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.
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.
For me, this blog is also a big risk. This whole experiment in Constantly Risking Absurdity is often nerve-wracking. As a tenured professor, I have the safest, most ego-friendly job on the planet. However, diving into the hypercompetitive world of blogging means I cannot rest on my resume; a blog is only as good as the latest post. Considering that seemingly everyone has a blog (and blogs are like opinions, which are like… well, you know the rest), my healthy-sized ego was terrified that my singularly brilliant perspective on fathers, work and family would be roundly rejected, or worse, ignored. Further, a blog written for a wide audience of busy, involved dads is an interesting challenge; by definition, my desired readership is busy, distracted and diffuse. Eek!
Despite the perils to my fragile ego, my first 3 1/2 months creating and writing FWF has been unbelievably rewarding. I make no money here, and never intend to (there may be a book down the line, however…). Blogging allows me to write more personally and to a broader audience, challenges me to find a compelling writing voice, and gives me an opportunity to prove (at least to myself) that I have a perspective based on my personal and professional experience that is interesting and helpful to my fellow busy dads. This whole experience has been a source of pride and motivation, and validated my hope that I have something to contribute. Risking absurdity has been worth it.
Thanks so much to you, FWF readers, for making my new venture a success- and more importantly, for starting an important conversation. I especially want to thank Kerri Smith-Majors, Karolis Zukaukas, Neil Cohen, Pat Katepoo, Anjanette Harper, Justin Cascio, Francesco Fiondella, Ryan Sanders, Scott Carpenter and Paul Katz (and I just know I’m leaving folks out) for their varying contributions, and of course my Dad, Joe Behson. The biggest thanks go to those without whom I would not be a father- my amazing wife, Amy Griffin and Jedi-in-training son, Nicholas Behson.
In the new year, I will be expanding my efforts to bring in a wider variety of dad’s voices to discuss the issues we struggle with, and how some have discovered things that work for them. I will also begin a series based on my research on the “hidden ways” dads try to balance family responsibilities while at work. FWF will also talk to experts in work-family and translate their research findings and professional experience into usable advice. Of course, more “Time Suck“, “Beer Fire” and humor pieces are also in the works. Anything else you’d like to see? Just send me an email or make a note in the comments section.
Before I sign off for 2012, I just wanted to follow up on a few items.
1. I knew I was on to something
It is always gratifying when something you just wrote about (the “Time Suck” of Fantasy Football) gets covered in the NY Times. I hope some acknowledgement from the world’s newspaper of record is forthcoming!
2. FWF is 0 for 2 in the “high profile athlete takes a stand over paternity leave” angle. Well, maybe next year.
My first FWF post discussed how Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger declared he would miss a game to attend the birth of his child, if the kid were to be born on a game day. I was hoping for this to happen because it would raise the issue of paternity leave for dads in a very high-profile way.
Unfortunately (for me), Ben Jr. was born on a Wednesday, and during a 3 week stretch in which Roethlisberger was injured and did not play. (notice how I made the happy news of the birth of a healthy baby all about me and my needs!)
Similarly, Bears CB Charles Tillman also said he would not play if his baby was born on a game day. However, his daughter was born on a Monday night (The Bears played Sunday).
BTW- the way they have each played post-baby, you wonder if late-night diaper changes and sleep deprivation have crushed them as much as it crushes the rest of us.
In just over 3 months, FWF has grown from a lingering idea to a blog that has seen:
- 36 articles
- 180 comments
- 4,700+ page views
- 250+ twitter/email/facebook/wordpress followers
- $400 raised for the National Fatherhood Initiative
- 7 articles republished in the Good Men Project
All the credit for the growth of this blog and our online community goes to you. Thank you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!