Study: Workplaces Haven't Kept Up With Contemporary Fatherhood
The house is quiet when Allan Domantay rises at 5:45am. He makes toast, pours coffee into his travel mug, showers, empties the dishwasher, grabs his lunch box and slips into the clothes he ironed last night.
Ahead of him is the one-and-a-half hour drive from his home in Geelong to his job in Bundoora. Sometimes he listens to the radio, sometimes an audio book (Game of Thrones has kept him enthralled for months).
Still asleep when Mr Domantay leaves the house is his wife, Alyda, and their two young sons, Issac, 1, and Xavier, 3. When he arrives home between 6:30 and 7pm, he finishes dinner with them, bathes the children and reads a bedtime book.
In Australia - like other comparable countries - fathers are typically employed full-time and often work very long hours, but contemporary expectations around fatherhood means many want to be nurturing, "hands-on" dads.
Yet workplaces have failed to make the necessary policy and cultural shifts to support fathers be more involved in parenting, which means greater conflict between work and family life, new research has found.
A La Trobe University analysis of more than 2600 fathers of four and five-year-old-children found one in three experienced high "work-family conflict", when the father's work commitments are incompatible with their family responsibilities.
The research, published in the Journal of Family Issues, found fathers who felt frustrated or stressed by competing work and family demands were more likely to use harsh discipline, be more irritable and less responsive and nurturing to their children.
Unsurprisingly, this was worst among fathers who worked the longest hours.
On the other hand, flexible, calm and effective approaches to managing difficulties in the workplace could help to strengthen fathers' ability to deal with testing situations at home, it found.
La Trobe researcher Dr Amanda Cooklin said the findings were a call for workplaces to become more flexible, with fathers currently reliant on the goodwill of their supervisors to agree to different work arrangements.
"This has implications for mothers' workforce participation - the two can't happen independently. We can do a better job of supporting mums and part of that is recognising men as fathers."
Previous research had shown Australian fathers work long hours, and average of about 47 hours a week, Dr Cooklin said, with one in five working 50 hours or more.
For Allan Domantay, Fridays are golden. With the blessing of his employer, he has arranged to work his full-time hours over four days, meaning Fridays can be spent playing with his sons or visiting their grandparents.
Kew East father, James Canty, juggles his work as a lecturer in public health at La Trobe around his three young sons - Jack,7, Len, 5 and Tom, 11 months. It is a constant challenge, one made a little easier because he has an understanding supervisor and colleagues.
His wife, Dr Christine Canty, is a clinical neuropsychologist who is currently on maternity leave but hopes to return to work full-time soon. She also works as a gym instructor five nights each week.
Mr Canty tries to work off campus when he can and works long hours - anywhere between 35 hours and 60 hours a week.
"We talk about work-life conflict and self-care a lot with our students and it's the perfect irony that we forget to do it for ourselves," Mr Canty said.
After his seven-year-old complained that all his dad ever spoke about was work, Mr Canty decided to put a 10-minute time limit on work-related discussions at home.
"It's a difficult thing when you're stressed to be present and to be mindful, to just be with them."