Monday, March 31, 2003

Just when you thought I was done with Ann Crittenden who has written so thoughtfully on how mothers (and primary caregivers, more generally) get the shaft, I have more dispatches from her latest effort, the awkwardly titled group Mothers Ought to Have Equal Rights.

As has been mentioned before, the central thrust of M.O.T.H.E.R. is a wish list of societal and legal changes that would value caregiving in a real and meaningful sense. And to calculate that value, the group has a survery to determine the value to a household. It's a neat tool, and it focuses on the end-all, be-all yardstick in 21st century America: dollars and cents.

(As always, I wish 'em the best of luck, but their timing looks to be tough. They're promoting a march on Washington on Mother's Day. Sadly, I'm not sure that Washington will be paying attention to that particular issue ...)

Friday, March 28, 2003

Everyone interested in making sure that every man has a chance to "slay a bear," please raise your hand. The line comes from a Washington Times story that goes on to note "By the '90s, the "sensitive man" became popular. He is the ponytailed poet, the stay-at-home dad, the man who brags about being "in touch with his feminine side." Not that such a silly statement feeds stereotypes or anything.

But lest you think that the we're at the beginning of a sad era of renewed gender roles, let me present this Indianapolis Star article that should probably provide a blueprint for the modern family. It's authenic parenting at its best.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

This shouldn't be your first source for war information, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the intersection of the war and at-home dads. The Associated Press has this report on a dad left behind when his wife went off to battle. The subject of the story -- David Klemisch -- is doing just fine, thank you, and Rebel Dad wishes for a quick reunion of husband and wife.

The story, while focued on Klemisch, did drop one interesting stat: "6.9 percent of military spouses are men." Not bad.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Where the heck have I been, you ask? The real answer isn't very sexy (it's time to pay the taxman, so I've been a bit swamped), so let me run right into some quick Rebel Dad business.

For starters, I received my issue of Parenting magazine earlier this month and turned to my new favorite section on work-family balance. As far as I'm concerned, that's a hugely important part of the magazine. Almost everyone struggles with who should work/how much/how hard, so it's nice that the publication takes some time to explore those issues. It would be even nicer if they used as much pulp as they do for the beauty section, but that's a rant for another time.

This month, there's a helpful article on making a little bit of extra money at home, with some established companies you can work for at home with few problems. Company number one: Avon Cosmetics.

So much for sex-blind content. I can deal with the idea of holding a Tupperware party, but I can't imagine anyone sitting down to write a column about job opportunities for moms AND dads and leading with the Avon ladies. It suggests us guys cut out of the loop from the start.

There's probably been oodles of other Rebel Dad pieces I've missed over the past week or so ... I'll do my best to get to them sooner, rather than later.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Very little, somewhat late: I tried to post yesterday, but a mysterious problem with Blogger rendered my efforts useless.

There wasn't much media chatter over the weekend -- and I haven't seen much interesting over the past day, either. There is a quickie at-home dad politics watch on a dad running for trustee of some place called Village of the Branch, and a dad quoted in a story about the first playgroup (!?!) in a place called Citrus Springs.

I enjoyed the latter piece, mostly because it has nothing to do with at-home dads. The dad quoted is treated like any other parent who chooses to be a caregiver. It was nice -- the implication was one of accepance. And while I get not-always-so-secret-glee out of being unique, I do appreciate it when the Rebel Dad likestyle is treated as ho-hum.

Friday, March 14, 2003

A new topic to beat to death: Daddy Day Care a new firm starring Eddie Murphy as an out-of-work dad who founds a day-center that uses "fairly unconventional and sidesplitting methods of caring for children" (Sony Picture's words, not mine). The film is slated to open in early May, and I am already angling to get tickets. I'm just buzzing with curiousity.

I should have seen this coming. Stay-at-home dad extraordinaire Buzz McClain mentioned the film to me at a Christmas cocktail party as part of a heartfelt why-are-movie-dads-ALWAYS-protrayed-as-bumbling-morons discussion. (See Keaton, Michael: Mr. Mom) Buzz was not optimistic about the prospect of seeing dad-dom represented by Pluto Nash.

But under the any-news-is-good-news view of the media, this could be a goldmine. Perhaps the movie will launch a thousand profiles, as local TV stations and newspapers seek to piggyback off of the flick with cute stories about real "Daddy Day Cares." Perhaps a lot of Rebel Dads will get the chance to tell their stories. That would be good, no?

(I am presuming the film will riff on the idea that fathers have lots of love to give and just about zero parenting skills. I am not deeply bothered by this. such characterization are, of course, untrue, but Eddie Murphy comedies are not designed to serve as a mirror for society. God forbid anyone use the Nutty Professor as an object lesson on bioethics and clinical research protocols.)

So I'm taking a poll: "Daddy Day Care" -- a trainwreak-in-waiting or good, old-fashioned dumb fun?

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

We're funny guys. On the heels of at-home dad Joe Mozian's near-miss with fame (he was, of course, the comic head-of-household for one of the families on ABC Family's "My Life Is A Sitcom" show), comes a report about another at-home dad with a comic side. The Indianapolis Star has a story about a dad named Kevin Burke, who has a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter and an after-bed stand-up routine apparently based -- not surprisingly -- on poop, booger and gender role jokes.

I'd love to hear reviews from anyone who catches his act in Indy. Perhaps I'll send an update the next time I'm in the Hoosier state ...

(It's worth noting that according to Kevin's bio, he has been on Oprah. Does that mean Hogan has competition in the boy-toy department?)

Monday, March 10, 2003

Today: threads (but no common threads). There's a slightly strange at-home dad at-home dad profile in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which was once Rebel Dad's hometown paper. It's about a dad with a home-based business who is wrestling with a divorce and making sure his kids come first. It's in the business section, so I think it's designed to a profile of the home-based business, but that leaves me wanting. So does the part about being an at-home dad ("He hired a nanny to help out. She often called in sick, so Handley would have to put down his work to tend to the kids."

I give the guy all the credit in the world for being there for his kids, and I wish him the best of luck. I just wish I learned more about at-home parenting (like how you start, how it makes you feel). I didn't get that.

Politics update: there's a Fort Lauderdale at-home dad named Carl Lanke running for a City Commission seat. ("I have five major issues: reducing the city's millage rate, championing more resources for Miramar schools, making local government more efficient, revising the city's charter to better reflect the city today and instituting term limits for elected city officials."

And a research update: British researchers say women want to keep traditional work-family roles. I don't buy it.

Friday, March 07, 2003

It must be the season for profiles of the at-home dad trend. Latest in line is the San Jose Mercury News, which does an anecdote-heavy but otherwise nice piece on local at-home dads.

I'm sure you all have the same question: has the author, Michelle Guido, found any definitive stats on whether us at-home dads are on the increase? Will Rebel Dad be forced to send beers to her under his longstanding beer-for-data proposal? The answer, sadly, is "no." The data she cites for the increase comes from Business Week. So my data quest continues, unabated.

One strand that Guido doesn't really pick up on (perhaps because it's hard to find the numbers -- see the preceding paragraph) is the impact of the economy on at-home dad rates. By traditional thinking (see the Census Department's best stab at the issue) a bad economy should mean a boom in at-home dads, and Silicon Valley should be filled with dot-com-dads who had the opportunity to become Rebel Dads handed to them on a pink sheet. Though I imagine it's an unknowable question, I'd love to have some idea on what the past few years has meant for the Bay area parenting mix.
It's always nice to see public thank you notes to at-home dads, and one particularly heartwarming one is in a just-published newspaper column. The gentleman from Fayetteville, NC is noted only by his first name (Don), but he sounds like a wonderful representative for the cause (in a military town, no less).

"I know there are other dads in his shoes in our community. I hope that their neighborhoods have accepted them as unconditionally as ours has accepted Don. Neighborhoods need guys to assist with plumbing problems and to play catch with the little ones who miss their own dads. Thanks, Don, for doing all these things and more in my neighborhood."

The author makes the fair point that Don doesn't deserve extra credit for being an at-home dad -- he's just doing what tens of millions of women do -- but that he should be recognized as pretty special nonetheless. Amen.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

With apologies to Mickey Kaus, I'd like to throw out a quick BookSkipper link (modeled on Kaus's SeriesSkipper concept). For those interested in Ann Crittenden's ideas from her well-done book but unwilling to drop the $20 bucks and many hours it would take to read it, coverage of a Crittenden speech by by Princeton's student newspaper pretty much hits the highlights.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

What is it about them Canadians? The National Post has again come through with another nice at-home dad piece (RD readers will remember a four-day, first person series the conservative Canadian daily ran last month). This time, we had what was close to the most complete coverage of at-home dadism I've seen in a long while. It was focused entirely on Canada, and it hit all of the big issues. Heather Sokoloff, who wrote the story, will be getting a nice note from me.

Some highlights: "Fathers such as Scaldwell are becoming less of a rarity. The numbers are small, but growing. In 2002, 110,700 Canadian men identified themselves as stay-at- home dads, up from 80,300 in 1997, an increase of 38%, according to Statistics Canada." I'm still searching Statistics Canada for those particular stats, but if they exist, color me impressed. I'll assume that the U.S. at-home dad trend more or less mirrors Canada, giving me the kind of dose of hard numbers that makes me happy.

Another bit that made me smile: "Chodura's hockey friends look at him admiringly, and say, "Wow, I wish I could do that." But he doesn't buy it. "If they really wanted to do it, they would," he says." The dad in question is making Rebel Dad's fundamental point: a lot of men could make the choice to stay-at-home. It ain't economics or parenting skills that stands in the way. The big obstacle is the silly expectations of what men do, informed by years of Donna Reed episodes and laundry detergent commericals.

I'm going to keep searching for the source of the Statisics Canada numbers. If someone finds them before me, please let me know. The usual finder's fee (beers) will apply.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Thank goodness for Trevor, the Verizon guy who finally got me back up and running, digitally.

Of course, I have a backlog of items, and I'll have to work from the most recent news, namely this transcript from a Kent, Ohio radio station. Nothing special here, just a nice profile of an at-home dad, hitting the usual topics. It's worth noting that the at-home dad featured is, like Rebel Dad, a part-time worker. The makes one of the links included with the story especially instructive of how little data we have. The link points to the My Daddy Takes Care of Me Census report from a decade ago. It's old data, though it does a passable job of classifying Gerry Vall as an at-home dad, definitional task that not every governmental effort succeeds at ...

To clear out the queue of stuff that built up over the past week, I'd like to point you to nation's largest paper. If you get the Wall Street Journal Online, you'll be able to click this link bringing you to an interesting story from last week titled "New Studies Calculate Cost Of Doing Household Chores." While there's plenty of interesting stats in there (if you make more than $10,000, it's worth it to buy the pre-chopper garlic rather than trying to save a buck and mince it yourself, etc.), the author throws this happy fact in: "Economists say one of the most common miscalculations is "outsourcing" child-care needs to free both parents to contribute to the household income. While plenty of parents choose to stay in the labor force because they enjoy their jobs, others stay because they think they can't afford not to. Sometimes the math proves otherwise ..."

I like that. I like it because a) it's true, b) it's being reported and c) it's being reporting as a fact beyond reproach. No economist has to be called in to defend the idea that taking care of your own kids isn't always a financially dumb move.

Of course, the couple plucked from obscurity to illustrate the point had a working father and an at-home mother. We can't win 'em all.