Changing trends in gender roles have more and more fathers taking a bigger role in child care and household chores, but it has been found that workplaces aren’t keeping up with this change in parental attitude. In a recent study by the Boston Globe, more and more fathers are protesting about their employers expecting them to adhere to gender stereotypes of men working longer hours while their spouses handle the childcare and household tasks at home, as well as treating them unfairly when it comes to personal issues and parental leaves.
To better understand dads’ dilemmas in the workplace, here are the common challenges that many working dads face on a regular basis:
1. Gender stereotypes
As a society, we’ve come a long way in dismantling outdated gender stereotypes when it comes to men and women’s roles in the household. However, there are still a lot of workplaces that uphold old-fashioned views about what roles dads, or men in general, should play in the family, such that men should work longer hours, go back to work immediately after the birth of their baby, and let their spouses do most of the childcare and housework at home.
These outdated views directly result in unfair policies and a lack of support for working dads. While most companies are more lenient towards moms and pregnant women, a lot of dads have to settle with looking at their “customized to my son dog tags” when they miss their child and have to work overtime, which is inherently unfair and potentially damaging to family relationships.
2. Short parental leaves
On average, dads get up to four to six weeks of parental leave after their child is born, which is, more often than not, inadequate to allow parents to adjust to life with a newborn. The first few weeks after birth is an incredibly challenging adjustment period, especially for first-time parents, and having a month or even less of paid parental leave can lead to increased stress for the mother, resentment between partners, and general exhaustion of both parents. On top of that, there is a common notion that dads who do take parental leave are less dedicated workers than those who choose to keep working and letting their partner take care of things at home.
In contrast, dads who are offered ten weeks or more of paid parental leave have a better bond with their child, are more able to support their partner and return to work with a positive attitude and higher productivity, among many other benefits.
3. Lack of support
Child care and household chores are the responsibilities of both parents. But due to lack of support in the workplace for fathers, mothers are forced to carry the brunt of the work, even after they return to work. Fathers don’t receive the same level of support that mothers do when it comes to child care, paid time off, opportunities for remote work, and other parental benefits that all workplaces should offer.
There are companies that offer fair support to both men and women, but there are more workplaces that don’t. With the continuous change in gender attitudes in the workplace and society as a whole, however, working dads should expect more support from their employers in terms of parental benefits before and after the birth of their child.
4. Being away from family
Dads are expected to continue working after their children are born, while moms are the ones to stay at home and take care of the children full-time. This often results in a lack of bonding between parent and child, which can affect their relationship in the long-run and even cause partners to drift apart. In many cases, working dads only get to spend quality bonding time with their children on the weekends, and even then, time is limited because dads also have to take part in the housework and other errands that they couldn’t do on the weekdays.
This all-too-common phenomenon is the main reason why workplaces should offer fair PTO policies to their employees, and why employees should start demanding more from their companies. When dads have plenty of opportunities to take a break without consequences to their status or pay, they are better able to spend time with their children and actually form healthy relationships as they grow up instead of only seeing them for a few hours every day.
We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg of challenges that working dads experience. In this modern age, it’s time to start paying more attention to these issues in society’s fight towards gender equality–both in the home and the workplace.