An Interview on Fatherhood, Work-Family Balance, and What Makes a Good Dad

My employer, Fairleigh Dickinson University, runs a video series which highlights the research and professional work of selected faculty members. A short while ago, they asked if I would be part of their program and would discuss my work on work-family issues for fathers. I think the interview went very well, and it really captures my work here at Fathers Work and Family. Enjoy.

Here’s the video of my interview (about 5 minutes long):

Here’s the transcript of the interview:

INTRO: “This is Faculty Focus from Fairleigh Dickinson University. In this episode we feature Dr. Scott Behson, Professor of Management in the Silberman College of Business. His areas of expertise include work and family issues, workplace flexibility and the challenges facing working fathers.”

Me: The data shows that fathers today work as much as they ever did before in in the workplace. However they’re spending three times as much time with their children as fathers a generation ago and twice as much time on housework. And this of course is in large part because sixty percent of US households are dual-income, shared-care couples where both parents are working and both parents are taking care of the household. Further, two-thirds of fathers today report work-family conflict.

The research shows that any way that a child can benefit from having a father around they do. Children have active involved fathers do better at school, have fewer problems on terms of behavior- getting into trouble or getting arrested, are much less likely to get involved with drugs and alcohol, they persist through high school graduation, they graduate college, they are in more stable relationships themselves, they have better health outcomes. All the research really shows that having active involved father brings so many benefits to the child, to the family, and then of course, to society.

Incompatible Career Tracks

Many of us choose our careers and our career paths when we’re quite young- right out of college, for example, and that’s when we probably don’t have a lot of family commitments. So, sometimes we choose careers that involve long hours or a lot of travel. And then when family comes along and children come along, killer hours and international travel are not very compatible with that. Unless we make a conscious choice to recalibrate our careers from time to time, there’s a danger that will stay on a path that once worked for us and now doesn’t because of our family responsibilities.

You can still go to law school, it’s just that partnership track is different than an associate track. Or being an accountant a Big Four accounting firm who travels all around the country, that’s a different job than a good accounting job at a local organization. And yes there are financial trade-offs and we need to be conscious of these trade-offs but we should make conscious choices.

Planning With Your Partner

Decisions need to be made, for example, when you are expecting a child, and then end up drifting towards a decision which sometimes happens. It can leave, for example, a stay at home mom who doesn’t really want to be a stay at home mom becoming very disgruntled at the situation, or a father who would like to be more involved at home but now since he’s the only wage-earner has to work even more hours. These are situations we don’t really want. We’d rather have a situation where both parents can at least discuss their full range of options before decisions are made.

Flexibility Is Good Business

I take a very long term approach when I talk about business and management in my courses. I firmly believe, and the data shows, that companies that take a long range view, with their finances in their operations in general, but with their employee-related policies and programs and how they interact with their employees- A long-term approach shows that accommodating people’s personal lives and family lives is good business.

Many companies offer leave policies for example, many companies offer maternity leave more companies are starting to offer paid paternity leave. It is still a small percentage but it’s growing. But beyond that, schedule flexibility in my opinion is really the most important workplace accommodation that we can have. Allowing working fathers and mothers to somewhat construct their schedules so that they can, on occasion when they need, go home early or work from home or take work home with them in order to accommodate work family demands. These small bits of accommodation can really have large payoff in retaining really good employees and for eventual financial success.

A Good Father

A good father is a role model. A good father is a constant loving presence that is the bedrock for a child knowing that they can go out into the world with confidence. And it’s just so important that our children grow up knowing that their fathers are there.

In addition to some of the specific skills, there’s a lot of research that shows that mothers and fathers parent slightly differently and that there’s more activity and rough housing. There are certain aspects that their father can bring to both raising girls and boys. In addition, being a role model for future relationships is something that’s really important. Our children will tend to choose to be or to choose partners who act in certain ways based on how we act with our children.

What do you think about these issues? About the interview? (I think I look a little puffy myself)

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And, of course a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Your support is definitely one thing I am very grateful for.

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1 Comment

  1. Put Work at Risk | Main Line Dads

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