Work-Family News Roundup, August 2014

As a new feature on Fathers, Work and Family, I will be writing a monthly roundup of various news, information and commentary that relate to the content of the blog. In this way, we can stay abreast of the latest developments and note the progress in the attention being paid to these incredibly important issues. Here is the first installment.

First, my work at other publications:

And, I was extensively quoted in:

Now, the best of the rest:

Two Working Parents, One Sick Kid, by Alexis Madrigal in the Atlantic

In this mostly first-person piece, Madrigal describes how, when his son was too sick to attend day care, he and his wife decided he should be the one to stay home with him while his wife went to work. For Madrigal, this decision led him to consider how, for many men and couples, it is the default assumption that the mom is the one who should curtail her work for her kids and husband, while the dad continues to work. He questions this default assumption. Sheryl Sandberg would be proud.

I believe more dual-career couples are coming to the realization that increased share-care arrangements are the wave of the future, and we will see more men “step up” their caretaking duties while their spouses’ careers become equally valued.

Working Anything But 9 to 5, by Jodi Kantor in NYTimes Magazine

Along with most writers on work-family issues, I often highlight the struggles of those with professional careers- dealing with overwork, long hours, and high work demands. However, work-family issues, in many cases, land harder on hourly employees who have less financial and job security. Those with these jobs also have far less control over their work schedules.

This article focuses on hourly employees who often get less than 3 days notice of when they are working. As you can imagine, this is a logistical nightmare for those with parenting responsibilities- arranging quality care at the last minute is very difficult, and it can lead to impossible choices. The recent new story about the mother who left her young child in a playground while she went to work is a result of this time uncertainty and the lack of affordable and convenient childcare in the US.

At the recent White House Summit on Working Families, one speaker was an hourly employee at Macy’s Herald Square (the main one in NYC that the tourists visit during the holidays). She spoke about how her union and Macy’s agreed on a scheduling system in which employees get at least 3 weeks advance notice of their work schedules, making employees’ child-care arrangements so much easier to plan and navigate. There is movement for legislation to apply this model more broadly. This would help many families.

I read the news, so you don't have to! ;)
I read the news, so you don’t have to! ;)

NPR’s All Things Considered on Paternity Leave

This piece, compiled by Jennifer Ludden, takes an in-depth view of the increased desire among men to take paternity leave and the obstacles in their way. I was interviewed for this piece, and supplied Ludden with background information. Unfortunately, my part was cut out of the on-air interview. Still, the piece features two great experts: fathers’ work-family pioneer Dr. Scott Coltrane and EY executive Karyn Twaronite, as well as several new dads talking about their paternity leaves. For more on paternity leave, see here.

Work-Life Balance and the New Late Night Shift by Brad Stone in Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Stone describe how many professionals feel pressure to log into work after the kids are asleep to keep up with increased work demands. He describes 9pm to 11pm as the new “late shift.” Stone also talks to some experts about the dangers of being constantly plugged in and of being chronically overworked.

However, he also notes that, for many working parents, the “late shift” is part of an informal arrangement with their supervisor that allows them to spend less time at the actual workplace and be home for their children and other responsibilities. Looked at it that way, this is a useful tradeoff. Once again, workplace flexibility and information technology is a double-edged sword.

A Tale of Two Summers For Parents, by Belinda Luscome in Time Magazine

Luscome describes how having her kids home from school over summer vacation wreaks havoc on her work and life schedule. Luckily for her, and for most upper-middle class professionals, we can manage owing to work flexibility, social networks and the ability to throw money at the problem (summer camps, etc.). I also recently wrote about my summer struggle.

Luscome echoes the sentiments of Kantor’s piece that I highlighted above- those with less control over their work schedules have things much harder when it comes to child-care arrangements.

Dadvertising

I’d like to highlight this GREAT ad for Peanut Butter Cheerios. The ad shows a dad who has full control over the morning routine with his four kids and highlights his domestic role as a fun but effective parent (best quote- “dads- we do ‘work’ work and do ‘home’ work”). While most applauded this ad, there was, of course, a little bit of dumb backlash against “cool dads.” Still, this ad is a great example of the increased acknowledgement in the media that most dads are great- and not just a punchline.

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of FWF News Roundup. If you see any articles, ads or news items that you think would be of interest, please email me, or better yet, post the link at the FWF Facebook page. As always, I invite you to discuss in the comment section.

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One thought on “Work-Family News Roundup, August 2014

  1. Dear Scott, I’m enjoying reading your emails. As a rather old-fashioned, technophobe kinda guy, I do not communicate via facebk., twitter, & the like. I prefer to use the US postal service, email & or the telephone. Best of all are eye-ball visits. I reside in the MD/DC area but come up to Westchester cnty about 1 per month for some exuberant daddying/granddaddying. My next visit will be 9/22-25. Would you like to try to get together either in NYC or somewhere betw. Nyack & Rye? “Why?” you might ask. I’ve recently been referred to as the “dad of daddying,” (a gerund I coined in 1994) and I am the founder & president of REEL FATHERS; I have written regularly for *The NY TIMES*/Hearst News Service (see attcahed few pieces) — the White House Office of Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships sought my advice back in November 2009 regarding how the President could start a “Fatherhood Movement” following their discovering my piece on “The Daddying Movement” (attached); and most important, I am an exuberant dad of four and grandfather of 8. Looking forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, keep up your important work, and send me a postal address where I can mail you some additional pieces ~ Allan (Shedlin) * being a dad is not something you are, it’s something you do!* *www.reelfathers.org *

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