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September 20, 2007

Are the Presidential Candidates Good Fathers? And does it matter, anyway?

3_2Recently there was some great, healthy (and entertaining) debate on this blog about presidential candidates and their parenting.  The basic premise was that the candidates’ wives may not be good mothers because they have their young kids on the road and in front of the media for the election campaign.  Sprinkled into the discussion was also the notion of having limited family time due to illness or other unfortunate circumstances.

N9rf7cawg28j1calhr7wqcakuiqkxcaq2_2Implied in the discussion was that the candidates themselves (husbands) get a free pass in terms of being fathers.  Ironically, the "mommy blog" was much more critical of wives than of husbands.  Don't fathers have responsibilities to the kids as well?  If so, is it equal responsibility to the mothers?

Being a dad in the silicon valley, I am intimately familiar with long work schedules, constant distractions, and work-life balance issues.

1I have often been caught typing away on my blackberry under the kitchen table while trying (pretending) to listen to the family discussions.  Isn't the silicon valley model that I can work very hard for 20 years, make a few $m and retire at 45?  Well I just turned 40, and it is certainly feeling like I will be working well into my 60s / 70s.

My wife, who also works (and blogs – but not this week, due to a much needed and requested plea from her husband (me) and our children!), takes the brunt of the day-to-day responsibility for our kids.  But I am certainly not immune to the guilt triangle of three competing forces: 1) If I spend too much time with work, I am failing at home, 2) If I spend too much time with family, I am failing at work, 3) If I spend too much time with family and work, I am failing myself.

RudiA presidential candidate has a chance to influence the election (if not win), and change the very nature of American policies.  There is a strong argument that this effort should take priority over coming home for dinner and helping the kids with their homework.  However, I don't think the male candidates should automatically get a free pass from at least being part of the debate.  I don't expect a free pass for myself

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