I am incredibly thrilled that this essay of mine was selected by the Linkedin editorial team for the top 10 posts of the day last week. Now over to the story.
A few months back I had written an essay sharing how disappointed I was to see no fathers volunteering in my kids’ classrooms for Halloween that resonated with many of you. Even as I was writing it, I was acutely aware that our own family wasn’t following my own advice and we had to fix that. So this past Valentine’s day both my husband and I were in the classroom volunteering. I want to start by acknowledging I run my own small business and my husband is currently looking for a new role after a layoff making our schedules much more flexible. I know there are many parents out there wanting to participate in the classroom but the demands and logistics of fitting one more thing make it hard to do valentine’s crafts in the classroom.
It was absolutely delightful to witness the joy our children had, seeing us in their classrooms and a reminder that it is truly a small window when we are such integral parts of their worlds. But my reason for wanting both of us to be there wasn’t just about being an engaged parent because there are a million ways to be one but my equally important reason for both of us there was to do our very small part of modeling to all these children that it is not just the mothers’ role to be in the classroom when there are fathers part of the family.
If we are asking women to stay strong on their ambitions and aspirations professionally and to lean in at work it is also about time that we ask men to “lean in at home and in our communities” that make so much of our economy and society function. It’s appalling to see the level of burnout and exhaustion that mothers experience and this isn’t an individual problem, this is a collective challenge to our modern society and we all need to step up and change our social and cultural expectations of the professional mother.
I stay hopeful that when the kindergartners of today are parents in the future they will find this story so “2020” because things will have shifted for the better. Until then we all have a lot more work to do.
If you are a male senior leader in your organization and especially if you are a father, please try and model expanding your definition of what it means to be a “leader” in our world today. Encourage others on your team to do their part and as an example, volunteer in their children’s school, even if it’s once every six months. And finally, have this conversation about what it means to be a leader not just on your team but at home, in our communities, and in our society at large.