Men should be better supported to spend more time with their children, according to new research that reveals one in three Australian children wished they had more quality time with dad.
The study, which observed around 3000 fathers and their children, found too many men are spending more than 44 hours per week at the office, compared to the nationally accepted 38-hour work week.
“It’s very hard for people to say no to long hours if that’s what they’re expected to do to hold onto their job,” lead researcher, Professor Lyndall Strazdins said.
According to the survey about 40 per cent of fathers are regularly working at night and on weekends, and feel they cannot easily change their work hours.
The Australian National University (ANU) study also found one in three children did not always enjoy the time they did have with their dads.
“Fathers are really wanting to be more connected and more engaged in terms of their relationships for their children but they’re struggling to do that,” Professor Strazdins said.
Professor Strazdins said although one in eight children said their fathers worked too much, they understood the need to.
“They want their parents to have jobs, they value their parents having jobs, and they understand how important they are,” she said.
ANU conducted the research with the Australian Institute of Family Studies along with the WZB Social Science Institute in Berlin to start a conversation on work/life balance.
“We really wanted to focus on fathers because they’ve really been a group who’ve been left out of the work and family debate, and work and family policy thinking,” Professor Strazdins said.
“We’re not improving, we’re actually going backwards and if we don’t do something about that it’s going to continue to make it difficult for men to be the fathers they want to be.”
France has a 35-hour working week which was implemented in 2000; however, Professor Strazdins said Australians should be aiming for a Finland model where both men and women put in a similar work week.
“The way we are is not the way we have to be and we are at a point where we could make a lot of decisions,” she said.
“Most fathers are very aware that this is a problem that they’re struggling with.
“What I’d like to see is some enlightened management that comes in and supports fathers.”