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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Workplace Flexibility: The Key to Work-Family Balance?

Workplace flexibility is a key for working parents trying to balance work and family. Here are some questions that can help us assess the flexibility we have at work, and some ideas about how to leverage them.

a screencap of my recent HBR article
A screencap of my recent HBR article aimed at supervisors. What are its implications for us working dads? Keep reading to find out!

Last week, I wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review blog in which I advised well-intentioned supervisors on how to be more “family-friendly” while upholding performance standards. My advice was:

  1. Focus on What, Not How or When

  2. Get Better at Measuring Performance

  3. Delegate, Coach, and Let Your People Earn Trust

  4. Serve as a Work-Family Balance Role Model

The common thread for the first three items is allowing employees more flexibility in how, where and when they perform their jobs, while still maintaining high standards for what. Overall, I think it is sound advice for managers, and the piece was very well-received.

However, I largely write this blog to help my fellow working dads navigate work and family issues. So, what are the implications of this article for the working father?

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Holiday Gratitude 2013

2013 was a very good year for Fathers, Work and Family. Thanks for making me feel like the Richest Man in Town, and for contributing to our important conversation about men and their work and family challenges.

Nick and I thank you for making FWF a success!
Nick and I thank you for making FWF a success!

The holiday season always makes me feel so grateful. I’m an amazingly lucky guy. Yes, I have worked hard and made some good decisions to get where I am in life. However, a LOT of what is good in my life is outside of my control. I was born into a loving family with great parents and a cool older sister. Nick is healthy and bright. I did nothing to earn that. I met Amy on a blind date- talk about outside factors shaping my life- and she has made my life so full and rich. I have a good job, with a good employer and good colleagues- I didn’t control most of that.

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How to Survive a Snow Day

When you have two working parents, unexpected days without school can really put you out. Snow days are awesome for kids. Not so for parents. By planning ahead, we can make them easier for us to handle.

Snow days are great for kids, but not so much for working parents!
Snow days are great for kids, but not so much for working parents!
(Disclaimer: I am recycling this article from the first snow day of last yea- it seems appropriate, given the weather across the Northeast. Stay safe and bundle up!)

Dear God, Don’t Let Them Cancel School!

Not long ago, I was awoken at 5am by the home telephone. Considering the time, and since no one (except my mom or telemerketers) calls me on the home phone, my disorientation turned to dread as I saw that it had begun to snow overnight. Before I could reach the phone, the answering machine picked up and I heard:

“This is an important message from the Nyack school district. Classes are cancelled for the day”


Amy has an audition in the city. I have class and some meetings at work. It’s not snowing so much that our work will be closed. Grrr. What are we going to do?

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An Interview on Fatherhood, Work-Family Balance, and What Makes a Good Dad

My employer, Fairleigh Dickinson University, runs a video series which highlights the research and professional work of selected faculty members. A short while ago, they asked if I would be part of their program and would discuss my work on work-family issues for fathers. I think the interview went very well, and it really captures my work here at Fathers Work and Family. Enjoy.

Here’s the video of my interview (about 5 minutes long):

Here’s the transcript of the interview:

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Josh Levs Takes a Stand for Paternity Leave

Journalist Josh Levs has filed an EEOC charge against his employer, claiming that its parental leave policy discriminates against fathers. His public stand may help encourage needed change. Here are the details and my analysis.

Nothing fuels you to fight for what’s right like the love you have for your child.- Josh Levs

A screencap of the NYTimes article profiling Josh Levs and his stand for parental equality
A screencap of the NYTimes article profiling Josh Levs and his stand for parental equality

Over the past few months, I’ve written articles in which I encourage dads who have the financial and job security to bravely stand up so that men’s family needs can be discussed and addressed at their workplaces (see here and here). While I am almost certain Josh Levs did not read my posts, he certainly has taken a bold and public stand for fathers’ work-family issues.

You can read the full details on Levs’ own website or in a terrific NYTimes piece on his case. However, I’ll summarize the relevant facts here:

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Chronic Overwork: The Dangers of Treating Your Career Marathon Like a Sprint

Chronic overwork can lead to work-family imbalance, reduced effectiveness and burnout. Occasional overwork is a necessity; chronic overwork is detrimental. Here’s why we need to pace ourselves. On October 11th, my second article for the Harvard Business Review blog was published. It was the most read and commented upon article on the HBR website for a whole week, and has … Read more

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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