Global Dads Struggle to Balance Career and Family

Dads want to be more involved in their kids’ lives – but getting time away from work isn’t easy.

For years, the conversation around “wanting it all” – the desire to balance and work and family – has centered around mothers. But today, as gender roles expand to allow both parents a broader set of options, it’s common for moms and dads alike to experience a conflict between career and home.  

Viacom Global Insights’ latest project, Modern Dads: Fatherhood in a Changing World, surveyed over 8,000 men in 22 countries and interviewed dads in 8 markets*. The study found that as attitudes about gender have loosened up, fatherhood has taken on new meaning.

Here are key findings on modern dads’ conflict between time at home and time on the job:

When they’re with their kids, dads are truly happy. For virtually all dads (91%), having their kids around makes them laugh every day. Playing with their kids is the #1 activity that improves their mood. And for 8 in 10, their lives would not be fully complete without their children.

They see their main job as a parent is to be a source of fun. Dads rank play as their primary role as a parent (84%), followed by watching TV (81%). After that, they note their economic responsibilities: buying essentials (78%) and financial support (74%).

But it’s not all fun and games: dads are essential to children’s evening routines. When they come home at the end of the day, most dads aren’t looking to unwind alone. More than 60% participate in kid’ nighttime rituals: bath time (62%), dinner (65%), story time (67%) and bedtime (72%).

When moms work full-time, dads do more in the morning. Compared with households in which moms stay home or work part-time, dads with full-time working partners do more in the morning, contributing 10% more to getting children up and ready in the morning and 16% more in transporting their kids to school or child care.

Dads are redefining their priorities to spend more time with their children. Whether providing sole or joint financial support, they are feeling the strain of this responsibility. Some are cutting down on hours or telecommuting more to carve out time with their kids. Balancing work and family is an issue that affects both parents – and 45% of dads feel frustrated about not being able to see their kids as much as they’d like. Those who are unable to achieve a satisfying level of family time say they feel resentful about their demanding work schedules.

* 22 countries surveyed: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, UK, US

** 8 markets for qualitative research: UK, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, Sweden, Colombia, Thailand