So much has been written about the modern dilemma men are facing. In the past, it was women who were struggling to have it all. They wanted to have well paying careers, children, and a fulfilling marriage. As it turns out, a high level of satisfaction, in all of those areas concurrently, isn’t that easy to accomplish. Women have come a long way but like any major societal adjustment there have been growing pains. As women have moved in one direction men have actually moved in another and ultimately our struggles are beginning to look very similar.
The Family Institute, based in New York, has conducted a study called “The New Male Mystique” which represented working men from a national cross section. This study was an update of a study done by the Department of Labor over 30 years ago called “Quality of Work.”
The current data shows that men are no longer satisfied with just being the primary income earner. Men too want to have it all. Their new description of a happy and fulfilled life includes being an involved, father, husband, and son. This ambition is harder now than ever before to achieve.
Men’s wages have remained steady or even declined in some cases. The recent economy has taken its toll on everyone and technology has made it increasingly difficult to be fully present at home. Work seems to follow us everywhere we go now. The reality is, the boundaries between work and home life have become extremely blurred and this has created an entirely new area of conflict. Nearly half of the men who experience these fuzzy boundaries reported that they are regularly contacted at home regarding work and that this is a major stressor in their family life. The typical conflicts about the division of labor in families persist and are complicated by dual income households.
Surprising results from this study were that a majority of men who held traditional views of male and female roles experienced conflict between the demands of work and home while this was slightly less true for those men who had less conventional ideas about the gender roles. It makes sense that those who lived alone, such as single men, which included single dads, did not report a high level of conflict in these areas.
There were a number of factors revealed in this study that did appear to reduce stress and leave men feeling more satisfied about their current circumstances. If they had a boss or supervisor, as well as co-workers, who supported them and were invested in their success they reported less work-life conflict. A flexible schedule was also a major factor, as women have long known, in order to be able to attend to their family without fear of repercussion on the work front. This may mean working from home when a child is ill or attending a parent-teacher conference. Both of which men are more likely to be a part of today than they were 30 years ago.
It seems men and women are now sharing a common plight and one can only hope that this means that more people will be devoted to finding a workable solution for both genders. Employers, at least those who are invested in the satisfaction level of their employees, should take note of how the demands for both men and women have changed over the past several decades and work to create an environment that can accommodate these changes.
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