RebelDad has a theory that the U.S. is facing the “Daddy Wars,” the fight between men and their employers over a father’s wish to work part-time, from home, flexible hours and so on.
Unlike the mommy wars, which is a media-created fiction in which go-to-work moms and at-home moms are engaged in some sort of rivalry, the daddy wars reflects the growing conflict between fathers and their employers on the exact contours of work-family balance. The old model in which dad trucks off to work for 8 or 10 or 12 hours, then comes home and sits in the recliner is long gone. Today’s dads want to have it all, and — increasingly — they’re going to be asking their bosses to give it to them. That’s instant conflict. Maybe even a cold war.
I find this oddly hopeful because he thinks that more and more men are willing to take on that fight.
Of course, here in Sweden, there are no daddy wars. I have the right to do things by law, and I either do them or not. My company has little to no say in the matter. I get to take my parental leave. I get to work part-time until the kid is 8. I get to stay home if the kids are sick. That said, my company is incredibly flexible, even more than they have to be.
Good business too. Certainly makes me more loyal. I am not sure why American employers do not get that.
I also had a good experience in New York, actually, at least for being in America. I had the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave after NK was born (which is a joke, but that is another topic). And by the end of the year, I took all 12 weeks (though I had to produce notes from chiropractors and the like to get much of it). I also had two supportive bosses and a good HR department.
But would that have continued after the first year, when the law ran out? As a guy? At a newspaper? Hmmm, probably not.
I get lots of questions from Americans on how Swedish companies make it work, with all these parents in and out. The companies do fine with lots of temporary contracts – you are less indispensible than you think, and how often is an employee on leave, one, two, three times?
I am not guaranteed to go back to the exact same position. I might not like my new spot as much either. So there is that risk, I guess.
But that is nothing compared to an American man caught up in the daddy wars.