Josh Levs Takes a Stand for Paternity Leave

Journalist Josh Levs has filed an EEOC charge against his employer, claiming that its parental leave policy discriminates against fathers. His public stand may help encourage needed change. Here are the details and my analysis.

Nothing fuels you to fight for what’s right like the love you have for your child.- Josh Levs

A screencap of the NYTimes article profiling Josh Levs and his stand for parental equality
A screencap of the NYTimes article profiling Josh Levs and his stand for parental equality

Over the past few months, I’ve written articles in which I encourage dads who have the financial and job security to bravely stand up so that men’s family needs can be discussed and addressed at their workplaces (see here and here). While I am almost certain Josh Levs did not read my posts, he certainly has taken a bold and public stand for fathers’ work-family issues.

You can read the full details on Levs’ own website or in a terrific NYTimes piece on his case. However, I’ll summarize the relevant facts here:

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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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The New Chevrolet Malibu Ad Depicts Fathers’ Work-Family Priorities

Chevy Malibu* launched a new ad campaign that extols the virtues of valuing family over materialism. This rare and honest depiction of everyday dads is a refreshing change from the glitz we often see.

A screencap of Chevrolet Malibu's positive depiction of fathers and work-life balance
A screencap of Chevrolet Malibu’s positive depiction of fathers and work-life balance

When I watch TV, I almost always tune out the commercials. But while watching the World Series the other night, there was an ad that grabbed and kept my attention. (In fact, my wife, whose only flaw is that she dislikes baseball, was in the room at the time and told me “this ad would make for a good blog post for you”)

Car ads typically try to entice the buyer by showing how THIS car will make others see you as richer, cooler, more sophisticated, more powerful. This ad for the 2014 Chevy Malibu stands out- It extols the virtues of valuing relationships with children, significant others, and family over career ambition and status-seeking. It’s worth watching:

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Paternity Leave is Good For Kids!

Paternity leave is not just good for dads, but also for kids. A new academic study finds that men who take paternity leave are more likely to be involved in childcare activities later on, and that their kids do better on some cognitive ability tests.

I'm so glad I got to be home with Nick when he was born! I wish every dad had the same opportunity
I’m so glad I got to be home with Nick when he was born! I wish every dad had the same opportunity

According to this article, Dr. Jennifer Baxter, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, will soon be presenting research in which she found:

1. A strong relationship between fathers’ taking paternity leave and their subsequent involvement in their children’s lives.

Baxter states, “Father’s leave is linked to more involvement in childcare activities such as helping a baby to eat, changing nappies, getting up in the night, bathing and reading to a child, compared to fathers who took no leave.”

2. Some evidence of better cognitive outcomes for kids whose fathers took paternity leave.

Baxter states, “The children of fathers who take long leave after their birth are more likely to perform better in cognitive development tests and are more likely to be prepared for school at the ages of four and five.”

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October is National Work and Family Month!

October is National Work and Family Month. To start us off, here’s some information on the current state of work and family.

October is National Work and Family Month

…and I’m proud to be part of the cause.

October isn't just for Halloween anymore (my family as the Star Wars gang!)
October isn’t just for Halloween anymore (my family as the Star Wars gang!)

World at Work and its Alliance for Work-Life Progress, as well as many other organizations and advocates (include yours truly) are participating in National Work and Family Month (#WAWNWFM) in order to raise awareness of work and family issues. Part of this effort is a blogfest on the Huffington Post (of which I will be a part), plus events and social media outreach throughout the month.

Robin Hardman wrote an excellent blog piece, entitled “Musings on National Work and Family Month” to get things kicked off. In the piece, she discusses the progress being made in raising awareness of work and family concerns. Hardman provides a chart of the number of times “work-family balance” appeared in the New York Times over the past two decades. Her findings are very encouraging:

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Joe Flacco and Hunter Mahan: Why They Both Made the Right Work-Family Decision

A few weeks ago, PGA golfer Hunter Mahan left a sporting event to be at the birth of his child. Last week, NFL star Joe Flacco chose to play. Why I support both of their decisions.

Real progress for working dads comes when we have choices and can thoughtfully make work-family decisions that work for us.

Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens in training...
Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens in training camp July 23rd, 2008 (Wikipedia, Creative Commons license)

High-Profile Fathers

Over the past few months, I praised high-profile new dads who made public actions to prioritize family over work. Of particular note was pro golfer, Hunter Mahan, who left a tournament he was leading (and in which he could have won $1Million) to be at the birth of his daughter. He made a high-profile choice that, in my opinion, sent an important signal about fatherhood. I was especially encouraged by the support Mahan received from the golf and sports world.

Last week, Baltimore Ravens star quarterback Joe Flacco was faced with a similar dilemma. His wife unexpectantly went into labor shortly before the Ravens’ game against the Cleveland Browns. Flacco talked with his wife and other family members over the phone, but did not leave the stadium for the hospital. Instead, he played, leading the Ravens to a much-needed victory. As soon as the game ended, he sped to the hospital, a few hours after the birth of his son.

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Thank you, Elvis, For Helping Me Raise My Son

How a conversation about my son’s favorite singer- Elvis Presley- helped me teach him a valuable lesson about drugs (and honest communication, and rock and roll…)

A cropped photograph depicts singer Elvis Pres...
Elvis is still the King. (public domain photo)

Resisting Pop Culture

In general I resist pop culture as it pushes our kids to grow up too damned fast. I do my best to shield my 8 year old, Nick, from the coarsening effects of pop culture, and I suspect you do as well. But it is really hard to do.

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The “Opt-Out Generation,” Mothers, Fathers, Work and Family

Welcome HBR Readers! Please take a look around (see the “best of” category link on the right-hand side of the page) and feel free to like/follow the blog and spread the word.

Most of us don’t want to opt-out of a rewarding, successful career. Most of us don’t want to opt-out of being a present, involved parent. Hopefully our generation can find a more balanced, integrated path.

A screencap of the recent NYTimes Magazine cover story
A screencap of the recent NYTimes Magazine cover story

The NYTimes Sunday Magazine’s fascinating cover story, “The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In” by Judith Warner, paints a complex picture of the dynamics of work and family. While it focuses on high-earning women who gave up their careers to be stay-at-home moms, it has very interesting things to say about how men’s and women’s progress towards work-family balance are inextricably tied.

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