Monday, February 28, 2005

The e-mail addresses are apparently down, and have been for a time. To drop me a line -- or to resend anything I have not responded to (and therefore probably haven't seen) -- please use

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Rebel Dad Radio 2.27.05

I promised this would be up by Sunday. I didn't say *when* on Sunday ... sorry about the delay. Ironically, I won't be able to listen to my own podcast. My MP3 player locked up today in ways that are way beyond just resetting the unit. While I'm apologizing, Bill Beagle from the Dayton at-home dad group is getting bumped to next week so I can talk (more) about FMLA with Lissa Bell from the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Show notes:
* Intro
* Discussion of DCMetroDads TV coverage. 3.6 million?
* The extra-super very last word (hopefully) on Judith Warner, her Salon interview and musings on a father generation gap.
* Interview with Lissa Bell of the National Partnership for Women & Families

As always, I love hearing from you. Drop e-mail to Or you can leave a voice mail at 206.338.3237 and get your voice on Rebel Dad Radio ...

Rebel Dad Radio 2.27.05 | 20 minutes | 9.8 MB

Friday, February 25, 2005

I received a most wonderful surprise in the mail yesterday; Bruce Gibbs sent along the "pre-launch" issue of Real Dad Magazine. I've posted on this before, and I was thrilled to see the concept had made its way into reality.

I think Gibbs has a lot of the right ideas, and as the content bulks up, this could be a meaningful addition to a parenting magazine landscape that pretty much ignores fathers. Forget the beauty-and-makeup section ... Real Dad looks primed to include building projects, and the prototype reviews electric-powered ridable toy cars. In short, there's a lot of potential there. It's not as flashy as the other parenting offerings, but that's probably a good thing.

I'm so happy that there's a dad-focused magazine out there that the fact that this issue has an at-home dad story is secondary. It's a fine story -- nothing earth-shattering -- but it's good to see it included.

Anyway, subscriptions are available at The content looks promising, but I'd subscribe just to support the concept.

OK. The very last word (hopefully) on Judith Warner comes from an interview she did with Salon:
There is, obviously, a certain amount of sacrifice that parents do have to make on behalf of their children, financially and in terms of time and labor. Yet it seems like mothers are taking on most of the burden, as opposed to sharing it with fathers. A lot of women wonder, how can they get fathers to do their share?

I don't know. I think at this point it's largely a lost cause for our generation. It's too late.


It just plain hasn't happened. The statistics overall will tell you that there's a grotesque inequality of who does what. When you have families where the mother is at home full time, she does almost everything.
I'll expound more on this point in the next Rebel Dad Radio, but it's increasingly clear that there is a gender divide between me and writers like Warner and Caitlin Flanagan, who are probably a decade or two older than I and just outside the "Gen X" boundary. In short, these women come from a distinctly different generation. The changes in father involvement are probably much more radical than they realize because it's happening to families of a slightly different generation. Warner (and Belkin and a lot of other "Mommy War"-type writers) have been criticized for too often concentrating on upper-middle class women. But I'll go one step further -- by often focusing on the older suburban moms, they're probably missing the range of co-parenting arrangements springing up among 20-somethings and 30-somethings. Fortunately, there are reporters that get that.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Much excitement here in our nation's capital: the local at-home dads group, the DC Metro Dads was featured on the area's most popular 11 p.m. newscast. It was nice to see the group get some more good press (this marks the second time in a year they got on TV). But one thing jumped out at me when I saw the segment (and read the accompanying web piece):
According to the latest U.S. Census figures, 3.6 million men stay home while their wives work. That's a 54 percent increase since 1986.
Huh? 3.6 million? That nearly 40 times higher than the usual (and highly suspect) Census figure. And I could only find one other reference to such a number on the web: this story out of Wilmington. I would like to begin crowing about the 3.6 million number. Does anyone have clue one about where that figure came from?

The last word (hopefully) on Judith Warner: I mentioned this on the week's Rebel Dad Radio, but damned if Judith Shulevitz doesn't hit the nail right on the head in her New York Times review of Warner's Perfect Madness. She obviously knocks Warner's we're-all-terribly-overstressed point of view, but she also raises the guy issue:
There's more than just detail, however, to back up the theory that parents put in more time than they used to. According to the Families and Work Institute's most recent five-year study of the national work force, children receive on average one hour more of parental attention on work days than they did 25 years ago. Translated out of the levelling language of statistical averages, that means many, many hours of helping with homework, cheering at basketball games and schlepping to music classes. (Interestingly, the study says that it's men who are putting in the extra hour, while working women spend the same amount of time as before: 3.4 hours per workday. Men now average 2.7 hours.)
and ...
More young professionals rank their families as equal in importance to their jobs, or even greater. More young women than men hold these views, not surprisingly, but what is surprising is how many more young men interviewed in 2002 disagreed with the statement that it is ''much better for everyone involved if the man earns the money and the woman takes care of the home and children,'' compared with young men interviewed 25 years earlier. You could dismiss this as just the young folk regurgitating the gender ideology they learned in school, except that more young fathers also ''walk the talk,'' in the jargon of corporate America: they spend an average of one more hour a day with their children than baby boomers do.
Thanks Judith ... we're trying our best.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Rebel Dad Radio 2.22.05

Sure, it's a day late, an interview short and lacking even the usually low level of professionalism. But Rebel Dad Radio is now up for the week -- show notes to come. I talk about Judith Warner's "Perfect Madness" article in Newsweek and give a quick update on the FMLA. That, a shameless Sex Talk plug, and some singing at-home dads wrap up the week. Thanks for tuning in.

Rebel Dad Radio 2.22.05 | 14:24 | 6.6 MB

Monday, February 21, 2005

The empire expands. My new podcast on gender issues, Sex Talk is live. Rebel Dad Radio to follow later today ...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Good news, bad news on the FMLA front. According to the Birmingham (AL) News, the Labor Department isn't considering major changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act. Why am I unconvinced? On Tuesday, this story appeared in the Wall Street Journal, asking in the very first line, "Has the Family and Medical Leave Act given employees too much freedom to take time off?," and then going on to say businesses have dubbed the law the "'Slacker's Protection Act' and 'the Far More Leave than anyone intended Act.'" The article isn't entirely unbalanced, but it is slanted to the business side and clearly suggests that the business interests are geared up to slap FMLA down when they get a chance.

Rebel Dad Radio and the new Sex Talk Podcast will both appear on Monday (it being a holiday weekend and all). RDR will probably run short; I spent a lot of time preparing to launch STP, and so my RDR content may be lacking this week.

Oh, and by the way ... daddychip is one of the most interesting new voices in the SAHD blogosphere. Check out his latest ...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

So which is it? All last year, I was forced to endure gawd-awful stories about how wonderful at-home motherhood was, and how women were swarming out of the workforce to stay home with their little ones. You'll probably recall that I was less than impressed by these stories, which seemed to take little notice of the fact that most families included mothers, children and fathers, and that fathers, too, were taking more time with the kids.

The pendulum has swung. Newsweek has weighed in with a cover story about how at-home moms are overcommitted, miserable wretches. The story is by Judith Warner and is promoting her new book, "Perfect Madness," about how nutty modern moms are. Of course, dads are pretty much left out, as Patricide points out. That is a good thing; the last time Warner wrote about guys, it was in this New York Times piece that basically said stay-at-home motherhood was ruining the lives of husbands by forcing them to work too hard.

I suspect the blogosphere will see a lot more bashing of Warner's piece (and the book), but it worth pointing out that a lot of her overarching themes are true: parents and kids are overscheduled, there's not enough part-time work, there's no such thing as part-time daycare, daycare is overpriced and under-regulated. In short, I buy her prescriptions.

But what rubs me the wrong way is her view of modern parenthood as a joy-robbing slog. Having a kid is not the ecstatic joy that it's often painted as being, but it ain't drudgery, either. Given the choice, I'd rather be on the playground than the cubicle.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Last week's comments threads made for some interesting reading -- thanks to all who participated -- and I wanted to flag one post in particular, from Amy:
I got a question for you ... what I'm reading is that doesn't matter who you're caring for, from the looks of it, you're still going to be hit pretty hard careerwise and financially, both of which are serious in a country where it's essentially up to you to provide for yourself throughout your life, and where a breadwinner spouse has little or no obligation to take care of you in return for your work. At the same time, I'm hearing more about finding men who're willing to stay home and be househusbands while the women go out and do the heavy-duty career thing. And I have to ask why you're even interested in doing that, given the built-in penalties.
Chip weighed in on his blog, as well as in the comments, and a handful of others replied as well. I wish I could respond to Amy's point directly -- she is talking about full-time, no-other-income at-home dads, and (confession coming) I have always hedged my time at home with a dose of freelance work. But I think the general belief held by most of the at-home guys I've spoken with is in line with the posted sentiments.

There is a line in the cover story of the current Utne Reader that says it all:
Back then [early 20th century], [Ben] Hunnicutt [, professor of leisure studies at the University of Iowa] says, "the American Dream consisted of two things: more wealth and more time to live."
That's what we're talking about: more time to live, even if it means a financial sacrifice. Even if it means a step back career-wise. Or a state college. Or used car. To give up a present and future income stream for something like "time at home" is a radical element in a nation of consumers, and -- as Chip notes -- that's really a shame.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

There was an interesting research report from last week that suggested that kids whose mom worked the night shift were worse off, developmentally than peers whose mothers worked traditional shifts. What really caught my eye was the researcher's best-bet explanation: children in these environments are less likely to be in daycare and more likely to be in non-maternal relative care for portions of the day. Here's the money quote:
"This does not suggest that father care or relative care is not good," said Han, who is based at Columbia University in New York. "It rather suggests that these children whose mothers work nonstandard hours may miss out on an opportunity."
Now I appreciate the shifting of blame away from dads in the quote, but it's hard to read the story without coming to the conclusion that there's somehow something lacking about fathercare.

Also making the rounds: Judith Warner penned a column of sound op-ed advice (date your wife!) in the New York Times for Valentine's Day. Would have been wonderful, except that she seems to place the blame for the rise in unhappy marriages on the kids. (" Is our national romance with our children sucking the emotional life out of our marriages?," she asks.) She does quote one expert, who seems to link martial conflict not to the rise of kid-centeredness, but to work-related stress. From where I sit, its the bosses of America -- not the kids -- who are most responsible for the general stress and time-suck and loss of romance in the 21st century. But what do I know? I still date my wife.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Rebel Dad Radio 2.13.05

Rebel Dad Radio show number 3 is live. Thanks to the loyal listeners, and special thanks to guest Armin Brott.

As always, comments welcome at (e-mail), RebelDad (Skype) or 206-338-DADS (3237) (phone).

Show notes:
* Introduction
* Promo for Sex Talk: the weekly podcast on gender issues, equality and feminism
* Thanks to Jeff Nemcher at Cooking on the Radio
* Discussion of FMLA changes
Minneapolis Star-Tribune piece
Half Changed World's action step suggestions
Russ's FMLA experience
* Interview with Armin Brott, Mr. Dad.

Rebel Dad Radio 2.13.05 | 16:07 | 7.7 MB

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Eerie silence. I haven't posted much this week, in large part because there is little going on and in part because I've been spending some of my blogging time trying to prep for this week's Rebel Dad Radio, which is slated to go off as planned on Sunday (expected guest: Mr. Dad himself, Armin Brott).

And in part, I'm having a hard time following up the last post, about the possibility that the administration may begin chipping away at the Family and Medical Leave Act. As some have noted in the comments to Tuesday's post, the rumored changes are hardly daunting and wouldn't change the law enough for most parents to notice. But the real danger is the slippery slope: a slow gutting of the basics of the FMLA that would leave a weak law (compared to similar policies elsewhere) even weaker.

Even with the FMLA in place, it's hard to take leave, as others mentioned in the comments. The best illustration of this is a post from Russ at Daily Yak on his experience. If this is a meaningful issue for you, please read his post: Russ essentially threatened litigation to take what was granted under that law. In short, there's not much room to weaken the law without rendering it toothless.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Twelve years ago, a nifty and somewhat revolutionary bill was passed, allowing employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their own medical problems or for other family members. The Family and Medical Leave Act for the first time offered many parents a guarantee that they could take time with their newborns without walking away from their job. We love it over here at Rebel Dad. If there's any criticism worth making, it's that the law doesn't go anywhere near far enough.

Now, the fundamentals of that law are reputed to be under attack (thanks to Elizabeth at Half Changed World for bringing this to my attention). The Minneapolis Star-Tribune covers the topic here and the National Partnership for Women and Families has its call to action here. Elizabeth has a number of pointers on what you can do now; I heartily support all of them.

Even though the proposed changes are modest, it's worth noting that the FMLA is already a paltry right when compared to the rest of the world, and that smart proposals have been made to expand its scope.

I've said before and I'll say it again: if not for paid paternity leave, I would probably never have ended up walking down the path of Rebel Dad-hood. Laws that protect a parent's ability to spend time with their children are crucial. And efforts to roll back those laws suggest a real lack of perspective on how important that parent-child time is to mothers, fathers and kids.

Monday, February 07, 2005

And now a word from our sponsors: with Rebel Dad Radio up and running and the blog continuing its usual pace, I thought I would put in a quick plug for the RebelDad Store at Cafepress. Obviously, the site is a labor of love, and the time and money it takes to maintain it comes from me, not a large corporate parent. If you'd like to show your support, please surf on over. I've added a couple of new items to the offerings, and I'm always open to adding additional products.

Thanks for suffering through this ad, and thanks for all the support this year. I'll now keep the commercial messages to a minimum (at least until Father's Day).

-- Brian

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Rebel Dad Radio 2.6.05

Here's the second Rebel Dad Radio show, coming to you with less popping, better interview quality and a very special message from Adam Curry. We feature an interview with Patricia Wen of the Boston Globe and play one of the always-amusing pieces of music from the 2002 At-Home Dad Convention.

As always, comments welcome at (e-mail), RebelDad (Skype) or 206-338-DADS (3237) (phone).

Show notes:

* Introduction
* Adam Curry plug. (Click here for MP3)
* Eric Rice comment
* Explosion of groups/blogs, including new sites in Seattle and Chicago.
* Discussion of Wall Street Journal "male golddigger" story.
* Interview with Patricia Wen of the Boston Globe, author of a wonderful story on Gen X dads.
* D-D-D-Dads, from the 2002 At-Home Dad Convention.

See you next week!

Rebel Dad Radio 2.6.05 | 19:13 | 8.8 MB

Friday, February 04, 2005

We're on track for another Sunday edition of Rebel Dad Radio. The interview with the Boston Globe's Patricia Wen is in the bag. I'll play Adam Curry's thoughts and talk a bit about this week's news. And maybe we'll get an at-home dad tune, too.

I've done some more updating at right, adding Phil of A Family Runs Through It. This is a long overdue move, and I apologize to Phil. I plan on doing some pruning to the blogroll, too. If you haven't posted in more than two months, I'll remove you in the next two weeks. There's too much good stuff out there to flag abandoned sites

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Housekeeping today: I have added four new at-home dads to the blogroll at right, as well as two additional dad groups (in Chicago and Seattle). In addition, Rebel Dad regular Dayv has translated his recent media stardom into an at-home dad group in Lodi, CA. If I'm missing your blog or your local group, please let me know.

Also: Since we've had an influx of Italian visitors here, I'd like to begin offering T-shirts in Italian at the Rebel Dad Store. A free shirt/hat to anyone who can translate "Men Who Change Diapers Change the World" more elegantly than Google would.

I have some other items to get through today and tomorrow (hopefully). For starters, you can rest assured that all the optimism for dad-friendly advertising I expressed during last week's Rebel Dad Radio isn't going to bear fruit immediately. Greg over at Daddy Types was reading Child magazine and didn't exactly feel like the target demographic.

In addition, check out this local at-home dad story from David, California. Nice press, gentlemen. (The author, incidentally, pulled a number of 750,000 at-home dads from 1998 Census data, proving that the bureau's stats are so unclear that no two reporters can come up with the same stat.

This week on Rebel Dad Radio: I have an interview lined up with the Boston Globe's Patricia Wen, who wrote the quite wonderful story on Gen X dads a couple of weeks ago. There will be some news and analysis, some shameless promotion, some snippets of the comments received at 206.338.DADS (3237) and, time permitting, some of the music from the 2002 At-Home Dad Convention. Again, the feed is at:

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

OK, OK, back to the, you know, blogging: there are a few things trickling out in the world of at-home fatherhood that don't have to do with my recent obsession with podcasting. I should start with Sue Shellenbarger's Wall Street Journal piece from last week. Shellenbarger writes the "Work and Family" column week in and week out and is probably one the sharpest minds out there when it comes to the question of work-family balance.

That said, her piece is one of those bits of good news wrapped up as bad news. She charts the rise of golddigging men -- guys who seek to date rich, successful women in hopes of someday being a slacker husband. She quotes a number of women who note the interest their less-ambitious would-be beaus have in money, and Shellenbarger concludes that women now have to contend with golddiggers, just as their male peers have for eons.

Now I don't doubt that there are golddigging men (or women) who are mostly interested in money, but I think the number of people like that is vastly overstated. You don't have to have a lot of relationship experience to learn that money and love are two different things. But what gave me hope from the story is that there now apparently exists a group of men who go into relationships/marriage more than happy to be the "trailing spouse." They're willing to check their careers and put ambition on hold. Here's a key line:
It's a growing concern for people in their 20s and 30s, not just because young women are earning more, but because young men feel less compelled to fit the mold of the traditional solo breadwinner.
To repeat: "... young men feel less compelled to fit the mold of the traditional solo breadwinner." To flip that around, men are more willing that ever to swap gender roles. More willing to work around their wife's schedule or aspirations. More willing to be an at-home dad. This is good news for me, even if the Wall Street Journal wants to call me a slacker.