Photo: @chrissyteigen via Instagram
“Luna woke up super early—I have no idea what time zone everybody’s on,” John Legend says with a laugh, having just returned from a family vacation in Europe. And after a hilarious trip to Candy Court with three-year-old Luna and his long-time love, Chrissy Teigen, the doting dad of two is ready to get to work on a cause close to his heart: helping fathers to pull their weight as parents.
One of the biggest obstacles dads face when they’re out and about with their kids is a lack of access to baby-changing facilities. “A lot of times, changing stations just weren’t available in men’s restrooms, and it kind of, in a physical way, manifested the idea that men aren’t equal partners in parenting,” Legend says during an exclusive phone interview with Today’s Parent.
In fact, a staggering nine out of 10 fathers have found themselves in a men’s room without a changing table, according to a recent Pampers survey of 200 American parents, leaving dads with two options: change your little one on a filthy bathroom counter or floor, or let mom tackle the diaper using proper facilities. And when the men are pulling solo parenting duty, the former is their only choice.
“One of the conversations that needed to be had—if you’re talking about sharing parenting duties and making sure daddies are part of diaper duty—is to make sure the facilities are in place to actually make that a reality,” says Legend. Hot on the heels of their #daddydiaperduty campaign (the “Stinky Booty Duty” song is still in our heads!), Legend and Pampers have teamed up with change-table manufacturer Koala Kare. The goal? To install 5,000 new change tables in men’s rooms across North America by 2021, from libraries to community centres, as part of their #LoveTheChange campaign.
35 times Chrissy Teigen was the most relatable celeb mom everLegend isn’t the first to push for this change. During his second term, President Obama had change tables installed in US federal buildings as part of the BABIES Act. And Ashton Kutcher made the same cry for basic facilities back in 2015, urging Target and Costco to get on board. Last year, Donte Palmer started the viral #SquatForChange campaign after a photo of the Florida dad changing his son’s diaper in his lap went viral (he’s now part of the Pampers campaign, too).
Change has come at a sluggish pace, but Legend isn’t deterred. “I think now’s the time,” he says, referring to the fight in recent years for equality and inclusivity, both in the workplace and at home. “There’s been a lot of talk around women’s equality, and talk about sharing more of these duties, and not making it so the burden falls on one partner in the relationship.”
Legend credits his own father, Ronald Stephens, with his personal longing to be involved. “My dad was very hands-on with us. He taught us, he sang to us, he danced with us, he played games with us.” And did he tackle diaper duty? “I don’t remember my diaper being changed,” Legend says, laughing. “So I can’t say if he was actually hands-on with my diaper.”
Legend and his three siblings—then aged seven through 13–lived with their father after their parents divorced, and Legend cites his father as a big inspiration for the kind of parent he wants to be. “The things that my dad did for us were talk a lot about character and what it means to be a good person, and what it means to make a positive impact on the world. I want my son and my daughter to get those kinds of messages from me and Chrissy as well.”
Admitting that the couple is fortunate to have childcare, plus Chrissy’s hands-on mom Vilailuck living in their home, the award-winning producer has ample opportunity to pass along these messages because he and Chrissy get to spend a lot of time with their kids. “I think probably more than most working nine-to-five families. Our kids are with us a lot because we’re able to work at home,” he notes. “And so we spend a lot of time with the kids and have so many fun, interesting conversations with Luna and Miles.”
Luna’s already getting in on the diaper-changing action, too, Legend reports. “She tries to do it on her dolls, but she’s only been moderately successful trying to help us [change Miles].” Looks like everyone in the Teigen/Legend household is keen to do their part!