A Blog Dedicated to Supporting Work-Family Balance for Fathers. By Scott Behson, PhD
Scott Behson is a Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, a busy involved dad, an author, blogger, advocate, speaker and consultant. He wrote the best-selling book, The Working Dad's Survival Guide, and runs the www.FathersWorkandFamily.com blog dedicated to helping fathers better balance work and family and encouraging more supportive workplaces. He lives in Nyack, NY with his lovely wife, Amy, and awesome son, Nick. His work has appeared in Time, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post and much more, and he has spoken on work-family issues at the White House and the UN, as well as on MSNBC, NPR, Fox News, CBS and Bloomberg radio. Contact him @ScottBehson on twitter or Behson@fdu.edu.
I am cursed to be a fan of the miserable New York Jets. However, my new (temporary) favorite team is the now the Green Bay Packers. The Packers showed incredible support for punter JK Scott as he awaited the birth of his child.
According to Sports Illustrated, the Packers punter and his wife, Sydney, are expecting a baby any day now. This proved worrisome when Scott traveled to Foxborough last weekend for a Sunday Night Football matchup with the (hated) Patriots. But Green Bay put a plan in place to make sure Scott could be back in Wisconsin if Sydney went into labor.
First, the Packers had a plane fueled up and waiting at a nearby airport, ready to fly Scott back to the Midwest if he got the phone call he was waiting for.
And if that call did come, the team even had a backup plan at punter- they signed a backup on Friday, just in case (it helped that they had an open roster spot after two recent trades).
This is a guest post by blog reader and finance expert Brian Davis. “Retirement” is becoming a fuzzier word. In the past it meant ceasing to work, at the end of a long career. Nowadays, you have 35-year-olds quitting their full-time jobs and working in the gig economy when it suits them and their family. … Read more
Russell Clayton is a business school professor who wrote a book on work-life balance. He’s a friend of mine. And most importantly, he is a devoted working dad, juggling away like the rest of us. His book, In Search of Work-Life Balance offers a faith-based perspective on leading a balanced life. I think it has lessons for us all, not just those who are religious. Russell was nice enough to talk to us about his book, faith and fatherhood.
Your unique contribution in this book is lending a faith-based perspective to work-family balance. Can you explain how a faith-based approach is beneficial, and how this perspective can also apply to those who are less religious?
The faith-based approach is certainly beneficial for those who are religious. It is easy to think that God should only play a part in certain roles we hold (e.g., we volunteer at a homeless shelter). But work and family life are two big areas in which God should have a presence for the religious person. For someone who is less religious, the faith-based perspective can still be applicable. In chapter 2, I discuss the idea of us becoming selfless in our marriage and parenting roles. This stems from God’s word in Philippians 2:3-4 which instructs us to regard others as more important than ourselves and to look out for others. Whether we are the most religious or least religious person out there, this wise counsel of being selfless should be taken to heart.
I’m a lapsed Catholic myself, but “To everything there is a season” always resonated with me as a great perspective for a balanced life. What other passages speak to you on this topic?
A few years ago, my friend and neighbor, Francesco, started inviting dads from our neighborhood to small social gatherings at his backyard fire pit to talk and have a few beers. We now call these meet-ups “Beer Fire.”
I love Beer Fire, and see it as a possible solution for the persistent problem that we busy working dads don’t often develop networks of friends to share their experiences with. As such, my second-ever blog post extolled the virtues of Beer Fire, and a good chunk of Chapter 12 of my book, The Working Dad’s Survival Guide, describes the benefits of informal dad networks and fun social time that Beer Fire and similar gatherings can foster. From my book:
Beer Fire is awesome– it’s relaxing; it’s fun, and I always learn a little something from everyone I talk to. For example, a neighbor and I discussed how much allowance is appropriate for our kids and how many chores our kids needed to do to earn it. In another conversation, I learned about local swimming and fencing programs. I even helped a dad develop a strategy for asking his boss for more work flexibility. The beer was pretty good, too….
Part of the success of Beer Fire is that it is not a formal group. No one distributes an agenda ahead of time, and the conversations flow organically. Yes, we talk about cars, sports and women. But, because the attendees are mostly of the same age group, live locally, and have kids of around the same age, the conversation naturally gravitates to what we all share in common – our careers, our kids, and how we try to juggle it all.
Another part of Beer Fire’s success is that it is represents a “guys’ night out.” We’re not a John Birch Society, the Little Rascals’ “He-Man Woman Hater’s Club” or Al Bundy’s “No Ma’am” group (from “Married with Children”). No drum circles or hazing rituals for us. However, I think it is important that Beer Fire is a comfortable place just for guys. This allows folks to open up a little more, and to discuss family issues more readily. I think that because even today’s modern dad sometimes sees “family issues” as a primarily women’s concern, we self-censor our discussion when moms are around. “After all”, we may think to ourselves, “my wife has an even tougher juggle than me. What right to I have to complain?”
All of us want to connect with our children. With all the distractions from work and life, it can be hard to be a truly present parent. Dr. Timothy Dukes’ new book, The Present Parent Handbook, was written to help parents be more mindful in our interactions with our families. Tim was nice enough to answer a few questions for us. Enjoy!
I’ve heard the terms “quality time” and “quantity time” before, but before reading your book, had not considered the importance of “incidental time.” Can you briefly explain what you mean by incidental time and why it is so important for parents?
I am very fond of the reality of incidental time. I might define it as those moment that are not planned, they arise unexpectedly, and invite us into our child’s world or them into ours. Incidental is defined as “falling upon” or “happening to.” Incidental time fosters curiosity, serendipity, play, frolicking, resulting in a “felt-sense of knowing” by both the parent and the child. This “felt-sense” establishes the baseline of fundamental connection. Nothing is planned, duration is a secondary concern, and now in this moment, something unfolds between us that is abiding. Incidental time, holds context for life as is. Life that lives itself and in which, if we are present, we participate.
Rick Barry shot underhand free throws. What we working dads can learn from this example.
One of the oddest things about world-class NBA players is that some of them are terrible free-throw shooters. Free-throws should be one of the easiest aspects of the game- the shot is always the same distance and no one is trying to guard you. Even so, some great players, mostly big-men such as Shaquille O’Neal, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard, make less than 50% of their free-throws. This means fewer points and a reduced chance to win. In fact, opposing teams have made a habit of intentionally fouling poor free throw shooters near the end of close games, often resulting in the player having to be taken out of the game during crunch-time, hurting their teams chance at victory. The term for this was called “Hack a Shaq.”
Joe DeProspero is the author of “A Punch to the Groin: Painful Tales of Fatherhood.” I really enjoyed his honest and funny memoir of fatherhood. Joe was nice enough to answer a few questions about his book, the importance of self-care and the challenges of being a busy working dad of three.
Your book is really funny. And it also reveals pretty personal (and not always attractive) details. Did you have any concerns about writing so honestly? Did your wife?
Not really. Ever since I was a child, writing has been cathartic for me, a way to make sense of the thoughts swirling in my head, no matter how unflattering. I’ve found that my readers connect more deeply with my writing that is intimate, so it’s mutually beneficial for me to be honest. Also, at this point, I have a fairly good sense of what my wife is comfortable with me putting out there. I’m the one who appears incompetent in the book, so I think she was fine with that.
My favorite chapter is “Keys to not favoring your first,” about our tendency to go overboard for our first kid and take a more relaxed approach with the second. Could you tell us about that chapter, and about how successful you’ve been at not playing favorites?
Just in time for Father’s Day, here’s an excerpt from my best-selling book, The Working Dad’s Survival Guide. (Which would make a great gift for yourself or any of the dads in your life!) This excerpt is all about how using time chunks can help keep us focused on family time and free up our mental energy to get the most out of it. It also references Harry Potter. Enjoy!
Regularly Scheduled Time Chunks of Unstructured Activity
A few hours dedicated to a single father-kid activity is better than several distracted twenty minute snippets scattered throughout the day.
When I first started writing this book, for example, Nick would often ask me to play. I didn’t want to disappoint him, so I’d set aside my laptop and join him for ten minutes of Wii LEGO Harry Potter. Then, I’d go back to my writing. Invariably, he’d be back asking me to play a half-hour later, and we’d repeat the cycle.