Thursday, April 30, 2009

Help a Blogger Out: School and Soap

Stacey Garfinkle, the fearless writer of the On Parenting blog at the, is trying to get an answer to a couple of questions. If you can help her out, please let her know:
1. Does your school have soap in the bathrooms?
2. Does your school regularly have children wash hands before eating?
Send along any thoughts to ...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Food (or Stats) For Thought

Thanks to Jason, who pointed me to this Boston Globe piece from last week, I am only now stumbling upon this absolutely brilliant Families and Work Institute release that details their surveys on what the next generation thinks about work and home.

I've argued for a long time that Gen X has a completely different (broader, more flexible) view of work-family balance than the boomers before them and that Gen Y is waaay more willing to step off the hampster wheel for family than even my Xer peers. The FWI study backs that up.

Among the highlights:
  • "26 percent of women living in dual-earner couples had annual earnings at least 10 percentage points higher than that of spouses/partners, up from 15 percent in 1997." That's a huge expansion of families that could afford to have dads at home.
  • Only 41 percent of employees in 2008 believe it is better to have dad be the breadwinner and mom at home. It was down from 64 percent in 1977. More striking: 74 percent of guys thought that way in 1977, when I was in diapers. Today, the number among men is 42 percent. Is that low enough? No. But it's an amazing change in societies attitudes in the blink of an eye, demographically.
  • In 1992, 21 percent of moms said that dads were pulling equal duty -- or better -- around the house. We're up to 31 percent now. (If you ask the dads, 49 percent say they are at least equal partners. *That* discrepancy deserves some followup.)
  • Dads who work spend 50 percent more time with their kids per day than a similar group of dads did 30 years ago. (3 hours a day versus 2 hours a day. Working moms have held steady at 3.8 hours.) For working dads under 29, that number jumps to 4.3 hours.
There are a lot of numbers to digest, but they suggest that we're moving quickly (though not quickly enough) to a more equal work when it comes to the home duties. Of course, my worry continues to be that we'll hit a point of diminishing returns: sure, most of us are doing more around the house than our dads did, but will the next generation make similar gains. Or are we nearing the point of "good enough," where a dad in 2010 is about as engaged as a dad from 2000 -- and still less engaged than the average mom?

This isn't all good news: dads are may more work-life stressed than they ever used to be, but it's a small price to pay for progress.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More on the Economy and Dads

Though I find this storyline tiring, I should point out this story from Sacramento on another economy-created at-home dad. (There is video, too.) I don't mean to denigrate Chris Smith's choice -- I'm thrilled for him -- but this gets back to the one-dimensional look at things.

I'd love to see reporters start to dig deeper: will guys like Chris go back to work once the economy heats up? Will they stay home? Are they fundamentally similar to the guys who decided to be at-home dads under different economic circumstances? And what is the real cost of going to work versus staying home (this isn't a new topic, but I haven't seen any really interesting analyses lately)? Are preschools getting hammered? Are marketers waking up to dads-as-consumers?

There is a lot that could be spun off of this story. Hopefully, the reporting will get better.

Monday, April 27, 2009

USA Today on Changing Roles

I have maintained this blog for going on 7 years. I've made somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,200 posts. That's a lot of thoughts on fatherhood. And I can tell you that I have never seen the interest level of journalists in fathers doing kid stuff this high outside of the week before Father's Day. Never.

Unfortunately, the economy-fueled stories on changing family roles haven't been all that superb. Not that they've been bad, just not particularly ground-breaking. Last week's USA Today is a good example.

Dads pitching in more at home is not something that has suddenly sprung from the current recession. The last decade or two have brought massive changes in the way family life is constructed for millions of dads. Maybe the economy is accelerating those trends. But the stock market crash didn't light the fire.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pampers Manages to the Find the One Diaper-Changing Dad

It is a time-honored tradition: every year, on Mother's Day, the fine folks at Pampers send me a sweet note telling me I'm doing a fantastic job of being a mom. It drives me nuts: not because I am actually offended, not because it's one more piece of spam, but because it has apparently never occured to Proctor & Gamble that dads might be on their diaper-coupon mailing list.

I'm hoping that they won't be so dumb as to send me a note this Mother's Day, but you can never be too sure. P&G held a mommyblogger confab this week, talking to influential blogging moms about diapers and the like. And they included dads! OK ... they included "dad." Singular:

Now, I have nothing against Matt ... he is a hell of a blogger, and maybe the guy I would choose to represent me if there could be only one daddyblogger allowed in. But -- seriously -- P&G couldn't have found one other guy to participate?


Monday, April 13, 2009

Dads in the Big Apple

The highest-profile at-home dads in the country -- the stars of the Fox and Friends segment and overall (deserved) media darlings -- are now online. The NYC Dads and Stay-At-Home Dads Group is sharing meetup info, blogging and just generally dropping wisdom. Well worth the click for dads in the naked city.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sign of the Times?

Originally uploaded by Rebel Dad
I was in Chicago over the weekend and saw this sign outside of the family restroom. Leaving aside the random apostrophe, I am wholly unsure what to make of this. Is this a *good* sign, because dads are being specifically included? Or is it *bad* because the sign implies that dads need explicit permission to use a family restroom?

I'm inclined to think the latter.

Friday, April 10, 2009

They Father. You Decide.

Last week, dads were front and center at Fox and Friends (see below). It's a nice piece, which focuses more on the male bonding bit of it and less on the "Wow! Guys ... taking care of the kids!" aspect.

And in a world of imperfect labels, full credit to Fox for inventing (or at least popularizing) the phrase "Day-Shift Daddies," which has a ring of honesty around it and is a fine alternative to the usual label: "Mr. Mom." And the producers take on the "Mr. Mom" thing directly, which is nice.

Check it out below.