Fewer Working Fathers are Willing to Be Stay At Home Dads

Jason Ferrara, vice president of corporate marketing for CareerBuilder.com

Over the course of this current recession, we've witnessed large corporations tumble, small shops shutter and layoffs affect workers of all walks. You can safely assume that most people are concerned about financial security right now, and working fathers are no exception, a recent CareerBuilder survey finds.

Thirty-one percent of working dads would leave their jobs if their spouses or significant others earned enough money to comfortably support the entire family. Although that's a sizable percentage, it's a slight drop from last year's 37 percent and a significant drop from 2005's 49 percent. The CareerBuilder survey, "Working Dads 2009," included 797 men who are employed full-time and have children 18 years of age or younger living at home.

Although working dads are reluctant to walk away from their paychecks, they're willing to explore alternative solutions that offer more quality time with their families. For instance, given the chance to spend more time with their children, 30 percent of surveyed fathers would take a pay cut. Of those willing to take a pay cut, 40 percent would consider a reduction of 10 percent or more.

Balancing professional and personal

Achieving an appropriate work/life balance has always been challenging for working parents, but it's especially difficult in today's economy. And fathers are aware that too often their personal lives take a backseat to work responsibilities. Thirty-nine percent of surveyed dads spend two hours or less per workday with their children, and 14 percent spend an hour or less. As a result, they're missing out on some milestones. Half of working fathers admit to missing a significant event in their children's lives in the last year due to work; 28 percent missed more than three.

Even at home, when they're nowhere near their desk, fathers are forced to split their time between family and the office. Laptops and smartphones make it difficult for dads to escape the e-leash and leave work at the office. Thirty-one percent of fathers bring work home at least once a week, compared to only 25 percent last year.

Working dads, like so many employees in today's workforce, are facing heavier workloads and longer hours as businesses struggle to do more with less. If you're feeling pulled in opposing directions by your job and family, talk to your supervisor. Employers are more willing than ever to help employees strike a work/life balance that benefits both the individual and the company. Yet, nearly half of working fathers don't take advantage of the flexible work arrangement they have available to them.

Help your family and your career

Working dads can't shirk their professional duties or their personal responsibilities, so finding the right balance can seem impossible. Here are some tips to help you enjoy time with your family and still move your career forward.

1. Communicate
Don't reserve your open dialogues only for your boss. Make sure you're talking to your family about what's happening at work so that they understand why you might need to stay late this week or bring home work more than usual.

2. Keep a master family calendar
Have one calendar that lists every family member's schedule to prevent double-booking or missed events. When you're planning vacation time, consult the calendar so you can make sure you're taking time off when your family needs you.

3. Clock out for a few hours
Even though technology's made it easier to stay in touch with work 24 hours a day, you don't need to be. Put down the BlackBerry and step away from the e-mail until your children are asleep. The work will still be there in a few hours.

4. Make an appointment ... with your children
If you need to meet with your boss or a client, you have no trouble setting up a meeting and putting it on your calendar. Why not prioritize your family in the same way? Pick a time to take your children to the zoo or go for a bike ride -- then put it on your calendar. That way you've set up quality time that others have to schedule around.

5. Bring the family to work
If your work environment is family-friendly, take advantage of it and arrange a potluck or activity that allows employees to incorporate their families. Since most children are home during the summer months, your co-workers are probably just as eager to spend as much time with their families as possible.

Next: 10 Work-From-Home Jobs >>

Jason Ferrara is the vice president of corporate marketing for CareerBuilder.com and a father of two. He is an expert in the state of the job market, employment trends, hiring practices and workplace issues.

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