Work/Family Balance for Dads...for Moms
Children need involved, responsible, and committed fathers. They also need the same from their mothers. But what happens when both mom and dad work outside the home?
Work/family balance is hard enough in single-earner couples, where one parent works (typically dad) and the other parent (typically mom) stays home to care for the kids. But the challenges increase dramatically in dual-earner couples, which now comprise about two-thirds of married couple families with children. Both parents want to thrive in their careers, but the needs of their children do not change. Working out the details of who does what, and when, can be difficult.
Who leaves work in the middle of the day to care for a sick child? Who goes into work a little late to drive the kids to school? Who takes the kids to soccer practice? On the other side of the coin, who gets to stay at work until 10 p.m. every night to secure that promotion and a raise in salary?
Every dual-earner couple wrestles with these questions and struggles to come up with solutions.
Employers can clearly have a significant role in helping families meet both their career and familial goals. Through the right policies and programs, employers can nurture both male and female employees’ desires to have fulfilling careers and fulfilling family lives.
That is why NFI has developed its Work/ Family Balance program for dads. You may ask, “How is a program for working dads going to help working moms? After all, you’ve been talking about dual-earner couples, not just working fathers.”
Indeed, one of the least intuitive but most effective ways of helping working moms is to help working fathers balance work and family.
Historically, men have defined themselves by success at work, while women have defined themselves by success at home. We can debate to what extent this is still true, but these ideas are still present in our culture. Therefore, fathers still see themselves primarily—sometimes exclusively— as financial providers for their children.
What kinds of results does a father’s “provider mentality” produce in a dual-earner couple? Well, let’s go back to the questions raised above that dual-earner couples wrestle with.
Who leaves work in the middle of the day to care for a sick child? Well, that sounds like something mom is going to have to do.
Who gets to stay at work until 10 p.m. every night to secure that promotion and raise in salary? That sounds like dad’s job.
You get the point.
Two things have become clear. First, helping working fathers balance work and family is good for working mothers. In other words, in order for working mothers to have the opportunity to thrive in their careers, they need to have husbands who see themselves as more than financial providers to their children. Employers (through programs and policies) and the culture in general have to create an environment where dads are willing and able to sacrifice time at work to take care of a sick child. When the kids need to get to soccer practice, sometimes dad needs to get in the minivan and hit the road with the kids. Then, mothers will be freed to pursue their career goals more aggressively, knowing they have ample help on the home front.
Second, and above all, working dads balancing work and family is great for children. Social science research over the decades has shown that kids need more than money from dad. They need dads who not only provide, but nurture and guide as well. If dad is at work 80 hours a week, chances are he is not sufficiently nurturing his kids, which makes it quite difficult for him to guide them. This leads to poorer outcomes for children across measures of economic, physical, social, academic, and psychological well being.
Also, the myth of “quality time” has pervaded our culture to the point that we think spending 30 intense minutes with a child is enough, as long as you are doing something positive. But to kids, quality time is quantity of time.
Additionally, there are great benefits to fathers and employers resulting from work/family balance. For example, by taking care of children and managing household responsibilities, fathers develop leadership skills that help them thrive at work. For employers, studies show that worker productivity, loyalty, and attendance improve when employees achieve work/family balance.
NFI’s Work/Family Balance for dads program was developed to give dads and employers the tools they need to make this all a reality.
The free online Father Friendly Check-UpTM for Business helps employers assess how father friendly they are in their programs and policies, and suggests ways of making immediate improvements.
The program also provides a suite of workshops and resources for working fathers to hone their parenting and relationship skills, and balance work and family. The 24/7 DadTM Interactive CD-ROM is a unique, powerful tool that takes fathers through an interactive computer application to learn valuable skills that will help them expand their vision of fatherhood beyond the provider model.
When dads can achieve this, working mothers will be able to excel in their careers and still be the kinds of moms that their kids need them to be. Most of all, there will be more children with involved, responsible, and committed fathers in their lives.
To see all of the National Fatherhood Initiative's quarterly newsletters go to https://www.fatherhood.org/ftnewsletter.asp.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Fatherhood Initiative.
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Child Development Theories
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- Social Cognitive Theory
- The Homework Debate
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- First Grade Sight Words List
- Graduation Inspiration: Top 10 Graduation Quotes