What it means to be a dad today: 5 modern fathers share their work/family balance secrets
Taking conference calls during a daughter’s swim lessons. Working unconventional hours to be available for after-school events. Moving closer to a job in order to be home earlier for quality time with the kids.
For many dads today, making the commitment to be an involved parent isn’t just about helping out with the kids on the weekends—it’s about making the choice to revolve their careers around their roles as fathers 24/7.
Case in point: According to the newly-issued State of America’s Fathers report, U.S. dads have increased the time they spend with their children on workdays by 65% over the past 30 years. The report was unveiled on June 14 at the State of America’s Fathers Summit in New York, which was hosted by Fatherly and Promundo, with support from Johnson & Johnson.
Another eye-opening finding from the report: The percentage of working men who believe it is better for all involved if “the man earns the money, and the woman takes care of the home and children” dropped from 74% in 1977 to 40% in 2008.
Of course, every father has different ways of achieving work-family balance. So as we head into Father’s Day weekend, we asked five Johnson & Johnson dads from around the globe to share just how they’ve managed to integrate their commitment to their children with their busy careers.
Read on to be inspired—and maybe even pick up a few smart parenting strategies along the way.
“My Wife and I Take a Team Approach”
“I spent the first decade of my career working on Wall Street, and while my days were exciting and rewarding, I realized that I was ‘living to work,’ rather than ‘working to live.’ That was one reason why I came to work at Johnson & Johnson—it enabled me to fulfill my personal dreams, while also still growing professionally.
For instance, after my daughter Lilyana was born this past November, being able to take eight weeks of parental leave gave me the opportunity to bond with her and capture her milestones. Now that I’m back at work, I have been able to work flexibly sometimes so that I can be home in the morning, leave early in the afternoon or take the day off to ensure that our bond continues to grow. Plus, since I work in a global role, I can schedule calls late at night, when my daughter is asleep, or early in the morning before she wakes up.
My wife, Jacquelyn, and I both work outside the home, so it’s critical for us to be a team and review calendars and key dates each week to ensure that we don’t have any gaps in parenting coverage. We focus on finding days or weeks when we can both be off, as well as days when we can spend individual time with our daughter. We also make sure to schedule in personal time for our own needs, such as going to the gym.
I think it’s important for dads to find one or two things that they can ‘own.’ Since I’m an early riser, we decided that mornings would be ‘dad time.’ The best part of my day is seeing how excited Lilyana gets when I come get her in the morning.”
—Richard Tricarico, Global Portfolio and Project Management Valuation & Analytics Lead, Consumer, Princeton, New Jersey
“My Day Always Begins and Ends With a Focus on My Family”
“I have six children ranging in age from 10 to 18. As you can imagine, we’re a busy family, but we work hard to make time for each other.
During the workweek, I usually have long days, with regional responsibilities that involve traveling to other countries or cities one week per month. When I’m not traveling outside Argentina, I start very early in the morning by taking the children to school. After work, I meet up with my family again and help my wife, Mariana, take the kids to different sports events and many other activities. I also like to help the kids with their homework.
Dinner is a really important time for us, when we share stories about the day’s events. Considering that there are eight of us at dinner, we have to organize ourselves to speak in turns so we all get a chance! It is a funny but key part of the day for my family.
As a manager responsible for a group of employees at Johnson & Johnson, one of my priorities is to foster efficient teamwork by properly delegating tasks and responsibilities. In our family, we work the same way—but, in this case, the manager is my wife!”
—Rodrigo Coarasa, Regional Sales Manager, Cardiovascular & Specialty Solutions Group, Buenos Aires, Argentina
“I Use Technology to Help Stay Connected Across the Miles”
“In a few months, my husband and I will be welcoming our third child, and in the process, have become one of the first same-sex couples to take advantage of Johnson & Johnson’s surrogacy benefits covering in vitro fertilization. (The company recently announced that it would offer surrogacy benefits in the U.S. of up to $20,000 per child for all spouses.)
My family has also benefited from the company’s parental leave policy. When my second son was born nine months ago, we used that time to travel to Europe with the baby and our 8-year-old son to help with family bonding away from the stresses of everyday life.
Over the years, I’ve had mentors, managers and senior leaders demonstrate the importance of being an active parent. I remember once when a vice president had to leave a meeting early to attend his daughter’s dance recital. It was one of those moments when I realized that the company’s culture supports the importance of work/life balance—and it has stuck with me all these years.
I was recently promoted to a job that involves more travel, and having to be away from the kids isn’t easy. But, thankfully, today’s technology has given us great ways to stay in touch. When I can’t be home, I connect with my older child through FaceTime so I don’t miss out on key parenting moments. Even the baby lights up when he sees my face on the screen.
I also think that having support from your spouse is crucial. My husband, Jimmy, is a designer and is able to work from home, as well as serve as the primary caregiver for our boys. One of the added outcomes of my parental leave was a complete and thorough understanding of just how hard the job of caregiver is. I’ll never take him for granted!”
—Ryan Messer, Region Business Director, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Cincinnati, Ohio
“I Moved Closer to the Office to Have More Time With My Kids”
“I have three young boys who definitely keep my wife and me busy! So I needed to find ways that I could maximize my time with my family, while keeping up with my work responsibilities.
And I found a great solution: Last year, we moved to a home that’s only eight minutes away from my office. Now, I can be home in time to do the things that are important to me, like cooking dinner and bathing the kids.
I know that some of my colleagues prefer working from home when they can, but since my children are still young, working in the office every day is the best way for me to get everything accomplished, while still making it home at a reasonable hour. I really appreciate that, at Johnson & Johnson, we’re able to take advantage of the diverse work styles that are best for each of us.
I also look for ways to spend quality time alone with the kids, which has the dual benefit of giving my wife a break. For instance, weekend mornings are grocery-shopping time for me and the kids.
Everyone needs to do what’s best for their own family dynamic and career aspirations, but I think it’s important to set boundaries. For many people, that may mean not pursuing an attractive job if it is going to seriously unbalance your commitment to your family.”
—Mikio Fujitsuka, Group Brand Director, Dermatological Antiaging Skin & Hair, Consumer, Montgomery Township, New Jersey
“I Get Creative With My Schedule So My Daughter and I Are Both Successful”
“My wife, Thanusha, has a very demanding job, and works relatively far from our home. She has also been studying for a master’s degree, so I carry a lot of the responsibility for our 7-year-old daughter, Nefertari, which I couldn’t be happier about!
Sometimes it takes creative ways to make everything work. I stop by to see my daughter at school during my lunch break, and take her to all of her after-school activities. This requires careful planning when it comes to scheduling meetings. I have conducted teleconferences in her school parking lot and in the foyer of her piano school, and have caught up on emails while she was taking swim lessons. Depending on the day, I will schedule calls from home after picking my daughter up from school.
During the last two years, I have made dinner almost every night, while my daughter does her homework and I field occasional work calls or emails. After my daughter goes to sleep, I review any emails or other items needed for the next day that I wasn’t able to get to earlier.
I’m only able to accomplish all of this through the understanding and support of my management and colleagues. Many of them even know my daughter—sometimes, due to work needs, she can be found in my office after school doing her homework!”
—Desagen Moodley, Human Resources Director, Janssen-Cilag, Johannesburg, South Africa