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“However, those social norms are changing, and have been meaningfully for decades,” Merron said. “Now you see a lot more stay-at-home dads where the woman is the primary breadwinner. That seems to be happening comfortably more and more.”

But many men still feel a certain expectation to put work first.

“In a male culture, it is completely accepted that you work hard in order to be a good man,” Merron said. “And therefore, for somebody to say, ‘You know what, I don’t really want to work as much,’ that would break the male code.”

We men are an odd lot.

What would be best—for everyone, and that includes employers—is if we all opened up about our desires regarding work and family, and if everyone acknowledged that there’s no reason to feel guilty for wanting to make it to your kid’s soccer game, or to occasionally be there to pick up your son or daughter after school.

“One thing I heard in the (LinkedIn) group that is a great suggestion is focusing less on improving work-life balance for women and making it more focused on everyone,” Carter said. “If we can stop trying to segment it, that might help.”

I agree. It does seem this issue is too often associated with working moms, when it’s clearly of importance to dads as well. And because so many bosses in the working world are still men, the more men discuss the importance of work/life balance, the more likely things will change for the better—for everyone.

“People having these kinds of conversations at work, regardless of gender, that’s valuable,” Carter said. “The more people talk about it, the more people will know it’s a priority.”

If you’re interested in checking out the women’s network group on LinkedIn — and it is made up of men and women—go to LinkedIn.com/WomenConnect.

And whether you’re male or female, let your thoughts on work-life balance be heard. It’s an elusive goal, but it’s one we should all be talking about.

©2014 Chicago Tribune
Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

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