Why Millennial Fathers Can't Have It All Either

working fathers

Ask any woman about the difficulties of working and mothering and you'll inevitably hear a story about the pressure to choose family. What's not discussed quite as often is the squeeze on millennial fathers to put careers first.

Certainly, decades of tradition has put "work" squarely in the "dad" column. But as has been widely reported, Millennial fathers have a different outlook than dads of the past. In a departure from previous generations, today's dad wants to be full partner in parenting, not just an occasional contributor in the "Father Knows Best" tradition. And so they're prioritizing family equally with careers.

What's also clear is they're finding the path as perilous as their working-mother counterparts. Responses to the 2016 Modern Family Index show a rocky road for new and expectant dads. Despite being wholly committed to careers post fatherhood:

  • More than a third of new dads felt judged by colleagues and supervisors after announcing fatherhood
  • 1 in 3 felt fatherhood limited the opportunities for advancement
  • 1 in 4 felt the announcement of a new baby caused colleagues to think less of them

Employers Need to Ask: Who's Minding the Store

This presents a dilemma for companies. Since Millennial men and women both plan to pursue careers, putting money on one partner staying home is a purely old-fashioned (and faulty) bet. But if women are no longer content to be the default caregiver and men want to step up to the crib...who's minding the store? The companies that stand to win are the ones that break out of old-fashioned ideals and embrace the fact that supporting family responsibilities helps employees and companies.

"To really move forward in this debate," wrote Bright Horizons Dan Henry on Huffington Post, "that's going to have to change. For women to truly be able to equitably pursue their ambitions, and for men to be able to support them, we're going to have give career women and their devoted-father counterparts the unequivocal stamp of approval that recognizes, "These activities are not hobbies they are parts of who I am."

Millennial fathers are talking with their feet

But it's more than a philosophical shift. Millennial fathers are actually talking with their feet, leaving unfriendly workplaces for greener pastures. More than 2/3 of them told our Modern Family Index that fatherhood will bring on a job change. And half of all new parents said they've actually taken a job for less money and more family friendliness. Those decampments have hard costs for the boss; one employer's gain is another employer's turnover and replacement cost.

That changes the equation entirely. The modern choice then isn't whether working mothers and fathers choose jobs or family, but rather what employers choose to do about how (or whether) to support them.

Read the full 2016 Modern Family Index report here.

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.