Why Fathers Prioritise Work Over Family?

While nearly every father wants to be there for their child, it is easier said than done. There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of the fathers. If they seem to prioritise their work over their families, it is due to something called Role Salience. 

At any point in time in our lives, we play more than one role and have more than one relationship. For example: I am a son to my parents, a husband to my wife, a father to my children, an employee, and a friend to a few good friends. Most people would have five to six roles and relationships in their lives. These roles and relationships co-exists in a hierarchy where some are ranked higher than others.

The role and relationship that is at the top of the hierarchy is your primary identity, and our identity influences our behaviour. How you introduce yourself in social settings and in the digital sphere both provide us with clues about your primary identity.

Without a pause or a thought, most of us would state our names when introducing ourselves to others. This is usually followed by information about our work, such as our titles and the companies we work for. There is reason for concern when work forms such a large part of a man’s identity. When a man loses his job, either through termination, retrenchment, or retirement, he loses a chunk of his identity as well. It’s like losing his soul, almost, and he starts wondering, “Who am I now?”

While the researchers have found that our identity influences our behaviour, the reverse is also true: our behaviour can influence our identity. This is good news. When I learned about this, I started to change the way I introduce myself to others. Instead of resorting to the conventional way, my new standard introduction goes like this:

“Hi. My name is Parcsen. I am a husband, father, and grandfather. I also work at the Centre for Fathering. It’s nice to meet you.”

Try it and see if it influences your identity. 

By Parcsen Loke, Family Life Coach, Centre for Fathering. If you wish to contact Parcsen, please make an appointment at: calendly.com/iamparcsen

Food for Thought: Dads, do you sometimes feel that your work is encroaching into your time with the family? Do you also find yourself choosing work over spending time with your kids? What have you tried to prioritize family over work? How has it worked for you?