A Guest Blog by Scott Behson
“I worry that unless my generation of busy involved dads don’t start making change happen, company cultures will remain unchallenged, and more and more dads will have to struggle seemingly alone.” – Scott Behson
Dads, do you relate? As we wait for politics and organizations to catch up with the needs of dads in the workplace, Scott Behson recommends taking matters into your own hands.
Below is an excerpt from a blog post Scott wrote describing the steps you can take to help change our work cultures to recognize dads as actively involved parents. Or listen to our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar by clicking the SoundCloud icon, and hear two dads talk about the changes they made – at work and home – to play a more prominent role in their children’s lives.
Be the Change You Wish to See
If you have the security, flexibility, courage and inclination (I recognize some may have more ability to do this at work than others), here are a few steps we can take in our workplaces to make it easier for dads to discuss and address work-family demands at our workplaces.
- Talk about your family and ask other men about theirs
- Make sure other men in your workplace see you use work flexibility for family reasons
- Take paternity leave
- Start a Beer Fire! Organize a group of male friends or coworkers to discuss life outside of work
Read more …
If you are excited by these ideas, here are some ways you can start integrating your life outside of work into the workplace right now. Each idea is a small but important way we as men can make it easier to discuss our lives as dads at work – and taking these steps will have a big postitive impact for both men and women!
• Keep pictures of your kids/family not just in a small frame facing you on the desk, but in a prominent place at your workstation (an 8×10 on the wall behind you may be ideal)
• During “water cooler” chit-chat with other men, don’t just talk about the latest sports gossip, tell them what you did with your kids last weekend, or discuss their little league games (or whatever)
• Ask other men in your workplace about their non-work life, including their families. Encourage them to share their family activities – like what they did with the kids on vacation, etc.
You can integrate these tips at the beginning of meetings you run or if you are a supervisor and can generate these conversations with men who report to you, that’s even better!
Many dads struggle with work-family issues but, because they do not see other men talking about these issues, many feel like they struggle alone. By putting these suggestions into action, you make it more normal for men in your workplace to discuss family issues, and to bring some of our non-work lives into workplace discussions. These small but important steps also lay the groundwork for making big changes around creating more supportive workplaces for all.
Scott Behson, PhD, is a Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University and author of Working Dads Survival Guide. Scott lives in Nyack, NY with his wife, Amy, and son, Nick. Contact him on Twitter (@ScottBehson), Facebook, LinkedIn or email.
Lets Get Happy
As couples move throughout their lives, new opportunities arise alongside new challenges. Dr. Sara Yogev, author of “A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement and Aging,” helps us understand that building a team at home early in our relationships will help with transitions now AND later in life.
According to Dr. Yogev, couples often neglect communicating about their needs and expectations through large transitions, but being aware of how change impacts the marital dynamic is huge. To keep a handle on big changes, Dr. Yogev recommends “both spouses to take time to think about what he or she wants, exchange this information, try to help each other with these goals and be willing to compromise.”
Following are 10 ideas Dr. Yogev recommends for navigating a happier retirement – many are great tips that couples could practice at any age! Or listen to Dr. Yogev share even more insights by clicking the SoundCloud link to the right.
- Share expectations – Take time to talk about what you both are expecting.
- Address your relationship with money – Get a sense of your “money style.” Are you a spender or saver? Doing this helps you develop a common financial plan even if your styles are different.
- Prepare for mixed feelings – With every big transition, it’s good to remember there will be some things we like, and some things we find more challenging.
Read more …
- Address issues as they surface – When problems arise, avoid the temptation to sweep things under the rug.
- Custom design your days, weeks, months – Use a calendar to make sure both of your needs are being met and don’t over schedule.
- Celebrate your body – Getting into a routine of exercise and eating right is something that will benefit you across the life cycle.
- Celebrate your sexuality – Just like creating healthy routines around exercise and eating, couples also benefit from investing in their connection to each other.
- Retirement inherently requires us to “say good-bye to work.” However, Yogev encourages couples to try working shorter days, or shorter weeks as a way to transition into this change – something Shared Care parents have likely already had lots of experience with!
- Give each other physical and emotional space – Not having set work schedules that keep you apart, retirement requires becoming more intentional about the time you want to spend together and the time you need for your own interests.
- Stay mentally active – There are many ways to stay active in life. Support each other to find new and engaging interests.
Whether phasing into retirement, or balancing work and family, this list reminds us that couples will gain a lifetime of benefits by taking steps to work as a team to meet their own needs and their needs as a couple.
Want to learn more? Why not take a look at our ‘Get Started’ resources page for families and send for ThirdPath’s Work Family Options Workbook.
Are we willing to trade profit for greater life satisfaction?
What you might not have considered is that the approach these leaders are modeling is linked to new kind of bottom line.
Instead of building organizations that rely on extreme performance goals in order to meet inflated bottom lines, these leaders are promoting a very different path. They teach us “enough is enough” by putting an end to excessive work hours, and instead encouraging employees to be successful at work AND have time for their lives outside of work.
Attorney Anthony Doniger, a Partner at Sugarman Rogers, and past president of the Boston Bar Association, has many wise words to share on this topic. To listen to the wonderful discussion we had with Tony and two other leaders – both who founded their own law firms – click the SoundCloud icon on the right.
You can also read on for an inspirational excerpt from an article Tony wrote for the Boston Bar Journal, “A Different Measure of Success.“
Read more …
A good deal has been written about contentment, stress, dissatisfaction and disillusion in the legal profession [and other professions as well, ThirdPath would argue!]. For better or for worse, many lawyers and most large and mid-size law firms often measure their success not on a happiness or contentment index but against a monetary standard. Earnings — or “profit per partner” — is the currency with which firms compete for rankings on the all important The American Lawyer charts.
To improve these monetary rankings firms do things that are harmful to the profession and bad for lawyers.
One way to increase profit per partner is to limit the number of partners who count in the equation. However, with fewer people making partner, it is of course harder for diversity milestones to be achieved as there are fewer openings in the partnership ranks for anyone. On the revenue side, the pursuit of ever increasing revenues by definition imposes greater pressures on associates (and all lawyers). The result, of course, is that lawyers have less time for professional and other non-billable activities.
In addition, mergers and acquisitions have increased markedly over the last decade. The cost of these transitional events is not insignificant. Indeed, at the annual Boston Bar Association Leadership Retreat, a large percentage of the attorneys present had personally experienced such an event, finding it stressful and resulting in a solution that was less optimal from the perspective of contentment, though perhaps more profitable.
In the end, we need to ask when enough is enough.
Should we be willing to trade some profit or growth in profit for greater satisfaction? Surely it is okay to make a little less next year (or not make more) and take on some new professional or pro bono activities, or yes, even personal activities (there’s nothing wrong with hiking the Appalachian Trail).
There is much we can do to improve our professional and personal lives, our pro bono and bar work, our efforts to improve access to justice, if only we would emphasize alternative measures of success.
This employee-centered approach achieves success across industries. Chief executive Jim Sinegal, retired from Costco in 2012, was another pioneer around this approach. Read Jim’s thoughts “On Leadership,” in the Washington Post.
Are you a leader taking this approach? We would LOVE to feature your story. Email us at:time4life(at)thirdpath.org
What’s at stake? Why a shared approach to family is a goal worth reaching for!
We were honored to have 1MFWF ask us to write about how couples can overcome these barriers and create a “team at home.” We also used this opportunity to put a spotlight on some of the wonderful shared care families we know.
Over the years, a number of authors have written about Shared Care, and Kristin Maschka, one of these wonderful authors, recently joined us for a Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar. Kristin’s book, This is Not How I Thought it Would Be – Redesigning Motherhood, does a great job describing how she and her husband first got stuck in traditional work and family roles, but then learned how to work together to create a shared approach they are still practicing today.
Below are some of the things Kristin believes she and her husband gained by switching to Shared Care. You can also click on the YouTube video to watch a recording of our recent webinar with her.
“I knew what I would lose. I’d lose my marriage – Maybe not literally, but something vital at its core. David and I got married as equals, as best friends, as partners. When we were married, we vowed to ‘be true to the pursuit of the dreams and goals we both share. The dream we shared now was of a family life with everyone home for dinner, with time for our relationship with each other. We wanted a family life that would allow us to share the family responsibilities so that we both had time to pursue our own dreams and both had a relationship with Kate. How could we hope to have our marriage stand the test of time if we gave up on that vow to be true to the dreams we both shared? I would always carry some level of resentment, and he would always feel some defensiveness. If we gave up on the idea that we could share responsibility for our family, effectively we would be giving up on a core value in our marriage.”
Read more …
Want to learn more about Shared Care? We highly recommend any of these books:
The Libra Solution, Shedding Excess and Redefining Success at Work and at Home, Lisa D’Annolfo Levey (2012)
Equally Shared Parenting, Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents, Marc and Amy Vachon (2011)
This is Not How I Thought It Would Be, Remodeling Motherhood To Get The Lives We Want Today, Kristin Maschka (2009)
Getting to 50-50, How Working Couples Can Have it All by Sharing it All, Sharon Lerner (2009)
Daddy On Board, Parenting Roles for the 21st Century, Dottie Lamm (2007)
How to Avoid The Mommy Trap, A Road Map for Sharing Parenting and Making it Work, Julie Shields (2003)
The Four-Thirds Solution, Solving the Childcare Crisis in America Today, Stanley Greenspan (2002)
Halving it All, How Equally Shared Parenting Works, Francine Deutsch (2000)
Love Between Equals, How Peer Marriage Really Works, Pepper Schwartz (1995)
Check out the many resources we have for families. Let us help you design the work/family solution that is right for you!
Top 5 barriers for fathers & family –
#5 Increased financial risk unless you are willing to put work first
#4 Outdated gender norms – both at work and home
#3 Outdated work norms – such as long work hours and face time
#2 Lack of progressive public policy
#1 Men’s invisibility and poor representation of fathers in the media
Thanks to a group of pioneering men (and pioneering organizations like City Dads Group … Dad 2.0 Summit … National at Home Dad Network … Boston College Center on Work and Family … and of course ThirdPath Institute!) – there is growing momentum to push back at these barriers.
Below are the stories of some of the dads involved with this change. To the right (clockwise) are their photos. Want to learn more about what these amazing dads are doing to write a new narrative around fatherhood? Listen to the SoundClound recording and learn how men are as eager as women to create a “new normal” where we have time to be successful at work AND actively involved in the care of our families.
Scott Behson – Scott and his wife have Shared Care since their son was born, each parent increasing their role at home as they flexed around the others work schedule. Scott’s fatherhood blog lead him to write the must read book – Working Dads Survival Guide.
Kipp Jarecke-Cheng – Kipp works full time and is the primary flexer around the care of his children. Kipp and his partner get additional support from their nanny. We met Kipp at one of the Dad 2.0 Summits and quickly invited him to join ThirdPath’s board. Kipp showed us how these issues are both “about gender, and not about gender.”
Lester Spence – Lester and his wife are raising 5 children. Although he works full time while she stays home, he’s also actively involved in the family – from braiding hair to baking bread. As a political science professor, Lester understands, “This is a political issue. If involved fathers are stigmatized, over the generations this stigma will go away, and that’s worth fighting for.”
Read more …
Brad Harrington – Brad worked while his wife cared for the children when they were young. Now that they are older, both parents flex work and Share Care. Brad runs the Boston College Center for Work and Family. He has also published multiple studies on the changing role of fathers.
Christopher Persley – Christopher dialed his career back so he could be the primary caregiver when their daughter was young. Now he’s added teaching back into the mix. Christopher is a member of NYC Dads Group.
Chris Bernholdt – Chris and his wife decided what made most sense for their family was to have Chris become the primary parent at home while his wife continued to advance in her career. Chris is a board member of the National at Home Dad Network and co-organizer of Philadelphia City Dads.
Tell us how you flexed your work by tweeting it at #MenWomenFlex.