Expert Perspectives: Erin Rehel on Fatherhood, Masculinity and Paternity Leave

Sociologist Erin Rehel conducted a fascinating research study on paternity leave and changing perceptions of masculinity. Here’s a Q&A with Dr. Rehel about her research and its implications for working dads.

Dr. Erin Rehel recently conducted a fascinating study about fatherhood, paternity leave and masculinity
Dr. Erin Rehel recently conducted a fascinating study about fatherhood, paternity leave and masculinity
  •  Tell us a bit about your study

My research examines the connection between fatherhood, work, social policy, and shifting ideals of masculinity in the United States and Canada. I conducted 85 interviews with fathers and their partners. I find that fathers today draw think differently about masculinity and fatherhood, but there are societal and workplace barriers that force many dads to fall back into less involved parenting roles.

In this particular study, “When Dad Stays Home Too: Paternity Leave, Gender, and Parenting,” (forthcoming in Gender & Society), I argue that when fathers experience the transition to parenthood in ways similar to mothers, through formal or informal paternity leave, they come to think about and do parenting in ways that are similar to mothers.

Paternity leave provides the space necessary for fathers to develop the parenting skills and sense of responsibility that allows them to be active co-parents rather than helpers to their female partners. This shift from a manager-helper dynamic to that of co-parenting creates opportunities for a more gender-equitable division of labor.

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Expert Perspectives: Legal Insights into Josh Levs’ Paternity Leave Discrimination Case

One of the things I love most about this blog is the opportunity it has given me to have conversations with so many smart, knowledgeable people. I have learned more from this blog than anyone, thanks to your comments and willingness to engage and network with me. After I posted my piece last week about Josh Levs and his important paternity leave discrimination suit, I received the following message through Linkedin from blog reader Cynthia Calvert, Esq., who is an expert in work-family employment law.

Work-life law expert Cynthia Calvert
Work-life law expert Cynthia Thomas Calvert

Cynthia was quoted in the NYTimes article about Levs and she believes his case to be stronger than I believed it to be in my analysis last week. After our discussion, I think she’s right. In this case, I’d be very happy to be wrong.

I found our exchange fascinating- it really helped clarify the situation for me, especially in terms of gender discrimination and the difference between parental leave for care versus physical recovery. Cynthia was nice enough to allow me to reprint our back-and-forth here. I think you’ll enjoy it.

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Expert Perspectives: Five Reasons Why It’s A Great Time to be a Dad!

Hey, busy involved dad, are you feeling burned out? You are not alone- most dads are struggling to juggle work and family. But that’s a sign of progress. And in many ways this is the best of times to be a father. Guest author Jeremy Adam Smith explains five reasons why.

Guest author Jeremy Adam Smith
Guest author Jeremy Adam Smith

Jeremy Adam Smith writes on a variety of topics related to positive psychology and fatherhood and is the author of several books, including The Daddy Shift. You should really check out his work. In June, he wrote a great article “Five Reasons Why It’s a Good Time to be a Dad” which appeared at the Greater Good Science Center website. He was nice enough to allow me to excerpt it here at FWF. (Here’s a link to the full-length article.)

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“Moments of Accommodation” An Interview with Major League Baseball on Paternity Leave

Paul Mifsud, Senior Counsel, Labor Relations for Major League Baseball was nice enough to speak with me about their paternity leave policy. One of Paul’s primary responsibilities is working with teams and the players on rules changes within the game of baseball, ranging from drug programs to instant replay to paternity leave. He’s also a busy working father of three. I greatly appreciate his time.

MLB All Star Home Run Derby 2013
In my opinion, MLB hit a home run with its paternity leave policy (Photo credit: gargudojr)

For the past few months, I’ve been reporting on players who use Major League Baseball’s Paternity Leave Policy and have repeatedly praised MLB for their high-profile support of working dads. Could you summarize Major League Baseball’s paternity leave policy?

Prior to the 2011 season, when Major League Baseball first implemented the Paternity List, most Clubs allowed players several days of paid leave upon the birth and adoption of a child, but were required to play short when the player was absent. The establishment of the Paternity List enables Clubs to replace players who are granted leave for a maximum of three days, while continuing to pay the players and maintain a full roster of active players during the leave period.

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For Busy Dads, Reading (with our kids) is Fundamental

Reading with our kids is important for their development- and, with some creativity we can also use reading as a way to stay connected with our kids even when busy or when traveling for work. Here’s expert Chris Cottrell’s evidence and advice 

Guest blogger Chris Cottrell who founded a NFP to encourage reading as a way to strengthen the bond between dads and their kids
Guest blogger Chris Cottrell who founded a “Daddy Read A Book”, a NFP that encourages reading as a way to strengthen the bond between dads and their kids

I’m writing this post from the perspective of a son, looking back on great things my dad did. When I was very young, my dad had to be away from the family for almost nine months, practically a lifetime for me at that age. To help keep us connected during that time, he filmed himself reading my favorite children’s books out loud and gave me that video to watch while he was away. Reading out loud together became common at home and it is a very fond memory of my childhood.

Why Is Reading Out Loud So Important?

Reading aloud helps your children grow their imaginations, learn words and languages, think critically and succeed in school.

Here’s the evidence:

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Workplace Flexibility and Flexible Careers: Expert Q&A with Jeremy Anderson of Flexjobs.com

Jeremy Anderson works fully from home for FlexJobs.com, a website that matches job seekers looking for telework opportunities with flexible employers. He was nice enough to talk with me about his career, the benefits of working from home, and the state of telework in the US.  

Jeremy Anderson is an expert on telework, and was nice enough to be interviewed for Fathers, Work and Family
Jeremy Anderson is an expert on telework, and was nice enough to be interviewed for Fathers, Work and Family

Can you briefly describe what FlexJobs.com does and how the company operates?

FlexJobs is a professional jobs service to help candidates find the best flexible jobs available, safely and easily. We find flexible jobs (jobs that offer telecommuting, flexible hours, flex schedules, FT, PT, freelance and contract), screen the jobs and companies, and then only post legitimate positions. FlexJobs itself is a purely virtual company. We have staff members from California to Colorado to Florida. We even have one FlexJobs staff member living in Germany!

So, seeing as you have an entirely virtual company with all work-from-homers distributed around the country, how does the company manage and coordinate itself?

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Expert Perspectives: The Dual-Career Mojo that Makes Couples Thrive

To make dual careers work, a couple needs to be on the same page regarding their career and life goals and how they will support each other in achieving them. Here are four strategies from Dr. Monique Valcour for developing and maintaining an effective dual-career partnership.

A consistent theme on this blog (see here, here, and here) is the need for couples to work together to set their priorities about their family life as well as their own individual work and life goals. Then, couples need to constantly communicate and support each other. No matter what arrangement couples decide on, the key is to see that the kids’ needs are met and the couple supports each other.

My friend and colleague Dr. Monique Valcour is a leading expert in work-life issues, and she was kind enough to let me repost an amazing piece she recently wrote on her blog at Harvard Business Review (I also highly recommend her twitter feed). Her article pulls together a lot of what I’ve written about and packs it into one amazing piece.

Friend and Work-Life Expert Monique Valcour has some great advice for dual-career couples
Friend and Work-Life Expert Monique Valcour has some great advice for dual-career couples

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Expert Q&A with Dr. Mark Promislo on Materialism and Work-Family Conflict

(or, The Dangers of Valuing Money More than People)

Mark Promislo is a husband, father of two young girls, and a management professor at Rider University (and a friend, but most importantly an active blog reader and commenter!), who recently authored a great study on the effects of materialism on work-family conflict. I asked him a few questions about his life, his work, and his study– which I think has implications for working dads.

Mark's research shows the negative effects of valuing material possessions on work-family balance and well-being
Mark’s research shows the negative effects of valuing material possessions on work-family balance and well-being

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