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Dads reveal struggle to balance work, family

  • Story Highlights
  • Dad: Full-time parenting is harder than full-time working
  • "It's ... kind of recalibrating the balance of our family," says one father
  • Dad: "Your day starts at 6:30 and ends about 9:30 or 10:00 at night."
By Josh Levs
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The recession has radically changed the amount of time many dads spend with their children because fathers are either home much less or a lot more.

The times are "recalibrating the balance of our family," says Lee May.

Joe Cerone, left, says he missed many things his daughter did for the first time because he was away at work.

It's a two-sided coin: Many American fathers are working harder than ever as their managers try to take care of business with fewer workers. On the flip side, many dads who've lost their jobs are finding that they're becoming the new Mr. Moms.

According to a recent survey from, modern times are prompting dads to search for a new balance.

CNN's Josh Levs gathered a varied group of dads and held a broad discussion about the new realities of fatherhood. Here are some of the highlights of what they talked about.

K.J. COPELAND (stay-at-home father of three): My business was slow; I'm a corporate recruiter, so it made sense to bring my kids home from daycare and keep them full-time.

LEVS: How's that going?

COPELAND: It's great. It's fun stuff.

LEVS: Do you (other) guys ever wonder what that would be like?

JOE CERONE (adopted a daughter with his male partner): I don't think I could do it.

LEE MAY (married father of two): They'd have to pay me!

LEVS: Do you all ever have moments, though, when you're a little bit jealous of the full-time parent?

MAY: Yes. Just the amount of time that she's able to spend with my daughters, and the bond that they seem to have. Watch dads talk about their parental "jealousy" Video

CERONE: And you're told a lot about the first things that they've done.

LEVS: K.J., if a full-time job came along tomorrow, would you want it?

COPELAND: Yes, I definitely want my job back. Or a job back.

LEVS: So even though you love being a full-time dad...


LEVS: would want to work full-time again?

COPELAND: Yeah, the goal is to work full-time again.

LEVS: What have you learned about full-time parenting?

COPELAND: It's a grind. Your day starts at 6:30 and ends about 9:30 or 10:00 at night. Every minute of the day, it's all about you. Everybody wants something from you. There's no quiet time.

LEVS: Which one is harder: Full-time working for someone else, running your own business or full-time parenting?

COPELAND: Full-time parenting is definitely more of a grind.

LEVS: How else has the economy changed your lives as fathers?

CERONE: When you're a one-income family, and you have three mouths depending on you, it's a lot of stress and a lot of pressure.

LEVS: Ortez, you're the only one here with teenage kids. Is it easer to talk to them about the economy because theyıre older?

ORTEZ GUDE (single father of three): You know, it is easier to talk to them about it. But being a teenager is much different than it was during any of our time. I didn't have the pressure of needing to have the latest, greatest gadget. But they are also understanding because things are so widely communicated now.

COPELAND: We were at Wal-Mart the other day, and (my 5-year-old son) looked at this toy and goes, 'Daddy, I'd really like that, but you don't have a job. I can't have it.'

LEVS: What is better and what's worse about being a dad today versus what it was like for our dads?

GUDE: My father was the image of what a father was supposed to be. So I grew up, and (thought) I'm going to emulate that. Watch dads compare things to their parents Video

And I can tell you, it probably was quite challenging to my ex-wife, because I expected, I'm the provider, I'm the gatherer. I take care of that and you take care of home. I didn't have this concept that she needs a break or vacation because I just kind of thought, well, that's just what you do.

MAY: The mother, the wife, cooks and cleans and all that, and the father goes out to work and comes back home and gets fed and is the king of the house and goes to sleep? That's not in my house.

Sometimes, I wish it was in my house. That's not in my house.

MAY: But what I think it's doing is kind of recalibrating the balance of our family. Sometimes, I sit down with my daughter and talk to my daughter. Whereas I didn't necessarily have that with my father.


RIC RODRIGUEZ (married father of two): I cook with my girls sometimes. And we do dates. We go to the bookstore or something. It's something that probably didn't happen back then. But it's good. How can that be bad? Watch dads panel describe what "successful fatherhood" entails Video

What are your thoughts? Weigh in at our Newsroom blog

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