Fathers’ Views on Family & Work After COVID-19 Lockdowns

Key takeaways for caregivers

  • Fathers typically want to be present for their children and contribute to family duties, however they’ll lack alternatives and confidence; they could see themselves as “helpers” as a substitute of oldsters.
  • Australian fathers in our small examine reported that they spent extra time with their youngsters in the course of the COVID-19 lockdowns, they usually noticed the ensuing advantages for themselves and their youngsters.
  • Regardless of parental leave policies and alternatives for extra versatile working preparations, fathers nonetheless expertise an unstated stigma within the office about taking depart or leaving work early to spend time with their youngsters. In some workplaces, this modified following pandemic lockdowns.

How have been fathers affected by modifications in parenting throughout COVID-19 lockdowns?

The COVID-19 pandemic and its related lockdown orders induced an abrupt and sophisticated disruption to traditional patterns of labor and residential life for a lot of households. For instance, in a U.K. study, in the beginning of the pandemic, mother and father of youngsters youthful than 12 spent almost 50 extra hours per week caring for his or her youngsters than they did earlier than the pandemic. Though most of this extra youngster care was offered by moms, fathers additionally elevated their involvement in child care and household tasks, at the least on the beginning of the pandemic.

We explored fathers’ experiences of lockdown and the influence of this elevated time with their youngsters on males’s views of their relationship with their youngsters and their family-work life steadiness.

We interviewed 15 Australian fathers, aged between 33 and 59, who have been half of a bigger examine investigating fathers’ involvement in parenting younger youngsters in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most parenting analysis captures solely moms’ experiences, and in the course of the pandemic, most research targeted on the variety of hours mother and father spent on totally different household and child care activities.

In distinction, our examine checked out how fathers felt about their parenting and work-family life steadiness. Our goal was to establish whether or not lockdown experiences served as a catalyst for some fathers to suppose otherwise about their future parenting and the way they wished to spend their time.

Exploring fathers’ views on parenting previous to and in the beginning of the pandemic

The Australian fathers we talked to have been all married to girls and lived with their youngsters (ages 4 months to 10 years). Most fathers have been employed full time and labored from residence in the course of the pandemic. We interviewed them about 4 major subjects:

  1. The sorts of actions they did with their youngsters earlier than versus throughout COVID-19 lockdowns
  2. Their reflections about their youngsters and themselves as mother and father
  3. The influence of COVID-19 on sharing family duties
  4. Their attitudes towards versatile working preparations
a father plays with child

Photograph by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Discovering 1: Fathers valued “being current” with their youngsters

We analyzed recordings of our interviews with fathers to establish commonalities within the responses. The three major themes we recognized mirrored the significance of being current as a father:

  1. Fathers reported an ongoing want to be current for his or her youngsters.
  2. Regardless of the stressors of lockdowns, fathers valued the chance to spend extra time with their youngsters and to witness how they developed new abilities, pursuits, and character traits.
  3. Fathers reported feeling conflicting pressures from their office and at residence that have been obstacles to being current.

Fathers stated one of many extra basic studying experiences of the lockdown was that they observed the extent to which their engagement with their youngsters affected their relationship positively. Research have proven the importance of fathers taking an active role of their youngsters’s growth, with fathers experiencing a way of loss from lacking essential milestones and having a perceived lack of closeness with their children. The rise in shared experiences in the course of the pandemic might have a long-term constructive influence on fathers and their youngsters.

Discovering 2: The pandemic led to some modifications in fathers’ roles and experiences

We adopted up with 10 fathers one yr after the preliminary interviews to look at the influence of their experiences. Though many {couples} in the UK with younger youngsters returned to the traditional gender divide in youngster care and family duties inside six months, our follow-up survey revealed that 9 of the ten Australian fathers had modified their working patterns.

After their experiences of parenting throughout lockdowns, many of those fathers made modifications in order that they may very well be extra actively concerned of their youngsters’s care, similar to doing extra college pickups and dropoffs.

Constructive modifications within the office

A number of fathers stated they perceived constructive modifications within the attitudes and behaviors of their office managers and colleagues. Following the lockdowns, these fathers’ office tradition shifted, with versatile hours much less frowned upon and, as one father famous, “no stigma anymore.” Nonetheless, different fathers nonetheless felt an unstated stigma within the office about taking depart or leaving work early to spend time with their youngsters.

After their experiences of parenting throughout lockdowns, many of those fathers made modifications in order that they may very well be extra actively concerned of their youngsters’s care, similar to doing extra college pickups and dropoffs.

Discovering 3: Fathers’ descriptions continued to mirror perceived roles as “assistants” within the residence

father helping out at home

Photograph by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

When requested about division of family chores in the course of the lockdowns, most fathers in our examine used phrases similar to “chipping in” or “serving to out” their companions. These phrases have been evident even amongst fathers who had sought an equal break up in family duties earlier than the pandemic started. This concept of the daddy as a helper or assistant within the residence might mirror a cultural norm versus an unwillingness to interact in family chores.

A scarcity of self-worth in fathers

Fathers in our examine recognized a insecurity in themselves and different fathers of their social circle of their means to dad or mum. This may very well be on account of an absence of alternative to spend time with their youngsters from infancy, and to a hesitancy to hunt out versatile working preparations, which might construct fathers’ abilities and self-confidence in youngster care and family actions. As a result of fathers’ roles are typically much less scripted than moms’, they’re often extra vulnerable to contextual influences.

Fathers in our examine recognized a insecurity in themselves and different fathers of their social circle of their means to dad or mum.

Conclusions

Regardless of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequent lockdowns, the Australian fathers we interviewed valued the chance to spend extra time with their youngsters. These fathers, most of whom have been in steady relationships and full-time employment, stated their want to be energetic and current for his or her youngsters was obstructed by office attitudes, the notion of themselves as “aiding” or “serving to” with family chores, and conflicting calls for at work and at residence.

COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns served as catalysts for a lot of fathers

Our findings counsel that the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and imposed lockdowns offered the chance for some fathers to regulate their roles and duties at residence, and to see the influence of those modifications. Past research has come to comparable conclusions when fathers lose their employment or are in any other case unable to interact in paid work.

However the widespread, sudden, synchronized disruption of faculties and companies in the course of the lockdowns might have made this expertise a novel catalyst for change. Most of the obstacles fathers talked about, similar to lack of versatile work preparations, have been eliminated. Fathers might pursue alternatives to be extra concerned in parenting, one thing that many stated they wished earlier than the pandemic however have been unable to pursue.

a father eating breakfast with children

Photograph by Elina Fairytale from Pexels

How can we higher steadiness parenting and work for fathers?

  • Fathers ought to search out workplaces with a tradition that supports parental leave and versatile working situations. These enable fathers to be extra concerned of their youngsters’s lives and may strengthen their confidence in parenting.
  • Households and employers ought to keep in mind that the advantages of fathers taking parental depart and versatile work preparations prolong to the entire household. Fathers and their youngsters achieve useful time collectively, whereas parenting companions additionally profit from sharing duties and duties.
  • Households can mirror on the modifications they skilled in the course of the lockdown and establish methods to recreate a few of the advantages, whilst the worldwide pandemic has subsided and lockdowns are now not taking place.

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