I don't know if, as a society, we'll ever get past this archaic idea that there is a "right way" and a "wrong way" for parents to work or stay at home. In a two-parent household where at least one parent is a man, that man is often expected to work. As a result, working moms are often asked how they balance work and parenting, but working dads generally aren't questioned. Always the equalizer, I scrounged Reddit to see how dads really feel about being working parents.
Reddit user valjean260 shared a BuzzFeed post by Charlie Capen, questioning why no one asks him, as a father with a career, how he balances work and family. By sharing, valjean260 seemed to agree with the premise of Capen's article: that "Men aren't judged in the same way if we decide to work full-time outside the home. We aren't bludgeoned by criticism for taking a job or going on a business trip. But the fact remains that we do have self-critical thoughts similar to those of our female counterparts."
In another Reddit thread, musiclovah1981 asks for advice on how to get a break. He works all day and takes care of the kids immediately upon getting home. When he does chores on the weekends his children have meltdowns. He wants to spend time with his kids, but he feels close to meltdown himself.
Finally, there's my partner. He's a dad who has primarily stayed at home since we became parents almost eight years ago. When I lost my job unexpectedly last year, he began to wade back into the workforce. Not surprisingly, he was besieged with anxiety about what type of qualifications he would have after so long away from the work force, not to mention having to develop a whole new set of coping skills in balancing work and family life.
Do other dads resonate with these struggles? These dads of Reddit reveal how they really feel about working, and further prove that social expectations of parents based on gender are for the birds.
When He's Just Sick Of It
This dad resonates with musiclovah1981's need for a break. Sometimes, he's just sick of all the hats he has to wear.
When Parents Take "Me-Time" Turns
No matter if you're working outside or inside of the home, chances are you and your partner need breaks.
When There Is Never Enough Time
The insurmountable barrier of never having enough time seems universal when you're a working dad. If you're at work you're missing your kid's back to school night. But if you go to the back to school night, you have to work late the next two nights to make up for it. Seems like, for working dads, it's a lose-lose.
When He Just Needs Empathy
Connecting with other working dads who say, "I don't have the answer, but I feel you," is important for continued emotional health.
When He Prioritizes Relationship
It's not easy, but prioritizing his relationship with his child seems worth it to this working dad.
When There's No Family Time
Whenever one or more parents work, there's a risk of just switching off alone time with the other partner instead of figuring out a way to make "together time" intentional.
When He Accepts It
Remembering why he made the choice to work can be helpful to remember when the working dad is feeling left out.