The Smartest Things I Heard at the White House Summit on Working Fathers

Programming note. Today, I am at the main event of the White House Summit on Working Families in DC. Obama, Biden and a host of bigwigs in government and business are here. I will report out to you soon.

Dads are the greatest untapped resources in the lives of American kids- Kyle Pruitt

We live in a “Modern Family” society, but our policies are stuck in “Leave It To Beaver” mentality- Thomas Perez

On June 9th, I was honored to participate in the first ever White House Summit on Working Fathers. It was an amazing event, with so much great information and so many inspiring speakers. Here’s a short compilation of the most memorable quotes and ideas I heard during the event.

1. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough-

  • We have to move beyond the old dusty stereotypes of the distant dad. Dads are caregivers, and good dads are not just good for kids but for society and the economy.
  • We shouldn’t look at the costs of supporting the lives of employees, but instead focus on the costs of NOT adopting flexibility and leave policies. Losing employees, losing engagement compared to more progressive companies.

2. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez-

  • We live in a “Modern Family” society, but our policies are stuck in “Leave It To Beaver” mentality
  • It is a false choice between the needs of employees and shareholders. That’s the old stale thinking that gets in the way of progress. Places like Costco and Ace Hardware prove that family accommodations lead to loyalty, morale and productivity. It is not just the right thing to do. For business, it is the smart thing to do.
  • There are 4 countries on Earth without any paid parental leave. Why are we on this list when the rest of the world has figured this out?
  • You need to provide the food for the table, but we want you there at the table with your family, too

3. Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman-

  • Only 15% of employers offer paid paternity leave, and over half of dads say they have no access to flexible work hours. Further, 29% of men have no access to leave at the birth of their child.
  • When California implemented paid parental leave, the business community was dead set against it and fought it every step of the way. Now, 10 years later, 90% of employers said they saw either no effect or a positive effect on their companies and the policy is overwhelmingly popular.

4. Dana Glazer’s short film “The Evolution of Dad”-

  • Stay-at-home dads are overlooked and often denigrated. Working dads are overwhelmed and overworked. But finally, our perception of fatherhood is growing up.

5. Kyle Pruitt, PhD. Clinical Psychologist and perhaps the foremost scholar on the psychology of fatherhood-

  • For so long, when we were studying families and children, we NEVER looked at fatherhood. The importance of fathers is so obvious that we must have been consciously looking away.
  • In my meta-analysis of 300 studies on the effects of involved fatherhood, we found that across all race and class lines, kids did better in school, developed more and better problem-solving skills, were less gender-constrained in activities and occupations, were less likely to be delinquent or get into legal trouble, delayed their first sexual experiences, and were themselves less likely to get divorced.
  • Dads are the greatest untapped resources in the lives of American kids
  • Before the industrial revolution, fathers and their children interacted all day. The strict division of dads into breadwinners only is a very modern invention. Fatherhood is natural. Nurturing is natural for men.
  • Parental instinct is over-rated, for both men and women. Time to bond and to learn how to care for children is the key.

Daniel Murphy, Major league Baseball Player who took a paternity leave earlier this year-

  • Long after I’m no longer good enough to be a baseball player, I’ll still be a dad
  • I decided to take paternity leave to be able to support wife and give her peace, and so I can someday talk to my son about the day he was born because I was there (Instead of telling him about how Stephen Strasburg hung me a curveball!)
  • Being a father has transformed me. it is humbling and exciting, it is stripping me of my selfishness, has led me to seek wisdom from the men in my life, made me closer to my wife and connected me to God’s love for his children.

Secretary of Labor Anthony Foxx-

  • You can’t be a good dad unless you have the time and then make the time.
  • I send my kids to their room when necessary, and hug them even when it is not
  • We need to change the story of fatherhood from a story of decline to a story of success.

Which are your favorite quotes? (mine are in bold) Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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PS- There were so many more great speakers, and I apologize I couldn’t include everyone (Also, since I was also presenting I spent some time preparing and speaking and not taking notes). In the next week or so, I will write about the lessons I learned from the panel of business leaders I moderated and how their companies demonstrated a financial return on investment from their “father-friendly” approaches.

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15 Comments

  1. Good stuff, thanks for sharing, Scott.
    As the dad who coined the gerund “daddying” back in 1994, and the concept of DADvocacy more recently, I’m thrilled to see this dawning by the White House and others!
    (If you send me your postal address and/or email, I’ll be happy to send along these pieces distributed worldwide by the Hearst/NY Times News Service.
    Onward!

    Reply
  2. Love the quotes – thanks for sending them out so quickly! My favorite…”There are 4 countries on Earth without any paid parental leave. Why are we on this list when the rest of the world has figured this out?”

    Reply
    • Hi Karen- These quotes are actually from the June 9th Working Fathers Summit, but I plan on doing another one for the big event on Monday. That quote will definitely be included.

      Reply
  3. Great stuff! Love to see the support you got!

    Reply
    • It really was a great day. It was a lead-up event to the main summit that was yesterday. The main event, for me, was more of a mixed bag. I’ll write about it next week.

      Reply
  4. What a great day. Looking forward to seeing and hearing more of this…

    Reply
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