As the mother to three boys and the CEO of a software company, I often stress the importance of balancing my work and home lives when I talk about being a working mom. I have frequently discussed the struggles that working moms face, but I haven’t yet touched on the struggles faced by a similar and equally important demographic: working dads.
To some this may be appear to be an odd statement, because to suggest that a dad is a “working dad” is not news. Dads are expected to work, so much so that “working dad” isn’t a phrase that comes up in everyday conversation like “working mom” does. I believe that the lack of conversation about working dads is a social norm that needs to be changed. Just as gender roles for women have evolved, roles for men have changed too—fathers are now more involved with parenting than ever before, and they face many of the same struggles as mothers when it comes to balancing work and home lives.
According to a 2013 Pew Research study, the amount of paid work that mothers complete each week on average has almost tripled since 1965. But, as mothers increasingly work for pay, the number of hours spent by fathers completing household work and participating in family time has seen a comparable increase. The idea of being a “working dad” is becoming so much more common that roughly 50 percent of fathers surveyed for the Pew study said that they felt they have a difficult time balancing work and time with their families. This is a commonly discussed statistic for working moms; it should not be ignored when it applies to men.
The term “working mom” has a positive connotation in most circles. A working mom is strong, capable, organized—essentially a “wonder woman.” But while modern dads often partake in many of the same “working mom” activities—namely cooking, cleaning and parenting while also juggling a full-time job—they don’t receive the same respect from society. Men used to be praised as “involved” for partaking in an hour’s worth of child care or household duties a week. Today, working fathers deserve to be viewed just as honorably as their female counterparts.
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