How Work-At-Home Dads are Reinventing Fatherhood and Reaping the Benefits
Guest Post By Jessica DeGroot
Founder and President, ThirdPath Institute
This past Father’s Day, the ThirdPath Institute organized a webinar with an amazing group of actively engaged fathers. Some are the primary caregivers of their children, others play a more supportive role. All are reinventing fatherhood. Here are some of the inspiring stories shared by dads participating in the online event (watch the full webinar):
On dads working full-time:
Sean Leacy, founder, City Dads Group in Puget Sound – Sean and his wife have 4 children. When reflecting on a year of balancing work and family during a pandemic, Sean said, “My 9 to 5 is our family’s primary source of income, but because of the work I do, I was able to get everyone in our office working remotely. I also discovered I really liked working from home.” After sharing how he and his wife balanced work and remote schooling, Sean explained, “The thing that held us together through all of this is that my wife and I have been on the same page throughout our marriage. We have always been able to communicate and work through difficulties together. It’s never been ‘a problem’ and then ‘us.’ Instead, it’s always been the two of us working on the problem together."
On dads staying at home:
Jonathan Heisey-Grove, president, The National At-Home Dad Network – During the pandemic, while his wife was working full time, Jonathan managed the remote learning needs of his family’s two children. When reflecting on his decision to become the primary parent, Jonathan said, “Being an at-home dad has shifted the balance of what I can provide to my family, which is far more emotional and physical support. I was kind of a detached father prior to that because I was so consumed by my job, and at night, we would sometimes struggle with the disconnect that we had. With our second child, once I left the workforce, I was there for everything. It changed who I was in a positive way. It also made me a better provider to my family, to my wife, to my kids.
On dads starting their own businesses:
Brian Anderson, Co-Founder, Fathering Together – At the start of the pandemic, Brian and his wife were both employed and managing their children’s remote schooling. Brian was also growing his new business, Fathering Together. Stretched thin, it all came to a head when his daughter said, “Daddy, you are running this group for dads, but you are not being a very good Daddy.” This helped Brian make the important decision to leave his job and fully invest in his new business. Going forward, Brian says his goal is “to put fathering first. I also want to help other dads recognize that we may have 1,000 jobs in our lifetime, but to ask themselves, how are the needs of my family being met first? How do businesses give to our families instead of our families giving to businesses?”
"Being an at-home dad has shifted the balance of what I can provide to my family, which is far more emotional and physical support." – Jonathan Heisey-Grove
When both parents are capable of doing work and caregiving, everyone wins – moms, dads, kids, and our workplaces. During the ThirdPath webinar, the at-home dads revealed some additional benefits they enjoyed:
Spending more time as a family
Having routine time caring for your children means dads can plan mid-week adventures instead of waiting for the weekends. One dad even combined getting an errand done by turning it into an adventure: “My kids weren’t always thrilled to get the errands done, so I’d make a plan to go someplace fun afterward.”
More wiggle room for change
Learning to work as a team, knowing which parent can flex and when, and building a network of support with family and friends, all pay big dividends for dads (and moms!) as they navigate the changing landscape of work and family.
When both parents are capable of doing work and caregiving, everyone wins – moms, dads, kids, and our workplaces.
More time to connect even when kids become teens
Older school-aged children may start to need you less, but being around still makes a big difference. Parents of teens learn that teachable moments come at different times – at the mall when trying on clothes, or late at night when they are trying to finish a paper.
Actively engaged dads are making the most of every stage of their family’s development and learning to expertly handle whatever comes up. Clearly, this is a wonderful gift for their families, but it’s also a wonderful gift for the dads!
You can access ThirdPath Institute's free online resources HERE.
Jessica DeGroot is the founder and president of ThirdPath Institute, a national nonprofit celebrating over 20 years helping parents and leaders develop an integrated approach to work and life – a solution that helps parents redesigning work and family to feel more successful in both. Jessica and her husband learned a lot by putting these ideas into practice as they raised their two children, and now care for their aging parents. She founded ThirdPath Institute so employees at all stages in their lives could follow a “third path” – one that allows success at work while creating time and energy for their lives outside of work. After completing her undergraduate degree at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, Jessica received her MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where she co-founded the Wharton Work/Life Roundtable. She’s published articles in The Harvard Business Review, Sloan Work and Family Encyclopedia, The American Woman 2003-2004, and is co-author of the Wharton Work/Life Resource Guide.