koreans view of what a father can, and should, do when it comes to rising the children.

Men want to be superheroes, and we are now living in a time where male celebrities in a conservative country like South Korea as described and perceived as super heroes – for taking care of their kids…

Who would have thought.

We are living in interesting times, and I think we very soon will look back on today as the time the world woke up from a collective hypnosis of thinking that children only needed one parent and ask ourselves “What where we thinking?”. And because we are in the early stage of this strong change I think that most people haven’t yet understood what is happening around us.

For the sake of our families, and our children, I hope I am right.