I keep meaning to flag my Thursday washingtonpost.com columns, which are -- sadly -- not often on at-home fatherhood. Still, the commenters are quite feisty, a little bit crazy, and do an excellent job of keeping me in my place. This week: Working for the Work-Obsessed.
I keep findings I have more of these in my del.icio.us account. I swear I'm getting to the bottom of the pile. Still -- other than the constant Mr. Mom references -- here's a nice Q&A from an at-home dad that includes this wonderful bit of truth:
Q: What kind of reaction do you get from men who aren't home with their kids?
A: Everybody's been very positive.... Some guys have said, ``I wish I could do that.''... It took my Dad a little getting used to.
Playing with Facebook: I'm Worried About Kids Today
In a fit of curiosity and networking, I succumbed to the buzz and joined Facebook a few weeks ago (note to all you young people: if I'm on it, it cannot possibly be hip anymore). Still, I was atonished at the brute number of groups our there. You could connect with anyone on any topic. Love Taco Bell? There's a place for you! Think Celine Dion is the best female recording artist of all time? There are a number of groups for you.
So, naturally, I was curious if there were any groups for at-home dads. The short answer is that yes, there are groups for SAHDs out there, but they are swamped by groups with names like Future Stay at Home Dads of America, whos college-aged member tend to view at-home fatherhood as an elaborate opportunity to make slightly misogynistic comments and fantasize about watching SportsCenter all day. I know these guys aren't the least bit interested in parenthood as anything but a punchline, but it *is* kind of a weird through-the-looking-glass thing.
June is traditionally the time to celebrate the average-Joe at-home dad, plying his trade and trying to find a place in the social world of suburbia or the heartland or Brooklyn or something, but there are always a couple of stories each year that profile active dads in environments that are not traditionally thought of as bastions of gender non-conformity. So kudos to Jaime Coston, profiled in Stars and Stripes pulling daddy duty on a military base (kudos, too, to the reporter for tracking down Kyle Pruett).
And June is also the month when -- for those in select cities (though not mine, alas) -- it is time to really start reading the box scores and thinking about the wild card race. But the fine publicists for the Pittsburgh Pirates also acknowledged Father's Day by pushing out a story about how Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson plans to cut his career short by a few years so that he can do the at-home dad thing. Naturally, I'll believe it when I see it, but it's nice to see the sentiment.
I think I'm getting to the bottom of the list of at-home dad coverage from Dad's Day. If I've missed something, please let me know.
I also have some new blogs to add to the blogroll, so if you've e-mailed in the last month, you should see a link in the next week or so. If you haven't e-mailed and want to be included, let me know. The only requirement: you have to be a self-decribed at-home dad who writes at least some about fatherhood.
The media mentions of at-home dads that I love best are the ones that treat at-home fatherhood as a perfectly normal job, not one that deserves fanfare or special attention. So I was kind of tickled that Miss Manners tackled an at-home dad's issue last week (mom was calling home a tad too often) as if it was any other martial/workplace issue. I can't say that the problem or the solution were particularly noteworthy, but I like the mainstreaming of domestic responsibilities for men.
We Will Soon Return to the Regularly Scheduled Programming
Man, one of the terrible side effects of being sideswiped by life (especially during the middle of a blogging effort) is that I've now completely lost my place. I have no idea what I was planning to post on, but I seem to remember that I still have some Dad's Day articles in the queue. Regular posting to resume soon. -- Brian
I suppose it's good news that the paid-parental-leave movement has gathered enough momentum that the powerful pro-business folks on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal now view paid leave as a threat to the fabric of society:
New York legislators want to require employers to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth of a child, an adoption, or for care of an ill spouse, parent, in-law or sibling. Maine wants its law to cover "domestic partners." A Georgia proposal would offer paid leave for school conferences, medical checkups and immunizations. You can see where this new job entitlement is headed.
The horror! Parenting taking a day off to take their child to the doctor! Or care for a sick parent! What wastrels! You really have to read the whole thing (which may not be available without a subscription) to get a feel, but suffice it to say that one of the most prominent arguments offered up is that there is a significant problem with people faking illnesses to take advantage of the leave.
I find it staggeringly hard to believe that the system is fraught with abuse. More likely that big business sees paid leave as a trend that is here to stay. Good news for us. Bad news for them.
Of all of the grassroots "parents rights" groups that have come and gone in my brief tenure as a parent, none have been quite as successful at capturing the enthusiasm of mothers as MomsRising.org, which has been pushing a fantastic agenda of smart agenda focusing on the workplace, healthcare and childcare.
They have now expanded beyond moms with a nifty site called Families Rising, which includes some great father's voices as part of their blog. ABout a zillion people have already noted the new site -- thanks to all who pointed it out.
The Miami Herald looked at the Hollywood dad archetypes and where they came from. Unsurprising, Mr. Mom makes the cut. Not sure Jack Butler is a hero, though:
STAY-AT-HOME DAD: Jack Butler in Mr. Mom. Michael Keaton became a star -- and a hero to stay-at-home fathers everywhere -- after learning how to separate the whites from the colors when doing the laundry, getting his young son to give up his security blanket and getting hooked on The Young and the Restless.
The News Sun in the Chicago burbs has a nice, standard at-home dad story, but the real story is the sidebar that runs alongside the story. Looks like a mini-convention!:
DadStock on June 30
A Lakemoor man will be hosting stay-at-home dads from around the country for a day of relaxation later this month.
Todd Krater, the father of two sons ages six and two, will host DadStock at his home on June 30.
The event is expected to draw between 12 and 20 stay-at-home dads from around the country, said Krater, 34. He planned the event last month as a way for stay-at-home dads to network and share experiences.
So far, dads from Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, New Jersey and Massachusetts have committed to a day of barbecue and hanging out.
For more information, contact Krater at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Coming Straight Outta Austin
Bonus points to any stories that include the UT research from earlier this year:
His recent survey of 215 stay-at-home fathers across the nation showed that most of them enjoy "average to moderately high" levels of satisfaction in their roles. That satisfaction depends on factors such as their definition of masculinity and how concerned they are about societal pressures, Rochlen found.
Prepare for the Deluge
I'm just going to start posting snippets of pieces published yesterday in an attempt to get through them all. If -- a day or two from now -- you still haven't seen your favorite, please let me know.
Eddie Rosales' pumped-up chest doesn't allow his arms to easily hang at his sides.His cuttoff sleeves reveal bulging biceps, a faded Raiders pirate tattoo on one arm and a freshly inked crucifix crossed with rifles on the other.
My hometown paper -- the Washington Post -- has put at-home dads on Page 1 today, which, naturally, makes me very happy. It is (like most Father's Day stories) heavy on anecdote. There is the usual note about isolation among the mommies ("Men tell stories of being excluded from mothers' groups"), an aside about lower standards about unimportant things ("stay-at-home dads ... generally don't care that their 6-year-old is stillwearing pajama bottoms at 3 p.m.), and an unusually good summary of the at-home dad stats.
Though a pretty routine story, the Post gets bonus points for quoting Andrea Doucet, and extra credit for mentioning that at-home dad convention.
More Father's Day Science
So I've taken some lumps over my panning of Time for the way it decided to marry biology and fatherhood in its very odd Dad's Day story. But please contrast that to the incredibly interesting Slate Magazine take on fathers, hormones and way we should care, which concludes with a great plea for more attention to the science of fatherhood:
Ignoring the physiological changes fathers undergo tends to let men off the parenting hook. Recognizing those changes, on the other hand, could make fathers feel more vital to child-rearing. For years, studies have shown (not that we really needed them to) that many men feel marginalized and anxious during pregnancy and the early weeks of their children's lives. But the nascent science of physiological fatherhood has already turned up evidence that shows that men's bodies are busy with their own preparations, even if What To Expect doesn't explain them. Men who worry that they're being thrust into fatherhood without ever learning how to parent might be (at least slightly) reassured to know that their bodies have begun to adapt. Armed with the knowledge that their hormone levels have shifted precisely so they'll be more apt to cuddle their newborns, men may feel entitled to do more of the soothing. Which can only be good for kids—and for tired moms. This Father's Day, it's time to thank dads for all their bodies do.
I know there are going to be about a zillion at-home dad Father's Day print stories over the next 24 hours or so, but I'm most interested in some of the audio I have heard on the topic for 2007. A lot of these are actually available as mp3 downloads, which is nice. Some won't be available for another day or two, but I'll post them as they become available.
Wise Words About Involved Fathering
Every once in a while, the folks behind my other endeavor, On Balance, run with something really extraordinary. Today is one of those days, with writer Joel Rose's musings on fatherhood for Dad's Day. Worth the read:
I'm not Mr. Mom. That's not how I look at myself. The boys have a mother. A wonderful mother. Circumstance dictates she works outside the home, I work in the home. We are parents together. I'm a father.
The world looks at a father who participates fifty-fifty in his child's upbringing as a hero. But I don't think of myself as a hero. I think of myself as privileged. I am privileged to be a father participating in my children's lives.
So true ...
[FYI: Having problems with the del.icio.us autoposts, so the posting of other interesting Father's Day stuff will come, just slower.] posted by Rebel Dad
9:54 AM |
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Every year, I try to keep up with a Father's Day deluge of stories about at-home dads, and each year it gets harder. This year, I'm setting up a daily autopost of all of my del.icio.us links, so if there's something you'd like to flag, feel free to either e-mail me or -- if you use del.icio.us, send me the links that way. I'm at del.icio.us/rebeldad. First group should autopost tonight ...
CareerBuilder every year polls dads to see if they would be willing to quit their job to stay home with the kids if they could swing it financially. I'm usually excited by this number, because it's so big. This year, it's 38 percent. That's a good number -- but down from 40 percent last year and 49 percent in 2005.
I've always found the survey to be a little suspect, and the declining numbers seem to confirm my suspicions that this isn't very rigorous. Plus, check out the 2007 press release and the 2006 press release. Pretty similar. I'm not sure they're taking this very seriously over there at CareerBuilder.
I tend to be wary whenever I hear big companies brag about how family-friendly they are -- I've found that family-friendly policies don't aways track with family-friendly actions in practice. So I submit to you with some reservations this document from Xerox, which gives real-world examples of how the company's policies are helping fathers.
For all I know, this is a genuine representation of how Xerox views dads. Or it could just be lip service. But I think the issue of workplace flexibility *for men* has been under the radar screen for so long that even lip service is a step in the right direction.
As I mentioned a couple of months back, a dad named Dana Glazer is working on a documentary called "Evolution of Dad." As part of the project, he pulled together an interesting, 10-minute Father's Day video. Worth a watch:
The folks at Hallmark are going to have a very good day on June 17.That's when more than 100 million of the company's ubiquitous cardswill be given to the 66 million dads across the U.S. in observation ofFather's Day. Such a blizzard of paper may be short of the more than150 million cards sold for Mother's Day, but it's still quite atribute. What's less clear is whether dads--at least as a group--havedone a good enough job to deserve the honor.
And goes downhill from there.
First: At the risk of sounding like I want my journalism all warm-and-fuzzy, what the heck is this magazine doing running a hit piece on dads *this week*? I get that not all dads are doing right by their kids and that there are some real problems there. And I enjoy reading about efforts to correct those problems. Time -- apparently -- is not. So what's next for the magazine? A child abuse feature for Mother's Day? A Christmas cover story announcing that Santa isn't real?
Second: What's up with the stats? Yes, it's true that dads spend an hour a day on what is defined as "child care." But that's pretty much where moms were in 1985 (so much for gender differences) and hardly evidence of our innate disinterest in parenting. But rather than calling for more sane work-life policies, Hrdy wonders aloud why monkey daddies make better patients.
Third: While we're talking about monkeys, I'd like to make a blanket condemnation of anyone who tries to explain extremely complex human social behavior by looking to animals. Look, I know there's a biological component to all of this. But that is swamped by the social component. The same goes for the study of indigenous people. It's interesting, but it doesn't come close to explaining why I make the choices I do.
Fourth: I find it remarkable that you can write a whole piece on fatherhood and not note how quickly it has changed -- and generally for the better -- in a relatively short amount of time. It's tough for even the sociologists to keep track of where fatherhood is nowadays, things are changing so fast. Time's piece utterly fails to even give a nod to those huge changes in social expectations.
I'm sure I could keep going ...
[Update: Some really good commentary to this one, including RebelMom. Click on the comments to read more.] posted by Rebel Dad
6:51 AM |
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Requests for Interviews
It's that time of year, and the press is looking. So if you fit the description, here are some of the reporter requests I've received:
My name is Monica Burge and I am a staff writer with the Northside Neighbor Newspaper in Atlanta (Buckhead) GA. I am looking for local stay at home dads for a feature article in our upcoming Father's Day edition. Do you know of any fathers in the Atlanta area that would be interested in an interview? (contact: email@example.com)
Journalism students are also looking:
My name is Caitlin O’Hanlon and I am currently a MA in Journalism student at the National University of Ireland, Galway. I am in the process of writing my thesis in the area of The New Generation of Parenting and one of my topic areas is stay-at-home dads. What I am looking for is any of these such males living in Ireland who would be willing to speak to me in the coming weeks, either via telephone or in person. The interviews will be about 15-30 minutes in length and my schedule is fairly flexible as I understand how busy you all are. I can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for anyone who might be interested, and I look forward to hearing from you :)
Apologies to those reporters whose requests I didn't post in time.
Two or three months ago, I wrote about a silly New York Magazine piece that appeared to be an effort to sneak a new parenting buzzword into the lexicon: momblocking. "Momblocking" is the term of art for the actions of a father who takes his role as primary caretaker so seriously that mom is prevented for substantial interaction with the kids. Now I'm happy that some people think that dads are now so involved that we have an epidemic of frustrated mothers who can't rip little Johnny away from dad long enough to change his diaper, but the whole thing seemed like the typical, overblown NY Mag piece.
So imagine my shock when kick-ass family and work reporter Katherine Lewis sent along this MSNBC piece from yesterday on ... momblocking. It is based largely on one anecdote, with a couple of other not-quite-momblocking examples and a lot of interesting but utterly unrelated stuff on at-home fathers. To the reporter's credit, she does try to get an expert to bless momblocking as a trend. Fortunately, she doesn't get much of an endorsement:
Dr. Craig Garfield, a pediatrician and researcher at Chicago's Northwestern University who specializes in the role of men in child-rearing, says it's still the norm for moms to act as the gatekeepers to fathers' involvement with their kids. “I’d still say it would be a unique father who is so confident in his approach to parenting as to block his partner,” Garfield says.
Still, I'll give props to the story just becayse it mentions the Stay At Home Dad Convention. Space is still available. Book your hotel room today. posted by Rebel Dad
11:34 AM |
Friday, June 08, 2007
The UK Government Gets in the Daddying Act
So the fine folks running the UK have decided to give first-time dads a little bit of a primer on the whole pregnancy-and-childbirth thing, publishing a booklet titled "37 Things Every Man Should Know Before He Becomes A Dad'. I'm not sure what to make of it -- we sure don't get government publications around here that look like this (trust me, I've written my share of government publications). And though I'm not on-board with all of the tips, any publication that gives car-seat tips, encourages sex and warns about the dangers of dealing with a handover and dealing with a baby at the same time is well worth a look.
As I mentioned at OB, I was kind of torn by the piece. The advice was generally spot-on, and I love -- love -- that Men's Health would take so much time to outline what active fatherhood looks like. An editor there once told me that they get a ton of response whenever they write about dads, and it's good to see them giving the readers what they want.
But the bigger question for me is whether there is really a way to "Raise Kids Like a Man," or if a man raising a kid is pretty much like a women doing the same thing. Don't get me wrong: if branding at-home fatherhood as something unique manly will get more people to consider it, I'll happily play along. But it seems like a stretch to me ...
I happen to like the Juggle blog at the Wall Street Journal, even if it competes (and competes well) with my own side project. But I have to admit to being puzzled by one of today's posts, titled The Parental Role Reversal: Can it Work?, which asked the question whether an at-home mom and a working dad could change places.
The answer, of course, is absolutely "yes," though the Juggle isn't so sure, highlighting the difficulties faced by the Scavo family, down on Wisteria Lane. Never mind that the Scavos are -- technically -- fictitious (or that the real-life example is of a success story). The commenters talk about how hard the transition can be, but let's face it -- transitions from work to home and vice versa are always tough, regardless of who is doing the transitioning. But that doesn't mean they don't work.
Let's Do the Time Warp Again
Before blogs, before listservs, before slowlane.com, before exahustive list of daddy playgroups, there was the At-Home Dad Newsletter from Peter Baylies. Peter today began putting up old copies of the newsletter on his blog, which serve as both interesting reading and a reminder of how important that publication was in creating the at-home dad community we have today.
Last week, the Washington Post devoted a great many words to asking the question "What Does It Mean to Be Manly?," but the piece missed a fairly important point -- being manly, nowadays, includes being an active father. This is a message that is being drilled at just about every level of society. But the author, Laura Sessions Stepp, doesn't mention fatherhood at all. She's immersed in the teenage demographic, so she spends a lot more time wondering what kinds of boys can get away with wearing green Polo shirts.
That's too bad. There is an actual revolution going on -- not in what Johnny Depp wears around his wrist -- but how a new generation of fathers is looking at their responsibilities in life. Too bad Sessions Stepp seems to miss that.
Coming Soon ...
... I know that things have been quiet around here. I expect that to change soon. There's a stack of interesting stuff coming your way (and it's not even time for the father's day stories!)