What does real success mean? If you asked me when I was in college or even in my twenties it would be different from how I see it now. Before I would have said that success had to do with how much I achieved in terms of money and the advancement of my career. The idea of being a dad was such a foreign substance to me. It was just an alien idea that had little to no relevance to me in the choices I made. I couldn’t imagine what it would mean to be married, let alone have kids, but then it happened to me as it will likely someday happen to you. And when that happens and you are holding a child in your arms and you look deep into his or her eyes, you will likely see the world a little bit differently. At least that’s how it was for me.
You might be thinking that this is such a distant thought, why would I really need to think of such things now? Because, just as you were shaped by the choices your parents made, you will someday shape your own children.
We live in a country that is so immersed in the beliefs of consumerism and extreme capitalism that the family suffers immeasurably and fatherhood is utterly de-emphasized. In our country, it’s normal for parents to work very, very long hours and have their kids taken care of by nannies, daycare and others. It’s normal for dads, especially, to be absent in their family’s lives. We are the last industrialized nation that has no paid parental leave to either moms or dads – a fact that is indicative to how our culture sees the family. The cliché that “no man on his deathbed ever wished he had spent more time at work” became a cliché because it’s so often tragically the truth. And so much of the trouble that kids find themselves in can be attributed to the absence of their fathers and often leads to substance abuse, divorce and worse. This is the society you are entering.
So, what can you do about it?
As the next generation you have the opportunity to challenge the way things have been with regard to the family and fatherhood in particular. You have the chance to change the way work/family balance is treated in this country and as a result, solve some of the most daunting issues that face us.
How do you do this? A good start at this point in your career is by studying it. The film I made about the changing role of fatherhood is a good place to begin. The Evolution of Dad explores the issues we face in our society for achieving better work/family balance and demonstrates how some dads out there have found creative ways around these obstacles. You can also read more from the experts I interview; but perhaps most importantly, you can start talking to parents who you may know that are in the working world and how they are able to navigate these issues. Above all else, start incorporating these ideas into what your plan of the future may be, because it’s going to be here sooner than you think.
Wishing you the greatest success on whatever path you choose. Good luck!
Have you ever thought about this? If you have, we’d love to know what you plan to do – you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to post it on our blog!