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June 14, 2014

What’s Stressing Super Dad (According to the WSJ)

Yes, the focus of this Wall Street Journal article and slide show (“The Daddy Juggle: Work, Life, Family and Chaos”) involves the failure to appreciate the paternal needs of working fathers. Certainly, the consciousness in the boardroom toward a “daddy track” has a long way to go. It’s the rare organization that has seriously entertained more flexible hours and greater time off for fathers, or a philosophical shift surrounding work-life balance and the unquestioned goal of dads scaling the corporate ladder.

Certainly, M. Scott Brauer’s photos of one such father in Massachusetts is insightful and intimate, offering a genuine, recognizable and unusually rare snapshot of that (equal-) “caregiver dad,” especially the grinding strain and pressure of juggling it all. Nonetheless I still found myself asking: what’s wrong with this picture — especially the shot above of both mom and dad?

And the answer is, consider the source.

Do America’s best corporate minds have some serious catching up to do when it comes to the recognition of men as caregivers? Of course they do. But then, the Journal seems to miss the larger point of the picture. It’s not just that dads need and deserve the same recognition and consideration as moms for parallel engagement. It’s the fact that families cannot cut it anymore on one salary (and haven’t been able to for some time). That’s the overriding factor why the family, not just caregiving moms or caregiving dads are under so much stress. That’s also the reason, by the way, that Elmo stands out here: childcare-wise, it’s all hands-on-deck.

I encourage you to click through and see the rest of the photos singularly framing caregiving/working dad. But make no mistake. Beyond the photo of dad as pharma drone — perhaps chipping from his productive time to feed his latest activity data into the productivity management system, the photo that is most telling is the one where we see “off to work” mom saying goodbye to soon “off to work dad” (or, off to daycare” or “off to the doctor visit”) knowing that the corporate state is overwhelming them both.

Industrial issues not withstanding, I wish all the Mr. Bermonts out there a Happy Father’s Day.

(photos: M. Scott Brauer. caption 1: 6:44 a.m.: Mr. Bermont holds his nine-month-old son, Dylan, and kisses Jen before she leaves for work. caption 2: 7:30 a.m.: First stop, day care. Mr. Bermont wrangles Dylan out of the car. caption 3: 7:54 a.m.: Next stop, work. Mr. Bermont is usually one of the first to arrive at Shire. Here, he catches up on email and the day’s tasks. He tries to get to work by 8 a.m. so he can leave at 4:30, making it home in time for dinner with his family.)

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