(MoneyWatch) There's a narrative out there that, when it comes to how parents spend their time, dads are slackers. The Pew Research Center released a report this week analyzing both the modern American Time Use Survey, and time diary studies from 1965. Fathers, as you can imagine, do a lot less childcare and housework than mothers. They also watch more TV.
But there's another story in the numbers, too, particularly when you look at changes in how fathers spend their time since 1965. Back then, a father's "second shift" -- his combined housework and childcare time -- was a grand total of 6.5 hours per week. These days, it's up to 17 hours. In other words, dads have almost tripled their household workload over the last 50 years. And the most fascinating part is that many dads still don't feel like they're doing enough. While the Pew survey found that only 23 percent of moms say they spend too little time with their kids, 46 percent of men think that. While 73 percent of moms say they are doing an excellent or very good job at parenting, only 64 percent of fathers say the same.
In other words, there's been a sea change in how men think a good father spends his time. While men in the past thought their duty was to support their kids financially -- full stop -- modern men feel differently. They show this both in how they spend their hours, and their expectations of themselves.
This has ramifications for people managing and trying to lead employees of both genders. While much of the discussion on Yahoo's ban on telecommuting has focused on women, and their presumed desire to spend more time at home, the reality is that working mothers feel -- compared with men and other women -- pretty good about the time they're spending with their kids. According to Pew, 78 percent of working moms said they were doing an excellent or very good job at parenting, which is more than non-employed mothers. It is men who are feeling inadequate in that regard. Perhaps they're the ones that the so-called work-life balance discussion should be focusing on.
Do you have a second shift?