June 2019

Men and the Balancing Act: How Today’s Dads are Doing it All

Author: Lucy Rosen | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

The balancing act. For years (if not decades), the term connotes the image of an often-harried mom trying to juggle and balance it all: a job, family obligations, spending time with her significant other/kids/in-laws … while seamlessly managing hearth and home. But more and more, society has come to realize that it’s not just moms doing the balancing, but an increasing number of dads who are navigating the work/life balance as well and showing the world (and especially their kids) that they are as committed to balancing it all as their mom is.

Looking back to the 1960s and ’70s, dads were seldom seen on weekdays before coming home from work at 6 p.m.—leaving play date pick-ups, carpool duties, after-school sporting events and a host of other kid-centric activities pretty much all to moms. Today, however, things are far different in many families throughout the U.S. (and throughout the Lowcountry), with recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that in 2018, 63 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18 had two working parents. Whether juggling the work/family schedule of a two-parent household or taking on the full range of family responsibilities as a single dad while managing a career, one thing is clear: today’s dads are more involved than ever, and just like moms, are doing it all and doing it all well. Three local dads share how they are pulling it off.

Tom Curry
Tom Curry points to his kids turning 12 years old as being the “magic number” for him as a dad committed to the work/life balance. As the owner of Lowcountry Paver, a well-known hardscape products manufacturer, he wanted to involve his three sons in the business, working together with him. Each started working in the manufacturing plant whenever they were off from school.

“My kids were taught early on that there are no free rides, and thankfully, they really enjoyed it,” Curry said. “They all have their own ‘toys’ including a boat and wave runners, and my boys are required to do all their own maintenance and repairs on everything. I believe this has taught my kids not only how to be self-sufficient, but also to respect and care for their things and save money at the same time.”

Curry said one of the best decisions he and his wife Cheryl made was to start scuba diving as a family (they are all certified advanced scuba divers and take family trips every year.) The dives are a bonding experience, and what they see together spawns topics of conversation for days.

It’s worked for the Currys to have a “divide and conquer” working relationship with the three boys, with Cheryl focusing on the education and after-school activities and Tom focusing on the work ethic “teachings.” (Looking back, Curry admits that it was hard to make it to all the boys’ sporting activities, but he did the best he could.)
Now, at ages 21, 19 and 16, two of the boys are focused on taking over Lowcountry Paver when the time is right, having devoted their blood, sweat and tears alongside their dad, and the oldest is off to get his doctorate in biochemistry at the University of Georgia.

Having purchased Lowcountry Paver at age 35, Curry said his children grew up in an entrepreneurial home. His phone is always on, and calls are always answered—whether on a dive trip or not. “However, I work and spend time with my family every waking moment,” he said.

Michael Perry
Luckily for Michael Perry, owner of Papa Bear Charters and dad to two girls (ages 14 and 11), his busy season is the exact opposite of his wife’s. (Sarah Perry is co-owner of the popular Village at Wexford’s Branches.) His girls know that when Dad smells like diesel fuel, it’s the smell of spending money, but when he smells like fish, it’s the smell of making money.

Perry caught the entrepreneurial bug at just nine years old, cleaning fish for 15 cents apiece at the dock where his dad was a fishing guide. “I knew if I worked hard and was passionate about what I did, I would be successful, and that’s what I teach my girls every single day,” Perry said. “I’ve been known to drive two hours from my boat to watch two minutes of swimming or a gymnastics routine and then drive back,” he said. “My girls work hard at their sports, and I try to be as supportive as possible by showing up, even if it’s FaceTiming them on the pool deck or the gym floor.”

When it comes to leaving work at work, Perry does this well. “It would be really easy for me to bring it home with me—whether phone calls or emailing charters or finding out where the bite was that day—but I have to stop and have those moments with my kids,” he said. “I’m hot and tired on a July evening, but cuddled-up movie time on the couch with my girls (with the AC blasting) is the perfect way to end my day.”

He further noted the positive impact his work ethic and efforts to “do it all” have on his two daughters. “My girls see the hard work and focus that I put into my work, and my belief is they will do the same,” he said. “I work as hard as I can to be able to do what I love, and I want my girls to set that same goal for themselves. Staying true to yourself and doing what you love, no matter what anyone else thinks, is a powerful lesson, and I definitely think young women need to feel that power at a young age.”

Josh Hale
Josh Hale is the founder of Village Features, a company launched in 2012 that creates virtual reality tours, photorealistic renderings, and animations of built-for-sale luxury homes and high-end buildings. With six kids all under the age of 13 and a business that has grown steadily, Hale practices his balancing act daily, but he does struggle with the work-life balance, particularly when he has a slew of projects to complete businesswise. His kids are all home-schooled by his wife, but Hale actively participates in listening to their weekly presentations and helping with homework whenever needed.

Having six kids is a balancing act in itself, and Hale has found that simple things—like taking one or two of the kids to his office for a day or with him when he needs to run an errand—provide some of the best quality time ever. His children are growing up with the same entrepreneurial spirit as Curry’s and Perry’s kids, and Hale is quick to point out that he hopes his kids can see that they don’t have to think within the paradigm and go out and simply get a job. “I want my kids to discover what they like and venture out and do it themselves,” he said.

In regard to the balancing act he has worked to create and maintain, Hale said it’s one of the reasons he wanted to be an entrepreneur. Being able to participate in regular field trips, attend evening activities with the kids and be a part of a large family is something he wouldn’t trade for anything, and having that “flexibility that allows for an afternoon walk on the beach” means everything to him. “Quality time with your kids is really the best thing you can provide for them. Being able to be flexible has been key in helping to make this quality time a reality for my family. It doesn’t matter if it’s at Disney World or in the backyard.”

Gone are the days when dads only did dad stuff—like working, mowing the lawn and other stereotyped “dad jobs.” Today’s dads are truly stepping up to the plate, striking just the right balance between raising their kids and running their businesses, and are doing their best (as women do) to hit a home run when it comes to reaping the rewards of both. 

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