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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Why Women (nope) Men (nope) NO ONE Can “Have It All”

It is not surprising to me that “women still can’t have it all” and “men can’t have it all either.” The simple fact is  Women Men No One Can Have It All

Over the past generation or so, we’ve seen a huge shift in expectations and opportunities for women. While much progress has been made (and we are all the better for it), women still face stereotypes and discrimination as they “try to have it all” and move beyond traditional role expectations.

The current difficulties for women in the workplace and women trying to balance work and family were covered brilliantly by Anne-Marie Slaughter in a recent Atlantic cover story (and far more stupidly superficially by Ann Friedman in NY Magazine). Slaughter’s article deservedly received accolades and huge amounts of media attention, and I know I’m very late to the party in commenting on it. (And to her immense credit, Slaughter also wrote a great follow-up piece on men, work and family)

In short, Slaughter makes the case that women still face significant obstacles and difficulties as they try to remain heavily involved in their traditional roles (parenting, caretaking) while also expanding their involvement in traditional men’s roles (providing, working outside the home).

There is increasing evidence that the converse is increasingly true for men. Men now face significant obstacles and difficulties as they try to remain heavily involved in their traditional roles (providing, working outside the home) while also expanding their involvement in traditional women’s roles (parenting, caretaking).

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How To Buy More Time With Your Family

I realize this doesn’t apply to everyone (and is absolutely a first-world problem), but I suspect many of the busy career-oriented dads reading this blog have more money than time at their disposal. Luckily the one can be traded for the other- there are many ways to buy yourself time. This time can then be better spent on being a great dad than on housely tasks that sap your (and/or your wife’s) energy. Here are a few examples of things we can do to buy time. Your mileage may vary, and I’d love to get your ideas in the comments section.

If you can afford it, you can spend $ to free up more time to spend with the family
If you can afford it, you can spend $ to free up more time to spend with the family

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Expert Perspectives: Are Your Finances Foiling Your Job Flexibility?

A guest post by Pat Katepoo

While I spend some time with Nick, my friend, Pat Katepoo takes over today with a GREAT guest post.  I'll be back on Thursday.
While I spend some time with Nick, my friend, Pat Katepoo takes over today with a GREAT guest post. I’ll be back on Thursday.

Last week, I heard from a state government employee who told me his current job provides him with “much flexibility and work life balance.”

Josiah (name/details changed to preserve anonymity) said he works an average of 35 hours a week, plus he can flex his hours as needed to meet family needs that come up. Oh, and he makes more than $125,000 a year.

All that’s the good news.

The bad news? Impending state-mandated furloughs along with 12% across-the-board pay cuts. It’s a salary slashing Josiah says he can’t absorb, forcing him to respond to an opening for another higher-paying job. A job where the culture is far from flexible.

Josiah came to me with his dilemma: “I’m devastated about the pay cut, but even more scared of the prospect of going to a new job where I no longer have the flexible schedule I currently have.”

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Balancing Parenthood, Couplehood and Work by Committing to Each Other’s Careers

Disclaimer- Like all of us, I find balancing work and family to be a constant challenge, and I certainly make my share of mistakes. In this piece, I’d like to discuss something that works well for my family. My intent is to share my experience, not to self-congratulate. 

Finally, an excuse for me to post a wedding picture!

As I detailed in this prior post, my wife, Amy, is a musical theater actress and her career presents interesting challenges to balancing work and family.

When Amy and I got engaged, my well-meaning-but-from-a-different-generation Italian great-aunts/uncles/grandparents/etc got to meet her for the first time. When they met Amy, they were welcoming, lovely and gracious. However, to a person, they asked Amy, “So, are you still going to be an actress now that you’re getting married?”

At first, this question puzzled Amy. She smiled and responded with grace and humor that “Yes, and Scott is still going to be a professor.”

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Negotiating for Work Flexibility (part 3): Fairness Concerns

Why Bosses Say “No” to Flexible Work Arrangements (and what you can do about it).

Part 3 of a Series: They Have the Wrong Idea about Fairness

Despite some prominent examples of companies with progressive cultures when it comes to work-family balance (see this list for examples), most company cultures and supervisors are not particularly supportive, especially of dads trying to balance work and family. Most companies demand long work hours and promote “face time” or “time at the office” as proxy measures for performance and dedication to the company (see this article for an excellent discussion).

No one documents bad supervision better than Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert

It is brave to stand out and make a case for a time and place flexibility for your work.  However, it is not impossible, and, depending on your situation, it may be well worth it despite the risks.

Like any request or negotiation, the key is to see the situation from the other person’s side and then communicate so that you dispel most of their concerns and show them how they benefit from the arrangement (Fisher & Ury’s “Getting to Yes” or Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”). The first step is anticipating why your supervisor may say no and proactively address these concerns.

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Juggling Fatherhood and Work Across Generations: A Guest Post From My Dad

First off, a very happy holiday weekend to all my friends and readers. Among the many things I am thankful for- family, friends, health- I am also so grateful for all of your help in making the launch of Fathers, Work and Family a success (3000+ page views, 64 followers, Good Men Project, etc.). While I’m carving the turkey, I’m handing over the reins to the father of FWF, my Dad, Joe Behson. It is my fervent wish that, as we grow older, Nick and I can have a relationship as great as the one my Dad and I share.

Take it away, Dad!

From the Father of Fathers, Work and Family, Joe Behson

Three Generations of the “Behson Boys”!

Have things really changed for dads regarding work and family demands? The answer is yes, and the answer is no.

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Fantasy Football: “Time-Suck” to Avoid #2 (or, Cam Newton shouldn’t be ruining your life)

Time Suck– (n) Something that’s engrossing and addictive, but that keeps you from doing things that are actually important, like earning a living, or eating meals, or caring for your children. (from

Don’t let this take over your weekend!

Perhaps the greatest challenge we all face in being both a good provider an a present father is that there never seems to be enough time in a day.  Our jobs and careers demand our time; our kids need a lot of us, too.  It is really hard to find the time.

It is also hard to find the energy necessary to be a great dad.  Stress, time demands, etc all seem to rob us of energy, and prevent us from being relaxed and present.

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