A small qualitative study on “new dads” in the Journal of Business and Psychology found that American men switch between four images of themselves as fathers: provider, role model, partner and nurturer. Depending on their work lives, one of these roles is always in the ascendant. The demands of men’s jobs and the flexibility of their working hours have a lot of sway over what area of responsibility fathers feel they should be spending most energy on. Dads with high stress or inflexible positions may find it impossible to spend time being a nurturer, for example. Studies have shown that dads are feeling the stress of work-life balance as well.
Another influential factor is the number and quality of conversations men have about being a dad while they’re at the office. There are workplace environments where any talk of child rearing or family responsibilities beyond breadwinning are rare if not exactly verboten. These workplaces are becoming fewer—a group of men who run a Deloitte Dads group out of Toronto recently made the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek— but they’re still the norm. A guy who takes a few days off playing baseball to attend the birth of his son, for example, can still produce a public roasting on sports radio.