Thursday, May 29, 2008

Austin: The Hottest Town in the U.S. (for SAHDs)

The hottest dads group in the country is apparently in Austin. In addition to their star turn on the Today Show, they've also been profiled by the Daily Texas, the student newspaper at the University of Texas. Part of the reason for the star billing is Aaron Rochlen, the nice-guy UT professor who has been hanging with these guys and blazing the trail of at-home dad research. Can't say the profile is wildly different than most, but I wanted to flag.

(I have to wonder if I should start putting a disclosure on posts like this: while I'm thrilled that these guys are getting validation and support and finding each other, I remain concerned that media stories that treat at-home dads like anomalies doesn't necessarily help the cause.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

NC Dad Summit:, June 7

Greg from Hopeless Cases is throwing together a get-together in Durham -- there are seven or eight guys who are confirmed and the more the merrier. Here's Greg's plan:
probably drop science on topics (most likely sitting around [the campfire?]) like :

-isolation and the importance of getting involved
-blogging for money
-financial mangement and the need to spend
-life w/ a special needs child
-dads and girls
There's discounted rooms at the Holiday Inn Eastgate in Chapel Hill, and I'd love to hear any reports on how things go.

You can track Greg down at

Friday, May 16, 2008

More Book Reviews: The Dude's Guide to Pregnancy

OK, so this is turning out to be book review month around here. In addition to getting Opting In in the mail, I also received "The Dude's Guide to Pregnancy." I'm sure both books may be shelved in the area of the bookstore, but it's hard to imagine two more different tomes.

"Dude" is so bad, so confused in its focus, that I have to post about it. It contains these nuggets of truly useful, interesting information that most guys don't learn until they're in the thick of the process, but those points are surrounded by such vulgar and sophomoric stuff that it is difficult to tell if the authors seriously want to inform men about pregnancy or if they're just in it for the sex jokes.

But bad writing about fatherhood (or, in this case, prospective fatherhood) always has a silver lining. Somewhere out there, a book editor read "Dude" and concluded that there is a meaningful market for a book that tries to speak directly to dads. That's progress. I think.

(If you're in the market for books about new fatherhood that can be honest, funny and engaging without insulting your intelligence, I still think "Pop Culture" and "Be Prepared" are worth the investment.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Parenting Pubs: The Next Generation Looks Mommy-Centric, Too

I used to spend a lot of time moaning about the enormous parenting magazines (Parents, Parenting, etc.) and the way that they were overwhelmingly -- sometimes aggressively -- mommy-focused. And I held out hope that the future of parenting publications would be full of gender-neutral perspectives.

But DaddyTypes is looking at the online parenting arms of our nation's suddenly web-obsessed newspapers and has noticed an alarming trend of mommy-centrism. Moms Miami from the Herald. Bay Area Moms from the Chronicle. Now BoMoms from the Globe.

There are exceptions, thankfully, that Greg duly notes (my other blog, The Poop, etc.), but seriously ... does throwing dads into the mix really kill traffic and advertiser interest?

More Annual Corporate Silliness:

Every year, I write a blog post on's well-meaning effort to track the market value of what an at-home mom or dad does. Every year, I plunge into the assumptions behind the calculator and wonder why the heck a) they assume that at-home dads do less around the house (a lot less ... like 15 hours a week), b) they assume a dramatically different mix of work and c) they have dads actually "worth" $12K more.

This year, for kick, I tried to figure out the laundry thing. says at-home moms spend a staggering 8 hours a week on laundry. At-home dads clock 3.9 hours in the laundry room. The reason: go-to-work moms make up the difference (putting 5.1 hours into washing, drying and folding).

So in addition to the off-the-rocker suggestion that most two-kid households generate 9 hours of laundry a week, believes that at-home dads do less than half of all laundry. Even accepting that -- perhaps -- dad standards for household things are slightly lower, that laundry estimate feels like a kick in the shins.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Annual Open Letter to the Morons at Pampers

Dear Pampers,

Once again, I opened my inbox today and received a warm and fuzzy note from the you celebrating Mother's Day. It read: "Today we celebrate moms like you for making a difference in their child’s life." And while I am thrilled to death that you're celebrating moms -- something worthwhile on Mother's Day and every other day of the year -- I should (again) point out to you that I am not, by any definition, a mother.

When marketing folks like yourself make the blanket assumption that everyone who signs up for your most excellent diaper-coupon thingy is a mother, it severely undercuts your ability to be taken seriously by dads. I'm sure you have consumer research people who can tell you that dads bought more diapers in 2007 than in any previous year, and that 2008 will top 2007 in diaper sales to dads. These dads, especially the dads that received your warm note this morning, may well now be thinking Huggies.

Look forward to hearing from you again on Father's Day,

Happy Mother's Day, RebelMom

Nothing has improved my life -- as a father and as a human being -- as much as having RebelMom always at my side. Thank you, I love you, and Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

More Books: The Baby Bonding Book for Dads

So this is turning out to be book review month around here. Increasingly, book publishers have begun sending me books about fatherhood (or parenthood more generally) in the hopes that I'll a) read 'em and b) give 'em a glowing review, thereby making back in free publicity the couple of Hamiltons spent sending me the book. The latest to try that gambit is the nice folks behind the Baby Bonding Book for Dads, which is a brief and gorgeously photographed book about, um, baby bonding for dads.

The book weighs in at less than 100 pages, and it seems to be mostly a delivery mechanism for the photos of dads and babies, which make even the act of being peed on seem somehow luminous. The text is nothing particularly revolutionary -- good, solid advice that will make perfect sense to anyone who has been through the whole baby thing before.

I'm at a loss of where this book fits, exactly, in the fatherhood canon. It's not at all tongue-in-cheek. It's not practical on the level of a lot of the literature out there. The overriding message (fatherhood is natural and fulfilling) is not particularly novel, though presented beautifully. So my overarching conclusion -- and I'll come back to this in posts to come -- is that the book assumes that there is a certain level of interest in the nuts-and-bolts of fatherhood. The existence a demographic group -- of dads, would-be dads and the people who love them -- who are in the market for a glossy-paged celebration of new fatherhood is nothing but a good thing.

Monday, May 05, 2008

800-FLOWERS Quietly Acknowledges Mr. Mom Stupidity

Mother's Day is right around the corner. This is both a public service announcement and a chance to congratulate Peter Baylies on spearheading a campaign to get 800-FLOWERS to change their Mother's Day contest, which asked web surfers to vote on their favorite mom archetype. Among the choices: "Mr. Mom."

This is stupid not only on the usual knee-jerk level around here (men who parent aren't moms. They're not "Mr. Moms." They're fathers, dammit), but also on the level of common sense: "Mr. Moms" do not celebrate Mother's Day, and to give involved dads a piece of that holiday is silly and insulting to moms. So Peter's been posting about this, and 800-FLOWERS has quietly replaced "Mr. Mom" with "Office Mom." Nice work, Peter.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Penelope Trunk: Where to Start?

Thanks to Joeprah, I just read Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk's bizarre/unfair/sad post, provocatively titled: "Guest post: What life’s really like for a stay-at-home dad."

I'd summarize it here, but I just can't do it justice. You'll have to read it. Suffice it to say that for the first time, Penelope hands her blog over to someone anonymously, and that at-home husband proceeds to out himself as:
  • An adulterer
  • A chauvinist
  • A guy who has been repeatedly propositioned as a SAHD
  • Pretty self-centered ("I can pretty much do what I want to do")
If I had to pick four traits of the at-home dads I've encountered in my life (and that's a pretty big number), these are probably the four *last* traits I'd list. Also suspect: the kids are mentioned only in passing. But Penelope praises this guy for "because he is more honest with me about his life than any other stay-at-home dad I know."

In response to what was a firestorm of criticism in the comments section, Penelope then tried to dig herself out of her hole by pointing out the questions the piece was supposed to raise, but this only gets her in deeper. Among the queries:
  • "Is being a stay-at-home dad any different than the life that Betty Friedan and Sylvia Plath worked so hard to get away from?"
  • "Is the world really ready for stay-at-home dads? Will the world ever be ready?"
  • "Why is the world not talking about the downside of being a stay-at-home dad?"
  • "Do women respect their stay-at-home husbands? ... respect takes a huge effort and a lot of mental tricks."
  • "Why do women hit on stay-at-home dads?"
Knocking these questions down, point-by-point, would be a wonderfully cathartic exercise for me, but a 2,000-word waste of time for you, the reader.

In short, these are all bogus questions that are clearly born of a hostility toward at-home dads. In the blogosphere, I try to refrain from ad hominem attacks, but you can't but wonder, given Penelope's high-profile divorce from her at-home dad husband, coupled with her dim view of the impact of the arrangement on their marriage, if this post was more a personal vent than a reasonable exploration of the topic.

[Full disclosure: I happen to love Penelope's blog and her sometimes-contrarian thoughts on work and career, and I have swapped various e-mails with her on the topic of at-home fatherhood. (Though I have never said "interview me" and in fact have cautioned her "at-home gig -- despite what it may seem from reading my blog -- isn't for everyone.") I honestly wish her the best of luck with her family and her career.]

Cross-Promotion: Dads and the 'Endgame'

Over at On Balance, I wrote today about the sudden avalanche of stories about the transition from at-home dad back into the paying workforce, questioning whether -- as is sometimes implied -- this is more an at-home dad phenomenon than an at-home mom one. Feel free to surf over there and leave your thoughts.