The Traditional Father
Of course, plenty of fathers continue to keep a more traditional schedule and put in far greater numbers of hours at work than they wish. "We found that men, and women, who logged long hours would prefer to be working less. When asked if they'd give up more income for family time, most said yes," says Dr. Gerson. "But they fear that if they pull back, they'll be penalized or stigmatized by their employer."
This is why one dad didn't even want to be named when he shared his situation. He's the father of a 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. He works in finance in New York City in a job that requires him to leave the house at 7:30 a.m. and not return until midnight or 1 a.m. on most days. He figures he works 80 to 100 hours a week on average and says that between that and business travel, he has "very little" involvement in the daily care of his children. He has breakfast with his kids; the rest is a maybe.
"The only real time I can help is on weekends, and often that is interrupted by work. It would be nice to take my kids to school and be more involved, in general," he says. "Just to be home for dinner during the week would be great." When he thinks about dads who can, for instance, take their kids to doctors' appointments during the day, he says he's happy for them. But it doesn't even vaguely resemble his life. "My schedule is the trade-off a person makes in my line of work."
Barron Bremner, D.O., an orthopedic surgeon in Des Moines and the father of three children ages 4, 7, and 9, occasionally finds himself in a similar bind. Every six weeks he spends a full weekend on call at a hospital. Though he helps with cooking, bathing, and reading to his kids during most weeks, "I have made it clear to my wife that I am not to be counted on during my on-call time," he says. "It's the price to be paid for earning what is a nice salary, I guess. I've tried to tell my wife that I am doing more around the house and at work than men of her grandfather's, or even her father's, era."