Q: My wife would like me to be home with the kids more. Yet she counts on my salary and would not take too kindly to a pay cut. Are there ways to find a middle ground?
A: The pressure on dads to bring home the bacon -- and get it there in time for dinner at 6 p.m. -- is tremendous. Michael Horowitz, Ph.D., president of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, says that, in general, men have not yet gotten the hang of negotiating family-friendly workplaces and arranging flextime for themselves. (He says this, by the way, from a cell phone in his car, while trying to make it home in time for dinner with his own kids.) Unfortunately, "quality time" isn't enough, says Dr. Horowitz, who often researches and writes on issues of fatherhood. "It's the regularity of time you spend with your children that's truly enriching."
What to do? He advises first letting off some steam by telling your spouse just how stressed you are. Then you should get involved: Take your child to story hour at the local library, or sign up to coach her Little League team, and bond with the other fathers. Seek out dads where you work, and talk strategy with them. It also helps to pay special attention to how the women in your office have arranged their family-friendly schedules. Finally, arrive at work an hour earlier and go home an hour earlier. "You can always get back to chasing the dollar," Dr. Horowitz says. "But time with your children is a fixed commodity."
Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the May 2001 issue of Child magazine.