The world is reshaping the narrative around traditional gender norms and role – and modern men are redefining fatherhood.
Globally, Viacom set out to discover how this shift is affecting traditional notions of parenthood by conducting an in-depth study of 8,290 men across 22 countries, including South Africa. The local fathers we spoke to were all online and are thus a subset of parents within South Africa, forming part of a higher socioeconomic bracket. Here’s what we learned about today’s dads in South Africa:
South African men view fatherhood positively and see it as an important life goal. Men who are not dads in South Africa aspire to fatherhood, with 84% of local men hoping to become parents. This is above the global average of aspirant fathers (75%) and is reinforced by the fact that 80% of all participants in the study believe that life would be incomplete without their kids. Dads polled say that playing with their children is the top activity that improves their mood.
Dads in South Africa expect to be heavily involved in their children’s lives. Unlike previous generations of fathers, modern dads expect to be as hands-on in raising their children as mothers are. In South Africa, this figure again is higher than the global average at 90%, while the international dads sit at 81%. South African dads are quite involved in daily routines, including getting kids ready for school in the morning (48%), doing the school run (60%), helping with dinner time (61%), reading at story time (63%) and bed time (75%). Men in South Africa are more likely than men globally (77% vs. 72%) to believe that a single parent can raise a child as well as a couple can, which is perhaps a contributing factor to this more hands-on approach.
Having kids makes dads healthier. The number one role that South African dads fulfil for children is still play and all the forms this takes, at 82%. We’ve also found that men take better care of their mental and physical wellbeing after becoming parents, as opposed to non-dads. This pertains to longevity, the ability to experience more of their children’s’ lives and of course, to be around to provide for them. In South Africa, dads are more than twice as likely as non-dads to have regular health checks (28% vs. 12%). They’re also more likely to avoid smoking (49% vs. 42%), make an effort to manage stress (42% vs. 40%), and take vitamins or health supplements (34% vs. 29%).
South Africa’s modern dads value spending time with their children. They want to have a different relationship to their children than their own fathers had, as they reshape the traditional perspective and roles of fathers.