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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New York Times Op-Ed Piece Commentary: Susan Lambert is Right, But This is Not Only a Women’s Issue

I generally agree with the sentiment in this excellent NYT op-ed piece by Susan Lambert of the University of Chicago from last Thursday (Sept 20, 2012).  In it she argues that women on the low end of the wage scale are hurt by unpredictable and inconsistent work schedules (e.g., waitress shifts) and women on the high end of the wage scale are hurt by increasingly long time demands.

However, I find it limiting that her piece is written as if these are challenges unique to working women.  It seems to me that men face many of the same problems with their work schedules and demands, and that they would also benefit from the proposed reforms Dr. Lambert argues for. 

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In Defense of Those Who Miss Family Dinners (or, In Other News, Don’t Worry About Taking Vitamins)

Doctors and nutritionists have a saying, “it doesn’t really matter if you take vitamins, but it matters if you live your life like someone who takes vitamins”.  Basically, people who take vitamins also tend to eat better, exercise more and think about their health on a daily basis- and this is what leads to better health.  The research on the efficacy of vitamins is inconclusive at best, but the evidence for these other healthy practices is rock solid.

Family time is crucial. Does it have to take place at dinnertime?
Family time is crucial. Does it have to take place at dinnertime?

Similarly, there’s lots of advice and research from psychologists, especially those who study adolescent well-being, asserting that families who eat dinner together gain a wide variety of benefits from doing so.  From an excellent Time Magazine article by Nancy Gibbs:

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Darth Vader & Son: Fathers, Work and Family Friday Humor

From the incredibly funny book, Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown, that my Star Wars-obsessed son bought me for Father’s Day. Some hazards of taking your son to work with you (especially if you work for the Dark Side)…   May the force be with all of you this weekend.  Thank you for your … Read more

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

My friend and neighbor, Francesco, who is a terrific dad, (and, more importantly, a loyal blog reader!), has a semi-regular tradition of inviting his local guy friends to hang out by the fire pit in his backyard with a cooler full of beer.   We’ve come to calling this brilliant innovation BEER FIRE!  (and I maintain he be nominated for the MacArthur Genius Grant for this revolutionary idea)

Beer Fire! A fun a useful way to network with other dads
Beer Fire! A fun a useful way to network with other dads

Beer Fire usually consists of 8-10 forty-something guys, most of whom are balancing interesting and rewarding careers with the rigors of being fathers to young kids, simply getting a chance to relax,  hang out, swap stories, have a few beers, and get to know each other.

Beer Fire is awesome, and I have benefitted greatly from attending- it’s relaxing; it’s fun, and I always learn a little something from everyone I talk to.

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I Never Thought I’d Want to Hug Ben Roethlisberger…

Big Ben stated he would miss a game if it conflicted with the birth of his child. Why this is an important, visible step that can help dads in less glamorous professions.

Ben Roethlisberger says he'll miss a game for the birth of his child
Ben Roethlisberger says he’ll miss a game for the birth of his child

After all, the Pittsburgh Steelers star quarterback hasn’t always been the nicest of guys, especially to women.  And, of course I am still quite pissed about the 2010 AFC Championship Game (My wife’s quote after that crushing loss: “If I treated you as badly as the Jets treat you, you would have left me by now”).  (EDIT- I’m not so happy about this week’s game either!!!)

But, a few weeks ago, Big Ben made this statement:

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