Beyond the Breadwinner: Working Dads Speak Out
Traditionally juggling work and family has been a challenge for countless women. Men were seen as the sole breadwinner for the house with a less involved role than women in terms of childcare. However as Bob Dylan sang ‘the times they are a changin’ and changing they certainly are.
Men are now beginning to experience the increasing struggle of working while needing to care for their children. A role in the past that was the prime responsibility of women. A recent survey in the US by The Better Balance was conducted online with approximately 250 working, largely white- collar professionals, living across 31 states.
A key finding was that nearly 85% of respondents feel under pressure to be both a provider and to engage in their children’s daily lives. A quote by one father highlights this finding:
“It’s next to impossible to travel for work, exceed all of the expectations, and try to be there enough for my child.” — Consultant in the accounting industry and father of one child, age 1.
A solution that was mentioned in the report takes a look at the strong belief these fathers had that both a more flexible working arrangement and government support could help parents to better balance work and life responsibilities. Nearly 70% of working dads in the study said they would personally benefit from more flexible arrangements such as flexible hours and the ability to work from home. Many studies have shown that workplace flexibility can create tangible financial benefits as well as a decrease in employee stress, absenteeism and turnover.
85% of respondents specify that they would be encouraged to take advantage of family-friendly workplace policies by seeing senior leaders set an example or by seeing their male colleagues who use these practices advance in their careers.
Finally, while the majority of the respondents have not experienced penalties in their job for being a parent, some have reported negative treatment and disapproving comments at work about their family responsibilities, noting that such treatment suggests a notable barrier to achieving a family friendly society especially at work.
In conclusion, professional working fathers view themselves as more than just the family breadwinner with the majority citing that balancing work and family causes conflict, pressure and frequent stress. While this report is insightful into how fathers now see their changing role in work and family, this struggle is one that women have had to endure for many years but now it may finally be addressed and hopefully a better work-life balance across the board may be achieved.
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