Christmas Father is becoming a myth

Dec 22 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

While Santa's job might take him to every home, new research shows that pressures of work mean that many fathers are absent at Christmas.

While the December holiday season is characterised as a time for family, current work pressures and patterns are forcing an entirely different day-to-day reality in many households as fathers are unable to disengage from their jobs.

Research by The Work Foundation has found that well over a third of men (37 per cent) do unscheduled work over the Christmas period.

A quarter of those surveyed admitted that work caused them to neglect their children in some way Ė more than one in five missed their child's Christmas play in 2002, for example.

But it is not just children who lose out Ė more than a fifth of fathers also fail to buy presents for their families due to work time commitments.

Christmas certainly focuses attention, but the truth is that men's personal lives are increasingly sacrificed to their work. Four-fifths work at weekends (most at least once or twice a month) and when they do it tends to be for at least four hours at a time.

Three quarters of men with children under five felt that they are more likely to feel guilty about neglecting their domestic duties than their fathers did.

"This research debunks the myth that men are happy to be distant dads,Ē said The Work Foundationís Stephen Bevan. ďAttitudes are changing and many men want to get more involved with their families."

"But working practices have not caught up and UK plc's long hours culture means many men struggle to achieve a good work-life balance. If dads do manage to attend key events over the Christmas period, our concern is that they may need to make up the time at weekends - or pay career penalties."