Q and A: Fatherhood

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Where is fatherhood going, and how far has it really come?


1 in 5 Australians are dads. There are approximately 4.6 million fathers in Australia, with an estimated 2.2 million of these have children aged under 18. The median age of a first-time dad today is 31, so today’s emerging generation of dads are Gen Yers and are parenting Generation Alpha, born since 2010.

Gen Alpha are the first generation of children to be shaped in an era of portable digital devices, and for many, the pacifiers have not been a rattle or set of keys but a smartphone or tablet device. A key role of fathers has always been to create a safe and supportive environment in which their children can thrive, and today this involves more than providing a physically secure home, but also a cybersafe one with 96% of households with children having internet access, and with Gen Alpha using personal digital devices at an ever younger age. However, Generation Y parents have been shaped in the digital world and so are better equipped to respond to new parenting challenges of managing cyberbullying, watching out for screen addiction, and ensuring child-friendly content. In the year that the oldest Gen Ys first became fathers in record numbers (2010), the iPad entered the market, “app” was the word of the year and Instagram was launched.

Our research has also found that Gen Y dads are not as competent or confident as their fathers were to change the oil in their car, repair a punctured bicycle tyre or fix a leaky tap, but in many ways, in an outsourcing era, they’re able to buy replacements or outsource those services. While they may have lost some of these traditional skills, they have picked up some new ones. Our research showed they are far more likely to be confident in changing a baby’s nappy, doing a grocery shop, buying clothes for their children and cooking a meal for their family.

Our analysis of Gen Y fathers has shown that they are parenting in ways that are responding to the changes relevant to these times and importantly, very relational with their children. This is important for this generation that was born in the 20th century, have entered parenthood in the 21st century and are shaping the first gen of children that will live into the 22nd century.


More on effective parenting strategies can be found in Mark McCrindle’s book The ABC of XYZ: Understanding The Global Generations.

Purchase it here.

Next Gen Dads: Parenting Screenagers and Digital Natives

Thursday, September 04, 2014

More Dads Than Ever

1 in 5 Australians are dads. There are approximately 4.6 million fathers in Australia, with an estimated 2.2 million of these have children aged under 18. The median age of a first-time dad today is 31, so today’s emerging generation of dads are Gen Yers.

New Record Baby Boom

We are currently experiencing a baby boom in Australia, with birth numbers setting new records and exceeding 310,000 per year. This means that Gen Y will produce more children than any previous generation in Australia’s history. While the number of children per Gen Y family is significantly less than that of their grandparents (in 1961 the total fertility rate hit 3.5 births per woman), Generation Y parents are having more parents per couple than Generation X did. When Generation X were in their peak fertility years (turning 31 in 2001), this coincided with the very year Australia hit its lowest birth rate ever recorded in Australia (1.7). Now as Generation Y are reaching their peak fertility years we have a birth rate significantly higher, hovering around 2.0.

Introducing Generation Alpha

These Gen Y parents are giving birth to Generation Alpha – the cohort born since 2010. Generation Alpha are not only going to be the largest generation Australia has ever seen, but also the most globally connected, technologically savvy and materially endowed. Generation Y are delaying the traditional life markers, commencing their families in their 30s (compared to previous generations who did so in their 20s) so not only do they have many more years of earnings before they start their families, but they are also more likely to be double income households.

Parenting Screenagers

Generation Alpha are the first generation of children to be shaped in an era of portable digital devices, and for many, the pacifiers have not been a rattle or set of keys but a smartphone or tablet device. A key role of fathers has always been to create a safe and supportive environment in which their children can thrive and these days this involves more than providing a physically secure home but also a cybersafe home. 96% of households with children having internet access and Gen Alpha are using personal digital devices at an ever younger age. However, Generation Y parents have been shaped in the digital world and so are better equipped to respond to new parenting challenges of managing cyberbullying, watching out for screen addiction, and ensuring child-friendly content.

The Modern Dad

Our past research has found that Generation Y dads are not as competent and confident as their fathers were to change the oil in their car, repair a punctured bicycle tyre or fix a leaky tap, but in many ways, in an outsourcing era they’re able to buy replacements or outsource those services and they don’t need to do all those things themselves. Why they may have lost some of these traditional skills, they have picked up some new ones. Our research showed they are far more likely to be confident in changing a baby’s nappy, doing a grocery shop, buying clothes for their children and cooking a meal for their family.

Busier Than Ever

If fathers are feeling busier than ever, that’s because they are. The labour force participation rate shows that almost 4 in 5 fathers with dependent children participate in the labour force, with more than half of them working full time (an average of 7 hours 25 minutes per day) and yet at the same time, those with children aged under 15 are spending more time with their children, averaging 3 hours and 55 minutes per day. Additionally, almost half of all dads with kids aged up to 17 years old are also volunteering (46%), dads with full-time jobs are spending around 80 minutes a day on domestic work. So there’s little surprise that over a third of Australian men (34.9%) say that they always or often feel rushed or pressed for time, and 1 in 6 (16.3%) feel that their work and family responsibilities are rarely or never in balance.

Next Generation Parents

In the year that the oldest Gen Ys first became fathers in record numbers (2010), the iPad entered the market, “app” was the word of the year and Instagram was launched. Clearly they are parenting in a very different era to any other generation and will be facing new challenges never seen before.

From House-Hubbies to On-Duty Dads, Australian Fathers are Actively Parenting

Friday, August 23, 2013

Aussie dads are a diverse bunch. From workaholics to house-hubbies, McCrindle Research has crunched the statistics on what fatherhood looks like in 21st Century Australia... including what presents dad should expect to receive this Father’s Day!


A snapshot of fatherhood in Australia


20% of Australia’s population is made up of dads.  There are approximately 4.6 million dads in Australia, with an estimated 2.2 million dads currently with children aged under 18.  Of these, approximately 156,000 are single-parent fathers, who look after 228,000 children, which averages at 1.5 kids for each single dad.


Stay-at-home dads


ABS figures show that in Australia there are approximately 144,000 stay-at-home dads with dependent children. This means that of the 4.4 million dependent children in couple families where one parent is employed full time, 3% have a mother who is employed, while the father is not.


Fatherhood - a later life pursuit


There is certainly a trend of fatherhood becoming a delayed life stage, with the average age of a new father now 33.1 years of age! The Northern Territory and Tasmania are home to our nation’s youngest dads, with the median age of fathers at 31.5 and 31.7 years respectively at the child’s birth. However, Victoria and the ACT have the oldest dads, with a median age of 33.7 years at birth.


Time spent fathering the same... but roles are a-changing


While fathers spend roughly four hours a day caring for their children (the same in 2006 as it was 11 years before in 1997), the role of the father has significantly evolved. In a study conducted by McCrindle Research in 2010, it was uncovered that men under 30 are less likely to be adept at building a cubby house, fixing a tap or a punctured tire, but more likely to be able to change a baby’s nappy, bake a birthday cake, wash clothes and drop the kids off at school. In comparison, mum’s spend 8.5 hours caring for their children, up from just under 8 hours in 1997.


Work hard for the money


Our nation’s men are more likely to feel their work and family responsibilities are out of whack, with 16% saying these are rarely or never in balance (ABS, 2007). This could be due to the fact that men with children do not work any less than men without children – that is, 42 hours per week on average. This shows that while our dad’s are working hard, they still greatly value time with their greatest asset - their children.


Googling the perfect present


Interestingly, Google search trends show “Father’s Day” was one of the most popular searches in Australia... in June! Rather than it being about shoppers getting in early, this shows the globalisation of the day as the “when is Father’s Day” searches peaked in Australia on Sunday June 16 which was America’s Father’s Day and obviously many Aussies were caught unawares, thinking they had missed the day!

For those who got the date right, we can see some interesting trends in what presents people are considering for their dads. By using Google analytics and exploring what Australian’s are googling in the ‘shopping’ category recently, we’ve seen some interesting trends, and the search “gifts for men” and “father’s day gifts” are near the top of the shopping search terms. The top searches in the days before Father’s Day last year were:

  1. GPS navigation devices. This shows that perhaps dads today, though evolving in many ways, still share one fundamental attribute... that is, they’d still rather not stop and ask for directions!

  2. Soccer rose strongly in popularity in Australia and perhaps a dad or two is looking to get on field, with a sporting retailer specialising in soccer supplies at the top of the search list.

  3. Hardware and outdoors supplies rose to the top of the charts.

  4. For the rev-head dad, we also saw a car merchandise suppliers in the top ten.

  5. The traditional ‘socks and jocks’ approach seems to have moved online. In the weeks before Father’s Day 2012 we saw ‘shoe size conversion’ trending in Google search... perhaps dad got some fancy European loafers or German Birkenstocks!


References:

ABS, McCrindle Research, Google Analytics 2012, 2013.


For further demographic analysis and the latest insights, visit our Resources Page.

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