Dads, Kids, and Work

Balancing work and family makes for one of the hottest workplace topics of the decade.

Many people, however, still regard it as a women's issue.

But perhaps just as many men today feel stressed about how to climb the corporate ladder and cultivate lasting relationships with their children and spouse.

And experts note a significant shift. As workloads grow and more men reflect on how little they saw their own fathers, some are taking a stand for family.

In fact, a recent study of employees at Baxter Healthcare in Deerfield, Ill., found that conflicts between work and family sent 49 percent of men looking for another job, compared with 39 percent of women.

But few men seem willing to make the issue a centerpiece of water-cooler chat. Most retreat to "don't ask, don't tell."

That reluctance stems in part from a lack of role models. In many companies, a man requesting a flexible work schedule is often the first ever to do so.

And the issue doesn't always play well with the boss. Many companies want employees to leave their home life at home. Women, experts say, have already found that flexible work schedules can slow their pace down the career path.

Corporate and social cultures can be even less tolerant of men.

"Guys are raised to be silent about this stuff," says James Levine, author of the new book "Working Fathers: New Strategies for Balancing Work and Family" (Addison-Wesley).

Nonetheless, a small but growing number of men are altering their work schedules - even changing careers - to improve the quality of life at home. And they're trying to figure out how to do it without sacrificing professional satisfaction.

Here are three men who have made such changes and how those changes have impacted their careers and their families.

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