I HAVE a friend who teaches at a posh private school on the upper east side of Manhattan. During the glory days of high finance she saw a man in an expensive suit dropping his five-year-old son off at school. “Play to win,” he told the child. “In this life, the best bleed the suckers dry.” We figured the saddest thing about this episode was that it may have been the only time the man saw his son all day.
No more. The shrinking finance sector has transformed many former masters of the universe into stay-at-home power dads. Men who have lost their jobs are now channelling their creative and competitive energy into parenting, reports the New York Times.
Rarely around on the weekends when he was working, Mr. Levy now coaches two soccer teams and one basketball team for his three older children. He has managed to land some consulting work, but the time with his children has altered his goals for the kind of full-time job he may ultimately return to.
“You go back with a different perspective,” he said. “You want to try and hold onto the good things you’re able to do now.”
Still, Mr. Levy said, one uncomfortable aspect of his new life is a certain loss of power. “At work, you are used to everyone listening to you — assistants, accounting, the middle office, sales coverage and outside vendors,” he said. “But try to get your four children to listen to you.”
He has zealously bounded into the PTA, becoming its liaison to the Pelham Board of Education on financial matters. Recently, he announced his candidacy for a seat on the school board, a move applauded by several longtime PTA members.
According the article, men who spend more time with their children while unemployed are more likely to make them a priority after they return to work. But for men who want to be the best at everything, I wonder if there is such a thing as work/life balance. The investment habits of depression-era children were profoundly influenced by the economic uncertainty their parents experienced. It will also be interesting to see how the children of today turn out after spending so much quality time with their fathers.