Q: I enjoyed your article on stay-at-home moms returning to work. Do you see men facing the same issues? After 10 years at home with my kids, I am beginning to interview for jobs and am preparing for the transition you describe.
—R.C., Marietta, Ga.
A: Many at-home dads have faced challenges in making the transition back to work, as described in the column, but they are seldom willing to tell their stories for the record. Men typically encounter even more skepticism than women when they return from time at home caring for their children, says Carol Fishman Cohen, co-founder of iRelaunch.com, a Web site for people returning from career breaks. The recession has actually eased the stigma by making it easier for returning dads to blend into the crowd of other jobless men.
Networking is even more important for male on-rampers than for women, Ms. Cohen says. The key is to forge connections with people who have known you in roles other than parenting, she says. Former classmates or co-workers or fellow committee members in volunteer activities can help you reconnect with the working world. Consider signing up for a career re-entry seminar at a university or community college near you, to brush up on basic skills, practice interviewing, network and look for job leads.
If you can’t find a social or professional networking group with other men who have taken time off, consider starting one yourself, says Mercy Eyadiel, director of alumni career services at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which offers a career re-entry program with the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. If you are able to consult with a career or life coach, doing so could help you clarify your goals and set an action plan and timeline, Ms. Eyadiel says. When interviewing, don’t apologize for your time away, but focus on what you could do for a new employer.
Q: If parents of teenage children divorce, is it right for moms or dads to leave their homes open when they aren’t present, so the kids can come and go as they please? My husband and I don’t allow my teenagers in our home when we are away, bolting our door when we leave. However, my ex-husband leaves his house open to the kids 24/7, even when he travels on business. The kids accuse me of lacking trust in them, but I am concerned that they or their peers might use the house for parties. Am I off base?
A: Not at all. “It is very risky for teens to be unsupervised for long periods,” says JoAnne Pedro-Carroll, a Rochester, N.Y., clinical psychologist and an expert on children and divorce.
Teens do best with consistent structure and clear rules, she says. “Deep down, too much freedom results in a concern that their parents really don’t care about them. Teens need and want limits to help them learn to manage their impulses and choices.”
Your question raises another issue—cooperating with your kids’ father, says Dr. Pedro-Carroll, author of a forthcoming book on children and divorce, “Putting Children First.” It would help your teenagers if the two of you could agree on how they should be supervised while either of you is away. “Right now, your kids are caught between two extremes: A bolted door at one house, and too much freedom at the other,” Dr. Pedro-Carroll says. She advises working toward an agreement that will ensure that they always have a responsible adult present.
Many divorced parents have such a requirement as part of their parenting agreement to cover times when one parent is out of town. If the other parent can’t oversee the kids, then the responsible parent must make arrangements to find another adult to help out. If you don’t have such an agreement, she says, “it may be time to renegotiate.”
Write to Sue Shellenbarger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally Published On: online.wsj.com – Original Article Here