The roles and expectations of fathers continue to move and shift. With moms spending more time working and family situations getting more and more complex, dads are often expected to step in and do more at home. And that’s not a bad thing. We dads are learning a little about the juggling act many moms have been doing for years.
But it can be difficult when employers aren’t on board with a father’s desire to play a bigger part at home. Involved dads might put in less overtime or take more unexpected personal days. They might schedule their vacation around the needs of their family, not the expectations of their boss. Fatherhood naturally causes you to reevaluate your priorities.
When guys make it clear their families are important, in some circles they are labeled as less willing to work hard for the company. They’re thought of as more distracted and less available for work projects. No man wants that reputation, so maybe some dads don’t take full advantage of paternity leave or flex time options.
The tension of work vs. family has always been there. But the pressure is increasing—although young fathers today probably know it comes with the territory.
One young dad left his company when his first child was born because he wanted more work-life balance. He took another job that had more predictable hours and pretty much guaranteed he’d have his evenings free. He said, “I don’t know if I can do this and become a vice president. But then I don’t know if I want to be one anyway.”
That’s the struggle so many of us face. We grow up thinking we can truly have it all, but there’s really no such thing. We have limited time and energy, and “having it all” in one area almost always requires sacrificing something in the other.
Dad, you probably know all of this. And this isn’t meant to discourage you or shatter any dreams. But no matter how you’re doing with the whole work-family thing, here’s an often-used way to gain some perspective:
Imagine yourself twenty or thirty years in the future. Looking at your life from that vantage point, would you rather have regrets in your work life, or your family life?
No one can tell you to get a different job or switch careers. Only you can really know what’s best there.
But the research is clear and your own experiences surely confirm it: children need their dads. Please find a way to be there for them.
Dad, what insights can you share? How have you navigated work and family priorities? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.