Does the Modern Working Father Really Exist? Yes!

working father with child

A lot of blogs (including this one) like to talk about the working father as a changed man.

And you don’t need to look much further than this news about fathers and one company’s parental leave program to see how much. 

When the program was launched, about 1,200 people, half of them men, took it, wrote the Dallas Business Journal this month. “But the company told HR Dive the number and percentage of men taking the full leave has more than doubled.”

News like that tells us today’s dad is a far cry from the "Wait 'til your father gets home" model of yore; he's a fully engaged parent who's making career decisions based on family (versus the other way around) and whose work/life desires are shaking up the organizational world.

Is he for real? Today’s dads say...yes! If you ask a bunch (and I did) they'll tell you the modern dad is no mythical Yeti. What some real working dads had to say:

On pay versus job

I received an offer from a downtown startup tech company at the same time I received my offer for my current job. Even though the downtown job was within walking distance to our home, had a competitive salary and stock options, and in a "sexier" industry, I ultimately accepted the other offer because of the work/life balance. There would be many late nights and weekend work in the startup culture. I would miss my daughter growing up in her earliest years and that's just something you can't get back.

On what keeps him around

I would not be OK with a job that was all work at the expense of family. Maybe if I were still in my 20s or early 30s, or even before I had a daughter, but it will definitely influence my decisions in the mid-term.

On what he's willing to give up

I wouldn't sacrifice my family time and flexibility for any pay raise or career advancement. I love my job and what I get to do at work every day, but it needs to be able to co-exist with the people who are most important in my daily life. If my work did not allow me to be the kind of husband and father that I want to be, I would definitely have to consider restructuring my job or working arrangement.

On how much family-friendly really matters

When I was first looking at my current job, they offered me the opportunity to not only focus on my career but focus on my family as well. This provided me with the ideal work/life balance, which not only made me more motivated at my work place but helped me be a better parent. Now that my son attends a center, I am more in tune with what goes on during his day and it is really fun how my job coincides with his child care experience. How much does family-friendly matter? I would say 100%.

On how far he'd go

I moved my family of six almost 8,000 miles to find a job that allowed me to have the flexibility I needed to be the kind of Dad I want to be.

On the importance of flexibility

My core team and my company allow me the flexibility to head home at reasonable hours to spend time with my family, knowing that I can log back on to work later at night and get what's needs to be done, done.

On whether the stories are true

We read all the time about dads willing to make less in lieu of more family time and more work/life balance. That definitely rings true for me. I would choose family over more money 100% of the time. If making more money means having to work tons more hours and never seeing your wife and kid(s), then what's the point in that?

On work/life balance

Did my company's reputation for respecting life outside of work play a role in my decision to apply and pursue my current job? Absolutely. This job offered the promise of creating a new routine with my family, by the sheer fact that people were openly committed to making things 'work' in all facets of their lives. I'm off to have breakfast with my daughter now! speaking of ;)

A Final Note about Today's Working Father

Last but definitely not least....one dad warmed all of our hearts when he tallied the value of a job schedule that allowed for morning rides to child care with his then toddler daughter.

"Those early morning moments," he said, "were magic."

From all of us to all of you...Happy Father's Day!

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

June 14, 2019

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.