Navigating Work-Life Challenges for Mothers and Fathers with Scott Behson, PhD
Work-life challenges are Scott Behson’s speciality as a PhD and expert on work and family issues. In this episode, we talk through the unique challenges that mothers and fathers face today and how we can improve our work and home life by advocating for ourselves.
Scott is on the front line working to improve family leave, changing workplace cultures, and fighting for the flexibility so many of us want as parents. He shares tips from maximizing maternity and paternity leave to putting up boundaries around your time at home. You won’t want to miss this one!
Thanks for spending time with us today! Head over to the Parenting with Love and Authority facebook group to continue this important conversation. Thanks for listening!
“It just seems to me that the opportunity to really be with your newborn child shouldn’t really depend on whether, you know, you hit the employer lottery or the boss lottery. It just seems that it’s very inconsistent.”
Scott Behson, PhD
Scott Behson, PhD, is a professor of management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, national expert in work and family issues, and was a featured speaker at the White House Summit on Working Families and at the United Nations International Day of the Family.
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Intro: 00:00 Welcome to the Raiseology podcast with your host, pediatrician and parenting consultant, Sharon Somekh here to empower parents to raise resilient and independent children. Grab your coffee or your Margarita and let’s get started. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should be used to supplement rather than substitute the care provided by your physician.
Sharon: 00:25 News flash overwhelmed moms, most of us feel stuck when it comes to parenting effectively, mostly because we second guessed our parenting decisions, we feel guilty when we’re too firm, we lose our patients and yell when things aren’t going how we planned. Bottom line, parenting without direction feels like a bumpy roller coaster you don’t want to be on but can’t seem to get off of, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s the good news. I’ve been working behind the scenes to gather a community of amazing, overwhelmed moms from all across the globe who are getting together to support each other, feel more secure in their motherhood, enjoy their children more, and start building strong lasting relationships with their families. We don’t complain. We don’t moan. We take action. Simply join this free Facebook community at Raiseology.com/community or search in Facebook for the group called parenting with love and authority. I’m excited to meet you there.
Sharon: 01:20 Welcome everyone to the Raiseology podcast. I have with me today Scott Beason phd. He is a professor of management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, a national expert in work and family issues and it was a featured speaker at the White House summit on working families and at the United Nations International Day of the family. He’s the author of the best selling the working dad survival guide, how to succeed at work and at home, which provides advice and encouragement for working fathers, helping them achieve career success while also being involved loving dads. Scott founded the popular blog Fathers Work and Family dedicated to helping working fathers and encouraging more supportive workplaces. Scott writes regularly for such publications as a Harvard Business Review, Time, Success, Fast Company, Good Men Project and the Wall Street Journal. He has appeared on MSNBC, CBS, NPR, Fox News and Bloomberg radio. Scott is an accomplished professional speaker and provides consulting services on employer work family programs. He worked with the states of New York and New Jersey on family leave legislation. He lives in Nyack, New York with his wife, stage actress Amy Griffin and son, Nick. Thank you so much Scott for being here. I’m so excited for our chat today. You have done so much good for working families and working fathers. I’m excited to talk about all of it.
Scott: 02:49 Well thanks. I’m happy to be here and thank you for saying that. And you know, you made me sounds way more impressive than I think I really am.
Sharon: 02:57 I think it sounds pretty impressive to me. So today what we’re going to do is talk about, you know, how can couples work together so that they can have both partners in, in a relationship, can have strong work, family balance. And I, I mean, that word is kind of hard to because it’s not really even, but uh, we’ll get into that too. Um, just to really talk and discuss about how to make it work as a family where both partners, both parents want to be, uh, involved in both the family and in their career.
Scott: 03:30 Great. Absolutely. There’s so many things we could talk about some of these directions. So I’m, I’m looking forward to our conversation.
Sharon: 03:36 Yeah, me too. So let’s talk a little bit about your background, your story and I know that you guys, we’ve talked before and you have a very interesting working relationship in your family and I think if we can talk about that for a few minutes, it will help people understand how you got into what you’re doing and all of that.
Scott: 03:55 Yeah. Well first off, um, you know, as I’m a business school professor, so, uh, back in the late nineties, I was doing my dissertation work and on workplace flexibility and you know, I did a lot of reading on work-life issues and things like that and it just struck me that almost all of it was focused on working mothers, which of course makes some sense, right? Cause working moms do face much more of a present work family challenge and a lot of the work being done then were companies trying to retain working moms. But it always struck me that that’s an incomplete conversation, right? Because half of the parents in the world are fathers. Right? So that always was kind of in the back of my head while I became like an academic and started looking at this. Then I became a dad many years later. And of course that becomes like real.
Scott: 04:41 But it was after I got tenure and you know, did a lot of my traditional academic stuff and I had kind of a mid career crisis and I was like, you know, I’m, I’m a little tired of just writing journal articles that like 50 other professors read. And I wanted to do things that had a little more of an impact for people who needed the information. So that’s why I started with the blog and then the book and then with my consulting, you know, to try to get information that people could use, that working parents could use to maybe kind of figure out workable balance in their lives. And then also for employers, how employers can be more, uh, supportive of the work family challenges of their employees. So that’s professionally, but personally. Yeah. So the wonderful Amy Griffin my, my wife, who is a fantastic wife and mom, but she has a job that is really weird, uh, in terms of hours and work demands.
Scott: 05:32 You know, she’s, if he’s in a show, it’s evenings and weekends. If she’s rehearsing a show, it’s long days in the city and we live about, um, 40 minutes north or so of the city and sometimes she’s home but then also there’s times where it’s like, there’s an audition tomorrow or there’s a, you know, this opportunity that’s tomorrow. And so she has kind of these, these really somewhat intense time demands on her job. And I’m, you know, I’m a college professor, so I have a lot more flexibility. Um, there are, you know, probably 25 hours a week on most weeks I have to be in a particular place to do my job. Otherwise, you know, I can bring my laptop home, I could work at night, et cetera. So we’ve really relied on my workplace flexibility to, you know, it’s kind of make it work in our family.
Scott: 06:19 And, you know, I think in part because of necessity, um, it’s really forced me to be, well, I always want it to be, but it really forced me to be a very involved dad right from the beginning. And, uh, like a co-parent right from the beginning, not like the helper dad to the primary parent who’s the mom, which is how it works in a lot of families. So, you know, I’ve been able to get that perspective of being the on-call parent, of being the parent who, you know, is the one the school could call when there’s an issue because it’s easier for me to get home, you know, and issues like that. So, you know, from a personal point of view, you know, again, uh, my wife and I, we really needed to talk through, you know, how our work family juggle was gonna work.
Scott: 07:04 Um, and, you know, to my wife’s infinite credit, while we were, you know, talking about, you know, becoming parents, you know, she initiated a sit down where we really talked through, she’s like, okay, you know, this is what I’m going to need and this is how it’s going to need to work. You know, I’m going to continued to be an actress and, you know, be a mom. And because I think we really talked about it, you know, it really helped set up, you know, a pretty good work family juggle for us and not that we don’t have problems and we always, you know, every parents, every set of parents have, you know, uh, things they, they mess up or challenges they can’t quite fully address. But, you know, I feel good that I’ve been able to be a very present, involved dad. Um, and right from the beginning. So now that my son’s 14, you know, I think I see a lot of that. Like we’re very close. My son and I, I think he understands going forward that like when he becomes a husband and father that there’s nothing really a dad can’t do that a mom can do except for maybe well except for giving birth and breastfeeding. Yeah. But other than that, you know, I, I think he would be oriented to being a very, very good partner to his, you know, future spouse.
Sharon: 08:19 What a nice sample you’re setting. Yeah. And I want to touch, I mean I think all of that is amazing and I’ve actually, I had an interview a while back with a family where the, the mom was a college professor and the dad was a stay at home dad. And we talked about the challenges of being a stay at home dad in today’s world. But, and I’m sure you face a lot of those things, but what I really want to talk about is how would you, maybe some things that fathers who work a more traditional job where they have limited hours could be in the most, in the most productive way possible. And I had this conversation actually with a client of mine the other day because her husband does work a lot of hours and the time that he has with the kids is limited. But I grew up in that environment where my mom was home all the time. I mean she had a job, but she was home. She worked kind of school hours. Right.
Speaker 3: 9:20 And my dad was, my mom was a teacher, so I, my mom taught nursery school and my dad was working in the city. He was home late. He works Saturdays and still, I, I think he did an amazing job of really fostering a very strong relationship with us. And we were three girls who, you know, all three of us today still consider my dad to be the strongest influence in our lives despite the fact that he really wasn’t around that much, you know. Um, and so I know it’s possible to have that, that, and, and I would love to speak to what can fathers do, how can they perhaps set up different boundaries for themselves at their jobs?
Scott: 10:05 Yeah, there’s a lot of things in there. So, first off, you know, I think we sometimes forget that work and providing for one’s family is an expression of love and support for one’s family. And we sometimes forget that fact is in a over 85% of dual parent households, the father’s income is the sole or the primary income. So still in the vast majority of, of families, you know, there’s pressure to, um, financial pressure to provide and to maybe work the long hours or did the longer commute, uh, in order to live up to those expectations. So I just want to give a like, I guess a shout out to providers and then it’s super important, but I think you said it so well that your dad, you know, did a really good job of having, you know, having you guys feel his presence right? Even if he couldn’t always be there for as long as maybe everybody wanted, you know.
Scott: 11:03 And I know, you know, my dad was a little more, you know, he, my dad coached my little league teams and you know, he was pretty, uh, more present than most dads I think in, um, in my experience, I think my, my wife would have a very similar experience to yours where her father is a corporate lawyer, uh, works very long hours, but like was this incredible guy, still is. And you know, he built these really great relationships with his kids and I think part of it is, you know, when you’re home, are you able to just be home? Right? That’s number one. You know, especially if you work long hours and especially today, there’s an expectation that you’re always reachable or, you know, you got to check your email or check your phone, uh, after you get home from work. And I think there’s more opportunity for people to be like, no, listen, you know, after eight o’clock, I’m not replying anything.
Scott: 11:55 Or, you know, or setting an expectation at work that, you know, hey, after I get home, I’m not checking anything. I will check in to see if there’s any sort of emergency thing before we go to bed. After my kids go to sleep, I’ll check in at 10 o’clock just to see if there’s an emergency. But that’s it. That’s the only thing that I’m going to check. You know? And, and in those ways you could kind of protect some of your home hours, you know, really put up like police tape or barbed wire around these home hours. You know, part of what we do to ourselves too, I mean, phones are, can be very addictive, be a convenient excuse for us to distract ourselves with things other than what’s right in front of us. So, you know, not, you know, when you’re home, you know, put the phone next to your keys when you come into the house and then don’t pick up your phone again.
Scott: 12:39 You know, things like that are, are little things people could do. But I would also say a few other things. One, a lot of people don’t take all their vacation days. And I, I think that’s a real shame because that’s where you could really have these long periods of time with their family. So really make sure that, you know, you’re maxing out your paid time off and, and use a creatively to like, you know, it’d be okay if your kids played hooky one day and you played hooky one day from work, took a personal day and you just had a day where you went to, you know, the movies or the waterpark when it was not crowded or to the, um, you know, have a day out, you know, when nobody else does. Right. And you could have like your little pocket day to yourselves and these are little things someone could do as well. But a little more structurally the world, you know, with technology, most professional jobs, probably about a third of most professional jobs could be done really from anywhere and any time as opposed to business hours at the actual workplace.
Scott: 13:37 And you know, maybe there’s opportunity to talk to your boss or talk to your company about, hey, you know, let me tele-commute one day a week. Or you know, or on an as needed basis. Like, Hey, I need to get home from my daughter’s, you know, afterschool program on Thursdays, let me leave early on Thursdays and I’ll make up the work at night. Or you know, some other time. So I think we could advocate for ourselves, right? And maybe we can’t reduce our overall work hours, but we can flex them around a some of the rest of our lives. And more and more companies are amenable to that. And the final thing I’ll say is, and again, a lot of my consulting work I deal with, you know, financial firms and law firms and you know, other kind of companies where the, they have kind of these all-in work cultures, right?
Scott: 14:23 Where you’re expected to be working 60, 65 hours a week and you’re not supposed to show weakness or anything. And there could really be a stigma. And a lot of these places, particularly for men who are seen as putting like family as in front of work or ahead of work in importance. But I know a lot of these companies are really making good faith effort to try to turn that around. And you know, I worked very closely with this one company that offers 12 weeks of a paid paternity leave. Um, they offer a little more to, to moms and they have, they had all these programs and outreach to try to get the guys to take the majority of the weeks or all of the weeks. And I provided some training and orientation for these dads and almost all of them after about a year or so of the, the company doing this outreach, almost all the dads I worked with were taking the full 12 weeks and without much guilt.
Sscott: 15:16 And you know, I’m sorry, I feel like I’m rambling a little bit, but one of the things is a, if patterns get set pretty early in family dynamics and most couples today want to do things relatively 50/50 but I think the disparity sometimes in parental leave and in the amount of time spent at home early on, kind of leads to family dynamics where you maybe get a primary parent, usually the mom and kind of the secondary helper parent, usually the dad. But if both moms and dads could take, can have eight weeks together when a child is born to kind of get into a rhythm where they really share that experience and experience it together, it sets a dynamic in a family where you know, the default parent isn’t the mom, right. Where it becomes like it’s a shared thing and there’s lots of research that actually shows that this is the case, that dads who are involved very early on tend to stay more involved with childcare and housework and things like that as the years go on.
Scott: 16:20 And that kids who experienced this from their parents actually tend to do better in, um, school and in early childhood health and, and other things. So, you know, setting the dynamic you want, uh, is really, really important. And you know, the best opportunity to set a dynamic is when you become a parent. Now obviously not everybody does that. You can go back, you’d have these conversations, you could set new dynamics. It just maybe takes a little more work and it takes like really honest conversations, uh, that aren’t accusatory. Like, you’re not doing enough and we need to talk about this. But more like, hey, you know, our work-life juggle isn’t really working for me super well. I’d like to have a conversation in about three days with you, with our ideas on how we can kind of maybe build a dynamic that works for everybody.
Scott: 17:13 And I, you know, I want to hear what your frustrations are and what your concerns are and I’ll share mine and we’ll come up with the solution that we could work towards what we want. Yeah. Right. A productive conversation like that as opposed to, you know, I’m sick and tired of the fact that you come home and you know, and you still leave me all the work to do and blah blah blah, which might be true, counter productive, productive way to start a conversation. Right. So, you know, I think we enter it in the spirit of partnership and we want this to work for everybody. You know, can we can get there.
Sharon: 17:48 Yeah. I think everything you’ve said is spot on. I think there are some challenges and you did speak a little bit to that, that perhaps corporate training from the corporate level might be helpful in having dads really take advantage of their paternity leaves. I still think, and I am sure you would agree that even maternity leaves in a lot of different areas of employment are lacking. I mean, I know that I worked at, you know, in a small medical practice and six weeks was what I got and my husband got nothing. You know, so this is, and people are always marveled at the fact that, oh well doctors would, you would think they would have greatly, no, they have no leave. Right. Unless you work for a big institution, in which case still there’s not really paternity leave in most of them. And what I found to be true with most of the families that I worked with, when the father did get paternity leave for reasons that maybe were financial or whatever the case may be, they did not take their paternity leave at the same time as the mother. And you know, I mean which kind of, I mean I guess it’s still better than nothing, but they’re not really doing things together. It’s more the mom is doing it first and then the dad is doing it so mom can go back to work. And so I wonder what your thoughts are on that.
Scott: 19:10 Yeah. Well, well first of the kind of the tag teaming leave kind of makes sense, right? Cause you’re extremely amount of time before like daycare and other things come into your life. And you know, there’s something too, you know, it’s a good experience for dads in most cases. Most guys, most boys don’t get a lot of experience with babies. We don’t babysit, you know, or you know, take care of their younger siblings in the same way that like older sisters sometimes do. So, you know, being thrown into the deep end and being like, okay, nope, you’re home for the next, you know, four weeks without me, you know, is sometimes a really good experience. Right. Because you know, honestly, taking care of a child, a young child is very tough because it’s unrelenting and because of the sleep deprivation and everything, but it’s really not tough to change a diaper to, you know, to feed a bottle. I mean, a little bit of time on task, right? I mean 10th diaper, you’re, you got it, right. I mean, but it’s just, you know, the unrelenting nature of it that really makes it so difficult and the fact that you haven’t had sleep in.
Sharon: 20:14 And I would argue that the anxiety of it makes it difficult. Um, I think that that’s the biggest challenge for both moms and dads when they have a new baby.
Scott: 20:24 Yeah. And I think, you know, and think about it from, you know, a perspective of someone who, you know, again, has never been a babysitter, had, didn’t work at a, you know, was not a counselor in training at their, where they went to summer camp, you know, who, uh, didn’t really, you know, help their younger siblings or whatever. Right. I mean, they might not just, they’ve never seen their dad or other male role models in their lives do what they’re being asked to do. Right. You can expect the anxiety level to be relatively high. Right.
Sharon: 20:51 I remember actually, I had a friend when, when we were a little bit younger, I mean, we had finished medical school, she was in residency and she was a pediatrician and she was pregnant with her first child and we were sitting for lunch and we’re talking about, you know, her impending delivery. And she said, you know, the crazy thing is I am terrified. I have never spent 24 hours caring for a baby before. And you know, I mean here she is, she’s about to be a mom and she’s a pediatrician and she was almost embarrassed to say that. But you’re not caring for a baby the same way a mom is, you know? And, and it’s different and it’s hard for moms and dads.
Scott: 21:30 Absolutely. I mean, listen, I was a work family scholar, uh, was walking into this like, okay, am I a total fraud? You know, you get like imposter moment.But um, yeah, absolutely. So I thank you for raising the, the anxiety issue. I think that’s a big, uh, a big part of it and is a reason why people don’t necessarily ask for help or support. And again, I don’t want to get too gendered here, but you guys are a little worse about asking for support and help, right? Cause they don’t want to seem like they don’t know what they’re doing and that just compounds some of the anxiety. Right? Also guys might not have as much of a network of other people going through similar or that they know who are going through similar circumstances. Right. There’s a lot of mommy and me classes and you know there’s a fair amount of cultural support for moms getting together. There’s starting to be some things for dads, but there’s not a lot of institutionalized things for dads in that way.
Scott: 22:35 And let me just put one little tangent from what you said before. I’m sure your listeners know the United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not mandate paid maternal leave, maternity leave. There’s, you know, a dozen or two countries that don’t have paid maternity leave. But in the United States what we have is the unpaid leave that people can take if they can afford it, which kind of excludes a lot of people. And there’s also a lot of conditions around it. Freelancers and other people aren’t eligible for it. Some states have programs and then a lot of people don’t know about what they’re eligible for at very in various states, in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Islands, California. And now Washington state, there are a paid leave programs in place.
Sharon: 23:19 And those are new right, I do want to highlight that because I know that there are a lot of people who don’t know about that because previously only companies with a large number of employees who were able to get paid leave or you know, got an, you know, had good policies for unpaid leave and, and in New York, I know that there is a new policy as of this past January that gives you at least much better than what we had. Yeah.
Scott: 23:48 So if, yeah, so yeah, it’s up to 12 weeks of an up to two. It’s a ceiling on how much money you receive in, hey, during this time, but it’s up to two thirds of your salary or maximum increase. I think every January for the next couple of years is fading it in a bit. The thing is we’re all paying this, uh, with a little bit out of each where paychecks kind of like we pay for like disability insurance out of our paycheck and it’s something like most people are paying somewhere around $40 a year into this leave insurance program. And then when you take leave you’re, you’re drawing from this leave insurance program. Your employer is not paying you during this. So it’s a little better for the employer. I mean they will miss you while you’re away and we’ll need to, you know, hire attempt or you know, shuffle things around.
Scott: 24:38 But it, it, they’re not paying you for the time, you’re not working, you’re getting compensated through this insurance system for mothers are also for fathers. This is for mothers and fathers and it’s not just for the birth of children either. This medical grade parent. Yeah, caring for a family member with, you know, medical conditions, et cetera. And New Jersey has a very similar program. California has is the longest that they’ve been about 10 years. And I believe Washington state just approved their new policy. And I’m not sure exactly when it gets implemented, but regardless. So that means that some people get, can get this, can get paid parental leave, but most of us in this country still, we rely on like our employer for having a great policy and a culture that supports it. And if we have that then great. If we don’t have that, well then we’re stuck.
Scott: 25:29 Right. And it just seems to me like the opportunity to really be with your newborn child’s shouldn’t really depend on whether, you know, you hit the employer lottery or the boss lottery, you know, it just seems, you know, that it’s, it’s very inconsistent. And on the other thing is, you know, you think about the types of companies that offer paid leave. You said this before, larger organizations, more professionalized organizations and this means the employees and um, you know, working class type of professions have worse policies than the rest of us. And you know, it’s, it’s really, it’s a real problem. And I think our society has decided right for a long period of time that we’re not willing to make any sort of potential financial tradeoff for this. And you know, that’s, that’s why a lot of people are, are, are stuck and feel all this anxiety.
Sharon: 26:23 I can speak to smaller businesses cause that’s where I was when I had my, you know, my last child, I was working for a small practice and the reality is that, you know, me being out for 12 weeks could be really difficult for a small practice. Right.
Scott: 26:46 Absolutely. I see for small employers in this regard, and I was speaking not that long ago to the New Jersey employers association, which is kind of like small employers throughout New Jersey. And that’s kind of what they said is exactly what you said. It’s like, look, we have two people working in accounting in our, you know, 25 person small manufacturer. If one of them has gone, you know, that puts a real ding in our operations. And I said yes. And you know, people are going to have kids. So what can you do as a manager or an employer, to be a little more proactive about this.
Sharon: 27:23 And there are certainly temp agencies and places where you can get, you know, temporary employees too. But it’s hard for to get a temporary, you can, it just costs a lot of money. Right? I mean there are there you definitely can, but your patients don’t appreciate that necessarily either. Right? Yeah. Right. That’s the thing, right? You want the consistency of care, right?
Scott: 27:48 Yeah, but you know, there were things we could do to build in flexibility in our workplaces, but this is not an employer-based podcast, so I won’t go on and on about that.
Sharon: 27:55 So I think that one thing that you did mention, which I think is relevant for all parents, all, all parents actually working or not, is the importance of recognizing the need for boundaries when you are with your children. When you, you know, sometimes it’s even, you know, I’m, I need to leave work by a certain time every day. And you know, I had this in my job, I had made it clear that by five o’clock I need to leave work. That was what I had said before I started work and that first day I made sure I left at five o’clock and yeah, I will not, I’m going to be honest and say that there was, there were times where I felt that it wasn’t always looked upon as a positive. Right. But at the end of the day, this was, you know, and certainly if there were a situation that I needed to be there, I stayed. But whenever I could potentially leave, I left because that was a boundary I felt I needed to set, even if I didn’t need to be home for something particular, I knew that if I started to let that slide, the expectation would be that I wouldn’t always leave at that time. And, and that’s the challenge is being able to set your boundaries and be firm with them because you know that you need to be, you want to be somewhere else and that place is important for you to be as well.
Scott: 29:26 Yeah. That’s wonderfully said. I think, you know, the, the point is, especially if you’re in a position where you can, you know, have some of that power to do that, you need to advocate for yourself and to, to set those boundaries. And it’s all situational. It depends on where you work and what kind of job and stuff. But yeah, in my, uh, the working Dad survival guide book, I have lots of stories of dads who have done similar things. One who had very long commute from lower Manhattan out to the suburbs near me who, um, he just made a commitment that he was going to coach his son’s little league teams. That was the bedrock thing he was going to do. So he had to leave like by about three o’clock once or twice a week during baseball season in order to make this happen. In a place where like, that didn’t work.
Scott: 30:12 I mean, this was like a financial, you know, a financial institution, but you know what he did? He just started leaving those days at three. He didn’t ask for permission. He did not apologize. You didn’t announce it either, except for he just checked in with his team a little bit before and be like, hey, anything you need and the next half hour, you know, and then just left at three. He got weird looks for the first couple of weeks and then, you know, no one cared after a while because his work was still great and everybody got what they needed and then suddenly other people started leaving at more reasonable hours. So, uh, you know, he kind of was able to be a bit of a role model too. So yeah, there’s things you could do if, you know, if you’re in a situation where you can, uh, can advocate for yourself or at least ask for help or negotiate for some of the things you need.
Scott: 31:00 And you know, I have some advice about this in some of my work. Um, it’s all very situational, so I can’t give you no blanket advice. But if you could think through like, I think most managers are not just jerks, right? I mean, I think most managers would rather help you as long as they see a way that it doesn’t hurt the business. Right. Most employers would you want to help you if there’s a way they could do it in a way that they don’t feel will hurt the business. So, you know, maybe it’s up to you to us to help our bosses or managers or employers feel a little more comfortable by presenting things as a win-win. Hey listen, you know, part of my job is really, you know, I have to have to have head down, closed office door work. I could do that better at home. And if I could do that every Tuesday at home, you know, then, you know, this helps me and it helps me do better at my job.
Scott: 31:50 You know, I, I have a friend who negotiated when his daughters were young daddy daughter, Wednesdays. He didn’t go into work on Wednesdays till one and while his girls were, before they went to school, he would have every Wednesday morning and they’d bake pancakes and you know, just play and have fun and otherwise he worked a big job. You know, he worked a big 60 hour week job, but he was able to just talk with his boss about something that would make his home life work well enough that he could stay. And he stayed at this company now for 20 years where he might’ve, you know, moved on at some point if he wasn’t able to have this small informal accommodation early on that he was able to talk through with his boss. So, you know, we need to ask for help and advocate for us.
Sharon: 32:30 Another thing, just like our partners, our employers are not mind readers. Right. And so, you know, communication really is important in all areas of your life and, and I’m sure that your managers would appreciate knowing at least what’s going on without you just saying, you know, Oh, you know, they’re so unreasonable. They’re not trying to be unreasonable. They don’t know what you want unless you ask for it.
Scott: 33:01 Yeah. Well I mean that, I mean, honestly, I, you know, when I’ve talked to companies, you know, a lot of times they’ve told me stories of like this really valuable employee, I have no idea that was a problem with whatever. And then suddenly they quit and they said it was because they couldn’t get the work family balance they wanted and they found another employer and they were like, God, I wish this person talked to me like three months ago. I would have like done lots of things to try to keep this person. Yeah. And people aren’t mind readers. I think that’s a really, really well said. I think, you know, and, and as you say, I think with our spouses it can pile up, right? If something’s not been working well, it’s hard to admit that sometimes. And you know, it’s hard to maybe, uh, take ownership of what, what you might be doing that that has had, is led to an imbalance and to ask for help or to ask for recalibration.
Scott: 33:55 You know, the other thing it meant sometimes face just to, as we’re getting into this where, especially in a case where a father can’t really have leave early on, is that again, the mom becomes better at doing some of the parenting stuff, right? Cause you’re just in tune with the baby and you’ve had more practice with it. So it’s easy sometimes for the mom to be like, you know, I’m going to step in and do this because I know how to do it instead of, you know, kind of almost a delegating certain parental tasks or certain times, uh, to their, to their spouse or their partner. And you know what I mean?
Sharon: 34:31 I know exactly what you mean because it almost feels like it’s easier to just do it yourself than to show someone else how. And it’s shortsighted really because yes, it’s sort of like when I work with moms on fixing a, an issue that they’re having in their parenting and the work to fix the issue seems overwhelming, but they don’t realize that if they would just do that work, then they won’t have the issue long term.
Scott: 34:58 Yeah. Yeah. It’s like short term. It’s more difficult for longterm. It really opens it up and you know, and here’s the thing, like presumably, and I’m going to just speak to them, the moms out there, cause I know that’s most of your listeners, you know, hopefully you didn’t marry an idiot. I mean I think probably you married somebody because they’re like a reasonably competent and good person. Yes. Right. If that’s the case, you know, they’re not going to, you know, they’re not going to drop the baby on their head. They’re not going to, you know, permanently scar your toddler for life. Like they’re, you know, they’ll figure it out. They’re, they’re reasonably, you know, they care and you know, they’re competent. It’s okay if, you know, they do things a little differently or it takes them a little while to do it up to maybe the quality that you could do certain things.
Scott: 35:46 But you know, boy, life is easier when you only have to feed the baby half the time instead of all the time or where you only have to get up overnight half the time. That all the time or that’s, I don’t know, you don’t have to be the only person who keeps track of the family calendar. You know, when you can make sure that that’s a shared thing and present it in a way like, listen here, this would be, this would make our family work better and we’d work better for all of us if we can kind of get on the same page here. You know, I, I think that’s really important and because I think a lot of guys, you know, they might not admit this, but they’re frustrated that, you know, they, they, it, at least in my experience, and this is somewhat anecdotal, but a lot of working moms that I know feel like they’re, oh, I’m sorry.
Scott: 36:37 A lot of the working dads I know feel like they’re stuck working more than they would like and are not at home and being the dad as much as they’d like. Whereas a lot of working mothers I think kind of have the opposite a little bit. Like, they’d almost like to work more, but they feel like they’re like a little more tethered to, to home. And that doesn’t work for anybody. Right. Uh, so, you know, I just think that, you know, parents need to sit down with each other and really talk through, like, you know, how do we want our family to work? You know, and every family will work differently and it doesn’t have to be 50/50, but it needs to be fair. And I think that’s the, you know, that, that’s something else. It’s really about, you know, it’s,
Sharon: 37:20 Well, it needs to work for everyone. And I think that the challenge is, is partly what you said about how still today, you know, in 85% of homes, the father is the primary breadwinner. Right? And so what ends up happening is, you know, maybe there’s a financial piece to that decision and, and maybe that means people need to reevaluate what it is, you know, are they happy in their job? But I mean, it’s such a much bigger conversation than what we can have here, you know, in 45 minutes. But it’s, um, but it definitely starts with that initial conversation. And I think it’s important. And, and the first thing that I do with the, the families that I work with is we sit down and, and I have them really stop and think about what it is that they really want their family life to be like, every kind of detail what they want for their future. Because I think it sets the tone for how you do things the way that you in a way that promotes those goals.
Scott: 38:20 Right? And, and that leads to like a decision about what, what gets sacrificed versus what is the priority. If it’s really a priority that our kids go to private school or that they take piano lessons or, you know, whatever, like then, you know, that’s something you got to figure out financially and timewise and things like that. Whereas if other things are not as important, you know, they, they, you know, um, the other thing I’d say is, I presume most of the listeners here are in situations where you’re financially at least pretty well off. I think we can, um, a lot of times we could spend money to get ourselves more time and you know, maybe getting merry maids to come in every two weeks so you don’t have to scrub your own toilets, um, opens up a little bit of time you spent money on it, but it’s opens up some time for you to, you know, concentrate and do some things you’d rather do.
Scott: 39:15 You know, that might be kind of a worthwhile thing to think about too, is like, can we throw some money at this problem? If, you know, you’re lucky enough to have some money to throw problems, you know, life’s too short to have a perfect lawn, you know, or to have a perfectly, you know, or to bake cookies for every bake sale, you know, like, can you buy stuff from the store every now and then or beg off a bake sale? You know, like there’s, uh, you know, there’s this little tradeoffs that, you know, we can keep in mind if we want to make sure the big picture stuff is taken care of very well.
Sharon: 39:43 Yeah, I definitely think that there, there are things that we put pressure on ourselves to do. And I think it depends on where you live too and what the culture where you live is. And I’ve talked about this a lot on other episodes on sort of even just, you know, the number of activities your kids are doing and um, and what, you know, I, I was involved in doing something for the, the Parents Faculty Association last year for the Middle School. And I found, even though it was really a very small thing, it was not serving me well to do it and my daughter didn’t care. So why was I doing it? It was kind of one of those things like my daughter does not care if I’m involved in this or not. And I was feeling pressure sort of almost like from the community to feel like, oh, I should do something for the school.
Sharon: 40:37 But at the, at the end of the day, my time was better served elsewhere and I had to say at the end of this year, I can no longer, you know, fulfill this need of the school. And I am sorry, but it’s just not working for me. And that’s, that’s a form of self care too, is to say no to things. And I think that’s true for home life. It’s true for your work life. And you know, you have to, of course, you know, at work you want to be a valued member of your team, which is true I think at home too. Right? And so you need to figure out what that means and what it, what is required of you to be able to do that without feeling like you’re selling your soul.
SCott: 41:15 Yes. Saying yes to everything is the bad way to go, you know, and, and just to, you know, you only have so much time and you only have so much energy. Right. And I’d, I know my philosophy at work very much is I want to get an A in the most aspects of my work and some of the other stuff, the real side stuff, the stuff that isn’t as important. Yeah. You know, I could be B minus in that and that’s okay. Right. And I think home too, it’s like I want to be being an A in terms of, you know, a certain aspects of fatherhood and whatever and husbandhood and in other things I’m like, you know, is this really important? You know, but you know, at the same time I think it’s important to be involved in one’s community because that’s how you build your network and that’s how you become part of that community, which is an important piece of our lives. The other thing that, you know, I know we’re starting to run low on time, but uh, we talked a bit about balance and how, that’s kind of a weird word sometimes to talk about work family balance. Can I just propose a metaphor?
Scott: 42:20 So I think instead of a balance, like a seesaw or walking on a tight rope, right? And that’s what we think of when we talk about balance. And that’s a bad way to think about balance, right? Because that means it’s a trade off one thing for another and it’s 50/50. And if you’re out of balance, you fall. The better metaphor to think of is like more like a balanced diet where you’re, you’re making sure you know your, you have spending your time like you would eat different food groups, right? That you want to have kind of a balanced diet in that way. So you’re spending enough time as a mom or dad, you’re spending enough time in your career, you’re spending enough time with your extended family or your couplehood, which we didn’t talk about. But it’s important, you know, you’re spending enough time on the, the important aspects of your life, but you’re doing it in, you know, reasonable portions and also that, you know, every week is different or every month is different.
Scott: 43:17 If you’re an accountant, your April is crazy and you know what, that’s just how it’s going to be. But maybe you take some vacation time in May, right, to balance it out just like maybe you eat too much over the holidays and then you have salads for a couple of weeks after the holidays. Right? It’s okay out of balance temporarily as long as your long term balance is pretty good. And I think nutritionally that that’s the case. So if we could think about work life balance as a little more like a balanced diet approach, um, I think we take a little more pressure off ourselves and it would help us think.
Sharon: 43:47 I love that. Thank you. Yeah, thank you so much Scott for being here. This was a great conversation and I’m sure we could find some other topics to talk about. Again, another time and I hope the listeners enjoyed, I’m sure they did. I do want to just mention that Scott does have a couple of websites that you can explore. He has the WorkingDadSurvivalGuide.com, FathersWorkandFamily.com and ScottBehson.com and those will all be in the show notes as well. And don’t forget to check out his book, The working dad survival guide, how to succeed at work and at home. And I really enjoyed our talk today. Thank you for being here.
Scott: 44:32 Oh, you’re welcome. I loved being here. Yeah. Thank you for having me.
Sharon: 44:41 Thank you. Thanks for listening to the Raiseology podcast. Head over to www.Raiseology.com where you’ll find plenty of, you’ve got this resources for parents and any links or tools mentioned in today’s show. Be sure to hit subscribe on your podcatcher so that you can listen to the next episode the minute it’s out, until next time, have an empowered week.
Meet Your Mentor
Sharon is a general pediatrician, loving wife and mother to 4 daughters.
After a decade of practicing general pediatrics and working with families, she realized there often wasn’t enough time while tending to children’s medical needs to help parents in the way that would be most helpful in shaping their children’s futures.
The Raiseology Program was developed to teach parents how to raise their children with the love and authority necessary to promote resilience and responsibility.
Sharon’s experience with hundreds of families as well as her own help her meet you where you are on your parenting journey to help you make it what you want it to be.
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