Tag Archives: Father’s

Whose career suffers when childcare emergencies arise? Usually the mother

 

 

Last week, I sat in an office waiting to be called in for an annual parent teacher conference and checking my watch. My son is doing well in school so the conference was called purely for administrators to check off boxes. The longer I sat, the more anxious I felt about the work I should be finishing and the deadlines approaching.

I pictured my husband in his office, being productive, and I stewed.

Over our years of raising children, as child care needs have cropped up, my husband and I have negotiated who would handle them. The negotiations often turn into arguments over who has more on their plate, more flexibility at work, and inevitably, whose salary is more critical to our household income.

More often, the negotiations (arguments) end when I agree to “take one for the team.” Some days, I resent it.

My working mother friends in households with two employed parents tell me they, too, struggle with sharing family responsibilities 50-50. A teacher friend told me she has used up her allotted days off staying home with her sick son who has been battling bronchitis off and on almost the entire school year. Her husband claims his boss will dock him pay if he misses a day of work. She’s worried she is about to lose her position as grade leader. Being there for a child and living up to the demands of bosses and clients is no easy feat for a mom or dad. Although men are taking on more childcare responsibility, women still “take one for the team” more often.

Lately, I’ve been surprised at how much this inequality bothers men in supervisory roles.  A male friend who manages a radio station recently complained about a mother on his staff who has had to leave early several times in the last few weeks to handle childcare emergencies. “Why doesn’t her husband take a turn?” he asked me. “Yeah, why doesn’t he?” I responded, wondering if this situation would make my friend any more likely to pitch in with childcare emergencies in his household.

Unfortunately, when mothers take time off to handle childcare needs too frequently, they are viewed as uncommitted to their jobs or not serious about their careers. It is the reason more mothers are looking carefully at flexibility in our workplaces and resources our employers provide such as paid sick leave.

So, I’m wonder what your thoughts are on taking one for the team. Is this something you argue about with your significant other? How do you think who handles childcare needs should be decided? Do you take one for the team more often than your spouse and end up resenting it?

Father’s Day: A working dad’s perspective on work life balance

For Father's Day, I wanted to hear a dad's perspective on work life balance. I know firsthand that work life balance is a struggle for working mothers. But what about for working fathers? Are their challenges the same?

A friend calls Mason Williams a "super dad."  So, I asked Williams to share his thoughts on being a father and finding work life balance.  IMG_0161

What exactly does being a super dad mean these days? Williams explains:

Although he is the Chief Investment Officer/Managing Director for Coral Gables Trust Company, the 38-year-old Williams takes his parenting job equally as seriously. He says his children are his life – two sons, a 6-year-old named Jake and a 3-year-old named Luke. Williams, has been married for nine years to his wife, Ana Lucia, who is a stay at home mom. Ana Lucia makes most of the household decisions, but Williams says he's equally involved in the decisions regarding their children, so much so that he recently listed his son getting into a magnet program at the elementary school as a personal accomplishment on a recent awards nomination. 

While Williams' job is set up to be 9 to 5, it extends well beyond those hours. Often, he works 10-hour days. "We're small and entrepreneurial so it comes with the territory," Williams explains. "You have to make an impact all the time for the business to grow. It can wear on you at times, trying to find balance between work and being there for your kids. I struggle but I think it's important to find ways to be with them."

Like most professionals, Williams can't help but check email on the weekends. It's the best time to trade ideas with his colleagues, he says. "With the iphone, email is at your at fingertips and it's hard to put it down."

As the sole provider for his family, Williams says he puts expectations on himself that fathers of prior generations may not have experienced. Professionally, there is pressure on him to "do what I need to do at the office." At the same time, he also feels pressure to help at home. "When I'm not at the office I feel like I have an obligation to help with the children so my wife can take a break."

Williams realizes his generation of fathers are raising children in an era when technology has made parenting easier and more challenging. On one hand, parenting advice is at their fingertips. On the other, work is always in your pocket.  "I think it's far more stressful," he says. "My parents did not have a Blackberry or iPhone. They could shut down. It's harder for us to concentrate on our home lives when we're home, so that's added stress."

Of course, that's not Williams' only stressor. He says like any parent, his challenge is learning to stop, take a breath and spend time with his family. "I have to tell myself that project at work, or that email can wait. Prioritizing is huge challenge and I have had to learn when to put family ahead of work. I know if I help out at home, I have a happy wife and I have learned happy wife equals happy life."

Williams says as a parent, he gets involved with the time management of his children and the activities they take on. "I'm teaching my son why he should do homework first, so he has free time afterward."  Both the Williams boys are involved in sports, something Williams encourages. "We want them to be active. Our oldest is doing swimming and golf. Our youngest is doing soccer and swimming." One day, Williams even envisions an athletic scholarship for college for his sons like the one their mother, an avid golfer, received years ago.

With all the challenges dads take on today, Williams admits their children's accomplishments become that much more of their own personal achievements. Williams proudly tells me his son Jake has just been accepted to the Sunset Elementary magnet program for Spanish. 

Yes, fathers today are pulling the double duty that mothers did for decades — and while it's a tough, they are reaping the rewards in the close relationships they are forming with their children.

Keep up the good work fathers, and enjoy your special day. Happy Father's Day to all the super dads out there!

 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

Why paternity leave is the hot topic this Father’s Day

Dadson

 

As we head into Father's Day weekend, the topic du jour is paternity leave.

We are hearing about who offers it, who doesn't, who takes it, who doesn't take it and why we should care about it. 

The bottom line is that when fathers take time off when their babies are born, they establish a lifelong bond, according to research. That's not to say fathers who don't take paternity leave don't bond. It's just that when they do take it, a pattern is established that's good for fathers, mothers and babies. It sets the tone from day one that dad will be involved in childcare.

One of the interesting trends we are seeing around paternity leave is even as national efforts are underway to promote more businesses to offer paternity leave, men are admitting they often are afraid to take it even if it's offered. They fear being stigmatized as someone who is less committed to work.

So basically, fathers are fighting two battles. One to get family-friendly policies approved. A second one to be able to use those policies without being penalized.

Both are worth the attention media outlets are giving them. Paternity leave is a family friendly benefit that fathers can claim for themselves. It moves the conversation about balancing work and family from being a "mother's issue" to being a father's issue, too)

This morning, I heard a report on paternity leave on NPR. I've seen articles in Fortune, in USA Today, in TIME.

Even celebrity entrepreneur Richard Branson has hyped the topic by announcing Virgin will give new fathers up to 12 months paid time off (if they qualify). 

 Lifehacker has drawn up a list of companies with the best paternity leave policies

I expect the conversation will continue well after Father's Day has come and gone. I hope it will continue because what's good for fathers is good for families.

Unfortunately, only about 14% of private employers in the US offer paid paternity leave, according to a 2014 survey by the Families and Work Institute. Right now, offering paid paternity leave is useful in the war for talent, but that's assuming fathers covet such a benefit and plan to use it. 

We have a long way to go to make fathers part of the work life conversation, but the discussion has begun and we are moving in the right direction.

Happy Father's Day!

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

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

Working fathers deserve some attention

I love this time of year. My inbox is flooded with emails about surveys, research and gift ideas for fathers. I think my favorite part of the inundation is knowing that at least once a year, working fathers issues are getting attention.

For example, one email I received addressed offered me the opportunity to interview Paternity Leave pioneer, Dr. Jerry Cammarata, Dean of Student Affairs at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harlem, who filed and won the first-ever Paternity Leave lawsuit against the NYC Board of Education in 1983.  Cammarata believes the Family Medical Leave Act must immediately be amended to allow every father in all 50 states to be  encouraged to take advantage of paternity leave. 

Another email wants to make me aware of new research on fathers. A University of Missouri researcher has found that fathers and mothers are happier when they share household and child-rearing responsibilities. Along those lines, there's an article link that made its way into my inbox. The article by the Associated Press is titled: The new dads: Diaper duty's just the start It says more men are doing more around the house, from packing school lunches and doing laundry to getting up in the middle of the night with a screaming infant.

Let's not forget to give divorced dads some attention. Huffington Post blogger Vicki Larson writes her viewpoint in this post:  Why Is No One Paying Attention To Divorced Dads?

An then there's, Break Media's  New Face of Fatherhood. An info-graphic that breaks down the results of a survey on dads. Key insights:  33 percent of Dads want to spend more time with their kids this Father’s Day.

And, if you're shopping for Father's Day, this link is sure to be a winner: 10 Worst Father's Day Gifts and What to Do Instead 

 

To all the hard working dads out there, Happy Father's Day!

 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

Father’s Day lessons: Do working fathers get enough respect?

Jameson
(Above: Jameson Mercier and his two daughters)

Do dads get short shrift at work? When it comes to scooting out early to pick a kid up from summer camp or day care, are moms more likely to get accommodated? And, what about at-home dads…are they given the respect they deserve.

Over the weekend, I watched Kramer vs. Kramer. It has been a long time since I've seen the movie in which a just divorced man must learn to care for his son on his own, and then must fight in court to keep custody of him. Mr. Kramer loses his high paying job when child care issues pop up over and over. His boss doesn't think he's committed to his job. The movie, starring Dustin Hoffman and made in 1979, made me think about whether much has changed for dads.

Do dedicated dads balancing work and family get treated fairly in 2012?

That depends on who you work for but I would say we've seen improvement. For the most part, I think bosses understand work life conflict, and they're understanding — to a point.

I read some fascinating articles this weekend on dads pegged to Father's Day. Some of my favorites were about single dads, including one in the Augusta Chronicle which applauded those who are trying their best to be the best. I especially admire Miami Heat basketball star Dwyane Wade, who was profiled in a front page piece in The Miami Herald. Wade has a book coming out in September on his experiences with fatherhood after winning custody of his two boys from his ex-wife.

Even 30 years after Kramer vs. Kramer, I think its fair to say men are struggling as much as women to balance work and family. Technology has helped. Some employers are a tad more understanding than Mr. Kramer's boss when a dad may need to leave the office at 5 p.m. to take his kid to soccer practice but is willing to put in a few more hours after his kid goes to bed.

What I found fascinating was a piece in Working Mother, which devoted its June edition to dads. It says dads believe taking time off with the kids is a given. "Dads just matter of factly take the time they need and make sure they get their work done," said Brad Harrington, executive director of the Boston College Center for Work & Family who spearheaded The New Dad, a study of 900 working fathers. Career coach Caroline Ceniza Levine agrees "If dads need to be out of the office for a school event, they don't feel guilty or defend their choice: they're just out for an appointment."

Many Father's Day articles centered around the new trend toward at-home dads. A study from Harrington's center, called The New Dad: Right at Home,  shows married couples are making pragmatic decisions about who should stay home with the kids and sometimes, it's mom who commands the higher salary and greater earning potential so dad becomes the at-home parent.

I found examples of this in South Florida and wrote about it in The Miami Herald over the weekend. Fox News also reported on the trend with a headline that read: Mr. Mom Era: Stay-at-home
dads doubled over last decade.  

I was extremely touched by a piece in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on fathers who struggle with their child's autism diagnosis but found ways to embrace special needs parenting.

Clearly, the conversation about work life balance and family friendly employers has focused more on the working mother than the working father.  I think that's changing but we still have lots of room for improvement. Watch the clip below on Mr. Mom and you tell me if you think times have changed.

 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act