The lamentation of gender roles and their longtime rigidity have become so predictably and so often associated with women that the concepts are nearly synonymous.
Working mothers who want to climb the corporate ladder, yet be hailed as Mother of the Year. Or maybe stay-at-home moms who at once love their children, but feel a twinge of regret at sacrificing a successful career.
Despite those long-held stereotypes, it’s not all about Mom and whether she can or can’t have it all. At least not according to a recent Bloomberg Businessweek cover story that concludes dads crave that elusive work-life balance as much—or more—as moms do.
The cover headline, “Lean Out: Working Dads Want Family Time, Too,” is a riff on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s exhortation for women to “lean in”—or prioritize career ambitions without being held back by the worry of how they’ll manage work and family.
For so long, the extent of a father’s role has largely been viewed as being a provider. You don’t often (or maybe ever?) hear the term “working father,” but “working mother” is freely used. There’s even a magazine of the same name.
Speaking of magazines, if you flip through any parenting title, the content is geared mostly to moms—working or not.
And according to a number of commercials—from diapers to detergent—fathers, bless their hearts, are portrayed as bumbling—at best—through the domestic duties moms pull off with ease.
Finally, it seems, dads have had enough. These “Alpha Dads,” as the Bloomberg Businessweek article describes them, are just as serious about their next promotion as they are about showing up for their kids’ soccer games.
But thanks to those archaic gender roles, men face their own set of challenges if they try to scale back their time at the office in favor of being a more present parent.
Working dads who want to work less to gain more family time are concerned with how they’ll be viewed by their peers and superiors and whether that will hold them back career-wise. They also struggle with something of an identity crisis because they are providing less—in terms of time with their jobs or money earned.
It’s long been a common regret among men—to have spent more time with the family than at the office—but this newer generation of dads is being more vocal about doing something about it.