It's the time of year for navel-gaving retrospectives and starry-eyed futurism, and I suppose that this site shouldn't be any different. I'm not brave enough to make predictions about 2006, but I can offer some perspective on the five most interesting stay-at-home-dad stories of 2005. Here they are, in ascending order:
5. FMLA survives, for now. In February, the word went out that the Family and Medical Leave Act was due to be gutted. But the year has ended without the ax falling, thank goodness. FMLA is probably responsible for a fair number of men spending time with newborns that would otherwise be impossible, and paternity leave is a bit of a gateway drug into at-home dadism. Let's hope the law remains untouched in the new year.
4. The blogosphere explodes. There were about 25 at-home dad blogs on my blogroll a year ago. Now there are about 60. More fathers took to the internet to share their experiences, thereby reducing isolation and helping forge a new kind of community.
3. Parenting magazines notice us. The national parents magazines continue to pretend that dads exist only marginally, but on more than a couple occassions, they slipped up and wrote thoughtfully about fathers. Notable: the September Parents, which featured an anecdote headlined "We have daddy day care," the October Parents, which had a piece on "Daddy Power," and the November Parents, which featured extended excerpts from Eric Snowdeal's outstanding blog about his preemie.
2. SAHDs go mainstream (and no one cares): This year saw at-home fathers characters on Desperate Housewives and 7th Heaven. And no one really noticed. Despite my close inspection of DH this year, the SAHD character, Tom Scavo, hardly figured in any of the plotlines. Though RebelMom thinks he could stand to shave and change out of his sweatpants every once in a while, I've been impressed that the writers have managed not to raise a single bumbling dad stereotype. (Good move. The already-forgotten summer reality show, Meet Mr. Mom, did nothing but traffic in those stereotypes. And it bombed. Big time.)
1. Rocketing numbers. Almost no one noticed that the number of at-home dads was up 50 percent in 2004 as compared to the 2003 numbers. And though I hate the way the census folks count us, the giant leap suggests there's something big going on.
The piece makes me happy for three main reasons: 1) It spends more time than any other piece I've seen laying out the census caveats. 2) It gives prominent mention to a blogger (Jeff of No, Ma'am), though a mention of the URL would have been nice. 3) It dings "Mr. Mom."
All in all, it's a great example of the local-at-home-dad profile. And it couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of guys (you might recognize some of the names from the comments on this site. Now you can check out the photos to better visualize who these fellows are).
The Academic View
I don't know what's going on up there in Canada, but as far as I can tell, the most thoughtful analysis of fatherhood going on in North America is happening north of the border. If you used the links in yesterday's post and surfed around, you probably already saw this most insightful paper, published in something called the Ivey Business Journal. It's by Linda Hawkins and a guy named Kerry Daly, who has cropped up here before.
The paper is titled "Fathers and the Work-Family Politic," and it's well worth the read. The paper lays out what are probably obvious facts to anyone reading this site: men are participating more at home, that pays huge dividends for their family, and the working world remains ignorant (or hostile) to these emerging family needs. Interestingly, the authors suggest that there are unique elements of work-life balance for fathers and that there should be a male-centric approach to the problem, in addition to a mother-centric approach.
I'd quote long passages here, but I'd end up posting the whole thing. If you're interested, check it out.
There are also a number of fatherhood-support organizations -- most of them Canadian -- mentioned in the article, and I plan to check 'em and report back. posted by Rebel Dad
5:58 AM |
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Back in the Saddle
Ahhh. A couple of days away from the electronics, and I'm back and ready to post. Good news, too, because there are a couple of items worth checking out. For starters, check out piece from the Peoria (IL) Journal Star about an at-home dad-led family working through some hard times. Best of luck to the Thousands.
For a more academic treatment of SAHDs, check out post (and comments) at TPM Cafe (a spinoff of the lefty political blog Talking Points Memo.) I haven't replied in the comments, but I'm weighing it. The post is about a guy considering the move to at-home fatherhood, and wondering what that will bring personally and professionally. It certainly sounds like the poster, DragonFlyEye, doesn't think he can afford to stay home (or even that he'll enjoy it), but he's being pulled in that direction.
He's stuck, I fear, in an old way of thinking that says you have to work or stay home, and that there's no middle ground. One of the most freeing things I've learned by talking to dads doing the primary caretaker thing is that many of these guys have an outlet: a few hours a week of server maintainence, a freelance article or two, a bit of sales work for the family business. They've created some flexibility. DragonFlyEye sounds like he has the same opportunity; I hope he seizes it. Technorati Tags: stay+at+home+dad, dad, media, SAHD
Final Convention Post of the Year
I've been staying busy enough with site tweaks that I haven't gotten around to finishing up my convention items. For starters, there is now an additional convention photo set up at Flickr from Canadian Tim. He's tagged his photos with "2005ahdconvention," so I've added the same tag to all my convention photos. Flickr-lovers, enjoy.
Also: I've now thrown three videos up on the web -- three conference-goes explaining why they attended and what irks them about perceptions of at-home fathers:
Final Forum Thoughts
Thanks to all who have weighed in on the idea of a rebeldad.com forum. I've decided to pull the effort off-line because I don't see it doing anything that the vibrant dadstayshome forum isn't already doing. Having two forums with the same crowd seems a bit silly. I'll put a link up to the forum in the next few days, and I'd encourage anyone who hasn't checked it out to take a look.
Instead, I'll probably build out the rebeldad wiki as the need arises. The wiki is a bit more specific, and it can be tracked with RSS, which makes it easier for me to keep my eye on it.
So that will do it for site monkeying for the time being. Back to the at-home dad news (and convention video!) later this week. posted by Rebel Dad
5:13 AM |
Monday, December 19, 2005
Not long after I created the rebeldad.com forum reader TK pointed out that there already exists a large and frequently visited at-home dad forum at www.dadstayshome.com/dadforum. I have to confess that I hadn't been there in some time. The dadstayshome.com home page has the feel of an overambitious, under-updated page, so I'd assumed that things were pretty dormant there. Not so.
The most remarkable thing about the dadstayshome forum was its isolation -- that community seems utterly cut off from the Yahoo! groups/convention clustering of at-home dads, and it was obviously not on my radar screen. As far as I can tell, despite a community of 300+, no one there even mentioned the convention. So some cross-pollination would be in order.
So I'm in something of a bind. If readers here feel there's a distinct need for a rebeldad forum, I'll keep it. If not, I'll fold up and link to the dadstayshome.com one. Let me know in the comments. posted by Rebel Dad
5:13 AM |
Friday, December 16, 2005
As you've probably noticed, I've been testing Google ads on this page. With some of my recent behind-the-scenes changes, the cost of maintaining the site grew a little, and I wanted to see if I could recoup some of those costs. You'll probably be happy to hear that the experiment was largely a failure. The ads weren't particularly well-targeted, and I've pulled them down. I may experiment with some other options, but for now we're back to ad-free.
But if I'm trying selling our, you deserve an improved rebeldad.com at the very least. So I've launched a rebeldad.com forum where you can swap stories and advice. I had a reader ask me if I knew of any good fatherhood forums and had to admit that I didn't. So I've created a new one. Have at it.
(I should note that I have no desire to build one of those little-used forums that litter the web. I'm giving this six months, and if no community develops, I'll take it offline.)
Also: if you read rebeldad.com as an RSS feed (and you should), you should see some subtle changes within the feed, including simple ways to e-mail posts, add interesting post to del.icio.us and see comments. Those items are only available when you use the feeds.feedburner.com/rebeldad feed. They won't be seen if you're using www.rebeldad.com/atom.xml. posted by Rebel Dad
5:53 AM |
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Caitlin Flanagan Returns
The lifeblood of blogs appears to be a steady stream of stuff to get really, really worked up about. Everyone has their own favorite source: O'Reilly sets off the liberals, Hillary sets off the conservatives, Google (of late) sets off the geeks. And for a long time, Caitlin Flanagan was the go-to writer to get me steamed. But about a year and a half ago, she moved to the New Yorker, penned a pretty mild piece, wrote a couple of other articles and then pretty much disappeared. (Yeah, I know she wrote a review of the Raising Boys Without Men book a couple of months ago for the Atlantic, but she didn't really cut loose.)
So she returned this week in the New Yorker with an altogether interesting history of Mary Poppins, which seems to be surprisingly free of the working-mother-bashing that so infused her last stab at writing about nannies. In short, there's not much in there to raise my blood pressure.
But good news is afoot, at least when it comes to future blogging. Flanagan will soon give us plenty to chew over (from the "Contributors" section):
Caitlin Flanagan ("Becoming Mary Poppins," p. 40) will publish a book about modern motherhood, "To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife," next spring.
Should be one hell of a book. posted by Rebel Dad
9:45 PM |
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
I'm all business this morning. Two items caught my eye last week that suggested that there are companies out there that recognize that the next great employment wave of the future will rest on ensuring that workers are happy and free to structure their lives in the way that most benefits them. And the biggest contributor to happiness for most workers is some sense of work-life balance.
At google, we think business guru Peter Drucker well understood how to manage the new breed of "knowledge workers." After all, Drucker invented the term in 1959. He says knowledge workers believe they are paid to be effective, not to work 9 to 5, and that smart businesses will "strip away everything that gets in their knowledge workers' way." Those that succeed will attract the best performers, securing "the single biggest factor for competitive advantage in the next 25 years."
I have no idea if Google walks the walk: it's one thing to offer great fringe benefits to induce workers to overwork. It's quite another to offer fringe benefits that truly encourage balance and happiness. I once worked at a business that -- for a period of time -- catered in lunch. It was great food. And it was, invariably, eaten at desks, lest we miss a moment of work.
The other great item was from Business 2.0, where leading lights of the business world were asked to give their "Golden Rule." Here's the one from Shelly Lazarus, chairman and CEO, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide:
I am constantly asked by women how to balance careers with family. I know from experience that there is no silver-bullet answer; if there were, we would be seeing more women in the corner office. The truth is that balance is achieved through a host of individual dance steps, from being willing to suffer a little domestic chaos to insisting that performance be measured by results, not just time spent in the office. Unless you love your work, you won't find the balance. How can you, if you resent the time away from family spent at a tedious job? I fell into a job and a company I loved. I never wanted to leave and never worried that my family suffered for it. Finding fulfilling work should be an early and deeply pursued part of everyone's career path. This may sound soft and mushy, but happy people are better for business. They are more creative and productive, they build environments where success is more likely, and you have a much better chance of keeping your best players.
Building out the at-home dad resources. Regular readers may notice a couple of subtle changes to the page (and very eagle-eye readers may have noticed some other beta testing going on this weekend). The big change is that there are two additional links in the green bar at the top of the page. The "Wikipedia" link takes you to the newly created "Stay At Home Dad" Wikipedia page.
The other link is even more interesting. It's my attempt to create a "lens" (see the ebook here if you're really curious) with a new service called Squidoo. The idea is to create an easy-to-update reference site for at-home fatherhood issues. As much as I like to pretend that this site can give you all the information about fatherhood at a glance, rebeldad.com really is a blog -- a constantly updating stream of information. On the other side, slowlane.com is a rich resource that is never updated. My Squidoo lens is an effort to bridge the gulf between too-topical-to-be-a-good-reference (a blog) and too-static-to-be-useful (most other sites). So please check it out and let me know what's wrong, what's missing, what you think. (There ought to be an Oakton section in there. I'll build that out in the next week or two. Anything else I'm forgetting?)
(Oh, and there are a couple of new links on the blogroll. The next modification will be a deletion: I have a growing number of blogs on there that haven't been updated in some time ...)
There's new media out there, too. You'll be well-served to check out this Boston Globe column on at-home dads. It touches on an interesting thing: the way that dads often define themselves by their part-time work, in addition to (but not instead of) their parenting role. It's a key point to make if we're going to enter a brave new workplace: in an ideal world, we'll be better able to blend work and family, to the point where we don't have to choose one mantle or the other. posted by Rebel Dad
12:24 AM |
Friday, December 09, 2005
We made Wikipedia. A couple of years ago, someone asked me why I didn't up and start a Wikipedia page for at-home dads. My answer was less than encouraging: I didn't have the time to throw into such a project, and I wasn't entirely sure how to go about creating an encyclopedia piece on stay-at-home dads. What do you include?
But Green Bay dad Bruce Cantrall has taken up the challenge, and he this week established a page for "Stay At Home Dad". It will be interesting to see how the page evolves -- what gets included and what gets ignored -- and may even spur me to register and begin monkeying with this whole Wikipedia thing. I'm thrilled that Bruce is involved. We spent some time together at the convention, and he is one of the funniest of an already funny group. (Bruce's suggestion for revamping the convention? Figure out where the deadbeat dads schedule their convention, then challenge 'em to a hockey game.)
The glory (and -- especially lately -- the grand liability) is that anyone can edit the thing, so if you want to help Bruce out (or correct him), jump in there and try it out.
I'm always happy to see new SAHD resources come on line, and we can expect another major resource site to emerge in the next week or so, too. I'll keep you posted.
Apologies to those of you who read this via the RSS feed. The server change took the feed offline, but it's back now. Apologies. (Thanks to Chip for spotting the problem.) posted by Rebel Dad
5:19 AM |
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I've never been mistaken for a male nanny, despite my regular efforts to dress like the 19-year-old skate punk I once was. Apparently, ATD Kristopher Kaiyala isn't so lucky. He pens a piece on MSN about the comments at-home dads get when they're out and about ("Babysitting today?" etc.) It's nothing that hasn't been said before, and I actually cringed a bit when I read it. I think one of the surest signs that the at-home dad revolution is upon us will occur when no father is ever be assumed to be anything but the kid's caregiver. So it looks like we have a little further to go.
Finally, the Zero Boss, one of the most popular and thoughtful daddy blogs, is shutting down his blog. Jay, who will continue to write -- just not as personally -- at Blogging Baby, will be sorely missed.
There's a new addition to the RebelDad line of swag. Fellow AHD Convention-goes Dayv has begun production of laser-engraved RebelDad flasks. Four-ounce flasks are $15.95. Eight-ounce flasks are $16.95, and 12-ounce flasks are $18.95. $3.00 shipping. (Additional details here.) If you're interested, contact Dayv directly at email@example.com. In the same spirit of rampant consumerism, the RebelDad store is having a two-day sale: save $5 on orders of $20 or more (code HOL5) and $10 on orders of $40 or more (code HOL10). posted by Rebel Dad
5:33 AM |
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Kind of slow around here. I'm mostly waiting for the Details Magazine story to hit, probably late this winter. A reporter from the men's mag trekked out to the convention, and I am exceedingly curious about the narrative he's pulling together.
This LA Times story (reg. required) from last week caught my eye. It's a Boomer college prof named David Gelernter passing judgment on the kids who he now teaches. It's a strange contrarian piece, arguing -- I think -- that we're worse off as a society with so many college graduates working (instead of raising kids) and so many of the workers so hyper-focused on career. (I think he believes that not enough college-education women are staying home. Can someone get him a subscription to the New York Times?)
Now I don't want to suggest that college isn't full of humorless gunners who believe that their whole life hinges on their final in European Fascism. But the men and women getting spit out of college nowadays are our best hope for building a new workforce. They willing to explore flexible schedules and not as stiff when it comes to gender roles. We may very well be entering a period of revolution restructuring of the work world -- led by Gelernter's students and million like them. posted by Rebel Dad
5:26 AM |
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Time to clear out the pile of stuff that's been accumulating:
Opt-Out Revolution stories are a farce. I've postedagain and again about the silly stories on upper-class women fleeing the workforce to stay home. It turns out that it's not only the reasoning behind these stories that is flawed. The demographic trend of women leaving the workplace in larger numbers because of children doesn't actually exist, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Somehow, I'm willing to bet the stories will keep coming anyway.
Ad man Neil French was canned earlier this year for suggesting that women couldn't hack it in his industry. Now he's amended his remarks to point out that regardless of sex, kids make you a bad worker (They are "incompatible with the long hours needed to become a top creative.") It's a stupid statement on so many levels, not the least of which is that people who spend a lot of time around kids are, almost by definition, the most creative people on the planet. (Thanks to Chris of (Only) Man of the House for the tip.)
Finally, if you're curious to read an angry, trapped-in-the-50s rant arguing somewhat incoherently that men shouldn't be seen as the parenting equals of women, check out this townhall.com column. posted by Rebel Dad
5:06 AM |