Thursday, November 30, 2006

Can't Dads Get "Out," Too?

Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal -- the dean of the work-family reporters -- let loose today with a preview of some new data about women who are staying home after the kids arrive. (Whether these women "opted out" of the workforce or were "pushed out," remains a lively debate, and Lisa Belkin, who coined the Opt-Out turn-of-phrase took on a pro-"push" Joan Williams in an interesting back-and-forth. But that's another discussion.)

At any rate, the nice folks over the Census Bureau were nice enough to leak some upcoming data to Shellenbarger. The information appears to show that the participation of moms in the labor force is falling across the board, not just amoung those rich enough to do it. This is all well and good, and I look forward to the full data coming out so that I can paw through it.

But ... once again, these numbers will never be enough to tell the full story. When women leave the workplace for family reasons, it's usually a family decision. What the dads doing in those families? Even if the Census stats won't capture that, I'd love to see someone -- and Shellenbarger is as good a candidate as any -- explore that dynamic in some depth. (And all of this leaves aside an altogether interesting and important question: are more dads opting out? If not ... why? But no one really cares enough to gather *those* stats.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More Convention Talk

Just when you thought the string of posts about the At-Home Dad Convention had finally come to an end ...

Conventioneer and new at-home dad Howard Ludwig gave his impression of the event for the Daily Southtown in Chicago, and it gives a nice slice of what it was like to be there (and the kinds of guys the event attracted). At any rate, if you've been following the convention blog posts, Howard gives you another perspective.

By the way, the convention surveys have been tallied, and it can now be said -- officially, and with scientific precision -- that a good time was had by all. The "overall convention experience" scored 4.88 on a 5-point scale, and the "chance I will recommend the convention" scored 4.83. Incidentally, more than a third of those who filled out the survey mentioned that they learned about the event from a website -- if you learned about it from me, thanks for making the effort to attend, and I hope to see you next year.

Monday, November 27, 2006

How To Tell I Haven't Been Paying Attention

It's probably clear from the lack of postings that I wasn't able to get blogging over Thanksgiving, but it was best that I not have any additional stress. (There is a special place in Hades waiting for whoever it is that runs Delaware's DOT. But that is another story.)

But you can tell I've been out because I'm nearly a week late in noting that Caitlin Flanagan is out at the New Yorker. As longtime readers know, I'm no great fan of hers, and getting her out of that perch is a huge net positive for forward-thinking writing about parenthood. And while I'm breathing a sign of relief that Flanagan is no longer getting a percentage of my subscription money, I should also point out that her supremely silly collection of essays, "To Hell With All That," has apparently sold only 8,700 copies (despite the gobs of free media). It's enough to restore my faith in my fellow parents.

(The dark cloud behind the silver lining: Flanagan's next project will apparently take feminists to task for screwing up teenage girls. In an era of gnashing of teeth about a "boy crisis," and given her penchant for ignoring/misapplying facts about teens, that should be a fun read.)

Back to the usual posting topics, etc. etc. etc. soon.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It's Not About the Money

I just plowed through the extensive piece titled "Trophy Husbands," that ran in the other Times, the one over in the UK. It's a demoralizing read made all the worse by the fact that the author appears to be a work-from-home, primary caregiver guy. But rather than a story about the joys and agonies of being with the kids, it's mostly about the havoc wreaked on the male ego when the wife makes more money. It's snarky and wildly anecdotal -- I may run in the wrong crowds, but I don't see this kind of woe-is-me reaction to women's earning power in the at-home dads I know.

Of course, I have a knee-jerk reaction to the underlying thesis, which is that high-earning women are a threat to men. Is the suggestion seriously that we'd be better off rolling back the clock 50 years?

But we're not without a silver lining, and in the scattershot reporting, author John-Paul Flintoff talks to a representative from Fathers Direct, who makes perfect sense:
Duncan Fisher, of Fathers Direct, says: "The old 'gender agenda' is based on the premise that you can fix equality for women with no reference to men at all. This is based on a deep sense that men can't change, won't change and don't really care about their children like mothers do."

He thinks change is occurring: "The new gender agenda is about interdependence -- you can't fix women's lot without engaging with men. The new agenda accepts that men are as passionate as women about their children, that men are changing massively and that this is a huge opportunity for women and for men."
Now that's something I can get behind.

'Cute Butts and Housework'

I'm late to the party -- Dadspoint and Feministing have already noted it -- but I wanted to draw your attention to a piece in the NYTimes Magazine on Sunday. It's a thought-provoking piece, largely on the new (historically speaking) trend of men and women marrying those with similar earning power, and the consequences thereof. But in the last paragraph, the author, Annie Murphy Paul, lets loose with one of the more wonderful passages I've seen in a while:
Of course, men and women don't choose each other on the basis of education and income alone. Putting love aside, as men's and women's roles continue to shift, other standards for selecting a partner may come to the fore. Indeed, the sociologist Julie Press recently offered what she called "a gynocentric theory of assortative mating," moving the focus from what men now desire in a marriage partner to the evolving preferences of women. What would-be wives may be seeking now, she proposed in The Journal of Marriage and Family, is "cute butts and housework" -- that is, a man with an appealing physique and a willingness to wash dishes. Could this be a feminist slogan for our time?
Hey, it works for me ...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Convention Coverage -- For Your Reference

As it turns out, because of the magic of Blogger, I can't actually embed the At-Home Dad Convention blog and photo tracker that I had on here before.

But if you want to do the hard work to keep an eye on it, check out these links:
* page, with archived blog posts | or see the RSS feed

* Flickr page, with archived photos | or see the RSS feed

* The truly geeky may appreciate the OPML file with both feeds included

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dadpreneurs, On the Radar Screen

Some days, it seems like half of the hits to this site are from folks looking for at-home dad statistics. And though I am glad to oblige, I have often expressed my frustration with how poor at-home dad stats actually are and how many dads they miss. The most notable omission is dads who take income on the side but still remain the primary caretaker.

So kudos to the Wall Street Journal for their piece on Monday titled Double Duty (sub. required), which details the lives of "dadpreneurs," who have built businesses around their family responsibilities. Sadly, the author, Daisy Maxey, was unable to come up with any number at all for this large and growing group of guys. (In a non sequitur, we cites the Census Bureau's lousy at-home dad numbers, which is the one stat that absolutely, positively excludes dadpreneuers.)

The story -- if you can get it -- is well worth it for stories of how guys are pulling off the delicate balance of doing the dad thing and the business thing at the same time, and the analysis in the piece is interesting as well. Maxey quotes an LSU sociologist, Jeanne Hurlbert, saying some wonderful things:
"Social and cultural expectation are very slow to change, says Ms. Hurlbert, 'but these guys are helping to change them. The more guys we see with pink diaper bags, the less strange it seems.'"
OK ... I don't know where the pink diaper bag thing came from. Us dads have all kinds of manly diaper bag choices now. She must not read Daddy Types. But still, the point holds. And she makes the observation that dads can move between home and work realtively easily:
"...'we still tend to them of [dads] as "businessmen" very easily.'"
All in all, a well-deserved look at dads pulling the ultimate balancing act, and there's a bonus: a box with tips from dadpreneurs. No rocket science, but nice that they make the effort.

(Full disclosure: the author contacted me, but I was unable to help. And I'm listed in the box for "...selected online resources," but -- let's be honest -- not all the sites listed are that robust. Slowlane, anyone?)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Health of Fathers

For all of the social and cultural mumbo-jumbo that constitutes the bedrock of this blog, I'm not really a cultural-studies kind of guy. My classical training (so to speak) is in biology, and I cut my teeth as a science and medicine writer. So I was beyond thrilled when a reader flagged this blog post that mentions a study out *today* (abstract only, sorry) in the enormously influential Journal of the American Medical Association about fatherhoods. In a commentary, Dr. Craig Garfield from Northwestern and two colleagues tackle the subject of "Fatherhood as a Component of Men's Health."

They raise an excellent point: though there can be little doubt that fatherhood has an effect on health -- for good and bad -- there has been next to no research quantifying that effect, and no one has even made much of an effort to gather data on fatherhood that can be analyzed for clues.

This isn't indulgent navel-gazing, either: these researchers don't want knowledge for knowledge's sake, they think information on the link between fatherhood and health can give doctors information that can help dads to live healthier immediately.
The central rationale for a specific focus on fatherhood as it relates to health is that information about men's roles and experiences as fathers can be helpful to physicians in their clinical interaction with men who are parents today. ... For example, men in early fatherhood [that's me --rD], advice for balancing work and family demands and preventive health concerns may be most clinically relevant [yup --rD]."
The list a series of common-sense ways to expand the scope of men's health to include dads, including some ways to better capture fatherhood in research. It's an interesting concept (and one that applies across the board to all parents, regardless of sex), and I'm curious to see it explored more. Obviously, I've staked my claim: at-home dads are wicked healthy. But I'd love to see more research supporting that.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Yes, The Pile of Stuff to Post is High

I've been so wrapped up in the convention that there is a great pile of interesting stuff to bring all of you in the coming week. Rest assured that I am digging furiously to get it all out, and if you pointed out something cool to me in the last week or so, I promise to get to it soon.

I'd like to once again promote all of the great convention posts (updated again tonight), and I want to let you know that the big box at the top of the site will come down on Friday (I'll put the box in a regular post, so you can continue to check it out, but it won't hog all of the top-of-the-screen real estate).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Convention Wrap

I've been spending so much time reading reports from the At-Home Dad Convention that I haven't had time to post. Needless to say, if you haven't been checking out the pics and posts in the box above, you ought to.

By just about any measure, the event was a success: plenty of dads, no snafus, and they broke even. Plans are already afoot for the 12th annual At-Home Dad Convention, and I'll let you in on the planning process just as soon as I learn what's going on. But the tradition will continue -- that much is clear.

Again, let me post the list of bloggers who attended the event -- all of them have posted about it, but I should flag the first two for doing a particularly thorough job (and the posts keep coming). Thanks to all for letting me experience the event through your writing.

KC Home Dad

Hopeless Cases

Modern Day Dad

On Fresno Dome


I'm Not a Slacker


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Convention Update

The main program is over (and the real fun is beginning), and Dayv checks in to let me know how it went:
An amazing success. My fears of guys not liking the convention was quickly quashed. Walking around and checking in on the sessions, dads were involved, having a good time, and the most interesting was the most laughter I heard from the breakout sessions came from the depression and isolation session. I can't thank all of the guys who helped bring the convention together enough. And mostly, I have to thank the guys who attended.

The session that ended the day was a discussion for planning ideas for next year's convention. The energy and enthusiasm was great to see. I hope those that attended this year, go back to their home groups and tell them what a valuable resource the convention was, and that it was worthwhile taking the weekend away to be here.
Still waiting to get some more photos ... should appear in the coming days, so keep your eyes on the box at the top of the screen (more blog posts are already in there ...)

A Report from Dayv

Dayv, one of the new convention organizers, sent this report (and click on the tab above for the lastest posts and -- soon -- photos):
I added photos to Flkr, but it's a new account so it will take a few days.

We took a school bus to the brewery, and it was just like the rides to Oakton from our hotel. It started loud, dulled into localized conversations, and got loud again as we neared the location with a driver who wasn't really sure where he was going.

The brewery was great. They were wonderful hosts and the beer was great. With close to 40 in attendance at the meet & greet, it was a good feeling seeing the crowd building, and guys into it. A lot of handshakes, laughter, sharing of pictures, and all of the things you would expect.

Pierpoints steakhouse. WOW. Good grub. Worth the tab despite Andy forgetting the $15.00 coupons. Oh well. Good vodka tonics.

So, back at the hotel, getting ready to rack out. If they have wifi where we are tomorrow, I'll send updates, otherwise check of the occasional update text message.

Hope all is well there,

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Posts are Coming

Click the "Convention Blog Posts," above, for first-person accounts from the At-Home Dad Convention.

It's On!

The At-Home Dad Convention is underway. While the official festivities start tomorrow, the early wave of dads is already having a blast:
We're off to a great start! The pre-convention dinner and pub crawl on Thursday 11/9 was a big success...we had some of KC's best fried chicken and soul food at Peachtree in the 18th & Vine Jazz district followed by a trip to O'Dowds Irish Pub in the Country Club Plaza near the convention hotel. Initial reports about the hotel are very positive...nice rooms, comfy beds, good spaces for hanging out. First photos should show up through the link on as soon as flikr indexes them.
(From Andy Ferguson, in the comments.)

And in case you're a local (to Kansas City) dad looking for information on what it's all about, the Kansas City Star ran a brief preview article with the 411.

Please keep an eye on the convention-report box above, and I'll do my best to keep an eye on the conventioneers.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Truth

I spend a lot of time cheerleading for fathers in this space -- arguing that involved fatherhood is fun and poignant and important. And it is. But it's also tricky. Expectations for fathers are changing quickly, at home, in the workplace, and in our own heads.

The impact of those changing expectations is tough to articulate. Which is why I'm glad my erstwhile colleague Paul Nyhan, from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, posted on those challenge in his Working Dad blog:
... Me? I'm dog tired from the grind of shopping for groceries, cleaning the kitchen, drawing baths for the kids, putting them to bed, feeding them breakfast, driving them to child care, working eight-plus hours, training for a marathon, watching a quarter of the game between my beloved New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings, carving pumpkins, feeding the dog, walking the dog and doing laundry. (And my wife does even more.)

We all know moms have done this for a long time. But, dads are far behind and face a whole slew of different challenges. Being a parent of two toddlers is exhausting, and the most rewarding thing I have ever done, but there is something else going on, a misunderstood loss of balance as dads struggle to create a new model, literally on the run. ...
It's worth reading the whole thing, and if it resonates (or if you object), leave a comment over there. I'm curious to see if any discussion will break out on this one.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Live Updates from the 2006 AHD Convention

I'm sure you're all curious about the big, weird box at the top of the page. It's my effort to make sure that readers here are funneled the freshest news from the At-Home Dad Convention. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the event, but -- as in years past -- I want to do everything I can to make sure that news of the fun reaches as many dads as possible.

So I'm trying out some newfangled web magic to allow those of you who *will* be there to automatically share your experiences via (in addition to your own site). Here's how it will work. If you're in KC this weekend and post on the festivities, please seed your story on with the tag "ahd2006". If you have photos and a Flickr account, please upload them (as public) with the ahd2006 tag.

If this is gibberish, just e-mail me with the link and/or the photo. And if you don't have a blog, just send me an e-mail and I'll make sure your thoughts get on the site.

So you know, there are at least five bloggers who will attend the event (which is four more than have ever attended before), and I encourage you to visit their sites:

Hopeless Cases

Modern Day Dad

KC Home Dad


I'm Not a Slacker



Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Convention Program

If you're headed to the 11th Annual At-Home Dad Convention on Saturday (and you should be, if you're driving distance to KC), here's what's in store:

8:00 Registration and Breakfast
8:30 Welcome and Introductions Room 1
9:00 Breakout:
>> At Home Dad Resources
>> K.C. PD Child Safety, infant and toddler
>> Kids and Technology
>> Going Back to Work? Preparing for the job market.
10:00 Break
10:15 Breakout:
>> K.C. PD Child Safety, child-teenager.
>> Getting The Most Out Of Credit Card Perks.
>> The At-Home Dad's Guide To Basic Digital Photography
>> Going Back to Work? Preparing for the job market.
11:15 Break
11:30 Open forum session for general discussions
>> age groups:
>> Infant-2
>> age 2 to 5
>> age 6-13
>> age 13-18
12:30 Lunch
1:30 Breakout session B
>> Kids, Nutrition & Behavior
>> What about me? – An open forum to discuss at-home dad topics?
>> How to create and publish a blog.
>> Investing for the Future.
2:30 Break
2:45 Breakout session
>> Kids, Nutrition & Behavior
>> Investing for the future
>> Growing your at-home dad group
>> Depression and Isolation
3:45 Break
4:00 Planning the 12th annual. Get your say in now.
>> Full session
5:00 Surveys and reviews

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dads are Brilliant

I have long argued that trying to make sweeping generalizations about human gender roles based on animal data is generally dumb, but -- in the interest of using questionable data when it helps bolster my point -- I feel I should point everyone to this Popular Science piece that shows that daddy marmosets have crazy-connected prefrontal cortexes, which is where a lot of the high-order brain magic happens.

The obvious upshot is that those of us who spend a lot of time caring for kids are waaaay smarter than everyone else. Thought you should know. (Via Daddy Dialectic, who says parenthood has certainly made him smarter, in some specific ways.)

At-Home Dads, At Home Online

Well, that didn't take long. Within days of my two posts on the end of and the need for a new online hub, Mike Biewenga has come through.

Adhering to one of my favorite web maxims: get a first version out there, ASAP, even if you go back and change it later, he has already established the bones of a new online hangout for SAHDs at (note the .org).

Once again, that's

The trick, to becoming the resource that slowlane once was is getting visitors and getting content. As it relates to visitors, the key is links. If you're a blogger and can spare the space on your blogroll, please give a link. As for content and participation, let me quote Mike:
We're just getting started and we need your help to keep the ball rolling. The most important thing that we need is your participation - register for an account (free), visit the discussion forums to post something meaningful or just to say hello, vote on the polls, invite a friend to the site, spread the word, and just visit, use the site, and enjoy it.
Mike also has a list of ways you can help out. If you are able to contribute, drop me a line and I'll be sure to mention it (and your blog) here.

I'm thrilled that this is up and running, and before the convention, no less. Kudos to Mike.

Related: Art, the gentleman behind the Dad Daily blog is setting up a social network for dads. Beta launch is scheduled for next week. They're taking sign-ups at DadDaily. It's not a SAHD thing, but it looks to be an ambitious effort.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Up To Date (Just in Time)

The year has two peaks: the media-driven spike of interest in AHDs around father's day and the dad-driven spike around the At-Home Dad Convention, coming up on Saturday. I like to make sure that the site is as fresh as possible for both of those events, so I have updated the blogroll. If you've e-mailed me and asked to be added, you should be there. (If you're not, let me know.) And if your blog meets the criteria (you have to be a self-described at-home dad, and you have to write about fatherhood) and you haven't told me, please send along your URL.

This will be one heck of a busy week with not only convention news, but a boatload of other dad news and at-home dad community-building news. So to ensure you're fully up-to-date this week, either subscribe to the feed or surf over often. Thanks!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Towards a New Online Home for Stay at Home Dads

At the recommendation of Bruce R from SeattleDads, I've removed the link to in the right rail, and I will be systematically removing all of the hyperlinks in the archives in the coming weeks and months. I didn't realize -- until I made the post last week -- how deep the disappointment about the site's abandonment ran, and how passionately some at-home dad leaders felt about the need to replace it with something. Because links are the lifeblood of Google ranking, and because doesn't offer web surfers the up-to-date compendium of resources that the No. 1 site for "stay at home dad" should, I've begun the link removal process.

This is not meant as an affront to Jay or all of the people who have helped and offered to help over the years -- they have done great work in the past and been stellar spokesmen for at-home fathers. I respect those contributions. I will quickly and happily restore the links should the site be revived. But like it or not, it's the landing site for a great many at-home dads, would-be at-home dads, and media, and I agree with many who have commented or e-mailed that it is not the best representation of the at-home dad community.

I know there are people interested in building the next generation definitive at-home dad site, and I stand at the ready to drive people to that site. If you're working on such a project, keep me posted. I have already heard from Mike Biewenga, the guy behind, who reiterated what he posted in the comments last week: he is interested in launching the site. If you'd like to help out, his e-mail is

Keep me posted, and I'll immediately link to whatever you all come up with.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy Birthday to

It was exactly four years ago that I launched this blog, with zero readers and only a slight notion of what I wanted to do with it. Now, nearly 800 posts later, I'm still trying to figure out what to do.

Given my short attention span, keeping a focus on anything for longer than six weeks is a major accomplishment, and the fact that that I'm still posting is a testament to the wonderful feedback I've received from all of you. Thanks for keeping the fresh ideas (and the challenges) coming, and thank you for inspiring me to be the best parent I can be.

While every anniversary is worth celebrating, I'm already looking forward to number five. I'll have to throw a kegger.

Yup, Dads are Important

I read a release yesterday about an interesting new study, and it makes me a little uncomfortable to post about it, but here goes (I'll get to the discomfort in a moment):

According to the folks from UNC, in families with two go-to-work parents, the vocabulary that *fathers* used with their toddlers was linked to improved language skills.

I'm thrilled to see evidence that fathers do indeed play a crucial role in the intellectual lives of their kids. But the reason the release makes me uncomfortable is that I really don't like to see dads pitted against moms, as if there is a secret family formula that will automatically lead to great kids. But to the extent that there is a takeaway message, it's that fathers needs to be studied just as carefully as mothers when it comes to development
"Most previous studies on early language development focused on mothers," said Nadya Panscofar, a graduate research assistant and an author of the study. "These findings underscore that for two-parent, dual earner families, fathers should be included in all efforts to improve language development and school readiness."