Meet Brian - #ConfessionsOfAWorkingFather
Brian is husband to Kate, and father to Gabriel (11) and Daniel (9). A long-time advocate for women's rights, Brian felt it was high time "working fathers" had space to talk about their experiences, which lead him to start blogging #confessionsofaworkingfather on LinkedIn. Views are his own and he wrote this for free.
The Parenting Juggle
When it comes to work-life balance, some companies are happy for parents to flexibly put in more hours, or to be paid a part-time salary for the same 24/7 availability and outputs. But that's no use to a working father who wants to keep delivering the goods at work, whilst also delivering his kids to nursery, school, dentist appointments, mid-week birthday parties, sports days, teacher meetings, a whole lot more, and home again. These days companies need to offer genuine flexibility if they want to attract and retain dads to work for them.
What Is A Dad?
Dads come in all shapes and sizes. And I'm not just talking about co-craving sympathy bellies! There are straight dads, gay dads, trans dads, step dads, single dads, divorced dads, foster dads, dads to be .... or who have been. Dad is as dad does, and once a dad always a dad. In the same way the word "bed" looks like a bed, the word "dad" looks to me like a little penguin chick between its dad's flippers, all safe and snug while papa penguin shoulders the storm. We are a solid rock in a world of sleeting snow. Dads are all different, but we have in common that we love our kids so bloody much.
My Father, My Hero
My dad, Michael, is the only person in my family I have known my whole life. After my mum Judy died when I was six, he became a single parent to me, Rachel (4) and Ian (2). I am so proud of my dad and all he has achieved with his work; a tough Geordie who has grafted tirelessly for the regeneration of former mining communities in the North East and Midlands. With hands like spades and a heart full of love, says the rhyme from the old Heinz advert, my father my father. For all his work, what makes me proudest is that even when bereaved and broken hearted, he found the strength to hold us all together. He continues to be a loving father to all six of his children, and a devoted husband to our wonderful mother, Trish.
And love is after all a verb. An active, doing word, that requires physical interaction. In "About a Boy", he confronts his resuscitated mother about her suicide note; words of love, he says, are not much use to him if she's dead. I don't know if my mum left a note, but I do still feel the lingering warmth of her love after all these years; even if her last hug, her last words, and the sound of her voice, are gone. And if my dad hadn't also been there for us, I wouldn't still be able to feel the squeeze of his arms, or the comfort that his warm words can bring, no matter how far away he is from me. When my time comes, I would like to leave my children with confidence in my pride of them, and an everlasting warm hug of reassurance.
Crafting Careers For Dads
I can only be physically present for my kids, and role model with my undivided attention, if I am there; unplugged from the dopamine hits of digital thrills, vibrations and notifications. The shame of unanswered emails and missed meetings pales feebly in comparison to the shame I would feel for being an absent father. So that's why it's fundamental for me that we craft careers for working fathers that give us the satisfaction of a job well done, combined with the freedom to be there for our families.