Monday, August 02, 2004

Rebel Mom and I have just returned from a quick getaway to Santa Fe, which is apparently a magnet for at-home dad types. It was a rare person we met who didn't have a good at-home dad friend (and, in one case, had a good at-home dad herself). Someday, I'd love to delve deep enough into the demographics to figure out where we're all hiding ...

While I was off having fun, at-home dads were getting the New York Times treatment. The subject was the increasingly well-trod angle of the at-home dad returning to work (see takes from the Wall Street Journal and the Charlotte Observer). But the author, Julia Lawlor, does a good job with it, really nailing many of the angles and getting some academic rigor by talking to Yale's Kyle Pruett.

The headline alone ("When Stay-at-Home Fathers Return to Work (Elsewhere)") is enough to make up for whatever other minor sins may lurk in the copy -- I had to laugh at the parenthetical "Elsewhere." In fact, the only part of the article that made me uncomfortable was toward the end: "It is best not to introduce the subject of being a stay-at-home father in a job interview, said Wendy Alfus-Rothman, an executive coach in New York, but there is no reason to be defensive if it does arise." The unspoken "truth," echoed in the other articles: being an at-home dad is a liability.

But I put "truth" in quotation marks. Rebel Dad believes that running a household is due to get a serious boost in status -- from those in the workforce. This is the next great trend in business management. If you don't believe me, check out Inc. magazine story from last month that says that Sun Tzu is (or should be) out as the manager's Bible and that "Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House" is in. The article makes perfect sense to me, and I suspect it'll make damn good sense to the would-be Bill Gates' of the world. For more convincing, Ann Crittenden (of "The Price of Motherhood" fame) is about to release a new work titled "If You Can Raise Kids, You Can Do Anything" that promises to hit the same notes.

Caregivers as super-managers: you heard it here first.


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