Fatherhood starts off tough.
Dad? Pops? Daddy? Papa?
One of the first acts of fatherhood is deciding what will your little one calls you. Then, like advancing in a game, it gets increasingly harder… only this game has no reset button or extra lives. You could even say that dads who want to balance work and family have reached the game’s “final boss.”
Fatherhood comes with its own unique stress, anxiety, and joy. Finding a way to balance everything without losing yourself can be difficult — even for all those guys with “World’s Best Dad” mugs out there.
What’s your favorite ice cream? Now imagine you have a gallon of it. Now imagine you get to eat it all tonight. And another gallon tomorrow night. And the next night. And the next night, for weeks and months on end. Every night. Too much of something, even a good thing, can be too much and cause problems.
The same can be said if you don’t eat a balanced diet. Even if you eat all fruit all the time, you can suffer nutrient deficiencies and diseases if you aren’t including all the other things your body needs to operate well.
It’s incredibly important to keep your life in harmony. Like with food, your life will either thrive or shrivel depending on what you feed it. Here are some tips for dads who want to balance work and family life.
What is so important about fathers helping with their children?
Fathers and mothers have an equally significant impact on the development of their children. When a father has an intentional and quality long-term, consistent, and loving engagement with his children from birth through adulthood, the children are much more likely to meet those crucial developmental milestones. The children are also more likely to present with healthier social and emotional development across their lifespan. This is true across all walks of life. Good dads are necessary for that parenting role no matter your economic status, relationship status to the other parent, sexual affection status, and cultural background.
What issues make balancing work and being a dad difficult for fathers?
Balancing our professional lives and our home lives can be challenging. Historically, fathers have had a number of issues that they have had to address in order to sort through how much time and energy go to work versus home and family. The most common challenges include:
- Living away from their kids
Ex: The traditional family unit is a rarity now. It is more likely that both parents do not live together resulting in the necessity for effective co-parenting communication. Parents may live apart for any number of life events, like employment needs, re-marriage, military duty, or elder parent care.
b. Opposing shift schedules
Ex: Fathers may work long days resulting in mothers having more childcare tasks than fathers. But, since the 1990’s other national events like lower birth rates and better pay for women, have resulted in parents not needing to stick with traditional gender roles for different reasons. Sometimes the other parent’s earnings increased, or Dad’s job requirements changed, which result in a change in duties.
c. Not having employer support for PTO
Ex: Recent studies have identified that technology jobs and corporate positions have access to extended family leave following the birth of child for both parents, whereas the blue-collar field is lagging behind on including extended leave for fathers.
d. access to children when the parental relationship has ended
Ex: When parents divorce or end their relationship, the parent that moves out has historically been Dad. This means he now has less time with his children just because he does not live where his children live, which is when it is even more valuable for him to remain engaged with his children.
So, each Dad needs to address how to balance work and family life based on his unique and current situation.
What is a “Good Dad”?
Psychological research on the impact of fatherhood over the past 50+ years has shown that when fathers engage with their children then their children show more individual confidence. This results in good social, emotional, and cognitive development, as well as less struggle with behavioral issues and substance abuse problems.
The characteristics of a “good dad” include:
- Dependability – being consistently available and present for their children in good and bad times.
- Involvement – being engaged, curious, attentive, and focused on their children’s interests, dreams, and daily life.
- Compassion – being emotionally close so when your child has concerns you are a safe place for them to come to.
- Values His Mother – working with, standing together, and modeling a unified front as this says, “we are there for you.”
- Empathy – offering respect and validation by listening and caring even when the parent inside of you disagrees because just listening with care first is a must.
- Verbally Expressive – your ability to be consistent, clear, and caring, yet firm and not controlling when you do talk will show them says they matter to you and in the world.
- Being Human – growing with them, acknowledging your own errors, and being vulnerable says you do not expect them to be perfect and you will love them even when they make mistakes.
- Honesty – being the model of trustworthiness and living what you teach is what builds integrity.
- Playfulness – relaxing sometimes and being in your child’s imaginative play is a bonding experience they will hold for a lifetime.
- Being Industrious – deciding on daily how you can balance work responsibilities and personal life goals are both productivities in action.
Of course, you’re probably thinking this is all easier said than done. But it’s highly doable. The key is baby steps. A house isn’t built all at once. (7 Things You Can Suggest to Dads to Connect with Their Kids)
What should a dad do if he thinks the relationship with his child is not okay?
Guidance comes in many forms. Professional help from a trained family therapist is one option. We also have other avenues, like the mentorship of a respected friend or guidance by a family elder. A respected friend whom you view as having that relationship with his children that you want to have may be able to be just that encouragement you need to talk with and figure out new ways to interact. Or a grandfather, uncle, or older male relative may be able to relate to you because they have a similar set of beliefs to you.
It is important to take note that nurturing includes discipline. However, discipline is not punitive, rigid, and controlling. “Good Dads” care from their hearts, not through anger and demands. This builds insecurity, bullying, and low esteem. If someone has mentioned you raise your child with a heavy hand, it is time to request professional assistance for the health and happiness of you and your children.
What else should you know about dads who want to balance work and family life?
Watch this video of family and marriage therapist Susan Harrington, founder of Maison Vie New Orleans, discuss tips on how to become the best dad you can be. You can also contact us to see how we can help guide you and your family through counseling sessions.