Monday, June 30, 2003

(By the way, I'm aware of an archive problem, but I don't have the time to fix it. Deepest apologies.)
The summer doldrums are officially here, and between Father's Day and the Census numbers, no one seems all that interested in us at-home fathers. So what do news-aggregating blogs do when there's no news to aggregate? We point to other blogs in an endless cycle. Today, I wanted to flag a new at-home dad blog: Laid-Off Dad. It's a nice piece of work and relatively new.

The second bit is this analytical entry from Being Daddy on the lack of good, 21st century dad role models. Being Daddy's only nominee: Bernie Mac. "For me watching [Bernie Mac] as a new father, it was a revelation. 'Mothering' and 'fathering' are not synonymous. And neither are they mutually exclusive. It's this overlap that is too infrequently portrayed."

And I have one quick correction: Scott Thompson is not the sexiest dad in America, as I suggesed last week, but one of the 12 sexiest. The nice people are Parents didn't pick a top dad, nor did they put sexy dads on the cover. Nor, for that matter, did at-home dads seem to hog a disproportion number of those 12 spots. (I only pursued the magazine briefly, but I think Thompson was the only at-home dad featured.) It could be argued that the lack of at-home dads in the top 12 arose because there are so few of us, but the research is clear: we are an extraordinarily sexy bunch.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Blogger was down yesterday, so I'm making up for lost time. Here's a quick series of work/family/at-home thoughts that ripped through the blogosphere. First, there was this Boheminian Mama post, commenting on the impossible standards for mothers. She then linked to Conflict Girl, who makes this comment "Keeping work life and home life so diametrically opposed does not make us more productive workers, it just makes us miserable. I am not sure how to change this, but something needs to be done."

She, in turn, links to this piece, which again defends the at-home choice. (Sample comment: " Wait a minute. “Having it all” requires having a job? When did we forget that work sucks?" And the link in that post finally gets us to an answer about how to change work/family balance (in this year-old New Republic piece on women waiting to get pregnant so they can establish themselves professionally): "Now, you can argue that it's unrealistic to expect red-blooded American men to play Mr. Mom or profit-driven companies to adopt family-friendly policies. But both options are a damn site more realistic than, say, trying to make an old ovum new again. In terms of baby-making, men have the overwhelming biological edge. It's absolutely crazy for us to let them off so easy in the cultural department as well. At the very least, the focus of this discussion should shift away from women sniping at one another about 'the right way' to cope with the dictates of biology. If we really want to improve our options in the workplace, it's time to stop the infighting and put a little more heat on Daddy."

So there we go. The end of the Mommy Wars depends on Rebel Dads. It suppose it's as Peter Baylies always says: "Men who change diapers change the world."
So close, yet so far. Scott Thompson, a California Rebel Dad, is apparently America's Sexiest Dad according to Parents Magazine, evidently beating out me. Heck, I didn't even make the top 12. I imagine this means I'll have to hit the gym.

Columnist Maggie Gallagher weighed in with this column, which struck me as a bit confused. She gets us rare species of dads in the second paragraph, them forgets about us. Alas. The rest of the column seems to celebrate the at-home mom trend without any hard evidence of what's fueling it. And she suggests that women really do, increasingly, have a choice when it comes to staying home. Do we?

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The real reason why at-home dads are so under-represented in the population at large was revealed to me last night. As part of my seedy second life, I was attending an awards dinner for biotech-y types. The subject of my at-home daddying emerged, and I launched into my usual schpiel: "For all the gender equity progress in the last 50 years, men-as-caregivers seems to be the final frontier, and I like trying to figure out why that is."

With nary a pause, an older gentleman at the other side of the table deadpanned: "I'll tell you why: The work is too damned hard." True, true ... but the benefits are indeed extraordinary.

Back to the media: the latest supporter of stay-at-home parents? REO Speedwagon singer Kevin Cronin, who apparently told a Peoria crowd that at-home parents (OK, OK, he used "mothers") were real workers. The column that featured that nugget does mention that some of us soccer moms are dads, and it provides a nice bit of support for those whose hard work never earns a paycheck.

And here's a proposal I can get behind: a stay-at-home parent day, where we can do whatever the heck we want. Mark your calendars: June 30. (Truth be told, I got that on Father's Day, so I won't be devastated if the trend doesn't take off this year.)

Finally, let me flag this Kansas City Star column that suggests the coverage of the Census report was a little off-kilter and then hit upon this gem of a thought: "The real story behind the census numbers should be choice. Wouldn't it be wonderful if parents who wanted to could afford to stay at home with their children?" Wonderful indeed.

Monday, June 23, 2003

The transformation continues ... Rebel Dad is now living at, which is a much more sensible address than the old one. I apologize for the lack of a Friday posting, but with the move and the FTP stuff and the redirection coding, blah, blah, I didn't quite get around to posting.

This is bad because I'm already more than a week late in bringing a bombshell to your attention. (OK, it's not a real bombshell, but everything is relative in the blogosphere.) The fine folks at has released this study that supposedly shows that 40 percent of working men would chuck it all to stay home if their wives brought in enough cash for them to live comfortably. That suggests there's a huge upside to this at-home dad thing: if you believe the Census numbers (which I don't, but for argument's sake ...), less than one percent of dads are now at-home dads. That means there are 50 times more potential Rebel Dads than there are current Rebel Dads. And I find that most encouraging.

The Census report was a jumping-off point for this Victorville, CA article, which actually seemed more interested in at-home moms (which the same reporter covered the day before.)

And my head is still spinning from the Census stats. One remaining area of confusion: the number of children cared for by at-home dads is apparently up 18 percent since 1994. (I can't find that stat specifically, but it's being reported over and over in the media, and there is a graph in the report that seems to show the 1994 number as around 160,000, which makes the math work). But the report then goes on to note that "The level [of children cared for by at-home dads] is not significantly different from the level in 2002." Does that mean that the 18 percent jump is a statistical fluke as far as demographers are concerned?

Thursday, June 19, 2003

On the menu today: smorgasbord! There are still a lot of bits and pieces to pick up from the weekend, a blog update, a comics update and some other odds and ends.

I'll start with blogs. As I mentioned yesterday, is one of the best at-home dad sites I've seen. For starters, he has the same problem I do with the whole naming thing, and he wants to replace "at-home dad" with "full time father." I'd be all for that, if I weren't a bit guilty about being a nearly "full-time father" who has at least a little time away every week. And,let's face it, the name is far more inituitive than "Rebel Dad." He's also got his political agenda defined: "We believe that every taxpayer dollar offered to pay for commercial day care should also be available to those families where parents, grandparents, other relatives, or friends do the child-rearing."

It's happening! For Better or For Worse's Mike Peterson looks like he's about to become an at-home dad (or full time father or Rebel Dad). Don't you think? Foreshadowing!

Around the horn: We have a Long Beach Press Telegram piece saying nice things about Hogan and Proud Dads. More bits from the Census report, including this one from a Texas TV station. Anyone in East Texas want to get ahold of this guy? The winner of the Great American Think-Off? An at-home dad. (Of course.) And some happy Father's Day pieces from Jersey, Dayton (the Dayton guys are a riot, as convention-goes will attest), Maine and Alabama

Finally, media darling Michael Zorek is at it again, quoted in this story about a movie theater that holds screenings for parents and kids. (And this one about a Hillary Clinton book-signing.) The man is a regular Greg Packer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Not much time today, so I'll offer the usual plea to excuse misspelling, crude logic and brevity. And I still won't be getting to the Dad Day backlog.

Two items on the agenda: the first is a new and noteworthy blog,, which is well-written, smart and a welcome addition to the wired world. I'll be throwing a link up on the left rail as soon as I get my act together.

And we have a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel piece today detailing the happy lives of some area at-home dads. It may not add much to the literature, but the more joy about at-home fathering that leaks into society, the better.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Today should be a red-letter day for Rebel Dad. The Census Bureau has finally come out with a definitive, exhaustive estimate of at-home dad numbers. But there's no joy in Mudville. The demographers got it wrong.

Here's their number (we've seen this one coming): 105,000 (taking care of 189,000 kids). That's the number of guys out of the labor force for more than a year, with working wives, who list family care obligations as the reason for being out of the workforce. That's a tad less than the 2 million or so that's became the standard estimate after this Census report in 1997(in fact, the report takes a snotty attitude toward that 2 million number).

Why so low? In part, because they didn't count me. I still make some money on the side (as do 80 percent of Rebel Dads, if older Census data can be trusted). In the 1990s, they looked at who was going the primary caretaking -- which I happen to think defines an at-home dad. Now, they're looking exclusively at employment figures, which are simpler stats to gather, but a particularly bizarre way of capturing who takes care of the kids. The shift worker who busts his butt all night, then comes home to watch his kids all day gets zero credit from the folks at Census. Fair? Nope.

Also cut out of the argument are single dads and unmarried dads doing the child care. And woe to you fathers who only acted as Rebel Dads for part of the year, or those technically unemployed and looking for work: you guys were eliminated, too.

They calculate the number of at-home moms in the same way, which provides at least some internal consistancy. The artificially low number of at-home moms: 5.2 million. Comparing those two numbers, at-home moms are 56 more common than Rebel Dads. Worse, at-home mom numbers on the rise, while the Census says the number of at-home dads has been pretty static (though I've seen some pieces -- based on this report -- that suggest we're up 18 percent since 1994. But I can't find that in the report.) Sounds like we have some evangelizing to do.

(By the way, I will return to the happy dad's day pieces. This just seemed more important.)

Monday, June 16, 2003

That magic day has come and gone. You know, the special day when newspaper editors everywhere search for Father's Day trends. The happy day when papers across the country are full of grinning at-home dads boasting about how they lost nothing but their corporate shackles by staying home. (OK, no one used the phrase "corporate shackles" this year. Beer to anyone who gets it in an at-home dad story in the next 365 days.)

Of course, this also means I can't keep up with the deluge (especially with some other projects on my plate), so I'll be rationing the links throughout the week. Apologies in advance.

To start, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a couple of stories, starting with this this mini-profile of at-home dads, who all had generally positive things to say. Paradoxically, one day later, the paper ran this story on how "emotional closeness with children eludes many dads". To whit: "Fact is, says Brown University anthropology Professor Nicholas W. Townsend, most men still embrace the traditional '50s Ward Cleaver role of primary breadwinner." The overall gist is that at-home dads are a catchy story, but we're not part of the social frabric yet. The story is built off of Townsend, who has a book out. As I learn more about the prof, I'll let you know.

The one other piece I'll mention today is this Tacoma News-Tribune article. I'd known the author was fishing for stories a couple of weeks ago, and the final story came out pretty well, with a sociological edge to it that's often missing in these stories. ("'Men are going back to traditional role models at home, more like it was at the turn of the last century,' [sociologist Scott] Coltrane said. Unlike the 1950s, which Coltrane calls an economic and societal anomaly, dads who stay at home now are more 'embedded' in their families' lives."

And finally, since we've been a bit comix-obsessed over here at Rebel Dad, let me direct all to a sweet Baldo strip today. To be honest, Baldo doesn't usually appeal to me, but I have to give credit when credit is due.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Two quick items:
1) I have no idea if I'll get a chance to post tomorrow, so let me be the first to wish all a happy Father's Day.

2) I have added an avenue for comment on individual posts. If you folks have any interest in using it, I'll keep it up.

Friday, June 13, 2003

THIS is the kind of publicity we need ... People magazine gets at-home dads right with a nice piece titled (predictably) "Daddy Day Care." It doesn't shake up the world of at-home dad journalism, but it gives some nice case histories. And while the author loses points for referring to one dad as a "Mr. Mom," she more than makes up for it by referring to another as a "domestic god." The story doesn't paint the gig as 24/7 joy (it's not), but the money quote says it all "'I could get a job in a heartbeat,' says Brian [Fogg, who has four little girls], 'but I'm having too good a time.'" (As an aside, the new, deeply flawed census figure -- 105,000 at-home dads -- was repeated here. I hope they get these stats straightened out ...)

(Another aside: People has gone "behind the veil" at AOL, so the content is only available online to folks who either get the mag or get AOL. I had to schlep to the newsstand to get my copy, which is a sad vindication of the information-does-NOT-want-to-be-free model that AOL is promoting.)

Columnist Ellen Goodman just published this piece on the evolution from "Mr. Mom" to "Daddy Day Care," and she looks optimistically at the future arc of the dad-as-caretaker trend. She calls for employers -- and society in general -- to take the trend seriously: "It took a whole generation of Father's Days for Mr. Mom to morph into Daddy Daycare. The next moment in the plotline of social change will come only when a very public fathering wins the same standing ovation."

OK, Scott Adams' Dilbert storyline has finally jumped from funny to offensive. To imply that homemaking talents are skilled-monkey tasks just ain't fair. (Imagine if the sexes in this week's strips were reversed ... poor Dilbert would be burning in effigy.) I don't hold it agains Adams -- a strip artist who doesn't push the line of propriety from time to time ends up with a Family Circus. And we don't want that. (Perhaps I'll ask a former prof of mine, Kerry Soper, if he reads anything into it.)

On the bright side (of the comics) ... is it possible that For Better or For Worse's Michael Patterson will become an at-home dad? He's just been laid off ... and there's that new baby in his life ...

Thursday, June 12, 2003

The late May posts have been restored to the archive. I have no idea why they disappeared in the first place.
Let's take a short diversion from the media and go right to the dad data (and you folks know what a sucker I am for data). This study of dusting dads found that fathers who do housework are more likely to have sweet kids and wives that are "in the mood." Remember, the virtue of at-home dadism may be its own reward, but it's not the only reward. (Along the lines of sexy dads, here's today's Dilbert. We've now run off the rail into standard-issue Dilbert surrealism here, folks.)

We've got more positive press for at-home dad celebrity Hogan Hilling and Proud Dads.

This is what the Newsweek cover story should have emphasized:laid-off men and their challenges. Sure, some at-home dads are unhappy guys who want badly to return to the workforce. But don't tag us all with that stereotype. The SFGate story has plenty of unhappiness, but I didn't feel like anyone was lumping me with that group.

By the way ... there seems to be some archive troubles, so I've expanded the number of posts that exist on this main page. I'm working on fixing ... thanks for visiting the archives, and I apologize for everything you aren't seeing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I'm a bit pressed for time today, but this being prime dad-time for the media (fete dads on Father's Day! Ignore 'em the rest of the year!), I want to get something out there.

Disclaimer: it looks like the at-home dad storyline in Dilbert will extend through the week. I confess to not really understanding today's installment. I hope I'm not becoming humor-impared.

Quick hits: The Arizona Republic runs a piece on older fathers who probably make up a fair percentage of us Rebel Dads, given that a handful are retired. Remember last year's Fortune cover on "Trophy Husbands"? The New York Times gives more weight to the Fortune's high-powered-women-need-at-home-dads theory with this profile of the woman who runs MTV Networks. And remeber the suspect Census Father's Day release? It's turned up at least one paper.

And, finally, the mailbag has been bulging a bit lately, so thanks for the kind words everywhere from Cincinnati to Iowa (and, of course, all of you coastal folks).

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Lots of ground to cover, including an update on the great blog search, so let's begin with today's Dilbert (stay-at-home dads are "a total turn-on.)

And I missed it once (and I won't miss it now), but there was a New York Times story over the weekend about a entertainment PR type who is now an at-home dad. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that this has got to be the most self-promotional father in the country (the baby is a model, and he's worked himself into the Times, the CBS Sunday morning show and has a website of photos of his kid with famous people), it's nice to see the paper of record treat the subject so sweetly. Still, they focused exclusively on this one gentleman (who claims that he has a hard time finding other at-home dads) and give little context for the rest of us. It's a celebration, not a resource, but I'm not complaining.

Other quick links of note: this nice piece in the Federicksburg Free-Lance Star titled "In Praise of Fathers Who Care." And this piece from a regional parenting magazine titled "Today's Dads are First in their Class."

And finally, I've found some other dad blogs (they weren't as hidden as I'd made them out to be), and as far as I'm concerned, the authors are entitled to beer the next time they're in town. (Special bonus beer to which a) links to Rebel Dad and b) links to other at-home dad blogs. MomBrain's mastermind pointed me to these other links).

Let's start with Being Daddy, a nice bit of work that gets the first person in there with some meta-analysis. Check out this post (on the above-linked NYT piece), and the comments attached on how best to answer the question: "Are you taking a day off?" And I'd like to point everyone to frenzied daddy, another well-done daddy-level slice of life.

As I get my act together, I'll make sure I've linked to those blogs on my left rail, and if the Rebel Dad denziens would visit my new cyber-friends, I'm sure they'd appreciate it.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Welcome to the deluge. Father's Day is coming up, and the media have re-discovered us guys. Good news -- let's bask in it for a little while.

For starters, USA Today has a bittersweet but well-thought-out first person on the loss of dad-centric media. In our glory days three years ago, there were dad magazines, websites and TV shows all delivering what seemed like a powerful message: dads as caretakers is a hip trend ... and it's about time. And then, with a whimper, it all disappeared, even as everyone claims that at-home dadism is on the rise. So here's this year's Father's Day challenge: let's figure out the tipping point for making dads-as-caregivers a hot topic again. We have the numbers (a couple of million or so): what do we need to make dads the cultural zeitgeist again? I'll take all suggestions. The best responses will be rewarded, as always, with beer.

It's worth noting that Proud Dads and Hogan Hilling got a nice write-up in the Dallas Morning News. The Dallas installment of the program is up and running, and it sounds like it's off to a stellar start. I continue to hope that the program expands, and Hogan's efforts to find the tipping point have definitely earned him many Rebel Dad beers.

And, finally, there's a neat Q-and-A with an artist in the Federickburg, VA paper. Here's the important part: "Q: Classmates from your high school would be shocked to learn that you.... ?
A: Have been a stay-at-home dad for the past 8 years.
" I just returned from my own high-school reunion. And I think my choice was a bit shocking to my classmates, too. But I don't mind carrying the banner. This is a great gig.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

So you're probably wondering why there have been no posts. I'm wondering why there's no news. A pre-dad's day lull? What I could use right now is a nice People Magazine at-home dad story.

Monday, June 02, 2003

My friends at the Census Bureau are at it again. They've put out this well-meaning release for Father's Day, and they give us Rebel Dads a prominent spot in the release. That's all well and good. But I'm cranky today.

Here are my problems:
1) The Buzz McClain rant: the at-home dad stuff is under the heading "Mr. Mom." We don't call working mothers "Mrs. Dad." That would be rude and sexist. 1983 was a long time ago.
2) They claim there are only 105,000 of us, using wildly misleading numbers that would disqualify any dad that works part-time or a split shift.
3) They say that 105,000 number is from a "soon-to-be-published report." But my understanding is that report has been "soon-to-be-published" for well over a year ... at least.
Then they 4) happily say that 2 million preschoolers are primarily cared for by dad while mom works (using seven-year-old data. Remeber seven years ago? I'll give you a hint: it preceded this recession. It preceded the dot-com boom. Heck, it preceded the Atlanta Olympics. Not exactly up to date). Even if you assume two of those 2 million preschoolers per dad, there's a tenfold difference between "at-home dads" and primary caretaker dads. That seems wrong to me.
Other stats worth keeping an eye on: 2 million single dads (can you add that 2 million to the million-odd dads from point #4? No one seems to know).

The nice folks at the Dallas Morning News penned this editorial (reg. required) celebrating the growth of at-home moms and calling it a victory for feminism. " The women's movement was about freeing women from the constraints of traditional social roles. It was about choices, about giving women the same opportunities as men to pursue careers." Of course, that choice really hasn't been extended to men. Feminism may have worked wonders, but we don't have gender equity. Not by a long shot. And that hurts women and men.

In the final paragraph, the author(s) suddenly remember at-home dads and throw in this line: "And there is certainly a lot to be said about the liberating nature of feminism for stay-at-home dads." And that's it. There certainly is a lot to be said. But the Dallas Morning News, in extolling the decision of women to stay home, ain't saying it.