Last month, I attended Strong Men Speak, a roundtable discussion at UC Berkeley that considered the definition masculinity in contemporary American culture — how it is changing, and how it needs to change. Of considerable interest to all of us in attendance was the connection between fatherhood and concepts of masculinity. It prompted me to consider some thought-provoking questions: How does my own view of masculinity affect my role as a father? How have I redefined masculinity as a result of my own experiences as both a father and a son? One thing was clear from both the conversations I participated in and the research that was presented: most dads in our present culture want to have more time with their family.
Work/life balance is not a new topic; it’s something we’ve covered here at The Father Life since our beginning in 2007. And while we work to make every moment count, as parents, we usually find ourselves at the same dilemma: we might be able to cut back on expenses enough to give one parent more time at home, but it’s not possible to do it for both. Either mom can stay home and dad can work, or vice versa. There’s no way to make it fair to both parents. Or maybe there is.
One of the other participants at Strong Men Speak was Jessica DeGroot, founder of the ThirdPath Institute. Instead of choosing between being a full-time employee or a full-time parent, ThirdPath advocates ways for individuals to follow a “third path” – one that allows success at work while creating time and energy for lives outside of work. It’s an intriguing concept, and one worth considering as men and women redefine their lives as dads and moms.
Among other activities, Jessica hosts monthly ThirdPath Community Calls. They’re free and available to anyone willing to take the time to call in and listen. The calls feature interviews with mothers, fathers, and leaders who have learned how to succeed at work while also carving out time for their families, communities, and other life passions.
Last week’s call featured Paul Buller and David Koppisch. To get a taste of what you can find on one of the calls, take a look at David and Paul’s responses to the question, “What advice would you give to the next generation of fathers?”
Paul said: “Anybody can do your job. You can be replaced at work. But you can’t be replaced as the father for your child. Having a career is important, but that’s not as important as being the father that you need to be for the specific kids that you’ve been given. So take time to step back and ponder the higher level priorities that you need to center your life around.”
David said: “I have not found anything in my work life that has been more fulfilling then the moments I get to be with my kids during these early years. You don’t know it until you start doing it, but it’s the little things that you would miss, the things that happen in the mornings and after school. You can’t turn the clock back to the time when your kids are four, but you can always go back to working more.”
Powerful stuff indeed, and in line with some of the best advice I’ve received as a dad. To learn more about ThirdPath and the next Community Call, visit http://thirdpath.org, and tell them Ben sent you.
Ben Martin is the CEO of THE FATHER LIFE. He lives with his wife and five children in the Rochester, NY, area.