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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK


Life as a superdad

Fathers are under increasing pressure from family and work life

The competing stresses of family and work means mean many fathers feel under pressure to become "all-singing all-dancing superdads", according to a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. BBC News Online talks to one about how he balances the conflicting demands on him.

John (not his real name) is a senior manager in a major company in London. He has two children, aged nine and seven.

He leaves work every day at 6am and does not get home until 6.30pm. His children eat before he gets home and go to bed at 8.30pm.

His wife works part-time and picks the children up from school.

He says the decision for her to go part-time rather than him was based purely on earnings, rather than traditional male/female stereotypes.

John's experience

"The more you put into your work, the more you feel you have to match that with the family.

"You tend to go over the top, trying to compensate at the weekends.

"You try to find things to do with the children that seem to be family events or outings when they often want to slob out because they are tired from a week at school.

"In the evening, I always try to spend time helping the children with their homework, playing playstation or something like that.

"I try to make time to talk, but they are increasingly getting their own lives. They go to cubs or to friends' houses.

"They are filling up their schedules so I have even less time with them.

"As they get older, they are getting more independent and it would be a mistake to go the other way and crowd them out. It would limit their independence and growth."


"The key is to rid yourself of the programme mentality and consult them about what they want to do.

"They may not want to spend two hours a night with me. Maybe they want to slob out at the weekend and filling all hours with activity can mean you could crowd them out and don't allow them time to talk about things that worry them.

"The hardest thing is when you come home tired and they are in a 'let's party' mood.

"I take days off for big things like sports days and I might take time off if they are sick, but my wife works flexi-time and can vary her hours a lot.

"You always feel guilty that you are not spending enough time with the children, but they need space to grow and are aware that I have to work to provide things like holidays."

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