Monday, October 29, 2007

The Revolution Will be Commercialized

Good news: in the alternative reality that is children's toys, it is now permissible for dads to push strollers. Hopefully, we'll be making just as much progress soon in other alternative realities (prime time TV, Hollywood, etc.)

Thanks to -- who else? -- DaddyTypes for seeing this first.

Men and the Girl Scouts

The WSJ Juggle blog had a nice post today from a dad who has gotten involved in the local Brownie group, a job he initially assumed would fall to his wife. I'm lucky to live in an area with plenty of PTA dads and even a Brownie dad or two, so this doesn't sound outrageous to me, but I had to love the ah-ha moment, recounted in the post, when he realizes that there's nothing intrinsic in running the Brownies that calls for two X chromosomes.

(However, as with On Balance, I often despair for our nation when I read some of the comments ...)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Convention Nostalgia

I took a look at At-Home Dad Convention present (and why its important) earlier in the week. But it's worth remembering that this is an event that has been going on for 12 (!) years. For some flavor on what's changed (and what has stayed the same), check out Peter Baylies' account of the first convention, way back in 1996 when I was starting my senior year of college.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why the Convention is Important

I was asked by the reporter the other day what it was that made the At-Home Dad Convention so special. My answer: it's inspiring to be around guys who so clearly want to be great at the whole parenting thing. They live to make the most of their gig as a dad.

This sticks out particularly because of this piece in Slate last week on how tiresome actually interacting with kids can be (thanks, Greg, for flagging). I'm not the Slate piece will make any sense whatsoever to the convention guys. Playing as drudgery? They don't buy it.

I don't know if I've said so on the blog, but I'm taking a pass on KC this year. One of the realities of working full-time is that the weekends with the family become that much more precious, and I'm not quite ready to voluntarily take a pass on that time. But my thoughts will be with you guys that do make the trip.

[BONUS. From the archives, a piece I wrote three years ago but never sold about why the convention is so worthwhile. 'A Vaccination Against Isolation.']

Friday, October 19, 2007

Iraq, Healthcare and ... Paid Family Leave?

Just a couple of days after an Alternet post blasted Hillary Clinton for ignoring family policies in the race for the White House, Hillary came out this week with her work-life balance proposals. This is probably a topic best left for On Balance, but I wanted to flag it here.

What Hillary has proposed, if enacted, would certainly be the best thing to happen to parents, legislatively, since FMLA was passed way back when. Though I am wary of looking a gift horse in the mouth, I have to wonder if this could have been even better. Chucking a billion dollars at the states is a nice gesture, but I'd be happier with something a bit bolder.

Messrs. Obama, Richardson, Dodd, Kucinich, Biden and Edwards: care to up the ante?

[UPDATE: Daddy Types just linked to yesterday's Gail Collins piece on the subject in the NYT, which was a nice reminder that Sen. Dodd does have a pretty good track record on the subject. And she's not bowled over by Hillary's proposals either. And I didn't mean to exclude the Republican candidates from my list above, just being realistic. I would certainly applaud any dogs-and-cats-living-together scenario in which the Republicans try to get to the left of the Democrats on the issue.]

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Changing the World Goes Corporate

The first at-home dad slogan I fell in love with was "men who change diapers change the world." I first heard it from Peter Baylies, who stuck it all over his groundbreaking At-Home Dad Newsletter, and got myself a shirt with the phrase on it. I received so many comments on the shirt that it prompted me to set up my little-used CafePress shop.

As it turns out, the folks at MenTeach were actually the originators of the slogan, and the Northern Sun people -- who do nothing but churn out clever bumper stickers and T-shirts and worked down the street -- picked up on it, too.

The phrase has now gone corporate. Babies R Us would be happy to sell you a long sleeve bodysuit+hat with the slogan for 25 bucks. I'm still trying to figure out if I'm happy about this.

Cross-Promotion Alert: Immigrant Families

Berkeley's Greater Good magazine came out with an issue on the 21st-century family, which had a number of thought-provoking pieces. I mention one of them -- on the way that first-generation immigrant families tend to avoid the usual work-life stresses through a tight family web -- in my On Balance post today. Apparently, I haven't left much room for the discussion. The natives are pretty quiet ...

Mystery for MyYahoo Users

Hate to send out a technical post, but sometime over the weekend, more than a thousand people suddenly started receiving RebelDad on their their MyYahoo page. I'm always grateful for the attention, but I'm a little confused as to why this happened. Can anyone explain?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Off-Topic but Worthwhile: Buy This Book

I try to stick to the dad stuff around here, partly because it's what interests me the most and partly because trying to track every development in the parenting world is a sucker's game. But I would like to flag a post from friend/neighbor/fount-of-insight Lisa Guernsey in the sister blog to my other blog. Lisa wrote yesterday on the dangers of background TV for the Washington Post's On Parenting blog, and it's worth the read. I'm hoping they let this blossom into a more regular gig for her.

Even better, get the whole picture on TV (and why the situation isn't as clear-cut -- or as dire -- as you've been led to believe) and buy her book, "Into the Minds of Babes".

Sorry for being a day late in mentioning this, thereby robbing you all from the chance to weigh in in the comments section.

HuffPo on Guys at Home

A number of you have forwarded on last week's Huffington Post post by Peggy Drexler, which had the somewhat misleading title of "In Appreciation of the FTF (Full Time-Father)." While Drexler gives props to the At-Home Dad Convention and notes that SAHDs are "all good," she then goes on to whittle away at the ideas that this is really a meaningful social shift:
  • Drexler calls the number of FTFs "not huge," which is all in the way you look at things. Two million plus primary caretakers, plus a couple million more single dads ain't chump numbers.
  • Drexler picks up on the bogus involved-fathers-lose-masculinity points arguments that Time invented, noting that "... manliness seems to come up a lot on the new at-home dad web sites that are popping up." Google says I have never, ever used the term "manliness" on this blog, and I don't see it much on the, oh, 60 or so dadblogs I monitor sporadically. Manliness is not really an issue with anyone but journalists.
  • She says there is "emerging evidence" that mom runs the house even when dad is not there. I've never seen that evidence. There is plenty of evidence that in dual-earner household, mom takes the brunt of the household responsibilities -- a reality that I find deplorable -- but that's not exactly "emerging": The Second Shift is now 10 years old.
  • Finally, drawing on her own experience, she says that at-home fatherhood is not a "slam-dunk" because "things might not be running with mom-like precision:"
    [Fathers] are more likely to apply the five second rule (anything dropped that is not on the floor for more than five seconds is ok to eat), mismatch an occasional school outfit and are secure in the belief that dishes left in a sink for the afternoon do not cause Ebola.
There are a lot of reasons why involved fatherhood, as fast as it is growing, is not growing even faster. And I'll acknowledge that the dads of the world shoulder the bulk of the responsibility for this. But c'mon: the faithful application of the five-second rule is no reason to cast aspersions on at-home dadhood.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cross-Promotion and the Week Ahead

Garden-variety nuttiness limited posting last week, so I'll be keeping busy this week. For starters, wanted to flag last week's On Balance piece on the recent newsmagazine obession with dads, which picks up on some of the themes that have been bouncing around here lately.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Best of the Bunch

I was asked the other day why I started Rebel Dad in the first place*. The initial rationale was that there was basically nothing out there on at-home fathers (or even fathers in general). There were no good books, no magazines, and barely anything on the web beyond the already-decrepit (and now dead) and the pioneering dad blogger, Being Daddy, who hung it up two years ago.

But in those five years, there has been an explosion in resources for fathers, and I wanted to point out some of the best.


Be Prepared. This is the finest book on new fatherhood ever written. It is fully and lavishly illustrated in a 1950s style and offers practical advice done about 70 percent seriously (which is about as seriously as anyone should take parenthood). Brilliant content, brilliantly executed. (The Amazon ratings are telling: 60 ratings. 57 five-star ratings. 3 four-star ratings.)

Pop Culture. No pictures, but a well-done look at the nuts-and-bolts of modern fatherhood with a wonderful, authentic voice.

The Stay-at-Home Dad Handbook. To the extent there is a national network of at-home dads, it is because of Peter Baylies, who wrote the At-Home Dad Handbook. It's focused on at-home fathers, but full of plenty of excellent advice for fathers of all stripes (who have kids of all ages).

Twenty Days with Julian and Little Bunny. Nathanial Hawthorne -- the Scarlet Letter guy -- recorded the three weeks he spent as an at-home dad 150 years ago. Though there are too many first-person dad accounts to count (including some pretty good ones) on bookstore shelves, I've never read one as pithy as Hawthorne's.


Daddy Dialectic: There are dozens of great dad blogs -- particularly first-person takes on the subject -- but no one puts fatherhood under as analytical a lens as does Jeremy Adam Smith and his fellow bloggers at Daddy Dialectic.

Daddy Types: Greg Allen -- the guy behind Daddy Types -- has taken on the huge task of viewing just about all products aimed at parents for their beauty, practicality and consideration of fathers. I go to sleep hoping that baby product developers read him as closely as I do.


There are still no great magazines aimed at fathers. The mainstream parenting mags are can't-look terrible, particularly when it comes to taking dads into account. Brain, Child is probably the best of the alternative parenting magazines, though I have not entirely forgiven them for missing the significance of at-home dads three years ago.

* For the record, the site will hit its five-year anniversary in just a few weeks. That's the wood anniversary, if you're shopping. 2x4s and sheets of plywood always welcome.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Convention on the Cheap

Friendly reminder: the 12th Annual At Home Dads' Convention starts in just 4 weeks! Early registration discount ends today. Log on and sign up ...

Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Wanted to be sure to include a link to the Yahoo! Group site for the Bucks County at-home dad group. Updating the map as we speak.

Update: Up on the map and on the main page as well. Hope the turnout is great at the next playgroup.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lifestyles of the Rich and the Unmarried

I'm late to the game, but my mouth was a little agape at reading the NYT story last week about twenty-something women outearning their dates. Does this stuff really happen, in real life? Are Gen Y men really threatened by high-earning women? Let's face it: one area in which I wholeheartedly agree with Linda Hirshman is that women should not marry jerks. And if you can't handle your girlfriend/spouse bringing home more of the bacon, you are -- by my definition -- a jerk.

(And this in people in their late 20s. I was up to my elbows in Desitin by that age.)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Newsweek on Dads

This week's Newsweek has one of the better first-person accounts of fatherhood I've seen in a while. It syncs up pretty closely with my experience and manages to make two important -- though somewhat contradictory points:

1. Today's dads are different from those of a generation ago in terms of their view on family.
2. We still have a ways to go before anyone can declare the age of egalitarianism has begun.

The lack of number (2) in stories about modern dadhood has been gnawing at me, and I'm glad to see someone admit that while dads in general are doing a lot better than any other time in post-industrial America, it's not time to start handing out medals. (I also want to point out a less-rosy take from from author Brian Braiker did the at-home thing for a year, basically, a sabbatical that doesn't exactly make him an expert in at-home fatherhood. Still, Brian seems to get it -- and he rails against "Mr. Mom" -- so I'm inclined to give it a pass.)

But ... Newsweek also ran a very interesting piece from a mom who says her involved husband just ain't making a difference in her life. Titled: "The 'New Dad'? Give Me a Break," the author extols her mate as "more dedicated than any father I know," after noting that he
... hasn't seen the inside of a grocery store since he worked at one back in high school. Stocking the fridge is my task, as well as getting our son to school, scheduling his speech-therapy appointments, making dinner ...
The piece bugged me: it's a reminder that just doing better than our fathers (or the guy down the street) isn't actually enough to make a difference. How you can possibly be the most involved dad around without doing any of the cooking/cleaning/errand running/etc. is beyond me. I know that every family divides responsibilities differently, but it seems that if you want to wear the "new dad" label, you need to do some actual heavy lifting.