Do you remember that movie, Mr. Mom in the 1980s?
After he’s laid off, Jack, who is played by Michael Keaton and wife played by Terri Garr switch roles. Set in Detroit Michigan, Caroline returns to the work force and Jack becomes a stay at home dad, a role to which he doesn’t have a clue. Mr. Mom was clearly a concept ahead of its time, but in 2014 its a role shift that’s become all too real for many families.
Yesterday was Father’s Day in the USA and my husband. Mark celebrated his fourth as Ally’s dad. We’ve been blessed parents since late 2010, a role we both embraced while holding full time global careers much later in life than when our parents were having children.
Mark is a modern day Mr. Mom except unlike Jack, the character, he knows very well how to be a dad (and a mom!)
He, along with many men today are defining what it means to be today’s modern-day, Mr. Mom. He’s more than Jack. He works a full-time job as an attorney with a Fortune 10 company supporting a multi-billion dollar business. After Ally was born, for the near part of over a year, he took care of her while I flew all over the world in a job that had me on the road sometimes 2 weeks out of the month. He’s amazing. And while I will never get to make up that time I was gone, Ally was very fortunate to bond with her daddy.
Modern day dads are changing.
They are single, married, divorced, gay, straight, step-fathers, and adoptive. While a dad’s job was to earn money and be the sole breadwinner 20-30 years ago, today’s father is taking on more responsibilities than previous generations. And quite frankly, nothing prepared them for this. I’m astonished at all the men do today. It’s a real interesting paradigm in our society. Just as women are aiming for equal pay, there’s a struggle to see men get equal parental treatment at the office. I’m not a father but I am sure the stigma to leave the office due to a childcare issue is still more of a challenge than it would be for a mother to leave.
My husband chose to go in-house, rather than to practice law in a firm honoring the importance of both work and family. He still, though can work a 60-70 hour week, travels globally and has the pressure to perform.
More and more companies in the USA are beginning to offer parental leave. Bank of America offers 12 weeks, Yahoo offers 8 weeks and other companies offer parenting resources to new dads. When I was at BP, we had a parents and parents-to-be network. We were lucky enough to find a part-time nanny resource through this group and BP offered quality on-site childcare. As women make their mark in the workplace and diversity offices begin programs to address the gaps in the workplace, it’s still early days for the dads.
Scott Behson, a Professor, dad, expert, and author of Fathers Work and Family, in a recent interview with Ask Men he said, “We don’t talk enough about the work-life challenges fathers confront, and we fail to recognize that so many dads are running themselves ragged to succeed both in their careers and in their families. A little support from employers, public policy and society would be nice. After all, work-family is not a woman’s issue. And it’s not a man’s issue. It’s a family issue that affects us all. It’s time we started talking more about it.”
I couldn’t agree more. We do need to talk more about this.
Here’s to my modern-day Mr. Mom, Mark.
Are you a dad? What do you think? Is it hard being a dad today? Tell us how you cope! And what benefits would you like to have? Perhaps you live and work abroad in a different country – tell us what that’s like.