On Work and Fatherhood Priorities (with Bill Bryson and Ferris Bueller)

How could I turn down a chance to play catch with him? Work can wait.

Bill Bryson is my favorite author, and puts my writing skills to shame.  His humorous travel writing (e.g., In a Sunburned Country, A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson’s African Diary, Neither Here Nor There), memoirs (e.g., The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, I’m a Stranger Here Myself), and science/history books (A Short History of Nearly Everything, At Home) are all fantastic.  He may have written the best passage about Fathers, Work and Family that I have ever read.   The following is excerpted from “On Losing a Son (to College)” from Bill Bryson’s book I’m a Stranger Here Myself, 1999:

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The Dangers of Over-Scheduling (or, relax, Scott, Nicky will almost certainly not be an Olympic gymnast)

The idea for this post came to me while sitting in traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge taking my son Nick to gymnastics.

Nick at gymnastics

More than anything, our kids need time with their dads.  Even more than that, they need time with us when we are truly present- not surreptitiously texting, not stressing out about what we need to do at work tomorrow, but truly focused on our kids and making the time we have (limited as it sometimes is) really enjoyable.  We all know this, but it is often hard to carve out the time (see my previous post about family dinners for more on this topic). 

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In Praise of Flexible Workplace Cultures

Last week, I wrote about work-family culture, and the questions The Families and Work Institute uses to assess this part of organizational culture.  I hope you enjoyed it (and I can wait for you here if you want to refer back.  Ok, ready?).  Now, here are the Families and Work Institute’s measures for general autonomy and flexibility:

  1. I have the freedom to decide what I do on my job
  2. It is basically my own responsibility to decide how my job gets done
  3. I have a lot of say about what happens on my job
  4. How easy is it for you to take time off during your workday to take care of personal or family matters (I reworded this item to keep the response scale consistent)

Now, let’s think about these, in comparison to the work-family questions from the prior post

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Parenting Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect

Periodically, Fathers, Work, and Family will feature a guest post from a working dad relating some of their experiences, struggles and advice.  In this way, we can all benefit from multiple perspectives and start building a community on this blog.  If you’d like to participate, please email me (you can find the email here) and we can discuss what you’d like to share.

The first installment in this series comes from my good friend (and more importantly, loyal blog reader), Neil Cohen, who also has an great blog of his own, Man on Third, to which I highly recommend you subscribe.  Enjoy. 

Neil and Alex
Guest blogger Neil Cohen and his son, Alex.

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My Review of NBC’s “Guys with Kids” (or this is the best our culture can do? Really?)

Gratuitous Father-Son Picture

“Dad as doofus” humor is the backbone of many TV sitcoms, as has been since the very beginning.  Unfortunately, the “batting average” for this easy type of humor is not very high.  There are a few home runs (Homer Simpson or Michael Bluth), some clean singles (Ray Romano, Bill Cosby, Tim Allen, et al), and lots of strikeouts (George Lopez or anyone on “Yes Dear”).  And I am not the first to speak out against the lazy TV stereotype of the clueless dad.Very few shows have taken a nuanced look into modern fatherhood and the work and fatherhood conundrum most of us face- “Up all Night” and “Parenthood” are two current shows that do this (I’m sure there are more, but, who has time for lots of TV?).  Considering all we committed, working dads are dealing with, the time seems right for a smart, incisive comedy commenting on our issues.

“Guys with Kids” is not that show. 

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What’s the Work-Family Culture Like in Your Workplace?

The Families and Work Institute has been surveying people about work and family issues for the past two decades in their National Studies of the Changing Workforce.  If you follow their results over time, it is encouraging to note that more and more respondents report that their workplaces and jobs are more flexible and supportive than ever.  There is a still a long way to go, and progress is stronger in some industries and for certain types of jobs. And, while workplaces have become, in general, more flexible and “family friendly”, the pressures and expectations to devote more and more hours either at work or working on job responsibilities continue to increase.

In this post, I’d like to share with you the questions the Families and Work Institute asks in their surveys in terms of workplace flexibility and support for balancing work and family roles.  This may help you think through and assess how your workplace stacks up, and what barriers or supports you may face in your workplace. 

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The Onion and Death Star Day-Care: Friday Fathers, Work and Family Humor

(photo from Kalexanderson’s incredible set of Stormtrooper Father and Son photos, used in accordance with user agreement)

What’s a stormtrooper and father to do?  It must be very hard to balance work and family when working in the Death Star.  In response to this, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader have, according to The Onion (the greatest humor and satire site in the internet), opened on-site day care.

Read all about it here:

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