Superdads try to do it all

Herald Sun (Aust) May 20, 2010

A new breed of super-dads is spending more time with their kids but working longer hours in the office. Aussie fathers are heeding warnings about connecting with their children, and mortgage pressure means they’re still having to increase their paid workload. They are stepping back from sport, recreation, personal care and even sleep to burn the candle at both ends, in the way of the much-maligned 1990s “super-mum”.

Despite the gradual increase in fathers’ time with kids in the past decade, new research has confirmed that there’s no chance Mr Average Dad will take over as the main caregiver anytime soon. He spends only half an hour with his children – without their mum – every weekday if he’s lucky. On weekends, he spends relatively little time alone with his children, increasing from an average of 48 minutes with an infant, to up to 84 minutes for toddlers and 90 minutes for children eight to nine years old.

The data, part of the Growing up in Australia longitudinal study, confirmed the importance to children of getting time with mum and dad. “It’s interesting 74 per cent of eight and nine-year old children say they definitely like spending time with their father and their mother,” said Institute of Family Studies researcher Dr Jennifer Baxter.