In June 2016, the Boston College Center for Work & Family (BCCWF) completed a study to look at the struggles of millennial fathers in the twenty-first century. I admit that many of their findings struck a chord, and I imagine other millennial fathers will have a similar response. As is the case for nearly all parents today (e.g. mothers and fathers, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, etc.), achieving a work-life balance is increasingly difficult. For millennial fathers, this is no different. BCCWF listed their primary challenges as:
• The persistence of traditional gender expectations and norms
• Their approach to career decision making
• Their sensitivity to corporate cultural norms
• Their belief in the ability to “have it all”
Few employers seem to have recognized that times have changed and men, in general, do not fully put their interests in their career. Instead, millennial fathers have been known to make decisions that will first benefit their family and children before their employer. This way of thinking has given many millennials the diagnosis of being lazy, entitled, self-centered, or disloyal. When in reality, many fathers simply want to be better role models for their children than their fathers were allowed to be under the social constraints of a backwards culture. Nowadays, 61% of millennial fathers were somewhat likely to very likely willing to leave an employer if the work disrupted time with family! And 74% of dads want to spend more time with their children!
Only 60% of Dads find it easy to combine work and personal life/family.
There are 3 paradigms of the millennial dad: traditional, egalitarian, and conflicted. TRADITIONAL dads believe the spouse should do more caregiving for the family and she does. EGALITARIAN dads believe caregiving should be a 50/50 proposition and it is. And CONFLICTED dads believe that the caregiving should be 50/50 but the spouse still completes the majority of the work. You can likely guess how these three different types of scenarios play out, but I want to hit you with a truth hammar on a couple of points shown in the research.
- Egalitarian dads have more job satisfaction and commitment to their employers.
- Egalitarian dads feel more connected to the people with whom they work.
- Over 65% of Egalitarian dads find it easy to balance work & personal life.
- Almost 90% of Egalitarian dads are satisfied with their lives.
Overall, the mood has been changing for dads about what they think about family and its impact on work. Millennial dads feel trapped many times between the expectations of our gender and our career, and our desires to be a worthwhile father. For many millennial men, they are stuck asking, “What makes a good father?” Is it about bringing home the bacon or being physically and emotionally available to the child? Is it possible to balance both of these in a modern society?
I would love to hear your thoughts!
Joshua Robertson is the Goblin King, a proud millennial father of nine children. A graduate of Norwich High School, Robertson attended Wichita State University where he received his Masters in Social Work with minors in Psychology and Sociology.His bestselling novel, Melkorka, the first in The Kaelandur Series, was released in 2015. Known most for his Thrice Nine Legends Saga, Robertson enjoys and ever-expanding and extremely loyal following of readers. He counts R.A. Salvatore and J.R.R. Tolkien among his literary influences.