As a female entrepreneur, I've spent a lot of time in the last year speaking about the power of women in the economy. From local colleges in Boston to the World Economic Forum in China, I've shared my story of starting a company while raising two boys. But I've found that it's impossible for me to discuss my own rise as a working mother – and the juggle of building a career and a family – without crediting Ron, my husband, both in the workplace and at home.
I know first-hand how important dads are in the modern family. Ron, my husband since college, has always approached our life as a "we." When we had Ryan as young parents he was equally involved in the childcare. We attended graduate school together. When I started Care.com, Ron ensured that we would be able to do it. We both worked at what we loved to do – raising a family and starting Care.com. Ron took on the early role to be my watchful and intuitive partner; sometimes questioning, never discouraging, always there.
Ron isn't alone. Our generation of dads – which includes President Barack Obama, who often discusses and wrote about his parenting roles – started a wave of active parenting that I'm excited to see has only continued in the younger Generation Y group. Whether it's because of younger twentysomethings who view work and life through the prism of their own happiness and fulfillment; or that the poor economy has disproportionately affected men through job losses; or simply, the reality that more women are in the workplace resulting in household equity at home, there is a shift of men from traditional "provider" roles to "nurturer" ones. And we're seeing it on Care.com, too. Fathers are playing a big role on Care.com as displayed in postings for childcare jobs to discussions in our Groups page to even a recent Today.com story about a dad who found a childcare job on Care.com.
I usually end my speeches asking both men and women to take a pledge to encourage more equity, both at home and in the workplace. I personally feel it's critical to the growth of our economy. But I believe it goes both ways. Companies need to recognize the rise of both parents sharing childcare responsibilities.
And we at Care.com hear from companies looking to keep their employees focused, engaged and inspired. Familiar parenting terms, right? I believe the answer is respect, collaboration and giving people the ability to love their whole life. If that means ensuring that a dad can do pick-up or drop-off everyday, then find a way to make it work.
So, what do you think? Do you see this shift in modern dads playing more of a role in parenting and nurturing kids? What role do they play in child care?
How do your and your spouse's companies compare? Do you feel they'd be supportive of shared parenting roles?
I'd love to hear from you and your spouse. What changes do companies and society need to make to have shared parenting more of the norm?