Working Fathers (page 2)
“Today, men are spending more time on housework and on the care of children -- and both men and women are spending much less time on themselves."
I’m fairly certain most of us understand the meaning of the term “working mother,” but what is a “working father?” According to a newly released study by the Families and Work Institute, men have joined women in prioritizing family. Long thought of as the “promoters of the workplace status quo,” the study shines a new light on how men are changing the workplace environment: Working fathers are more involved with their families and are on the lookout for familyfriendly work environments. Is your organization prepared?
One of the greatest challenges to a father’s involvement in the lives of his children and family is his ability to manage the demands of work and home. On one hand, men are encouraged to be an important part of their families. On the other hand, men are held to the expectation that family will not interrupt business operations. Because of this seemingly unsolvable confl ict, fathers are in quite a bind. And while working women long ago established entire institutions to help them deal with this, men today are left to fend for themselves. We should all work to change this.
“U.S. employers are changing in response to the new demographics of the workplace, but families are changing even more, especially men,” says Ellen Gallinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute and a co-author of the National Study of the Changing Workforce. “Today, men are spending more time on housework and on the care of children -- and both men and women are spending much less time on themselves.”
Today, three out of four households are dualearner couples. Employees with families report signifi cantly higher level of interference between their jobs and their family lives than those 25 years ago. In fact, men report higher levels of interference between their jobs and their family lives than women in the same situation. In addition:
- Over half of all fathers report they are under a “great deal of stress” dealing with the pressures of work with the demands of home.
- Dads who work long hours tend to spend less time with their kids, and the negative effects grow steadily as hours at work grow.
- Fathers in dual-earner couples today spend 42 minutes more doing household chores on workdays than fathers in 1977.
- Almost half of all men would turn down a promotion if it meant less personal or family time.
- Seven out of ten men would take a pay cut for more time with family.
All of this points to one simple conclusion: Working fathers, just like working mothers, are also struggling with “having it all.”
Why the change in working fathers? The evidence is crystal clear that a father’s involvement makes a difference in the lives of children. Take education, for example: Children with highly involved fathers are more likely to get mostly As, enjoy school, and are less likely to repeat a grade than those with fathers with low involvement. And if fathers aren’t involved, children are twice as likely to drop out of school, exhibit violent behavior, and be suspended or expelled.
It’s time to recognize this fast-changing work demographic before it’s too late. Working fathers, who’ve long been thought of as those that can be depended on for forgetting family concerns in the workplace, have changed. Yes, they are still expected to be fully engaged and committed at work, but they are finding it more and more diffi cult to do so. Men that are expected to accomplish key business deliverables have other concerns on their minds. And just like working moms, if a working dad’s family’s welfare isn’t secure, then you can bet his organization’s key business drivers won’t be, either. That’s why the paradigm will continue to shift in favor of a more flexible and balanced workplace.
“The changes in the workplace don’t appear to offset the confl icts employees face -- longer work hours, more demanding jobs, and technology that blurs the lines between work and family,” says James T. Bond, lead author of the study.
So why pay attention to the plight of working fathers? After all, working women have been dealing with these issues for years. The answer is simple: Because helping working fathers is good for working mothers and working women because it shows that work/life effectiveness isn’t just an issue faced by women, but instead it’s a management issue that impacts all employees.
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.
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