- Being an active father impacts your success in a number of important ways.
- Fatherhood can factor into how much you earn, your health and eating habits, and your happiness, among other things.
- Based on scientific research, we compiled 9 significant ways being a dad impacts success.
Fatherhood isn’t a one-size-fits-all cap you simply slip on once you have a child.
Working dads wear many hats when they become a parent, and for each father, how and when you wear these hats differs.
Some fathers split the child-rearing responsibilities with their partner down the middle, while others focus more on breadwinning and others still become primary caregivers at home.
At the end of the day, active fatherhood will inevitably affect your success, though how is a slightly more complicated issue.
Hopefully, these studies will begin to unpack the question of how being a dad impacts your success a little and help us better understand the many factors at play:
Being a dad could make you more hirable
- Flickr / Eric Peacock
A study out of Cornell found that, while employers tend to discriminate against mothers, fatherhood actually provides a boost in opinion from employers.
As part of the study, researchers sent employers fake, almost identical résumés with one major difference: some résumés indicated that the job applicant was part of a parent-teacher association.
Male job candidates whose résumés mentioned the parent-teacher association were called back more often than men whose résumés didn’t, while women who alluded to parenthood in this way were half as likely to get called back than women who didn’t.
The study participants also rated fathers as more desirable job candidates than mothers and non-fathers and deemed them more competent and committed than mothers or men without kids. At the same time, applicants who were fathers were allowed to be late to work significantly more times than mothers or non-fathers.
Having a child can help you earn more money if you’re a father
- Charley Gallay/Getty
“For most men the fact of fatherhood results in a wage bonus,” research group Third Way’s president Jonathan Cowan and resident scholar Dr. Elaine C. Kamarck write about “The Fatherhood Bonus and The Motherhood Penalty: Parenthood and the Gender Gap in Pay.”
In the academic paper, author Michelle J. Budig, a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, writes that, “While the gender pay gap has been decreasing, the pay gap related to parenthood is increasing.”
In her 15 years of research on the topic, Budig found that, on average, men earn 6% more when they have and live with a child, while women earn 4% less for every child they have.
This jives with the Cornell study finding that employers are willing to offer fathers the greatest salary compared to non-fathers, mothers, and non-mothers.
Dads are no less productive than their childless counterparts
- Jessica Merz/flickr
Contrary to the popular belief that parents, who often have more responsibilities than childless workers, are more likely to be distracted at work, research suggests that fathers are not significantly less productive than their childless counterparts. In fact, some fathers’ productivity may benefit from parenthood.
After analyzing the amount of research published by more than 10,000 academic economists, researchers commissioned by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that, over the course of a 30-year career, fathers of at least two children are slightly more productive than fathers of one child and childless men. Fathers become 52% more productive after the birth of twins.
Involved dads often develop skills and traits that make them better employees
- Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr
When researchers out of Clark University and the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina, studied how managers’ commitments to children affected their work performance, they concluded that being a committed parent can actually improve a manager’s performance because child-rearing develops skills that are also useful at work.
The researchers suggest that raising a family helps develop skills like negotiating, compromising, conflict resolution, patience, and multitasking, and that family experiences provide managers with positive feelings that carry over to the workplace and facilitate performance.
Ann Crittenden, author of “If You’ve Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything,” would seem to agree. As she writes in her book, “Anyone who has learned how to comfort a troublesome toddler, soothe the feelings of a sullen teenager, or manage the complex challenges of a fractious household can just as readily smooth the boss’s ruffled feathers, handle crises, juggle several urgent matters at once, motivate the team, and survive the most Byzantine office intrigues.”
Fathers have more ambition than non-fathers
- Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/flickr
According to LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, fathers are more likely to say they want to be promoted and become a top executive than non-fathers.
Those parents who said they weren’t interested in pursuing the C suite overwhelmingly cited balancing work and family as their top reason. So fathers not wanting to pursue top level jobs seems to come down more to a lack of resources than a lack of ambition.
Friendships inevitably change after the birth of a child
- Sony Pictures
Discussions of success often come down to career advancement and money, but other important factors like our interpersonal relationships play a vital role in our well-being.
When Child magazine surveyed about 1,000 parents, almost half of the dads and moms surveyed said they had fewer friends after their children were born.
And while 67% of men felt satisfied with their friendships before having kids, only 57% of men said they felt that way afterward.
One factor at play could be time. Before they had kids, men reported spending an average of 16 hours a week with friends. After kids, time spent with friends dropped to six hours.
Marriages tend to suffer after the birth of a child
In a meta-analytic review of previous studies, researchers concluded that parenthood tends to have a negative effect on marital satisfaction because of the conflicts that arise from reorganizing roles in the marriage and the parents’ restriction of freedom.
The study also indicated that the more children there are in the family, the lower the parents’ marital satisfaction.
For men, the effect on marital satisfaction remained similar across ages of children, while mothers of infants most felt the effect.
And parents in high socioeconomic groups, of younger ages, and who have given birth in more recent years tend to see the most negative effects on their marriage.
Fathers tend to be less healthy than non-fathers
- Joe Raedle/Getty Images
John Dick, founder of CivicScience, a polling platform that cataloged more than 1 million responses to its “Parental Status” poll, writes on Quartz that non-parents report leading healthier lifestyles than parents.
According to the poll results Dick shared, non-parents are 75% more likely than parents to report an average of more than eight hours of sleep each night, while parents are 29% more likely to report less than six hours of sleep per night. Unsurprisingly, parents are 28% more likely to say they drink coffee “every day without fail” than non-parents.
Non-parents are also 73% more likely than parents to say they “never” eat at fast food restaurants and 38% more likely to exercise at a gym once a week or more; while parents are 17% more likely to say they never exercise, 10% more likely to consider themselves overweight, and 54% more likely to smoke cigarettes every day, Dick reveals.
Having a child greatly impacts a father’s happiness
A lot of people measure success by how happy they are, and numerous studies show that having kids plays a big role in this.
As happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky explains in Time, some studies indicate that parents are happier than non-parents, whereas others suggest the reverse – it really comes down to the parent and the child.
Her exhaustive analysis of various research revealed, for example:
– Young parents and parents with small children tend to be particularly unhappy.
– Fathers, married parents, and empty nesters tend to report especially high life satisfaction, happiness, or meaning.
She notes, however, that “all types of parents reported having more meaning in life than did their childless counterparts, suggesting that the rewards of parenting may be more ineffable than the daily highs (or lows).”