Modern society places more expectations on fathers to be more involved in the care of their children. At the same time, workplace expectations encourages them to work longer than 9 to 5. Consequently, European fathers are struggling more and more to come to terms with their work/home balance. How is that possible?
“We wanted to equally share the care for our baby”, remembers Vincent. The Dutch daddy planned to work four instead of five days a week, just like his wife intended to do, as soon as the couple were expecting. Therefore Vincent asked his boss for a reduction in working hours that would allow him to work one day less a week, which he would not be paid for and is a legal entitlement in the Netherlands. To his surprise, Vincent’s boss rejected the request.
This anecdote can be generalized: one in three would-be daddies in the Netherlands intend to work part-time, but after their child is born most of them end up doing exactly the opposite. Contrary to what you would expect, young fathers devote more time to their professional life than any other male age group (43 hours a week!). Furthermore only one in four make use of the unpaid paternity leave regulations they are entitled to. Now you might be inclined to think that these daddies don’t have any time left to spend with their children. The opposite is true: they even manage to take care of their offspring for 20 hours a week. So they work hard and care hard. Sounds like the perfect life.
More and more fathers struggle to come to terms with their work/home balance. Nowadays, at least 60 percent claim they experience this boss-baby conflict, whereas in 1977 this was only 35 percent. The solution for a more balanced life would lie in working less. Why doesn’t this happen?