'Do-it-all' Dad: Modern fathers stressed, misunderstood but happy

13 June 2017

  • Modern dad juggles kids, housework and job – but many feel stressed and undervalued
  • Dads wish they had more time with kids, despite spending 12 hours a week with them
  • Average dad spend three hours more per day with family than their father did
  • New spoken word advertising campaign recognises the experience of being a dad

New research reveals traditional role of fathers is rapidly disappearing as more than half of dads class themselves as modern dads (53%) and get as stuck in with chores and children as they do work.

But the Nationwide Building Society1 poll of 1,000 fathers, commissioned ahead of Father’s Day, also highlights the extent to which many fathers feel stressed trying to balance home and work life.

The research show some four in five (84%) dads are stressed while more than half (53%) don’t think society recognises their contribution as a father. However, on a positive note, the majority (86%) said they are happy with their situation.

Family time:

Although mums still do the lion’s share of childcare, dads are today playing a much bigger role in their kids’ lives than their fathers did, spending on average 12 hours a week quality time with their children. With many mums needing to work due to pressures on family finances, men are, on average, putting in just two hours less a week looking after children. However, when compared to their own fathers, they are ahead by three hours – equivalent to an evening after work.

Top family activities of a modern dad:

Despite the stereotype of men being poor at multitasking, modern dad could prove an exception to the rule as he throws himself into an array of situations. The main family activities dads get involved in include:

Activity % of dads
Reading bedtime stories 64%
Homework 62%
Playing 62%
Cooking dinner 56%
Chores around the house 55%
Attend school activities 48%
Take children to the doctors 44%
Style their children's hair 28%

Playing to type – mums vs dads:

Although dads are much more involved in family life, mums on average still do much more of the day-to-day childcare and cleaning jobs that they traditionally did. Equally, dads generally conform to stereotype - teaching the children to ride a bike, doing homework and disciplining.

Top family activities dad takes responsibility for:

Activity Dads Mums
Gardening 66% 24%
Giving money 62% 27%
Teaching to ride a bike 60% 22%
Homework 57% 34%
Disciplining 56% 36%

Top family activities mum takes responsibility for:

Activity Mums Dads
Comforting 66% 27%
Doctors' appointments 62% 30%
Cleaning 59% 38%
Cooking 58% 39%
Children's parties 58% 28%

Work vs family life:

The research shows dads are still very much the breadwinner, with the average dad working 33 hours a week and earning £33,426, nearly double the amount than mums work and receive (16 hours work and earning average of £17,233).

However, two thirds (68%) of dads said they would happily give up their day job to be with their kids, while two fifths (41%) work from home just to be able to spend more time with the family. Two in five (41%) dads said they take time off work if their child is sick, for birthdays (35%), for children’s doctor appointments, for sports day (32%) and for the school play (27%).

Regrets and guilt:

The balancing act between career and family has resulted in many dads regretting not spending enough time with their children, but also feeling guilt for losing their temper when they do get time with the family.

Top five regrets % regretting
Not spending time with children 44%
Missing parents evening 44%
Putting work first 27%
Missing sports day 27%
Missing birth of child 18%
Top five things dads feel guilt about % guilty
Losing their temper 47%
Missing out on activities 32%
Disciplining 32%
Not seeing children in the morning 21%
Going out with friends 14%

Jeff Brazier, Broadcaster, Author and Father, said: “It’s great that Nationwide Building Society is celebrating dads this Father’s Day, as they are playing a much more active role in helping to run the household these days. I have always been a hands-on dad who is proud to shatter the misconception of what a father’s role used to be. Like many dads, I find parenting a constant juggling act between work and family life and sometimes you can feel run ragged, but despite this, I am happy and love being a father.”

To celebrate Father’s Day, Nationwide Building Society is launching some new TV adverts for one day only, featuring fathers from all walks of life, performing spoken word poetry on their experience of being a dad to remind them of the fantastic job they do. As a building society, we are owned by our members and we value people from all walks of life.

1RWB research: total sample size was 1,009 UK Fathers with children under the age of 16. The survey ran from the 19/05/2017 to 23/05/2017.

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

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