In celebration of Father’s Day, we are having a Dad takeover with Boyd Farrish and Jonathan Baker. Boyd’s background is 15+ years in the US as an operational leader and strategist across insurance marketing, retail technology and healthcare. Jonathan’s background is 20+ years of experience in building & revitalizing businesses within the insurtech and fintech industries across Europe. Both Boyd and Jonathan are working Dads with working spouses and here are some perspectives they wanted to share. Join the conversation.
The first time you hear it, “your wife is traveling? So who’s taking care of the baby?” it’s easy enough to laugh off. By the third or fourth time you start to think to yourself, “shouldn’t I be getting offended by this?” It’s a weird feeling having it be assumed that you, as a parent, are not capable of taking care of a child on your own.
While living in Chicago, with our daughter still under a year old, my wife suddenly needed to travel for her work. Just like that I was a working dad going solo 4-5 days a week caring for a young child in a city where I would not have help. I gained an enormous appreciation for what single parents live every day. When you are managing a child’s life on your own it means you are always on the clock. At that age as well, every little cough or spit-up requires analysis. Sleep time is trying to get some sleep of your own while keeping one ear on a monitor for anything out of the ordinary (which feels like everything). With time my daughter and I found our own little daily routine to and from her daycare. We went and had dinner dates at the neighborhood restaurants and got to have invaluable bonding time for the two of us. An unfortunate outcome is we got into such a groove in our routine that when my wife would come home it was like a disruption in the Force or something. She wanted to help so badly and it was like bumper cars as I went about the routine and she would try to be a part of it. While it was all a stressful time, I came away from it all with memories that I will always keep with me.
A couple years later the roles were reversed where I was the one traveling regularly and there was never a question of whether someone outside the family would be required to make sure parenting was taking place. So if you see a dad who is clearly doing this on his own, cut him some slack. There’s a chance he’s both doing his best and also supporting a partner in living out their dreams. And when you think about parents, let go of the predetermined notion of who is responsible for what or more naturally capable of doing. So many families today have two working parents and the point person for managing the care of the child could be either person at any given time.
I am going to go out on a limb with what I am about to say, and a large segment of the male population wont thank me for saying this, but as Dad’s we need to try harder!! The decision to have a child is often made jointly but with a view that the female’s life will be the one that is most disrupted, this initial mindset needs to change. Parental life is very different today from how is was back in the 1950’s (better for the most part – but we won’t get into that); 2 parents working is now an expectation, school camps/clubs during holidays a necessity, maternity / paternity leave can now be split between parents…the list goes on.
Yet amongst all this “progress” it is clear that males are still getting off lightly!! Picture the following situation – Your child falls ill at school – who is the first person the school will call? I’ll take a bet that in over 75% of cases the answer is Mummy. And I’ll put my hand up and admit until becoming a Dad that would have been my expectation also.
Sharing the responsibility of bringing up a child is a great privilege. Today’s society makes this more achievable than ever before, sexual equality in the workplace is now forefront and central – so yes, your male executive does need to leave the important meeting due to an emergency at school. Flexible working is encouraged – I see more and more Dad’s at pickup and drop-off which is great, cherish those moments when they run out of school shouting “Dadda”, let them play with their friends without worrying about rushing back for your next zoom call. A good work / life balance is a requirement – no longer is kudos given for working tirelessly behind your desk for 14 hours a day, 6 days a week.
My wife and I decided to have kids slightly later in life, “geriatric parents” i think they classify us as, but this meant we spent many years around our friends and family as they grew tiny humans. This also changed how we socialized with them, especially when planning nights out. I would often hear my male friends say “i can’t join you on Friday….i’m babysitting”. At the time I didn’t give this a second thought, but now I am a Dad myself I think this comment hints into the parental stereotype /mentality that in my opinion needs to change. I have never heard Mum’s refer to looking after their child as babysitting, yet the words roll so easily off many of the Dad’s tongues that I know.
As always there are many different viewpoints on a situation, mine is this: today’s society provides men with the ability to be more present in their children’s lives whilst continuing to pursue a fulfilling career. Choosing to take this opportunity to do so brings a plethora of benefits from having a balanced family life but also provides an increased chance of achieving the equality goals that globally we are aiming for.
Evolution within nature takes time. Nature rarely forces a one-way-fits all solution to the problems being faced. As such I believe it provides us with a positive way of looking at how the family unit is evolving, and hopefully how it can continue to do so. If it works for you and your family, there has never been a better opportunity to reassign the traditional stereotypes of family roles.
In closing, Happy Father’s Day to all those Dads who are building towards their dreams while supporting their partner’s dreams and also raising the next generation.
“I feel like the success of parenthood is feeling like I failed all day today, but I get to wake up tomorrow and do it again and hopefully they turn out to be a good human being.“