The evolving view of fatherhood

Dec 17 2007 by Derek Torres Print This Article

Are working dads finally getting the break they need? If current policies at major American companies, such as Ernst & Young, KPMG, and Sun Microsystems are any indication, it looks like corporate American's view of fatherhood is evolving - much like society's view on it. Some convincing statistics from USA Today reinforce that view.

Before we talk stats, let's talk reality. The role that fathers play is increasingly different from the stereotyped male image that most of us in our 30s grew up with in the 70s and 80s. Perhaps molded by professional constraints of the time, today's flexibility for men in the workplace has allowed us to redefine ourselves, including the definition of success.

As USA Today points out, success isn't necessarily the big car, nice title, corner office and large salary, but also a solid, positive relationship with one's children and spouse. Nowadays, it's increasingly common for men to take time off for school functions or to leave early for sport practice, allowing a more equal balance in home versus work life.

Unfortunately, not every feels the same way. I'd guess that these dinosaurs were the ones who resisted equal rights for women and minorities until legal persuasion brought them around. There have been a number of legal challenges brought forth to bring paternal rights equal to maternal rights, but the courts haven't always ruled positively on the subject. However, the Family and Medical Leave Act is clear and provides options for new fathers.

Here are some stats from a survey reprinted in the article. The results speak for themselves:

  • Dads with a child under age 5 who took paternity leave when it was offered by their employers: 71%
  • Dads with school-age children who took paternity leave when offered by employers: 48%
  • Dads with toddlers whose employers provided paternity-leave benefits or flexible work schedules: 66%
  • Among working men, dads who took advantage of paternity leave when offered: 58%
  • Dads who adopted flexible work schedules when offered by employers: 71%
  • Dads who viewed companies positively for offering a flex-time benefit: 82%

So kudos to those companies who recognize that a happy dad is also one who is likely to give extra effort and productivity during time spent in the office.