Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Annual Lull

It happens every year: for a few weeks before Father's Day, stories about fatherhood in the media taper off, as editors horde them for the one day a year that there is a real hook for writing on dads. We're in that lull now. If something catches your eye, please let me know.

In the meantime, I'll added a couple of new names to the blogroll at left ... feel free to check them out (or any of the other fine links there). I'll be pruning the list soon, too ... there are a few sites that seen to have been abandoned. And I'll work on updating the OPML when I have a chance.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Props to the Advertisers

As you all have probably noticed, I've gone commercial, and earlier this month ran the first (for the new kid-oriented PBS game show, Fetch, that will premier on Monday). I added two more ads to the mix this week -- music by Dan Zanes and photobooks from PhotoWorks.

I'm being somewhat heavy-handed in accepting and rejecting these. I want to make sure that they're keeping with the spirit of the site and have products and services in good taste. If you have any objections, be sure to let me know.

I've kept the site up and running for almost four years with nothing more than the occasional sale of "Rebel Dad" gear. The BlogAds now running are defraying some of that cost; please check them out. If you'd like to get in front of readers, please apply at BlogAds.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Mom Comes to Our Defense

So yesterday I was given another reminder that one of these days I should really start a blogroll for MAWDAHs ... moms who go to work and are married to at-home dads. Asha over at flagged this post by Mom 101 about her husband. It is a wonderful denunciation of the strange and irritating trend toward referring to male caregivers by female terms ("The Mommy," "Mr. Mom," etc.)

I was asked recently what the problem with Mr. Mom is, and Mom 101 nails a good chunk of it. Here's my take on why it's a problem:

* It is unfair to women to "mom"ify the job. Calling a guy "Mr. Mom," implies mom *should* be the one behind the stroller. That ought to be pretty offensive nowadays.

* It emphasizes the novelty of at-home fatherhood. A dad at the playground shouldn't be treated with any more surprise that a female surgeon in the operating room. Why should "Hey -- that kid's caretaker is a *man*!" be any less offensive than "Hey -- that doctor/lawyer/exec is a *woman*!"?

* It glosses over the different skills that mothers and fathers bring to the table. Kyle Pruett at Yale has made a career of noting that men and women generally parent differently, and that kids are best served by both styles of play. Suggesting that a dad is "mothering" shortchanges dads by ignoring the unique advantages of what Pruett calls "Fatherneed." (And it shortchanges moms by suggesting that dads can provide traits that are generally unique to moms.)

* It reminds everyone of Jack Butler, Michael Keaton's character in Mr. Mom. I know that the movie comes to a sweet end, where Jack becomes a good dad, etc. etc. But it is remembered in the collective unconscious as a movie about a do-nothing father who can't iron and who drinks beer in the morning. I could do without those images being attached to dads taking care of their kids.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Mommy Wars Takes Another Shot

I know I'm behind the curve a bit on the mommy wars stuff, but I just got around to reading this brilliant piece on mommy wars, written for Mother's Day. It nicely dismantles the "war" by laying out the similarities between at-home and go-to-work moms, at least from a kid's point of view. This clearly won't end the asinine stories (though they *do* seem to be less frequent since Steiner and Flanagan, etc. forced everyone to think critically about the issue), but it's a nice addition to the anti-war canon.

While I'm catching up, check out MassDad's Evan Hadley, who wrote a nice first-person piece about his experience.

And if you're in need of a laugh, a British newspaper column has targeted a major scourge that you should all be aware of: dad bloggers. Read it and weep. (Thanks to (who gets savaged in the piece) for bringing this to my attention.)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Call for Help

A notable expert in family law working on a Father's Day op-ed is looking for stories of fathers who have faced hostility in the workplace after asking for family-related flexibility or leave. If you have a story to share, please, please let me know ASAP:

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I go through phases where I get excited when celebrities announce that they will step off the power track and do the at-home dad thing. As a rule, it rarely lasts, and while it's nice to see movie stars at least paying lip service to the SAHD life, the followthrough leaves something to be desire.

That's why this article from The Independent (now behind a subscription wall. Sorry.) is so interesting. It's about Rick Moranis -- remember him -- and how he really did step off the movie-making track to spend more time with the kids. He's kept quiet, and reading the story, it's clear that there is at least one former Hollywood denizen who understands the power and allure of raising your own children.

At-home dads are evidently a hot topic in the media now. In addition to the Today Show report, KSL-TV in Salt Lake City did a piece on how at-home fathers are on the rise. And the Grand Rapids (MI) Press ran a story on Monday about a local dad's group.

Speaking of local dad's groups, I'm (as always) accepting new groups and playgroups for the at-home dad map. Let me know if your group should be represented but isn't.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


It's been a bit quiet around here lately, and I wanted to you you all know why:

Almost two weeks ago, I accepted a job offer, and I gave notice to my current employer last week. Those who have closely read this blog for the last couple of years know that I've been working a full-time but flexible schedule for the past 16 months, a schedule that has allowed me a fair amount of freedom when it comes to family time. With the new gig, I'll be trading a great deal of that flexibility in. I thought
you all should know.

I'll be working from home, which is nice, but I'll be moving out of the primary caretaker role and into the I'll be the primary wage-earner role. The change is exciting (and a bit terrifying).

One of the accidental advantages of the name "Rebel Dad" is that there's nothing inherent in the term that disqualifies go-to-work dads from adopting it. I'll keep up the site, and though I'll probably talk a bit more about paid work, I plan to continue to write about at-home dads. I think it's important that someone keep an eye out, and it's a topic that's close to my heart. But you'll also probably get more stories about go-to-work dads and the ways they struggle with work-family balance.

As most of you know, there is real at-home dad news from the last 24 houts. The Today Show did a relatively long segment on at-home dads, talking to RebelConventionRoommate Chris and some of the other Seattle dads, plus an extended one-on-one with Peter Baylies and Ann Curry. I haven't been this exited about a.m. television since my mother was on with Matt Lauer.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Very Happy Mother's Day

One of the best arguments I have heard in favor of at-home fatherhood is that the wives of SAHDs are generally excellent, involved parents. That is certainly the truth around here -- making me one lucky guy -- and I'm sure it's the case in your household.

Happy Mother's Day, RebelMom!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Fun Stuff

Reader Jonathan e-mailed me with what has to be the most interesting mention of SAHDs in the mainstream media. It seems that we made the New York Times on Saturday, though -- truth be told -- not in the most direct way. The clue to 14 Down in the crossword is "Like some dads," and puzzlers are given a box for a 10-letter word. The answer, naturally, is STAYATHOME. So neat that I had to go out at 10 p.m. and grab my own copy.

And thought it has nothing to do with at-home fatherhood, you really ought to read the cookie monster piece in McSweeneys. It's the funniest kid-related thing I've read all year. (Thanks to for noticing.)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

From the Mouths of Babes and Other Quick Hits

You gotta love this. The Pensacola News-Journal published a bunch of "Father of the Year" essays from local school kids. Here's my favorite:
2. Payton Drummond -- father, Richard Lynn Jones

To start, I was born without a dad. So to me my dad means I was chosen, because when someone else didn't want to be my dad he did. One time before my mom and dad got married, I called him dad. My mom was really surprised, she had never taught me that word. I guess I decided I wanted him to be my dad before my mom did. What my mom did not know was my dad was trying to get me to call him dad every time she left the room. He chose me and my mom. That is one reason why I really love him and I would not have it any other way.

Some of the best times we have is when we read together. We have read a book called McGrowl BEWARE OF DOG. Its a really good book but it put daddy to sleep. Zzzzz! Imagine that. Sitting there reading and then your dad falls asleep. Actually, I find it kind of funny. Eventually he woke up but only because I made him.

My dad is a stay at home dad for now. Its really cool because he is always there waiting for me and my little brother when we come home from school. So, that means more time to spend with daddy! YYYYAAA! Also he is a very great cook he makes delicious things like spaghetti, meatloaf, and BBQ chicken. He helps me do my homework and clean my room. He tucks me into bed every night.

I would love to tell you more but it would make this essay about a million words long and I'm only allowed to use three hundred. So all I can say is I really love my super, duper, stay at home dad.
Last week I swore that if Caitlin Flanagan began being taken seriously as a political commentator, I'd be moving to Canada. Now I see this Time essay in which Flanagan is being taken seriously as a political commentator. What are property values like in Vancouver, anyway?

(Flanagan's viewpoint is lost on me. She holds herself up as some sort of ideal Democrat, driven from the party because of one teeny, tiny issue -- her rampant neo-traditionalism. This would be a valid argument if Flanagan had indeed spent any time during her five years in the spotlight arguing for reproductive rights or against the war in Iraq or in favor of universal healthcare. But until now, she has used her high and mighty perch at the New Yorker and the Atlantic to beat home a single issue, promoting from every angle the idea that women ought to be at home. But for a much better analysis, check out Echidne of the Snakes on the topic.)

Show Me the Money: I'm sure everyone has seen the report that suggests that at-home moms do $134,212 worth of household work. These are always fun stories, but I prefer Ric Edelman's estimate: $635,724.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Federal Reserve and the Mommy Wars

I keep meaning to post a link to this this extraordinary entry on the Family Man blog that quotes a Federal Reserve economist, Art Rolnick, who claims that investing in quality child care brings a 17 percent return. When Fed bankers start saying stuff like this, I pay attention.

Return to the Mommy Wars: Because I can't get enough of anti-mommy wars stories, I wanted to share the take of the very sensible (as always) Mothers Movement Online. It's a well-done piece laying out the case for a "cease fire" (a term I can do without, but that's another post), but it caught my eye because it brings fathers into the equation, mentioning that mommy wars stories are "outdated at best [for SAHDs] and offensive at worst, primarily because they ignore the issues these families face." Then the author lets loose with this:
Unlike women, however, men suffer much more societal and employment discrimination when they try to achieve a better work-life balance. Indeed, many dads have no balance at all, given that one third of employed fathers work more than 50 hours a week.

Â?One of the things thatÂ?s harmful about the Mommy Wars is that it takes the focus off of the role of men, who are desperately eager to have more of a role in the family,Â? says Ellen Bravo of 9 to 5, the National Association of Working Women. Â?Men wonÂ?t share fully in raising children, and household chores, and deciding about how to balance work and family, until they stop being punished at work for wanting to do that.Â?
What's to argue?

ThRepublicepulic has also waded into the topic, and Laura at 11d has the details.

Finally, in pulling this post together, I googled the phrase mommy wars and found that The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars is the number one hit. Congrats to Miriam, and thanks to everyone who linked to the book!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Playing Literary Catch-Up

I was fortune enough to attend a MotherTalk event over the weekend, which included RebelDad fav Miriam Peskowitz, author of The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars, as well as Andi Buchanan. It was a wonderful event, and given that it was pitched mostly mothering discussion groups, I wasn't too bothered by the absence of fathers there.

It was a little nerve-wracking meeting Andi because I have promised her a couple of book reviews that hadn't been written. Andi has been incredibly busy over the last year, editing three books -- a collection of writings from the Literary Mama website titled (surprise) Literary Mama, as well as It's a Boy and It's a Girl, two collections of essays by women writers about raising children of one sex or the other.

All three are interesting reads. The sheer variety of literary Mama caught my attention, which includes poetry and pieces of varying length and perspective, but it was "It's a Boy" and "It's a Girl," that have stuck with me. The essays are all well-thought out, and they span the experience, from the pre-birth gender expectations to the way children grow up. There is something different about these books as compared with others in the increasingly common "collection of essays by moms" genre, and I think it's a focus on the kids, not the parent. Though there's plenty of wonderful essays on parenting out there, by forcing writers to think about the way they interact with a specific child, you don't get stock pieces on Modern Parenthood and My Experience.

I joked with Andi that she's only told half the story -- what about dads with sons and dads with daughters? Of course, Andi's probably burnt out -- but perhaps there's a loyal reader who is game to tackle that. I'd be first in line to plunk down my $14.95. Any takers?