Father’s Day Survey: Dads Prefer Work To Kids

Jun 18, 2009
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

New age dads are embracing some old-school ideas about gender roles, according to a CareerBuilder survey out just in time for Father’s Day.

More than two-thirds of the working fathers with kids younger than 18 at home say they would prefer to work even if the family could afford to have them be Mr. Mom. If you prefer to see the bottle as half-full, here’s the other side: 31 percent of the dads surveyed by CareerBuilder say they would quit their jobs to stay home if they could.

Sounds almost progressive, yes? It would be if the percentages weren’t going down. In 2005, CareerBuilder found 49 percent of the dads willing to stay home. When the survey was repeated last year, the number had gone to 37 percent.

It’s possible economic uncertainty can be blamed for dads preferring to stay on the job instead of in the house. The survey doesn’t try to explain the decline, but it offers some hints. For instance, three-in-ten working fathers bring work home at least once a week, up from the 2008 survey when 25 percent reported doing that.

Perhaps a more telling stat is that 53 percent of dads say they spend less than two hours a day with the kids. That includes the 14 percent who say they spend an hour or less. No wonder, therefore, that half the surveyed dads admitted missing at least one significant event in their child’s life during the year because of work; 28 percent have missed more than three. Even Homer Simpson doesn’t do that.

“Many working dads have to contend with heavier workloads and longer hours as businesses struggle to do more with less,” says Jason Ferrara, senior career adviser at CareerBuilder and father of two. “It’s important to have a conversation with your supervisor. Employers are placing more emphasis on work/life balance through creative benefits that encourage employees to better manage their personal and professional commitments. However, nearly half of working dads do not take advantage of any flexible work arrangements offered to them.”

There is a bright spot in the survey. Though the number of dads willing to take a pay cut to spend more time with the family has dropped by 20 percent in a year, 30 percent of the surveyed fathers say they’d take a cut; 40 percent of them would accept a 10 percent cut.

CareerBuilder surveyed only working men. But what happens to the gender roles when dad is suddenly unemployed? The New York Times said this back in February:

“When women are unemployed and looking for a job, the time they spend daily taking care of children nearly doubles. Unemployed men’s child care duties, by contrast, are virtually identical to those of their working counterparts, and they instead spend more time sleeping, watching TV, and looking for a job, along with other domestic activities.”

Feeling guilty? Need some help? There are plenty of resources to help dads with that work/life thing. You could start here.

Meanwhile, what are the takeaways from the CareerBuilder survey?

Ties and dress shirts may be more welcome this Father’s Day than in the past. And moms can still be counted on when dad is wherever.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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