As a married guy before kids, I rarely argued with my wife. Sure, we differed in opinions on what movie we should see, what to prepare for dinner, or other unimportant topics, but rarely had serious arguments. Now, with a two year old, we still don’t argue much. When we do argue, it usually revolves about parenting. We both make difficult compromises to ensure that we spend quality time with our child, alone time for sanity reasons, and couple time to enjoy our social life/privacy away from our kid. Work-life balance is stressful and quite challenging to maintain for both of us, especially my hard-working wife. I know it will be difficult for me as well when I re-enter the work force in some capacity in the future.
It is interesting to see more research being completed on addressing topics like how parenting is affecting dad’s work life-balance, what it means to him to be a good father, and is his job still the driver of his identity? Matt S. provided this recent article for us to review: Now, Dad Feels as Stressed as Mom by Tara Parker Pope of the NY Times. The engaging article includes some interesting analysis of recent research studies, especially one focusing on a recent Boston College study termed “the New Dad.” Even though the debate about balancing work and family life has been a primary issue for women for decades, the new study “suggests that new fathers face a subtle bias in the workplace, which fails to recognize their stepped-up family responsibilities and presumes that they will be largely unaffected by children.”
The findings should mark a shift in the views that employers have of dads in their companies. However, that line of thought will be veeeeerrrrrry slow in taking the shape of any significant change in the workplace. I can’t say that I am completely surprised by all of the findings because I hear about several of these issues from my working dad friends. Yes, they often lie to their employer about taking their child to the pediatrician, instead stating that “they (the dad) have a doctors appointment.” The article terms this as “doing it in stealth fashion.” Yes, fathers are not always truthful with an excuse when they have to pick up a sick child from school or daycare or attend a parent-teacher conference. Sure, I agree that this is somewhat new territory for many dads and they may be afraid to ask for help in some cases as well as lack more role models who have paved the way. That is why the documented findings about this research is so exciting. It is nice to hear and learn that many fathers are going through many of the same challenges even if we don’t always talk about it publicly with each other.
If learning about dads being stressed out as a result of parenting does not capture your interest (or depress you)…then, perhaps you might better enjoy the latest cover story of New York Magazine: I Love My Children. I Hate My Life. The Misery of the American Parent by Jennifer Senior. A lengthy article that addresses the cheerful question, Why does study after study show that having kids make people less happy? That should really brighten your mood! Happy Monday!