Given how dads are taking a much more hands-on role in raising children than they did even a generation ago, we think that it’s time to ask successful working fathers the same questions that female executives get asked all the time. How do you balance work and family? Can you excel in your career and be the parent you want to be? What has becoming a parent done to your career?
The ever resourceful Matt Schneider and Lance Somerfeld, Co-Organizers of the NYC Dads Group, brought together and moderated a small (but candid) cast of dads to discuss these issues. Joining the party is Dr. Brad Harrington, the Executive Director of the Boston College Center for Work and Family, who spends considerable time researching what working dads think they want out of work and life. (At the beginning of the conversation, Prof. Harrington presented some of his recent findings to the panel. Here we present them in the sidebar below.)
The other panelists:
NYC Dads Group: What is your definition of a “good father” in 2012?
Rob: The principles that made a dad a good dad 20, 40, 60 years ago are still there, provider, protector, etc. What is new are the added expectations: caregiver, diaper changer, dinner maker, all that.
Eric: Both you and Scott are first-time dads. Do you feel like you come by these added responsibilities easily, or is it a kind of personal code?
Rob: It’s a bit of both. There is a pact that I made with myself, my wife, and my son. I want to be involved. The last 11 months have been the most sleep deprived and stressful, but also the most joyous and happy.
Scott: For me, it started with an ambiguous, almost ominous sense of responsibility—as in, Holy shit, I’m responsible for this thing. Then there is the sense of joy. This little thing needs you…and you do what you need to do because of love. Also, I entered parenting with a woman who advocates for women’s rights and she reset my expectations in a good way—about creating a balance in caregiving.
NYC Dads Group: Rob, personally, are there things that you do now that you are a dad that affect your work?
Rob: I’m trying to leave early to be home in the evenings. I could stay all night, but there are times now when I can’t take that 5:30 or 6PM call—I need to go to feed my son or give my wife a break. I’ve tried to be more consistent, but it’s a real struggle.
NYC Dads Group: How is it received by your colleagues, when you say you can’t take a 5:30 call?
Rob: It’s absolutely fine. Unilever is that kind of culture. I just don’t think it’s common enough. Sheryl Sandberg’s announcement was uncommon because she’s the COO of Facebook, but it’s not uncommon for women to say that they have to go home to relieve the nanny, or feed my son, etc. What you don’t hear is a lot of is guys saying, overtly, the same thing. I think we are only starting to scratch the surface of that now. Professionally, everything that Prof. Harrington found [see sidebar below] is consistent with what we’ve found as we researched for the launch of Dove Men Care. Men reach a point in their mid-30s where they get “comfortable in their own skin.” The single greatest catalyst is the birth of a child…
To read the full article at New York Family Magazine click here.
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