Tag Archives: books

The Working Dad’s Survival Guide Is Must-Read

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“Virtually every working dad I know struggles with balancing the time and effort required to be a good financial provider with the time and effort needed to be a present, involved, loving father.”
– Scott Behson, Working Dad’s Survival Guide

I love great people and great books. So when a great friend of mine writes a great book about a topic I’m over the moon passionate about, it’s a win-win-win.

Scott is a professor at Farleigh Dickinson University and a national expert on work and family issues who gets invited to fancy White House summits to talk about fatherhood, work, and family. But most important, Scott is a working father — someone who knows all too well what it’s like to constantly feel torn between the need to provide financially for your family while being a present and loving dad.

Books about motherhood and leaning in and having it all are pretty common, and with good reason. Moms — both of the working variety and those who stay at home — are worthy subjects for books and discussions. However, dads have been largely left out of the equation. Especially working fathers, who don’t have the novelty factor of stay-at-home dads.

Until now.

Scott’s book, The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home, comes out on June 9. And you should buy it. I don’t say that because I’ve known Scott for years, I say it because I’ve read it and can say with certainty that is a well-researched, sourced, and entertaining book that tackles a topic of immense importance. Even the parts that don’t quote me.

And speaking of quotes, here are some of my favorites from the book.

“There is a strange “wall of silence” that has built up over the issue of involved fathers who work hard to juggle work and family demands. So, if you have ever felt that all your efforts in attaining career success while also making the time to be an involved dad have been overlooked, you, my friend, are not alone.”

Step 1 – know you’re not alone. This is more true than you can possibly know, and Scott realizes that. Once you comprehend the fact that you’re not enduring this struggle all by your lonesome, Scott takes you by the hand and helps you figure out where to go from there.

“It’s time that we recognized that, in order to succeed at work and at home, we can’t just rely on society or workplaces to change. We need to recognize the important challenge we face, and do what we can both to gather support and to act more in accordance with our priorities. I believe that we can achieve success in our careers while also being the involved, loving dads we always wanted to be.”

Don’t get me wrong, the deck is stacked against working dads who want more time with family. But be that as it may, that doesn’t mean we should just do nothing and suffer in silence. We need to speak up and start having the difficult conversations required to bring about change.

“We need to stop seeing work and family as ‘either-or.’ Time for work and time for family are both very important components of a full, meaningful life, and there’s more to life, too. If we don’t reflexively see them as opposing forces, we may come to understand that both can enhance the other in helping to build a balanced life.”

This is one of the most important points in Scott’s book. I don’t believe there is any such thing as work/life balance. I think it has become a blend. With email and messaging capabilities, we are always connected and work and family time are no longer segmented. We need to learn to operate within the new normal.

“We need to live in the world as it is, but we should not give up trying to make things better. If our generation of busy involved dads doesn’t start making change happen, more dads will struggle seemingly alone.”

Precisely. If we don’t advocate for ourselves, no one else is going to. So let’s start.

“Society sends many repeated signals, especially to men, that MORE success, MORE money and MORE power are the keys to being seen as a success, a man in full. Most of us have been receiving this signal for virtually our whole lives. It takes a strong sense of self to turn away from more. Swimming against the tide isn’t easy, but it might just be worth it.”

This is the truest thing I have ever known. And once I came to realize my career is important, but never as important as my family, everything fell into place. Getting demoted at work might be unpleasant, but being demoted as a dad is downright unacceptable.

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You can learn more about The Working Dad’s Survival Guide here. Scott’s book is available on Amazon starting June 9, but you can pre-order today. Just in time for Father’s Day.

Also, I have not been compensated in any way for this review. In fact, Scott is a New York Jets fan. So think about how much I, as a New England Patriots fan, must like this book in order to promote it on my site!

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Of Purkle Cats & Fleeting Childhood Moments

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“I see PURKLE CAT looking at me, dada!”

I must’ve read Eric Carle’s book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? about 10,000 times when Will was little. We both knew it by heart, and Will loved to name all the animals even before I turned the page. But of all the blue horses, yellow ducks, and black sheep in the book, nothing could top the purkle cat for Will.

As I’m sure you’ve figured out, it’s a purple cat. But for some reason, Will couldn’t pronounce purple for the longest time, so he said “purkle” instead.

At first it was cute. Hell, who doesn’t love the weird toddler language all our kids seem to speak? As kids learn the first few keys to language, there’s something to be said for being able to understand them and serve as a translator for relatives who have absolutely no idea what their babble means. Whether it’s “pasketti” (spaghetti) or any of these cute kid mispronunciations, it’s a part of the journey to which nearly all of us can relate.

But Will was my first and I was more interested in the destination back then.

After the first few “purkle” cats, I was done with the cuteness. I wanted Will’s words to be said clearly and correctly, and I must’ve said “No buddy, PUR-PULL. Can you say PUR-PULL??” enough times to bring both of us to tears. And there were tears. The purkle cat became a battle in the war of bedtime story aggression — a bone of contention instead of a point of shared interest.

Eventually he got it right, and I remember celebrating. I actually ran out to tell MJ he finally said purple while declaring parental victory and silently awarding myself Literary Father of the Year. But I was confused (and more than a little pissed) at her reaction, which was one of dismay.

“Awwwww, that’s too bad,” she said. “I kind of liked purkle.”

I found Brown Bear again while looking for some books for Sam. I smiled a bit as I thumbed through it, and then I came to the purple cat. But instead of reliving (what I thought at the time was) a victorious moment of reading comprehension, I cringed. I realized I missed purkle cat, and recalled him with fond memories instead of frustration. So I took it to Will to rekindle a little nostalgia.

“Hey pal, do you remember this book?” I said with a smile. “Specifically, do you remember this guy?”

Will looked quizzically at the page with his former feline friend, and gave me a disinterested shrug.

“Oh c’mon. I read this to you every night for 18 months. And you used to get so excited when I flipped to this page and you’d shout ‘PURKLE CAT!’ over and over.”

And then he looked at me and dropped the hammer.

“Purkle?” Will said with a disdainful look. “Why would I say purkle? That’s wrong. It’s a purple cat. Purkle sounds silly.”

He’s right, purkle was silly. But it was also kind of wonderful. I’ve said before I don’t lament my kids growing up, and that’s still true. However, I do regret the times I’ve pushed that progress unnecessarily, and failed to enjoy what’s right in front of my face. I regret prematurely sending the purkle cat into the litterbox of forgotten childhood whimsy.

Sam’s words come slower and later than his older brother’s. I’d be lying if I said that hasn’t been a source of concern and consternation. But you know what? The words will come. Some will come easily and accurately, and others will result in hilarious mispronunciation.

When the latter happens, I’ll greet Sam’s purkle cats with the wisdom of hindsight and the appreciation only experience brings. After all, he has his whole life to be right and only moments, it seems, to be young.

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Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?

Will loves the book “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?” by Eric Carle. It’s his favorite by far. Mine too.

It’s a simple book that names a bunch of animals & what they’re doing. Will can’t read yet, but it doesn’t matter because he knows it by heart. He reads it to me, word for word, every night before bed. “I see a red fox slipping by me” and “I see a prairie dog digging by me.” One by one he ticks them off with precision and accuracy as he rubs his eyes and tries to fight off the sleep quickly coming for him.

“I see a blue heron flying by me” and “I see a mule deer kicking by me.”

He doesn’t like some of the real text though, so he substitutes his own words. The rattlesnake doesn’t slither, it rattles. And the mountain doesn’t climb, he goes up the mountain. Apparently creative license and editorial ambiguity is genetic.

As we get towards the end I smile. My favorite part is coming up soon.

Will gets to the page with a picture of the mama bear. The line is supposed to read “Mama Bear, Mama Bear, what do you see? I see a—” and then you’re supposed to turn the page. But Will like to ad-lib. He says “I see a Mama Bear looking for her baby because she loves and misses him.” Then he curls into me and smiles. Our favorite part is next.

The next page consists of small pictures of every animal featured in the book. I point to each of them and Will rattles them off like clockwork. Red fox, blue heron, mountain goat, prairie dog, mule deer, flying squirrel, screech owls and—of course—the baby bear. After naming them all, Will pauses and smirks at me. The last line is supposed to read “That’s what I see.” But Will, in the cutest voice imaginable, ad-libs the final line.

“All wild animals are free.”

I don’t know why I get such a kick out of that, but it makes my day. And it’s proof that the best and most memorable part of having kids is the stuff that’s woven into the mundane fabric of our daily lives. While a part of me can’t wait to read the Hardy Boys & eventually the Harry Potter series with Will, I’m going to miss Baby Bear when he finally gets sick of it.

“Thanks for reading to me Dad,” he says. Can you believe that? He’s thanking me!

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Reading is Repetitive

Why do kids want the same damn books read to them roughly 5,498,394 each night?

Will has a rotating list of roughly four books that we read to him. “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See,” “The Word Book,” “I Love to Laugh” and then some touch & feel book we have that consists of patches of different materials doubling as animal skin. It’s crazy though, he wants it read to him over and over and over again. We try to move onto a different book and when we do he just freaks out and reaches for his favorites.

Are all kids this OCD when it comes to books and routine at this age? Or do I have a Rainman kid on my hands here. Is he going to grow out of this or am i going to spend my life hearing about what time Judge Wapner is on and avoiding K-marts my whole life?

In other unrelated news, Will had his 15-month check up recently. Here are his stats:

Height: 34″ (100th percentile)

Weight: 27 lbs 2 oz (85th percentile)

Head: 49 cm (77th percentile)

HE IS SO DAMN TALL!!! I’m not quite sure where he’s getting it because I’m 5’10” and MJ is 5’7″ at best. MJ’s brother is well over 6′ tall but no one in my family was blessed with height. He’ll probably plateau at some point soon but for right now he’s a giant. Our neighbors have a kid (also named Will) who is 5 months older than Will and they are the same size.

Oh for God’s sake, I have to go. Will just brought over his word book and is screaming at the top of my lungs for me to get off the computer.

I don’t even need the book, I think I know it by heart now…

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