The conversation for women managing life and work is still more prevalent than men in today’s society but men’s concerns about their lack of balance are increasing.
The research backs this up The National Study of the Changing Workforce found that between 1977 and 2008, the percentage of mothers in dual-earner couples who reported work-family conflict grew from 41% to 47%, while the percentage of fathers reporting it grew from 25% to 60%.
The biggest challenge for both men and women in juggling daily demands is feeling torn between responsibilities at work and at home.
Frequently we hear about women who are asked about family in job and media interviews, when men are rarely being asked. Whilst this is frustrating, it’s interesting to step back and understand why this bias still exists and how men can help shift it.
My husband is a leader who strives to blend work and life. Growing up his dad, an extremely successful building entrepreneur, worked long hours and my husband felt like he missed out on valuable time with him. As a result, he made a vow that if he had children, he would prioritise them and make time for them no matter what. In every position he has held since our children were born he has given himself permission to craft maximum flexibility. And he has. He very much adopts the work-life blend, not balance philosophy and finds himself leading a successful team at work and being a hands-on, fun and treasured dad (and husband!) at home.
How can men create more balance?
Understanding archetypes can help us. An archetype is simply an ideal. The mother archetype is nurturing and caring (focus on care), whilst the father archetype is supporting and providing (focus on money). Somewhere in your subconscious mind there is an ideal mother and father figure. Regardless of your gender, you may embody more mother archetype, more father archetype or you may have a mix of both.
To blend work and life you need a mix of both. However, in the past men have not been encouraged to embrace their mother archetype and women have not been encouraged to embrace their father archetype. This creates the conflict we see today, where many women struggle with commanding the money they deserve for their work and many men struggle with commanding time off to care for their families.
As more men create permission within themselves to prioritise care for their families, problem solving how to create the balance they seek will follow. Men will increase their enjoyment of work and family life and we will begin to see the gender bias shift.