A Design Thought Piece | BY JESSICA GATES
THE EVOLUTION OF PARENTING
Working with The Big Flip team, it has been eye-opening to be on the front lines of a major cultural shift.
More dads are staying home with the kids as moms take on the role of primary breadwinner. Although the great recession has contributed to this trend, men are actively choosing to be more involved in the home front. The 2010 U.S. Census showed an additional 150,000 men are stay-at-home dads, a trend that is projected to increase.
But while fatherhood is evolving, the marketplace is lagging behind. Old gender assumptions persist, and some still argue that women are just naturally better at taking care of the kids. After deeper inspection does this belief always hold true in nature? And can we look to the animal kingdom for inspiration and insight into helping dads and moms cope in this brave new world of parenting?
ENTER THE SEAHORSE
In some species, it’s the male who provides most care to the offspring. We all know about the seahorse. According to evolutionary ecologist Sara Lewis at Tufts University, “Seahorses are the champions of paternal care. They are one of the few animals where the males are morphologically specialized to take care of the young.” Daddy seahorses carry their young in a specially designed pouch that regulates water salinity. The mom is not involved until they mate again and she deposits another round of eggs. Quite the role reversal.
THE “CONNECTED” CARRIER FOR THE MODERN FAMILY
A product solution for dads (and moms too) could be designing a new “connected” carrier that combines inspiration from nature and new innovations in wearable technology. An embedded fabric sensor could help regulate a child’s temperature and alert the wearer when it’s time for a diaper change. The carrier could be stylistically designed to appeal to both men and women. (This has been a challenge for parents trying to find baby gear with a more neutral color palette.)
HELPING MOTHERS STAY CONNECTED WHILE AT THE OFFICE
When interviewing mothers for The Big Flip, a reoccurring pain point has been the anxiety they feel over “missed moments” in their children’s lives.
Integrating recording technology into the carrier could help keep moms in the loop while dad and baby are going about their day. Voice recordings could be sent to moms and supplement smart phones as a way to capture moments that might otherwise be lost because you were juggling an infant and couldn’t get to your camera. A digital time capsule of your child’s first memories could be uploaded to the cloud and shared with family and friends.
LINKS & RESOURCES
Interested in learning more? Here are two of the articles that I found particularly inspiring in my research.
Markets need to shake off old stereotypes to create products and services that thoughtfully address users needs. Just like the daddy seahorse, your customers may not always be who you think they are.