“Daddy, Are We Poor?”

How do you explain to a 5 year old boy that you can’t afford what his friends have because you’ve prioritized family time over financial rewards? Here’s one dad’s story. This is a guest post by Aaron Gouveia that originally appeared at his blog, DaddyFiles.com on July 8th, 2013.

Guest bloffer Aaron Gouveia of Daddyfiles.com
Guest blogger Aaron Gouveia of Daddyfiles.com

What good is a fancy car if you only drive it to the office and back? What’s the point of buying your kids all the best toys if you’re not there to play along with them? And what good is that huge house if you’re never home to dance with your wife in the kitchen or chase the kids around that gargantuan playroom?

“Dad, are we poor?”

The question itself doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s an honest and insightful question that comes from a place of innocence and genuine curiosity often inhabited by 5-year-olds. It was the anxiety-riddled expression he wore on his face, and the hint of fear buried just below the inflection in his voice that did me in.

I should’ve seen this coming.

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Stockholm Syndrome, Learned Helplessness and Working Fathers

Many corporate cultures make it hard for dads to balance work and family. Let’s not compound the problem by also trapping ourselves. Here are 4 ways to avoid exacerbating our work-family struggles.

My cat's been an indoor cat so long, she doesn't even try to leave when we leave the door open. Sound familiar? photo credit: flossyflotsam via photopin cc
My cat’s been an indoor cat so long, she doesn’t even try to go outside when we leave the door open. photo credit: flossyflotsam via photopin cc

A Harvard Debate

I recently wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review Blog Network*. In it, I discuss men’s flexibility stigma– that is, men who make use of workplace flexibility for family reasons often face negative perceptions and tangible repercussions, even moreso than women.

I then call for working dads who have job security and credibility to start to chip away at rigid company cultures so that it becomes more normal to talk about fathers’ work-family issues. This is a first step, I believe, in a long-term process of making more employers more amenable to work-family concerns.

Overall, the article was very well-received- tons of shares, tweets and comments, almost all of which were complimentary. Many said the piece resonated with them and thanked me for raising this important but under-publicized issue. But there was some debate as well. One commenter:

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Calling a Time-Out on Fantasy Football

You’re serious about spending 20 hours a week on a non-work, non-family activity that causes stress and borderline psychotic behavior? Just say NO! With football season fast approaching, it’s time to revisit the dangers of “The Fantasy Football Time Suck”

Time Suck– (n) Something that’s engrossing and addictive, but that keeps you from doing things that are actually important, like earning a living, or eating meals, or caring for your children. (from UrbanDictionary.com)

Enjoy football, but don't let it ruin your life! photo credit: BabyBare11 via photopin cc
Enjoy football, but don’t let it ruin your life! photo credit: BabyBare11 via photopin cc

Sharpening the Saw

The greatest challenge we face in being both a good provider an a present father is that there never seems to be enough time in a day. Our jobs and careers demand our time; our kids need a lot of us, too.

It is also hard to find the energy necessary to be a great dad. Stress and time demands rob us of energy and prevent us from being relaxed and present.

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4 Factors Job Seeking Parents Should Keep in Mind

Job-seeking parents need to consider more than just pay and advancement opportunities when considering career opportunities. Here are 4 less obvious factors to keep in mind.

Help Wanted

When considering a potential job offer, we are often acutely aware of such factors as pay, opportunities for advancement and benefits like health insurance. These are important, but sometimes the less-obvious features of a job/employer can be the difference between a difficult situation and a job situation that suits you and your family.

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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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MLB Paternity Leave Update: Joe Mauer of the Twins is a Proud Father of, well, Twins!

Minnesota Twins superstar catcher Joe Mauer is among the latest ballplayers to avail themselves of Major League Baseball’s paternity leave policy- the first of its kind in major US sports. Congrats to the Mauers on their twins, and kudos to MLB for sending an important signal about the importance of fatherhood.

If there’s anything Joe Mauer knows it’s Twins!

MVP, batting champ, new dad to twins- Joe Mauer is supported by MLB's paternity leave policy
MVP, batting champ, new dad to twins- Joe Mauer is supported by MLB’s paternity leave policy

From HardballTalk.com:

(Thursday July 25, 2013) In Minnesota there’s a different Royal Baby watch going on. Joe Mauer was a last-minute scratch from last night’s lineup, leaving the Twins in California and flying back home to Minnesota because his wife went into labor with twins.

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Fathers, Work and Family’s Greatest Hits

Today, I’ll be traveling to the Academy of Management conference (On Monday, I’ll be presenting about, what else, Fathers’ Work-Family Issues, and will be attending sessions, networking, etc. throughout the weekend). So instead of a new post today, I’m sharing my compilation of the blog’s greatest hits.

Who's greatest hits? ...Well, mine!
Who’s greatest hits? …Well, mine!

Here is a Whitman’s Sampler of my favorite posts from the past year or so, along with the most read, liked and widely shared content from FWF. Enjoy!

The Single Best Way To Be A Great Dad: BE THERE

Open Letter to the New York Times: There is No “Room for Debate” About the Value of Fathers

Networking for Fatherhood (or, in praise of BEER FIRE!)

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Pioneering Fathers Needed: Dare to Be Visible in Using Work Flexibility

Many workplaces are not open to men prioritizing family while at work. To change this, we need visible role models- fathers who are both respected at work and take noticeable actions to balance family responsibilities. If you have the security and courage to do so, here’s some advice on how you can become that role model. (part 2 of a series)

I'm calling for dads to stand up for work-family balance, but not for Jerry MaGuire-level career suicide.
I’m calling for dads to stand up for work-family balance, but not for Jerry MaGuire-level career suicide.

Two weeks ago, I began a series of articles* about how we can “be the change we wish to see” and help make our workplaces more accepting of fathers’ work-family issues. We can do this by:

  • Talking about our families & asking other men about theirs (see part 1)

  • Making sure other men in our workplaces see us occasionally use work flexibility for family reasons

  • Taking paternity leave

  • Starting a Beer Fire! (a group of male coworkers to discuss life outside of work)

In the first installment, I wrote about how we can make coworkers feel more comfortable discussing their families while at work by taking the lead and starting these conversations. Today, I’d like to go one step further and discuss how we can use our actions to role-model work-family accommodations.

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