An article in the “New York Times,” by Tara Parker-Pope, titled “Now, Dad Feels as Stressed as Mom,” reflects on a study at Boston College titled “The New Dad.” It indicates that 59 percent of fathers compared to 45 percent of women are now stressed over live versus work issues and after becoming a father for the first time their work does not pick up on the change. This flies in the face of historical conventional wisdom.
As a father for 27 years and a husband for 37 years I can say that I think I feel pressure in trying to balance work and home a little more than my wife. I don’t think that I necessarily have more responsibilities to become as stressed as my wife, however there are elements a man must deal with that I do not think a woman has to.
Women are often more in tune with what is going on with extended family. Often upon coming home you may be advised that you must go to some kind of family function; your attendance is required. Further I think due to maternal instincts women slide into parenting roles as little more easily.
In most marriages the couple is closest to the wife’s family; at least that is my reality based on everything I see. Men must help keep a relationship with the wife’s family. That causes stress even if you like them because you do have to make some adjustments.
Husbands are usually responsible for dealing with problems more so than the wife when it comes to confrontational issues.
What was particularly hard for me was the fact that we had three sons and still have two of them at home. I am usually used as the “ultimate decider” for issues. I may know nothing about something and yet my son will approach me and say “Dad mom asked me to ask you about this.”
It is up to me to help the environment at home. In my case I now work at home. I have to make sure that my area is free of emotional clutter therefore I am constantly monitoring the coming and going of visitors. Kids want just as much access to me as during non-business hours and will make no bones about it which makes for constant stress. And I’m not allowed by my wife’s dictate to blow up.
Perhaps that is the biggest stressor. As a kid I was from a broken home. My family expects me to have answers to problems that I didn’t experience. Further while kids today experience different challenges than we did as youngsters it is important to remember we have to give them counsel.
There is a saying that marriage is not a 50-50 proposition rather both people must give 110 percent. I believe that and that it means being stressed together.