How involved fathers deal with work life balance

My husband coaches my son's sports teams, helps review spelling words, and spends most of the weekend shuttling kids to activities. He also works 10 hour days. 

The more time my husband spends with the kids, the more relaxed he seems and the happier he is at work and home. 

As research comes out on today's working fathers, we are learning that for men, being an involved dad helps them at work. The increased interaction with their children makes them more satisfied and committed to staying at their jobs. It helps them bond with other parents at work and better manage their staffs. And, it even can increases their productivity.

But men are walking a fine line. 

Research also found that many men feel stigmatized at work if they are too “conspicuously” involved at home  - if they use flexibility formally or take paternity leave. “Being a little bit involved is good,” Ladge told me. “Being too involved is perceived as a bad thing.”

Today, it's a given — especially with the younger generation — that moms and dads will be involved in childcare.  Yet, the workplace still operates as if men had wives at home doing all the childcare and housework. While fathers often work long hours and find themselves on-call at all times, many of them balance work and family by bypassing formal flexible work policies and just slipping out a bit early or coming in late. 
 
I randomly interviewed a dozen fathers and all of them talked about how they balance work and family life by moving between work and home in a way that has them answering emails at 10 p.m. but also coming in late if they need to take a child to the pediatrician. Some fathers even bring their children to work when needed. Spencer Gilden loves his job in sales because it allows him to work from home and spend time with his 4-year-old daughter, Julie.
 
Spencer
(Spencer and Julie)
 
 
When workplaces support involved fathers, the payoff is huge — especially when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. 
 
 
I received this email in response to my column in The Miami Herald on Working Dads' Changing Roles:
 

Dear Cindy, 

I loved your article today, especially because the first thing you see coming into our conservation studio is 6 month-old Jack's bounce chair.  His dad, Oliver, my senior conservator, has been bringing him to work since Oliver's three month paternity leave ended.  My kids grew up in the studio (yes, among Monet's, Dali's, etc.) and Oliver grew up in his dad's studio.  We love being baby Jack's village. 

Thanks for a plug for involved fathering….

Best,

Rustin Levenson

Director

ArtCare Miami

Here's another email from an involved father: 

Hi Cindy!

I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your article about working dads being more involved in their kids’ lives. I am a father of two boys with my wife. One is three years old and the other is four months old. I own my own PR firm but I made a commitment to my wife and myself before the first one was born to be part of his life. 

And I agree on many things in your article! It was refreshing. I don’t want to work 80 plus hours to the point of burning myself out, and not enjoy these precious years of my kids’ lives.

Thank you again for the write up! I forwarded to several dad friends who have the same mind frame as me. 

Jose Boza

President & Digital Boss

Boza Agency

 

Fathers, how are you balancing work and family? Do you consider yourself an involved father? Has your employer made that easier or more difficult for you? 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

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