Friday, January 30, 2004

So I complained last week that the fathering resources out there didn't get me revved up, but I signed up for the weekly memo from the National Center for Fathering, the K.C.-based organization run by Ken Canfield. I received my first one today, and I really enjoyed it. (You can sign up here.)

The lead item was a piece about Seattle Mariners reliever Kazuhiro Sasaki, who is getting out of the game and heading home to be with his family. This is a trend I can get with. Beckham has become quite the family man. Now, half a world away, Sasaki is choosing family over ball. Roger Clemens, remember, also retired to spend more time with his kids. Then he unretired. But we don't like Roger much, anyway.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I ain't the only Rebel parent out there. There are apparently a pair of Rebel Housewives in Atlanta. Among other achievements, the duo has apparently authored a cookbook titled "How To Cook for you Man and Still Want to Look at Him Naked."

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

For a while there, I was getting pretty bored by the local-man-stays-home-with-kids story. Too formulaic, I thought. Too little that was new or captivating. But I'm coming back around. I've begun enjoying the celebration of the choice to stay home of dads in all different parts of the country, and I'm actual heartened by the formula ... it suggests that there really is a common experience. So I smiled as I read through this nice piece on some Carolina dads who will probably root for the wrong team on Sunday but otherwise seem like super guys.

(The usual caveat: I still have *some* mixed feelings about stories like this. Moms who make these choices don't get newspaper stories written about them. And mothers who buck social norms and do great things in the workplace don't get glowing stories, either. I long to see the day when what someone does all day is newsworthy for reasons other than gender. But until we reach that point, I'll still eagerly read stories about at-home fathers.)

Interesting aside:'s Jay Massey says in the the article that Slowlane someday hopes to do some paid surveys of its own to better understand the profile of the at-home dad. I certainly hope so. But Slowlane's rebirth has been a long time coming. I've have a year-old offer of help, meager though it might be, to help get the site humming. Jay, if you're reading, let me know what I can do.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

A couple mentions to mention, starting with this brief but flattering piece about a Detroit-area dad. Despite the brevity (it's a story based on a TV report), the guy featured, Kevin O'Shea, manages to make two thoughtful points: 1) stupid comments about "what do you do all day" tend to come from men -- suggesting that a lot of men have never thought hard about the at-home role and 2) he compliments at-home mothers and laments that moms frequent get starved of the fawning attention paid to at-home dad.

The second piece worth reading is this San Francisco Chronicle review of a production of Ibsen's wildly-progressive-for-the-19th-century "A Doll House."

Here's the money paragraph: "To expand the argument further, shouldn't both sexes be able to decide for themselves what constitutes happiness and freedom? Society-enforced gender roles don't only put women in boxes; men are even more locked in than women. I mean, when was the last time you heard a man question whether he'd do something with his master's degree in economics or stay at home and clean house? I'm astonished that there are a handful of stay-at-home dads as it is, so tough it must be for them to buck those norms."

It's nice to see the limits on men's choices brought to the forefront. Society won't ever get over the final hurdles to gender equality until we deal with that reality.

Friday, January 23, 2004

I really have nothing to report this week. The media has been silent, more or less, and even the blogs have been quiet. In a vain effort to fill this space, I've been drilling down into fathering websites this week, but I haven't found much on at-home fatherhood. (And the long-promised revamp of doesn't seem to be underway yet.) A better diversion has been National Center on Fathers and Families at the University of Pennsylvania, which has a neat searchable database of father-related publications. But event that resource pulls up shockingly little on Rebel Dads.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Today: grab-bag ... there's this piece from a Texas TV station on different ways that moms and dads parent, based mostly on the advice of Rebel Dad fav Kyle Pruett of Yale. The message: kids are better off the more they see of dad (regardless of whether dad is a homedad) is one worth repeating and repeated. And the family that seems to have been featured in the original TV report was headed by an at-home dad, which was an added bonus.

The Washington Post, in an article about teaching your kids time discipline focuses on Peter Steinberg, an at-home dad who is responsible for founding the large and active DCMetroDads group.

And somewhat afield of the usual fare is this New York Post story on StockLemon Guy, who may or may not be a stock market manipulator and who may or may not be an at-home dad.

A Rebel request ... I'm looking for some spouses of at-home fathers who credit their family setup for their advancement in the workplace. If you fit the bill (or know someone who does), please drop me an e-mail.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

I dare say it's time for a new Rebel Dad contest. I was flipping through my soon-to-expire Better Homes and Gardens when I was whacked with an ad for Dixieware, a new kind of throwaway Tupperware-style containers with a microwave vent. Here is the pitch: "Now even men can keep the microwave clean."

So here is the next challenge: I'm looking for the absolute worst gender stereotyping about roles at home in a commercial message. I've mentioned, in the past, the Nissan Quest ad ("Moms have changed."), and a few others come to mind (Kix: "Kid tested, mother approved," Clorox: "Mama's got the magic."). Ads knocking dads (like the stupid flu vaccine one of this winter) will be scored higher than ones that simply imply that household jobs/kids are mom-work. But especially good mom-centric ads are welcome.

As always, beer to the winner (because, let's face it, I'm a sucker for stereotypes about beer. And the stereotypes that drive beer ads make for much, much more humorous commercials than the stereotypes that drive household product ads).

Thursday, January 15, 2004

To the stable of labels for us: at-home dads, full-time fathers, househusbands, let's add one more ... the Trailing Husband. I think the term is unfortunate, but the story that uses the term in the headline (I believe it's a More magazine piece from a couple of months ago) ain't so bad.

It's a variation of 2002's Trophy Husband piece in Fortune, with stories about power couples where the husband walked away from his career to back his wife's. There were a lot of interesting anecdotes and stories I hadn't seen, and, all in all, it made a compelling case that staying home can make an important difference in the range of choices that women have in the workplace. It's not preachy; it's not demanding. It lets the stories speak for themselves.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

A loyal reader has sent me two interesting e-mails. I'll get to the first one at some point in the future. The second one is worth talking about now. He pointed me to a new site -- recently launched, I think -- for The National Organization for Househusbands.

This got me a little excited. I've often thought to myself (while mowing the lawn or washing dishes) that a national at-home dad association would be a great idea. There's a huge role to play. We need better information vendors on at-home fatherhood, and better connectors, lobbyists and advocates. A national organization would be a great way to get there.

But skimming through the site, I found that the National Organization for Househusbands was much, much more interested in promoting women's entry into the workforce. This is, of course, an unquestionably important issue. And there is a great deal of overlap between the advancement of working women and the willingness of families to consider flexible, non-gendered family roles. But in short, the site -- and the group -- was disappointing. I drilled further down and was further disappointed.

I hate to take aim at a group that shares the same basic dream that I have, but this association is making a damn poor case for the lifestyle I've come to love so much. The big problems:

You can't have a househusband organization without husbands. I thought the site was relatively one dimensional, with little about the advantages to dads and to kids, and that was confusing to me. Wouldn't a group of househusbands celebrate the lifestyle. Turns out, the National Organization for Househusbands isn't really for househusbands. "... we feel that it is up to us women to develop and encourage more men in this most valuable role." Us women? Not exactly a paragon of inclusiveness. As far as I know, none of the leaders (so to speak) of the at-home fatherhood movement are involved in this group. That's too bad. We dads have a lot to offer.

Successful family roles are built on choices, not obligation. From the female side of the site's Bill of Rights: "You have the right to have a stay-at-home househusband to enhance your home life." Women have a *right* to an at-home dad? I wish more than anything else that more families had at-home fatherhood as an option, but no one has a *right* to demand that their spouse stay home (or work), regardless of gender.

Stereotyping the at-home role is dangerous. From the male side of the Bill of Rights: "You have the right to shop and use your spouse's credit card!!" This does not belong in a sober discussion of gender roles. It perpetuates the myth -- usually used against mothers -- that at-home spouses are idle souls who while away the hours at the mall, etc. etc. Applying this stereotype to men doesn't kill it; it gives it new life.

I don't want to suggest there is nothing of value on the site -- much of what is being pushed is certainly positive (from the male Bill of Rights, again: "You have the right to be respected as a contributing and valuable person in society."). But by focusing narrowly on a single (though vitally important) element of at-home fatherhood, the site makes a less-than-convincing case for househusbands. And that's a real disappointment.
I'm always hunting for new dad resources, so I was interested when Ken Canfield suggested in a Kansas City Star story that iVillage was a good place for at-home dads to hang out. So I surfed on over there. It's pretty much a vast wasteland, as far as dads are concerned.

I also checked out the at-home dad section of Meetup, of course, is one of the driving forces behind Howard Dean's e-success, and I was curious to see what kind of job that service was doing in pulling dads together. The answer appears to be something less that revolutionary -- no geographic area has more than a dozen dads registered -- but I have my money on this emerging as a great tool to put dads in touch with other dads as folks become aware. I plan on registering in the next few days. If you choose to do the same thing, let me know what happens.

Many of the established regional groups are fantastic, but it can still be hard to connect with other dads. I'd love to see (which Jay Massey promises to upgrade) fill that role, but Meetup, with a little more attention, might easily become the starting point for the next generation of dad-to-dad groups.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Tomorrow's news today (therefore tomorrow's blog posting today): the New York Times will run this damn fine story on gay stay-at-home dads. As it turns out, male-male couples with children are more likely that "traditional" couples to have on party stay home with the kids (26 percent vs. 25 percent (vs. 22 percent for lesbian couples)). This is a heck of an interesting stat, especially given that gay couples, on average, have a *lower* household income.

Here's the explanation:
"Sociologists, gender researchers and gay parents themselves say that because gay men are liberated from the cultural expectations and pressures that women face to balance work and family life, they may approach raising children with a greater sense of freedom and choice.

They may also not fear stigmatization in these new roles, said Ellen Lewin, chairwoman of the women's studies department at the University of Iowa. Professor Lewin is the author of 'Lesbian Mothers' (Cornell University Press, 1993) and is working on a study on gay fathers.

More evidence that straight men are missing a huge set of opportunities because of silly, outdated "cultural expectations" and stigma. Such a shame.

In contrast, there's this story out of Ohio about a couple will very traditional gender roles that suddenly gets turned upside down by a layoff. The story includes this line: "Jody doesn't mind being portrayed as a submissive wife. That's how her role in their marriage was defined." With that kind of silly, mid-century view of family life, I have a hard time feeling the pain of the suddenly at-home man who admits, "'I didn't realize how nerve-wracking it could be at times.'"

Thursday, January 08, 2004

I made a quick scan of the papers this week and was happy to find some at-home dad news. There's this brief piece in Newsday about Long Island dads at home. Notable: they give credit to the website of the Cincinnati Dads Group for their inspiration. Props to those Ohio guys.

And the Kansas City Star published this interview with the National Center for Fathering's Ken Canfield on how to be an at-home dad. Nice work for such a brief piece ... Ken makes reference to the dads area at, a place I have yet to visit. So I have something new to check out.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

He's not a stay-at-home dad, but the new Brawny Man has been newly redesigned to be more sensitive and modern. All this is all well and good and marketing-driven, but this Orlando Sentinel story quotes Susan Faludi predicting a backlash against the new, kinder, gentler man:

"In the past where there have been efforts to show a caring man or a Mister Mom, the popular culture has a very low threshold ... They'll have one or two Mister Moms and the media will be filled with stories about how the sensitivity of the politically correct male has gone too far. Then we'll be treated to a wave of trend stories saying 'Real men are back.' So I predict next year you'll be doing a story on a brawny Brawny Man."

I'm not as pessimistic, but I'll be on the lookout for "real men" stories in the next year ...

(Thanks to Ms. Magazine's blogger, Christine Cupaiuolo, for getting to this issue before I.)

Monday, January 05, 2004

Happy New Year. And welcome back.

Let me start with the latest advice column from Armin Brott, the smart, smart guy who nabbed the title "Mr. Dad" for himself (in addition to writing some rather good books).

It's always nice to see at-home dad concerns addressed, and the advice he gives can't do anything but help the Rebel Dads who are still "in the pantry" as Hogan Hilling likes to say. I can quibble a bit with the idea that dad playgroups are ideally dad-only (I know it fosters more openness, but given that most dads complain that mom groups aren't inclusive, I don't see how mimicking that approach is a good thing), but otherwise think it's dead-on.

And I can now officially claim to be disappointed in the utter lack of reaction to Paul Glastris' "Family Stress Relief Act", which suggested a bunch of policies designed to make life more bearable for families struggling to balance their lives. The American Prospect's blog weighs in with this mostly re-hash post (arguing that the Act would make for a good Democrat platform), but that's pretty much it for feedback. Here at Rebel Dad, I don't care what the politics are ... this seems like a no-brainers. We have ten presidential candidates -- I'd love to see any of 'em adopt the idea. Maybe then we'd get traction.
I am back and way behind in a number of areas. Still, there *will* be a posting later today.