Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hate the Stereotypes. Love the Stereotype Humor.

Finally, a publication willing to tell it like it is: the Onion. I love stuff like this simply because we've reached a point where old-style chauvinism is worth mocking mercilessly. Now, if we could only get rid of the old-style chauvinism altogether, we'd really be on to something ...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The On Ramp and Other Metaphors

One of the not-so-hidden scourges of at-home parenthood is the lingering question of how you re-enter the workforce (which seems to be generally be the expectation today). Newsweek takes a stab at the issue this week in a nice piece that catalogs what some forward-thinking firms are doing to capture those moms who ended up off of the career track for a while.

The article mentions training courses, new approaches to part-time work (I love the concept of the Booz Allen "adjuncts"). All in all, the biggest advantage is probably the spreading recognition that at-home parents are not damaged goods. The story does inject a note of caution, reminding readers that work-life revolutions have a way of sputtering (on-site day care and job sharing still exist, but neither has been adopted in anything approaching the numbers needed).

Still, good to see this kind of press, even if it was mom-focused (in Newsweek's defense, it was part of their "Women in Leadership" cover package). But dads face these issues, too, as has been pretty well documented. Hopefully, we're near a tipping point when it comes to re-entry into the workforce.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Welcome WCL Family Law Students!

Say what you will about lawyers, but you have to give 'em credit for intending meaning with everything they write. It may be borderline indecipherable, but there are no throw-away lines in the law. That's why I was particular interested when I was over the family leave policy of one of the big law firms in town:
To care for a newborn or newly adopted child, lawyers may take parental leave for up to twelve consecutive months (three months paid) for the lawyer with primary childcare responsibility or up to three weeks (paid) for the lawyer with secondary childcare responsibility. Both parents may be regarded as 'primary' as long as their leaves do not overlap.
Leaving aside the very wonderful and generous policy (I had three months of paid leave when my first daughter was born, and that changed my life) and the assiduously gender-neutral tone, this policy introduced something that was, for me, completely novel: the concept of "the lawyer with secondary childcare responsibility."

"Secondary childcare responsibility" is one of those terms that could only have come into being the last decade, and it signifies that there is a sea change in how we look at work. Once upon a time, there was "maternity leave" which was designed for, by definition, moms. Dads, of course, weren't offered leave. They were the breadwinners, or so society had decreed. By the time I took my leave, early in the new millennium and after the gender-neutral Family and Medical Leave Act, we were talking about "primary caretakers" who, presumably, still had a breadwinning spouse at home.

But now we can talk about "secondary childcare responsibility" -- the idea that not every family is divided into a Flanagan-esque caregiver/breadwinner setup. There are lots of guys -- and plenty of women -- who work their tails off all day long and come home 100 percent focused on the kids. And for a long time, these "working parents" were denied much credit for their role in the family -- there's no term for a 40-hour-a-week worker who is still spending 40 hours a week with his or her kids.

But calling someone a "lawyer with secondary childcare responsibility" make explicit that a worker is more than just a paycheck to the family -- they are an active part of family life. This is, of course, the reality for plenty of folks, and it's nice to see a business (and a big law firm at that) acknowledge it. If I'm disappointed about anything, it's that I’m only hearing the term now, in 2006.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Quick Bites

... more weighty posts to come this week ...

First: This ended up in my inbox last week. [Update, Oct 2: The CBC reporter got what he was looking for. Thanks to the readers who helped!

Second: Early registration for the At-Home Dad Convention closes Sunday. Make your plans now. (And if you are a blogger who will attend, please let me know, and I'll be sure to link to be liberally both now and over convention weekend.)

Finally: this is slightly off of the Rebel Dad path and more akin to what I've been ranting about over at On Balance, but I read some most interesting items about Mark Zuckerberg, the 22-year-old behind Facebook. This is a man who appears to understand work-life balance: he blew off billion-dollar talks with Yahoo, saying that his girlfriend was in town over the weekend and that his cellphone would be off. Call it the Zuckerberg rule: unless you think it's worth more than $1 billion to you, stow your cell phone for the weekend. Wouldn't the world be a better place?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blogroll, OPML Updated

I'm sure some of you thought I'd never do it: I've once again updated the blogroll with close to a dozen new at-home dad blogs, and I've tried my best to prune those that have been abandoned. I think I should be completely caught up. But if you're still not on the list, but should be, let me know. Again, the right sidebar is open to anyone who is a) a self-described at-home dad who b) has a blog c) at least in part about fatherhood.

I have also, for the first time in a year, updated the OPML file of everyone in the blogroll (or at least everyone with RSS feeds). That file is at For whatever reason, if you want to import into Bloglines (my reader of choice), you have todown the file to your hard drive, then upload it back up Bloglines. If all this means nothing to you, don't worry. You're probably better off. But I may use the OPML to make the sidebar a little more interactive. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

MetaFilter on At-Home Dads

I am always pleasantly surprised when I stumble on a heap of at-home-dad-supporting goodness out on the Internet, and my only regret about digging up this Ask MetaFilter thread about a dad considering the SAHD thing is that I didn't find it and post it sooner (the thread was active last month).

The responses are universally positive -- this from a largely tech-focused community -- with a lot of first-person testimonials. And the conclusion from the original poster:
Thanks for the replies. At this point, we're going to sit and let the idea percolate for a month - both daycares need a month notice anyway, as well as my job.

But I think the decision will be to stay at home.
I used to worry that there was just nothing out there for at-home dads. No books, no magazines, no nothing to remind AHDs that they weren't alone. But the 'net has really changed all that, and I'm thrilled that Brando_T got the information -- and the support -- he needed.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Update on Hogan Hilling

Anyone who has kept much of an eye on at-home dads over the last decade knows that one of the biggest proponents of the whole SAHD thing is a California father named Hogan Hilling. Hogan has one book -- The Man Who Would Be Dad -- with a couple more on the way.

The next one details what men wish their wives knew about them, called "Men Behaving Dadly," and he's launched a blog in support of it. Not a lot of content there (yet), but I thought I should flag. He's also soliciting stories for his third book, on what moms wish their husbands knew, and you can get your wife to share her stories on a blog for *that* effort. The comments to the first post are worth taking a spin through.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Convention Planning ... And a Request for Help

If you haven't yet blocked off Veteran's Day weekend for the 11th annual At-Home Dad Convention, you'd best get on the stick. It'll be in Kansas City, and discounted registration is available through October 1.

If you can't wait to start talking about it, there's a convention forum now open on the convention site, so you can light up that board with your roommate requests, questions, etc. etc.

But ... I won't be attending this year. Dayv Glusing, who is leading the dedicated guys pulling the thing together, really wants a session on blogging, and he had tentatively penciled me in. I know that I have some tech-savvy at-home dads, so if you're interested in leading that session, drop Dayv a line.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A New Mommy Track? (And What About Us?)

A couple of days ago, frequent tipster Keith blogged about a story in the LA Time suggesting that employers are getting more flexible when it comes to moms re-entering the workforce. Obviously, this sort of conflicts with the tone of my last post, which suggested that such accommodations remain absent. Clearly, there is more room for flexibility now -- I have, in the past, been able to make demands about when and where I worked -- but is it really widespread enough to be a trend? And an employer-driven on at that?

Of course, if true, there remains one huge downside. All of this flexibility is a mom thing:
Although fathers are also generally eligible for the same leave programs or reduced schedules, relatively few take advantage of them, fearing they will be viewed as career lightweights, managers say.
I know that's probably an accurate statement, but I'd love to see it get less accurate over time. When I took paternity leave with my first kid, I became the conductor on some sort of weird underground-paternity railroad. Guys I'd never spoken to from far-away offices would suddenly be calling me, wanting to know how I "pulled it off." There is a pent-up demand for this sort of thing, even among dads. They just need encouragement that they can jump in -- the water is fine.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What's Up with the Overworking?

The Washington Post yesterday, perhaps in celebration of Labor Day, published a piece that wondered why in the world workers are willingly putting in absurd hours to get ahead. Shouldn't businesses be interested in offering as much flexibility as possible, the story asks, as long as productivity isn't impacted?

It then more-or-less answers its own question: no one has the slightest idea how to define "productivity" in huge swathes of the service economy, so hours are a stand-in. A good lawyer -- according to current logic -- is one that works the longest, pretty much regardless of the quality of those hours. It nicely illustrates the challenge in getting to the point where workers can demand common-sense flexibility. We need to prove that you're making progress, even if you're out of sight (at home, in the coffeeshop) or working odd hours. I have no idea if there's a sweeping answer to this, beyond every prospective employee asking their would-be boss for the metrics used to judge performance and then worrying about those metrics -- and not face time.
Do you guys have any better ideas?

This is a serious concern for more than just balance reasons: it's the workaholics that have the highest blood pressure ...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Quick Hits

At-home fatherhood (or motherhood) is not an easy reality to adjust to, even if you're excited about being around you kid all day long. There are constant reminders of the disconnect between the nobility of the whole childrearing thing and the fact that parents don't possess what society seems to cherish (money, status, stories of adventure). It's a rare piece that can present that dichotomy, so I found this piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education quite interesting. It tells the tale of a trailing husband, forced into the SAHD lifestyle by his wife's job change, and his job search ambivalence. Read to the end -- the author, David Latessa, comes to a conclusion that I think will ring true for most at-home fathers. The honesty and clarity makes it a worthwhile read.

Because I can be a huge geek, I was watching a presentation from Guy Kawasaki, the Apple evangelist-turned-VC. At the end of his speech, he mentions that, a decade ago, he was approached about being CEO of Yahoo during the search firm's early days. It was an hour commute each way and he had one kid with another on the way, so Kawasaki said no. Looking back, he figures that -- at worst -- passing up the opportunity cost him $2 billion. He said it's worth it -- he got to see his children grow up. That's a heckuva statement: being there for the kids is worth billions.

Finally, you may have noticed that I disappear pretty regularly on Thursdays. That's because I'm posting over at the Washington Post's On Balance blog. Just in case you missed me ...