Let's face it. The Cleaver ideal of the once popular TV sitcom "Leave It to Beaver" is far from today's reality in most U.S. homes.
Mostly because of the women's movement and economic necessity, the roles and demographics of fathers who are being honored today for all that they do have undeniably evolved in recent decades.
While most married dads earn more than their wives, married moms are more likely than before to be the primary provider in the family, while fathers are spending more time caring for children and doing housework than they did five decades ago.
"It's definitely a big change in terms of who is the provider, who is the homemaker in the family these days," said Wendy Wang, a research associate at the Pew Research Center and co-author of two recent studies on parents.
Nearly 60 percent of married couples with children under the age of 18 were dual-income families in 2011, up from about 25 percent in 1960.
And among these couples, the share of marriages in which a wife's income tops her husband's was 23 percent in 2011, up from 4 percent in 1960, according to a Pew Research Center study titled "Breadwinner Moms" that was released in May.
In contrast, the share of couples in which the husband makes more than his wife dropped from 95 percent in 1960 to 75percent in 2011.
While mothers are still doing more work at home and fathers are doing more at their jobs, their roles are converging, Wang said.
"Dads are doing more in terms of taking care of the kids and doing housework; moms are doing more at work," she said.
Hugo Torres, a Monrovia-based real estate manager and Cal State L.A. graduate, takes care of his two children, ages 7 and 5, on Saturdays and up to four evenings a week while his wife works part time as an assistant manager at Dream Dinners in Pasadena.
"I look forward to it; it's challenging as all get-out but I like to get out of the house with them," Torres said, noting he enjoys taking them to museums, the L.A. County Arboretum or the beach on Saturdays. "I do everything I can so they are out there experiencing life, and I can be right there experiencing it with them."
The money that his wife, who formerly worked for a manufacturing company, makes in her current job has been helpful, particularly after the real estate industry took a hit during the recession, Torres said. The job also allows her to explore life outside her kids, which he said is important to her.
Doing more chores
While mothers spend about twice as much time with their children as fathers do, fathers have nearly tripled the time they spend or take care of their children - from 2.4 hours a week in 1965 to 7.3 hours a week in 2011, according to the Pew Research Center's "Modern Parenthood" study released in March.
Meanwhile, fathers' time spent doing household chores has more than doubled since 1965 - from an average of four hours per week to about 10 hours - while mothers' time doing housework has gone down from 32 hours per week to 18.
Historically, experts note, fathers have been engaged with their families longer than they haven't been. Before the Industrial Revolution, dads used to do a lot more with their families; their children worked alongside them and they often knew one another intimately, said Dr. Kyle Pruett, a clinical professor of child psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and author of "Fatherneed.
Similarly, during the World Wars, many fathers were in the military and fairly absent from their families' lives. With the advent of the women's movement in the 70s, women increasingly worked outside the home and subsequently began to crave paternal help with their children. As a result, men found themselves being pulled back into the nurturing domain, Pruett said. While men today are still not doing much housework, he said, they are more engaged with their children than their fathers were with them.
However, it's now estimated that one out of three children live in homes in which the biological father is absent.
In an effort to combat the often detrimental effects of an absent father, the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have allotted hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and support fatherhood programs, which encourage fathers to not only provide for their children but to play a consistent role in their lives no matter the circumstances, said Ronald Banks, a Pasadena-based clinical psychologist and a fatherhood program consultant.
"Recent research shows that attachment is huge and fathers have the same development (effect) on a child's brain as the mother," Banks said. Those children who have it "are more empathetic, have greater self-confidence, they have more competency, they have better relationships with people."