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Help for New Dads

Balancing job and family isn't just a mom's concern these days. A growing number of companies  -- including J.P. Morgan, Marriott International, Inc., and the Boeing Company  -- are acknowledging the pressures on dads, too, and have started to offer parenting seminars specifically for their male employees.

"Our first fatherhood seminar, a year and a half ago, filled up within 24 hours of being announced  -- it was standing room only," says Betty Purkey, work/life manager at Dallas-based Texas Instruments. "This was a much greater response than we get for our general parenting programs."

Topics range from staying connected with your family while traveling to sharing the parental load with your spouse, subjects similar to those offered in traditional seminars.

The sessions often start by acknowledging fathers' emotions. "It can be groundbreaking for dads to realize that it's okay to struggle with the conflict between their job and their kids," says James Levine, director of the Fatherhood Project, at the Families and Work Institute (a research group in New York City), who also runs corporate work-life seminars for dads. "I reassure them that they're not alone  -- other men in the room, and around the country, are experiencing the same thing." In fact, a recent study by researchers at the University of Oklahoma suggests that job-home conflict is associated with more psychological distress (with symptoms like skin problems or sexual dysfunction) in men than in women.

Before Brian Wrozek attended a seminar at his company, he didn't see any way to resolve his work-family problems. "If I wanted to go home for dinner, I'd feel torn," says the Texas Instruments section manager and father of three girls, ages 6 months, 2, and 4. "If I went home, I'd feel guilty about work, and if I stayed, I'd feel guilty about my family."

But Wrozek's day-to-day life is different now. "I realize that it's all right to work late one night in order to leave early the next," he says. "It's more than just lip service. I know I have the support of my employer, so I don't have to feel guilty."