This year, around Father’s Day, there was a flurry of articles lately on the topic of work life balance (or lack thereof) for fathers. There were 3 basic themes:
1. Healthy interaction with fathers positively impacts the development of children. (Let’s hear it for fathers!; Fathers Play an Important Part in a Child’s Development)
2. Men are interested in being actively involved in parenting. (Alpha Dads: Men Get More Serious About Work-Life Balance; What Dads Really Want this Father’s Day)
- In a Pew study, 48% of working dads wanted to stay home with their children
- Another study found 71% of young men said they’d be willing to take a lower salary if they could spend more time at home
- 46% of working dads would like more time with their children
3. Men face a work-family balance challenge (Is the Ideal Dad an Ideal Worker?; Why Men Still Can’t Have It All; Men Can’t Have It All- Statistics )
- In the same Pew study, 50% of working dads said they were struggling with work-life balance
- Few companies have policies that allow men (or women) to adjust work schedules to balance these demands
- Even when policies do exist, men are reluctant to use them because men are supposed to focus on bringing in the money, not raising kids and they’re likely to be criticized for taking time to be with the kids.
Of course, working mothers have the same issues- with higher expectations regarding their role as parent. Professional women are still asked about the impact their career has on their children. I doubt too many men get that question.
Personally, I think the more attention paid to the topic the better. Right now, there is a macho attitude about work that affects men and women: the more time and attention you devote to work the better you are. I’ve been there- ‘complaining’ (boasting?) about not taking a vacation in 10 years and working 85 hours per week on average. The not-so-subtle message is that I’m so important the company can’t go on without me- and I sacrifice myself for the greater good. In return, I earned big bucks and I liked that- until one day I woke up and realized I didn’t have much of a life anymore. That’s when I left corporate America.
Since for now, the work world is a ‘man’s’ world… real change is unlikely to happen until men demand change. It appears things are moving in that direction. Let’s hope it continues.