By Anja van den Berg
Gone are the days when fathers left for their day at the office while moms stayed behind to take care of the household.
A study conducted by the United States government shows that the number of women entering the workforce climbed from 50% in 1970 to well over 70% in 2018. In South Africa, women accounted for 43,8% of total employment in the second quarter of 2018.
According to Time magazine, 85% of fathers today aspire to fully share parenting with their spouses.
This new (and refreshing) attitude brings significant shifts. Research shows that, compared to the previous generation, dads are now spending triple the time caring for their children. Yet, their responsibilities at work are not any less than that of the previous generation’s. Today’s dads have more duties at work than their fathers ever had to contend with.
So, how can a modern dad deliver at work while spending more time with his family? Scott Behson, a Professor of Management, says it requires a new way of thinking.
Compare your priorities with your duties and outputs
Today’s working fathers care about success both in their careers and at home. Dads take pride in being good providers while also dedicating the time and effort necessary to be loving fathers and spouses. However, many dads find themselves amidst an excelling – but demanding – career from which it is hard to scale back without jeopardising all they’ve worked for. Now is the time to begin with the end in mind: what will you value most in 20 years? Thinking through priorities, you might discover a mismatch between what you are currently doing and where you want to end up.
“You might want to shift your career to uncover more time for life and fatherhood,” Behson advises. When they start with the end in mind, many fathers find that the job they chose was once the right fit, but they haven’t adapted their careers to new realities. Think about how you might adjust your career and reflect on the trade-offs involved. It takes a strong sense of self to revisit a successful career by considering changes that might better correspond to the full range of your priorities.
Prioritise Father-Friendly Employers
The COVID-19 pandemic transformed the world of work and opened many possibilities for work flexibility. You have an even stronger negotiating position if you can show a successful track record of working from home during the pandemic. Talk to your employer to explore flexible and remote work options. Avoiding even a few commutes per week saves time which you could spend on your family. Moreover, working from home you are always on time for family dinner.
If options in your position won’t allow flexibility, investigate employers with reputations for supporting their employees’ life priorities. People in your network can provide valuable insight about cultural fit. Ask questions about how a potential employer supports working parents and whether they embrace whole-person workplace values. Many firms now recruit outside their local areas, opening more possibilities to find employment without relocating.
Career paths that allow dads to be more present at home could come with lowered career trajectories and less income. The entire family needs to be on board. However, Behson says that many families are happy to cut back if it means more quality time with a less stressed-out dad.
Before making any decisions, take stock of your career path and assess whether your career fits well with being the father you want to be. A new way of thinking will enable you to take steps, large or small, to align your career choices with your priorities.
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2021/04/what-working-dads-can-do-when-a-high-pressure-job-asks-too-much