We throw around the term “working mom” all the time in reference to a woman who is balancing both a career and parental responsibilities, but we don’t we ever refer to a man as a “working dad”. Personally, I think the discrepancy originated from the traditional nuclear family dynamic, where dad went to work while mom stayed at home. Working moms were an anomaly and thus the term “working mom” arose to describe these outliers.
Last month, I talked about the unique challenges faced by women, but men face challenges in balancing careers and family.
Men can find it hard to learn how to bond with their kids so they have an independent relationship with the child and, depending on how many hours they are working, this might be quite a challenge.
Corey, a business colleague and new dad to a 12-week-old baby, said “There’s some moments to be had already and she tugs on my heart strings as soon as I get home. It makes you want to spend as much time with them as possible.”
Men, like women, may also feel guilty for not having enough time. Even in this day and age, men still feel like it’s their job to provide. Better options for parental leave has made it easier for dads–like Brandon–who was able to take a month off work to be there with his wife for the first few weeks after his daughter was born.
While this is great if you have access to parental benefits, it can be a bit harder for men like Corey, who co-owns a landscaping company. “Stuff needs to keep running regardless of what I am doing,” he said when asked about being able to take time away when his daughter was born.
Some dads feel that if their partner is at home then they need to pick up the slack, and this results in a lot of pressure. I think both people need to share their thoughts and concerns around what is working and what isn’t–it is easy to get caught in the doing and never discuss a family plan.
I think it is safe to say most new parents suffer from a lack of sleep while adjusting to a new reality at the same time. Social media and popular culture tells us we should be able to effortlessly bound through these changes but that isn’t realistic in the slightest. A more realistic approach is to embrace any help you can get and don’t beat yourself up for feeling, and being, tired.
There will also likely be a need to develop a relationship with their partner as a parent, which can be quite different from your relationship as partners. Men can sometimes feel displaced, especially during the early months when babies need a lot of undivided attention.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to make the time to take the time. Take the time to connect, reconnect, reassess and decompress. Most importantly, take time to care for yourself.
The working mom/working dad terminology is kinda BS as far as I am concerned. Any working parent is going to face some or all of these challenges at some point. My advice is to take care of yourself first and then do the best you can for your family. If you’re feeling some discomfort or stress about how things are going, chances are it is time to reassess what’s working and what isn’t and get real about making some changes!