Excited to say that I, Russell Peterson aka DayParentDad, was featured today in the Financial Times of London as an at home dad who has successfully returned to work.
According to Emma Jacobs, the author of When stay-at-home fathers rejoin the work force, “Architect Russell Peterson used to say that waiting at tables and cleaning a combine harvester were the hardest jobs he had ever done. Then he became a stay-at-home dad. ‘It far outstrips those,’ he laughs. ‘It’s a tough job.’”
In the article, Mr. Peterson goes on to say that after selling his successful architecture firm and staying home for 16 years with his children, it was almost impossible to get an interview at a firm. He said, “One of the biggest areas of discrimination,” he says, “is towards dads coming back to work.”
Ms. Jacobs concludes the article with, “Despite the difficulties, Mr. Peterson maintains that the experience of being a stay-at-home dad was valuable not just to his family but also his work, improving his understanding of how people relate to the built environment.”
Being an at home dad has made me a better architect.
Both of my children have worked since they were very young. I tried to teach them lessons of hard work, value and respect. They have been babysitters, models and dance teachers. As things go not everything turns out well, but there are lessons in that too.
One of my children had been working for the same company for nearly a decade. She was always available and we never turned down a request to work. As a contract employee she learned many skills, trials, labor laws and responsibilities. The "patience lesson" was probably the biggest struggle, but she gained numerous insights into human behavior and working conditions.
She discovered no job is perfect - this one in particular. Her employer and supervising staff were always behind schedule, late with schedule notices, lacking clarity in instructions and asking for last minute favors. We thought it was just part of the business and it was an opportunity for our child to learn decision making, deal with ever changing employment situations and to demonstrate loyalty. So we indulged the inconsistencies and chalked it up to new lessons learned.
Then a year ago they asked us to reserve the winter break for some work. So we cancelled vacation plans and waited for them to contact us. They never did. When we mentioned it, the work started to trail off in frequency and amount. This past summer they sent us a new contract only a day and a half prior to her first day of this season's work. It asked for a year and a half of exclusivity, a lower salary prediction and no guarantee of compensation to cover any potential work loss due to the exclusivity. So I contacted a friend in the business, did some research and decided to call them and ask a few questions. They immediately dumped her as an employee.
This employer continues to do work under these conditions and continues to hire children to work for them. Many stay because they believe it is prestigious or they have attained status or fame. Neither is true. That is an illusion perpetrated by adults to take advantage of children (and other adults).
The lesson learned for the children here is: Don't devalue yourself. No matter where you are on the employee ladder, you deserve to be:
If you find yourself in a situation where your employer is taking advantage of you in any of these areas, find other employment. You, my child, have value.
By Russell W. Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 10 October 14