From Dudes to Dads: What Happens When Everyone You Know Suddenly Grows Up?

06/20/2015 04:58 pm ET | Updated Jun 20, 2016

I've spent my last 12 years marketing to young, single professional men, most recently as one of the first employees at Thrillist, the company whose entire mission is focused on helping young dudes lead more fun lives.


Well, a funny thing happens when you're marketing to young single dudes for over a decade: Those dudes grow up and by decision, by accident or by some deep-wired biological imperative, they become responsible for raising the next generation of goobers who will one day wreak havoc in central business districts across the country.

What may be a little less self-evident is that thanks to greater life choices and better reproductive technology, this next generation of parents is having kids later in life. In 1970, the average age of a first-time mother, according to the CDC, was 21.4 years; today it's closer to 30.

Having a kid is also more commonly understood to be a true marker of adulthood, more so than getting married or getting your first job.


At the same time, having kids is becoming crazily expensive. According to the Wall Street Journal, the median cost to raise a kid (even excluding the cost of education, supplementary academic enrichment programs or indulgences like swim lessons) is $389,670.



[Takes pill. Swallows.]

This helps explain why dual income households represent 60% of families today. Unless you're yeoman farmers from times of yore, these kids ain't going to pay for themselves.

Consequently, in Western countries, the cultural idea that it's a man's responsibility to earn and the woman's responsibility to stay-at-home has become outmoded: 75% of US and UK men believe men and women no longer have to conform to traditional gender stereotypes, 44% of new moms work full time, up from 33% in 2009 and 52% of men in the U.S. claim that they're the primary grocery shopper (granted that's self-reported but still a marked departure from previous claims that Moms are the de facto CEOs of the household).

In fact, men are more comfortable with fluid domestic dynamics. Only 52% of men say if money were no object, they would prefer to work full-time v. staying at home with their kids. Additionally, 2M men now register as full-time stay-at-home dads, per the last Census, which is double what it was 20 years ago.

A UCLA study also recently demonstrated that couples that divide chores most effectively had the highest reported levels of marital satisfaction, had more sex and stayed together longer.

Based on the conclusions of the monumental, 75-year Grant Study, the first, longitudinal study of happiness in which 268 college students were monitored over the course of their entire lives, we know that the warmth of your relationship with your parents is one of the main determinants of emotional stability and financial success later in life. The study similarly revealed that among the participants, having kids yielded greater and more profound happiness.


So what does this all mean?
Having kids later means men have a more fully formed sense of identity so being a parent isn't the primary thing that defines them (even if spending time with kids is the thing they say they most look forward to throughout the day). This is also a group that has become reliant on technology and digital media for solving all of their lifestyle inconveniences, and what bigger disruption to your life than having a kid?

But who's talking to this audience? These guys aren't seeking books for answers to questions that come up in real-time. Additionally, the information that's currently available online is either wildly disaggregated or geared explicitly or implicitly towards the fairer sex. Per a recent BabyCenter study, 58% of men say there is not enough or barely enough dad-focused content online, and 69% say they wish there was more parenting content available.


What do these guys care about:
For one, how to harness technology for good without turning their kids into pale-faced shut-ins or giving them too much exposure too early to all of the weird corners of the Internet. Another is making sure that their kids will be competitive in a global marketplace without robbing them of a carefree childhood that promotes learning and discovery.

Living lives increasingly defined by choice, these guys are not looking for a single authority to tell them what to do but are rather seeking an opportunity to harness the wisdom of friends and thought-leaders without being constrained by social mores.


They're much more willing to share insights with other guys in a safe space, over Fantasy League listservs, in Google Groups and now even at Conferences.

So into this mix comes Fatherly, a digital lifestyle guide for men entering parenthood. It delivers expert-driven, evidenced-based parenting insights, product and service recommendations tailored to the age of the user's child/ren. From a master architect explaining how to build a pillow fort in your living room to relationship advice from a world-renowned relationship therapist, or even Malala and her dad talking about how to raise a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Fatherly aims to be a resource for this next generation of millennial parents.


Why do I care?
In addition to my work with Fatherly, I've mentored at-risk kids via Big Brothers for a dozen years as well as adults more recently as the Co-Chair of the Board at Career Gear (a kind of "Dress for Success" for men), where grown men try to rise above poverty and re-connect with their families. Helping dudes make the most out of life has become my life's work and what better mission than helping to make the lives of the next generation of little humans (and their handlers) just a little bit easier?