Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Continuing Alienation of Half of the Potential Market

It's not just Baby Gap and Pampers that is making an assumption about me. DaddyTypes has the goods on Playtex's silly mommy-centricity.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Texas Research

... is all in one place now. Aaron Rochlen from the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education has really done a great job of examining what makes at-home dads happy and unhappy, and the school's publication has run a really thoughtful look at Rochlen and his research.

Monday, February 18, 2008

More Details for Nashville Dads

The fine fathers of Nashville -- defenders of truth, honesty, the Predators and gender equity -- now have a home on the web. Check it out. All are welcome.

DaddyTypes and the Gap Gift Certificate

I was bad enough when Pampers wished me a Happy Mother's Day, but I've been meaning to post a link to the wonderful gift certificate that Baby Gap sent Greg from DaddyTypes last month. Good luck spending that ...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dads and Social Outlets

I can't believe that I engaged in the silly no-dads-allowed drama last week without referencing something actually thoughtful on the subject of dads and social support in a world dominated by a mom-centric baby-industrial complex.

Paul Nyhan, who is the best parenting reporter in the country (in addition to being a nice guy and a helpful erstwhite co-worker), penned a piece last week asking if guys really had to have support groups. Was there a yawning need, he wondered, to build a whole apparatus of hospital educational courses and playgroups and magazines specifically tailored to the needs of dads?

Well worth the read.

(If you're counting, this makes two straight posts that have referenced Paul's work. So if you're not reading/subscribing to his blog, you're missing out.)

The Word of the Year: Choreplay

Longtime readers know that I delight in any social science that suggests that the best way to ensure a robust sex life is to have a household in which dad does his fair share, so I was tickled when my erstwhile hometown paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, brought the issue to the fore for Valentine's Day. The headline pretty much said it all: "Want to get your woman in the mood? Try doing housework," and quoted various relationship experts emphasizing that -- yes -- doing housework and minding the kids gets women in the mood.

Apparently, Parenting Magazine has dubbed this "choreplay," which is an absolutely lovely turn of phrase. (Though for a less rosy take on the idea, check out this Chicago Trib article.)

The AJC article was brought to my attention by Working Dad, Paul Nyhan, who had a great perspective on the subject. In his mind (and mine), while there may certainly be a link between happy, sex-filled marriages and guys who take an egalitarian attitude toward the household, it's kind of silly to think that finding and operating the vacuum cleaner at a stunt is enough to get a woman worked up.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Done with the Playgroup Brouhaha

I received a nice note last night from Cynical Dad, who urged me to not to give Lindsay Ferrier the satisfaction of additional attention, given that a) it's pretty clear that she doesn't get it (or doesn't care) and b) it's pretty clear that she delights in the flame war.

So though I think this is an important topic, and one I'll keep writing about, I'm done with her. No more links. No more engagement. No more pretending that this is some sort of real debate.

So we're clear, let me make one, final declaratory statement: I believe that isolation is a serious problem for a huge number of parents. Moms. Dads. At-home parents. Go-to-work parents. And if someone should be brave enough to come to me as a neighbor or a friend or a blogger and ask for my help in fighting those issues, I will do everything in my power to help them. Period.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Lindsay Ferrier's At it Again"

"Lindsay Ferrier's at it again." That was the subject line in my Gmailbox letting me know that Nashville's unofficial spokesmom, Lindsay Ferrier, has followed up her edgy-yet-clueless column about how dads and moms are two great tastes that taste weird together with a second column defending the first.

This deserves a thoughtful response in a higher-profile venue -- and that's coming -- but I wanted to get a couple of quick reactions out right now:

1. All of my originial objections stand. The idea that a dad would fundamentally screw up a mommy playgroup is silly. Moms were welcome at my old at-home dad playgroup. Women are welcome at the At-Home Dad Convention. I play hockey with a couple of women. And they come drink with the guys after the game. And no one's head explodes if the conversation turns to vasectomies or whether Brooks Laich is hot. Why erect gender barriers?

2. Ms. Ferrier has plumbed the depths of her e-mail and the internet and come to the conclusion that men in general -- and at-home dads in particular -- are perverted home wreckers. All I can say is if she believes what she's writing, she has about zero understanding of how men actually act and think.

3. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the big difference between poker night with the guys (or a girls night out) and a playgroup is that -- in theory -- a playgroup involves some thought to the social development/amusement of the kids. At least a little. But apparently in Ferrier's world, the desire to talk dirty about the Wiggles outweighs the needs of the children to play with a diverse group. (I know this is a weak argument. Most playgroups I've seen are primarily about the need for parents to break up the routine, not provide age-appropriate mental stimulation for the toddlers. But let's pay at least lip service to the idea that when you tell adults that they're not welcome at a playgroup, there's a kid who's not welcome, too.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nashville Dads: You Are Welcome Here

Hey -- for those Nashville dads who are stung (or elated) to be blackballed from playgroups hosted by the by the sadly confused Lindsay Ferrier, there is a place in Nash Vegas where you will fit right in -- a weekly dad's playgroup. For details, see the rebeldad.com playgroup map or e-mail Chris at ccsr mac com. (Thanks to Rick for sending along the info.)

Latest Statement of the Obvious: Involved Dads Benefit Kids

This shouldn't be news, but a review of 24 papers published in the last two decades has concluded definitively (though not surprisingly) that having an involved father has the effect of
reducing behaviour problems in boys and psychological problems in young women ...

... Swedish researchers also found that regular positive contact reduces criminal behaviour among children in low-income families and enhances cognitive skills like intelligence, reasoning and language development.

The benefits were long-lasting, too.

And extra-credit to the research team for making clear that their conclusions apply to both fathers and "father figures." Not every kid has a biological father around, but that alone doesn't doom anyone.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Details Goes Through the Looking Glass

Lately, I've been torn about Details. The magazine has spilled lots of ink on the topic of fatherhood (which is a good thing), but produced what has been some of the most inane articles on the topic of dads ever written (which is not so good). Mostly, Details seems torn between the obvious importance of dadhood to the modern man and the pub's instinctual chest-thumping viewpoint of masculinity.

So I kept waiting for their latest first-person piece on fatherhood -- a thoughtful piece on the challenge of being a sensitive new-age guy raising an old-school, rough-and-tumble boy -- to dissolve into some sort of cooler-than-thou claptrap. But it doesn't. So credit to Details for going against type (though I could have stood to have the piece slugged anything other than "girly dads.")

Parents Pays Attention to Dads (Sort Of)

Though I haven't done an unhinged anti-parenting-magazine rant in weeks, longtime readers know that I'm none too impressed with the way that Parents, Parenting, Child, etc. marginalize half of all parents. But I'd like to report that Parents has taken a sudden interest in fathers. As cuties:
Think your man's a totally cute daddy? Show him off! Upload ONE of your cutest dad-and-kid photos now, and you could win a new Apple® iPod® nano!
(First round of judging is based on ratings from the website, so if your photo is up there, let us know in the comments and we'll all vote for you.)

Monday, February 04, 2008

SAHDs Don't Have Uzis. Or Cooties.

I have spent a lot of time -- here, in the media, at the At-Home Dad Convention -- telling people that while at-home dads often feel isolated, it's not a gender thing (at-home moms feel isolated, too). There is no conspiracy to ignore dads on the playground. There is no underground network of mommy playgroups that systematically keeps neighborhood dads away.

But let me now carve out one exception to my there's-no-conspiracy-against-SAHDs stance. If you are an at-home dad and you live in a certain neighborhood of Nashville, a woman named Lindsay Ferrier is more than willing to blackballing you from her playgroup:
I imagined a play group where I no longer felt comfortable ranking the Wiggles on a hotness scale of 1 to 10, or discussing the pros and cons of boob jobs. I felt for this guy, really, I did, but I knew what I had to do.

“Look, it could never work, OK?” I said. “I’m telling you, my play group is full.”

Ferrier tries to make the point that she has respect for these guys, doesn't mind having them over and thinks they have a hard slog of it. She just doesn't want them around her friends. And she also spends some time poking fun at the idea that anyone would ever be seriously bothered by what she wrote. (She blogged on the topic and also posted in the comments to Gaming With Baby's thoughtful take.)

Jeez. I figured that once we all got beyond second or third grade, boy and girls (or men and women) could spend time together without it becoming some sort of Major Social Moment. Apparently, not. Not in Nashville, anyway.