Dads: They’re Just Like Us- Mommybites Summit Session

By Heidi Leder, Coast 2 Coast Mom

Laura Kalehoff, the executive editor of American Baby Magazine, moderated a panel on daddy fears and concerns. Both mothers and fathers share the immediate and short range fears of if your child will get hurt on the coffee table, to the longer term, are we raising a well-adjusted child? Fears and insecurities pervade parenthood, and while women have social circles with which to seek advice, share their feelings and commiserate, what do men do?

Two of the men had their children through IVF, and had made the conscious decision to have a child, so the surface fears about becoming a father were already confronted. Their fears were centered more around the financial aspects, specifically focused on how to pay for it. They still admitted to being concerned about how could they get their work done and be a father each day, and the age-old fear of how it would affect their sex life.One of the men was concerned about repeating his parents’ mistakes, worried about not being able to recreate his idyllic memories of childhood for his kids and not live up to the example of their parents. Were they responsible enough to father the kind of people they wanted to create?

One of the dads discussed commuting into the city three days a week because he didn’t want his kids to grow up detached from him because he’s not around, and worse yet, having to pack all of his “daddiness” into two days over the weekend so his kids don’t miss out on those memories and activities. Having known the impact of growing up with his father not around, he was concerned about his children growing up getting away with things, worried whether his kids would listen to him when he came home at night.

They also spoke of their concerns as “modern men.” They each had family mode and work mode, and feel pressure to be present when at home, and guilt to be engaged with their kids in a way previous generations weren’t. One of the dads takes a technology “Sabath” on Saturdays and stays off of his blackberry and email to spend the day fully focused on his family.

The discussion turned to working parents and the need to be clear when hiring what the expectations are for employees with families. Two men on the panel were CEOs of companies and stressed being clear when interviewing – is working from home on days of kids’ events accepted? Can you arrive early and leave early on certain days? Are there times at night or on weekends when you will be with the family and not replying to email? More and more hiring managers try to set the grounds for what it means to be a parent at the company and allow for turning things off. Most companies today understand that if you’re happy at home, you’ll be happy at work and want to make it as easy as possible for moms and dads to be parents first.

Most admitted that a big fear when having kids is how the husband and wife’s relationship will change…will each other become 2nd behind the child? The hardest thing was to figure out me time and we time and to keep each other at the top of the chain. As one of the men pointed out, “you’ll be with your wife the whole time, but the kids are going to grow and leave…the kids have to come second to keep you together and after your second child, it becomes clear that children are a part of your life together, and not the entirety of your being.”

The discussion also led to requests for moms to allow some flexibility into daily life, with the example that if the family decides to go to the beach for the afternoon, sometimes you can grab your swimsuits and towels and go – stopping at a convenient store or fast food along the way. That not every trip needs to be packed days in advance and that just because a mom does something her way, doesn’t mean that there’s not another way to get the same thing done.

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Heidi (@c2cmom) has mothered her son literally from coast to coast – raised her baby in Silicon Valley, raised a toddler in the Chicago suburbs, and is transitioning him through pre-school in North Jersey. She is fascinated by the similarities and differences in raising children regionally and is still discovering just how to raise her son as a quintessential “Jersey boy.”

A former technology public relations professional, Heidi currently works as a freelance writer and blogger contributing to the Nintendo DS Guide for About.com (writing about kids’ DS games), Techlicious, and recording weekly podcasts for the Blogging Angels. Heidi has formerly contributed to the New Jersey Moms Blog (part of the Silicon Valley Moms Group), NYMetropolista, and the “Techno Tools for Writers” column for Write On! Online. She blogs about her family travel adventures, technology, charities and growing her family at Coast to Coast Mom.

 

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