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June 17, 2007

In Honor Of Fathers Day - Why Going Solo is a Great Option for Fathers Who Want to Be (More)Hands On

In honor of Fathers Day I want to draw attention to men who wish to be more hands-on in the raising of their children. In a recent Wall Street On Line 'The Juggle', the question is posed, "Do Working Fathers Agonize Like Mothers?":

Do fathers have as much anxiety around arranging their work/family lives as mothers do? Or do women have a tougher internal struggle, despite advances for equality in the workplace?

In a recent survey conducted by CNN/CareerBuilder.com we learn that a significant percentage of fathers would make changes in their work lives to be more hands-on with their kids:

According to a new CareerBuilder.com survey, 37 percent of working dads say they'd leave their jobs if their spouse or partner made enough money to support the family.

If given the choice, another 38 percent would take a pay cut to spend more time with their kids.

Nearly one in four (24 percent) working dads feel work is negatively impacting their relationship with their children. Forty-eight percent have missed a significant event in their child's life due to work at least once in the last year and nearly one in five (18 percent) have missed four or more.

According to the survey, the time working dads spend on work far exceeds the time spent with their children.

More than one in four (27 percent) working dads say they spend more than 50 hours a week on work and nearly one in 10 (8 percent) spend more than 60 hours.

In terms of the time they spend with their children, one in four (25 percent) working dads spend less than one hour with their kids each day. Forty-two percent spend less than two hours each day

While the life of a solo doesn't necessarily promise less work or hours, it certainly provides flexibility that permits fathers to participate more in their children's lives, something not as readily available when working for another.  We often talk about mothers and work/life balance, their maternal instincts that keep them torn between work and family.  Well, fathers, as indicated by this survey, have the same issues wanting to be a part of their children's lives for more than one hour a day.

Well, this also makes the case, then, for the home office lawyer. Somewhere I read (and I think it was on Grant Griffith's Home Office Lawyer blog a long time ago) the amount of years one loses commuting to work: over the course of a 30 year career, 11.25 years are given over to commuting.  Home Office Lawyers, therefore, gain 11.25 years...to be with their family if that is their desire.

Interestingly, many clients I speak with talk about being fathers of young children and they just don't want to be away from home as much as they are...commuting to New York City or wherever their jobs take them.  I don't try to tell them it will be all sunshine and lollipops.  It's not. But they realize one of the greatest perks is if they want to be at a ball game for their child, they can arrange their work day to do just that.  It's all about their priorities if this is one of them.  And when you are only accountable to yourself (and, of course, the court system or difficult clients) the likelihood that you will be able to participate in these special events dramatically increases.

Two semesters ago one young married student was expecting his first child two weeks before finals.  Out of the blue at the end of the semester he walked over to me, pulled a picture of his newborn son out of his wallet and said, 'this is why I want to go solo. No one is going to tell me how much time I get to be with him.  No one."

Would any of you solo father's care to weigh in?


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Practical Lawyer

Could there be a BETTER reason to go solo? I imagine among the top reasons why any of us work hard is because we want to provide a good life for our family. And if that life that we strive to secure is limited by the hours we're working for someone else - the enjoyment of our family is minimized. Once I realized that little kids are cute for only so long, my solo plan began to write itself. Once my babies begin to have stinky feet and college debt I can consider a different path. But until then I hope to be around for it all...

Jerod Tufte

Absolutely the best part about going solo. I left a great job that I truly enjoyed at a large firm in a big metro area to go solo in a small town. I hired a relative to work in my office in a secretary / childcare role so that my young son (almost two) can be in my office part of the week and in daycare only part of the week. Yes, there was a pay cut, but the time spent with my son is well worth it.

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