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How Does a Father Do It?

Finding the right balance between the work place and home front can be a guilt trip, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Look over the list of possible improvements you can make in the way you balance career and family. But instead of viewing this as one more long list of things to do, imagine yourself already doing something on the list. The mind doesn’t distinguish between imagined and real success when it draws upon positive experiences, even imaginary ones, to reinforce good habits-in-the-making. Try imagining yourself combining work and family life in the ways listed below.

  • Keep it simple. It is doesn’t add to the happiness of your family, then change it.
  • Set aside time after dinner to help your kids with their homework.
  • Remember what you were like as a kid, and cut some slack for your kids. Keep important things in focus: family unity, values, fun and education.
  • Listen at all times: to mealtime stories, to the chatter over dishwashing, to bedtime prayers.
  • Create family rituals: Saturday morning pancakes, Sunday night pizza, Monday night health club, Thursday night piano recital.
  • Include children in your planning and decision-making regarding things like weekly chore assignments, summer vacation plans and special monthly events.
  • Hold family councils once a month to discuss pet peeves, rules, rewards and punishments.
  • Be both loving and firm in setting, negotiating and enforcing rules.
  • Let the answering machine take calls during the dinner hour and at bedtime. Or, take the phone off the hook.
  • Loves isn’t something you buy. Your kids spell it T-I-M-E and it costs more than M-O-N-E-Y.
  • It’s better to play 15 or 20 minutes spontaneously and have fun, then go do chores, work or other priorities, than to spend all day at the zoo (or ballgame or the mall) feeling angry, guilty, or worried.
  • Find one common mission or cause that your family loves to do together, instead of splintering your volunteer activities in several different directions.

This partial list was gleaned from “How Does a Mother Do It?” That’s the title of a brochure published by Mars Candy that compiles tips for Working Mother of the Year. We’ve adapted it. More importantly, what do you believe—and do—about this delicate balancing act'

On the Father Front, Spring, 1994, p. 2