Millennials are struggling to be the dads they thought they'd be. This study shows why.

American work policies are making it harder for young fathers to "have it all."

Young men today grew up planning to "have it all."

The fulfilling job...

Millennials have been found to care more about having a job that both pays the bills and has an impact.


...the satisfying, equal partnership...

Millennials have the most feminist generation of men yet. They are a lot more equal in their beliefs about family and gender roles and want to be a true equal in every aspect of their relationships.

...and the ability to be a present father.

Part of their more egalitarian beliefs stems in the desire to be active participants in raising their children.

Image via PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay.

But now that they're working fathers, they're finding it a lot harder to do than they thought.

A recent study published in the American Sociological Review found that work policies are behind the change in millennial men's attitudes about family and gender roles once they have children. Despite having the best intentions, they struggled to maintain the equal partnership when they had to balance career, parenting, and love.

If only it were as easy as making this ponytail. GIF from " The perfect ponytail in 5 seconds."

It turns out that a dose of the real world made them change what they expected from their relationships almost entirely.

The Families and Work Institute found that before they have children, only 35% of millennial men believed women should stay at home as caregivers while men should "bring home the bacon." Once they have kids, though, that number jumps to 53%.

OK, not this type of bacon, but you know what I mean. Photo by Didriks/Flickr.

It's not that working and having children suddenly makes men more sexist. Rather it's that millennials find that the workplace doesn't offer the flexibility that they need to reach their goals of having an equal partnership. So they make do with what they have and find that going the traditional route works better.

Why? Experts found that family-friendly work policies still skewed heavily toward women.

Young men might be more feminist, but their work policies are lagging a bit behind. While we often hear about maternity leave policies, paternity leave is far from the norm (about 10-15% of employers offer it paid). This is particularly depressing when we consider the United States often seems to rank last in global paid parental leave rankings. Even President Barack Obama has said we need to stop treating family leave as an issue only women care about in his 2015 State of the Union address.

And even when these policies are available to men, they are often are discouraged from using them.

Netflix's recent announcement to offer up to a year's parental leave (for men and women) is a great example of the kind of family-friendly policies we need across the board. But it isn't enough just to have a good policy on paper.

Men have reported facing stigma in the workplace when they did take the family-friendly options available to them. Mets player Daniel Murphy was infamously criticized for taking a three-day paternity leave. This makes it clear we need an attitude shift that doesn't judge men for doing what they believe is best for their families.

The fix is simple: We need policies — and attitudes — that empower fathers to be the men they want to be.

It isn't just great for the fathers' participation in child care and child development. It has economic benefits for family members as well. It sounds like everybody wins. And who wouldn't want that?

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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