Children benefit from seeing their fathers help around the house and women find men more attractive if they pick up a duster, say researchers.
A new study claims that children who do their share of the cleaning alongside their fathers are likely to be better adjusted and more socially aware because they learn “democratic values” at an early age.
Researchers at the University of California studied the results of a national survey of 3,563 children and their parents.
Unsurprisingly, men did less housework than their wives, but the study found they were taking on tasks such as shopping and picking up children from school as well as some cooking and cleaning.
Men also spent more time around their children than previous generations, around three hours on a Saturday or Sunday.
Scott Coltrane, a sociologist at the university, who led the research, said: “When men perform domestic service for others, it teaches children co-operation and democratic family values.
“It used to be that men assumed that their wives would do all the housework and parenting, but now that women are nearly equal partners in the labour force, men are assuming more of the tasks that it takes to run a home and raise children.”
His colleague, Michele Adams, added: “Because fewer men do housework than women, when they do share the work, it has more impact on children.
“By performing domestic service with their children, fathers model cooperative family partnerships.”
John Gottman of the University of Washington in Seattle said if men shared the tasks, women felt less stressed about balancing the demands of work and home.
They also saw their partner’s assistance as a sign of love and, therefore, felt more sexually attracted to them.
In Britain, however, therapists claim to have identified a new condition — named Atlas Syndrome, after the Greek god who supported the sky on his shoulders — that afflicts men who hold down demanding jobs while trying to be perfect parents.
The term has been coined by Dr Tim Cantopher, a medical director at the Priory Clinic, the hospital favoured by celebrities needing treatment for addictions.
He said it struck men who were trying to “work the unworkable”, adding: “It’s a modern condition caused by social and political changes affecting the role of men.”
Jack ’Sullivan, co-founder of Fathers Direct and editor of Dad magazine, said: “This generation of fathers is living out a huge social change. They’re working just as hard but at the same time they’re committed to doing a great deal more at home so they are inevitably stressed out.”