Monday, December 29, 2003

Nothing much worth commenting on has happened since I left for the first half of my holiday travels. I set off on my second half tomorrow, so don't expect any postings until this weekend (at the earliest). Please let me know if there's news I've missed ...

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

This is the last post until at least next weekend (and possibly beyond). And I wish there was more to comment upon ... here is today's meager offering. Russell Crowe's wife had her baby. That's news because Russell has pledged to be an at-home dad for at least a while. I'll keep following that one ...

Daddy Zine is watching an at-home father emerge in what he calls the "traditionally lesbian comic strip" Dykes to Watch Out For. The character is Stuart, and I'm already hanging on his next move.

Finally, if you'd like some holiday vacation reading and have plenty of paper in your printer, check out this report (PDF) from the UK on working fathers. It provided the foundation for the Observer piece I liked so much earlier this month, and probably has more dad facts between its covers than anything I've read in a long, long time.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Posts are likely to get fewer and father between, as I embark Tuesday on a six-flight, two-destination holiday season (a trip home and a trip to a destination wedding on New Year's Day). Fortunately, no one is writing much for me to comment upon. Except ...

Paul Glastris, the editor-in-chief of The Washington Monthly, one of those wonky magazines that are read by the same people who watch every single Sunday morning political talk shows religiously, has a piece on that calls for a Democrat to introduce a "Family Stress Relief Act." Glastris' plan has three main components: 1) universal after-school programs 2) paid family leave (financed through an interesting, insurance-like system) and 3) social security credits for at-home parents.

It sounds like great, can't-miss politics, but I happen to be the very kind of voter such a plan is fashioned for, so I don't trust my own opinion. If the idea gets kicked around much in the blogosphere, I'll post more. I have thoughts on all three prongs, but I lack the time now to go into them. Maybe if the "Family Stress Relief Act" was enacted, I'd have the time for that extra blogging ...

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Very little dad news to report this week, but sharp-eyed Bryan of let me know about this coming attraction from Miramax.

Here's the plot summary: "Lonnie, G and Dominic are three bachelor buddies from the hood who, after a lifetime of hard partying, are in for a rude awakening when their respective girlfriends all get pregnant at the same time. The fathers-to-be embark on an always hilarious and often touching journey while learning as much about themselves as they do about love and fatherhood."

Doesn't sound like the standard fatherhood fare. I'm intrigued ...

And while the news day is slow, let me flag a new dad blog worth reading: Daddy Zine. Sharp, sharp stuff. (As an aside, I will someday update the right rail of this site with links to some of the other blogs I've mentioned lately, including Dad's On the Couch and House Husband Diaries. As always, let me know if you see at-home dad blogs I'm missing.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

In an interesting bit of reporting, a Christian Science Monitor journalist went to Wellesley -- the setting for the new Julia Robert's vehicle "Mona Lisa Smile" -- to find out what had changed for the women of the college in the 50 years between now and when the movie was set. The answer was not entirely encouraging: one professor sums up the current state of work/family balance responsibilities as still the domain of women. "'The burden of all of this is still on women.'" said Elayne Rapping, professor of women's and media studies at the University of Buffalo, N.Y.

One way out of that dilemma that current shooting-for-the-moon college women identified was increasing the number of at-home dads. "'The concept of stay-at-home dads is a solution and a very interesting one,' Ms. [Rosanna ] Hertz [, chair of the women's studies department] says."

I think that's heartening. I think that more at-home dads is indeed a wonderful solution to much of what ails families today, but I don't know of any easy way about boosting our numbers. Clearly, young women demanding a men with progressive views on gender roles is a good start, and I'll be curious to see how the lawyer-to-be quoted in the story does in her quest to find a boyfriend who is cool with being the at-home parent.

And a thanks to Evan of Dad's On the Couch fame for bringing this ABC News story from last month to my attention. It's a good, solid (if formulaic) story that takes the effort to track down Gill, Baylies, Frank and Massey.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Credit where credit is due: yesterday's Out of the Gene Pool comic contains this punch line (if you want to get the whole joke, read the comic): "Hey! I'm a single mother working a full-time job! I don't have time to prepare a big meal every evening! You and your rodent friend should raid the garbage of a big family with a stay-at-home parent." (Emphasis mine)

I spend lots of time taking folks to task for the petty crime of assuming that all at-home caregivers are mothers. So when someone takes the care to refer to at-home parents in a gender-neutral way, I want to make sure that I mention it.

Friday, December 12, 2003

In the spirit of the hyperbole that prompted my "worst story ever written" headline last month, I am happy to announce (belatedly) that I have found the best story ever written about at-home dads: a piece late last month in the Observer's (UK) magazine titled "Man About the House".

It's a staggeringly long piece, and I don't have the ability to digest it well here, but the author, a guy named Mark Honigsbaum, tracks down all sorts of "fully involved fathers," talks to some big name researchers and pulls all kinds of stats out. The narrative is compelling and the story is so full of new information (perhaps because it was written without a focus on the US) that it'll take me a month to go through all the research/surveys/studies/findings he talks about. It's not focused completely on at-home dads, and that turns out to be a strength.

The upshot is a positive piece about fathers seeking to be better dads than the ones they had. In short, it was a story that gave me a new label to wear with pride: "Fully Involved Father." My only worry is that the fathering trend was overstated. The stat that the story hangs on is that today's fathers spend three hours a day with the kids, up from 15 minutes in the 1970s. I find that turnabout so spectacular that I'll have to double-check it. And I certainly hope -- though I don't expect -- that it checks out.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

You Can't Touch This: Hammer (nee MC Hammer) is slated to have a TV series, according to the Hollywood Reporter. It'll be based on his post-fame life as an at-home dad ... seriously.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Time for a new Rebel Dad contest! One of the obvious pet peeves over here is the fact that "mother" is often used synonymously with "parent." The idea that there are fathers doing the parenting is foreign. The usual complaints have been directed at some of the "parenting" magazines and commercials, but I'm looking for new candidates. I'll take articles, statements and advertisements that all suggest that the caregiving role belongs with only one sex.

I'll throw out the first entry, from the first line of a column in yesterday's Washington Post:

" No one knows the growing pressure of balancing work, family and play dates like moms. "

No one? I'll stack my pressures up against the author's any day, and I suspect there are plenty of other at-home dads who would, too.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Nothing warms the cockles of my heart like the radical notion that at-home fatherhood should be something that researchers examine. Regular readers know that I'm stat-starved. I want to know how many of us there are, where we come from, what advantages and disadvantages we're givng our kids, our wives and outselves by the decision to be Rebel Dads.

So I was thrilled to hear that some academics in Canada, the source of so much interesting dad news, are planning a $1.6 million analysis of us. The motivation:"'Our goal is to bring fatherhood out of the shadows,' said Kerry Daly, a professor at University of Guelph's department of family research and co-chairman of the newly created Father Involvement Research Alliance."

The story is also great because it hits on a wonderful and under-reported story about the staggeringly low expectations placed on fathers. "Societal expectations for fathers are so low, [University of Guelph's Kerry] Daly noted, that the news media often portray involved fathers as heroes -- suggesting good fathers are the exception, not the norm." I don't want to go about father-bashing, but I am treated like a super-dad by a good many people I meet for the simple reason that I spend lots of time with my kid. I think I'm a good parent, but I get extra credit because there are plenty of under-involved dads. Good moms don't get the same boost.

My only complaint is that the story makes it sound like the U.S. is some sort of super-supportive home for fathers ("...Canada lags behind the United States and Australia in developing resources for fathers ...") ... really? Though father groups exist, I don't see them having much pull, or drawing much attention.

The new Canadian effort promises to a wide-ranging look, and I'll do my best to keep up with what they're up to.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Links, links, links. Nothing but links today. I'm two weeks behind, maybe more. Ugh. Let me start by pointing out a link omission: no stories (according to Nexis) were written about the at-home dad convention. Kind of disappointing. I know that the phenomenon is now years old, and the gathering may not have the kind of novel pull it once did, but it would be nice if it got some coverage, somewhere, every year.

Wicked interesting piece last month in an Indiana University student newspaper on what college women think about staying home. In addition to a certain amount of charming college-age naivete, it illustrates pretty clearly that a number of well-educated women are thinking about the choice well in advance of having kids. Now, some of the women say they won't stay home, and some want part-time solutions, but nearly every woman has an opinion. It underscores a Rebel Dad problem: I'd be willing to bet most college men, to the extent they've thought this through at all, operate on the assumption that they'll work. How the heck do you get it through to those guys that they have the same choice the women do?

A San Diego TV station ran this story about a husband and wife who swapped the at-home duty. Nothing special, but an admirable story about a family trying to find the right balance.

And there's this North Carolina TV station report about a guy who realized he'd developed a heck of a skill by staying home, so he opened an innovate short-term daycare.

To the dad who said they couldn't sneak a weekend away for the convention: how 'bout this at-home dad, who is taking a couple of months off from his dad gig to traipse around Antarctica. Not a bad arrangement, methinks.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I am back from holiday, but I'm catching up in all areas of my life. I hope to post today, but no promises.