A new UK study reveals how the financial crisis has impacted the daily lives and future plans of new fathers.
Researchers from Cardiff University discovered that given the stressful environment, many men are making significant life changes.
For example, new dad William described how he and his wife decided to stick with one child rather than have the three children they originally planned for, because they could not afford to do so in the current financial climate.
William describes this as an experience shared by others. “A friend of mine was definitely having two kids, he’s only having one now ’cause when you sit down and look at it, it’s really expensive, especially with the recession,” he said.
The researchers interviewed 46 men during their partner’s pregnancy and over the first year of fatherhood to explore in detail their experiences of this significant life change. From this setting, researchers determined that men appeared to be particularly anxious about money.
“Our research shows that even in situations where women earn similar or greater amounts than their partners, men often see themselves as responsible for providing financially for their families” said psychologist Dr. Karen Henwood, who conducted the research.
“In the current climate, where parents are expected to provide a great deal for their children materially alongside these constrained finances, this led some men to take financial risks so their children did not miss out.”
Given the financial stress, researchers discovered men are working longer hours or away from the home so they had less time to spend with their children.
Jeffrey, dad to one year-old Gethin, has had to work away from the family home during the week since the company he works for downsized. “It’s just annoying ’cause you’re not around, especially now ’cause he’s starting to stand up and he’s almost walking and he’s almost talking,” he said. “You kind of think you’re missing out a bit, really.”
These changes suggest a step backwards for shared parenting, which may become further pressurized in light of recent changes to state support for families in the UK.
“Our research shows the significant impact of the recession on middle-income earning men in both the short and longer-term,” said Henwood.