Working parents make up a large proportion of the workforce, but when was the last time you read a piece specifically about working fathers?
Balancing the demands of a high-pressured job with raising children; a challenge faced by so many mothers, fathers, guardians and grandparents over the decades. More recently, most people will be well aware with the terms ‘working mums’ or ‘working mothers’, two interchangeable terms which refer to the now common family arrangement of the mother in the family transitioning from the ‘traditional’ role of staying at home and looking after the children and domestic duties to having their own full-time job whilst still being largely responsible for those same duties too. It’s a difficult role to fill and one that women are expected to take on with minimal fuss (writing from a British perspective). There has been much more recognition in recent years around the pressures felt by women in this dual role and challenging the societal expectations from mothers who either choose or have no other option than to work. It definitely seems as though there is wider recognition and awareness of the needs of women in these roles and that employers, managers and colleagues need to be mindful of the pressures and responsibilities of these women outside of work. This is obviously a great step forward towards greater work life harmony for these employees, but what about for fathers within the family unit?
It’s been apparent to me that there is much less media coverage around ‘working dads’ or ‘working fathers’ in comparison to mothers. Some of the same pressures faced by working mums are also faced by dads, and in some households, the familial pressures may be even greater than for the mother. So why is there so little press on the fatherhood experience? There are probably a number of reasons why this disparity is the case, such as men being the main focus on all other aspects of life historically, social expectations that perceives mums to be the primary carers for children, men being less willing to express their emotions etc.
In the last couple of years, the term ‘working parents’ has been given more prominence and usage, primarily to be more inclusive to LGBTQ families which has been a very positive step towards reflecting modern families, but again this hasn’t necessarily given any louder voice to fathers to describe their experiences.
To this end, we decided in Vario to put together an honest chat between a few of the fathers within our team to gather their experiences of fatherhood. Ideally, we would have rather have held this chat in a more relaxed setting like a pub or living room, but as a group of colleagues who all know each other quite well, the conversation seemed quite natural.
We didn’t set out to be the final word on fatherhood but as a participant in this conversation, it was positive to both impart my experiences and also hear from other fathers describe theirs. There has always been a stigma around men sharing their thoughts and feelings and if this contributes towards a wider conversation from other working dads, then this has been a worthwhile endeavour.