TIME Parenting

Dude, Where’s My Changing Station?

Ashton Kutcher is trying to make fatherhood less gross

I hate Ashton Kutcher. You hate Ashton Kutcher. Everyone in America over the age of 30 hates Ashton Kutcher: The floppy hair. The roguish charm. The 28” waist. He’s the worst.

And now he’s campaigning for World’s Greatest Dad by bragging about how he changes all of his kid’s diapers. (Or, as the Babble headline proclaims “Every. Single. Diaper.” Cue Seinfeld:

Which makes me want to hate him even more.

Fathers run the gamut in terms of what duties they assume. My wife and I don’t keep score, but I do a lot of diaper changing. Because we’re all hostage to our own experiences, I assumed this was the norm. Then a few years ago I found out that one of my friends does zero diapers. As in: None. Through two kids. This arrangement seemed freakish and weird to me, but his wife doesn’t mind and his kids turned out great and they’re a happy, wonderful family.

By the same token, I always assumed that husbands and wives fight through the midnight feedings and sleep training wars side-by-side. But then another buddy of mine admitted that every time his wife had a kid, she and the baby would spend the first several weeks in the in-law suite in their basement. This way he could stay upstairs in their bedroom and get enough sleep to handle the other kids and his day job. When he first told me about this arrangement, I was kind of gob-smacked. I didn’t think marriage could work like that. But some of them do. And they can work really well. (When I joked with him about his wife’s omni-competence, he deadpanned: “She’s like a Terminator sent back in time from the future. And I’m just hoping her mission is for the good.”)

With all due respect to Kutcher for his marital arrangement, you don’t even get on the shortlist for Father of the Year until you’ve spent 20 minutes kneeling in the handicapped stall of the men’s room at Chuck E. Cheese trying to clean up a 4-year-old girl who just crapped her brand-new Disney Princess big-girl underpants while her 6-year-old brother stands sentry.

But as much we might roll our eyes at Kutcher, he’s actually doing us all a service by pointing out one of the great annoyances of fatherhood: The paucity of changing tables in men’s bathrooms.

Because of his commitment to diaper changing, Kutcher has launched a minor campaign for more changing stations in public men’s rooms. Which is great.

A few weeks ago I was at a big-box store that had no changing station in the men’s room. So I headed out to the parking lot, where, standing in the beating sun, with the temperature at about 100 degrees, I changed my daughter on the Cheerio-covered floor of our minivan. And I kept thinking, I used to be somebody.

Children are lovely little dignity sinks, siphoning away the sophisticated parts of our selves a little bit at a time. This isn’t a complaint, just an observation.

We do this at great personal cost and for great society benefit. Old joke: What do economists call babies? Future taxpayers. We’re changing diapers so that everyone else can collect Social Security and Medicare checks in 2038.

But if the federal government is willing to make a big push on “transgender bathrooms,” the least society can do for us is make it standard practice to put Koala Care stations in the men’s room, too.

Because at the end of the day, Ashton, my buddies, and me are all in this together.

This article originally appeared on Acculturated

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Parenting

What It’s Like to Raise a Son From Behind Bars

I basically raised him over the phone

I’ve been in and out of jail since I was 13. My last stretch was four years: one at Rikers Island, about two at Greene Correctional Facility, and I bounced around a couple of others. I got locked up for running one of the largest drug delivery services in New York City. I was charged with kingpin conspiracy, a felony for controlled substance.

I got caught with a kilo and a half of cocaine and a whole bunch of money. My team did about 40 direct drug sales to a federal agent. I was making millions as a teenager. It went down in 2009 as one of the most significant cases, because I was young, and everybody working for me — about 20 people — was in their 40’s and 50’s.

My son Cathaniel was 1 when I went in and 5 when I got out. I basically raised him over the phone — talking to him with his first words, helping him with homework, teaching him the ABCs. That’s how I raised him: over the phone and when he would come to visits. Since he grew up with his mom, and didn’t have me around, he’s not athletic like I was as a kid. I just wasn’t there to show him the guy role.


I talked to him on the phone pretty often: every three days. When I was in a prison really far upstate, we had phone limitations. We could only speak on the phone every two weeks for around five minutes at a time, so it was very limited at that time. I sent him pictures. I paid people in prison to draw pictures of me and him. I would have people draw him cartoons that I’d send him.

A lot of inmates make money in prison by selling artwork. The price for a portrait of my son and me varies depending on where you’re at. Rikers Island was more expensive, and it cost 50 bucks. Once you’re upstate, you can get it wholesale, and somebody will do it for like 10-20 bucks. I’ve seen people get portraits of their kids — tattoos on their bodies — for like 25 bucks, whole-body pics.

Some guy taught me how to do a picture frame out of chip bags. I would get a bunch of Doritos, open it up, flip it inside out, and use the metal foil. We’d cut them out in pieces and make a picture frame by interlocking every little piece. Then you tie it up with a little string of thread.


My ex-wife brought my son over at least once a week to visit me at first when I was at Rikers Island. We actually got married at Rikers Island. Then, once I’d gone upstate, the visits became limited. She didn’t drive, so she didn’t have a source of transportation other than the bus to get up there, so I saw my son about once a month. The last year I was in prison, I probably saw him twice the whole year.

On Rikers Island there’s a table in the visiting room inmates can’t cross, and the visits are 2 hours. I would sneak him in food, like, Snickers bars and Reese’s Pieces. I could hug them over the table and have my son sit on my lap, but I couldn’t walk around with him. Once you get upstate, you have more breathing room. They have a playpen area for the kids. I would take him out there, walk around the little house, watch cartoons, hold him, play LEGOs, and read him a book. When I was upstate, they were six-to-eight hour visits and just better.

The problem is that once you have to say goodbye, you can’t see him anymore. That’s when he would cry and be stressed. He would be like “When are you coming home, daddy? I want you to go home! Let’s go home!” And he would try to pull me, and I was like, “I can’t. I can’t.” And he would just start crying.

That’s when that realization hits: “Damn, I’m stuck.” It’s just frustrating. You can’t break out. You can’t do nothing. You’re state property.

Between me and my son it was very hard. That was like a knife being stabbed into my heart. Him seeing me in the situation I was in was very sad for me, and I had this sharp pain in my chest. I was super disappointed. I thought I’d let him down.

My dad was in my life, but he worked a lot. I didn’t really see him a lot, but at least he was in my life. Being a dad for me was like, “Damn, I really messed up. And I can’t do nothing about it. I just got to deal with this situation.”

At the beginning, I was super cold-hearted when I was in the street. I didn’t really care about anything. What really hit me hard was when I got that deep emotion from my son crying in the visiting room. That’s what really made me say I can’t go back; this has to stop. Not only for me, but I got to show him an example and help him out.

Leading By Example

When I grew up, I knew my family loved me, but they never told me they loved me. I stress that fact that I love my son. I hug him and show him way more emotion than I received as a kid. I feel like that’ll keep him out. I spoil the hell out of him, which is not a good thing, but it feels like I missed all this time of his life, so when he asks me for something, I owe him. My ex-wife hates it and says, “Don’t do that.” So I’m sneaky, and I’ll hide it.

Cathaniel is an incredible kid. He’s super smart. He’s going to a really good Catholic school. I was a totally different child than him. I grew up running the streets when I was five years old. He’s sheltered and has the iPad and video games. I was hitting the streets, not going home until late. I was not scared of going downstairs and running around. It’s a whole different generation now.

I take him to my studio. He sees what I’m doing. He sees the transformation that I’ve had. He sees me on TV. He knows my story. He works out with me. He wants to do what I’m doing. Sometimes he tells me to hold the phone and record him because he’s going to try and do pushups or one of the workouts I do. And he’s like a little chubby butterball, but he has fun, and he’s cute.

The best I can do is show him an example of how to be a productive citizen and live the right way. I could be the greatest role model, but it takes just one temptation from some peers for him to fall into the wrong habits. I don’t see it in him, doing anything wrong like I did, but you never know.

He could go to school someday, and one guy will be like, “Hey, you want to smoke some bud?” And he could follow that way of life. The best thing I can do is just show him a good example today and talk to him. At the end of the day, it’s up to Cathaniel.

Coss Marte is an ex-convict who has, since his release, founded ConBody, a successful boot camp-style fitness and nutrition counseling service based on his experience in prison. This article originally appeared on Fatherly

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TIME Parenting

Malala’s Dad: How I Raised a Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai at the first Global Citizenship Commission in Scotland on Oct. 19, 2013.
Andy Buchanan—AFP/Getty Images Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai at the first Global Citizenship Commission in Scotland on Oct. 19, 2013.

"She's leading and I'm one of her supporters."

Before 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai received the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, she ran her acceptance speech by one guy: her father Ziauddin. After all, it was Zia’s support for the rights of girls in Pakistan’s Swat Valley that inspired his daughter to write about life under the Taliban for the BBC. Zia encouraged Malala as she rose to international prominence through her own advocacy and, when the Taliban retaliated by shooting his daughter in the head, he left behind the school system he oversaw to be by her side in England throughout her remarkable recovery. So, what do you say to your daughter right before she becomes the youngest Nobel laureate ever?

“I kissed her on the head and wished her the best of luck,” he says with a chuckle. “That’s it.”

In your TED talk, you discuss your desire to contradict the powerful forces that define “honor” for boys and “obedience” for girls in your culture. Where does this desire come from and why don’t more fathers in the Swat Valley have it?

Generally, these two values of honor and obedience, outwardly they look positive. But in the context of a patriarchal society there are issues. Boys inherit from their forefathers that their sisters are like their honor. Whenever anything happens, they are incited and they bully their sisters, they even kill, if they find their sisters having an illicit relationship with boy, or anything that is not acceptable for their society.

The other value, which we call obedience and which is taught to girls — they should always submit to whatever is done to them and they have no right to say anything. If they are married very early or if they are married to anybody they don’t like, whatever rights are violated at home by their brothers, they are supposed to be submissive.

Why did I have this desire in me to change this? When I saw the suffering of the people, of women especially — and even the boys suffered — because I saw many couples who were killed in the name of “honor killings.” They suffered because this value of obedience or this value of honor, it was misused. There was naturally a desire in my heart to change this situation.

You ask why many fathers aren’t like me, the reason is that many people in society — whatever society they’re in — they like to live in-line with existing values and norms. It’s very easy to live as all other people live and to believe we are the victims of whatever happens in a bad society. It’s very difficult to challenge those norms and values which go against basic human rights.

You were very aware that your beliefs regarding women made you a target for groups like the Taliban. How did you weigh that risk against your need to encourage Malala to speak her mind and live her life as she saw fit?

I always challenged the Taliban and challenged the terrorists when I was working as an educator and as a human rights activist in Swat. [At one] very big gathering of parents and students, nearby the stage there was a man with a small girl child in his lap. During the speech, I just took her in my lap and I asked the people would you like to die, or to keep your daughters ignorant? And the gathering raised their hands and said no, we will die for the right of our daughters’ education. It was so inspiring, so motivating.

I encouraged [Malala] to speak, but I never thought it would come with such a big risk. I never thought that the Taliban would come to kill a child, especially a woman. Because I know that most of them, they are from Swat, and they are Pashtun, and it is culturally unacceptable that you attack a woman, and you attack a child, so Malala had two cultural protections. I can say that I misread or miscalculated the ethics of the Taliban, and what happened, that was horrible.

What about with your wife? How did the two of you assess opportunities like her invitation to blog for the BBC, when doing so came with so much inherent risk?

To be honest, we never thought that it was an opportunity. I think we took it as a call of duty. Because, being concerned residents of Pakistan and Swat, we thought that it’s our duty that when our basic rights are being violated and heinous atrocities and heinous crimes are inflicted against the people of Swat and they are victims of inhuman atrocities and barbarism, we thought that it is our human responsibility to speak against all of what was happening with our people. And my wife, to be honest, she is a very courageous, a very brave woman, and she always stood for truth. As the Holy Quran says, righteousness, the truth, it will come, and falsehood will go, because falsehood has to go.

Now that your daughter is as engaged in the issue of equality and empowerment for women as you are, what have you learned by watching her work?

I think that now she is more engaged than me, to be honest. Before, I was a leader of my small community in Swat. I campaigned for education, I campaigned for women’s rights, I campaigned for children’s rights, and because of living in the same environment and having an inborn passion for human rights, Malala joined me as a companion in that campaign. But when Malala was shot, she was reborn. Now, she’s leading and I’m one of her supporters. There are millions of supporters and I’m one of them. I have found her more successful than me, wiser than me, and more resilient than me. I have learned from her many things. I think for a father, maybe, a father always teaches. He’s supposed to teach. But, I learn from my many students and particularly from her, I learned how to be fair and honest to one’s own self, and how to be fair and honest to others. And I learned from her how to be clear in vision, and in one’s objectives. So also I have learned from her how to be beyond the greed of fame and name, and how to be sincere and simple.

You’re a pretty brave guy in your own right, but what have you learned about courage from Malala?

I think we might best look at her journey before the attack on her life and after the attack on her life. I really have found her braver than myself, to be honest, because I remember that when we used to go to different seminars and different conferences and we used to speak for the right of education, I used to compromise. I used to tell her “Oh, look Malala, don’t name the Taliban, they’re terrorists, don’t name them because they’re dangerous people.” And when she stood at the podium she named them always, in spite of my advice not to name them. And after the worst kind of trauma that God should protect every person, every child, from … she had the resilience and the courage to stand again and talk with more courage, more commitment, more resilience, for the right of children, for the right of women, and for the right of education. So I think that it’s really inspiring and I can simply say that she’s braver than me.

What advice do you have for a father whose children are in a situation similar to Malala’s?

I would advise the leaders of all those communities who are in conflict, all those countries that are in conflict, or suffering from terrorism: Don’t be hypocrites and don’t be apologetic about terrorism, and don’t be cowards when it comes to your children’s rights. Be brave, and stand for your children. It’s your duty, not your children’s duty. Don’t fail them. It is the society’s elders’ duty, to protect their children, and to make the right decisions that their children should be safe. I don’t wish any father to be in the situation in which I was.

What’s it like to watch your daughter accept the Nobel Peace Price?

It was a moment of honor. I was thinking that this girl, she is getting the Nobel Peace Prize, and she belongs to a nation that is notorious for terrorism, and now this 17-year-old girl, she is raising the flag of peace. Peace and education. In her own region, 400 public schools have been bombed, and she is raising the torch of public education and the flag of peace, and she is there to lead the world. It was a moment of real happiness for me, I think for a father, what could be more than that?

This article originally appeared on Fatherly

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Dad Bod Is Explained By Science In a New Study

A first-of-its kind study to follow men for up to 20 years from adolescence shows that dads do get a little squishier after the kids

According to Clemson student Mackenzie Pearson, who wrote a viral essay essay on the appeal of the dad bod, it’s a physique that’s a “nice balance between a beer gut and working out,” the result of going to gym but indulging in a few pizzas once in a while and being okay with that. (Think John Hamm, and Chris Pratt before he went Jurassic.)

And according to scientists, Pearson and her demographic have pretty much nailed it. The source of that “more human, natural and attractive” body is unique to fathers and can be traced to simply having kids.

In a study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health, Dr. Craig Garfield, a pediatrician at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and his colleagues dove into a database of 10,263 men beginning when they were 12 years old and followed them for up to 20 years. They looked specifically at how body mass index (BMI), a combination of height and weight, changed over time as the men either became fathers or did not, and for those who did, whether they were what the researchers called resident fathers who lived with their children, or non-residents who lived separately.

Read more Why We Accept ‘Dad Bod’ on Rich Men

Whether or not they lived with their kids, becoming a father was linked to around a four pound increase in weight over the study period, while remaining child-free was associated with a 1.4 pound weight loss for a six-foot-tall man.

“It’s a unique look at the influence that a social phenomenon, becoming a father, has on a biological marker, namely BMI,” says Garfield. “It really plants fatherhood as a potential social determinant of health for men.”

That’s a critical finding, especially since men, and in particular young men, are typically less proactive about taking care of their health. Garfield notes that while many men will quit smoking and drink less and otherwise try to become healthier when they become fathers, there may be other factors associated with caring for kids that counteract those good intentions, such as being surrounded by more kid-friendly, high calorie foods and snacks, as well as their leftovers.

“From my own point of view, we wouldn’t have as many pizzas in the house if the kids weren’t around, and we wouldn’t have the brownies my wife makes if the kids weren’t around,” says Garfield. “Having kids around changes not only the food in the house and what is available to you for meal, but also for snacks. It also changes whether you are able to find time to get out and exercise and get enough sleep and take care of yourself.”

Read more Dadbod, Mombod and Our Pretty Bad Bod Prob

Dads, of course, are not alone in experiencing these effects of parenthood. But this is the first study to tease out specifically the effects of fatherhood on weight gain over time. Since men are less likely to be seeing doctors regularly, if they are joining their partners during prenatal visits or pediatric visits, says Garfield, those are good opportunities to talk to them about their own eating, exercise and sleep habits to make them aware of the sneaky way that pounds can creep up on dads and potentially affect their health (even if the look seems to have its own kind of physical appeal).

Read next: For the Dad Who Is Confident About How He Looks in Swim Trunks

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TIME Parenting

Why I Taught My Daughter How to Punch

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The moment will come when you will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves

You are approaching that age now, when you look around and see how other dads raised their daughters. You are noticing that I did things differently, that you are not like other little girls, the ones who never leave home without a ribbon in their hair. You are brave and curious and are beginning to realize that these qualities are not accidents. I want to explain why, because it will help you understand the way you are.

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I taught you how to punch. Not because you should grow up fighting, but because, if ever forced to, you should know how. I once saw a little girl in Afghanistan who had acid thrown in her face because she wanted to go to school. You are not yet ready to know what some people do to each other, but I want you to be prepared. You will grow stronger every day, and the moment will come when you will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

I have nurtured your curiosity. When we found the spider under our orange tree with the red hourglass on her belly, we did not kill her. We watched, night after night, as she tended her web and waited patiently. We read books about her and told jokes about how she ate her boyfriends for lunch. And when she finally caught a beetle, we watched her strike and wrap it tight with silk. You found that the things that scare most little girls have the most to teach us.

I taught you to respect nature, to hunt, and to fish. Not for the sake of killing but because the surest way to honor the living earth is to be part of it. You dug for worms and baited your own hooks, and most of the time we cooked what we caught. We raised chickens together and loved them, and ate the eggs they laid and offered thanks. You know and love the world that sustains us, and you understand that meat does not grow on grocery store shelves inside plastic wrapping.

I allowed you to test your limits. When we surfed together, you paddled towards the outside break, even as the big waves kept pushing you back. You fought, and failed, but not really. We rode in, side by side, determined to try and try again until we owned the sea. Someday we will catch that giant storm-driven wave and the crowd on the beach will rise to its feet and marvel at the little girl riding down the mountain of water.

I taught you these things because one day I will let you go. You will walk down a long aisle to start another life and another family. You will be perfect and beautiful. But no one will mistake that beauty for fragility. You will fight for others while seeking new wonders. You will run barefoot through snow while exalting all of creation. You will live life to its fullest, testing your own limits while obliterating those set by others.

Until then, be proud of who you are. Never let anyone tell you what a woman can and cannot do. And should someone make fun of how little girls hit, offer to teach them. Smile politely, square your stance, and give fair warning. Then knock the effing wind out of them. Because that is how a girl should punch.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Parenting

How Deadbeat are Deadbeat Dads, Really?

New study suggests they give stuff rather than money

There are fewer pariahs more deeply loathed by society at large than the deadbeat dad, the fully-grown man, who, having had his fun, abandons his responsibilities. And the numbers of men who pay little or no child support has always been staggering. In 2011, only 61% of child support payments were made by men to the mothers of their children.

But as with most pariahs, things are more complicated than they seem. The Census reports that in 2011 about the same percentage of moms who didn’t live with their kids paid all the child support they owed as dads who didn’t. And a new research paper suggests that baby dads are not quite as useless as the numbers and their popular image would imply.

The study, which appeared in June in the Journal of Marriage and Family, finds that many fathers who don’t pay child support in cash, nevertheless make a significant contribution in kind. Almost half of the fathers in the study who were cash-poor nevertheless tried to contribute in other ways—providing baby products, clothing, school expenses and food—worth an average of $60 a month.

“The most disadvantaged dads end up looking like they’re completely distanced from their kids but they’re actually giving quite a lot,” said one of the authors, Kathryn Edin, a sociologist and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Distinguished Professor. “I was really surprised by how much these disadvantaged guys, these truly marginally employed men, are putting all of this thought and what little resources they have into showing their children that they care.”

Of the 367 lower income, noncustodial dads studied in three different cities, only 23% gave what the courts would recognize as child-support through the system, but 46% contributed in-kind support and 28% gave cash straight to the mom, says the study, which is the first to look specifically at the more informal ways dads try to look after their kids.

Sixty six of the dads in the study were what’s considered the full-on deadbeat, giving absolutely no cash support to the 95 children they fathered between them. But the researchers found they gave $63 per child a month through in-kind support — support that doesn’t show up in statistics.

Edin, with her husband Timothy J. Nelson, has done extensive study of so-called deadbeat dads; together they wrote the book Doing the Best I Can about inner city fatherhood. She may be one of the nation’s foremost experts on non-custodial fathers and is certainly one of the group’s biggest (female) defenders.

Many sociologists believe that the current system of child support payments often leads mothers to deny fathers access to their children until they have paid what they owe, thus souring the relationship between all three. Indeed, the study found that fathers who did not visit their kids gave only about half as much in-kind support as those who spent at least 10 hours a month with them.

Why do dads prefer to buy stuff for their kids, rather than give money to the kids’ moms? Because they get more recognition for these acts from their children. It’s a way, says Edin, of bonding. “We need to respect what these guys are doing, linking love and provision in a way that’s meaningful to the child,” she said in a statement accompanying the release of the journal. “The child support system weakens the child/father bond by separating the act of love from the act of providing.”

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TIME Family

This Dove Commercial Will Make You Cry Happy Tears

The spot is made from real-life footage of men getting happy news

To mark this Father’s Day on June 21, Dove is releasing an ad that wouldn’t have been possible without the foresight of some clever females.

The company cobbled together footage of men finding out that they were going to become fathers, news that their baby mamas (and one baby daddy) surprised them with in gift boxes and cards—with the camera rolling. All the footage was posted on public sites that Dove employees trawled through, contacting the parents to ask them to be part of the campaign.

Dove, whose “real beauty” campaign turned 10 years old in 2014, brought a similar approach to their men’s line, attempting to reflect dads as they are rather than as unrealistic archetypes. Jen Bremner, U.S. marketing director for Dove Men+Care, a line the company has been aligning with dads since it debuted in 2010, said that when the company was researching how to position the brand, they found that fathers felt falsely depicted in advertising, as either bumbling dolts or super-hot supermen.

“Actually becoming a dad is a very significant and transformative experience,” Bremner said. “It redefines their masculinity.” It also makes for some very good television.

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Sheryl Sandberg Wants Men to Lean In, Too

Emely—Getty Images/Cultura RF Young girl dangling from her fathers arm

The new #LeanInTogether initiative promotes equality at work and at home

The latest Lean In initiative isn’t about women at work — it’s about men.

In the spirit of #HeForShe, Sheryl Sandberg and her team launched Lean In Together, a new campaign designed to help men promote gender equality at home and at work. It involves a partnership with NBA and WNBA stars, and includes specific tips for how men can Lean In, too.

They’ve also produced a short video with Makers, about how famous women like Hillary Clinton and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were able to achieve partly because of support from the men in their lives. As Sandberg puts it, “being a parent’s not a full-time job for a woman and a part-time job for a man.”

Here are the #LeanInTogether tips for how men can Lean In at home:

1) Be a 50/50 partner, by equally sharing household duties.

2) Be an active father, even if you’re not perfect — kids with active dads have better self esteem.

3) Close the wage gap at home, by not valuing chores done by boys (like taking out the trash) more than chores done by girls.

4) Challenge gender stereotypes, by making sure your kids play with diverse toys and see diverse characters in books and movies

5) Help your daughter lead. Not calling her “bossy” is a start — also encourage her to be assertive in other ways, like introducing herself to people.

6) Don’t tell your son to “man up,” which can be just as damaging as calling a girl “bossy.”

There are also some tips for Leaning In at work in a way that supports your female colleagues — check them out here.

Read next: More Sex—and 7 Other Benefits for Men who Help Out at Home


TIME Fatherhood

Working Dads Struggle to Balance Demands of Home Too

White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington on Jan. 30, 2015.
Carolyn Kaster—AP White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington on Jan. 30, 2015.

Today’s working fathers are struggling to balance the demands of their jobs with their home lives more than ever. That was the thrust of research discussed on a panel on fatherhood at a liberal think tank in Washington Wednesday.

But the panel also inadvertently revealed some of the reasons why this problem does not get the attention it deserves.

The audience at the event at the Center for American Progress was roughly balanced between men and women, though more women asked questions. Out of six speakers, four were women and only one spoke about his personal experiences as a father. That guest happened to be Josh Earnest, currently the White House press secretary, one of the most time-consuming and demanding jobs in Washington.

Earnest’s wife gave birth to their son, Walker, in August, luckily during Obama’s two-week vacation and a typically slow time for news in the nation’s capital. Earnest said that he has struggled with work-life balance in ways that fathers in the past may not have.

“There is a greater expectation that men will be more involved in the raising and parenting of their children, and that also has inspired I think, it certainly has in me, a desire to be part of that parenting,” he said. “And that does sometimes come into conflict with the pressures that you have at work to fulfill those work responsibilities.”

A CAP report released today entitled “Men, Fathers, and Work-Family Balance” echoed Earnest’s observation: “Fathers today are expected to be involved in child care and domestic responsibilities, sharing care work with their partners rather than simply helping out when needed. Increased societal pressure to be active and engaged parents means more men now face the type of competing demands that women face.”

The data backs this up. The National Study of the Changing Workforce, which was cited in the report, found that between 1977 and 2008, the percentage of mothers in dual-earner couples who reported work-family conflict grew from 41% to 47%, while the percentage of fathers reporting it grew from 25% to 60%.

“I think a lot of highly educated women have different expectations for what … type of partner they are interested in making a family with, so they’re not settling for a Don Draper-type of family,” said Erin Rehel, a co-author of the report and a panelist at Wednesday’s Center for American Progress discussion.

Panelists at the event suggested ways to fix it that would help fathers of all economic backgrounds: paid sick leave, paid family leave, better child-support regulations and predictable work hours.

President Obama brought these issues to the forefront when he mentioned paid sick leave in his State of the Union address last month. “Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. … And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own.”

For now, Earnest is wrestling with how to make his own predictable hours, which, for him, means leaving the office around 5:30 p.m. once a week.

“One of the things that I have tried to install into my schedule here in the new year has been to find one weekday during the week when I will leave the office in time to get home to be a part of Walker’s bedtime ritual,” he said. “So far there have been four weeks in 2015 and I’ve made it each week. Now it’s Wednesday and I haven’t made it this week. The clock is ticking.”

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