Colorado State University Expert Examining Changes in Fathers’ Roles as Caregivers

With Father’s Day approaching, research in the area of fathers serving as caregivers has a heightened significance, says Jeffrey Shears, an expert on fathering at Colorado State University and a professor of Colorado State’s School of Social Work and Center for Studies in American Ethnicity. Dads carry out their fatherly duties differently, but most fathers, regardless of income level or demographics, share a strong desire to nurture their children, Shears said.

Differences in fathering styles arise depending on cultural ethnicity, Shears said. Black fathers are more likely to participate in care giving activities such as feeding and diaper changing while Hispanic fathers are more likely to bring their children with them when they go places, Shears said. Overall, men are experiencing a transformation in the role of fatherhood and are now much more likely to take an active role in their child’s upbringing.

"It’s Cleaver versus Cosby," Shears said, referring to past father icons who appeared on television. "Men are much more likely to be emotionally available to their children today than in past generations."

Shears’ research has monitored more than 3,000 families, examining such factors as fathers’ influence over mothers when it comes to parenting and what happens to children when parents agree or disagree on parenting styles.