Friday, March 03, 2006

Do Men Change Diapers? - Why Kids Think Dad (and Mom) is Great

From Ash:

Every year, kids write essays on "Why My Daddy (Mommy) Should Be Father (Mother) of the Year." Sociologists studied over 3,000 of such children's essays to see just why children thought their parents should be recognized as extraordinary. It's a great report I really enjoyed reading: the kids's responses were, in turn, enlightening -- they're adorable, heart-melting . . . and a little troubling. Here are a few of the leading responses.
  • "My Daddy Loves Me." 49 percent of kids say that one of the reasons their parents should be "parents of the year" is that their parents love them. A higher percentage of the children actually mentioned "love" when talking about their fathers – but at least some analysis indicates that's because it's, uh, filler. They don't really understand what daddies do, so they say "love," when they can't think of anything any else.
  • "My Daddy Cooks For Me." 27 percent of kids say that parents cooking for them is a reason their parents should be "parents of the year." Dads get credit for a specialty item (he makes me pancakes); Moms are described more generally (she makes me dinner). Cooking is the third most common reason you should give their parents the award – right behind "love" and "nice" – and it's almost two to three times as important as any other specific task the kids mention. So it isn't just a man's heart apparently that can be won through his stomach.
  • "My Daddy Has a Job." Most research finds that fathers believe providing financial support for their children is their most important contribution to raising their children. If you're one of those fathers, here's something you need to know: your kids don't agree with you. 10 percent of the kids said that their parents should win the award because they work. And twice as many kids say that their fathers should get the award based on their work than say moms should get it for working. But twice as many kids think that Daddy should get the award for "cooks for me" than for working hard. The fact that Daddy has a job is also behind the fact that "Daddy plays with me" and "plays sports with me."
  • "My Daddy Spends Time With Me." 11 percent of kids say that one of the reasons their parents should be "parents of the year" is that they have time for their kids. More kids give their fathers credit for this than moms, despite the fact they actually are spending more time with their mothers.
  • "Daddy's Not Like Other Dads." Daddy usually deserves the award because he's exceptional: he's not like other dads, he does things the kid perceives are not required of him. For example, he works more than other dads, or he spends more time with me. And generally, Daddy should get the award because of specific fun things he does with me, not the fact that he's raising me. Moms, on the other hand, are said to be worthy of the Mother of the Year award when they are the prototypical mommy -- she does the things mommies are supposed to do (cooks, cleans, takes care of me).
  • "He Helps My Mom Take Care Of Me." A frequent theme the researchers observed was that dads are worthy of the award because they help Mom with her responsibilities. Examples they offered of this: ". . . he even makes dinner when my mom's at work." "He helps my mom whenever mom is tired, he helps my mom with whatever she didn't get done." "He helps my mom take me to my classes . . . ." "If my mom doesn't want to cook dinner, he will take us out . . . ."
  • "He's Fun." According to the kids, dads should win awards because they are the fun, lenient ones: they'll say yes and do something with the kids when Mom has already said "No." They think dads are winners when they are peers who do fun things together. Mom, on the other hand, is in charge of the children's lives, the one who provides for their needs.


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