Last Sunday, on father’s day, The New York Times reported that fathers are becoming more stressed trying to balance jobs and family. According to a Boston College survey, while many fathers are taking on greater responsibility for childcare, most workplaces do not accommodate or support these efforts. Few companies offer paternity leave and few men take advantage of FMLA. As expectations of fathers change, they have fewer role models showing them how to balance being a breadwinner with being a more hands-on father.
I’m interested in seeing what kinds of letters this article generates. I imagine that many women will share my initial response: so men are finding balancing being an involved parent and having a career stressful? Welcome to the club. After all, women have been battling this struggle for years. And according to most reports, working women still do significantly more housework and childcare than men, and take on much of the invisible “psychological responsibility” of planning, reminding and worrying.
Still, expectations of fathers are changing; the recent flood of daddy-memoirs are evidence of this. I am eagerly awaiting my copy of What Would I Tell Her and hope to see a collection of ‘Daddy PhD’ essays soon.
Despite the rhetoric of family values, I believe our country does not support parents and families, whether they work or stay at home. The struggles of fathers should draw attention to the problems facing all parents, and the social reforms -- paid parental leave, on-site daycare, part-time work with benefits, and flexible hours – that would benefit everyone.