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Is American Culture Encouraging Men To Put Work Before Family?


Do you think American culture encourages men to put their career ahead of their family?

There are more and more examples that make me really think this is true. Earlier today I was reading a few articles about work life balance over at Yahoo! hotjobs and noticed something interesting.

Work Life Balance at Yahoo HotJobs

In the screen shot above from the Yahoo! hotjobs site, I highlighted a few terms that I found interesting. Three of the seven featured articles are intended for working moms.

One of the articles mentions the following,

Working mother may be a redundant term because all moms work hard, whether it’s in the home or out. But mothers with jobs face unique challenges every day. Thankfully, there are many employers who offer a supportive environment to help these women shine, personally and professionally.

This made me think about the term working father.

Have you ever heard of a man with children and a career/job referred to as a working father? I cannot recall a time that I have ever heard this term used.

Why is that?

I believe the reason that men aren’t referred to as working fathers is because American culture believes that a man is expected to work. That isn’t to say that there aren’t expectations for the mother as well but often times the father continues to work while the mother may stay home with the children for a period of time before returning to the work-force. Obviously there are exceptions to this but I think this is the expectation of the American culture.

Think about a scenario when two men meet for the first time.

Often times one of the first questions asked is, “What do you do?”. The status of the man is immediately equated with his profession. It is not uncommon to see a man’s status questioned if they aren’t working at least 50-60 hours per week or if they focus on their family more than their career.

When I read the article about five hot jobs for working mothers, I thought I would do a quick search to see if I could find a similar article about five hot jobs for working fathers.

A quick Google search didn’t provide very encouraging results. As a matter of fact, it was rather alarming to see that four of the top ten results referred to an article about a sex offender. While the other search results were at least related to jobs, none of them seem to deliver a list of hot jobs for working fathers.

You might remember in my very first post here about the quest for dad balance that I mentioned how my local library had numerous books written for the working mother looking to find work life balance yet there was nothing for the working father.

Are men not interested in both their family and their career? I don’t believe that to be true for one second.

What do you think?

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    On October 30th, 2007 at 7:49 pm, Kelvin Kao said:

    Not a surprise that our society expects men to work… but that sex offender bit is kind of random.

    On October 30th, 2007 at 9:57 pm, lornadoone said:

    Your article made me think about the fact that while men are generally just expected to go to work, women really face sort of a double-edged sword on that one. If she does have a job, then one segment of society is going to look down on a mother for being away from her children. If she stays home to raise her kids, another segment will deride her for “just” a being stay-at-home mom.

    Of course, a guy who has kids and doesn’t go to work is generally just considered a deadbeat in the current atmosphere. We still seem to expect dads to be pretty hands-off in the raising of our country’s children, and it’s mind-boggling to me.

    On October 30th, 2007 at 11:21 pm, Damien said:

    I’m not sure if I could handle being a stay-at-home dad. The crying, the diapers, and that’s just what I deal with at work!

    On October 31st, 2007 at 9:45 am, Derek Semmler said:

    @Kelvin :: It is more than just being expected to work from what I see. It is the expectation that work should be a man’s first priority and I see this enforced in a variety of ways.

    @Lorna :: You’ve made a great point about the views of women that decide to stay home or go back to work. There is no easy answer for anyone - the important thing to remember is to do whatever makes you happy and ignore the perceptions of society.

    @Damien :: It isn’t even so much being a stay-at-home-dad but just trying to be involved with your kids and family gets a negative perception in many workplaces. But you’re right, being a stay at home parent is a TON of work and anyone that thinks it is easy needs to try it first.

    On November 1st, 2007 at 6:25 pm, toddlerdaddy said:

    I am in a weird situation in that I wouldn’t mind being a stay at home dad, and overall we would probably be better off financially - as my wifes earning potential is the same as mine but with more room for advancement.

    But the reality is that we came to the conclusion that after a couple of years my ability to get back into the workforce would be greatly deminished when compared to hers because it is accepted for her to take the time off (she can take up to two years leave and then return part time if she wants) whereas for me there are no similar options meaning I would have to quit my job - and thus making it extremely hard to return to a similar job later.

    On November 1st, 2007 at 10:14 pm, Derek Semmler said:

    @toddlerdaddy :: It worked well for us because my wife’s earning potential was less than mine so we didn’t have to sacrifice much financially for her to be home with the kids. But I would have loved to have been there for all of the little things that I did miss, although there were also a lot of fussy tantrums that I missed as well. :)

    I’ve got a few friends in your position where the wife can or does make more money yet the husband keeps working because his only other option is to quit entirely.

    Mentions on other sites...

    1. The #1 Obstacle To Work Life Balance For Dads | Dad Balance on November 8th, 2007 at 3:07 pm

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