• What is the traditional role of a father and a mother in a family? Describe a perfect father and a perfect mother.
  • Is it still the same today? Should it be?
  • How do family roles differ in your culture?
  • What would you think about a father who quit his job to stay at home with his children?


Read the following article about the changing roles of fathers in Canada.

First, find the highlighted vocabulary and make sure you understand it.

Fathers feeling same work-life stresses as mothers

By Andre Mayer, CBC News


Men are under rising pressure as they struggle to balance increasingly demanding work schedules with a growing role in everyday parenting, experts say.

“What some of the research is showing is that men are becoming as work-life stressed as women have been historically,” says Jennifer Tipper, publications editor for the Vanier Institute for the Family in Ottawa.

Less time with the kids

Yet while Canadian men are becoming more active in the early lives of their children, statistics suggest that overall, they’re spending less time with them.

According to a 2007 Statscan report, fathers spent an average of 250 minutes a day with their children in 1985; in 2005, that number had shrunk to 205.

This is leading to a “work-life conflict,” something that men are reporting across North America. A 2008 report by the Families and Work Institute in New York says that the work-life conflict of American men increased from 34 per cent in 1977 to 49 per cent in 2008.

Karen Messing, a professor of workplace trends at the Université du Québec à Montréal, says that nowadays, men and women are both putting in longer hours. But she says that men in particular “are working extreme schedules.”

She says the expanding information technology sector is particularly taxing. Because clients and collaborators can be located anywhere in the world, Messing says companies look at their employees with “a presumption of permanent availability,” regardless of their domestic commitments.

Not only are men logging more overtime — often unpaid — but workplace experts say there is still strong cultural reinforcement of the idea that fathers are the breadwinners and mothers are largely responsible for the smooth running of the household.

The result is that fathers are being torn between work and family responsibilities, without the scheduling flexibility that some employers extend to mothers.

Men still seen as providers

“There’s an expectation that men continue to be the provider,” says Kerry Daly, dean of the college of social and applied human sciences at the University of Guelph and former co-chair of the Father Involvement Research Initiative (FIRA).

Daly says that bias can still be felt at the office. Although employers generally expect that a working woman may at some point ask for maternity leave, Daly says companies are generally less accepting when men request similar leave.

“When men ask for parental leave, they’re more likely to get ridiculed or get questioned about taking time off,” he says. As a result of both cultural expectations and financial considerations, experts say many fathers are feeling overwhelmed.

“Today’s dads are still expected to earn a pay cheque, but they are also expected to be helping with homework, changing diapers, making cookies, driving to soccer,” says Tipper. “The ‘double day’ is no longer something that only women experience.”


  1. According to the article, what problems are fathers facing now?
  2. Do you believe fathers’ lives are getting worse?
  3. Do you think this is largely a Canadian situation? Or is it happening in your part of the world as well?
  4. How do you think this problem- and the problems mothers are facing- can be resolved?
  5. Knowing about the stress that can come with having a family in the modern world, do you feel more likely or less likely to have a family in the future?


Work with a partner and think of the pros and cons of the following statement. Be prepared to defend your ideas.

  • Men and women should equally share the responsibilities of raising children and taking care of the house.