How Can a Working Father Help a Working Mother?

Both parents work full time in roughly 60% of two-parent households with children under the age of 18. But who takes time off work when their children are sick? How should you react as a boss if a man says he needs time to take his child to the pediatrician?

The sad reality is that many firms and families favor men’s labor over women’s work, even when there is no major difference in their professional responsibilities or income.

This leads to workplace assumptions that women are the primary carers, which can have a negative influence on women’s professional success and upward mobility.

Fathers in dual-income couples dedicate much less time to child care than mothers, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011). [1]

Although fathers now do more than twice as much housekeeping as they used to (from four to ten hours per week on average), there is still a substantial disparity.

This isn’t only a marital issue; it’s also a corporate culture issue. It is still unacceptable for fathers to openly indicate that they have family duties that require their attention in many workplaces.

In contrast, there is a widespread belief that mothers will be on the front lines of any family catastrophe.

Take a look at an example from my company. After returning from maternity leave a few years ago, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting. Her spouse called less than two hours into her journey to tell her the baby had been sobbing incessantly.

While there was little our colleague could do to help, the call was plainly distressing, and as a result, her attention was diverted for the remainder of an important business meal.

This was her first night out since the kid was born, and I know her husband had previously gone on multiple business trips prior to this. Nonetheless, I doubt she called him during one of his sessions to inquire about child care. 

The statistics suggest that this is far from an isolated incident. In a separate Pew poll, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that when a child is sick, the moms take on more of the labor. [2]

Furthermore, compared to only 24% of working fathers, 39 percent of working mothers indicated they had taken substantial time off from work to care for their child.

Mothers are also more likely than males to report having abandoned their careers for family reasons (27 percent vs. 10%).

Before any fantastic stay-at-home-dads respond with a vehement response, let me state unequivocally that I am not passing judgment on how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional duties; that is entirely their right.

Rather, I’m addressing the inequitable culture that exists even when spouses have similar or identical professional duties. This is a critical issue for all of us because we are squandering untapped economic and human potential.

Furthermore, I believe my fellow males can make a significant difference. It’s time to man up for those who still believe that being a good dad merely entails assisting mum.

Stop expecting your coworkers, who have similar professional responsibilities, to shoulder the majority of child-care duties.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know your pediatrician’s name and contact information. Have a backup plan in place for transportation and coverage in the event of an emergency. 

Don’t expect your partner to handle all of these unseen responsibilities on her alone. Parenting necessitates effort and forethought in the face of the unexpected. 

Learning by doing, as in other aspects of life, is a great approach to gaining confidence. Moms, like dads, aren’t born knowing how to accomplish these things. 

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overheard a man on a business trip say to his wife over the phone, “I’m in the middle of a meeting.” “Can you tell me what you want me to do about it?”

When the tables are turned, though, males frequently make the same decision at the first hint of problems.

Distractions like these make it tough to focus and connect with work, perpetuating the perception that working mothers aren’t engaged enough.

Do what she would do if you were in charge of the kids: figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that her children come first, and you come second.

“I have the kids today since my wife couldn’t move,” I admit I’ve told clients in the past. “I’m taking care of my kids today,” I should have said instead. 

Why is it so difficult for males to accept personal responsibilities? Keep in mind that you are setting an example for your children, and do the correct thing. 

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one enjoys or desires disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will receive a distressing phone call from his or her sitter, school nurse, or even elderly parents at some point.

As a leader, accommodating personal demands is not a show of weakness. Employees will be more likely to accomplish excellent work if you show them that you care about their personal duties and families, as well as your own. 

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

It’s immature to argue about who last changed a diaper or cleaned the dishes at home; everyone should pitch in, but the big picture is what matters.

Is everyone in good health and receiving enough rest? Are you having fun with each other? 
Avoid the trap of punching a clock in the workplace as well.

Rather than effort and inputs, the focus should be on outcomes and performance. This is how you keep moving forward with your overall goals. 

The Bottom Line

To be clear, I understand that many working fathers are doing fantastic jobs at home and at work. My issue is that these standouts are frequently invisible to their coworkers, allowing their efforts as parents to go unnoticed, either consciously or unwittingly.

To shift workplace stereotypes, fathers must be frank and honest about family duties.

“How do you balance it all?” should not be a question reserved solely for women. To be honest, no one knows the answer to that question. It’s difficult to juggle a profession and parental duties. It can be really difficult at times.

However, it is something that more parents should undertake as a team. This can be beneficial to the couple’s connection as well because nothing stifles good cooperation like emotions of unfairness.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills do improve with practice, which is fantastic for both men and women. Our cultural assumptions that women are “nurturers” and men are “providers” need to change, in my opinion.

Expanding these criteria will allow everyone to contribute more because women can and should be both, just as males can and should be both.


  1. Pew Research Center: Modern Parenthood
  2. Raising Kids and Running a Household: How Working Parents Share the Load

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