2015: A Year of Progress on Work and Family

2015 was a banner year for progress on work and family issues, and especially those of fathers.

Commenting on progress on work and family and Mark Zuckerberg on MSNBC was a highlight of my year
Commenting on progress on work and family and Mark Zuckerberg on MSNBC was a highlight of my year

I am gratified by the progress we’ve made in public policy, in the private sector, and as a culture. I am energized about the progress still to come. Here are some highlights of progress on work and family in 2015, followed by some personal milestones and my expression of gratitude for all of your support this year.

 

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Respecting the Rhythm of Work and Family

Even when promoting a book, you need to respect the rhythm of work and family
Even when promoting a book, you need to respect the rhythm of work and family

One thing I have learned about balancing work and family is that you need to take the long view. Work can take precedent sometimes. Other weeks, family can come to the fore. And it’s ok if you are temporarily out of balance. We need to respect the rhythm of work and family.

In the business world, we call this the difference between Episodic Overwork and Chronic Overwork. It’s ok, and probably necessary for career advancement, to have some weeks in which you burn the midnight oil. Accountants during tax season. Lawyers in the home stretch of a big case. A big client deadline. Passing a certification exam. Promoting a book. Even in nature, high tides and occasional forest fires are good things.

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Expert Perspectives: The Truth About Fathers from the Founders of the NYC Dads’ Group

The founders of the NYC Dads’ Group reflect on what they’ve learned from their members. Powerful stuff.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know I am a huge fan of the NYC Dads’ Group, a network of about 900 dads in and around NYC. The group hosts “new dad boot camps” and frequent social activities- providing many opportunities for dads to support and learn from each other.

Founders Matt Scheider and Lance Sommerfield recently wrote a great piece in NY Parent magazine reflecting on five things they learned about dads through their involvement with the group. Click on the picture below for the full story.

A screencap of Matt Schneider and Lance Sommerfield's article in NY Family magazine
A screencap of Matt Schneider and Lance Sommerfield’s article in NY Family magazine

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Old Dads, New Dads and Super Dads: Which Are You?

Sociologist Gayle Kaufman recently wrote a great book examining the lives of men balancing work and family, and describes three general categories of dads- Old Dads, New Dads and Super Dads. Here’s a discussion of each. Which are you?

"Superdads" by Gayle Kaufman
“Superdads” by Gayle Kaufman

Superdads: How Fathers Balance Work and Family in the 21st Century,” by Gayle Kaufman, is an excellent sociological study of the changing nature of fatherhood. The book is based on extensive interviews with a wide range of fathers–about their lives, relationships, parenting styles and work-family concerns. Kaufman finds that today’s generation of dads is more involved and more conscious of work-family demands and tradeoffs. In her analysis, Kaufman sees today’s dad as falling into one of three broad categories:

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A Dad’s Dilemma: Prioritizing Time Versus Money

While it is important to provide for our families, be careful not to trade off too much time for money. Our kids may want things, but they NEED time with their fathers more. As part of National Work and Family Month, here’s a post for my fellow fathers who feel torn between spending time at work and spending time with our families.

Sure, kids like money. But they NEED you. (photo credit: Good N Crazy, creative commons license)

On October 3rd, my first article at the Huffington Post was published. I was invited to participate in National Work Family Month and contribute content to their month-long effort to raising awareness and support for work-family balance. Here’s the beginning of the piece, plus a link to the full article over at HuffPo.

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Expert Perspectives: Five Reasons Why It’s A Great Time to be a Dad!

Hey, busy involved dad, are you feeling burned out? You are not alone- most dads are struggling to juggle work and family. But that’s a sign of progress. And in many ways this is the best of times to be a father. Guest author Jeremy Adam Smith explains five reasons why.

Guest author Jeremy Adam Smith
Guest author Jeremy Adam Smith

Jeremy Adam Smith writes on a variety of topics related to positive psychology and fatherhood and is the author of several books, including The Daddy Shift. You should really check out his work. In June, he wrote a great article “Five Reasons Why It’s a Good Time to be a Dad” which appeared at the Greater Good Science Center website. He was nice enough to allow me to excerpt it here at FWF. (Here’s a link to the full-length article.)

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Paternity Leave is Essential (And It’s Not a Vacation)

One man’s experience taking a two-week paternity leave, and a call for more employers to offer it. A guest post by Aaron Gouveia of DaddyFiles.

 paternity

“So, how was your vacation?”

(This article originally appeared at Aaron’s great blog, The Daddy Files, on August 21st, 2013)

I can’t tell you how many people have asked me that recently. I know they probably don’t mean anything by it and I’m certain they gave very little thought to their words, but it still irks me something fierce. Because if you’ve ever done it, you’d know that paternity leave is most assuredly NOT a vacation.

I took two weeks of paternity leave after Sam was born. Luckily for me, they were two PAID weeks. I’m one of the fortunate few who works for a company that actually offers new dads two weeks of fully paid paternity leave. But even if my company didn’t offer the two weeks, I would’ve taken time anyway — either via vacation time or unpaid FMLA. Because I think it’s very important — hell, I’ll go so far as to say it should be mandatory — for both moms and dads to be home with the baby in the weeks following birth.

Mainly because those weeks are 1) really important and 2) really f^%&ing difficult.

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On Preventing Work (and Blogging) from Stealing Family Time

(or, keeping my son from calling me “blah blah blah boring business work man”)

We need to prioritize family time and shield it from the creeping demands of work. How I resolve to do better in Year Two of writing Fathers, Work and Family, and a reminder for us all.

Here's me, hard at work on the blog. Nick hates walking into the living room and seeing me here
Here’s me, hard at work on the blog. Nick hates walking into the living room and seeing me here

Work-Family Balance is Hard, Even for “The Expert”

A few weeks ago, I celebrated the first anniversary of Fathers, Work and Family (a blogaversary!)

While I am grateful for all the blog, and especially you have given me this past year (see the recent “Thank you” post), my first year as a blogger and as a public advocate for fathers’ work-family issues has also been a lot of work. I now find myself balancing my actual career, my family AND this blog and its related ventures. More on my plate than ever before.

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A Blueprint For Discussing Work and Family Priorities

Here’s a helpful tool that can help us discuss our work and family priorities and develop strategies to reach our goals.

This blueprint can not only help you build a house, but also help you build a better work-family balance! (Harp Family Institute)
This blueprint can help you build a better work-family balance! (Harp Family Institute)

A while ago, I gave a presentation at the Academy of Management conference as part of a panel symposium on new areas of work-family research and practice. One of my co-presenters was Trisha Harp, who skyped into the symposium as it took place just a few days before the due date of her baby (Baby has arrived, and mom, baby and family are all doing fine!).

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October is National Work and Family Month!

October is National Work and Family Month. To start us off, here’s some information on the current state of work and family.

October is National Work and Family Month

…and I’m proud to be part of the cause.

October isn't just for Halloween anymore (my family as the Star Wars gang!)
October isn’t just for Halloween anymore (my family as the Star Wars gang!)

World at Work and its Alliance for Work-Life Progress, as well as many other organizations and advocates (include yours truly) are participating in National Work and Family Month (#WAWNWFM) in order to raise awareness of work and family issues. Part of this effort is a blogfest on the Huffington Post (of which I will be a part), plus events and social media outreach throughout the month.

Robin Hardman wrote an excellent blog piece, entitled “Musings on National Work and Family Month” to get things kicked off. In the piece, she discusses the progress being made in raising awareness of work and family concerns. Hardman provides a chart of the number of times “work-family balance” appeared in the New York Times over the past two decades. Her findings are very encouraging:

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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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Regular Exercise Can Help Us Be Better Dads

Part 1 of a Series on Stephen Covey, Personal Renewal and Fatherhood

Many busy dads can’t find the time to exercise. But we need to make the time to take care of our bodies, so we can be better, more effective fathers. As Stephen Covey says, we need to do the important, not just the urgent!

Exercise and fatherhood all in one!
Exercise and fatherhood all in one!

Like you, I spend a lot of time at work, and while at home, I tend to put my family’s needs first. But it would be better- for everyone- if we took some time to focus on replenishing ourselves.

The Important vs. The Urgent

Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is the most useful book I ever read. In it, Covey writes about spending a few hours every week on personal renewal, what he calls “sharpening the saw.”

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