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Speaker Paul Ryan’s Unusual Demand a Victory for American Fathers

Speaker Paul Ryan’s Unusual Demand a Victory for American Fathers

by November 2, 2015 0 comments


Score one for dads in America. Recently elected Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), said one of his conditions for taking the demanding job is that he wants his weekends free to spend time with his young family, ages 10, 12, and 13.

“This is a job where you are expected to be on the road about a hundred days a year,” Ryan said last month, in one of several protestations of disinterest. “Our kids are 10, 12 and 13, and I’m not going to do that.”

The congressman’s background has a lot to do with his commitment to work-life balance. When he was a teen, he lost his alcoholic father, a Republican lawyer, to an apparent heart attack. His mother had to work and he took up jobs as well.

As a result, Ryan, who was working his “dream job” as the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, puts a priority on family life and physical fitness. Around Capitol Hill, he has a reputation as a gym rat and does yoga, too. He abstains from hard liquor.

The congressman’s insistence on work-life balance also represents a generational shift among working men. Males are increasingly calling for paternity leave and more family time, according to a 2014 study by Boston College’s Center for Work & Family.

Another study, by the Pew Research Center, suggests that fathers spent only 2.5 hours a week on child care in 1965. Today, that number has jumped to about seven hours.

“Stress and work life balance issues are just as challenging for fathers as they are for mothers,” Kim Parker, associate director with Pew’s Social and Demographic Trends Project, told US News & World Report. “We found that an equal share [of fathers] said they were having a hard time balancing work and family life as moms did.”

Whether you love or hate his political views, Speaker Ryan should be seen as an inspiration to young American fathers and men.  He’s changing the status quo of the job of Speaker of the house, not allowing the party to dictate what he believes is the realistic direction to take the party and putting a spotlight on the importance of fatherhood.

Speaker Ryan is the youngest speaker of the house in 13o years, is one of the youngest congressmen currently serving in the house of representatives at age 45, and has served congress since 1999.

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