New survey finds that over half of fathers have experienced dad-shaming

Just in time for Father's Day, new research is claiming that roughly half of dads say they've been criticised for their parenting style.

The main aspect they were called out for was the way in which they enforced discipline. A surprising two-thirds of the critiques was regarding that topic.

44 percent of the time, criticism was by a family member and often the other child-rearer in the house, according to the survey.

Sarah Clark, survey co-director at the University of Michigan, spoke about the findings:

"Addressing a child's misbehaviour is one of the greatest challenges of parenting, and parents aren't always on the same page when it comes to expectations and consequence," she said.

Clark elaborated on how this could be a big problem for families:

"Inconsistency between parents in responding to a child's behaviour can send mixed messages to the child, and result in conflict and criticism between parents."

40 percent of criticms was about the type of food which men served their kids. Not paying enough attention to children as another issue of contention, as well as dads who allow playtime to get too rough.

Roughly one-third of fathers said they'd felt judged for those two aspects. How a dad's parenting style influenced a child's sleep, safety or overall appearance were other problems raised.

The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health released the new data, with analysis drawn from 713 dads of children up to the age of 13.

Clark explained how there's a fine line between well-meant parenting advice and destructive shaming. Fathers responding by changing their parenting styles in half of cases, but criticism backfired in other situations.

"While some fathers say criticism prompts them to seek more information about good parenting practices, too much disparagement may cause dads to feel demoralised about their parental role.

Over one-quarter of dads who participated said negative judgments undermined their confidence as parents, and 20 percent claimed it discouraged them from getting more involved with parenting.

About four in 10 said they thought many criticisms from partners or outside sources were predominantly unfair. According to Clark; 

"Family members - especially the other parent - should be willing to acknowledge that different parenting styles are not necessarily incorrect or harmful."

Dads surveyed rated themselves pretty highly, with nine-in-10 saying that they felt dads did a good job at parenting in general. One-in-10 felt outsides assumed dads weren't intelligent about their child's needs or behaviours.

"Some fathers say they feel that professionals who interact with their child are dismissive of their parental role," added Clark, emphasising that this is counterproductive.

"Even subtle forms of disparagement can undercut fathers' confidence or send the message that they are less important to their child's well-being. Professionals who work with children should avoid negative assumptions about fathers' level of involvement or interest in parenting."

Grandparents were the next greatest dad-shamers, excluding partners, at 24 percent. Friends of dads were nine percent of critics.

Clark was also asked why many people feel the need to intervene with a father's parenting skills;

"In some instances, this may be a reflection of historical gender roles, where mothers are viewed as more natural caregivers, and fathers as having limited parenting capabilities that need supervision or correction.

"When this occurs, minor differences in parenting style can cause conflict over the 'best' way to parent," she continued.

"Cultural norms, family dynamics and prior experience with his own father can also shape a dad's parenting style and influence the expectations of others."

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