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Sheryl Sandberg; "Dads, step up."

Is equal parenting really such a far off concept?

At my daughter’s pre-school, the Mother’s Day morning tea takes place at 9.30 am. It runs till a leisurely 11.30am. It’s a civilised affair with gifts of hand-crafted paper roses and pasta necklaces.  In contrast, later on in the year the Father’s Day celebration is a 7am – 8am breakfast.

Cause dads have to get to work, right?

It is just an example of the ongoing battle working women face every day. But some companies are fighting back, and for one company in particular it isn’t just the way society views mothers that needs to change, it is the way dads are viewed too.

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook

The COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, has decided to tackle this culture with the recommendations that working fathers need to lean in more.

In her mission to empower women in the workplace, she has called on dads to step up in the parenting department.

It is frustrating isn't it? That we are still talking about this stuff. That we still are fighting it and continuously reporting on it.

We seem to be still reeling in delight at the novelty of the stay-at-home-dad and raging in anger at the lack of change facilities for fathers.

We need to normalise this stuff, don't we?

We seem to still be whinging in our Facebook groups about the bulk of work we women do in the home and secretly smouldering at our partners when they ask us if we want them to 'babysit' the kids.

Sandberg has said that working dads need to talk about their kids while they are in the workplace – just like us working mothers do incessantly. And she has called on mums to stop micromanaging. Let dads do it their way.

We all know, of course, that the pay gap is a major contributor as to why women often function as the part time worker, or stay at home parent. It simply makes sense for many families that the lower income earner takes on the brunt of the home life.

In other cases, of course, it is a woman’s choice to sacrifice her career in order to spend time with her children.

Sandberg says that both companies and parents have to change their view of what it means to be a working mother or father.

She says that men in particular need to show it is normal for fathers to be an active parent. She says that in the long run, it will have far reaching affects.

"Equality begets equality. When kids grow up in equal homes they model it more so," Sandberg says. "As fathers are becoming more active, I think workplaces will become more understanding. That's why men are so important in the fight for equality."

Sandberg herself sets the agenda for a family friendly workplace with famously always leaving the office by 5.30pm in order to be home for dinner.

She does, however, wake up before sunrise to send the first email of the day, and has said she intentionally stays up late into the night so she can be the last email in her colleagues’ inbox.

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It’s an argument that we have heard often – and one that I don’t know many people argue against. Of course we want fathers to be as active as they desire in family life and companies need to be flexible in how they make that happen.

Because in the long run if fathers participating more actively in rising children becomes the norm, companies who fail to provide family friendly workplaces will be the ones who miss out as workers flock to companies who will support the lifestyle choices they make.

Mums let go of perfect

Sandberg’s Lean in Campaign has come up with 7 recommendations for on empowering women in their careers:

1. Model equality at home:

Almost 65 percent of couples rely on dual incomes, but only 9 percent share child care, housework, and breadwinning equally.

2. Dads be active fathers:

Help with homework, read books with your kids, and talk about their daily experiences and dreams. You don’t have to be perfect—you just have to be engaged.

3. Mums let go of perfect:

Take a collaborative approach to parenting and avoid the urge to micromanage your partner when he does things his own way. Kids benefit when both parents are active and engaged

4. Challenge gender stereotypes:

Be thoughtful about what your kids read and watch and talk openly with them about the messages the media sends about women and men.

5. Close the kid wage gap:

Give your children equal chores and equal allowance. If your son and daughter take turns setting the table and taking out the trash, they’ll grow up knowing that women and men can—and should—split work evenly.

6. Help your daughter lead:

Encourage her to reach outside of her comfort zone to build confidence. Just as she practices soccer or piano, she can practice small acts of assertiveness like ordering at restaurants or shaking hands when she meets newpeople.

7. Don’t tell your son to man up:

Encourage him to respect his own feelings and have empathy for others. Avoid language like “man up” or “be a man,” which can be as damaging to boys as words like “bossy” and “know-it-all” can be for girls.

Equality in the workplace and in the home. Seems like common sense doesn’t it? So why doesn’t it happen?

Want more? Try:

Dear Dads you are doing it all wrong.

The best advice a new dad can get. 

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