Recent Pew Survey Shows Progress and Challenges for Dads’ Work-Family Balance

Recent surveys show that more dads are stepping up at home, while maintaining their commitments to their careers. In many ways, this marks progress, but also presents challenges to involved working dads. How can we better handle these challenges?

A slideshow of Pew’s Findings:
Modern Parenthood
Men Are Committed to Both Work and Family

There is growing evidence from the recently released Pew Research Center study of parenthood, as well as from Boston College’s Center for Work and Family and the Families and Work Institute that men are facing increasing work-family conflict and stress as they expand their involvement in the home and with their kids, but continue to feel pressure to provide and to stay fully dedicated to their employers.

In some ways, it is the converse of what working women have been facing for some time. Men are expanding their commitment to home, while facing pressure to maintain their time and commitment in the workplace- in short, men face many of the same challenges as women in terms of “having it all”.

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Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” and Its Lessons For Working Dads

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” also contains lessons for working dads

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's new book, "Lean In" also has some great lessons for working dads
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean In” also has some great lessons for working dads

I admit I haven’t yet read Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead”- it was just released today. But I have read a lot of what has been written about the book, and think that, while Sandberg’s book was obviously written for working women, it contains lessons for dads as well.  I’ll read and review the book as soon as I can (if it is as good as her TED talk, it will be excellent), but until then, here’s what I’ve picked up so far from the media coverage:

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The Health Care Reform That Didn’t Happen (and would have really helped dads)

Obamacare may be an improvement, but it missed a chance to sever access to health insurance from employment- to the detriment of working dads.

picture from http://svlg.org/policy-areas/health-policy/policy-priorities/state-health-care-reform-implementation
picture from http://svlg.org/policy-areas/health-policy/policy-priorities/state-health-care-reform-implementation

Part of me is afraid to even broach the topic of Health Care Reform, as it is politically radioactive (you should have seen the facebook fights my otherwise reasonable friends had over this the past few years). I don’t wish to rehash the debate, or devolve into cries of tyrannical government takeover vs. Dickensian dystopia. Further, the topic is far too complex to cover in a single blog post.

No matter what you think about Obamacare (I happen to think it is a small step in the right direction, your mileage may vary), it missed an opportunity to fix what, IMNSHO, is the greatest flaw in the US Healthcare system- the fact that, for most Americans, health insurance is tied to their employer.

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Taking Turns to Balance Work and Family

“Sharing Experiences” is a series of posts in which a variety of dads, all in different work-family situations, share their experiences. I hope this series can forward the important conversations we have here, and spark ideas we can apply to our own lives.

Guest blogger, Erik Eddy and his wife Margie and son Jackson.
Guest blogger, Erik Eddy and his wife Margie and son Jackson.

Supporting Each Other’s Careers By Taking Turns

In kindergarten, we learn the importance of sharing and taking turns. Erik and Margie Eddy took this lesson and built a successful family life

By Erik Eddy, as told to Scott Behson

My wife, Margie, and I met in college, and got married the year she graduated. She decided to pursue a Masters degree in Higher Education from Bowling Green State University, so I tailed along and enrolled in their MBA program. We were young, in love and completely poor. Somehow, we managed to get by on a $9000 stipend and a $7500 student loan for the two years it took to complete our degrees.

When Margie finished her program, one of my business professors approached me about following her to the PhD program she was joining at SUNY Albany.  After talking it through with Margie, we went off to Albany where I pursued my PhD while Margie began her career as an Assistant Dean of Students at Smith College. At this point, she was working to support me as I continued my education.

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Introducing Nick to Star Wars

19 Dad Bloggers were asked the question “When/How To Introduce Your Kids to Star Wars?” You can read the entire piece here. Here’s my entry:

Star Wars has been a great bonding experience for me and Nick!
Star Wars has been a great bonding experience for me and Nick!

I’m a planner by nature, and I think the world is in a rush to have our kids grow up too fast. So, I delayed Star Wars until Nick was 6 (he’s now 7 ½). I LOVE Star Wars and wanted him to love it too- I figured premature exposure may ruin it.

What pushed me over the edge, despite my hesitations, was when I was called to do a customer focus group for some unknown product. It turns out the focus group was to get reactions to new Lego Star Wars products (awesome!), and the room was full of Dads about my age with kids about my son’s age. Almost all of them had shared Star Wars with their kids by then, and especially extolled the virtues of the Lego Star Wars video game.

The next day, I showed Nick some you tube clips- as a way to gauge his interest (through the roof), expose him to characters (he instantly was head over heels for Darth Maul!), and talk about basic plot points. I figured this would make the movies easier for him to understand and enjoy.

It worked!

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Why Valentine’s Day is Especially Important for Dads

Hey Busy Dads! It is important to set aside a day to emphasize romance with your wife and role model positive expressions of love to your kids.

Valentine's Day reminds us of the importance of romance...
Valentine’s Day reminds us to appreciate this relationship…
and to nurture this relationship
while nurturing this relationship

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the wives, moms and women out there. After all, we wouldn’t be dads without you. (I especially want to recognize my amazing wife, Amy, who brings me so much joy and with whom I am deliriously happy to share my life).

I’ve heard men, especially those who’ve been with their wives for a long time, criticize Valentine’s Day for a range of reasons:

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Two Incomes are Better Than One*

* as long as the kids get the time and attention they need.

Two-income families get divorced WAY LESS than single-earner households. Here’s why two incomes can lead to more fulfillment and lower stress. 

As these Muppets will tell you, two heads, er, incomes are better than one

(disclaimer- my philosophy on marriages/families is that couples need to discuss and choose an arrangement that works best for the family. There are many different ways to be successful, and it is not my intent to criticize or denigrate anyone’s choice or the way they structure their work in and out of the home. Your mileage may vary. Please keep this in mind as you read)

You have a job you don’t like, a boss who’s a jerk, few advancement opportunities on the horizon, and it’s a tough economy to find a comparable job somewhere else.

You have a great idea for a new business. You’d be great at it, and you’d feel so much better about yourself. You’d love to escape the hamster-wheel you are on and pursue your professional goals…

But, you have a wife and two kids. They rely 100% on your income, and on your employer’s health insurance plan. You have a mortgage, car payments, and you are desperately trying to put aside some money for college and retirement.

So, what do you do?

Well, you probably suck it up, and do what you have to for your family- after all, their needs come first.

But this comes at a cost. You are a more stressed, less happy person. You have all the pressure to provide for your family on your shoulders- and of course, even this job you don’t like doesn’t come with guarantees.  Your wife is also probably frustrated about being trapped in the house and stressed about finances, too.

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What I Learned From (Briefly) Losing My Job

“Sharing Experiences” is a series of posts in which a variety of dads, all in different work-family situations, share their experiences. I hope this series can forward the important conversations we have here, and spark ideas we can apply to our own lives. 

Back to Work

A guest post by Blake Friis. This article first appeared at Blake’s funny and poignant blog about fatherhood (and other things): Pureed Green Beans and Whiskey

Our guest blogger, Blake Friis, with his beautful family
Our guest blogger, Blake Friis, with his beautful family

Tomorrow morning I will go to work. Under normal circumstances there would be nothing special about that statement. But there was nothing normal about the circumstances under which I was fired three weeks ago.

I was driving home, an easy residential drive I count among the many perks of my job, when I received a call from one of our HR representatives. She asked if she had “caught me at a good time”. I would later find that an interesting lead-in when calling to fire someone. I told her I was driving home, and she insisted we speak when I got home because she doesn’t like distracting people as they drive. As the father of a 9 month-old, the car is actually the best place to secure my undivided attention, but she was adamant we speak after I arrived home. There is no “good time” to receive news someone refuses to share while you’re driving.

It is difficult to describe the feeling of being fired from the job you love, over the phone, 45 seconds before walking into the house. It leaves you with no time to digest the news, search for a silver lining, and contemplate the best way to break the news to your wife. Instead you are left to shuffle through the kitchen, into the living room where your wife is ready to hand you a smiling baby, and drool the words down the front of a button-down shirt about to hibernate in the closet until further notice.

I just…lost…my job.

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