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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New Dads Zack Britton and Greg Holland Square Off in the American League Championship Series

Zach Britton and Greg Holland, the closers for the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals, who face off against each other in the American League Championship Series starting tomorrow, became dads this past week. Congrats to the new dads, and a reminder of how employer and societal attitudes are shifting.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you know that two of the great loves of my life are fatherhood and baseball (Amy’s the other). Well, October means the playoffs and World Series, but for two players, October also means new fatherhood.

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Ryan Braun Supported While On Paternity Leave During Brewers’ Playoff Chase

The Brewers are in a playoff race, in a major team-wide slump, and now, their best player goes on paternity leave. What has the public reaction been?  Surprisingly understanding. This is progress.

The birth of his child is a bigger deal than receiving his MVP award from hall of famer Robin Yount
The birth of his daughter is a bigger deal than receiving his MVP award from Hall of Famer Robin Yount

Over the past few years, Ryan Braun went from beloved National League MVP to national pariah for using, getting caught using, lying about using, getting away with using, and again getting caught using Performance Enhancing Drugs. Throughout, however, Braun has continued to be an excellent player.

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Work-Family News Roundup, August 2014

As a new feature on Fathers, Work and Family, I will be writing a monthly roundup of various news, information and commentary that relate to the content of the blog. In this way, we can stay abreast of the latest developments and note the progress in the attention being paid to these incredibly important issues. Here is the first installment.

First, my work at other publications:

And, I was extensively quoted in:

Now, the best of the rest:

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16 Dads 16 Experiences: This Is What Paternity Leave Looks Like in 2014

A few weeks ago, I asked a group of fathers to share the stories of their paternity leaves (or lack thereof). A few had very supportive employers with generous policies, some had nightmare situations that led to them find employment elsewhere, and most were unsupported and left to rely on their accumulated time off.

Nick and I during my paternity leave. I wish all dads were so fortunate.
Mick and I during my paternity leave. I wish all dads were so fortunate.

As tends to be the case with paternity leave- there is no standard benefit and experiences vary greatly (my paternity leave story is here). Here’s a round-up, with my thoughts at the end.

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How Paternity Leave Shaped Me As a Father and Strengthened My Family

I was fortunate to have been able to spend the first few months of my son’s life at home with him and my wife. How this experience shaped me as a father and husband.

 My paternity leave fundamentally shaped me as a person, parent and spouse, and I believe it contributed to the strength and resiliency of my family. I wish all fathers and families had the same opportunity
My paternity leave fundamentally shaped me as a person, parent and spouse, and I believe it contributed to the strength and resiliency of my family. I wish all fathers and families had the same opportunity

I didn’t exactly take a paternity leave. I’m a college professor and my son, Nick, was born three days after my last final exam of the Spring semester. Perfect timing (although we didn’t actually plan it that way). I was able to spend the summer on a “de-facto paternity leave” with my wife, Amy, and Nick as we all got to learn how this whole “baby makes three” thing would shake out.

Here are four ways I benefitted from the opportunity to be present during the first few months of Nick’s life:

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Daniel Murphy: From Paternity Leave to All Star

You may recall the media firestorm a few months ago, when NY Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy took paternity leave and missed the first two games of the season to be at his son’s birth. A few months later, Murphy has rewarded his employer with a career year and, tonight, he makes his first all-star appearance. Here’s a look back.

Here’s what I wrote for the Wall Street Journal on this subject a few months ago:

The Good News From the Daniel Murphy Paternity Leave Kerfuffle

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EEOC Issues Guidelines on Parity for Maternity and Paternity Leave

The EEOC issued its new guidance on parental leave today. In it, they lay the basis for parity between company-offered maternity and paternity leave. In short, companies that offer mothers “time for care and bonding” beyond time for physical recovery/disability must also offer that “time for care” to fathers. This decision brings needed clarity to the emerging set of case law on paternity leave (see here, here and here) and is yet another indicator of the recognition of the importance of fatherhood and paternity leave.

Parity for fathers in parental leave is one step closer thanks to new EEOC guidelines!
Parity for fathers in parental leave is one step closer thanks to new EEOC guidelines!

This guidance is part of a larger and much more comprehensive document concerning pregnancy discrimination, disability and related employment concerns. You can read the entire document here. I’ve copied the relevant information below. After that is my analysis.

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The Smartest Things I Heard at the White House Summit on Working Fathers

Programming note. Today, I am at the main event of the White House Summit on Working Families in DC. Obama, Biden and a host of bigwigs in government and business are here. I will report out to you soon.

Dads are the greatest untapped resources in the lives of American kids- Kyle Pruitt

We live in a “Modern Family” society, but our policies are stuck in “Leave It To Beaver” mentality- Thomas Perez

On June 9th, I was honored to participate in the first ever White House Summit on Working Fathers. It was an amazing event, with so much great information and so many inspiring speakers. Here’s a short compilation of the most memorable quotes and ideas I heard during the event.

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A Very Happy (and Busy) Father’s Day

Dads always get more media attention on the build-up to Father’s Day. However, this year seems different to me in that there is so much attention, not just on “yay, dads!” but specifically on fathers facing the challenge of balancing work and family. As such, I’ve been very busy lately spreading the word about working dads. Here’s a quick round-up of my recent Father’s Day media:

National interviews:

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Paternity Leave for All Dads! Join Me and Support the FAMILY Act

This Father’s Day, let’s call upon Congress to give dads and their families a truly meaningful present- paid parental leave. Please join me in signing a petition asking our elected representatives to pass the FAMILY Act.

We all deserve paternity leave- time to bond and develop as parents. Please support the FAMILY Act
We all deserve paternity leave- time to bond and develop as parents. Please support the FAMILY Act

I didn’t exactly take a paternity leave. I’m a college professor and my son, Nick, was born three days after my Spring semester ended. Perfect timing (although we didn’t actually plan it that way). I was able to spend the summer on a “de-facto paternity leave” with my wife, Amy, and Nick as we all got to learn how this whole “baby makes three” thing would shake out.

I was able to forge an immediate bond with my son, gain confidence as a new parent, strengthen my relationship with my wife, and emerge from the experience as a fully involved co-parent to Nick and equal parenting partner with Amy. In short, my paternity leave fundamentally shaped me as a person, parent, and spouse, and I believe it contributed to the strength and resiliency of my family.

That’s why I support the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would enable new parents – including dads – to take 12 weeks of partially paid time away from work after the birth or adoption of a child. That’s why I’m working with CLASP and other advocacy and fatherhood organizations to help bring about this change. Today, I’m inviting you to join me in supporting this important bill by signing a petition.

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Employers: This Father’s Day, Give the Gift of Paternity Leave

Please share this Father’s Day card with every supervisor, manager and HR professional you know. Let them know that paternity leave is good for employees, families- and business!

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