What is it about?

The daily reality for many fathers is that they contribute less to household and childcare tasks than mothers and are employed in workplaces which reward overwork. The COVID-19 pandemic caused sudden complex disruption to the established patterns of work and home life of many families, but it was not a uniformly negative experience. We asked 15 Australian fathers about the impact of lockdown experiences on their relationship with their children and family-work life balance. Despite the stressors, fathers valued the opportunity to spend more time with their children. They also identified how the desire to be active and present for their children had been hindered by the attitudes of their workplace, the perception of themselves as “assisting” in the household, and the polarizing demands of being a father. One year on from their lockdown experience, some fathers had actioned a newly desired change to more flexible working arrangements.

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Why is it important?

Despite changing attitudes to father involvement in caregiving, the amount of time spent engaging in care and leisure activities with children remains consistently lower for many fathers compared with mothers. While many companies offer flexibility in working and work-life policies, informal barriers continue to restrict many fathers’ ability to successfully combine employment and family responsibilities. During COVID-19 lockdowns, both mothers and fathers experienced disruptions to childcare and jobs, but little is known about the impact on men’s views of their relationship with their children and family-work life balance. Our study addresses whether lockdown experiences provided a catalyst for change for fathers in homes and in workplaces.


We conducted this research because we (the authors) were experiencing the stressors of lockdown while also seeing our kids enjoying having more family time. We wanted to move developmental research beyond simply knowing the number of hours fathers spend in household and childcare activities and actually ask fathers about what they experienced and what it meant to them. I hope that after reading this article you take the time to think more about their own identity and the things you value at home and at work.

Jane Herbert
University of Wollongong

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: “I've got more of a role to play”: Australian fathers’ perspectives on parenting through the lens of COVID-19 lockdown., Psychology of Men & Masculinity, May 2023, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/men0000433.
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