Working Moms and Dads Clash on Work-Life Balance

Moms may be increasingly comfortable with their positions as working women, but it seems men are still coming to grips with life as working dads, according to a new study.

More dads say they struggle with work-life balance than moms, according to the survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Adecco USA, a career-services consultancy. A majority of men also said they would not take paternity leave if their company offered it.

The Workplace Insights survey, which polled 223 men and 272 women who are employed full-time or part-time and have at least one child, compared workplace attitudes toward parents and asked what companies could do to be more accommodating to those with children. When asked if it is easier for dads to maintain work-life balance, 50 percent of women claim that it is, versus 29 percent of men. Dads also seem to find it harder to manage their work time and their family time. Nearly half of moms polled said they devote equal time to work and family, compared to 32 percent of dads.

The study also found that 59 percent of men would not take paternity leave if given the option. These dads are most worried about the financial burden of taking time off — 46 percent said they could not afford paternity leave even if offered partial salary.

That's not to say dads would prefer working over family time. A similar survey by, also conducted by Harris Interactive, found that 37 percent of dads employed full-time would leave their jobs altogether if they felt their income was not needed to support the family.

Some small employers now offer flexible scheduling — allowing parents to take a few hours off to bring a sick child to the doctor, for example. A Full House, a Russell, Kan.-based supplier of rent-to-own merchandise, offers the same time-off policies to men and women, and tries to help employees with their childrens' needs. "Of course we have business hours, but if you need off for doctors' appointments or those kinds of things, we have a flexible schedule," said Gloria Homeier-Schwien, the company's owner and president.

Many dads seem to prefer this sort of flextime over paternity leave or other benefits, the Adecco survey found. Nearly three-quarters of respondents identified the ability to work flexible hours as the most appealing option for parents, with the ability to telecommute also high on the list. According to the study, 36 percent of dads do not have the option for flexible scheduling or telecommuting at their company.

Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer at Adecco, stressed the importance of making flextime policies available and presenting them in a positive way so dads are not afraid to take advantage of them. For example, she suggested, companies should recognize it's OK for a dad to leave work early to go to a child's baseball game and then check in on e-mail later in the evening. "Measure performance by output, not by time in the office," she said.

Other work-life experts agreed. "Flexibility is key, especially in a professional environment," said Julie Lenzer Kirk, an entrepreneurship consultant and author of The ParentPreneur Edge: What Parenting Teaches About Building a Successful Business. "Some of my most productive moments are after 9 p.m. when my kids are in bed."

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