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Fathers Trying To Balance Work And Family

June 24, 2010

balancing actA new study indicates that fathers are struggling just as much as mothers to fulfill responsibilities at home and in the office.

The report, titled "The New Dad: Exploring Fatherhood within a Career Context," was released by the Boston College Center for Work & Family last week, and challenges the traditional notion of the father as breadwinner, rather than as a parent. In fact, the research found that dads often repeated the theme of "being there, being present, spending time, being accessible."

"Men are facing the same clash of social ideals that women have faced since the 1970s--how do you be a good parent and a good worker?" said Joan c. Williams, the director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the Hastings College of the Law at the University of California, who was quoted by The New York Times. "This is a pretty sensitive indicator of the rise of the new ideal of the good father as a nurturing father, not just a provider father."

The study also found that fathers who played an increased parenting role were perceived favorably at work, where their reputation, credibility and career options were enhanced as a result. But most new fathers chose to balance work-life issues informally, rather than making formal flexible work arrangements as new mothers often do. And there was some evidence that companies did not expect men to reduce workloads or career aspirations so they could be more involved at home.

The changing role of fathers is partly the result of the changing workforce. "Women are more than half of the workforce, and most of the layoffs we've seen in this downturn have been in mostly male-dominated jobs," pointed out Jamie Ladge, who co-authored the report and was interviewed by MSNBC.com. "So men are having to set up. . . . You're seeing many more dads at school at drop off and pick up."

But businesses have not yet embraced this new reality, noted Cali Yost, CEO of consulting firm Work + Life Fit Inc. "Time and again," she told MSNBC.com, "companies primarily address how to manage work-life issues and use flexibility in the 'women's initiative' even though the policies and programs that are in place are theoretically intended for everyone."


Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman

Sources:

"More Dads Looking to Balance Work, Family," MSNBC.com, June 21, 2010, Eve Tahmincioglu

"Now, Dad Feels as Stressed as Mom," newyorktimes.com, June 18, 2010, Tara Parker-Pope

"The New Dad: Exploring Fatherhood Within a Career Context," Boston College Center for Work & Family, June 2010, Prof. Brad Harrington, Fred Van Deusen, Prof. Jamie Ladge

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