Saturday, June 28, 2008

Gone Fishin'

Back in a week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Most Over-The-Top Dad's Day Headline

"When Daddy is a Domestic God"

Hey -- props to the dads in the article, who all seem like stand-up guys. But "domestic gods"?

New Outlet at the

Those of you who follow my other online endeavors may have noticed that the other blog I contribute to, On Balance at, is officially on hiatus, and my run over there is over. What this means for you is that I may let more of the work-life balance stuff spill over to, so if you see stuff that I should be looking at on that topic, please let me know.

But the nice folks over at were nice enough to let me start contributing to On Parenting, the parenting blog there. My first post is up today, and I'm happy to see that the commenters are going to be every bit as colorful as the readers of On Balance.

Monday, June 23, 2008

First of the Dad's Day Deluge

Boy, am I ever running behind. Here's the first of a handful of posts on interesting stuff that's dropped in the past couple of weeks.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Every two or three years, the annual domain name renewal sneaks up on me, and the site goes dark briefly while I struggle to get my paperwork in order. Each time this happens, I feel worse, and I'm sorry to waste the time of those of you who came across the site, only to get a server-not-available message.

Posting will resume ASAP, and I thank you for your patience.
-- Brian

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Aaron Rochlen from the University of Texas is -- in addition to being a great guy -- has done some really wonderful work (and some of the first work) in trying to understand who at-home dads are and what drives them. So when Aaron sent along details on his latest research effort, I told him I would absolutely pass it along to you. If you're an at-home father, please consider giving Aaron 15 minutes of your time to help this study along:
Dear Stay at home Fathers,

I am recruiting participants for a new study on stay-at-home fathers and wanted to ask for your help! Basically, this study has 3 primary goals.
1) Evaluating the relationship between different reasons for becoming a stay-at-home father and adjustment.
2) Assessing plans and perceptions toward re-entering the workforce &
3) Addressing how different factors relate to the occurrence & perceptions of negative reactions from others.

To my knowledge this will be the first study addressing these questions. As I did with the other project, I'll post a summary back to the major at-home dads forums when available. Honestly, I think this study should yield some interesting and potentially important results.

To participate, go to:

If anyone is interested in copies of the two published studies I've done on this topic, just shoot me an e-mail! My grandiose thought is that legitimate research on this topic will eventually lead to more positive/realistic portrayals of the SAHF experience in the media and other outlets that can have a positive impact on fathers and men considering the role.

This study has been approved by the IRB board at UTexas at Austin.

Thanks again.
Aaron Rochlen

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Save the World *and* Improve Work-Life Balance

Over at On Balance, I have to restrain myself from talking about the wonders of flexible scheduling and telework, lest I bore the natives. But this is just too good not to reference: Sun Microsystems says that teleworking is an incredibly green way to work:
  • Employees saved more than $1,700 per year in gasoline and wear and tear on their vehicles by working at home an average of 2.5 days a week.
  • Office equipment energy consumption rate at a Sun office was two times that of home office equipment energy consumption, from approximately 64 watts per hour at home to 130 watts per hour at a Sun office.
  • Commuting was more than 98 percent of each employee's carbon footprint for work, compared to less than 1.7 percent of total carbon emissions to power office equipment.
  • By eliminating commuting just 2.5 days per week, an employee reduces energy used for work by the equivalent of 5,400 Kilowatt hours/year.
  • Working from home 2.5 days per week saved the employees in the study an average of 2.5 weeks of commute time (8 hours/day, 5 days/week).
As if you needed another reason ...

(via WWD)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thanks a Lot, NYT

I have plenty to post from yesterday (and before), but I'm presently working on this week's On Balance piece (a reaction to the NYT Magazine "equally shared parenting" cover story), when I realized exactly what the tagline was on that cover story:
Will Dad Ever Do His Share
Way to keep the faith, NY Times headline writers. Did you even read the story?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day and Drinking From a Firehose

In year's past, I have made a valiant attempt to use this site to link to every single at-home dad-related Father's Day news story I could find, a job that becomes bigger and bigger every year. This year, I'm not even going to try to keep up. I'll write on anything that catches my eye, but I have no illusions about being comprehensive.

But -- by all means -- please let me know if you or your group gets profiled or you see coverage of fatherhood that is truly extraordinary, and I'll do my best to post links to the best stuff.

More Coming on What the Heck Dads Do All Day

I get the feeling we'll be talking more about division of labor in the household once I'm through digesting Lisa Belkin's exhaustive NYT Magazine piece on that looks at equally shared parenting (particularly as practiced by frequent commenters Marc and Amy), but while we're all digesting the magazine article, I thought I'd throw this press release snippet from the Council for Contemporary Families out there for everyone to chew on:
Dads are stepping up in new ways too. Men have steadily increased their participation in housework and child care over the past 30 years. And contrary to claims of some earlier studies, dads who work less than full-time don't use their extra time just to watch TV. Part-time worker dads do more housework (about an hour more) than full-time worker dads, and about 40 minutes more childcare. We know about these changes thanks to forthcoming work from Liana Sayer (Ohio State University) and Sanjiv Gupta (University of Massachusetts at Amherst) in which they analyzed the 2003-2005 ATUS.
(Whatever your feelings on the data, the real take-away is that this information comes from a governmental survey that may be on the chopping block. It really would be a shame if it were to disappear.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Multimedia Dads

There's going to be a lot of dad news to read this week and next, but not everyone enjoys plowing through surveys and news stories and wordy blog analyses. Some people want to experience the joys of fatherhood through audio or video. Those people are in luck this week.

For starters, NPR hosted a great dads roundtable in place the usual "Mocha Moms" programming yesterday. That's worth a listen.

Secondly, if you're tracking the evolution of the Evolution of Dad, which is shaping up to the be-all and end-all of documentaries about dads (plus, how often do you see Joan Williams and Houston Alexander in the same montage?), you'll want to check out the trailer for the film:
Dana's plan is to have this roll out for Father's Day 2010, and he's collecting donations to make this a reality. It's a cause well worth supporting.

The AP's Take on At-Home Dads

These kinds of stories are going to be as common as ragweed pollen this weekend, but before I get swamped, I wanted to point to an AP story from a couple of weeks ago taking a 30,000-foot look at at-home fatherhood (and at's Mike Biewenga). As much as I like Mike, it's the kind of story that I'm looking forward to seeing less of as I get older. I don't think that the cold shoulder from moms is a big problem today (though it may have been in the past), and I don't think that the isolation that at-home dads feel is all that different from the isolation that *any* at-home parent faces.

I don't mean to dismiss what are no doubt very real concerns for certain guys, but I get the feeling that these issues are slowly fading away.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spike TV Says We All (Almost) Want to Be At-Home Dads

Survey results are largely bogus, as I've noted earlier in the week, but now you have your pick of bogus stats: do you believe's contention that 37 percent of guys would do the at-home thing or Spike TV's pumped up estimate of 73 percent?:
With women spending more time in the office, men are starting to pick up
some of the slack at home. Men have been surprisingly accepting of this
change. 73% of fathers would sacrifice an exciting job for more time with
their children. 73% of fathers today are also at least "somewhat willing" to
be stay at home dads -- a 13-point increase from 2004. Of the men surveyed,
more than 80% indicated that what defines a man most is being a good husband
and father, whereas only 40% indicated that being a good worker is a measure
of the man.

The Single Best Document on Work-Life Balance for Men

I can't believe I missed this the first time around, but the folks at HellerEhrman, as part of their Opt-In Project, held an extraordinary roundtable at the beginning of last year titled "Work-Life Balance: Not Just for Women." The report from that day gives a great and concise overview of the current state of play for guys in the workplace. Well worth the read.

(Again, credit goes to Working Dad, who found this and pulled out the most compelling quote: "Men are willing to talk about these things in ways that were inconceivable less than 10 years ago" -- Howard Schultz, Starbucks chief executive officer.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Quick Note About My Old Friend Linda Hirshman

About a year ago, I ended up in a weird blogosphere spat with noted feminist Linda Hirshman (over whether today's men really are pulling their own weight). Hirshman has been on the radar screen again this week, with a Washington Post op-ed and a Post chat that have sparked a good deal of debate on the central question of how best to promote feminism.

During her chat, she lets loose with this:
... the heterosexual reproductive family is a fount in inequality. I think motherhood and family should be a central concern of feminism, starting with insisting that men shape their lives with the expectation that they will bear half the burden of child rearing and home making forever. Now there's a family value I can support without cavil.
I don't know if I've mellowed in the last year or if this is just phrased differently, I am 100 percent behind her sentiment. I think everyone ought to start with the assumption that half of the kid duty will fall to dad.

What We *Really* Want for Father's Day ...

LA Dads in the Spotlight

We're going to be overwhelmed soon by father stories in general and at-home dad stories in particular as Father's Day approaches, but before the deluge, I wanted to flag this month's cover story in LA Parent magazine. Nothing groundbreaking, but it does highlight a couple of local dads and talks to some of the people who have thought the hardest about fatherhood (including Hogan Hilling and Evolution of Dad's Dana Glazer).

Monday, June 09, 2008

The SAHD Ceiling?

Each year, spends some money to call 1,000 or so dads to ask them if they would be an at-home dad if their spouse could afford to support them. And each year, they end up with about the same number.

This year, they've declared that 37 percent of guys would do the full-time dad thing if they could afford it. Last year, the number was also 37 percent. The year before, it was "four-in-ten." It was 49 percent in 2005, 43 percent in 2004 and 40 percent in 2003. I don't trust careerbuilder enough to suggest that the numbers are actually slipping. Instead, it looks like the natural upper bound for guys who aspire to be at-home dads (right now) is around 40 percent. Which works for me.

Parenting's Target Audiences Dishes on Dads

The nice people at Parenting magazine have taken a break from utterly ignoring fathers, instead asking a thousand moms to weigh in on their hubbies. I hesitate to even re-broadcast any of the findings, given that the whole thing is meant as an entertainment exercise and not actually designed to give any actual insight. But, heck, it's worth checking out just for the giggles. Among the highlights:
  • "36% of you think you're the better parent. (Only 7% say your husband is)." I guess that leaves the majority of moms who call it a tie. That's good news.
  • "30% of you would like to change your husband's parenting style." Or you could say we have a 70 percent approval rating. I'll take it.
  • "42% of you have sex less often now that you have kids." That seems like a suspect number, doesn't it?
  • "58% of you admit that your husband deserves more credit than you give him for helping with the kid"
  • They also asked which sitcom dad their husband most resembled: Jon Cryer from "Two and a Half Men," Ray Romano and Homer Simpson. Suffice it to say that I'm not sure those were the best three options to restrict folks to, but on the bright side, most moms don't think of their spouse as Homer.
(Thanks to Paul at Working Dad for spotting this. I have a backlog of posts inspired by Working Dad posts, and I fear I'd have to close up shop if not for the steady flow of nuggets on Paul's site. Seriously, if you're not reading him, you should be.)

Could I Be Wrong to Dismiss "Gatekeeping"?

There is a theory, the "gatekeeper theory," that holds that the reason that dads are not more involved in childrearing is that they're actively (if unconsciously) pushed away by moms. (There is also a parallel concept -- "momblocking" -- referring to at-home dads who do the same thing.) I've never been a big fan of the general idea, mostly because I think dads are responsible for their level of involvement, and blaming mom doesn't get you very far. (I think dadblocking is absurd for other reasons, too.)

But I like to think I'm open minded about parenting and gender roles, so I need to share the result of "the first study to examine things moms actually do on a day-to-day basis that have the potential to affect dads’ behavior,"which was conducted by the fine folks from Ohio State. Researchers followed 97 Midwestern couples and assessed whether dads were encouraged or criticized by moms and how involved they were.

The findings bolster the "gatekeeper" idea:

A study of 97 couples found that fathers were more involved in the day-to-day care of their infants when they received active encouragement from their wife or partner.

In fact, this encouragement was important even after taking into account fathers’ and mothers’ views about how involved dads should be, the overall quality of the couple’s parenting relationship, and how much mothers worked outside the home.

In addition, fathers’ beliefs about how involved they should be in child care did not matter when mothers were highly critical of fathers’ parenting. In other words, fathers didn’t put their beliefs into practice when faced with a particularly judgmental mother.

“Mothers are in the driver’s seat,” said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study and assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.

“Mothers can be very encouraging to fathers, and open the gate to their involvement in child care, or be very critical, and close the gate.

“This is the first real evidence that mothers, through their behavior, act as gatekeepers by either fostering or curtailing how much fathers take part in caring for their baby.”

I'll keep an eye on the research (the Ohio State researchers got a grant for a cool $400,000 to launch an expanded study of the topic), even if I'm inclined to continue my skepticism. My bottom line: if you're a dad and you're not as involved as you want to be with the kids, that's your fault, not your spouse's.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Boston Globe Reporer Needs Help With Dad's Day Story

This just hit my inbox from Boston Globe columnist Maggie Jackson (maggie.jackson att net):
Hi - I write the Globe's work-life column and am looking for stay at home dads to interview - esp. those who are new to it (within a year). Could you help me? I need people by Friday.
If you can help, contact Maggie directly.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Women's Health: Men Are Hopeless

If you were to try to define the five top social trends in the last two decades, you'd be hard-pressed not to cite the changing role of men in the household. No matter how you slice it, we're doing more cooking, more cleaning, more diaper changing and spending more time with the kids than ever before.* We've done a great job debunking the idea that household tasks and childrearing is something that only women can do.

Enter Women's Health, which this month published a doozy of a piece that says that men don't set up double-dates, don't do yard work (really), don't plan vacations and don't cook. The portrait of men could have come from 1978. Or 1968. Or 1958. The only thing that makes it seem modern is a helping of pseudoscience: for most of men's shortcomings, the author cites biological differences between men and women.

We don't arrange double-dated because of high testosterone levels, we don't tend the yard because "women out­perform men at spotting altered or out-of-place objects," we don't plan getaways because our hemispheres aren't as connected, and we don't cook because "most guys grew up with moms who cooked for them, so now they see the kitchen as foreign territory."

I don't know which set of incorrect assumptions is more offensive: the idea that men are basically loutish layabouts or the contention that there's almost nothing that can be done about it because we're helpless prisoners of biology.

* This is a topic of much debate in the RebelHousehold. RebelMom believes deeply -- and with good reason -- that U.S. society has a loooong way to go before we get to anything approaching parity in the domestic sphere, and celebrating whatever incremental gains men may have made in the past 20 or 30 years just papers over the fact that there remains a huge gap between what women do at home and what men do. As usual, RebelMom makes an excellent point.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Two Favors for Two Great DadBloggers

1. From Daddy Dialectic's Jeremy Adam Smith (jeremyadamsmith mac com, who needs a couple more items for his book:
I'm seeking stay-at-home dads in New York City, especially dads of color, especially African-American dads. ...

Here's a reminder about what the book is about: "Twenty-First-Century Dad will tell the stories of fathers who have embraced taking care of children, explore the hopes and ideals that inform their choices, and analyze the economic and social developments that have made their choices possible. Stay-at-home dads represent a logical culmination of fifty years of family change, from a time when the idea of men caring for children was literally inconceivable, to a new era when at-home dads are a small but growing part of the landscape. Their numbers and cultural importance will continue to rise?and Smith argues that they must rise, as the global, creative, technological economy makes flexible gender roles more and more possible and desirable."
It's scheduled for publication in early 2009 from Beacon Press.
2. Paul Nyhan (Working Dad) of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer needs help for a story on dads in the workplace:
In this era of co-parenting what about dad? Dads are doing more at home but what's happening to help them with work-family balance? A look at innovative programs and gaps at dad-friendly workplaces around Seattle. Is society keeping up? What are dads seeing at work and around their cities, and what do they want to see?
Thoughts? Paul is at paulnyhan seattlepi com.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Rush Gives Up the Fight ...

... on doofus dads in greeting cards. As Lance noticed today, some apparently humor-impaired guy from outside Washington, DC was quoted in an AP story about Dad's Day greeting cards saying that "This idea that men are somehow biologically incapable of caring for their children is the sort of thing that I don't find particularly funny."

This is, of course, a true statement. And while Father's Day cards aren't a sign of the apocalypse or a major news event, I am tickled that someone noticed that the bumbling-father stereotype lives on in a number of different places. But apparently, Rush Limbaugh thinks the topic is beyond the bounds of reason:
Why is this guy shocked? Why is anybody surprised by this? I mean, men are predators, lousy louts, lazy lugs, dirty and filthy. This is a stereotype that's been out there for quite a while, and it's been fed by militant feminazi-ism. Yes, Mr. Snerdley? The program observer has a question. Well, that's a good question. Snerdley's question is, "Do real men get upset over greeting cards?" It's a good question. Apparently this guy does. Apparently, he's walking around there ready to be offended. You know, there's certain things that men should not get offended over, they should get mad at. The idea that they're predators; the idea that they have no stake in seeing their kids if there's a divorce.
Honestly, Rush, I don't get shocked or offended or even all that surprised by Father's Day cards. And I do think that guys may have bigger fish to fry. But the world would indeed be a better place if men weren't immediately assumed to be utter idiots. I'm doing my part to battle that stereotype. Are you, Mr. Limbaugh?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mothering on Fathering

If I had a dime for every time I've used this space to rail against the gleeful mommy-first coverage of Parents and Parenting magazines, I'd have about a buck-fifty. But that's only because my interesting in dinging those publications over and over again has waned. I've grown accustomed -- though not happy -- to the idea that parenting magazines will generally ignore dads.

But that doesn't mean I don't still pine for change, so I hope every parenting magazine editor picks up a copy of the latest Mothering -- the hippie aunt in the family of kid publications -- and check out the editorial on their historic focus on moms and why they're beginning to bulk up their dad coverage:
There is a new generation of fathers who are not second-class parents to their wives. They are fully present and know what to do. Just like mothers, they have to figure things out for themselves and learn from their mistakes, but more of them than ever are willing to show up and get involved. ...

In addition, here are some other things I want to do to more actively include fathers in the pages of Mothering and on While we've always welcomed articles by fathers, we now want to encourage and publish them even more. Please send us your ideas and submissions.

We're also developing a new regular department, "In His Own Words": a short interview of a dad by a dad, with a photo. Look for the premiere interview in the July/August issue. Give us your suggestions about fathers to interview.

Joe Kelly is our online fathering expert.

But we want to develop even more content for fathers on, and have asked Jeremy Adam Smith, of Daddy Dialectic (, to help us set up daddy blogs: uncensored epistles about the experiences of real fathers. I'd also like to use our considerable experience in managing Web forums to host online discussions among daddies. I don't know, however, if that again crosses a line, is condescending. While it's important that Mothering facilitate intimate conversation among mothers and fathers, it's also important that fathers have their own autonomy.

Sadly, all magazine journalists have not suddenly become thoughtful observers on modern gender relations. But I'll get to Women's Health later this week.

(Thanks for Clint for the tip.)