Dads Struggle With Work-Life Balance Too
New studies show moms aren't the only one experiencing guilt over returning to work once Baby is here
In the era of Mommy Wars, we ask all the time whether women can truly “have it all” when it comes to juggling a career with raising kids. But what about men? Turns out, mommy guilt isn’t just for mommies anymore, according to a new Pew Research report that says dads are feeling just as pressed for time and stressed out trying to balance the demands of work and family.
How stressed? In the survey of 2,511 adults nationwide, 56 percent of working moms admit that it’s no easy task to combine career and family. But almost an equal number of working dads—50 percent—say they’re under the same kind of pressure. Feeling rushed is also a part of everyday life for today’s mothers and fathers. Among those with children under age 18, 40 percent of working mothers and 34 percent of working fathers say they always feel rushed.
Interestingly, the survey also revealed that 46 percent of fathers worry about not spending enough quality time with their kids, versus just 23 percent of mothers. And what’s more, though a majority of fathers say working full time is best, nearly 50 percent indicate that if they could afford it financially, they’d rather stay home with the kids than work. A similar number of working moms feel the same way.
A dad’s take on these statistics? “If people think that it’s unusual or a shock to find out working dads are feeling stressed out and guilty about not spending enough time with their kids,” says Jeremy Connors, who lives in Toms River, New Jersey with his wife and two children, “it could be because there’s still this leftover stereotype that it’s a father’s job to make the money and a mother’s job to raise the kids, when this simply isn’t true anymore.”
Connors points out that after the birth of his second child, he took a month “paternity leave” from his engineering job, and then managed to swing one day working from home after his wife returned to her full-time job.
“Being so involved in my children’s care makes me feel realize what a gift it is to raise kids and be truly present in their lives,” says Connors, who now wants to find ways to expand the days he can stay home. “At first, I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle a baby [and toddler sibling] and getting my work done, but now that we’ve got this splendid little schedule down, I want so badly to be home on all those other days. I think being a ‘stay at home dad‘ still has some weird stigma attached to it, but if I were offered that as my job title, I wouldn’t think twice before accepting.”
According to Kim Parker, associate director of the Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends Project, work-time studies show that it’s true that the average dad today spends more time engaged in housework and child care than the typical father did half a century ago. However, as dads spend more time with their kids, they’re also more aware of, and feeling guilty about, the time they spend away from them.
Being more involved, “…might help explain this yearning to spend more time with them,” Parker tells the Washington Post. “And now that they’re more aware of all that goes on in the home, dads may feel more of an obligation to take part. Before, it wasn’t their concern, it was all taken care of. And now that mom’s working, it is.”
In other words, working dads, welcome to the club.
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