A huge number of fathers are missing important milestones in their children’s lives – due to increasing hours and hefty workloads, it emerged yesterday. A study carried out among 1000 UK dads of children aged 16 and under found that 62 per cent have missed a parents’ evening, whilst one in five couldn’t attend their child’s last school sports day.
It also emerged that just under one third of dads have missed ‘most’ or ‘all’ of their child’s Christmas plays, whilst a fifth said they were ‘lucky’ if they caught one bath time a month. A similar figure confessed they have no idea what their child’s favourite book is due to missing their bed-times when working late.
A spokesman for notonthehighstreet.com who carried out the study, said; “We all know it can often be difficult to be home regularly, and it seems this is especially true of the UK’s busy dads – try as they might, missing out on quality family time is sometimes unavoidable. The pressure to meet deadlines at work balanced with the knowledge that you’re losing out on precious memories can be hugely frustrating and challenging. The results show that modern dads certainly are under stress and strains by putting in normal working hours and more, whilst also trying to make birthday parties or parents’ evenings”.
The results showed that a startling 53 per cent of dads have missed out on big milestones in their children’s lives such as first steps, first words and even school awards ceremonies. The average dad loses out on three significant family events every month, but feels regret over missing smaller events such as baths or reading-time as often as twice a week. And alarmingly, a massive six in ten confessed to only spending quality time with their children at weekends, with ‘long working hours’ and being ‘too knackered’ averting them from valuable family time.
Too much overtime and travelling for business were other top reasons for missing week nights at home, with the gym and other commitments also getting in the way. And for dads who do eventually get home, a shattered one in ten confessed to hitting the hay as soon as they get through the door, whilst others stated they just want some time to themselves after a hard day at work.
The sofa is the prime location for most tired dads, who will usually spend their evening in front of the TV with a beer or a glass of wine. But the many evenings dads spend recuperating doesn’t make them happy, the results showed. Many of the hard-working fathers said they find it difficult to maintain a work-life balance, and over half have questioned whether their career is worth the time they miss out on at home. And sadly, a considerable 32 per cent of the dads polled said there were still many playtime activities they have never done due to being busy with their careers.
And almost one in ten said that although they want to, they have never dressed up as their child’s favourite character, gone kite-flying or taught them to swim. The poll found over one in eight have never gotten around to building their kids a den or tree-house, whilst others haven’t cheered on at their kids’ football matches.
Going on long walks, playing pretend and visiting the cinema were among the top playtime activities dads wished they could do more of with their children, as well as reading comics, sleeping outside in a tent and playing board games. A number of dads claimed that if they had more time they would help their children to ride a bike, invent science experiments and teach them self-defence techniques, whilst over a fifth would enjoy improving on their kids’ football skills.
Many felt that if they were there to cheer them on at events and mess about with them when they got home from school, it would improve the relationship between them. But despite their regrets, dads had good intentions behind their absence – the research showed that a massive six in ten thought that putting his job first is an unavoidable factor to supporting a happy family.
A spokesman for notonthehighstreet.com added: “It’s clear from this study into modern UK father’s, that working hours are a real constraint on family life. It’s only as we get older that we realise the lengths our parents go to ensure that we have a great childhood. And with Fathers’ Day coming up it’s a great opportunity to treat the nations dads and show our gratitude.’’