My father really didn’t experience work-life conflict similar to what many dads are feeling today.
As a business owner — he ran his own dental practice — he kept a regular and predictable schedule at work, made it for all the major school events and spent evenings and weekends with the family.
But for the most part, my parents fit the norms of the day with my mom being the primary caretaker and my dad being the sole breadwinner, and it wasn’t something they questioned.
Today the lives of dads have changed a lot from what the previous generations have experienced, and there’s a lot of questioning about the “norms” when it comes to raising a family.
It’s something I heard from a number of some of the top men and women in the work-life field we recently honored with the Work Life Legacy Award. And something I keep seeing it in the headlines and even stories I hear from friends don’t fit the old model from TV shows.
Younger dads are spending more time taking care of their kids during workdays. And FWI’s research shows that significantly more dads in dual-earner couples are experiencing work-life conflict than in the 70’s.
I’m not a parent myself, but with Father’s Day coming this Sunday (mark your calendars and remember to call your dads), I thought it might be interesting to ask my own dad about his experiences back in the day when he was a working father in the late 70’s and 80’s.
While work-life wasn’t on the radar screen yet, he had what many fathers would probably envy today.
And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my dad was more ahead of the curve than I expected as an involved parent and as an employer. A few months after I was born, he opened up his dental practice. My mom worked as his receptionist for the first 6 months and I was brought in to work with them every day. Happily bouncing around behind the front desk. And then the next receptionist they hired was also a new mom, and she was able to bring in her son to work each day.
When I asked him why it would matter at all to be able to participate in my and my sister’s lives while we were growing up, his response was much like his sense towards family norms, you just didn’t question it:
I grew up in a time and culture when families just stuck together. You had meals together, you spent time together, you played together. Everyone was connected with each other’s lives. That’s just the way it was.
For me, this reinforces the idea that parents today, dads and moms, need more support to be able to thrive in whatever their work and family situation is. In a world where one income is often not enough to sustain a family, and at a time when we are shifting the way we think about traditional gender roles, support from employers, family, our communities and other groups will make all the difference.
Happy Father’s Day Dad!