The new family
The Pew Research Center has reported on the state of households and found that the percent of married parents who work has grown from 25% in 1960 to 60% in 2012.
While two working parents has become a necessity in many families, it presents special stresses. It has impacted the traditional roles in the home. Fathers used to be focused primarily on the workplace. “He’s a good breadwinner.” “He’s devoted to his job.” “He works hard for the family.” “Wait til your father gets home.”
But over the years, mothers have greatly increased the amount of time spent in the workplace and dads have tripled the time spent with their children. According to the Pew Report, 48 percent of working fathers with children under age 18 say they’d prefer to be home. Half say they spend more time with their children than their own dad did and that it is hard to balance job and family. At the same time, half say they don’t spend enough time with their children.
The new dad
A number of fathers are staying at home to care for children. We’ve seen it in our own neighborhoods and social circles. About 7 percent of fathers in the U.S. do not work outside the home. This amounts to two million dads and it’s increasing. Others are working outside the home but placing their family as a high priority. This is particularly true of young dads.
They don’t want salary, power, influence or status as much as they want meaning. In a recent article in The Atlantic, Barbara Bradley Hagerty refers to a report by Copenhagen’s Happiness Research Institute in which “sense of purpose” trumped everything else.
“In a survey of 2,600 Danish workers about professional contentment, the winner, by a sizable margin, was a sense of purpose, which contributed twice as much to an individual’s job satisfaction as did the runner-up - having a high-quality manager.”
In fact, the top six factors in the report were purpose, leadership, influence, achievements, work-life balance, and colleagues. Not fortune or fame.
Fathers are extremely important to children. The American Psychological Association states that, “The influence of father love on children’s development is as great as the influence of a mother’s love. Fatherly love helps children develop a sense of their place in the world, which helps their social, emotional and cognitive development and functioning. Moreover, children who receive more love from their fathers are less likely to struggle with behavioral or substance abuse problems.”
So be the father we know you can be. Be present, be tolerant, and be loving. Your children will benefit and you will too.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. They are available for workshops. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.