Why Don’t More Men Walk The Talk on Work-Family?

When surveyed, dads overwhelmingly say that they would prefer to share childcare and housework relatively equally with their spouses, and would prefer to use flexibility and parental leave to better balance work and family. However, the data show that while men have made significant progress on both fronts, our actions do not match our intentions–leaving us more “locked into” work and less involved at home than we’d like.

I was lucky that my  career, "paternity leave" experience and family dynamics were conducive to my being a very involved dad.
I was lucky that my career, employer flexibility and family dynamics were conducive to my being a very involved dad.

There are a few reasons for this mismatch. While corporate cultures and lack of societal support are major problems, it is also true that we sometimes get in our own way. Here’s a quick rundown of the barriers today’s dads face, including some advice on how we may be able to change our situations (future posts will dive more deeply into each topic).

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Fathers, Work and No Family: What I Learned From My Week Alone

Amy and Nick are spending the week out in California, visiting her brother and his family. Because my semester starts next week, I had to stay home to ramp up my class preparation and attend too many meetings.

Home alone...
Home alone…

This means I am in the middle of a week with pretty much no family responsibilities or time constraints. As I most often write about balancing fatherhood with work and other life roles, I am finding this family-free time to be an interesting experiment.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far from this experience.

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The Challenges Faced By Working Dads, All In One Awesome Infographic!

This infographic with statistics compiled by the White House for the Working Fathers Summit, makes a compelling case of the importance of working dads' issues. (click to see full graphic)
This infographic with statistics compiled by the White House for the Working Fathers Summit, makes a compelling case of the importance of working dads’ issues. (click to see full graphic)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Even moreso for this awesome infographic that the White House issued as a lead-up to the recent Summit on Working Fathers and Summit on Working Families (I am proud to be a participant in both of these efforts). To me, this graphic reinforces three important messages:

  1. To Working Dads– You are not alone. Many share the same challenges that you do.
  2. To Employers– Why you can and should be part of the solution, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it is good business to do so
  3. To Everyone– This graphic makes it clear that working fathers’ concerns are really important for company and public policy. The fact that the White House and so many employers are giving them increased attention is a sure sign of progress.

See below for the full infographic (or click here):

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Hey Dads! This Christmas, Give the Gift of You

Our kids may want things, but they NEED time with their fathers more. This Christmas, instead of stuff, we should give our kids the opportunities to do more fun things with us. Here are a few ideas how.

Christmas is a special time for kids, but we can also use it as a way to build in more dad-and-kid time throughout the year
Christmas is a special time for kids, but we can also use it as a way to build in more dad-and-kid time throughout the year

A while ago, I wrote a piece (the most popular FWF post of 2013) in which I asked a bunch of dads how they want their kids to remember their dads and childhoods. The clear and consistent response was that dads wanted, more than anything, to be remembered as a constant, loving presence in their kids’ lives.

Buying the things on our kids’ Christmas lists is good and all, but it doesn’t really do anything to further this goal of building a childhood full of happy Dad-and-Kid memories that they can hold onto through their lives. Using Christmas as a way to purchase things that create opportunities for time together can. Here are a few suggestions:

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“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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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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Downshifting: 5 Ways to Slow Down Your Career for Family

“Downshifters” are those who eschew the career ladder and choose alternative paths that open up more time for family or other pursuits. For many, the trade-off is more than worth it. This article discusses 5 common types of downshifting.

“The problem with winning the rat race is… you’re still a rat” –Lily Tomlin

For me, plateauing my career opens up more time for family.

When we think about career paths, we often think about climbing the ladder- stepping up our career one rung at a time to positions of greater status, demands, responsibilities and financial rewards. Career advancement is great, but it often comes at a cost- to mental and physical health and especially to time spent with family.

Perhaps there’s another way. A way that opens up time for a more well-rounded life.

Life in the (slightly slower) Lane

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

“When your kids become adults, how do you want them to remember their childhoods with you?” Almost all fathers want to be remembered as being a consistent positive presence in their children’s lives. Making this happen requires aligning our actions with our priorities.

I hope Nick can look back on his childhood and know that I was there for him (just like I can look back on time with my dad)
I hope Nick can look back on his childhood and know that I was there for him (just like I can look back on my childhood with my dad)

Modern Dad Workshops

John Badalament is a true pioneer in work-family issues for dads. He wrote a great book, made a documentary, and writes and conducts dads workshops all aimed at equipping men to be better, more present fathers. I had read his book a long time ago, and was happy to have met him in person at the Thirdpath Institute Summit this past May.

In his workshops, he asks this question as a prioritization exercise:

“When your kids become adults, how do you want them to remember their childhoods with you?”

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

In its June 4th “Room For Debate“, the New York Times insulted fathers by questioning their purpose, role and potential contribution to families. My rebuttal to the very question, and my commentary on the contributors’ writings.

Dear New York Times-

SMH. I expect more from the “Newspaper of Record”

The New York Times questions whether fathers have a role in modern families. Really?
The New York Times questions whether fathers have a role in modern families. Really?

I don’t know where to begin.

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Happy Mothers Day!!!! (The Collective Mother’s Day Card from Dad Bloggers)

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is love their mother” – Theodore Hesburgh

This quote gave me the idea for a collective Mother’s day card from a great group of Dad Bloggers , of which I am proud to be a part, to the moms in our lives. So here are our collected mother’s day wishes:

Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful wife, Amy!!!
Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful wife, Amy!!!

Scott Behson. Fathers, Work and Family blog. www.fathersworkandfamily.com

You know how revved up Nick gets on nights you come home late and he gets out of bed, hides/jumps out to surprise you, runs around like a loony, and can’t get enough of cuddling and laughing with you? I feel that way too.

Happy Mother’s Day to the best wife and mom I could imagine. You have given me the gifts of true love, the amazing life we’re building together, and of fatherhood. I can never repay what you have given me. But I’ll spend every day trying.

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Expert Q&A with Dr. Mark Promislo on Materialism and Work-Family Conflict

(or, The Dangers of Valuing Money More than People)

Mark Promislo is a husband, father of two young girls, and a management professor at Rider University (and a friend, but most importantly an active blog reader and commenter!), who recently authored a great study on the effects of materialism on work-family conflict. I asked him a few questions about his life, his work, and his study– which I think has implications for working dads.

Mark's research shows the negative effects of valuing material possessions on work-family balance and well-being
Mark’s research shows the negative effects of valuing material possessions on work-family balance and well-being

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Put Down the Smartphone During Parenting Time!

Smartphones- Time Suck to Avoid #3 (or, I’m Going To Texting From DisneyLand!!!)

While checking work emails on my phone, I almost missed out on this!
While checking work emails on my phone, I almost missed out on this!

My family and I flew down to Disney World the first week of January. We’re a Disney family and love being in the happiest place on Earth.

The first week in January is a very slow work time for me- it is just after the holidays and still two weeks from the beginning of the spring semester. I am filling in for our department chair this semester (she’s on a well-deserved sabbatical) so I did have things to get done, but there was nothing super-pressing for me to finish until I got back from Florida and back on campus.

However, while waiting in lines with Amy and Nick, I found myself checking for work emails on my ancient Blackberry (seriously, I think I’m the last Blackberry customer still out there- 2% market share of new phone sales!!!). Well, that’s not so bad, I’m just waiting in line.

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