This year, Father’s Day marked a new milestone for fathers across the country: they are becoming just as stressed as mothers. Last week, Boston College released a study called “The New Dad,” which suggested that new fathers are facing a subtle bias in the workplace that fails to recognize their new family responsibilities and obligations. This workplace bias assumes that mothers, rather than fathers, will be most affected by the addition of children to the family.
However, this research highlights the new challenges facing fathers: they must navigate a workplace that is typically reluctant to give them time off for family reasons. Several studies show that men, compared with their female colleagues, are less likely to take advantage of benefits like flexible schedules and family leave. The Boston College study found that when men needed to take their children to the doctor or pick them up from daycare, they tended to do so in a stealthy fashion rather than ask for a more flexible work arrangement.
Thus, fathers are now facing a social dilemma that is more often faced by mothers – finding the balance between being a good parent and a good worker. Fathers also seem more unhappy than mothers with the balancing act: In dual-income families, 59 percent of fathers report some level of “work-life conflict,” compared with about 45 percent of women, according to a 2008 report from The Families and Work Institute in New York.
Although 40 percent of households today have one stay-at-home spouse to handle daily domestic demands, women remain “psychologically responsible” for the large majority of the household and childcare duties.