Thursday, July 27, 2006

Welcome Post Readers

Since I may have some new visitors today from my new endeavor at the Washington Post, I wanted to point to some of the site's resources that go beyond me spouting my opinions.

Stats: I maintain the most comprehensive list of at-home dad statistics from both the U.S. and abroad. (Yet I still can't answer the question "how many at-home dads are there?")

Playgroup Resources: This site hosts an interactive map of dad groups and dad-friendly playgroups.

If you would like your group/playgroup listed, please e-mail

If you would like more information on getting a local at-home dad group up and running, please check out the dad's group how-to.

Other Blogs: If you read your blogs in a feed reader and would like to expand your list of at-home dad blogs, a slightly out-of-date version of my blogroll is available as an OPML file.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Props from the Left Coast

I don't know what it is about California, but there's been a mini-boom there of at-home dad stories. I should start by highlighting this column from the Orange County Register. Taken alone, it's not extraordinary (it's basically a glowing profile of SAHD Christopher Nally, who appears to be waaaaaay more with it than I ever was), but I give serious extra credit for the mention of the At Home Dad Convention. Nothing would make me happier than to see the convention's web address appended to every story on at-home dads from here to November. Extra extra credit for quoting the OC's most famous AHD, Hogan Hilling, who tries to set the record right on the at-home dad stats.

There are plenty of at-home dads in the northern part of the state, too, evidently. The San Francisco Chronicle published what is almost certainly the most comprehensive at-home dad article of the year. It digs deep into the life of a great number of the East Bay Dads, and gives one heck of a perspective of what it's really like. I'm a fan of the writing, too:
And some dads describe an eerie feeling similar to missing a flight and then meeting the love of your life in the airport bar -- knowing if they had followed their traditional gender role, or let someone else take care of their children, they would have missed out on the greatest experience of their lives.
I could quote more, and liberally, but it's probably best if you check out the story yourself. It's a heckuva piece. (And I learned that the Chronicle has its own baby blog, The Poop, which looks like a pretty good read itself.)

Update: Just saw that Salon has taken a few swipes at the Chronicle piece, raising the sensible point that if the genders were switched and this was a story about at-home *moms*, there'd be a firestorm of "mommy wars"-style criticism. The Salon post actually comes close to the actual answer, musing that maybe such SAHD stories are OK because "it is cool when men stay at home since it's opposite their traditional role, but it's lame and antifeminist if a woman does it?"

That is exactly right. What makes at-home dads interesting is not that they walk their kids to school or go to the playground or do laundry or whatever. It's that they are refusing to play by the outdated gender roles. Parents should have a wide range of choices about how they balance work and home, and one of the largest obstacles to this free choice is the idea that there are certain things men simply don't do (and that women, therefore, must do). At-home dads help shatter this idea, which helps not only SAHDs, but also go-to-work women (who face less of a "second shift" at home), go-to-work dads (who have additional freedom to ask for flexibility) and at-home moms (whose choice is validated by an expanded -- and more diverse -- peer group).

Like most AHD stories, the Chronicle piece isn't *really* about raising kids. It's about breaking down gender roles. And for that reason, it deserves to be read.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Personal Updates

I know I play it pretty close to the chest when it comes to details of my actual, real life, but there are a couple of items I want share with you. Most importantly, the RebelFamily added a member last month (RM mentioned this in the comments, but it deserves to be said here). RebelMom and RebelPreemie are both doing great, and I am going through that wonderful period in which I feel nothing but admiration for my wife, love for my kids and overwhelming, near-constant exhaustion.

I also hinted last week about a new outlet for me, and Chip, in the comments, nails it: I'll be guest-blogging every Thursday over at the Washington Post's On Balance blog, which is run by Leslie Morgan Steiner. Leslie (and her producer) are to be commended for giving me this spot despite the frequency with which I ... ahem ... question her worldview. I should start this week.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Great Work by the MSM

The men-are-great-caretakers meme received a couple nice boosts over the last few days from newspapers that carry some impressive weight. For starters, the Washington Post put on its front page a thoughtful story about a "manny" (who happens to ply his trade in my 'hood). I would have been thrilled at the profile elements alone -- it's hard to read the piece and *not* come to the conclusion that the 25-year-old male nanny involved is anything but a skilled caretaker.

But the author, Brigid Schulte, gets extra credit for exploring the question of whether male caretakers are natural. She talks to one evolutionary psychologist who claims it's "not in the nature of many males" to raise kids. But -- thanks Brigid -- she follows that with a series of paragraphs from an evolutionary biologist who effectively makes the counterpoint.
"I suspect that a lot of what we say about human potential and human patterns associated with gender are nothing more than politics," [Patricia Gowaty, the University of Georgia] said.
True, true.

And it's not just 25-year-old aspiring poets who are proving guys have the tools to raise kids; prolific tipster Keith pointed me to a Wall Street Journal article on the rise of what they (unfortunately) call "Mr. Grandmom": the way the first generation of involved fathers is playing increasingly active role in the lives of their grandchildren. The story pulls some interesting stats:
In a survey of 1,353 parents done for this column by parenting Web site, 72% had grandparents living nearby. Of those respondents, 77% said their children's grandfathers helped provide child care. Though 48% said their kids' grandmothers are better than grandfathers at child-care duties, a healthy 41% said the granddads are just as good as the grandmoms; 3% said grandfathers were better.
It's important to remember, looking at those numbers, at how *small* the number of involved fathers were 20 years ago. These RebelGrandfathers are only the leading edge of a wave of involved male caretakers. It's hard to say that we've reached a tipping point, where gender roles in the home have become normalized. But the rise of the manny and of the active grandfather suggest we're creeping closer.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Old Man and the ABC

If Ernest Hemingway was an at-home dad in modern America and wrote about his experiences, it would sound a good bit like yesterday's sweet and simple "Odyssey of a Mr. Mom that Sean Devlin wrote for the Boston Globe. I read (and post about) so much analysis and so many straight profiles that his piece really stood out as something different. Worth the read.

And in my continuing effort to highlight international fatherhood, this piece from the Sydney Morning Herald deserves a look. It goes through a new report from the Australian government on what dads are up to when it comes to work-family balance. If you want to look at trends, the news is good: more dads are using flexible schedules and the such since 1993. But the absolute numbers are still small. I'm waiting for a real acceleration of those numbers as modern technology makes it simple for flexible schedules to be viable.

They also throw out a stat for at-home dads: 3.4 percent. Though still low, it's not an insignificant number -- a similar finding in the U.S. would account for more than a million at-home dads.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Balls in the Air

Though I know it has seemed, lately, that you've been getting *less* RebelDad, I can assure you that the future will bring more RebelDad in more places. It looks like I'll be lending my keyboard once a week to a larger, widely read and often-misguided blog -- more details on this over the next week.

But I have not abandoned this site (the latest lull stems from some pretty heavy work-life balancing over the past week), nor have I stopped tracking interesting stuff like ...

... this column from the Fredericksburg (VA) Free Lance-Star. Self-promotion aside ( is mentioned), it serves as one of the nicest round-up of at-home dad stuff I've seen in a while, dinging the Census stats and pulling some of the best nuggets from, back in the day, including a nice bit from Slowlane honcho Jay Massey on how to pull off the working dad+primary caretaker thing. The writer, Jonathan Hunley, has said he's trying to pen more parenthood pieces as he gets the hang of fatherhood, so he's worth watching.

... this piece from the Telegraph (UK) that sets out some of the most outrageous at-home dad stereotypes, tongue in cheek, and then comes to the conclusions that -- with the exception of our apparent inability to make small talk at mom-centric playground -- we're pretty much just like any other set of parents. Worth bookmarking if you're interested in helping to revise the Stay at home dad Wikipedia page, which needs to be cleaned up to remove the US-centric point of view.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Convention Is a Go

The fine folks behind the 2006 At-Home Dad Convention have officially announced this year's event:
For all the men that have traded in the office for the daily rewards and challenges of at-home parenthood, the annual At Home Dad Convention will be held November 11th, 2006, in partnership with the Women's and Family Centers at the University of Missouri Kansas City. This year's theme will be "Dads Helping Dads" and will focus on ways to help the at-home dad do his job. The convention also comes with a new location: after 10 years in the Chicago area, the annual convention is pleased to begin its second decade in a new home, Kansas City, Missouri.

Organized by at-home dad volunteers from around the nation, the 11th Annual At Home Dad Convention is a great opportunity for at-home dads to interact in both the structured setting of the convention as well as in the relaxed atmosphere of numerous social gatherings. Large group sessions and smaller break-out sessions will offer a chance for at-home dads to learn new tips and tricks to help with the daily routine and ways to prepare themselves for life as their kids get older. Outside activities will also be available and may include a tour of the Kansas City Harley Davidson Assembly Plant, a docent led tour of local art and historical museums, a tour of the Boulevard Brewery, and an authentic KC BBQ meal.

Registration and lodging information will be posted August 1st.
Obviously, I've written a lot about the convention before -- I think it's a great event, and I know that the gentlemen who rescued the convention from its near-death experience have spent a lot of time trying to make the experience as fulfilling as possible. There has been a fair amount of reinvention, and I'm curious to see how the rebirth goes.

I'd love to have a big SAHD blogger presence there -- Jeff has made the trek, but I'm not aware of any other guys in the blogroll who have made it out in the past. If you're a blogger and plan to be there, let me know -- I'd love to send traffic your way.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Paternity Leave. All the Hip Kids are Doing It.

Last winter, I was briefly excited about an article in Fortune that suggested that modern masters of the universe actually wanted more work-life balance. I wasn't bowled over by the novelty of the article's premise, but was very, very happy that it ran in Fortune, of all places. In the modern economy, it seems that the folks at the top of the pyramid are the best bet for a working culture that respects the commitments of fathers. Fortune is aimed at those top-of-the-pyramid guys.

So I was naturally thrilled to read a new Wall Street Journal column from the weekend (forwarded to me by Keith -- thanks!) that trumpets paternity leave as "The Next Frontier." (Sub. only, in the event the link as expired). My hope is that we're seeing a nascent recognition of family leave as something that is -- gasp -- normal for new fathers, and if the Wall Street Journal is going to promote that idea, God bless 'em.

I'm not just wowed by the Journal choosing to write on the topic. On the merits, it's a great piece:
Many men worry about how this will look in a world where 'leaving to spend more time with his family' is generally code for having been fired. If someone holds your leave against you come promotion time later on, that income lost to leave will pale in comparison to the long-term effect of a foregone raise. But if daddy-leave still has a stigma, perhaps it's because so many people who could afford to take it aren't choosing to blaze a trail for the rest of the paternity fraternity.
So kudos to the author, Ron Lieber, who is beginning his own leave this month. Hope to see him on the playground.

As a related aside the fine folks at the Center for WorkLife Law have published a new report -- Litigating the Maternal Wall -- on the skyrocketing suits over "family responsibilities discrimination" -- noting that cases where employers are being illegally punished for their family commitments is up 400 percent in the last decade. Forty-three of those cases have involved male caregivers. The fight for a sane balance between work and family is being fought on many levels -- from the courts to the pages of the WSJ -- and I stand behind all of those efforts.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

(Yet More) Dads as Work-Life Linchpins

No sooner do I see the New Republic blog posting on where the dad's are at, then I stumble across all kinds of work-life stuff involving dads. I found this post from the Work+Life "Fit" Blog. There's nothing ground-breakingly new, but it lays out the current on working dads and home life pretty well:
First, companies need to recognize there is a real difference between the priorities and values of Gen-X and Y dads and Baby Boomer dads. It doesn'?t mean young fathers don't want to work hard, or less. They simply want to work differently and flexibly, often seeing technology as a means of achieving their unique work+life fit goals.
Poking around, the blog has some other thoughtful posts on the importance of dads in the work-like balance quest. (I should also note that the blog belongs to a work-life consulant, who offers her services to companies, individuals, etc. Sounds like one heck of a gig. I should say here, formally, that if any large companies want to pay me a great deal of money to tell 'em how to employ happy dads. I take corporate checks, PayPal, and cash in plain paper bags.)

Also: Internet link-master Glenn Reynolds is thinking about the new modern dad, too (Thanks to Russ for the link.) Glenn's podcast on parenting (linked to in his post) wasn't worth it for me, though James Lileks says nice things about being a SAHD. (The 'cast includes Cathy Seipp, which was a major strike against it. Seipp didn't say anything dumb, but she currently holds the record for the most vitriolic and bizarre anti-SAHD piece of writing on the Internet.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Another Rebel Faction in the "Mommy Wars"

I received an interesting link by way of reader Erika, a blog posting from The New Republic by Jonathan Cohn noting the general quiet regarding the "Mommy Wars" (especially the new book by Linda Hirshman) among men. I think it's great that thoughtful journalists are noticing that the conversation about gender and families roles has largely been confined to women, even if it does ignore the fact that there are *some* guys who, you know, blog about the subject every once in a while.

Hirshman's thesis, as you may remember from when this first surfaced last November is that women won't ever achieve equality as long as they get suckered into the whole raising-the-kids thing. She consistently dodges the real issue, which is that parents don't want a black-and-white, work-or-home choice. They want the option to choose the proper balance. And one way to get to that choice is to get the guys involved and ensure that men have some flexibility, too, to boost their family time. So I'm thrilled that Cohn -- and some of the other blogosphere's guys -- are now looking at the issue and starting a dialogue about where, exactly, the men are in this discussion.

Of course, I vote that we leave Leslie Morgan Steiner's husband (and, probably, Steiner herself) out of that dialogue. As part of Steiner's ongoing blog effort to paint her hubby as some sort of clueless sitcom father from the 1950s (an image he has done little to contradict), she let loose with a post last week suggesting that dads in general -- and her husband specifically -- say they want to stay home but aren't actually interested in the realities of the gig. "For him," Steiner says of her mate, "'staying home' is code for 'goofing off.'"

Monday, July 03, 2006

Where Was I?

It's been a wild (and very happy) week in the RebelHousehold, and now I'm trying to figure out what we were talking about when I suddenly dropped from sight. I know there are more dad's day stories -- those are coming. In the meantime ...

Let's see -- there was that hideously dumb story from Parenting about how dads think, written by someone who, by definition, has never thought like a dad. Because my head is barely above water as it is, I have not written a thoughtful letter to the editor talking the magazine or the writer, Fernanda Moore, to task. Fortunately, Jeremy over at Two Okapis was nice enough to pen a smart letter of his own. As is tradition, if you can get your letter of objection printed by Parenting, I'll owe you a beer at the At-Home Dad Convention.

I also want to note that the Stay At Home Dad entry in Wikipedia was returned after an editor decided to just redirect the page to "Homemaker." There are still some issues with the page -- it needs to be cleaned up a bit to make it comport with Wikipedia standards (mostly internationalizing it). If you're a Wikipedian and want to help with that effort, the RebelDad stats page may help a little. Underscoring the point that we're an international movement is this piece from the Times of India celebrating the growth of SAHDs over in the world's largest democracy.