Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More on Why I Hate Parenting Magazines

I have long held that parenting magazines have something against dads, working -- either explicitly or implicitly -- to favor a just-us-moms tone rather than cultivate a more expansive readership that considers men equal parents.

So thanks to Keith Tipton, I need to pass along this revealing NY Times piece from earlier this month covering Scholastic's decision to name a male editor in chief. I am happy enough with that as a symbolic move that I'm willing to overlook the stereotypical view of dads that the article takes. But the most enlighting passage comes from Susan Kane, the editor of Parenting (who long used the slogan "we get moms" to sell the mag):

“The fact that I’m a mom is a big asset because I’ve been there, and because there’s a certain kind of mom-to-mom connection that, frankly, moms want,” she said. “There’s a kind of intimacy and a kind of club that you’re in as a mom once you’ve given birth or once you’ve gone through the adoption process.

“My husband is, for all intents and purposes, the mom in our family. I’m really the breadwinner, he’s the cook, he does the grocery shopping, he’s home more often than I am. But I’m still the mommy,” she said.

So there you have it, from the horse's mouth. Whatever the initimacy created upon parenthood, dads are apparently not a part of it. Good luck with that kind of exclusionary attitude during the media-belt-tightening months of 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More on the Recession and Joblessness and Dads

In the comment's to Saturday's post, Phillip Cohen posted a link to his thoughtful HuffPo piece on the impact of past recessions on family life, and his predictions for this go-round. Well worth the read. An excerpt:

One possibility is that men's unemployment will lead to more men taking on childcare responsibilities at home. Despite the considerable volume of ink spilled over cultural shifts, nothing changes gendered behavior like economic necessity. The last time we saw that happen was the 1990-91 recession - which was driven by declines in industrial production. Those of us who study housework and childcare are used to seeing trend lines that don't show much change in recent years, so the upward spike in this graph for the 1991 recession has drawn some interest since it was first pointed out by Lynne Casper.

2008-12-10-dadcare.jpgSource: U.S. Census Bureau.

During the 1991 recession, more husbands were the primary childcare providers for their preschool-aged children - and then the trend went back to (just above) normal.

Monday, December 29, 2008

At-Home Dad Convention Makes News (Again)

The At-Home Dad Convention is run by some excellent guys and always has an excellent program, so they were really undeserving of the mostly economic frustrations they encountered in pulling the event together this year.

But they did manage to score a great mention in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, so congrats to Dayv and the crew.

(The accompanying article wasn't bad -- it quotes the super-smart and telegenic Aaron Rochlen -- but didn't break any huge new ground.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Painful Way to Create a New Army of At-Home Dads

Twenty years ago, the idea of at-home dads as an actual social phenomenon worth measuring and studying emerged, and demographers started trying to count the SAHD numbers. The early efforts were based on surveys of working women, and the numbers that came out of those early surveys suggested that at-home fatherhood -- though more significant than anyone imagined -- was not a runaway social revolution. Instead, it appeared that at-home dad numbers moved with the economy. Bad periods of time for the U.S. economy, such as 1991, were correlated with spikes in the number of dads at home.

The census folks count the number of at-home dads differently now, meaning that the economic tailspin probably won't juice at-home dad numbers much more than they're already juiced (the growth of men staying home continues to be strong for a dozen non-economic reasons).

Instead, we're likely to see more and more anecdotal reports of guys who have been laid off and taking some time to re-connect with family (particularly if they're the kind of guys who accumulated a nest egg). These have already started trickling in -- you should read this piece by ex-Lehman Bros SVP Spencer Cutter, if you haven't already -- and I suspect we'll see a lot more first-person pieces from guys who never expected to doing the kid duty. I'll post more as I see them.

Friday, December 19, 2008


It's hard what to know to make of this, but there are a handful of dinosaurs in which the dad does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to bringing up their scaly little offspring.

This obviously won't turn the tide in terms of men suddenly becoming involved fathers, but it is a nice example to point out to the Underroo set: not only are T. rex and his kin fierce and ferocious and cool, they're also great dads. Not a bad message for impressionable preschoolers. (Hey, Eric Carle, time to update Mr. Seahorse.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Calgary SAHDs Needed

From the mailbox today. Please help if you fit the bill:
I am a freelance journalist in Saskatchewan working on a story for the
Calgary Herald about Rebel Dads (good one). Would you know of and be able to
put me in touch with a family in Calgary with this arrangement?

Much appreciated,

Thom Barker
Fort Qu'Appelle, SK
306 331 6222

Leslie Morgan Steiner Is Coming Around

A couple of years ago, I spent a lot of time dinging Leslie Morgan Steiner for the utter failure to think about fathers in the compilation of essays, Mommy Wars, she had published. Ironically, those posts led to the Post asking me to contribute weekly to Leslie's blog to give a voice to fathers.

I don't think that I can claim credit for this, but it's clear that Leslie is beginning to realize that parenthood is a two-sex kind of deal now. From her interview with my erstwhile colleague and the hardest-working guy on the parenthood beat, Paul Nyhan:

"Fatherhood has changed so much more than motherhood in the last 30 years."

We were talking about research that shows dads are spending more time on childrearing in this era of co-parenting and two-career families. We appeared to agree the challenges of the modern dad are under covered in the media, though not underreported here. ...

Few moms have spent more time ruminating on the challenges of modern motherhood, and Steiner wasn't downplaying the juggle of modern moms. But we agreed dads are too often not part of the parenting dialogue, even though we are bigger players than ever.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Early Father's Day Gift Idea

I know it's early to think about your Father's Day shopping. (Hell, it's early for a lot of you to think about Christmas shopping), but I would be remiss in not letting you know that Daddy Dialectic's Jeremy Adam Smith's new book, "The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting Are Transforming the Twenty-First-Century Family," is up for pre-order on Amazon.

Amazon says it'll be available on June 1, but it's never to early to start thinking about placing your order, especially if you're fond of smart, progressive thinking on family life.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Change the World. Support Girls.

I don't often get swept up in viral campaigns or spend much time expounding on my non-dad-related social or political views, but I ran across the video below this weekend and -- as the father of two daughters -- found it extraordinary. It's done under the auspices of the girl effect, and it seems to be as thoughtful and revolutionary an approach to changing the world as any I've seen: