When our daughter was born two years ago, I took a three-month unpaid leave to help take care of our baby while my wife finished graduate school. A three-month leave is considered lengthy by American standards, and unheard of in the male-dominated blue-collar rock quarry industry where I’ve worked since age 18.
Daniel Willingham is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1992. His research once centered on the brain basis of learning and memory, but for more than 15 years, he has focused on the application of cognitive psychology to K-12 schools and higher education. He was appointed early this year by President Obama to be a member of the National Board for Education Sciences, the independent and nonpartisan arm of the U.S. Education Department, which provides statistics, research and evaluation on education topics.
Surrounded by her brood of 18 children, Nadezhda Osyak winces as she recalls the pain of childbirth: ‘It doesn’t get any easier. It’s called labour for a reason.’ Nadezhda is a youthful brunette in her early 50s whose trim figure belies her astonishing maternal accomplishments.
“Crowds overwhelmed him. The noise, the games and toys were too much, and sometimes he’d run to another room and hide. What made social situations even harder was that he struggled with impulse control. And he gets locked on ideas. He was perceived as the different one,” says Cat of her now 14-year-old son, who has autism. (Cat and Matthew are identified by their first names only, to protect their privacy.)
Over the past decade of leading human capital, diversity, and retention efforts in several demanding U.S.-based companies, I’ve spoken with hundreds of high-performing working parents, and, on the hunt for real, feasible solutions, asked the same questions again and again: What advice has been the most valuable to you over the long term as a working parent? What specific action(s) can working fathers and mothers take to meet the demands of, and be comfortable in, their dual roles? What effective tricks and techniques do you wish you had known when you became a working parent?
They are supposed to be memorable and a chance to reconnect with your loved ones, but family reunions need careful planning to pull off successfully, according to Jeanne Pena, the family reunions manager at Mohonk Mountain House, a resort in New Paltz, N.Y., that hosts more than 150 family reunions a year.
“There are a lot of little pieces involved in making sure that this important occasion goes smoothly,” she said.
Here, Ms. Pena’s advice for having a family reunion you’ll remember for all the right reasons.