July 20, 2015

Good news: CEOs say they support paternity leave

 

Dadwithkids

 

 

What do you want to hear first -- the good news or the bad news?

 

First the good news. The Miami Herald polled local CEOs about their support of paternity leave. Most say they support it. 

Here's what they had to say.....

The question: Should male employees be given the option of taking paternity leave? Does your company offer it?

==========

Yes, they should but only for one week to support the childbearing wife. Our company does offer it.

Daniel Ades, managing partner, Kawa Capital Management

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Yes. It’s a win-win when companies support employees through life issues large and small. rbb’s employee-driven workplace believes in allowing time off for both men and women.

Christine Barney, CEO, RBB Communications

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Male employees should definitely have the option of taking paternity leave even if it’s only for a couple of days. When returning home after giving birth, mom needs help with the new baby and most importantly being home will allow the father to bond with the new baby in this very happy emotional time especially if it’s the first one when you go from being a couple to being a family.

Richard Behar, Founder and CEO, Capitol Clothing Corp.

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Yes, only when mothers with medical reasons are not able to take care of their baby. My company offers paternity leave.

Carmen Castillo, president and CEO, SDI International

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I think that on a case-by-case, male employees should be given the opportunity for paternity leave. Each family’s needs are different, and it may be that while the mother is carrying the child, the father will be the providing the primary care. It is important to maintain an open mind for the benefit of the family and the employer and do what makes the most sense.

Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner, Cervera Real Estate

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Yes, of course; men are needed at home just as moms are at the start of a child’s life. We do offer it to our staff.

Pandwe Gibson, executive director, EcoTech Visions

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Giving birth is an extraordinary physical and emotional experience for a woman. Maternity leave is necessary to enable women to absorb this experience while bonding with their child. I don’t think such leave is necessary for men.

Julie Grimes, managing partner, Hilton Bentley Hotel

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YES and YES. Parental leave is a critical need and benefit that is offered in every industrialized country EXCEPT the U.S. We need to support programs that support families and children to create a better society for all. My Canadian nephews all took 6 months off, of the one year that Canada offers for maternity leave, to bond with their babies and claim that it was the best experience of their lives. My son works for the Department of the Navy so he also took paternity leave and LOVED it! He needed it because he had premature twins that required weeks at the hospital and at home before he could leave his family with any confidence.

Ann Machado, founder and president, Creative Staffing

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No — and we don’t offer it. However, we are sympathetic to fathers of newborns and are very flexible with their schedules wherever possible.

Victor Mendelson, co-president, HEICO

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Yes, as a father of two young boys, I think time off for both parents is important. We do not have a formal policy in place for paternity, but we are flexible with our new parents to work within their needs.

Nitin Motwani, managing principal, Miami Worldcenter Associates

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In short, yes. At this point, we don’t offer paternity leave, but we do consider it on a case-by-case basis. We review our benefits annually and make adjustments as needed and upon request by the staff. It’s a system that works well for our restaurant and our large employee base.

Abe Ng, founder and CEO of Sushi Maki

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We believe in policies that attract the best and the brightest. As a first-time parent to a 13-month-old, the difficulties that all parents face are very real to me. From a business perspective, we are always willing to work with people when they are a productive member of our community.

Todd Oretsky, co-founder, Pipeline Brickell

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Yes, male employees deserve to have the time to care for a newborn or adopted child and foster that special bond that is so important in the life of a child and parent. At Miami Dade College, we offer leave (vacation, sick time and/or FMLA) to all eligible employees, and male as well as female employees may take the time to care for a child whether it is due to birth, adoption or medical issue.

Eduardo Padrón, president, Miami Dade College

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Male employees should be afforded paternity time, though I think it’s at every business’ discretion to determine the appropriate leave length and compensation arrangements. Since my company is still small, we don’t have a formal policy regarding paternity leave, but we pride ourselves on being flexible about all employees’ family obligations and concerns.

Joanna Schwartz, CEO and co-founder, EarlyShares

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Yes, men should have some time to bond with and assist with the family’s newest blessing. We do allow for the time, but we do not entitle it “paternity leave.”

Darryl K. Sharpton, president and CEO, The Sharpton Group

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The birth of a child and the adoption of a child are transformative moments for any family and for all parents. Akerman offers our male and female lawyers paid parental leave following the birth of a child. Lawyers serving as primary care-givers are provided paid leave following the placement of a child through legal adoption.

Andrew Smulian, chairman and CEO, Akerman LLP

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Family friendly policies are important for both men and women. Paternity leave is common in countries where there is a much higher level of taxation — and corresponding social benefits. We don’t have paternity or specific maternity leave; in general, staff take vacation time.

Gillian Thomas, president and CEO, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

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I believe that family, in whatever form, is very important and it’s critical parents have the opportunity to make a positive impact on his/her child. When parents are in a child’s life from the very beginning, great things happen for the family, the workplace(s) and the community: a. The child grows up feeling valued and loved; b. The workplace(s) builds a culture where family is valued; c. Not only do both parents share in the household responsibilities, but both parents take time from work, which can help with equality in the workplace; d. Feeding South Florida does allow fathers to take paternity leave.

Paco Velez, CEO, Feeding South Florida

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Yes, I believe male employees should be given that option and we do offer Child Care Leave for both men and women. Even more important than offering it, companies should strive to create a culture that encourages men to take advantage of that leave. Enabling fathers to take time to bond with and care for their new child benefits not only the home and family, but also the future of the mother’s career if she chooses to have one outside of the home.

Alina Villasante, founder, Peace Love World clothing

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There’s no right or wrong answer to this, but I personally do not think male employees need a paternity leave option. Therefore, it is not something we offer.

Marlon Williams, founder and CEO, Fenero

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Yes, male employees should have the option. Our company is pretty progressive when it comes to family leave. We offer paid maternity/paternity leave to our employees as needed. Many of our male employees, including myself, have young children and wives who work outside of the home, so we understand the importance of having such an option available to us.

John Wood, president, Amicon Construction

 

Now the bad news....

Research shows only 13% of employers offer paid paternity leave,  and most men don't take paternity leave even when offered. New fathers give reasons that include stigma, guilt and fear of reprisal.

While it's great paternity leave is a topic of conversation, let's hope we see some significant changes in corporate policies and real life practices.

When dads bond with babies, it helps men feel like they are part of the team. Teamwork makes work life balance better for mom and dad.

What are your thoughts on paternity leave? While the Miami CEOs say they support it, few have policies that directly address it. Is that okay? Do we need formal policies?

 

 

 

June 19, 2015

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!

 

June 18, 2015

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? 

 

April 09, 2015

An amazing perk: paternity coaching

It's a fact, fathers hesitate to take paternity leave. But that may change as more companies offer it and more men see the value. Paternity coach Delaine Barr is a member of the Ernst & Young Americas Executive Coaching Team. She has been working with some of the men at the accounting firm who are eligible to take up to six weeks leave in total. I spoke with her to gain an idea of this valuable perk for new fathers.

UnknownQ. What is the process of working with a maternity or paternity coach like?

A. We aren’t structured in our approach. When I’m working with a new parent, I let them drive the conversation. If they are getting ready or thinking of going on leave, I have them describe what a successful leave would look like for them at home and work.

Q. How many sessions are involved?

 

A. We offer up to eight sessions. They are done on a monthly basis. If someone has a lot of momentum around a specific topic, he or she may not want to wait another four weeks, so we touch base in two weeks. Some people might start their coaching sessions three months before they go on leave. Others in the program start when they are getting ready to come back from leave. Not everyone starts or stops coaching at the same point in their transition.

Q. Are your sessions by phone in person or on Skype?

A. Usually by phone. I have people I coach who are all over the United States and Canada

Q. What are issues that come up after someone returns from parental leave?

A. The biggest fear with any new parent is typically what happens to the work while I’m gone. How connected should I be, can I be and do I want to be while on leave? When they come back, I find a lot of discussion or concern with what kind of professional am I going to be now that I have these responsibilities at home. Most are high performers who are used to performing above average. They are worried that now they will be just an average performer and want to know how to shift.

Q. What advice do you offer them about that shift?

A. I get them thinking about everything they are involved in at home and work and help them get clear. I ask them what things they want to keep doing and what are some of those things someone else might be able to.

Q. Do you discuss the stigma with paternity leave?

A. It comes up. But in my experience in coaching new dads, I don’t hear about it as much as I used to. Some dads have been told, “I hope you have a great vacation,” when they actually will be busier at home caring for a baby than at work.

Q. How is paternity coaching different than maternity coaching?

A. There are so many similarities. I really find that both moms and dads are looking for ways to make things work, for ways to be better organized at home and at work. I found over a period of time that dads have become more vocal about saying they have responsibilities at home and making time for those.

Q. What comes up in your coaching sessions that most new parents hadn’t thought about?

A. Having one calendar for all events at home and work. Usually that means merging two calendars and using one and sending invites to your spouse or significant other when events are going on at home or work. It helps them to see their day, week and month and plan accordingly.

Q. What are issues men face as fathers in the workplace, particularly during transitions?

A. Making time for their family. Even when I’m coaching them on career transitions, I find men will talk about their opportunity, but in the back of their mind want to make sure it doesn’t take away from being there for their kids.

Q. What advice do you have for a new father?

A. Get clear on what things are most important, the nonnegotiable. The biggest benefit in working with a coach is you are going to explore those things that are most important to you and come up with an action plan tailored to your needs. You will have a coach asking about your progress, celebrating success, and where you are not making progress, they are going to ask about what’s going on.

Q. Do you have advice for someone who isn’t fortunate enough to have the benefit of a paternity or maternity coach?

A. If you are not working with a coach, I’m a big believer in finding a mentor mom or dad who you can talk to about specific situations to learn how they handled similar experiences.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/cindy-krischer-goodman/article17806391.html#storylink=cpy

 

March 27, 2015

Working parents: your boss may be judging you

Image
(Katharine Zaleski)

If people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their boss. How do you become a boss that workers refuse to leave?


The answer looks obvious from recent online discussion: Refrain from judging employees with an outside life.


In an apology letter to working mothers that set off a firestorm of online buzz, the president of an Internet startup gave a harsh account of how workers with family responsibilities are unfairly judged by their bosses.


As a manager at The Huffington Post and then The Washington Post in her mid-20s, Katharine Zaleski admits that she judged other mothers or said nothing while she saw others do the same.


“I secretly rolled my eyes at a mother who couldn’t make it to last-minute drinks with me and my team,” she wrote in a letter that appeared in Fortune. “I questioned her ‘commitment’ even though she arrived two hours earlier to work than me and my hungover colleagues the next day. I didn’t disagree when another female editor said we should hurry up and fire another woman before she ‘got pregnant.’


In a move that goes on in many workplaces, Zaleski said she scheduled last-minute meetings at 4:30 p.m. all of the time. “It didn’t dawn on me that parents might need to pick up their kids at daycare,” she said.

Zaleski said she didn’t realize how horrible she had been until she gave birth to her own daughter. She now runs PowerToFly, a company that matches women who want to work from home with jobs in the tech field.

We all know that Zaleski isn't the only boss who has harshly judged a working mother -- or father. It can be easy to dismiss a working parent as uncommitted, a worker with elder care responsibilities as distracted, or a younger employee who wants to train for a marathon as lacking work ethic. It can be easy to call super early morning or schedule evening dinners with clients that can happen during the regular workday.

But you don’t need to be in a person’s shoes to be a boss who creates a workplace where employees thrive. A good boss thinks about the bigger picture and realizes people have lives outside of work -- and that allowing them to do both well makes them more committed to their jobs!

I find myself offering encouragement almost weekly to a working mother or father who feels judged by a boss for asking for flex time or wanting to leave by 5 to make it to their son’s soccer game. Their most common complaint: my boss will penalize me.

A report from Bright Horizons Family Solutions, an employer benefit child-care and early education company, reveals many employees - male and female - feel they can’t be open with their boss about family obligations. As more fathers want to be equal partners in parenting, they still feel they can’t express that to their boss, especially non-parents. Bright Horizons found about a third of working dads have faked sick to be more involved with their family, and one in four have lied to meet a family obligation, according to the report.


That could change.

As millennials become managers, many do think differently about work/life needs. They want to be more involved in thier children's lives and may make it easier for thier staffers to balance work and family without being judged.

If you feel like your boss or co- worker is judging you for having a life outside of work, it might be time to speak up. Communicate your accomplishments and the ways you show your commitment to your job. It's unfortunate to think that some managers don't see the value that working parents bring to a workplace.

Have you felt judged by a manager for having personal responsibilities or interests outside of work? How did you handle it?


November 05, 2014

The Way Men Use Flex is Different

Flexibiilty at work. 

For many years, those three words have been associate with working mothers.

But quietly, working fathers are tapping flex, too.

Rather than making the formal flex arrangements that moms make, dads are using flex under the radar. 

Take Phil Ward, for example. Twice a week, Phil arrives at his Fort Lauderdale law office earlier than usual and plans his day knowing he wants to watch his son’s lacrosse practice at 6:30 p.m. If his wife can’t drop his son off at practice, Ward does some extra maneuvering of his schedule to leave his office earlier. He might work through lunch or log on later in the evening. 

How Men Flex, a newly released report commissioned by Working Mother, shows that seven in 10 men enjoy the ability to influence their schedule and do so without fear of negative consequences. But only 29 percent report that their flexible work schedule is a formal arrangement that repeats week to week. Men “flex” mostly as needed.

To better understand how men are navigating the flexible work and home terrain, the Working Mother Research Institute (WMRI), with support from Ernst & Young, surveyed 2,000 men and women about the impact of “flexing” on their lives. Researchers discovered that working dads, whose spouses now work too, increasingly want and need flexibility in their schedules as they partake in the juggling act once considered the exclusive domain of women.

Jose Hernandez-Solaun, president of a Miami real estate firm, notices that most men who need informal flexibility — in jobs where it is possible — negotiate it on the fly, and get it. Yet, “flex” comes paired with expectations, he says. “If I need you to produce spreadsheets and a presentation by Friday and you ask to leave early because you need to be with your kids, you better produce that information. It’s really about accountability.”

Hernandez-Solaun, a father of young children, says the expectations are two-sided: men expect leeway in their schedule and, in return, bosses expect a certain level of availability — even at home or on vacation. “Ten years ago, that wasn’t the case.”

Going beyond informal flexibility gets trickier for men. Most men fear that formal arrangements — such as a scaled back work schedule, telecommuting from home or leeway in starting times —  create the impression that they aren’t fully committed. 

For men in particular, there is a real fear of the stigma, too. “The No.1 concern … is that men feel the moment they step out or step back, they become dispensable. That’s the greatest insecurity of every man I know,” says Mike Tomas, a South Florida entrepreneur.

Like women, men with access to flexibility are more likely to say they are happy at work, productive, loyal and have good relationships with co-workers. And, those men who do flex — even informally — report higher levels of satisfaction with their relationships with their children.
 
The men surveyed say the ideal mix is working in office but from home occasionally as needed. To do that regularly, requires a workplace that allows that type of schedule. It looks like slowly, with more managers doing the balancing act, we're moving in that direction. Working moms may have paved the way, but men are quickly learning that flexibility has benefits.
 

June 19, 2013

The new reality: Male caregivers for aging parents

As the nation celebrated Father's Day, I wanted to write a twist on the articles we read all the time about more men taking bigger roles in the lives of their children. Yes, men are struggling with work life balance and work and family conflict. However, I saw a trend in men taking care of their aging parents. Although I focused my column today on men taking their dads, plenty of men are caregivers for their mom, too. Expect to see more men needing accommodations at work to pull off this balancing act. 

 

 

Flexible work schedules help men who care for parents

John Shoendorf, a CPA, takes a walk with his dad, Harold, along the dock behind Harold's apartment in Coral Gables on June 10, 2013. PATRICK FARRELL / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

Juan Erman Gonzalez was showing his clothing patterns to a customer when his cellphone buzzed. It was his mother telling him that his father had another fender bender. Gonzalez excused himself to his agitated client and zipped off to persuade dad to give up driving.

That was three years ago.

Today, Gonzalez ‘s dad, 85, resides in an assisted-living facility. The younger Gonzalez and his brother, Guillermo, deliver him special meals, spends a few hours by his side and mows the lawn of the home Dad refuses to sell. Just when he thinks the care arrangements are working smoothly, something will change and require his attention.

Gonzalez says he’s lucky; as a freelance clothing pattern designer, he’s usually able to fit work around his caregiving schedule. “Sometimes I am able to work a complete week, sometimes not.”

Gonzalez is among an increasing number of men caring for aging parents — especially fathers — and experiencing the work/life conflicts this new dynamic brings. While men are less likely to help Dad in the shower or to get dressed, they are stepping in to hire and fire doctors, drive Pop to the grocery store and manage finances. “They are doing things they never expected to do for their dads,” says Gary Barg, CEO and editor in chief of Caregiver Media Group.

Because more male caregivers work full time, many report that overseeing Dad’s care has required they modify their work schedules, leave early, take time off or turn down overtime. According to a study published in 2009 by the National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with the AARP, one out of three caregivers — about 14.5 million — are men. “I think it’s clear that the demands on men as well as women are going to increase in terms of family care,” Barg said.

John Schoendorf, a Miami forensic accountant and only child whose mother died at 40, has been transitioning into the caregiver role for the past two years, and has become closer with his dad. “My father has comfortably brought me into the loop of his financial and medical world.”

Still, Shoendorf has had to change his late-night working habits and rearrange his work hours to go with his 86-year-old father, Harold, on doctors’ appointments. “I have had to remember family is more important than work. That’s harder to do sometimes than others.”

While male caregivers like Schoendorf deal with the same issues as their female counterparts, they also face distinctive challenges. They are more likely to use paid assistance for their loved ones’ personal care. They tend to travel farther or spend more time organizing care from a distance, and they are more hesitant to let a boss or co-worker know about their role as a caregiver, according to the AARP. In fact, men feel challenged by the perception that their need for time off or flexibility to care for Dad will be seen as a lack of commitment to their job.

“We try to get male caregivers to understand they have taken on a new job role,” Barg says. “They have become CEO of Caring for my Loved One Inc. and that takes a time commitment.”

Sons often find their new role is an emotional and logistical roller coaster. Carlos Ramirez, a Miami healthcare consultant, has been caring for his 80-year-old father since his sister recently died from breast cancer. His father, who suffers from diabetes, now relies on Ramirez to make medical decisions that recently included the amputation of a toe. “On a typical week, I’ll make him appointments, go with him on appointments and follow up with doctors.”

Ramirez often needs to exercise the flexibility his career as a consultant provides. “Some specialists only see patients certain days of the week or do procedures certain days.” He finds himself in an ongoing tussle over how much of his father’s care he can personally take on.

Experts say getting ahead of an aging father’s needs makes the balancing act easier — but often doesn’t happen. Men are more likely to ignore the mental or physical decline and believe a father who says he’s fine — until it reaches a crisis, says Amy Seigel, director of Advocare Care Management in South Florida. “When a father says he’s fine, a son goes back to his childhood and he is still that guy’s son.”

Seigel, who runs a geriatric care management company, often gets the call from a concerned son miles away from Dad when a situation spirals out of control. “They are panicked because they are at work and having trouble managing the medical and emotion needs of a parent who lives in another city or state.”

Recently, she heard from a New York surgeon who called in between operations. He had called to check on his dad in a hospital in South Florida but was disconnected several times. “I can’t keep leaving my job and getting on a plane because Dad fell in Florida,” he exasperatedly told Seigel.

Such struggles are what led Seigel to launch her South Florida business. “We become the eyes and ears for these adult children who need help with overseeing the medical, physical and mental health needs of a parent.”

Whether from a distance or nearby, Seigel says managing the care of an aging parent is an emotional period for adult children when roles change. “It’s a chance to mend any differences and build a bond. It can be a nice, rewarding experience.”

Gonzalez and his father have had a strained relationship for many years. But now, as he spends time with Dad and shares caretaking with his brother, he sees himself as a role model for his children, 26 and 19. “It’s important for me to show my children there’s respect for the elderly. Even though I have worked out a system of professional care, it doesn’t mean I drop my father off and abandon him. I’m showing my kids that you be there for family.”

Even with busy work schedules, caregivers can be there for a parent by calling at the same time every day, says Steven Huberman, dean of the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work. Huberman also advises reluctant male caregivers to use personal days, ask for flexibility and inquire about elder care benefits, particular if they become aware of their father’s deteriorating condition. “It may seem like a burden, but I recommend they savor the moment.”



 

June 13, 2013

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!

 

 

August 30, 2012

President Obama talks work life balance

Art-obamareddit-620x349


Who's more of a family man, Obama or Romney, Biden or Ryan?

All of them are working hard to make sure they are portrayed as one. It's encouraging to me that being viewed as "good father" is important to voters.

Yesterday, President Obama decided to hold an Ask Me Anything online chat on Reddit, a social online bulletin board. He took questions from the public and was asked about everything from who's his favorite basketball player to the most difficult decision as president to how he handles work life balance. He took the opportunity during his online chat to further polish his image as a family man.

On work-life balance he answered with this:

“It's hard – truthfully the main thing other than work is just making sure that I'm spending enough time with michelle and the girls,” he wrote.

“The big advantage I have is that I live above the store – so I have no commute! So we make sure that when I'm in DC I never miss dinner with them at 6:30 pm – even if I have to go back down to the Oval for work later in the evening.

“I do work out every morning as well, and try to get a basketball or golf game in on the weekends just to get out of the bubble.”


Along with work life balance, I found his comments on unemployment interesting. 

A recent graduate from a top law school who said he/she was unemployed with a large student loan debt asked Obama what he was doing to improve the economic outlook for young people. “We worked for you, we campaigned for you, and we turned out in record numbers to vote for you,” the Reddit user said. Obama said he understood how tough it was for recent graduates in the US but said the Republican Party would only cater to the interests of the wealthy.

 

“The other party has two ideas for growth – more taxs cuts for the wealthy (paid for by raising tax burdens on the middle class and gutting investments like education) and getting rid of regulations we've put in place to control the excesses on wall street and help consumers,” he wrote.

“These ideas have been tried, they didnt work, and will make the economy worse.

I want to keep promoting advanced manufacturing that will bring jobs back to America, promote all-American energy sources (including wind and solar), keep investing in education and make college more affordable, rebuild our infrastructure, invest in science, and reduce our deficit in a balanced way with prudent spending cuts and higher taxes on folks making more than $250,000/year.

I don't promise that this will solve all our immediate economic challenges, but my plans will lay the foundation for long term growth for your generation, and for generations to follow. So don't be discouraged - we didn't get into this fix overnight, and we won't get out overnight, but we are making progress and with your help will make more."


Obama had lots to say on other topics too. You can read the full interview by clicking here.

By the way, President Family Man, who had just finished an rally in Charlottesville, chose to sign off the online chat this way: "Speaking of balance, I need to get going so I'm back in DC in time for dinner."

 

June 18, 2012

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.