TODAY is Father's Day, but for men across Scotland and the rest of the UK it's a very different type of celebration than the one they might remember with their own dads or grandads.

The change is best summed up by a t-shirt slogan that went viral online. It said 'dad's don’t babysit – it’s called parenting'. It triggered a wave of comment from men and women saying the concept of a father 'babysitting' his children degraded the concept of fatherhood and insulted decent men everywhere.

If the results of a survey by Scottish dads campaign, Year Of The Dad, are anything to go by, a great many fathers, no longer “babysit” because they’re doing a lot of other things. Nearly 60% of dads read with their child every day, or most days; 82% of dads cook for their kids at least a few times a week. Two in five dads are the main chef in the household, and 38% of dads love to take their kids on at trip out.

One of the biggest social revolutions for modern fathers has been in what dads do and how they see fathering. The scale of this redefinition can be seen in the difference between millennial parents and Generation Xers or Baby Boomers. The 2016 Modern Families Index, for instance, revealed that millennial fathers were the most likely to be working flexibly and sharing family obligations, with 69% of millennial fathers work flexibly compared with 54% of those aged 36-45.

“Millennials are sending back markedly different survey results,” says Nick Thorpe spokesperson for Fathers Network Scotland, the charity that created Year Of The Dad. “There’s a feeling that equality is obvious.” Thorpe notes, too, that what Fathers Network Scotland have been hearing from dads on the ground is that “slowly but surely men are stepping into those parenting roles and also domestic roles, much more than they were" and that "right under our noses these changes are happening.”

That evolution in attitude can be seen everywhere. Celebrities and high-profile figures seem to be falling over themselves to express how much fatherhood has changed them. Think, for instance, of Andy Murray, talking of his daughter, Sophia, and how much he missed her when he went away. “I really don’t want to miss seeing those changes,” he says. “Even when I’m away for a day I feel bad. I feel I should be there and I want to be there as much as I can. So when I’m leaving the house at eight in the morning and getting back at eight at night, I feel bad.”

Rebecca Asher, author of Man Up: Boys, Men And BreakingThe Male Rules, says that she has observed a change since her son was born eight years ago. “It’s there in terms of the engagement of dads, the expectations they have about what being a father will be, and how they want to be there for their kids, and meaningfully and fully involved in their kids lives.”

But there is more to be done she says if we want mums and dads truly equal when it comes to caring for their children. Women, for instance, are still much more likely to be in part time work. Men predominantly are still breadwinners. But, Asher believes some changes are probably happening at a more nuanced level and not being picked up by studies. "Things like who takes the day off work to look after a sick child, or who is the main point of contact for the school may well be changing, but they’re not being picked up because as indicators they are too small to be measured on a grand level.”

There have been policy changes. Shared paternal leave was introduced last year. Yet, in April a blizzard of articles noted that only 1% of fathers had taken it up. Nick Thorpe, however, points out that what a lot of coverage of the statistic failed to observe was that this was 1% not of fathers, but of all men. He worries such downbeat publicity will have put more men off. “They might just go 'oh do you know what no one else is sticking their head above the parapet, I probably shouldn’t either'.”

Thorpe is an advocate of the Scandinavian “use it or lose it” system in which the three months allocated to the father are lost if not taken up, and non-transferable to the mother. This system, he says, throws the father in at the deep end giving him an opportunity to bond with the baby, so that, he notes, “maybe for a few days he’s floundering and fulfilling all those stereotypes then quickly he finds his feet”.

Thorpe’s own story is enlightening. When he and his partner adopted their three-year-old son eight years ago they “made a conscious decision to split everything 50-50 ". Nevertheless, he confesses that “deep down” a bit of him “used to believe that probably women are better at this stuff.”

What changed his view was reading about the brain chemistry and hormones triggered by caring for children. “It was when I saw the science on this and started to experience that with my own son that I got a sense of ‘I can do this’. It isn’t just something that women’s bodies equip themselves for. We’re all set up to do it.”

Thomas Lynch, one of the fathers who co-founded Dads Rock, a dads-only playgroup in Wester Hailes in Edinburgh, believes there has already been a profound evolution in how fatherhood is practised since he was a child. “I love my dad but he didn’t really do much with me because he was working a lot and I think that’s what he thought was his duty, to work, and do the odd bit to help out.” He and his wife share the parenting of their seven-year-old son.

However, one of the problems, he notes, is there is not yet enough discussion about what it means to be a father, particularly not with boys and young men. “Who speaks to our children about what a father is? My dad never did.” All too often, he notes, young girls have it on their radar that they will probably one day be mums, yet young boys, though 80% of them will become fathers, do not.

Another issue is whether public services are pitching themselves properly to this new generation of fathers. A quarter of fathers in The Year Of The Dad survey described family services, schools, nurseries, libraries, as “not very welcoming” or “unwelcoming”. Meanwhile, Dr Gary Clapton, lecturer in social work at the University of Edinburgh, has studied the advertising and literature produced by central government, the NHS, councils and charity, and notes that for the most part when it comes to depicting the family, “you get images of mums and that’s it...This marginalises fathers,” he says. “Yet you can’t get moving for fathers these days. They’ve got little buggies. They’re there with their kids on their fronts. The change has happened. But I don’t think social services has caught up.”

Family Guys

The story of three generations of dads in one family: father, grandfather and great grandfather

Bill Lynch, 98 years old, great grandfather and former whaler

“I worked in whaling in South Georgia when my children were young, so I would be away for 21 months at a time, and my wife, Chris, brought up the family, two boys and a girl, on the Shetland Islands. Whenever I got back the children looked upon me as Father Christmas. I used to ring up from Aberdeen to say that I’d arrived and they used to tell me what they wanted.

I missed my children terrifically when I was away. There was one Christmas when the BBC did a programme where the UK relatives spoke to us by radio. Otherwise we were in contact by letters, and my wife and I would send cables to each other at Christmas. We always wrote “Unchained Melody” because that was what we used to sing to each other.

I had met my wife at a hospital tent when I was a sergeant during the war. At first I thought she was stuck up, because she was a nurse who had trained at the Royal Infirmary, knew umpteen doctors and so forth. We got off on the wrong foot completely. But we went to see a play together and it just blossomed.

To be honest with you, I didn’t think I had fatherhood in me. Beforehand, I was selfish. With the money that I was earning as a young lad, I had a wonderful life. I used to teach ballroom dancing before the war and expected to go back to that.

Chris was pregnant before I came out of the army and she came down to London, where I had grown up, and said, “I’m not having my children in London”. So when I got my discharge I went up to Shetland, where she came from.

My selfishness disappeared overnight when Arthur, my first child, was born. He became my focus. Then Marguerite, my daughter arrived, born premature, and then we had Robert, the youngest.

Initially I worked at the Co-op, but I heard so much from other Shetland islanders about whaling and how much money is involved and I thought, well, I’ll take some of it. So I went down to Leith, to Christian Salvesen’s office to ask about whaling, and finished up in Leith Harbour, South Georgia.

It was always wonderful whenever I was back with my family. Returning to them each time, after 21 months, though, was like starting a new life with them because they had grown up so much.

I get to do more with my great grandsons than I did with my own children. It’s one thing that I regret – that I didn’t have time with the children. Sometimes I look back and think I missed so much. But we have made up for it since.

My own father died when he was 43. He was a lovely man. One thing that I remember particularly was that, when I was about four years old, I used to be put on his shoulders. Flying angel, he called it.”

Neil Fraser, 71 years old, paediatrician, grandfather and former son-in-law of Bill

“I was in my early thirties when I became a dad. Since I’m a paediatrician, though, I’d been seeing and handling kids for many years. But it’s completely different when it’s your own. There was that sense of wonder and excitement. I was there at the birth of both my son and my daughter. This was the late seventies so it was quite well established that dads were present. I did have ideas about child-rearing, an interest in John Bowlby’s theories about attachment for instance: so being hands on was certainly important to me. I was a nappy changer. I did bathing and feeding. I remember slow walks with one of them in the buggy and the other running behind. But also I was on call for work a fair amount, with rotas of working one-in-three weekends or one-in-two. I would have certainly liked to have had a bit more time with them. I did have the desire to be more hands on than my own father, which I was - though I think if I’d had a different job I’d have been more involved.”

Dave Howard, 35, father, BBC radio journalist, and Neil’s son-in-law

“When you become a dad you’re always comparing what you do with your own experience of childhood. I loved my dad very much and we were a very strong family unit but it was quite old-fashioned in that he was the bread winner and he was a man of very few words, very practical, an agricultural electrical engineer. He died aged 59 and he was probably one of your classic blokes in that he wouldn’t have gone to the doctors unless he was half dead, and in this instance he was. He was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer. I remember getting a phone call saying, ‘You have to come home.’ By the time I got there he was incoherent and delirious.

He died four days later, and through that whole period, in which he was incoherent, I kept thinking, ‘My dad and I have never said I love you to each other.’ However it was completely obvious that he did love me. It was completely apparent in everything he did and was.

The impact all that has had on my relationship with my own sons, twins, is that I try to tell them every day that I love them. And I don’t just tell them, I make a really big deal of it. Recently I’ve been making it into a sort of a game. When I’ve been tucking them in at bedtime, I’ve been saying, “Have you got any idea of anyone who might love you?” And they’ll say, “You, Daddy.” Anybody else? Mummy. Nanny. And the rest. I want them to know beyond doubt that they are loved.

Another thing about dad is that he had depression, and being able to talk about stuff may or may not be connected. I want the kids to understand that it’s okay to be weak sometimes. The old-fashioned sense of what it is to be a man is that you’ve got to be robust, you can’t ask for help - and I think that’s responsible for quite a lot of issues with men."