Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's been a long time since a magazine made me as happy as the current issue of Fortune has. The pub is now running a cover story headlined Get a Life in which it suggests that American businesspeople should work less. This is not a new-and-novel idea, and it's a horse that I beat pretty regularly. But the Fortune article is well worth the read for a few reasons, not the least of which is that this is being published in Fortune, not some hippy 'zine. So when the mag declares that we should "... quit defining the desire for doable jobs as a "women's issue." Men want this too ... " it carries a little extra weight.

The other element of the Fortune story that sets it apart from the run-of-the-mill work-life piece is that the authors have come to the conclusions that full and balanced lives ought not to be an option only for those at the bottom of the corporate ladder. Instead, the entire thrust is that senior managers -- the executive bathroom crowd -- should begin stepping away from the 80-hour week. Now I have no idea, quite honestly, whether a top-down rethinking of work is at all realistic, but it can't be that much harder than a bottom-up revolution.

It sounds like the ground is fallow for such a shift in attitudes:
Our new survey of senior FORTUNE 500 male executives offers surprising answers. Fully 84% say they'd like job options that let them realize their professional aspirations while having more time for things outside work; 55% say they're willing to sacrifice income. Half say they wonder if the sacrifices they've made for their careers are worth it. In addition, 73% believe it's possible to restructure senior management jobs in ways that would both increase productivity and make more time available for life outside the office. And 87% believe that companies that enable such changes will have a competitive advantage in attracting talent. Other interviews suggest that the younger a male executive is, the more likely he is to say he cares about all of this.
The story then goes on to explain why -- in the face of this interest in saner work arrangements -- American business remains the global standard for workaholism: fear. Fear of career suicide, mostly. That's one hell of an obstacle, and getting over it will be the number one challenge for work-life balance advocates. But it sounds like we're making progress ...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Convention noodling continues: I'm done uploading photos tagged with "rebeldad". By all means, if you have convention photos, upload 'em and tag 'em (Jeff's are already there). And if you don't, I believe the comments are open on all of them, so feel free to add names, captions, etc. Next up: video. The wiki is also getting robust. There's only one thing lacking -- I'd love to hear from someone who didn't attend the event. What's keeping you guys away? Post to the site or just e-mail me.

I finally did it. Traffic was up enough that I blew through my allotted bandwith. I'll be moving to new servers over the next 48 hours, so I am completely responsible for anything that disappears (temporarily) between now and then.

Monday, November 28, 2005

There is some deep-thinking analysis is this American Prospect article due out next month that has knocked me -- temporarily -- off of my obsessive convention focus. (Though, of course, I began posting to the wiki over the weekend.)

The Prospect piece seeks to tackle familiar ground: what can be done to attack the underlying set of circumstances that "forces" women to opt out of the workforce. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I get worked up every six months or so when the New York Times runs one of their piece about women cheerfully chucking professional life. Apparently, Linda Hirshman, who wrote the Prospect article, feels the same way.

Hirshman does a great job of describing the problem. Her solutions, however, are a bit odd, though. She proposes a number of strategies to make it easier for women to continue to work, mostly operating on the theory that women who outearn their mates will be best able to slough off the role of primary caregiver on their husband. I'm going to leave aside the obvious objection -- raising kids ain't a bad gig, especially if you can afford it -- and throw out my usual work-life plea instead.

The ideal situation for most families should be shared parenting, where a child has ample doses of both parents. The best way to make that happen is through workplace flexibility: alternative schedules, ample part-time work (with benefits), telecommuting options, etc. There is no reason why the workplace in 2005 needs to run like it did in 1981, when the phone company was a monopoly, fax machines were considered something close to black magic and the internet was powered by 213 computers. If you could build businesses around the concepts advocated by Joan Williams at UC-Hastings -- proportional pay, benefits and advancement for part-timers -- a lot of Hirshman's concerns would disappear. You'd have happy workers and happy parents, and there's evidence you'd have good parents and good workers, too.

Is this all starry-eyed? You betcha. But I'd rather see a concerted effort to get there than to get to Hirshman's utopia, where the martial market is some kind of bottom-line driven race to buy out of childcare.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The convention chatter is spreading to the blogosphere. This is pretty exciting; in years past, the convention would come and go, and no other websites would take notice. Not surprisingly, the first post came from Jeff at No Ma'am. He nails the underlying benefit of the event:
But, aside from reaffirming my career choice, the greatest thing I took away from this convention was the brotherhood we all shared. Just being in a room with 100 other guys that are doing the same thing I'm doing day in and day out was a moving experience.
Sappy, but true. Jeff's photos (among those at Flickr tagged with "rebeldad") also caught the attention of Phil at a Family Runs Through It, who correctly noted that there is a preferred at-home dad look.

Some good non-convention stuff floating around the 'net lately, too. Check out this gem from In The Schutte House:
Just wanted to write a quick note of thanks to the random stranger at the grocery store. As we passed in the isle you remarked, "Not as easy as it looks, huh?"

Wow, some assumption. Obviously a man shopping with two small kids would have no idea the challenges involved. Its obvious that a man would be overwhelmed with the responsibility of not only caring for kids but shopping as well! It must have been shocking that both the girls seemed happy and healthy. No doubt I must have just bribed them with promises of candy at the check-out counter. Thank you for reminding me to explain to my kids that someone's gender has very little with what they can do and be as an adult. Yes, only boys can grow up and be daddies and only girls can grow up to be mommies, but staying home with kids can be a job for either mommies or daddies.
What is it about grocery stores that brings out these comments?

Reminder: Whether you've attended the convention or not, I'm interested in hearing what you think an at-home dad convention *should* look like. Post your comments on the Convention 2006 wiki page.

Monday, November 21, 2005

More from the convention: check out photos from the convention on Flickr (tagged with "rebeldad"). There have been new additions from photogs better than I.

Also ... the wiki is already hopping with suggestions for next year. I'll be adding my own thoughts in the next couple of days. An even more extensive discussion is happening in a forum.

I have more photos to upload, and I'll be experimenting with some video. Stay tuned ...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Looking Ahead. Maybe. The big discussion here -- and one that will no doubt continue -- is where the at-home dad convention goes from here. There is evidently some question about whether or not the host institution, the generous (if not glamorous) Oakton Community College will continue the tradition. That opens the possibility that the convention would move in time and/or space -- if organizers can make that financially viable. But more importantly and more immediately, the longtime coordinator of the event is stepping down, suggesting that someone with a better perspective on the needs of newer at-home dads take the reins.

I may well set up a wiki page to deal with this, but I'm curious to throw it open to the readership in the comments: Is there still a need for an at-home dad gathering? What should be happening there? Are there folks who you'd like to hear from? Subjects you'd like to see explored?

UPDATE: The wiki page for *next year's convention* is now live at the old wiki site: Please contribute.
Rebel Dad Radio 11.19.05

Here's the special convention edition of Rebel Dad Radio. The podcast excerpts portion of Kyle Pruett's keynote address this morning. Thanks to Dr. Pruett to allowing the podcast of this speech. Pruett is a trove of information about the benefits of fatherhood, and, as such, he is a well-deserved hero of at-home dads. If you'd like to futher explore Pruett's findings, please check out his books, Fatherneed and The Nurturing Father.

As always, Rebel Dad Radio audio comments are welcome at 206-338-3237 (DADS). Best comments will make it on a later show. And, of course, there's always e-mail:

Rebel Dad Radio 11.19.05 | 14:18 | 13 MB


It's nice to have Kyle Pruett back here again, and I say that not just because he was nice enough to greenlight the recording of his keynote (which I'm trying to produce now. It ain't NPR quality, but I'll get something out). Though his presentation wasn't vastly different, hearing him is always affirming. The message is simple: fathers are doing something special -- and something right -- that will stick with the kids for years.

I've made this plug before, and I'll make it again ... as nice as it is to get the presentation here, it's also well worth hearing Pruett's full arguments, and his book, Fatherneed, is an important read.

But he through a couple of new nuggets into the conversation, including a $10 million program he's working on in the state of California to aid at-risk families by a focus solely on father involvement. I need to learn more -- and I'll be following this as it evolves -- but Dr. Pruett suggests that the results will be well worth paying attention to. "The early data is in," he said, "and it looks positive."

It sounds like there may be a little more research presented today; I'll keep you posted.

Feels like a big turnout today. More blurry photos up at the Flickr feed.

The Games Have Begun!

The Games Have Begun!
Originally uploaded by Rebel Dad.
I'm now safely in Chicago, where the usual Friday night festivities were already in full swing. More tomorrow on the substance of the event. I'm capturing audio and video and looking forward to sharing.

Photo of Bob Noonan, host of the unofficial pre- and post-convention fun.

Reminder: Live photos will continue to be uploaded to

Friday, November 18, 2005

All systems go: I'll be on a plane, headed for the convention by 7 p.m. tonight, and I look forward to joining the festivities around 9:30 p.m. Dave warns me that the Cambridge House is not exactly "across the street," but I'm sure you'll find your way those six blocks. All of the techy stuff should be a go; technology willing, the keynote will be up on the web tomorrow night, and I've already started posting to the convention Flickr feed at (As an aside, I'll be tagging all photos with "rebeldad." If you go to the convention, take photos and use Flickr, add "rebeldad" to your tags and we'll be able to build a huge library of convention pics at

Of course, I was so busy getting my life in order that I completely missed The View yesterday on at-home dads. The Minnesota guys look like they got good press, and there was evidently some Desperate Housewives stuff, too. Anyone have a tape they can spare for a week or so?

Update: Phil at "A Family Runs Through It" caught the show.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

OK. Decisions have been made. The first-ever RebelDad gathering will happen at 7 a.m. on Sunday at the Cambridge House restaurant. It's centrally located so don't worry about transport. All you have to do is wake up and cross the street. But ... I'll also be hanging at pizzeria Ora (the Best Western's restaurant/bar) at midnight, if anyone wants an impromptu get-together.

The black bumper stickers are in. If you've signed up on the wiki, you're getting one on Sunday morning. If you haven't yet, you still have two days to sign up to attend the event, but you've missed the bumper sticker deadline.

Look for the keynote podcast to go up during the weekend at some point, and a Flickr feed will appear at If I'm ambitious, I may upload brief video snippets here.

So you're sick of the convention talk. Check out the latest from Jeff at No Ma'am, who offered to run a fatherhood course at his local hospital. (Getting guys roped in around the time of childbirth is a key plank in the grand RebelDad plan to remake parenthood.) They said no, for a shortsighted and silly reason. Jeff gets point both for trying and for understanding exactly what he can bring to the table:
What could I possibly teach a working dad?
Three R's:
Respect..... Respect your at-home wife. She's working too.... And its damned hard.
Responsibility..... Hey, they're your kids too. Give them a little one on one time. You'll love it, they'll love it, Mom will love it.
Relax.... Being a dad isn't as hard as it looks. Teach your kids love and they'll give it back. Have fun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

First, convention stuff: I plan on keeping open for one more day the voting on the time/location question. I'll break any ties. (And yes, there are black bumper stickers for those who have signed up. Haven't seen 'em yet, though, so I can't vouch for their coolness. But they'll be free.)

Also: UPDATE: Dr. Pruett has reconsidered. There *will* (technology willing) be a podcast of the keynote. ... I'm still considering putting up a Flickr feed (in some cases updated in real time), and I will (of course) be blogging everything.

Second: Work-life balance. The Washington Post yesterday ran one of the more interesting pieces I've see on the working vs at-home dichotomy. The author, a lawyer named Lynn R. Charytan, makes the argument that staying home (or working) doesn't make you a different parent. Staying home won't change your level of patience or the value of time. As someone who has straddled the line, it rang true, and it is certainly a different take on the subject.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fair Warning: will be close to all-at-home-dad convention, all-the-time over the next couple of weeks, though I'll be sure to slip significant non-convention news should any arise.

For starters, I have two questions for who have signed up for the Rebel Dad event next weekend on the wiki: when (midnight Saturday or 7 a.m. Sunday) and where (walking distance or cab trip). Vote in the comments of this post. Only the votes of those signed up on the wiki count. Majority rules.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ironically, today's post is about work-life balance. This is ironic, naturally, because I have had very little balance of late. Those of you who know my dirty little secret (my job), probably also know that, from time to time, I becoming singularly unable to jam everything into the 24 hours I'm allotted.

But I am not alone in my quest. The Gen Y folks who are nipping at my demographic heels (I'm a young Xer) are apparently changing
the rules of the workplace
, including work-life balance:
Work-life balance isn't just a buzz word. Unlike boomers who tend to put a high priority on career, today's youngest workers are more interested in making their jobs accommodate their family and personal lives. They want jobs with flexibility, telecommuting options and the ability to go part time or leave the workforce temporarily when children are in the picture.

"There's a higher value on self fulfillment," says Diana San Diego, 24, who lives with her parents in San Francisco and works on college campuses helping prepare students for the working world through the Parachute College Program. "After 9/11, there is a realization that life is short. You value it more."
While this is good news (if it's true, which Slate correctly points out is hardly a given), I'm not sure we should be quoting 24-year-olds who live with their parents as paragons of deep thinking on work-life balance. Surely, USA Today could have found a 24-year-old first-time parent in America negotiating a flex schedule or exploring at-home fatherhood or shared care. Heck, I bet one of you fits the bill.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Quick hits today: starting with this Tacoma News Tribune first-person piece on at-home fatherhood. It's the usual treatment -- an explanation of the joys of the job, some expressions of discomfort in social situations and firm declaration that this is a job that's second to none. A worthy addition to the cannon.

Also: the stathound in me was a little thrilled to see this Google Answers answer on dad stats. Not much of it was new or important, but it was a heck of a collection.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Quick Questions about the RebelDad coverage of the At-Home Dad Convention later this month. Last year, I did plenty of on-site blogging, and I'll certainly do that again. But is there any demand -- particularly for those who *won't* be able to make it -- for extended, multimedia coverage? It would be possible to set up a Flickr photostream (heck, I can send photos to Flickr straight from my cameraphone) or record Kyle Pruett's keynote and post it as a podcast. All suggestions welcome.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I almost forgot: today is Stupid Gender Stereotype Day. Anyone know what happened with Martha Stewart's plans? A month ago, she was all chummy and inviting us to come and celebrate Stupid Gender Stereotype Day. Now, it appears she'll be talking to Matt Lauer. And there's no mention of at-home dads on the page that used to be wooing us. Can anyone explain?

Update: D'oh! Reading through other blogs on the topic, it looks like they plan to *tape* this week. (Thanks, Russ.) Any idea if that's going to happen? Anyone scheduled to be in the audience?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Jay from over at Blogging Baby dug up this frightening movie in the making, titled "Father Knows Less," apparently about a guy whose wife leaves him to bumble around with the stepkids. Prediction: it'll bomb. Fathers who can't parent aren't common anymore, and the stereotype is loosing its humor. The real irony, of course, is that Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar in Kramer v Kramer. Then, as now, he played a guy whose wife leaves him, but the film eschews the laughs in favor of making what was then a kind of radical point: men can parent perfectly well, thank you very much. Apparently, Hollywood is backsliding. At least society -- where the rest of us live -- have moved on.

Also: We're closing in on the At-Home Dad Convention, and I really, really need to get my plane tickets. I think it's relatively important that we end up somewhere close to the convention. Golden Nugget, anyone? (Thanks to Dave for the close-by suggestion.) The real question: will you guys really be up for a 7 a.m. breakfast?

(Worth noting: if anything seems screwy with this post, you can blame my decision to test-drive a new browser called Flock that has a blogging thingamajig built in, as well as super duper support, etc. If there's anything problematic about this post -- other than my usual butchering of the language -- let me know.)

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

This blog stays pretty apolitical, unless the subject touches on policies directly affecting at-home parents. And, in the event you haven't been paying attention, there are some gender-neutrality/work-life/parenting issues at play in the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. I am not qualified to go into Alito's anti-FMLA decision of five years ago, though Angry Bear does an excellent job. (Thanks, Chip.)

To something different: Time to knock off some items that have been sitting around in the "rebeldad" tag for a little while:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes on the evergreen PTA-wants-more-dad story. I love this story. In the hyper-competitive world of child-raising, making the PTA a gender-neutral requirement of an involved family can only pay dividends.

Interesting Boston Globe Miss Conduct etiquette column on whether single dads hosting playdates should be seen as a threat. Love the response:
I've invited some of my 6-year-old daughter's school friends over for play dates, and some moms have reciprocated. A couple of her friends live only with their dads, and I feel uncomfortable letting my daughter go to a house where she and the friend will be alone with a man I don't know well. How do I respond if one of these dads invites my daughter over to play with his daughter? My husband says I'm being sexist and unfair. Am I?
R.L. /// Newton

I can't get all judgy on you, because your motive is so clearly innocent. You want to protect your kid, and who can blame a mom for that? So, no, I can't call you sexist and unfair. But I do think you should reconsider your assumptions...
The discomfort so many feel when men are around the children of others is a meaningful obstacle to bringing up children in a true gender-neutral environment, and it goes at least a little way toward explaining why preschool and elementary ed is almost exclusively female. But -- as Miss Conduct makes plain -- a little reason can go a long way.