By Heidi Stevens
Americans are looking for a little more Louis C.K. and a little less Al Bundy.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found a majority of people (58 percent) say “values and morals” are the most important thing for a father to provide his children, with discipline and income trailing by double digits.
“Emotional support” came in second, with 52 percent of the 1,004 adult respondents giving it top priority for dads. Just 41 percent said providing income was a father’s most important responsibility.
We expect moms to prioritize in roughly the same order. Values and morals tied with emotional support as the most important things for a mom to bring to the table, according to the study, followed by discipline (at 46 percent) and income (at 25 percent).
It’s an optimistic take on parenting, in a culture accustomed to churning out “state of the world’s mothers” reports (the U.S. just took 31st place on Save the Children’s annual list); “best and worst states for working mothers” lists (Illinois placed 22nd in the country on WalletHub’s rankings); and best-sellers predicting male demise (Hanna Rosin’s “The End of Men” springs to mind).
We’re beginning to grasp, it seems, the notion that families (and countries, and states) do best when all their members work together, rather than assigning each other to gender-based silos.
Forty percent of American households with children under 18 have mothers who are the sole or primary breadwinners, according to 2012 U.S. Census data _ up from 11 percent in 1960.
That’s an enormous, many-tentacled shift, and we’re only just learning what to do in the face of it.
But if this study is any indication, we’re rejecting the notion that moms are bumping dads out of the picture, and warming to the idea that there’s plenty of work, inside and outside the home, for everyone.