One of the consistent themes of being a man at work throughout history is the belief that being stoic is a good example of how to behave at work. However, this stoic facade can come at a significant cost, especially for fathers juggling the responsibilities of their careers and their families.
Breaking Down Stoicism at Work
For those who don’t know – ‘Stoicism’ is a philosophy that encourages emotional detachment and the suppression of outward displays of feelings. While for some men it can often be a natural form of managing stress and maintaining composure, its application in the modern workplace can (and often does) create a culture of silence when it comes to dads. This stigma often leads dads to believe that showing any vulnerability or expressing emotion is a sign of weakness.
The Price of Silence
For dads, adhering to the stoic ideal at work can come at a personal cost when it comes to their parenting goals. By being silently stoic, dads don’t want to be seen as those who are ‘challenging the status quo’ which means they’re often not asking for improved parental leave, flexible working and the things that they really do want when it comes to their parenting lives.
This has led to increased stress, anxiety, and even burnout. When dads feel all they can do is bottle up their feelings, the pressure can build to an unsustainable level, affecting their mental health and overall well-being.
The repercussions are even more profound for the people that matter just as much in all this – their children.
Children thrive when they see their fathers as approachable, emotionally available figures. When fathers are vulnerable and open themselves, it sets an example for their children to navigate their own emotions healthily. By challenging the stigma of stoicism, dads can pave the way for more authentic relationships with their children, fostering emotional intelligence from an early age.
Fostering a Supportive Work Environment
So how can we challenge this stigma?
Here are four steps we encourage to make this happen:
- Encouraging Open Communication: Employers should create regular check-ins between managers and employees – not as colleagues but as parents! This creates a space where dads can discuss challenges related to their dual roles, ensuring that workloads are manageable and support is available when needed.
- Flexible Work Policies: Flexibility is crucial for dads who often juggle work and family commitments. Allowing flexible hours or remote work options can alleviate the pressure of being physically present at work while still meeting responsibilities.
- Employee Assistance Programs: Companies can provide access to resources focused on emotional well-being. This is an increasingly popular work benefit for many and demonstrates a commitment to employee mental health and breaks down the stigma surrounding seeking help.
- Leading by Example: Leadership teams can set the tone for more emotional openness by sharing their own experiences and challenges. When employees see their superiors as relatable humans, it encourages them to do the same. It’s this level of role modeling that’s essential for a modern day work force.
Challenging the stigma of stoicism at work isn’t about advocating for uncontrolled emotional outbursts. Instead, it’s about reclaiming authenticity.
Dads should feel empowered to bring their whole selves to work, and their emotions included! This level of authenticity not only contributes to a healthier work environment, but also enhances personal relationships all-round.
Benefits for Dads and Beyond
When dads challenge the stigma of stoicism at work, they embark on a journey of personal growth that ripples through every aspect of their lives. By embracing vulnerability, dads can form deeper connections with colleagues, friends, and family members. As they lead by example, they inspire others to question their own emotional suppression, and start to recognize and prioritize what mental well-being really is.
Furthermore, this shift in attitude extends beyond individual benefit. When fathers are encouraged to be emotionally present both at home and at work, they contribute to a cultural transformation. They challenge traditional gender norms, breaking down barriers that have long hindered progress in the workplace and at home. In doing so, they pave the way for a more inclusive, understanding, and supportive society for future generations.
Challenging the stigma of stoicism at work is a transformative area, particularly for dads striving to balance their modern day parental role. By embracing their authentic self and emotional openness, fathers can navigate the challenges of their careers and family responsibilities more effectively. In the process, they dismantle harmful stereotypes, fostering healthier relationships with their children and contributing to a more inclusive and modern day work environment.
Jonathan Davies is the Head of Content at DaddiLife, a proud dad to two, who’s written extensively about modern day fatherhood. Jonathan loves being outdoors with his family and is particularly passionate about encouraging employers to support dads to work more flexibly.