Our 2016 report on "The New Dad" reviewed survey responses from Millennial fathers and contrasted these with Millennial mothers as well as fathers who had participated in our 2011 survey. The report further explores the trend of involved fatherhood and the challenges experienced by today's dads as they strive to manage and be fully engaged in both their work and personal lives. Read the full report and view the presentation on the BCCWF website.
The New Millennial Dad: Understanding the Paradox of Today’s Fathers, represents the seventh report on the changing role of fathers by the Center, and focuses on the youngest group of fathers in the workplace. In this research, we set out to explore the attitudes of “Millennial dads” to see how these young men view parenting, careers, and work-family balance. The Center found that despite stereotypes and attempts at characterizing this group in a singular way, Millennial dads do not all fit one mold. BCCWF researchers have identified three distinct categories of today’s young fathers: Traditional dads, Egalitarian dads, and Conflicted dads.
Highlights from The New Millennial Dad: Understanding the Paradox of Today’s Fathers include:
When Millennial men become fathers, there are a few clear trends. Millennial fathers’ satisfaction with their jobs and their lives is significantly greater than that of their childless counterparts. Dads express a markedly higher sense of success and satisfaction at work. They feel very committed to and invested in their jobs and feel a high level of ownership for the problems of the organization they work for. They express a significant preference to stay with their current employer. The only “negative” characteristic from the employer’s perspective is that fathers are more tempered in their ambition and less willing to pursue success at a significant personal / family cost than their single counterparts.
Millennials dads experience similar levels of work-family conflict to Millennial moms. While work-family balance is the most important criteria considered in employer selection for Millennial mothers, it is fathers’ third most important criteria with three-quarters of Millennial dads rating is as very / extremely important. When it comes to reasons why a Millennial parent would consider leaving his or her employer, making more money is the top criteria for both moms and dads, while greater work-life balance and time with family are among the top five reasons given by both genders for considering a change.
While the differences seems to be lessening over time, Millennial dads continue to have a stronger focus on career advancement and seem to be more sensitive to and impacted by the expectations of “the ideal worker” compared to their female counterparts. Millennial dads perceive that their workplace cultures encourage thinking that includes the ideas that work should be primary, that the ideal employee is available 24/7, and that good employees work long hours.
It is clear that most men do face conflict in trying to rectify their desire to be engaged fathers while continuing their desire to “climb the corporate ladder” – advancing in the organization, seeking jobs with greater responsibility, and pursuing a career in senior management. This results in the dilemma that women have faced for many years -can one really “have it all?“
Not all fathers face the same level of conflict or stress when it comes to the career-life challenges they face. Traditional fathers (those who think their wives should do more caregiving and they actually do) and egalitarian fathers (those who think caregiving should be divided equally and indeed do this) show markedly higher levels of life satisfaction than conflicted fathers who are caught in a state of dissonance. These fathers feel they should be doing more to share care giving but admit to not doing so. Conflicted dads report significantly lower satisfaction with their careers and their lives outside of work. Egalitarian fathers have the highest quality of life overall, including for the most part, their lives at work.
This study echoes many of the findings of our past research on fathers, once again making the point that Millennials are not so different from the previous generation of fathers in terms of what they value at home or in the workplace. While traditional gender roles and values continue to exist in significant numbers, it is clear that for the majority of Millennial dads, there has been significant movement toward greater gender equality and the need for fathers to find a way to share more equally in caregiving and on the home front. The egalitarian fathers in our study give evidence to the fact that doing so will very likely yield the highest levels of career and life satisfaction.