Shared Meals Matter Blog

Jun 15th

Bravo to fathers fighting for their rights to have dinner with their families

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There is some very exciting new conversation starting to happen regarding workplace flexibility.

Only this time the focus is on fathers.

It’s no surprise that this is getting more attention. Studies have been showing an increase in the amount of time fathers are spending with their children–tripling since 1965.  Changes in the workforce demographics showcased a need for this national dialogue such as the The White House Conference on Working Fathers which was held recently (June 9th) in Washington, D.C.  Fathers are fighting a stigma (just like working mothers have been in recent years) as they seek ways to use workplace flexibility to help them balance work and home life.

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The stigma concerns the perception that fathers who are looking for this flexibility (in everything from increased paternity leave and reduced work schedules to workplace parenting workshops) are not putting the company first.  Setting boundaries (such as leaving work at a reasonable time to make it home for dinner) might be perceived as a lack of commitment to their work goals or performance,  rather than what it really is — leadership, and a father’s commitment to loving his family.

According to a study by the Boston College Center for Work & Family, fathers are beginning to assert their needs and “see themselves as responsible for both the emotional and financial needs of their children.”  According to this Wall Street Journal article, employers (such as Ford and American Express) are starting to respond to this trend by offering workplace policies which promote flexibility.  But as Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute says here in Huffington Post, there’s a lot of work to be done, and eliminating this stigma needs to be a collaboration between business and what public policy demands.

Wise and progressive business leaders will pay attention to understanding the diverse needs of their employees by offering workplace flexibility.  This is because studies have shown (see this study, summary on page 2) that workforce flexibility makes for happier employees who are energized, engaged, less stressed, and show loyalty to their employers.

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In my book The Shared-Meal Revolution, I offer that “The idea of approaching a supervisor about work-life balance may seem intimidating, but if you don’t do it, who will?”  

The truth is to make work and family live peacefully coexist, and preserve family time in activities such as a daily shared-meal ritual, families have to work together.  No one can or should go it alone!

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Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing fathers who are working towards the goal of being present and active in the well-being of their family.

Fathers-Day-Wishes

 

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If you’d like to read more about how to create a shared-meal ritual for your family, and join The Shared-Meal Revolution, please visit my website.

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Jun 1st

“We stopped having kids when they started coming out in twos”

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My Dad had a great sense of humor.  After my twin brother, Carl, and I were born on June 1, 52 years ago today, he started saying this phrase:

“We stopped having kids when they started coming out in twos.”twinsphilHere’s a picture of my brother Carl and I with our (late) brother Phil.

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My son, John, called me at midnight last night to be the first to wish me a happy birthday. I mentioned to him that his Uncle Carl (or as he’s affectionately known in our family, “U.C.“) is travelling so he’ll have to Facebook or text him birthday wishes. As we were discussing birthday cake preferences, I told him that it just dawned on me that it’s no surprise that as an adult I promote “The Shared-Meal Revolution.” After all, from birth I’ve been doing the “sharing” thing from the start: sharing our mother’s womb during pregnancy (“wombmates”, as Carl refers to us) sharing strollers, playpens, the attention of our parents, birthdays, etc.). My Mom was keen to help us feel individualistic from the start and as far back as I remember made us individual birthday cakes (vanilla for me, chocolate for Carl). After the age of say about 4, I don’t recall being dressed in matching outfits, although I remember fondly wearing matching blue and white sailor-themed outfits.  People would often ask us if we were identical twins, which evoked a lot of laughter even from a very young age.

Being a twin helped me to learn a lot about sharing.  Although, my sister Vera told me just yesterday that she remembers the day that this picture below was taken (with my late brother Bill), she asked me to share some candy and I said, “NO” (in that crisp, don’t-even-think-about-asking-me-again way).

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I guess it must have been annoying as a twin from time to time to always be sharing, but I was slowly becoming really good at it.  It’s only since I’ve been an adult that I fully appreciated the positive impact being a good “sharer” had on me. 

Over the years, Carl and I shared a lot.  Here we are clowning around at a family meal:DinnerI should mention that Carl is always saying he’s the “good” twin and I’m the “evil” one, but there is evidence (above) to the contrary!  Carl always has been the one with the goodhearted sense of humor:  Carl says, “I was a gentleman from the start…that’s why Carol was born 8 minutes earlier than me.”

Over the years, we’ve performed music together, AnythingGoesand we’ve travelled together….Carl has been a wonderful Uncle traveling the country (and the world, actually) to see my daughter Jini perform (and share lots of laughter-filled meals with Jini and her boyfriend Josh)..and to fly out from Green Bay to Burbank, CA to spend time at our favorite local restaurant sharing a meal with my son, John

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I’m so grateful for Carl’s presence in my life.  He enjoys the world-class sense of humor he inherited from our father. He’s truly Mr. Sunshine, a man of integrity, a practical joker, as loyal a friend as you could ever find, a phenomenal father, and a very proud new Grandpa to his grandson Thayer, and the best brother a girl could have.

Last week I surprised Carl with tickets for us to see Billy Joel at the Hollywood Bowl here in CA.

BillyJoelWe shared a meal before the concert, dining outside in the fresh air, and just being grateful that we were going to share another birthday together. We don’t take these things for granted.

Here we are all grown up, one of the last times we visited in Connecticut, our home state.twinphotoI’ll be seeing Carl and my other brothers and sisters next week at a solemn occasion (a dual memorial for my two brothers Phil and Bill, passed away within a few weeks of each other recently.)  Although it will be a sobering day for our family, there will also be a lot of love among all of our siblings, and surely there will be a lot of laughter (as Bill and Phil would want) and many joyful shared meals.

It will be a memorable week, and I’ll be grateful to have my twin brother Carl by my side.

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Are you taking advantage of sharing at least one meal daily with people you love in your life? Please click here to visit my website “The Shared-Meal Revolution” to learn more about my book and ways you can increase your life joy through shared meals.

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