Friday, January 30, 2009

Career Advice to be Wary Of

I've gone back and forth with career guru Penelope Trunk several times on whether at-home dads are generally happy. I am of the opinion that SAHDs are just as content as the rest of the population (and the ones that chose the role are probably more content than your average Joe). Penelope, based on her own reading of the situation, strongly feels that any happy at-home dad is either self-delusional or actually working part-time.

Earlier this month, Penelope wrote "5 career tips women should run from" and once again took the opportunity to say, point-blank, that she "doesn't believe men are happy in [the at-home] role."

We're at the point now where no amount of blogging or e-mailing Penelope is going to change her mind, so I'm posting here mostly to ensure that the next time someone Googles for "Penelope Trunk at-home dad," they get a balanced idea of what dads *really* think.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Can Anyone Give a Review of "Happy SAHD"

The premiere, as mentioned before, was last Sunday, and it got a nice writeup in the local online press as well as a mention on the Baltimore Sun's blog. Anyone Baltimore folks here who can comment?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Today Show and At-Home Dads: Missed Opportunity

For obvious and self-serving reasons, I am a fan of the Today Show. Their interest in at-home dads is evidently enduring, as the program broadcast their second segment on dads who stay home in less than a year:

Because of my deep relationship with Matt Lauer, I don't want to be too harsh with the fine folks at NBC, but this seems like a terrible missed opportunity. They took a smart and timely topic -- dads forced into the home role by the economy -- and rather than looking at what that will mean for gender roles writ large, they are content to make "doodie" jokes and basically run through the usual at-home dad script with the usual comments. Among my specific beefs:
  • Four "Mr. Mom" references in the first minute -- and a clip from the movie? C'mon: that was 30 years ago. Dads in pop culture have moved on. Can't broadcast news?
  • They got a great lead anecdote from a laid-off-dad-turned-SAHD. But in a city of, what, 7 million people, they couldn't have unearthed someone who hadn't told his story yet?
  • What in the world are they doing talking to the National Organization for Men as some sort of "expert." From what I can tell, the group is dedicated to the bizarre idea that most of the bad things that befall women in this economy (like the shameful pay gap) are self-inflicted. Anyone who calls at-home mothers "gold diggers" does not speak for me.
But bonus points to Lauer for suggesting that guys new to the role seek out others in the same position. Hopefully, the net impact will be positive, and the web of fatherhood will only grow larger and tighter.

Wondertime Bites the Dust

Generally, I hate parenting magazines, but I had high hopes for Wondertime, which was a Disney offering that approached a number of dads I know and respect to write for them. They eschewed the silly mom's-club orientation and -- apparently -- did pretty well in the magazine-ad bloodbath that was 2008.

But Disney has now pulled the plug, so parents wanting thoughtful, non-gendered parenting stuff are going to have to stick to the interwebs.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mystery Solved: CNN, "Mr. Mom" and Rebeldad

Thanks to everyone who pointed out the RD mention in this CNN piece from earlier this month, giving a first-person take from Josh Levin on the glories of at-home fatherhood -- and the adjustment of trying to ease back into work without fully leaving home. I'm sure plenty of you have lived through this horror:
As I called into my first meeting, the baby started to stir, squirm and make her signature sounds (a primal series of grunts, snorts and whimpers). She was telling me that her diaper needed to be changed and that she was probably hungry, too.

So I did what any multi-tasker would do: I put the phone under my ear, stuck her bottle under the tap, muted the phone, ran up the stairs with her in a tucked football position, unmuted the phone, answered a question, muted again, changed her diaper and ran down the stairs to get the bottle.


A few minutes later, I jumped out of the first meeting to call into the second. I said, "Hello, this is Josh, I'm here on mute, OK, thanks."

As I listened in on mute, I shushed my baby to calm her -- to no avail. Her cries became increasingly louder. My boss asked, "Josh, are you there?"

I unmuted my phone and right on cue, my daughter screamed at the top of her little lungs.

The conference room on the other end of the phone erupted with laughter, and I told them that I'd have to get back to them.
If I had a dime for every time ...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

OK, Who Has Been Talking Behind My Back

Just perusing my January stats, and I'm realizing that, around Jan. 12, I had a huge influx of people stumbing across the site. It's not coming from any links, so I figure someone must have talked up somewhere ... you guys have any idea?

Housekeeping/Blogroll/Dad Groups

It has been, quite literally, months since I last updated the blogroll, and even longer since I updated the map. I'm now working to correct that. The blogroll should now be up to date. If your blog should be on there but is not, please let me know at (The general criteria is that you have to be a self-described at-home dad writing about fatherhood.) The next step in the cleanup will be deleting blogs that have expired. In general, if you haven't posted in the last  6 months, I'll take you off the list.

I'm still having some technical issues with the map, which may or may not be addressed in any sort of timely fashion. That said, I had a couple of playgroup-related questions and announcements:
  • In response to my plea for an NYC-based group, Matt was nice enough to point me to this MeetUp group
  • There is a Chicago 'Burbs playgroup around Elk Grove, IL that meets on Friday mornings. E-mail for more details.
  • I've had a request for information about Phoenix-area dad gatherings or playgroups. Any Arizona dads out there I should be aware of?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Big Apple (And Garden State) Dads

As so often happens, a media type has reached out to me to see if I know of any New York/New Jersey at-home dad groups. I *do* have a handful up on the badly-in-need-of-update maps page, but none of them look very vibrant (if they are alive at all). If you are in a tri-city group -- formal or informal -- please let me know soonest. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PR Isn't Rocket Science


From today's inbox:
After reading your blog, I thought you may be interested in writing a post about the announcement below regarding Avaak’s VueCrew** beta test program that will give busy moms like you a chance to see aspects of your day-to-day life that you have yet to see for yourself. (Bold mine)
I honest-to-God scan almost every piece of mail I receive. Most of it is wildly off-topic, but if you're going to take the time to pitch me, please get my gender right, please. I mean, my e-mail is, for Pete's sake.


** I honestly didn't read any further than that. I don't know what the Avaak VueCrew is. I won't link to it. But if it's anything like the Trixie Tracker, I'd recommend the Trixie Tracker. Because the guy who designed it is a super-nice guy who built the thing from the ground up and hasn't -- to my knowledge -- hired a clueless PR firm.

UPDATE: I did receive a nice note of apology from the original pitcher, which I appreciate. And she noted that the Trixie Tracker is completely different from their product. Though Trixie Tracker still rocks.

One More Magazine to Skip

Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but I feel duty-bound to note that there is a new parenting magazine out there that makes the fatal error of wholly ignoring dads. "Blush" will focus on “moms and moms-to-be who appreciate a cup of green tea as much as a sale on little cotton booties.”

(Additional weird point: "Blush" was the name of the magazine at the center of the David Spade sitcom "Just Shoot Me." Whether that is a selling point is debatable.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Forget the Golden Globe Winners -- Here's the Film You Should See

If you're already over the Slumdog Millionaire hype and you're living in the greater Baltimore area, try to track down a babysitter for Sunday night. That's when Michael Ivan Schwartz will unveil Happy SAHD, a documentary about a bunch of Baltimore-area fathers who made the choice to do the at-home dad thing. 

(Actually, it all goes down at 4 p.m., so you can haul the kids along -- for free. The location is Creative Alliance at The Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave. Its five bucks for adults.)

The trailer is up here, and due to my recent move way the heck away from DC, I won't be able to make it. Love to hear any reviews from those who make it out. (Props to Peter Baylies for flagging.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Are Dads Less Likely to Whine Than Moms? ...

... that's what I'm thinking about over at the today. Love to hear your thoughts, over there or over here. 

Thursday, January 08, 2009

October 10 is the Date, Omaha is the Place

It's official. Mark your calendars for the 14th annual At-Home Dad Convention. After a four-year layoff, I'll be back.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dumbest Syndicated Columnist Comment of 2008

Peter Baylies, who has done more to create a national community of dads than anyone else, doesn't post very much over at his blog,, but when he does, it's worth reading. So check out his latest, which takes financial columnist Dave Ramsey to task for being trapped with a warped, out-of-date view of manhood.

Dear Dave,
I bring home $2,800 a month, and my husband stays home with our two daughters – one three, the other three months. He’s healthy and able, but he won’t work because he thinks he can’t make enough money to cover the cost of daycare. Our rent is $1,000 a month, and our other bills add up to about $2,000 a month. What do you think about this, and when is it okay to avoid daycare expenses by not working?

Dear Daisy,
I’m an old-school guy, a crusty old dinosaur about some things. I grew up in a generation where a guy who did this kind of thing was called a wuss, or worse; not because he’s staying home with the kids, but because he’s staying at home while you guys can’t pay the bills!

I’m all about family togetherness, and with spending as much time with your children as possible, and I don’t have a problem with guys being stay-at-home dads as long as the family is in agreement and can afford to do that kind of thing. But if you’re just scraping by, or can’t meet your financial obligations, which seems to be true with you guys, that’s a different story.

This guy needs to get off his butt, fulfill his responsibilities as a man and a husband, and find a way to start taking care of his family!
- Dave

I don't know what his money advice is like, but it's hard to take anyone like this seriously in *any* way ...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

More Good Examples from the Wild Kingdom

In last month's post on dino-dads, I threw a line in about Eric Carle's ode to the fantastic dads of the sea, Mr. Seahorse. The book is built around the nifty fact that seahorse eggs -- while laid by the mother -- essentially gestate in a pouch on the male. Now, from Scientific American, comes the news that the process is even more nifty than previously believed: the males apparently nourish the kids-to-be via a placenta-like process.


Monday, January 05, 2009

About Thinks About At-Home Dads

It used to be that I spent a lot of time lamenting the lack of a single, fantastic hub for at-home dads. (Way back when -- like a decade ago -- there really was one. It no longer exists.) But lately, I've been content to let a hundred flowers bloom: there are all kind of places you can go online now to connect dads just like you.

That doesn't mean that more information isn't welcome, which is why I'm glad there is now an at-home dad page for It includes the usual useful stuff -- dealing with isolation, looking at the economics of the whole deal -- and has a blog by the guy overseeing the page, David Worford.

Worth bookmarking ...

Friday, January 02, 2009

The New Parenting Trend for 2009? Parenting

Paul Nyhan, the parenting guy over at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, says that the parenting trend story of 2009 will be "the crappy economy" and how that will move the focus away from the rampant consumerism that has dominated parenting coverage over the last couple of years. (Be honest: how many stories about diaper bags have you seen? How many have I linked to here? Too many.)

So I hope to see more (somewhat) positive stories about how, in these rough times, families are drawing closer in the year to come. That would be a happy new year.