Dads feel work is pulling them away from family - study

(Getty / file)
(Getty / file)

A long-term Auckland University study of fathers has found many of them are working such long hours they have little time or energy left for their families.

The Growing Up in New Zealand study of 4000 people found dads are working an average of 47 hours a week.

Fifty-eight percent say they'd like to be more involved in their children's lives and one-third of them said work left them feeling they were not parenting as well as they'd like to.

Simon Gentry runs two software companies. It involves a lot of travel and long hours, which he says makes it hard to be a good dad.

"You need to be working like this because that's the demands of the current climate and what we need to do to survive," he says.

But he craves more family time.

"There's so much that gives - not being able to go to concerts, not being able to help out at school, not being able to support on a Saturday morning with netball or hockey or cricket, so I often get the comment that 'Dad you're never home'."

Mr Gentry feels he's missing out on his daughter growing up and this study shows he's not alone.

But it's not all bad - 82 percent rate themselves as a very good or better than average dad, and 73 percent say they're more involved with their children than their own father was with them.

"I think it's probably fair to say that work/life balance has always been a challenge for dads," says Susan Morton, director of Growing Up in New Zealand.

"Perhaps the expectation that has changed is that dads will be more actively involved in their child's life."

And that can leave them feeling torn.

"I should be doing the best thing for my daughter and I can't always do that, so I don't actually feel better that other dads are in it," Mr Gentry says.

"I respect and recognise that they are but it doesn't make me feel any better about the situation that I'm in, I feel guilty."