Go to Battle, Dude!
According to the article, Australia is experiencing a 'renaissance in family values', with The Sunday Telegraph February 2010 reporting that "98.8% of [Dads] can't wait to get home to our families every day, ranking them ahead of wealth, possession and career in the important things of life." A DadsClub survey revealed that "When it came to the responsibility of work, many men felt trapped by work and wanted to spend more time with the family/friends, even if that meant downsizing or re-locating. As husbands get older many become more cynical about work. And whilst it serves to provide us money, we become increasingly jaded by the sheer fact of our dependency on it, often at the expense of time with our loved ones."
That last quote was precisely what I was most worried about when I thought about marrying and having children - before I met Amy and we solved the problem with ESP. I'd already decided I would rather downsize than consider my work to be my identity and sole purpose, and I'd done it as a single guy so that I could spend more time with friends, with my own parents/brother/sisters, and just having fun. My balance was well worth the price! I think there are more men out there who feel similarly. It just isn't particularly fashionable (yet) to say so. Which makes me all the more enthusiastic about this Australian DadsClub article.
The rest of the article focuses on how fathers could do well to bone up on their negotiation skills - both so that they can approach their bosses successfully when they want to downsize or flex their schedules to get those balanced lives, and so that they can harmoniously step up to their share of the responsibilities (and fun) at home and with the kids.
This last point is a good one. As men, we can't expect to enjoy more time at home without picking up our share of the chores and not-so-fun stuff. We need to earn our partners' trust in this area and work to help our partners make space for us to become true equals in decision-making and responsibility by becoming fully competent at everything it takes to run a home and raise our kids. Simply being home more isn't going to cut it. If we want to have a chance at lasting, happy balance, we need to step in as full partners - and learn to love doing our part without expecting (or wanting) direction.
The article concludes with a few thoughts that made me smile extra wide:
"Because truly equally shared parenting is a relatively new concept in today's families, Dads lack role models. When fatherless-ness costs the Australian economy $13 billion per annum it is not surprising that society is championing for more balance in the parenting equation. To truly optimize the balance of both worlds, work and home, dads need to posses heightened negotiation skills. Go to battle, dude!"