Career or kids, what’s a dad to do when facing that choice?

This week’s blog has been written by David Willans, who is the founder of and the facilitator of our dads’ workshops.  We will be hosting an interview with David next Tuesday discussing how we can harness male role models to create workplaces we would want our children to work in – to sign up for the free webinar, click here.

Career or Kids? You can’t have both, society tells us. You have to sacrifice one for the other. It’s a story that’s so deeply ingrained in our society that many people live it out unquestioningly. And suffer the consequences. The consequences are severe. Mental health issues on the rise, family breakdowns, tiny children in childcare for 8, 10, 12 hours a day, five days a week so parents can pay the bills and have a little left over for those precious weekends together as a family. Which are often enjoyed through a fog of the hangover from the week of work.

Women have been victims of this story for a long time, but they’ve been fighting it. Men are also the victims, but they have either suffered stoically. In silence. Or, they’ve unquestioningly believed in the story too.

The men at the top of our organisations are the ones that have made this story reality. Or at the very least are complicit in the toll it takes on families through their silence and inaction. Why is that?

Maybe it’s the pressure to conform to social and peer expectations, meaning only the strong succeed (ironically conforming is a sign of weakness). Maybe it’s greed, manifesting in not wanting to give away what they’ve got. Maybe it’s spite, materialising as ‘I had to sacrifice so everyone else should too’.

Of course, there is another way of looking at it. Society is a meritocracy. The more you do, the better you become. The further up the career ladder you go. But millennia of human history, evidence of deep-rooted biases, the allures of greed and flat out stupidity in the face of evidence, shows this view to be false. Meritocracy? Not in this reality.

Thankfully there are signs of things changing. Parent networks, four-day weeks, debates about childcare costs, stacks and stacks of evidence proving the pound and a bit of flesh mentality is counter productivity. But more is needed.

Recently I got an email from dad called Rob asking for advice. He had a promotion to consider, with more pay, but less time with his family. He asked me how I would think about that decision.  If you would like to find out what I said, here is the link to the full blog…

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