This Father's Day, let's take some time to recognize the challenge faced by busy involved dads who also care about their career success.
The following is an excerpt from my book,The Working Dad's Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home (Motivational Press, 2015).
Virtually every working dad I know struggles with balancing the time and effort required to be a good financial provider with the time and effort needed to be a present, involved, loving father.
I certainly struggle. I bet you do, as well. There are only 24 hours in a day and we only have so much energy. We all deal with this work-family challenge in different ways -- and it is never easy.
But we have struggled, seemingly alone, for too long. As a society, we don't talk enough about the work-family challenges fathers confront, and we fail to recognize that so many dads are running themselves ragged to succeed both in their careers and in their families. A little support from employers, public policy and society would be nice.
It's time that our most important life challenge -- success in both our careers and in our families -- is finally recognized as an important issue. It's time that we, as fathers, start discussing our struggles. It's time for some encouragement, information and advice for busy dads trying to succeed in our careers and as fathers.
Consider these six facts:
- This generation of fathers works as hard and for as many hours as prior generations. We face at least as many financial pressures and a world with less job and financial security than dads who have come before. The 2013 Pew Research Study found that, even with the rise of breadwinner moms and dual-income couples, fathers are the sole or primary providers for 85 percent of dual-parent households.
- Fathers today aspire to career success. 76 percent of those surveyed in Boston College's New Dad studies wish to be promoted to positions of greater responsibility and 58 percent express a strong desire to move into senior management.
- Today's dad has tripled the time he spends caring for his children and does twice the housework, compared to fathers of a generation ago. 65 percent of dads see their role as both provider and caretaker, and 85 percent aspire to fully sharing parenting with their spouses (however, only about 30 percent report that they do so). But maybe we're being too hard on ourselves - according to a recent American Time Use Survey, when you combine time at work, housework and parenting time, moms and dads carry just about an equal workload.
- Workplaces and corporate cultures have not kept up with these changes. Because dads' struggles are not commonly discussed, companies have not had to confront our work-family concerns. In fact, a series of studies from UC Hastings College of the Law showed that men who use common forms of workplace flexibility, such as flextime telecommuting or parental leave, are seen as insufficiently committed to their work and "unmanly," facing disrespect and career consequences. Men are expected to be "all in" for work even when they are far more involved at home.
- 50 percent of working dads say they find it very or somewhat difficult to balance work and family responsibilities. In fact, about two-thirds of fathers today report work-family conflict and stress. According to a recent Families & Work Institute survey, this is an even higher rate than reported by working moms!
- When dads are able to succeed at work and be involved at home, families and children benefit. Research shows that kids with dads who are involved in their lives from the start have better health, better grades, and higher rates of graduation, as well as lower rates of incarceration and teen pregnancy. Girls with involved dads are more likely to pursue a wider range of careers, including traditionally male-dominated ones, like engineering and science.
You would think that, considering these facts, society would recognize the critical need to support working dads, and that employers and spouses would step up for us. You'd expect fathers to get together to share ideas, advice and encouragement because we all face a similar huge challenge, and so much depends on us.
Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. There is a strange "wall of silence" that has built up over the issue of involved fathers who work hard to juggle work and family demands. So, if you have ever felt that all your efforts in attaining career success while also making the time to be an involved father have been overlooked, you, my friend, are not alone.
This Father's Day, let's recognize that most dads out there strive for success at work and at home. We all benefit when dads are supported.
What do you think about the challenges of working dads? Any stories to share? Let's discuss in the comments.
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