Am I A Working Dad?

From The New York Times “Adventure In Parenting” section

 

Am I a ‘Working Dad’?

By KEN GORDON

I’m a dad — two children, 9 and 7 — and I work. Hard. I fall out of bed at about 5 a.m. and stumble back there at about 10 p.m., and it seems like I haven’t caught my breath or cleared my to-do lists since my first child was born on July 22, 2002.

Yet in spite of all this unremitting labor, no one, not a single person, has ever called me a “working dad.” I’ve never called myself this.

The question on the docket is, “Why not?”

For one, “Working dad” is a weird term. An odd idea. Working dads simply don’t count as a recognized demographic in our society — a dad is a dad, and he works, of course, and to suggest otherwise is, well, strange.

But oddity isn’t necessarily a good objection. We can get used to all kinds of words. (Think “webinar”! Think “cantaloupe”!) In fact, the more I consider it, the more appropriate it seems to call me and the millions of the other dads out there schlepping around in a way that would have puzzled our cigar-chewing grandfathers “working dads.” We take working and dadding with equal seriousness and we deserve our share of the W-word.

A working mom, after all, is a term of approval. She is a master of multitasking. A mistress of multitasking. She is capable and competent on numerous fronts, and while her carpool-board-meeting-spaghetti-dinner-toothbrushing-book-bedtime lifestyle may mean that she sometimes forgets an orthodontist appointment or misses the annoying 2 p.m. staff confab, it also means that she is a kind of real-life superhero. The whole bring-home-the-bacon-and-fry-it-up-in-a-pan shtick commands our respect and admiration. The adjective “working” means that whatever else she’s doing, she’s also on the job.

My fellow dads and I deserve the same kind of respect, no?

We dudes get up every day and make breakfast. We feed the cat, take out the trash, wash the dishes, if any are left over from the night before. We can do an occasional emergency load of laundry — even if we sometimes mix lights and darks — drop the kids off, and commute to work. And then put in a full workingman’s day of labor. After which we rush home, bolt down dinner (that our wives have perhaps very kindly cooked or ordered) and shuttle our kids to soccer, guitar lessons and the rest. Then it’s overseeing homework, playing with the kids, helping them into jammies, and finally a good-night story or two. At the end of all this, we do maybe an hour of work and then collapse next to our wives.

And so on.

That’s enough to earn a “working dad” merit badge, no?

If not, if we’re encroaching on sacred woman-only territory… I have another, more modest proposal. I suggest that we give “working,” that poor, exhausted adjective, a vacation. Perhaps we can replace it with one that fits contemporary moms — and dads — better. What about “overworked”? This adjective suggests that every good contemporary parent is employed on many levels, domestic and professional, and that all our nonstop busy-ness, the unremitting demands on our energy and time and patience, means that we’re chronically wiped out.

Works for me.

Original article


Ken Gordon is a freelance writer and the Social Media Manager at the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education.

Dad’s Love Can Be Crucial for Happy Childhood, Study Confirms

For many kids, rejection by father can be even more devastating than by mother

For many kids, rejection by father can be even more devastating than by mother.(For many kids, rejection by father can be even more devastating than by mother. )

FRIDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) — Move over, tiger moms. Dads can play an even more significant role in the development of happy, well-adjusted children than do mothers, a new study indicates.

Just in time for Father’s Day, findings from a large-scale review of research shed light on how parental acceptance and rejection can affect the personalities of progeny well into adulthood.

“In our 50 years of research in every continent but Antarctica, we have found that nothing has as strong and consistent an effect on personality development as does being rejected by a parent — especially by a father — in childhood,” said study co-author Ronald Rohner, director of the Ronald and Nancy Rohner Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut, in Storrs.

The study, published recently in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, analyzed 36 studies, from 1975 to 2010, involving almost 1,400 adults and 8,600 children in 18 countries. The children ranged in age from 9 to 18, and adults were between 18 and 89.

All the studies included in the review included an assessment of seven personality traits considered central to what is called “parental acceptance-rejection theory.”

Those traits — aggression, independence, positive self-esteem, positive self-adequacy, emotional responsiveness, emotional stability and positive worldview — were evaluated using self-report questionnaires. Participants were asked about their parents’ degree of acceptance or rejection during their childhoods and about their own personality characteristics or tendencies.

“The study shows a strong relationship between those seven traits and the experience of feeling accepted and cared about by your parents,” said Dr. John Sargent, a professor of psychology and pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine and chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center, in Boston.

“What’s really important to kids is to know they’re accepted by their parents,” Sargent said.

Study author Rohner said fathers may have a greater impact on a child’s personality because children and teenagers pay more attention to the parent who seems to have greater interpersonal power, or influence, in the family’s power hierarchy.

He explained that when a father is perceived as having more power, even if he spends less time with the children, he can have a greater impact. That’s because his comments or actions seem to stand out more notably. This is despite the fact that, all over the world, mothers tend to spend more time with kids than fathers do.

While not being accepted causes identifiable personality issues, acceptance doesn’t necessarily confer particular benefits. “Unfortunately, humans respond more dramatically to negative things,” Rohner said. Rejection predicts a specific set of negative outcomes — such as hostility, low self-esteem, negativity — while feeling loved and accepted is not as closely associated with particular positive outcomes, he explained.

There was no difference seen in the importance of a father’s love for girls versus boys.

The study does not establish a causal connection between respondents’ personalities and perceptions of being accepted or rejected.

Rohner said the research shows that society tends to place too much emphasis on the impact of mothers on children, often blaming them for troublesome personality traits or behaviors, even into adulthood. “We need to start giving greater acclaim to dads, and put them on an equal footing with moms in terms of their impact on children,” he said.

“Our work should encourage dads to get really involved in the loving care of their children at an early age,” Rohner said. “Their kids will be measurably better off.”

More information

The University of Connecticut has more about acceptance and rejection in families.

SOURCES: Ronald P. Rohner, professor emeritus and director, Ronald and Nancy Rohner Center for Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn.; John Sargent, M.D., professor, psychology and pediatrics, Tufts University School of Medicine, and chief, child and adolescent psychiatry, Tufts Medical Center, Boston; May 2012 Personality and Social Psychology Review

 

Many Dads Struggle to Find Balance

Many dads struggle to ‘have it all,’ balancing work, family

Brett Deering for msnbc.com

Dustin Baylor closes his eyes while playing with his sons Paxton, 6, left, and Garrison, 4, after work at their home Friday, June 8, 2012 in Enid, Okla.

By Allison Linn

Dustin Baylor knew from the time he was in elementary school that he wanted to be a doctor.

All his life, he also wanted to be a dad.

What he wasn’t able to appreciate until adulthood was how challenging it might be to be awakened by his pager going off with a medical emergency just as often as by one of his three children having a bad dream, needing to go to the bathroom or just falling out of bed.

Baylor was one of dozens of dads who wrote to TODAY.com about doing it all: Excelling at work, raising kids, taking care of household chores and finding some time to spend with their spouse or partner.

Almost every dad we heard from said they wouldn’t want it any other way, although many conceded they sometimes struggle to make it through the day — and night.

“I often feel overwhelmed trying to do it all,” Baylor wrote. “I love my wife, my job and my family. But whereas men in past generations emphasized being a provider first and foremost, I think modern fathers take on many more roles.”

The juggle between work and home life has long been a hot topic for women, many of whom have known from early on that they would work and raise children – and may even have watched their own moms do the same thing.

But many young dads are choosing to take a role in their home life that is more active than seen in any generation before, said Brad Harrington, executive director of the Boston College Center for Work and Family. That means they can be both less prepared for, and less adept at, juggling both roles.

“I think they are working really without a script,” Harrington said.

Related: Dad’s survey shows fathers just want a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T

What’s clear is that more dads want to figure it out. Harrington and other researchers have noticed a clear and pervasive shift toward more dads choosing to do everything from change diapers to chaperone field trips.

“The expectation on the part of most fathers is they’re going to be much more engaged than their father was,” Harrington said.

 

And as more women work, and bring in a bigger chunk of the family’s earnings, Harrington notes that men also are finding that their spouses expect them to pitch in more on chores including laundry, dishes and grocery shopping.

“The expectation is, ‘I can’t do it all and you’re going to have to share,’” Harrington said.

Yet employers have not necessarily caught up with the evolving roles men are playing at home, leaving many feeling caught in the middle. A landmark study by the Families and Work Institute, released in 2009, found that dads actually feel more conflict between home and work life than moms do.

Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, said the research showed that even as home lives become more egalitarian, men continue to feel pressure to fill the traditional provider role by putting in long, hard hours at work.

Galinsky says the weak economy and high jobless rate likely have exacerbated the financial pressures.

“We expect that it will either maintain or increase the conflict that men experience,” she said.

Brett Deering for msnbc.com

Dustin Baylor and his family on in Enid, Okla. Baylor is among a new generation of dads trying to ‘do it all.’

Tending to patients, and kids
Baylor, 34, and his wife, a physical therapist pursuing her doctorate, have three kids ages 6, 4 and 1. On a typical day, that means the couple has to get kids to daycare, a pre-K program and kindergarten before heading out for their own work days.

In the afternoon, Baylor’s wife picks up their oldest son from school and drops him off at Baylor’s medical practice, then goes back to finish up her workday. That means Baylor and his nurse, who also has a child to watch in the afternoons, have their children in the office as they finish up their work day.

Baylor admits it can be a challenge when the kids want to run down the halls while he has patients to attend to. But he describes fondly the way his son stands on the back of his chair, chatting about the school day, while he does office work.

He recently brought more toys into his home office so his kids can be nearby when he’s on call or dealing with paperwork.

“I’m actually used to working with kids orbiting,” he said.

The desire to be an active parent is one of the reasons Baylor opted to have a family practice in Enid, Okla., rather than join a hospital staff. The decision has meant less money but more flexibility to have a child at work or take off on a family vacation.

That’s one of many ways in which Baylor is different from his own dad, who worked as a mail carrier while his mom mostly stayed home while he was younger.

But it still can be hard to juggle. Baylor and his wife decided to have kids while he was a chief medical resident, and he says he wishes he had been able to help his wife out more in those early days. Another struggle came when his middle son started having seizures because of a rare health problem. He is doing fine now.

“I wish I could say that I have no regrets at all, but that really wouldn’t be true. I wish I could have taken more time to just be a dad when my first son was born. I wish I could have been around constantly to shelter my second son when all those seizures were happening instead of meeting him in the emergency room. I already wish I had even more time with my daughter individually, which is not a unique problem for the youngest child of any family,” he wrote in his response to TODAY.com.

Like a lot of dads, Baylor rarely gets time for date nights or other quality time alone with his wife.

While many face the same struggle, few have to go to the lengths John Martin does to be both a father and a spouse.

‘You just get a little exhausted’
Martin, 45, received an e-mail from his high school sweetheart, whom he hadn’t heard from in 27 years, soon after his marriage ended. When they finally met up nearly a year later, a whirlwind weekend together was all it took for them to realize they still had the feelings they’d had at age 16, and within a month they were engaged.

But there was one big problem: Martin and his kids live in Denver, while his new wife and her kids live in the Seattle area.

Even as he made plans to remarry, Martin said he didn’t want to give up his major role as a parent to his two young girls. (He shares custody with their mother.)

“I was always changing diapers and putting them to bed and doing all the things that I think dads do these days,” he said. “It would be inconceivable for me not to have them at least half the time.”

To maintain his relationship with his kids and build a relationship with his new wife and teenage stepchildren, either Martin or his new wife fly back and forth to be with their spouse nearly every week. They’ve maintained that routine for close to two years, and Martin has cut his employment to 80 percent of full-time to balance it all.

“The way it worked was to leave the kids alone and to kind of rotate around them,” he said.

Martin savors watching his girls play softball and going out for family pizza night and says that while he loves his job as a lawyer, his wife and kids come first.

Still, the challenge of maintaining two households and commuting across several states can be disorienting, and tiring.

“You run low on energy in a way that your children can’t possibly understand,” he said. “Then you are a little less patient, a little less this, a little less that. You just get a little exhausted.”

The ‘all-encompassing man’
Anthony Noriega, 33, also sometimes finds himself struggling to keep up with the hectic schedule of raising four kids with his wife, who takes care of the kids and goes to school.

Like many parents, Noriega describes a life that can be a dizzying whirlwind of cooking, paying bills and getting everyone to bed after a long day at work as a web marketing specialist in Boise, Idaho.

Writing to TODAY.com, he described “the mystique of this elusive, all-encompassing man: The bread winner, the great father who engages in every aspect of their child’s lives, the super husband who can whip out a dinner with no trouble and still pay attention to his hard-working wife.”

He admits it doesn’t always go perfectly smoothly. But Noriega said his own parents struggled with addiction, and he knew from the time he was a teenager that he wanted to get married and raise his own family in a very different way. He may pine for a quiet moment, but he has no regrets about how things have turned out.

“My priorities are providing a stable foundation for my kids growing up (and) not having to worry about whether or not they’re going to have school clothes, food on the table – the things that I had to deal with as a kid,” he said in an interview.

Some dads wrote to TODAY.com to remind us that not all of them have that struggle. Scott Bouma, 35, and his wife have four kids and his wife stays home full-time.

The fact that his wife is a stay-at-home mom means that Bouma, a software engineer who lives in Helena, Mont., feels he can spend time with his family at night or on the weekends instead of dealing with a list of chores and errands he imagines dads with working spouses face.

“I feel like I’m definitely the other side,” he said in an interview. “I’m a dad who doesn’t feel pressure to do all that stuff.”

Original article