Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Life is Really Like For Those NYC Dads

I swear that I'll get off the New York City thing soon (it's not like at-home dads only appear in crowded overpriced metropolises), but first I really need to direct you to this wonderful and funny first-person piece, Welcome to Dadhattan, in which a new at-home dad named Chuck Pagano successful skewers everything from Little Children to playground conversations.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quick Reminder: Great Event Tonight at 92YTribeca

You really ought to stop by, if you're around. Say hello to Jeremy. And buy his book.

The New York Times Continues To Discover At-Home Dads

The New York Times wrote a rather breathless account earlier in the month about what used to be called "Mommy and Baby" classes at the Prospect Park YMCA, in Brooklyn. It's the latest in a series of well-reported pieces in the Times that all fall under the general heading of "Holy crap! Look at all of these economic-recession-dads suddenly showing up at events for kids."

What is extraordinary is that the story makes it sound like "critical mass" was achieved in just the last 6 or 7 months, with dads being absent before then. While this sounds suspect to me -- it's not like childreading-dads suddenly descended on New York, like dormant cicadas, when Lehman Brothers folded.

But, hey, maybe we have reached that magical point in NYC where formerly closeted at-home dads are now showing themselves in public. Either way, it's all good ...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kiwis, Dads and Staying at Home

Giving my longstanding frustrations with the Census Bureau's inability to sensibly quantify the manner and extent of involved fatherhood in this country, it's not surprising that looking abroad gives a more nuanced view of what's going on.

If you're looking for beach reading, you could do worse than print out this report out of New Zealand on "Men's Participation in Unpaid Care." In addition to giving the state of things in New Zealand, is a great review of the literature and where other countries come down in various areas. It also nicely summarizes the reasons why dads tend *not* to end as the primary caretakers.

But if you want to get right to the heart of it, there is a tally of the number of at-home dads (men not in labour force, looking after children). Those numbers have shot up from 6,100 in the mid-80s to more than 14,000 today. (The peak appears to have come earlier in this decade.) The "playground ratio" of at-home moms to at-home dads is about 10:1.

Though not huge numbers, that ain't bad in a country of 4 million (and, again, underscores that the U.S. Census count misses a lot of at-home dads in this country).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Data You Can't Trust (And the Silver Lining)

The worst of the summer madness is behind me, so I can now turn to the enormous list of things that have piled up. In the days and weeks to come, I'll be pointing out a bunch of old pieces of news and updating the blogroll.

But I need to start with with Every year, they commission a survey to see how many working dads would do the at-home thing "if their spouse or significant other’s income could comfortably support the entire family." The numbers here have bounced around over the years -- it rose as high as 49 percent in 2005 -- and this year landed at their level in the 6 years that the effort has been taking place: 31 percent.

CareerBuilder makes no effort to explain this, but let me make two overarching points:

1. Men have not suddenly decided that hanging with the family isn't all its cracked up to be. I'm guessing that the decline in the number of would-be at-home dads is actually a reflection that the number of working dads who can imagine -- in this economy -- having one income earner "comfortably support[ing] the entire family" is at an all-time low. This says a lot more about the psychology of the American workplace than it does about the American family.

2. Despite this (and despite the fact that I think this kind of survey is scientifically marginal best), these results show that one in three dads out there have absolutely zero problem with a reverse-traditional family. This findings (if true) remains extraordinary by historical standards, even if the numbers are moving around a bit.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Bright Lights (of Parenthood) in New York

This is a can't miss event if you're a resident of the greater tri-state area: Jeremy Adam Smith (who I love) and Amy Richards (who also rocks) at the 92YTribeca on July 22. Good stuff:

In cooperation with 92Y Parenting Center and NYC Dads Group

A revealing talk with audience discussion on a growing phenomenon among American families: fathers who cut back on paid work to focus on raising children. Explore with Jeremy Adam Smith, journalist and author of The Daddy Shift and Amy Richards, author of Opting In: Having a Child without Losing Yourself, what happens when dads stay home; What do stay-at-home fathers struggle with—and what do they rejoice in? How does taking up the mother’s traditional role affect a father’s relationship with his partner, children and extended family? And what does stay-at-home fatherhood mean for the larger society?