Thursday, November 29, 2007

And Now ... The Well-Done Research

Lest you think I spend all my time going after researchers who write lousy research papers on how at-home dads may be hampering the educational readiness of their sons, I want to flag a wonderful analysis of 24 studies of fatherhood by a group of researchers from New Zealand's Maxim Institute called Going Further With Fathers (pdf).

The conclusion after poring over those 24 studies was that there is a staggering amount of evidence that fathers play a unique role in the lives of their children, and that the impact of fatherhood is greatest the more involved a father is.

From the press release:
"This report should be a wake-up call for some fathers, who need to step up and take their job seriously. Businesses should consider flexible working arrangements so that fathers can spend time with their children. The media needs to recognise its social responsibility to portray balanced father role models. The Family Court should also consider the benefits of positive father involvement when making parenting arrangements. Those providing services to families need to do a better job of treating the father as a parent in his own right, not simply as a support person for the mother," says Daniel Lees, Maxim Institute Researcher.
Peter Baylies at has a nice breakdown of what each of the studies says about fatherhood. And this is a great excuse to point to Daddy Types' takedown of the latest how-to-raise-your-kid piece in Details magazine ("Are You Raising a Douchebag"), which illustrates why we can't leave the child-rearing advice to the journalists.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Daddy Dialectic's Take on the UK Study

As usual, Jeremy comes at the question of whether at-home dads are making their sons dumb with a refreshing take that looks a bit deeper at the social context.

More Holiday Gift Thoughts

I received a comment to yesterday's post looking for good resources on at-home fatherhood. If you're curious -- or looking for a nice stocking-stuffer -- you may want to check out the (almost) definitive list of great SAHD books-n-blogs that ran last month.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

'Tis the Season for Consumption

I note this only twice a year -- once at the holidays and once before Father's Day -- but if you are looking for a Very Special Gift for the father (or, for that matter, mother. Or kid) in your life, might I suggest checking out the RebelDad Shop. Always popular are the infant creeper, the "Dads Who Change Diapers..." tee, and the ringer tee.

Monday, November 26, 2007

All the SAHD News I've Been Ignoring ...

So I've been a bit wrapped up in defending at-home dads from ridiculous attacks from researchers, and I've haven't passed along some of the key news on at-home dads from across this great nation. Here's what I've missed:
  • At-home fatherhood: not just for Park Slope yuppies anymore: here's a North Dakota TV station's take on former rancher Gerrard Frederickson, who is going the daddy thing in a place where daycare is scarce.
(And -- by the way -- I'm not done with the UK study stuff. Still gathering opposition from people smarter and more immersed in this than I. Be forewarned.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Last Word (For Now) on the Bad-SAHDs Study

It's still a holiday, so you'll get little in the way of analysis, just some links. The UK study was officially released today (they actually pulled down the research earlier this week). There's now a press release and a newsletter summary of the research. It's really offensive and demonstrative of the anti-fathercare bias that appears to have been in place when the research was begun.

(As a bonus, check out the lead story in the newsletter, about how working mothers make their kids fat. One thinks there's a bit of a neotraditional bias over there ...)

Happy Post-Thanksgiving to All!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Update on UK Study: Unconvincing

For those of you sticking with the story behind the disappointing study out of the UK that suggests that fathers who care for their kids more than 15 hours a week are dooming them (or their sons, anyway) to a slow start in schools, I wanted to let you know that the more everyone seems to learn, the less convincing it seems.

Aaron Rochlen from Texas has heard back from the administrative assistant at the center where the study was performed and has that group's as-yet-unreleased press release (the embargo was broken by the Daily Mail) and the publication where the research is released. I'll post links to both when they are live, but suffice it to say the attitude toward dads at home (and moms working) doesn't seem at all progressive. More on that later.

Marc and Amy at have also taken a dive into the data and have come up with some good reasons not to take it seriously, including the use of old data (the kids in the study were all born at least 15 years ago), small effect sizes and a large dropout rate.

Don't Stop Thinking About 2008

The (somewhat) new and improved site is now up, and includes dates, times, sponsorship and advertising opportunities, etc. As a remember, it's November 8 in Sacremento. I hope to see you there.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Initial Reaction to the UK SAHD Study

So one of the first people I e-mailed about the UK study that raises red flags about the sons of at-home dads was Aaron Rochlen, the University of Texas prof who has done some serious work lately in trying to get to the bottom of at-home fatherhood and what makes SAHDs happy.

Dr. Rochlen wasn't impressed either, and he's reached out to the author of the study, Elizabeth Washbrook of Bristol University, to get some answers, and he was kind enough to share some of those thoughts with me:
... I feel quite confident that the conclusions are WAY too strong given the procedures, measures, etc. Also, with so many things measured and calculated, as I hope you know, it is almost inevitable for there to be NO findings. In other words, a study like this is destined to find some significant results and yet this project has highlighted (and completely blown out of proportion) a few small findings and made the link "dads with boys = academic problems." ...

My question is essentially, do you really think you are generating fair and reasonable conclusions given your measures, sample, etc.? Further, do you really think that you are at a stage to communicate these strong findings to the media who is even less sophisticated about how such conclusions can be made?
He'll get no argument from me ...

UK Study Says SAHDs Screw Up Their Sons

An astute reader sent along this piece from the Daily Mail about a study (which I found here) on the impact of fathers on kids educational success in the UK. On the bright side, having dad around seemed to lead to better behavior. But the real sound and fury seems to come from this conclusion:
The one note of caution regarding trends towards gender equality in childcare responsibilities sounded by this study relates to the academic skills of boys who experience more than 15 hours a week of paternal care when they are toddlers. Boys experiencing this type of paternal care score significantly worse of tests at entry to school, and the magnitude of this effects is non-trivial.
And, adding insult to injury:
Our analysis points strongly towards the idea that fathers do not, on average, provide the same degree of cognitive stimulation to sons that mothers provide.
Confusingly, the report doesn't seem to show this effect at any other time point:
One finding of note is that we find no evidence of negative effects of paternal care on the outcomes of boys prior to school entry, nor on Key Stage 1 scores at age 6 to 7.
The conclusion that dads are messing up their sons flies in the face of everything I believe (and everything I've read, for that matter), but I'm not an academic, so I'm pretty limited in my ability to call foul on this. I've asked a couple of people smarter than I for their opinion, and I'll let you know what I find out.

[UPDATE: Apparently I'm not crazy to be ticked (or to think this is questionable). More coming.]

Friday, November 09, 2007

No. No. There Are No Daddy Wars. No.

A couple of folks have pointed me to this essay in the November Men's Vogue from former-war correspondent-turned-at-home-dad Charlie LeDuff. While I think it's great that Charlie has found dad-dom (and is enjoying it so), I'm really tiring of the first-person dad story (always by a professional write who -- and I speak from experience -- is never taking a huge career risk by staying home. Yes, I do live in a glass house, but there is a reason I don't pen a lot of first-person stuff about my life.).

But what really scared the bejeezus out of me was Judith Warner's response on her NYT blog (thanks, Andy!). Warner notes -- correctly -- that the last half of LeDuff's story was full of the at-home-parenthood-is-morally-superior crap that drives people so nuts about Caitlin Flanagan*, etc. The title of the post? "Daddy Wars."

Let's get something straight. I want to own "Daddy Wars." I think the next great battle over parenthood will be between fathers who want to be able to take advantage of the great flexible workplace of the 21st century and the old-line bosses who fail to see the light. It will not be between at-home dad and go-to-work dads. I'm not pleased that LeDuff has decided to spend so much time rhapsodizing about having to "decide if the child is more important than the stature, the action, the money" and setting up a ridiculous, non-existent conflict.

We have miles to go in this country to get a workplace and a social setting where people have real options about how to balance work and family instead of stark all-or-nothing choices. LeDuff may be proud of his decision, but he hasn't done the rest of us any favors.

* Speaking of Flanagan, what the hell happened to her? I can't think of anyone who appeared and then disappeared off of the cultural-critic radar as fast.

Trading Kegs for Cabernet: 2008 Convention in Sacramento

Wanted to give you all the quick rundown on the 2008 (and beyond) At-Home Dad Convention, though if you want the real skinny, you need to check out, where the discussion is really taking place:
  • Mark your calendars: The lucky 13th convention will be held Nov. 8 in Sacramento
  • Looking ahead: DC and Texas look to be prime candidates to host after Sac-town
  • Want to offer a suggestion: post 'em here
  • I'll be taking down the photo bar above in the coming days, but the memories will always be archived here
  • Finally -- and this is the really important part for the RebelDad readership -- the convention could really, really use some sponsors going forward. The investment doesn't have to be huge, but getting someone to pick up breakfast, lunch or a portion of the cost for the meeting space would make an enormous difference in keeping costs down and keeping the event alive. The convention is run by a 501(c)(3); any support is tax-deductible. If you or your company can help, let me know and I'll put you in touch with the right guys.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

At-Home Dads: Happy. And Able to Kick Your Ass

Two at-home dad items have been flagged to me today that show the wonderful diversity of at-home dads.

The first is a Yahoo Sports profile of Houston Alexander, who is both a single father of six and a Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight contender who can bench press 450 pounds and is nicknamed the "Nebraska Assassin." Can we get this guy at the 2008 convention?

The second is a Wall Street Journal column (sub req?) by work-life columnist Sue Shellenbarger that breaks little new ground (17-word summary: at-home dads are happy, but it does alter career paths ... not that that's a bad thing) but further emphasizes that the old at-home dad stereotypes are dead wrong:

For years, the stay-at-home dad has been treated as a cultural oddity, an ill-at-ease comic hero who can't wait to don pinstripes again and get back to the office.

Interviews with men who stayed home with their children for several years, and are now looking back on it, paint a different picture. While much attention has been paid to at-home mothers who opt out of the corporate rat race for good, many at-home dads are quietly doing the same thing -- finding flexible alternative work. And while the adjustment can be rough, some of these men discover at-home parenting marks a permanent turning point toward better life balance.

Bonus Shellenbarger link (free): Last week, she profiled the details of a negotiation that got a dad down to a three-days-a-week schedule. Worth checking out if you're looking to step off the work treadmill a bit.

Monday, November 05, 2007

At-Home Dad Convention: Reports from This Weekend

The blogging continued through the weekend, but I was unable to keep up. If you're looking for a glimpse of what happened (or you were there and want to re-live it), check out:

In addition, I was asked -- at the 11th hour -- to write something on the event last week, and it went up on Pajamas Media on Saturday* (and linked to by Instapundit that night). Too late to make a difference, I know, but I'm hoping this gets people juiced for next year ...

(* I'd like to disavow the headline, but you take what you can get ...)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Convention Update

1. The photos up on the photo bar are now from the 2007 conference. Keep 'em coming (either by sending to me or by uploading to Flickr with the "ahd2007" tag.

2. The first convention posts are now up:
"Meet, Greet, Graze and Sample" (
"At the Stay at Home Dad Convention" (I'm Not a Slacker)
Let me know if I'm missing any ...

Friday, November 02, 2007

First Report from the At-Home Dad Convention

Sounds like things are off to a fantastic start:
Well, it has begun. Reports of last night's DNO with KCDADS have been awesome. The Harley Tour got rave reviews, and after dropping into lunch at George Brett's with some familiar faces, we're here at the hotel.

It's great to see so many of the familiar faces that I've come to know, and also great to see so many new faces.

More stories to come!


Pol: At-Home Dad Doesn't Have 'Real Job'

It's election time, and I keep stumbling across all kinds of stories about at-home dads seeking political office. I haven't posted on most of these because there's just not much to say about the trend. But ...

... One of my friends and neighbors, David Englin, is a member of the Virginia General Assembly and is up for re-election. David's done a great job for his constituents, so there's really not much there to attack. But his opponent has found *something* to carp on: David's daytime gig as a SAHD. From the Washington Post:
Allen describes Englin as a shrill, professional "hair on fire" politician who has lived in the city for five years and doesn't have a "real job."
I'm sure most of you aren't in Virginia's 45th district (actually, I'm not, which is too bad), so this is just another example of dads not getting the respect they deserve. For those of you who *are* in David's district, please show up to vote on Tuesday.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Two Milestones for

This is my 1,000 post on, and today is the site's fifth birthday. I don't think I ever expected to last this long, or to consider any readership beyond myself. I've appreciated all of your visits over the years, all of the comments and all of the e-mails. I've had the pleasure of meeting many of you face-to-face, and I can say with great certainty that what readers lack in numbers, they make up for in charm. Thanks for keeping me going.

In celebration of the birthday, I thought I'd repost my very first post, which -- we can be all but certain -- no one read at the time:
I had a weird experience the other day, one that made me feel better about the ways of the world. I took something of a razzing from one of the fathers on the street at our annual kiddie Halloween party. I mentioned that I'd shlepped across Northern Virginia to go to an all-dads playgroup the previous week, and my neighbor's imagination seemed to run wild. "Were they," he paused, "really weird?" The answer, not surprisingly, was no -- no more weird that any half-dozen guys at a soccer game or your local bar. My neighbor wasn't convinced. I told him I might go back -- it was an interesting group of guys. "You're not serious, are you?" he said.

Two days later, his wife became stranded at the grocery store, so I gave her a ride home. I mentioned that her husband had given me a hard time about the at-home dad thing. She was sympathetic. "I don't know what the medical term is, but he's really jealous. If he could do anything, he'd be at home, taking care of his son."

There it was, hassling out of envy. I hadn't seen much of that. I assumed I'd get funny looks -- the kind the green-haired punks get from the yuppies -- but I wasn't ready for jealousy. I rather like it.

2007 At-Home Dad Convention, Online!

The first hardy fathers have already arrived in Kansas City for the 12th Annual At-Home Dad Convention. I, sadly, will not be among them, and I suspect I won't be alone. But I'll do my best to broadcast what's going on there. For starters:

1. If you're a blogger who will be posting from the event, let me know ASAP, and I'll include you on a post that links to all of the guys there. Even better: upload your posts to with the "ahd2007" tag.

2. If you're there and taking pictures, please either a) send 'em to me or b) upload 'em to Flickr with the tag "ahd2007." They'll appear in the new photo window at the top of the page (which is now showing shots from last year's event).

Let the fun begin!