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Psychology professor in Time

Many dads are challenging old definitions of manliness.

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Many dads are challenging old definitions of manliness. “Masculinity has traditionally been associated with work and work-related success, with competition, power, prestige, dominance over women, restrictive emotionality–that’s a big one,” says Aaron Rochlen, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas who studies fatherhood and masculinity. “But a good parent needs to be expressive, patient, emotional, not money oriented.” Though many fathers still cleave to the old archetype, Rochlen’s study finds that those who don’t are happier. Other research shows that fathers who stop being men of the old mold have better-adjusted children, better marriages and better work lives–better physical and mental health, even. “Basically,” says Rochlen, “masculinity is bad for you.” Society hasn’t made it easy for newly evolved dads to feel manly either. In Rochlen’s study of stay-at-home dads, those who scored low on measures of traditional masculinity professed higher degrees of happiness in their roles–as well as in their marriages, with their children and with their health. But even they worried about how the rest of the world viewed their choice–with some reason. “There’s definitely a stigma out there,” says Rochlen. “The dads tell stories about mothers on the playground looking at them like they’re child molesters or losers.”

Fatherhood 2.0
(Oct. 4)