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  • Writer's pictureScott Behson

The Today Show’s Matt Lauer Discusses Work-Family Balance for Dads!

This morning, the Today Show ran a segment on fathers’ work-family issues. Along with other recent major media attention (Esquire, BusinessWeek), this high-profile segment is just another indication that society may be starting to grapple with these issues in a serious way. Yay!

The Today Show’s Matt Lauer Discusses Work-Family Balance for Dads

Matt Lauer Today Show

Matt Lauer discusses men’s work-family issues and the struggle to “Have it All” on the June 19th Today Show.

(Please click on the picture above to view the video of the segment. Stupid WordPress has trouble embedding from most websites)

Here’s the text from the segment:

Can men have it all? It’s a provocative question after decades of women facing the same dilemma over the push-pull of work and family obligations. This month’s Esquire magazine tackles the issue head on and explains why “Why Men Still Can’t Have It All.” “All of the data suggest that men face the same problems as women do,” said Richard Dorment, senior editor at Esquire. In an average week, modern dads are spending nearly triple the time on direct child care, and more than double the time on housework, than their fathers or grandfathers did in the 1960s, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the Census Bureau data on how Americans spend their time. If they are employed, chances are they are putting in more than 40 hours at work, too. As gender roles converge, so does the pressure to do it all. “We have the rule that if someone cooks, the other person cleans,” said Hugh Kenney, a father of two who is doing more around the home. Both he and his wife Melissa work full time, yet Kenney says he feels more pressure to provide. “It’s what we as men try to aspire to, at least me,” Kenney said. He travels three days a week for work as a consultant, so he can’t always be there for his kids, part of a generation of men experiencing “Daddy guilt.” “Missing you know, a soccer practice here or some stuff at daycare,” he said. But he doesn’t regret any sacrifices he’s made. So can anyone have it all? Hal Edward Runkel, a marriage and family therapist, told TODAY’s Matt Lauer that’s not the question to ask. “It’s this ridiculous notion that we’re supposed to have everything we want at all the time we want it and that’s never going to happen,” Runkel said. “What we have to do is… prioritize. Figure out: what do you want most? Because failure is whenever we sacrifice what we want most for what we want right now.”

The segment is short, but very on-point. Men are more involved at home and as dads than ever before, yet still face the same (or even higher) work and career demands.

No one can have it all. But if we prioritize and communicate with our spouses, we can usually get what is most important, understanding that there will be tradeoffs.

The best thing about the Today show’s coverage is that it brings more attention to dads’ work-family issues. I believe that when more attention is paid to these issues:

  1. Men who struggle with work-family balance may realize they are not alone

  2. Supervisors and business leaders may realize this is a serious business issue that requires thought and attention

  3. These issues become more normal and acceptable to talk about at home and in society- and most importantly- in workplaces across the country

  4. The business case for considering men in work-family conversations and solutions becomes more evident

So, hooray for the Today Show!!!

What do you think about the recent media attention to work-family issues for dads? Have any stories to share about your own lives or workplaces? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

A tip of the hat to my friend Anjanette, who alerted me to the Today Show segment. Readers, if you ever see articles/tv/media related to Fathers, Work and Family, please pass them along to me (via the comments section, email, twitter) or share them on the Fathers, Work and Family facebook page.

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