Millennial Dads Apparently Have Terrible DIY Skills, and Half Don’t Own a Stepladder or Cordless Drill

But does it really matter?

L: Leatherman R: Getty Images

Life is much more convenient in 2019 than it was in 1989, ’79, etc. That’s obvious. Still, the Cult of American Dadness (we made that term up) dictates that once a man has young’uns in the home he should know how to do stuff around the house—minor repairs, installation, even small building projects.

Millennial dads don’t know how to do any of that, and they don’t even own the necessary tools for the job. At least that’s the takeaway from a poll conducted and published by

If you’re anywhere in the typical millennial age range of 23 to 38, a father, and extremely offended by that statement, hold up for this grain of salt: is a company that provides home security, automation, and installation services for those things, via a nationwide network of experts. 

It might be in their best interest to promote the idea that you don’t know squat about installing things like networked, smart alarm systems. Just saying—that insecurity could definitely lead to a few more jobs for their experts.

 Still, finding that men born between 1981 and 1996 often don’t own essentials like stepladders or drills can’t be that big a surprise, right?

To their credit, polled 2,000 dads fitting this criteria and what they found is actually a bit more nuanced than just saying this block of men can’t do jack around the house:

[The] definition of a handy Dad is changing. Millennial Dads are less inclined than their fathers’ generation to roll up their sleeves and tackle traditional DIY tasks, preferring to call for professional help on tasks ranging from unclogging sinks to assembling furniture. On the other hand, they’re better than Boomer Dads at hi-tech tasks including home IT. 

Another finding: younger Dads are less likely to own tools that older Dads would consider essential. 46 percent of Millennial Dads reported not owning a cordless drill. 48 percent don’t own a stepladder, 38 percent don’t own a set of screwdrivers, and 32 percent don’t own a hammer (a tool owned by 93 percent of Baby Boomer Dads).

So why this shift in skills? 

For one thing, it’s just technological sophistication. Installing an alarm was once an almost entirely mechanical affair. You sometimes still needed a technician to do it, but just as with cable installation, it was basically a lot of wire-pulling and drilling of tiny holes in floors and walls. Then maybe you plug in a rudimentary keypad thing to the landline phone system and voila, you’re good to go.

Now it’s an IT job more than anything. It may not require punching many holes in walls and baseboards but you should probably know how to do that and how to set up a home network. That’s a special set of skills and not everyone has them. 

The Ring doorbell, for example, is a fantastic security innovation, but it seems like you might want someone who knows what they’re doing to install it unless you want that hi-def camera just pointing at a bush by the door all day. also states that the definition of what constitutes being handy around the house has changed. Where your Boomer dad’s ability to take care of business with a hammer was a necessity as much as a point of pride, for men in their 20s and 30s today “handy” might mean having the computer skill to find your way into the cable modem’s router so you can change the signal name to something fun like “FBI SURVEILLANCE VAN 2.”   

Lastly, priorities have changed. reports:

61 percent of the Millennial Dads we polled said they’d rather hang out with their kids than spend that time on DIY—and nearly half feel that they’ve done a better job than their own Dad at spending quality time with their children. 

As a Gen X dad who can change a car battery or a tire and also braid my daughter’s hair and troubleshoot her computer all while being ignored by surveys like this, I get that. 

Millennials get a lot of grief about trends identified with their generation, such as living bleak sexless lives, not buying American cheese, and eating Tide Pods

And there are still plenty of skilled folks out there, including the subset of hipster Millennials who reject tech and embrace handiwork. They’ll be fine, in the end. 

Let’s cut them some slack on this one.