Mr. Mom, Meet Alpha Dad: A New Type of Father

In the ’80s, a stay-at-home dad was a punch line. Today, fathers balance life at home and the office, and—surprise!—sometimes they’re better at it than Mom.

By Sheelah Kolhatkar from Bloomberg Businessweek
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine October 2013

Mr. Mom, Meet Alpha Dad

Finn O’Hara

Three Deloitte Dads are eating breakfast across the street from the Toronto office of their financial-services company, Deloitte, spearing eggs and discussing how they juggle their careers and families.

“‘Work-life balance’ is one of those terms that tend to get overused,” says Robert Lanoue, 44. “It’s ‘balanced/unbalanced,’” chips in colleague Andrew Hamer, 30.

This male version of a conversation that happens countless times a day among groups of women touches on the challenges of getting home for bath time, showing up at recitals, and how all that must be reconciled with driving ambition. The only thing missing is the guilt and self-flagellation that so often punctuates chats among working women.

Lanoue wears an open-collar shirt and dive watch and exudes a relaxed jock vibe. Hamer is more a hunky corporate hipster, with a beard, jeans, and checked blazer. Rounding out the trio is slender and mellow-voiced Jonathan Magder, 35. You might call them Alpha Dads, guys who are as serious about their parenting as they are about promotions. What they illustrate is that men might actually be better at handling “women’s issues” than women. They don’t believe in “balance.” They believe in getting what they want, even if it’s time to cheer their five-year-olds from the sidelines of a soccer game on a Wednesday afternoon.

“New dads can be their own worst enemies,” Magder says. “The biggest thing for sure is time management.”

Lanoue, who became partner in 2010, has two children in school full-time, a six-year-old and a ten-year-old, and he estimates that he works one day a week out of his basement office at home, partly to spend more time with them. He manages this, he says, by “being proactive with my calendar, weeks ahead”; he plans his schedule meticulously, moving in-person meetings to conference calls when he needs to and being blunt and in-your-face about it.

Even when he goes into the office, he sometimes has to leave at 3:30 p.m. to drive his son to his hockey games, a fact he broadcasts to help dispel the stink that can trail people when they sneak out early. “Everyone knows my routine when I’m not there,” he says. “Between 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., I’m available by e-mail. If there’s anything I have to review, it will happen well into the evening.” In other words: It’ll get done, but on his time.

Finn O’Hara

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