Friday, January 31, 2003

My Life Is A Sitcom update: it looks like Rebel Dad/general lunatic Joe Mozian and his family are now out of the running. On the show's message boards, though, the vote was heavily pro-Joe. (Side note: on the boards, Joe makes the point that he's not really doing stand-up anymore. So apologies if I've misstated the record here.)

Thursday, January 30, 2003

New York City's local ABC station checked in with a nice at-home father report tied to the state of the economy.

The report focused on a gentleman named Norman Marzan (not to be confused with more-famous at-home father Joe Mozian). The best bit from the story: "Norman's advice? If you're strong enough from within to fight societal pressures, then in time you'll see the payoff in your child."

Damn right.

One other note: the report was titled "One Local Family Shows Us Why They Chose An Increasingly Common Lifestyle," but never gets into why this is an "increasingly common lifestyle." Rebel Dad is fascinated by the idea that we're a growing bunch, but the way the government tracks this stuff is woefully inadequate. Beers to anyone who can describe where we are and where we're going, numberwise, better than the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya' (as Jim Anchower would say), but there hasn't been a whole lot percolating in the Rebel Dad world. (Plus, there's been a lot percolating in the real world, and I'm still digesting the State of the Union.)

Instead, I've been catching up on my reading. I finished The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden, a damn fine analysis of how it is that caregivers get shafted at every turn in the United States, first by being forced out of the workforce by policies designed in utter disregard for family life and then being economically marginalized because of the decision to serve as a full-time caregiver.

Crittenden makes to interesting points early in the book. In a footnote to the very first page, she notes that "mother," as used in the book, should be considered a gender-neutral term that applies to "anyone who is the primary caregiver to another person." That was a nice touch, I thought, even as the rest of the book is resolutely non-gender-neutral.

Seven pages later, though, she mentions off-hand that the long-time feminist argument that the best way to ensure equality is to make sure that men share in childcare has largely come up empty, and she spends the rest of the book looking at ways to better treat and compensate mothers. This is a laudable goal -- and her arguments are compelling -- but I'd like to think that the idea of men playing a bigger role in that traditionally mother-centered sphere isn't a loser. Rebel Dads are a minority, but not such a small group that our impact can safely be ignored when trying to figure out how to value caregiving.

Caregivers need more support, regardless of the sex. But caregiving needs more diversity, too. Men are part of the answer, and many of Crittenden's suggestions (making part-time work more common and more financially viable, making full-time caregiving less of an economic black hole) would have the happy effect of making caregiving easier for everyone, dad and mom.

And that's an cause I can rally behind.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Just a quick entry to note that I attended the first local session of Hogan Hilling's Proud Dads group. Though any sort of fathering group for new (or old) dads is not the kind of thing that's going to make the papers, it's worthy of note. Rather than telling fathers how to be or act, it was a chance for a group of guys to share with each other tips and frustrations. It's almost a given that fathers are lone-wolf types when it comes to parenting and aren't likely to sit around the kitchen and cleaning stories. But the deeper I get into this whole "dad" thing, the more I'm realizing that fathers have lots of cleaning stories to tell. We just lack other dads around to tell 'em to.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

As much as I try to keep current with at-home dad goings-on, I have to apologize for missing a biggie: the emergence of Dan Mulhern, the husband of Michigan's new governor, as at-home dad advocate. He's a new Rebel Dad, but he's taking the bull the the horns. He even held a Men's Forum to discuss where men like him fit into the social fabric: "The election of Michigan's first female governor is a huge moment for us as men to celebrate," Mulhern said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "Doors have been opened for us to play a role that our dads could not play."

This has apparently been a big deal in Michigan. It was mentioned and celebrated in columns and news stories.

The sad fact of at-home dadhood is that it just isn't much of a movement -- we're too busy making our homes the best they can be to bother making it our personal crusade. By definition, we're not high-profile people. We have no real lobby, and there are few spokesmen for the advantages and options that the lifestyle makes possible. That's what makes Dan Mulhern a special guy -- when the spotlight hit him, he illuminated what it is that we do and why it's important.

The tongue-in-cheek phrase for the admission that one is an at-home dad is "coming out of the pantry." And I can't think of a better coming out that the one Dan pulled.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Ann Landers's former editors have their own advice column now, called Annie's Mailbox, and today they respond to the query of a working mother who thinks her at-home father should be cleaning more. The answer: "Charlie should be doing the bulk of the daily housework since he is home all day while the children are in school. But that doesn't mean you can't do a little more."

It reminds me a Jay Massey quote once, that goes something like this (apologies to Jay ... I'm doing this from memory): "People ask who cleans the house. But when they walk in the door, it becomes clear who cleans: nobody."

Thursday, January 23, 2003

At-home dads in the news today: Jeff Menard.

Also noteworthy: somewhere north of Philly, there's a "Men's Gathering" with a session on "Mr. Mom - Men as Child Rearers." As cliched as anything having to do with the phrase "Mr. Mom" is, it is nice to see that kind of support. The focus on the meeting is on support, reducing the isolation that men can face.

Still, annual gatherings can do only so much for connectedness -- even regular At-Home Dad Convention goers report isolation as their biggest issue. The Internet is clearly a great connective tool, and the Dad-to-Dad groups are a powerful force, but I'd love to hear from anyone with innovative ways to keep fathers connected to one another.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

A Rebel Dad Hall of Fame candidate: Chris Shields.

And a sweet mention of the importance of an at-home father from a mother that's chasing her dreams. Says Floridian Gerri Moll, who has been named to the board that oversees Florida's public universities: "It's a good thing my husband's retired so he can be a stay-at-home dad," she said. "I could never do all this if he wasn't. I couldn't do it without him."

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

One of my goals with this list is to keep personal information at a minimum. I have a wonderful life, full of joy and high comedy, but I'm not under any illusion that I'm interesting enough to sustain a blog focused on my own exploits.

ABC Family channel reinforced that yesterday. The channel is running a pseudo-competition to find the American family whose life would best make a sitcom (called, creatively "My Life is a Sitcom"), and they pulled out a guy named Joe Mozian and his family as one of the competitors. Joe is an at-home dad and one heck of a goofball. It doesn't rely on the Dad-can't-cook motif or the ain't-it-funny spectacle of a guy doing the laundry.

It's early yet in the series, and there are plenty more unconventional families to come, but I imagine fellow Rebel Dads have already picked a favorite. As it turns out, Joe has a website. And a book. And a part time gig as a comedian And, I would guess, a reputation at the playground. And while I'm not a dull guy, I just can't compete with this.
This is my official re-launch. I'll have more of an "about" section, explaining what I'm getting at by the site, later this week. The short version: I've been an at-home father for a year, and I have been captivated by the reaction of others. By our family's thinking, having the father stay home wasn't a radical decision -- it was the best choice given economics, temperment and family goals.

I've become curious about the other fathers that are my position -- regardless of how they made the decision to stay home -- and how society views those men. I hope to link to any media story about at-home fathers I can find and offer whatever analysis I can on research I dig up. On paper, at-home fathers hardly exist. There is little good research, few realiable statistics, no true national spokesman for the idea that men, too, are viable primary caretakers.

If you run across a link I may have missed or would like to bring some element of at-home fatherhood to my attention, please drop me a line at Please note if you're willing to allow me to quote from your letter in this forum.

As at-home dad extraordinaire Hogan Hilling is fond of saying: Keep on Daddying,
The Rebel Dad