Archive: August 2006

Are Today's Dads Really Different?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid Last week, in the discussion over the super-silly Forbes piece, I let loose with one of my favorite points: today's dads "are much more interested in getting family and work time in the right proportions" than previous generations. But I was so busy scratching my head over the whole Forbes flap that I didn't get around to reading the study lying on my desk, "The Effect of Fatherhood on Men's Patterns of Employment." It's an interesting piece of work that pretty much contradicts my argument, coming to the conclusion that dads are working every bit as long as men without kids. There's only one problem: One of the two sources of data the researcher relies on is a survey of men born in 1958. And while guys born in '58 pioneered a lot of things -- disco, stagflation, the personal computer -- I don't think they're...

By Brian Reid | August 31, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (115)

Child Care for All

The 10-year anniversary of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (a.k.a "welfare reform") has prompted analysis of the key components of the 1996 law's success. According to the New York Times, the number of people on welfare has dropped 60 percent to 4.4 million since former president Bill Clinton collaborated with a Republican Congress to reverse six decades of social welfare policy of free monthly cash handouts for the nation's poorest citizens. Public assistance now includes work requirements, time limits, tax credits, childcare subsidies and health insurance for low-income working parents. A report by the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service Domestic Social Policy division studied single moms in particular to analyze how welfare reform has affected them, in part because opponents' biggest concerns were how mothers and children would be impacted. (A copy of the report is available through the Congressional Research Service.) Single mothers are now...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 30, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

An End and A Beginning

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Daniela Deane We've been anticipating it, we've been dreading it. We've been talking about it for years. But now it's here. As of a few days ago, we are officially empty-nesters. Both our sons have left home for college. Since I'm so new to this, I'll admit I'm no expert. I'm just trying to sort through the flood of intense feelings I've had since that day. As we pulled out of Charleston, leaving our baby boy behind, I cried. It felt so strange leaving him there. He lives in South Carolina now? But...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 29, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (198)

Breast Milk Versus Airport Security

Unless you are currently breastfeeding and traveling via airplanes these days, you may not have thought much about breast milk counting as one of the liquids banned from carry-on luggage. Lugging the pump around, finding a place to get half-naked and keeping the milk refrigerated seemed challenging enough at work, didn't it? But due to the new ban on liquids in carry-on airplane luggage, taking a breast-pump and milk on business trips has gotten a lot more complicated. Here's the limited guidance from the TSA site about getting breast milk on airplanes: Baby formula and breast milk are allowed in your carry-on baggage or personal items. You can take these through the security checkpoints and aboard your plane. However, you must be traveling with a baby or toddler. All items including formula or breast milk will be inspected. You or your baby or toddler will not be asked to test...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 28, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (329)

Career Women Beware!

The recent flurry of blogs, online magazine articles, tv and radio rants, and the rewriting of research statistics and history prompted by Forbes.com's Tuesday column originally titled "Don't Marry Career Women" has been so enthralling that Brian Reid and I both had to weigh in for today's Free For All. Leslie: The bad news: a smart, well-educated senior editor (Michael Noer) at a prestigious national magazine (Forbes) is so utterly out-of-touch with the 80 million moms and 63 million working women in the United States that he wrote an article titled "Don't Marry Career Women" for Forbes.com. A few choice phrases: "Guys: a word of advice...whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career. ... Recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy...

By Stacey Garfinkle | August 25, 2006; 6:40 AM ET | Comments (302)

Care-Sharing and Other Novelties

By Rebeldad Brian Reid My adult life has been full of lucky breaks. I met the right woman when I was 20 years old. I bought a house in 2000, right when the real estate market here went from hot to you've-got-to-be-kidding me. I had two healthy babies. Up there on the list of lucky breaks is a woman named Hope. Hope has a daughter about the same age as my eldest, and we were caught together in the same uncomfortable position when our girls were infants: We both wanted to work part-time from home. We were both creative types (a writer and an architect), so the working-from-home part wasn't the issue. The trouble was with finding part-time care. Daycare centers, by and large, required a full commitment, even if I only wanted a couple of days of care. And the cost (and scheduling) of nannies wasn't something either of...

By Brian Reid | August 24, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Slaves to Our Kids -- or Other Moms?

A friend from Columbus, Ohio, called me to vent about a woman who was proudly proclaiming -- in print and on television -- that she was bored by her children. Don't know how I missed her myself (maybe because her original piece ran in a British newspaper while I was frantically packing for our vacation) but here it is: Sorry, but my children bore me to death!. I read Helen Kirwan-Taylor's piece in The Daily Mail expecting to hate her myself. To my surprise, I did not. Here are a few tidbits of what Kirwan-Taylor, a 42-year-old American working mom who lives in Britain with her husband and two sons, wrote: "I know this is one of the last taboos of modern society. To admit that you, a mother of the new millenium, don't find your offspring thoroughly fascinating and enjoyable at all times is a state of affairs very...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 23, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Cracking Pistachios

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. by Sarah Earle The other day my 4-year-old daughter abruptly abandoned her lunch and closed herself in the bathroom. After 10 minutes, I realized I hadn't heard that familiar refrain, "Mommy, wipe me!" So I peeked in to find Laura squirting hand soap on one of her sister's sandals. I didn't even bother asking her what on Earth she was doing. After four years as a parent, I've learned that very few of the things children do make sense. That same day, I had a mini revelation: I, too, needed to free myself from...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 22, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (244)

Forks Along the Gold-Plated Street

Single Western Mom sent me an interesting article about women who leave Wall Street, The Fork in the Road, which ran in the New York Times while I was drinking the Disney World Kool-Aid two weeks ago. A bunch of posters have mentioned the article on the blog as well, so I thought it was worth hearing what everyone thinks. My views about Wall Street were shaped during the 1980s and 1990s, first when I lived in New York City and nearly every man I met worked on Wall Street, and later at Wharton business school, which feeds a steady stream into Wall Street firms (including DH). The elite, exclusive, hard-charging world of Wall Street is certainly not for everyone, male or female, child-free or child-encumbered. However, all working women, whether or not you've worked on Wall Street, can learn something by studying Wall Street dynamics because of the extremes...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 21, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (150)

Losing -- And Finding -- Yourself in Motherhood

This past Tuesday, an On Balance poster named "Thought" (who doesn't yet have kids) wrote: "One of my biggest fears of motherhood is losing myself." Ditto. I lost a lot of myself when I became a mom. The carefree, spontaneous, going-out-on-Saturday-night parts. Along with a good portion of the drive to achieve I'd nurtured since elementary school. Once I had kids, the price of ambition became too high, since it required vast periods of time away from my children. But motherhood brought new, priceless gifts as well. A deeper capacity for love and self-sacrifice, increased sympathy for others, a belief in some kind of god (with whom I could bargain to protect my children), a fearlessness and confidence and inner peace I'd never known before. What about you? What's your advice to "Thought" and other men and women afraid of losing parts of themselves when they become parents? And what...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 18, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (176)

Beware the Gatekeeper?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid Last week, Time Magazine raised an interesting obstacle to involved fatherhood: "Gatekeeper Moms." According to Time, new moms acquire parenting skills more quickly, and -- as the de facto kid expert -- then begin cutting dad out of the day-to-day care rather than watch him fumble with the bottle/diaper/bedtime routine. It's not generally portrayed as a sinister, intentional thing, but rather a natural consequence of the economics of child-rearing: Let the expert (mom) handle it. There are all kinds of smart objections to the "gatekeeper" idea. It emphasizes the dads-can't-parent canard, it blames moms for poor father involvement, it suggests that biology is destiny because breastfeeding is often the gateway to gatekeeping, it reinforces gender roles and so on. What's worse, gatekeeping is nearly impossible to measure, so it's tough to draw any conclusions about the extent or history of gatekeeping. Indeed, I'd wager that this...

By Brian Reid | August 17, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (137)

Can Moms Be CEOs?

Lots of good facts in Amy Joyce's recent Washington Post column about the ongoing dearth of top female executives in Fortune 500 companies, Her No. 1 Problem. The article recaps the results of a Catalyst study analyzing the number of women in corporate officer positions in 2005. The news is not good. Catalyst, the nonprofit research and women's advocacy group, has created a pyramid to demonstrate women's representation at work compared to men. The large bottom section: 46.4 percent women, 53.6 percent men. Women in management: 50.6 percent. Fortune 500 top earners: 6.4 percent women. Female chief executives: 1.6 percent. Catalyst president Ilene Lang sums up the past decade succinctly: "progress has almost come to a standstill." Amy Joyce makes the same point: "If things keep growing at the rate they have for the past decade (0.82 percentage points per year), it would take 40 years for there to be...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 16, 2006; 7:16 AM ET | Comments (292)

Young and Lonely

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Moira Demyan I am the first in my group of friends to have a baby. When I was pregnant, I thought motherhood would open doors to new friends and playgroups and activities. Honestly, I've never felt lonelier. Some days I feel like it is me and Henry -- now 10 months -- against the world. Sometimes, I can't even count my husband on my team. And I've realized I have two major barriers to the fabled world of mom friends. First of all, I work. I tried to join Waterbabies, and music class...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 15, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (275)

Trip Puts Work in Its Place

For the past 15 years, including the 10 I've been a working mom, every vacation has been in some sense a working vacation. I've always checked e-mails, called the office every day or so, had important stuff faxed or Fed-exed to me. Staying involved seemed the responsible thing to do as an employee. Well, I'm here to report that I was wrong. The past week I went to Disney World with my husband and three kids, ages 9, 7, and 4, the first time I'd ever been to the Magic Kingdom. I went with a mix of skepticism and fear that I'd hate the cheerful, airbrushed Disney view of life. Instead, I loved every minute of sanitized American patriotism, family focus and pursuit of pure fun, starting with the second our minivan drove beneath the Mickey Mouse sign. Disney helped -- every "cast member" had a ready smile, every swimming...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 14, 2006; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (106)

Psycho Temps

Today's entertainment is the antics of the most psychotic temps and consultants who showed up at your workplace. And no disrespect meant here: We couldn't get by without the good, hard-working temps and the agencies that provide them. But we all have a tale or two about the not-so-good ones. ... Let's hear it for Psycho Temps!...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 11, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Do At-Home Dads Help or Hurt Work-Life Balance?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid For a long time, I've assumed I was doing right by society and my kids by being an active dad. I was thrilled to find academics that linked involved fathers to everything from reduced contact with juvenile justice to lower rates of teen pregnancy. And I thought that by throwing gender roles to the wind that I was part of a tiny revolution that would change the way that the home and the workplace operated. But lately, I've been forced to reconsider whether at-home dads do much to promote work-life balance or actually hurt the cause. It all started with a wonderful profile of at-home dads in and around San Francisco by the San Francisco Chronicle. Though a compelling and honest look at an interesting group of guys, a Salon piece raised a reasonable question: Aren't stories about at-home dads just celebrating traditional work-family choices? Does...

By Brian Reid | August 10, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (118)

Blue Collar Blues

Great article several weeks ago in The Oregonian titled Power Moms Not Only Ones Needing Help. (Thank you, Mother of 4, for bringing it to my attention.) The main point is that middle and lower income families don't get sufficient media attention. "The shift workers. The retail clerks. The waitresses and the line cooks. The single mothers with no give, and the dads whose employers offer zero flexibility...[T]he media...keep hashing over the same old question: How do white-collar women raise children without squandering their college degrees and man-worthy careers? As a result, the public debate about improving the work-life balance reflects the specific desires of well-paid professionals: better part-time work, longer leaves, more flex time and fewer hours. These worthy ideas sound like fever dreams to the tens of millions of women (and men) with bigger problems on their hands. They are the people who need extra shifts to make...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 9, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

From Olympics to Mocha Moms

Usually, On Balance features guest blogs only on Tuesdays. This week, however, I'm on vacation. So, I'm turning the forum over to several guest blogs. I'll rejoin the comments and conversation on Aug. 14. In the meantime, continue to send me your own guest blog (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. by Meredith Rainey Valmon When my first child, Travis, was born, my husband was working full-time and I was running track professionally, so I was able to be with my son almost all day. I had a sitter for a few hours in the afternoon while I trained. That was the best of both worlds. I was with Travis 21 hours a day, but I had an income and professional purpose and challenge outside of being a mother. When he was two, I began preparing for the 2000...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 7, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Canceled Vacation Tales of Woe

Here we go, the perfect August free-for-all: your chance to make us laugh and cry with your stories of vacations canceled by work demands. Being a good little workaholic, I don't often take vacation (okay, okay, so I'm actually on vacation right now), hence I don't have any heartbreaking stories of my own canceled breaks. But one August my husband begged me to try out a rented shack in East Hampton and I relented. After driving eight hours from D.C., we arrived at 2 a.m. on a Monday with our three kids (ages four months, three years and five years) in tow. That morning at 9 a.m. my husband got an urgent call from the office. He wasn't even upset that he had to leave. He couldn't predict when he'd make it back, if ever. That first day was okay. It rained the next day and every day until my...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 4, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Nabbing Dads From the Very Beginning

As I mentioned last week, I am (again) a new father, which meant that I had the opportunity to spend a healthy chunk of my summer at Inova Fairfax Hospital. Though, admittedly, I didn't have the hard job; it wasn't an unpleasant stay. The nursing staff was exceptional, and there is a deli in the atrium that makes cloak-and-dagger sandwiches on the grill that are just to die for. Fairfax is one of the busiest hospitals for deliveries in the country, and they have the routine down, from the baby security system to the instant availability of lactation consultants to a list of prenatal education classes that goes way beyond just the standard-issue Lamaze-type class. They have classes for parents having multiples, parents preparing for Caesarean section, classes for siblings, classes for moms with asthma, even classes for grandparents. The gaping omission, of course, is anything aimed specifically at fathers....

By Brian Reid | August 3, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (137)

The Longest Traffic Light

Usually, On Balance features guest blogs only on Tuesdays. However, this week and next, I'm on vacation. So, I'm turning the forum over to several guest blogs. I'll rejoin the comments and conversation on Aug. 14. In the meantime, continue to send me your own guest blog (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. by Kevin Canavan It's 9:05 a.m. and I'm at the longest traffic light. I have to be at work by ten. I am a salesperson, so my days are flexible but endless and I frequently work weekends, over 50 hours per week. My wife is a federal government employee who job shares three days a week plus 2 hours per week from home. We have an eleven-year-old boy and seven-year-old triplets, two boys and a young lady. We are in the middle of a major home...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 2, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Opt Between Revolution

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Johanna Wald At a recent barbeque, I sat drinking margueritas with three other working mothers of teenaged children. Since producing our offspring, our employment histories have been, let us say, non-linear. I have bobbed and weaved between full-time employment, freelance writing, and part-time consulting. The others have followed only slightly more conventional paths as teachers and architects alternating between full- and part-time work since their children were approximately three months old. What none of us has yet to do, however, is either "opt out" or hand our children over to "strangers," the only...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 1, 2006; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company