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The competing demands on Aussie dads: breadwinner v involved parent

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Amid decades of workplace change, one convention has survived surprisingly unscathed: the male breadwinner.

Women have marched into the jobs market in big numbers but fathers still tend to be the primary earner for Australian families.

Illustration Matt DavidsonCredit:

Research shows our brand of the male breadwinner model has been more resistent to change than in many other comparable advanced economies.

We hear a lot about the negative impact this has on women’s opportunities and economic security.

But it’s also taking a toll on men as the pressure on fathers to juggle work and care responsibilities intensifies.

Young Australian dads are now caught between two powerful but conflicting demands: to be a traditional breadwinner and a deeply involved parent.

Surveys of time use show fathers are spending more time on parenting and childcare than in the past. And it’s much more than just hanging out with the kids – men are doing a bigger share of the routine work of care such as pick-ups, drop-offs, feeding and bathing.

What hasn’t changed is the amount of paid work dads do. Analysis of the time use of fathers published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies in May found the number of hours they spend in employment “remains at the same level before and after having children”. (It’s a different story for new mothers. For them, employment is at its lowest when they have a child under the age of one........

© The Age