A report found that parents are missing out on landmark moments in their child’s development, with one in 17 parents missing their child’s first steps and 1.5 million not present for their child’s first words. Meanwhile, fathers are three times more likely to miss out on these than mothers.
One in eight male parents in the UK missed the birth of their child and 2 per cent of women. In Edinburgh, eight per cent of parents – of either sex – were not present at the birth of their child, the fifth highest in the UK, below Belfast, Norwich, Cardiff, Birmingham and Brighton.
The study found that despite workplaces claiming to be increasingly family friendly, offering flexible working hours and the option to work from home, over 1.4 million parents missed their child’s first day at nursery or school. An additional 1.2 million parents missed out on seeing their child graduate from school or university.
Jane Morgan, business manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, said: “Seeing the birth of a child, hearing their first words and witnessing their first steps, are moments most parents will remember forever. Although with parents under increasing financial pressure to return to work to support their family, sadly many people are left with no choice but to miss these special moments.”
The research also shows parents’ mental health suffers if they miss key moments in their child’s development, with some parents experiencing considerable emotional stress and turmoil. A third of parents who missed a milestone moment admitted to feeling guilty for missing it, with 22 per cent feeling they had let their child down.
More than a fifth of parents said they felt “devastated” that they had missed a crucial moment in their child’s life, while some said they had changed their job or lifestyle to spend more time with their offspring.
Nikki Slowey, joint programme director at Family Friendly Working Scotland, said: “Parents and carers play a crucial role in Scotland’s workforce and economy, yet many face an ongoing battle to integrate their home and work life. A lack of flexible working opportunities, poorly designed jobs, that cannot possibly be done in the contracted hours, and a long hours working culture all have a negative impact on family life. And as this report from Direct Line highlights parents often miss out on key moments and milestones.
“We hope to see even more employers get on board and take positive action.”