Merry Christmas! (and to end the year, a few odds and ends)

2012 has been a pretty tough year, and a lot of us will be glad to flip the calendar. However, despite the larger news of the world, I will always look back on 2012 as the year I took a risk and found amazing rewards.

Nick and I are so grateful for all of your support this year, and we look forward to a great 2013

In my day job, I teach HR and supervisory management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where I also conduct academic research into work-family balance and do occasional consulting. Academic writing is important, but can be limiting in terms of format and audience, and requires impersonal, scientific writing.

To expand beyond this, I had been toying with the idea of a blog on work-family issues for dads for a long time. It took a push by a friend (thanks, Anjanette!) to get me started. On September 16th, I launched FWF into the interwebs, not knowing how it would be received.

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Bushmaster and the Cult of Masculinity

A few people have asked me whether I, as a dad of a seven-year old, was going to write anything about the tragedy in Connecticut.  I replied that I had no expertise or anything unique or helpful to say- I’m just as pissed and sad as everyone else, and who wants to read a story about how I embarrassed Nick by hugging him for too long as he got off the school bus.

So, I’m not writing about Newtown. But I did come across this advertisement for the gun used in the mass murder, and it got me thinking about the signals our society still gives men about who they are expected to be.

What do messages like this demonstrate about how we view “men” in our society?

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These Chores Don’t Count? On Men’s Hidden “Second Shift”

Updated 3/25/13

The stereotype: “Housework is the only activity at which men are allowed to be consistently inept because they are thought to be so competent at everything else” – Letty Cottin Pogrebin

The reality: “The fellow who owns his own home is always coming out of a hardware store” -Kin Hubbard

Jobs using these do not get counted in major studies of housework (photo used under Creative Commons agreement)

For decades, The Bureau of Labor Statistics has conducted the Americans Time Use Survey (ATUS) and the University of Michigan has conducted the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Through surveys and time use diaries, these studies track employment patterns, as well as how Americans divide their time among their daily work and non-work tasks.

No surprise- these projects have consistently found that men spend more time at work than women, and women spend more time on housework than men. These gaps, which were once huge, have significantly narrowed over the decades, until stabilizing in about the late 1990s.

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On Being a Dad in a Mom’s World

I’ll be back on Friday with a note of gratitude, a Chrsitmas post, and some FWF milestones! In the meantime, here’s an awesome guest piece by my good friend, Neil. 

Bizarro World

A guest post by Neil Cohen. This article originally appeared at Neil’s blog, Man on Third, which I highly recommend.

Neil and Alex
Our guest blogger, Neil and his boy Alex

During the Thanksgiving break, I took my son Alex to a place called CuriOdyssey, which is a small “children’s museum”/zoo type of place with a number of animal exhibits – think a bobcat, not a lion.  We were walking around and came upon a volunteer sitting on a bench.  I noticed that he was cradling a small rat in his arms (the staff at this place often bring out animals for the kids to see up close).  I half jokingly (mostly to myself) said “Gross!” and the following exchange occurred:

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Negotiating for Work Flexibility

Part 4 of a 4 Part Series- Putting it all together

Use my advice, and even the pointy-haired boss may approve your request (bless you, Scott Adams)
Use my advice, and even the pointy-haired boss may approve your request (bless you, Scott Adams)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve written a series of articles about negotiating with your supervisor for a more flexible work arrangement, in which you can get more control over where and when some of your work is accomplished.

Like any request or negotiation, the key is to see the situation from the other person’s side and then communicate so that you dispel most of their concerns and show them how they benefit from the arrangement (a la Fisher & Ury’s “Getting to Yes” or Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”).

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The FatherBlogger Next Door

One of the more rewarding aspects of starting a blog about fatherhood is consistently reading other related blogs and connecting with their authors.

Today, I’d like to highlight one of my favorite fatherhood bloggers- Jeff, who runs the blog, Ay yo, Be a Father!. His blog is an entertaining, well-written and thought-provoking- I highly recommend following the blog (I especially liked his post, Score another one for the mama).

In blogging, as well as in life, you gotta have friends!
In blogging, as well as in life, you gotta have friends!

However, it is more the blogger himself, rather than his blog, that I’d like to highlight. Jeff was the first fatherblogger to stumble upon FWF in its infancy. He reached out initially by making thoughtful comments on the blog and eventually through email. In the early days of FWF, Jeff offered me needed positive encouragement while demonstrating the importance of reaching out to fellow fatherbloggers. From the man himself:

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Expert Perspectives: Are Your Finances Foiling Your Job Flexibility?

A guest post by Pat Katepoo

While I spend some time with Nick, my friend, Pat Katepoo takes over today with a GREAT guest post.  I'll be back on Thursday.
While I spend some time with Nick, my friend, Pat Katepoo takes over today with a GREAT guest post. I’ll be back on Thursday.

Last week, I heard from a state government employee who told me his current job provides him with “much flexibility and work life balance.”

Josiah (name/details changed to preserve anonymity) said he works an average of 35 hours a week, plus he can flex his hours as needed to meet family needs that come up. Oh, and he makes more than $125,000 a year.

All that’s the good news.

The bad news? Impending state-mandated furloughs along with 12% across-the-board pay cuts. It’s a salary slashing Josiah says he can’t absorb, forcing him to respond to an opening for another higher-paying job. A job where the culture is far from flexible.

Josiah came to me with his dilemma: “I’m devastated about the pay cut, but even more scared of the prospect of going to a new job where I no longer have the flexible schedule I currently have.”

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