Dads, If You Want To Have A Fulfilling Family Life – Lean In

The Lean In, Lean Out debate is raging across the interwebs this week and it has me, once again, channelling Rodney King and asking “why can’t we all just get along?”

It’s true. If you want to have success in your career, you cannot take it for granted. If work is important to you, you have to make an effort. You have to work for success, and if you don’t give your career attention, it will stagnate or, worse, wither. So leaning in is appropriate advice for someone who wants to break the so-called glass ceiling. After all, it is self-inflicted.

Now comes the attack on men. For if a woman is to ‘lean in‘, there needs to be someone covering her on the homefront. So here we go again.

Parenting is a team sport, people.

Forbes Magazine highlights 5 of Sandberg’s Lean In tips for women to focus on their career. Let me co-opt these and twist them for Dads to show more support at home:

  • Leaning In 1 of 6
    Leaning In
    Let's borrow Sandberg's tips for women, and apply them to dads ...
  • Be more open to taking (career) family risks 2 of 6
    Be more open to taking  (career)  family risks
    I'm not saying over schedule your kids, but don't be afraid to schedule them for things that may present challenges to your family schedule. Kids' activities need to have a priority too, and if you put them in the calendar, it will force you to make them important.
    Another interpretation of this might mean taking a risk of having the Dad stay at home, or the Mom start to work. You might be surprised how easy it is to pick up each other's slack.
    Image via iStockPhoto
  • Visualize your (career) family as a jungle gym, not a ladder. 3 of 6
    Visualize your (career) family as a jungle gym, not a ladder.
    There is not one path to achieving work-life balance. It's not a set schedule. There is give, there is take. It's not linear. Be prepared to be flexible to make it happen.
    Image via iStockPhoto
  • Skip the people pleasing. 4 of 6
    Skip the people pleasing.
    We often do work things to make the boss happy, or to 'look good' not necessarily because they're mandatory. Don't be afraid to skip a few cocktail sessions to spend time with the family.
    Image via iStockPhoto
  • Allow yourself to fantasize about your (career) family 5 of 6
    Allow yourself to fantasize about your (career) family
    Sandberg says dreaming about your career will help make it happen. So why not stare at those pictures that come with the frames. The ones of the virtual perfect family. Visualizing it in your own life will make it worth happening.
    Image via iStockPhoto
  • Start a Lean-In circle. 6 of 6
    Start a Lean-In circle.
    This is why I built DadCAMP. I started the site when I was unemployed in the fall of 2009 to network with other Dads for weekend playdates. We would go on train rides, pumpkin picking, or to hockey games. You can combine kid time, and guy time if you try.

I am laid up in bed this weekend with a wicked bacterial lung infection. Not a man cold, this is the real deal. I was going to take the boys to a movie this weekend with their little friends to give my wife some alone time. My wife had no interest in seeing the movie, but to avoid disappointing the boys, she picked up the slack, sucked it up, and took them.

Last Friday night I had offer of tickets to a hockey game with a buddy, but my wife was working an event until 10 PM – so I passed on the tickets, stayed home and entertained my sons.

It’s not rocket science. Neither my wife nor I should be considered martyrs for giving up of ourselves to cover off the other. It’s just what you do.

And the team is just not parents. It’s aunts, uncles, friends, teachers, community. It’s cliche, but it takes a village to raise a family. So if someone wants to lean in, someone else has to lean back. Give and take. Yin and yang.

Don’t take your partner for granted and then say you feel guilty.

Of all of our parent friends, Jennifer and I are the only couple that both work. Everyone else, has a stay-at-home mom. I often find in those situations the Mother is so used to being the caregiver for the kids, it is her career after all, that it’s almost impossible for her to lean out. They spend so much time with the kids, they get so particular about their care, that there is no way the Dads can pitch in properly.

So the Dads, instead of leaning in at home, lean out even further. Everything is cool on the home front, so they play team sports a few nights a week, they do after work drinks, they golf on weekends, they go on weekend sales calls.

I often wonder how this relationship works. That’s the definition of having cake and eating it, right? The man gets to lean in to his career, feed that competitive career ego, and then, after hours, gets all the play time he wants because he doesn’t have to pick up the kids from daycare if his wife has a meeting – she’s already at home. On the weekends, he can go golfing at 7 AM because Saturday will be like every other day of the week where he leaves the house and his wife is at home.

A new study says that working dads feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids. I can’t have sympathy. Just as Sheryl Sandberg is encouraging working Moms to Lean In if they want to have a prosperous career, working Dads need to Lean In at home if they want to have a fulfilling fatherhood.

In the situation where my wife and I both work, we are forced to support each other’s busy schedules and we have built a sense of teamwork. It’s not “her job” or “my job” to look after the kids, it’s our job. Parenting is a team sport and the only way you win is if you lean in.

Article Posted 4 years Ago

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