Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dear Dave Ramsey...

I like you. I used to listen to your radio show when we lived in Louisville and we have been following the basic principles you teach before I ever heard of you because, well, for the most part it is common sense. Besides our mortgage we don't have any debt. We don't carry any credit card debt. We pay cash for used cars.

I don't know if your becoming a millionaire is more a comment on your sales abilities or our country's lack of common sense.

Today I read your Dear Occupy Wall Street ...

First, you say "The only problem is that I have no idea what their demands and goals are. And neither does anyone else." Now I don't know if you say this out or ignorance or so that you can ignore those and define the group the way you want. Because it didn't take me long to find Occupy Wall Street's Plans For A National Convention That Could Change The Face Of America

But let us assume that it was just ignorance. I want to look at just a couple of things you said.

You tell about a country music friend who has made a bazillion dollars and bought a $400,000 car. You talk about his hard work writing music and his long hours on the tour bus. Then you say, "I didn’t do one thing to contribute to his success, so why would I be entitled to a share of his wealth?"

But the truth is you did, and so did I and every other American tax payer. Who do you think payed for those roads his tour bus rode on? We likely paid for his education where he learned to read and write. Who paid for the military to allow him to work under this freedom? Has he played any arenas? Most of those are at least partly built through public financing.

Does that mean I want the government to take a majority of his money so he can't buy a $400,000 car? No. But there is a reasonable amount expected to pay forward for the next country music star in the making riding his tour bus around.

We still had rich country music stars under Ronald Reagan when the top income brackets were paying more than they are now.

Then you say, "My problems aren’t his fault. And my problems aren’t McDonald’s fault or Home Depot’s fault or Walmart’s fault, either. My problems are my fault!"

As someone who lives a relatively trouble free life I wish that was true. And there are people who abuse the system. I have seen them first hand. But that doesn't mean everyone does. It doesn't mean we throw out helping everyone because someone might abuse that.

But I have also seen the kids growing up in the not so nice part of town, attending crumbling schools, with parents who suck. And they will have to work a lot harder to get where I am than I ever did growing up in my middle class small town.

Perhaps the main thing I see you doing as a Christian author, as someone who sells his programs to churches, is you remove God from the equation.

Hopefully your bazillion dollar country music star friend never thanked God at the CMAs. Because as you regularly point out in your piece, it was your friends work, dedication, talent that made this possible. Because if we put God into the mix then we might have to admit that I am somehow more blessed than someone else. We would have to deal with "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

We can ignore those teachings about everything being God's and us being stewards. As you point out, what I have I have because of myself. And what problems you have, they are your problems, your fault.

By the way, you may be shocked to learn that a lot of the Occupy Wall Street people agree with you about God not playing a role in a person's success or failure.

So to summarize, I still like you, but I was not very impressed with your article. It came off as whinny and "I've got mine and FU." It didn't strike me as very patient or kind. It came off as arrogant and bragging.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

SAHDs v Pastors

So it's not news that some pastors don't think at-home dads are "manly" enough.

Maybe it was hanging out with 60 at-home dads for the weekend, but it made me think, "What is it about the job of pastor they think is so much manlier than what I do?"

And while I don't know these pastors personally, I have known pastors and I have consulted the interweb to try to figure out what a pastor's job entails.

So with those experiences and my experiences as an at-home dad as well as gleaning from the experiences of other at-home dads I have done a little comparison. Your millage may vary.

Pastor: 9:00am - opens his day a Starbucks for quiet time, reflection and prayer.

At-Home Dad: 6:00am - start getting backpacks ready for school. get kids up and fix them breakfast. pack lunches. get the kids on the bus.

Pastor: 10:00am - staff meeting

At-Home Dad: 10:00am - load of laundry. scrub toilets. vacuum the stairs.

Pastor: 11:00am - lunch with other local pastors.

At-Home Dad: 11:00am - volunteer for recess duty at school.

Pastor: 12:00pm - sermon prep. reading books. studying. writing the sermon.

At-Home Dad: 12:00pm - grocery shopping. next load of laundry. mop the kitchen.

Pastor: 3:00pm - counseling appointment.

At-Home Dad: 3:00pm - pick up kids from bus stop. help with homework.

Pastor: 4:00pm - head home to see the family. feel good about todays work.

At-Home Dad: 4:00pm - start dinner prep. try to keep the kids entertained while cooking. maybe get one more load of laundry done.

Perhaps this isn't the most accurate daily schedule. And if you are an at-home dad to young kids then your schedule is even crazier. But there is nothing about the job of pastor that is particularly "manly" as these guys would define it.

And they would be fine if I cooked meals, but got a paycheck for it. They wouldn't mind if I was a janitor and cleaned toilets and got a paycheck for it. I would be manly enough if I worked in a laundromat and brought home a paycheck for washing clothes.

So it comes down to the money. So one more comparison.

At-Home Dad: The family income comes from the wife who provides a valuable service to the community while he provides for his family by taking care of all that things that make a household run and raising kids.

Pastor: His family income comes from convincing people who provide valuable services to the community to part with some of that money because he has been called by God to be over them. And that usually includes money earned by WOMEN.

This is not meant to rag on all pastors. I suspect most do not share the feelings of the pastors that believe that men who stay at home are not "manly." But there are enough that do believe that, well to you I say, I believe my job to be a lot "manlier" than your job.

And the good news is society is changing. Gender roles are changing. What it means to "provide" is changing. And as society changes, pastors like these will become more and more irrelevant.

So I should probably let this go already. While they haven't said anything recently, they continue to stand by and even promote these videos. So to you I say...

And this guy wants to call me lazy, like he has ever been on a treadmill.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Up All Night

So, I watched the premier of Up All Night. And there seems to be mixed reviews from the at-home dad community, so why not through my .02 into the ring.

If you don't know about the show Reagan (Christina Applegate) and her husband, Chris (Will Arnett), are new parents. Reagan goes back to work as a TV producer while Chris stays home with the baby.

Let me point out from an at-home dads prospective some of the positive things about the show.

First, unlike most family sit-coms that follow the pattern of the guy is a doofus and the wife is a bitch (sorry, but go watch an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond and tell me this isn't true) they seem to be in a fairly functional marriage. That, in and of itself is a step forward in the genre.

Now Chris is an at-home dad, by choice. He is not forced into the roll by some layoff or job loss. And we are left to believe he left a good job as a lawyer. He says that instead of hiring a nanny, he is going to stay home.

The first episode is Chris' first day as a an at-home dad. And guess what, this is not the entire focus of the show. It seems more focused on Reagan's return to work. I find this to be a positive. A dad staying at home is not so unusual that we have to dedicate the first show to following him around doing everyday things.

In fact we don't see a lot of Chris with the Baby. One scene where he is watching hockey while holding his newborn and one scene where he is grocery shopping. There is no diaper made out of paper towels or destroyed house at the end of the day. We are left to believe overall he has successfully navigated his first day.

Yes, he is playing video games when his wife gets home late, but only after he has successful put his child to bed for the night.

And there is the scene where he calls his wife because he can't find the "regular cheese" at the grocery store. As far as we can tell that is the only call he makes to his wife that day. And while it is hard to believe that a lawyer can't find cheese in a grocery store, it is a sit-com, so let's give it a little break.

I don't know where this show will go, but I think it is a decent start.

Now I guess I need to go watch Parenthood, because multiple people have told me I should. But maybe a show with an at-home dad and a kid with aspergers hits a little too close to home.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

WARNING: My story is boring

Media request, radio interviews, news reports. A lot of things lately have me thinking about my story. How I became an at-home dad. And the truth is my story is pretty boring.

Oh I would love to tell you that I was on top of the world as some high level executive when unexpectedly came crashing down around me. Through the ruble of that life I emerged as an at-home dad the way Bruce Wayne, through the tragedy of his parents murder, emerged as Batman.

And those stories are out there, but they are few and far between, and they aren't mine. Here is my story.

I met, fell in love with and then married my wife. (look at that, about 3 years boiled down to one sentence) My wife was on the path to becoming a doctor. I was throwing darts at the "what can you do with a communications degree" poster.

My first job out of graduate school was a temporary college teaching position that paid $17,000.

We had our first child during the middle of my wife's residency while I worked as a web designer at the University of Louisville. For the next 18 months my wife completed residency and I continued to work while being the primary care giver to my son. I was able to take him to day care for a couple of hours while I went into the office and then telecommute to complete my duties. There was a lot of Mountain Dew consumed during that year and a half.

After completing residency my wife took her first job in Danville, IL and I became a full time at-home dad. It made financial sense for me to be the one at home and neither or us had some preconceived notion that genetalia is what determines your ability to raise a kid or operate a vacuum cleaner.

Are you bored yet, because I am. There is really nothing remarkable about it. And while details may change, most of the at-home dads I know have similar stories.

So why work to get these stories out to the media?

I submit to you - because they are boring. Because there really is nothing that separates me from the guy sitting in a cubicle 8 hours a day. No special power. No special training. No great back story.

Do I want every dad to be an at-home dad? No. What I want is for the guy who might be considering it, whose family situation makes sense for him to stay at home to not be discouraged because he thinks every at-home dad has something he doesn't or has been forced into it because of job loss. I just want that guy to know it is a viable option.

Do I want to get these stories in the media? For now. My hope is that someday being an at-home dad won't be newsworthy because it is accepted as normal. Something people consider when figuring out how to set up their family structure. For some it will make sense. For some it will make sense for the wife to stay at home and for some both parents will work.

And at that point no one will want to do a news story or a radio interview for the mere fact that a dad stays at home. It won't be some oddity to cover like a drunken moose stuck in a tree.

At that point at-home dads will be in news stories or on radio interviews because, while their stories about how they became an at-home dad are boring, they are not.

Why the hell do you have a video from the 1983 movie Flashdance at the bottom of this post?

Good question. Because while this movie came out in 1983 and earned a lot more at the box office (USA) than did Mr. Mom, Mr. Mom continues to be a cultural reference for at-home dads. It holds up about as well as Flashdance.

On a side note: Michael Keaton, who played Jack Butler in Mr. Mom also played Batman in 1989.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Time changed their article, so what?

So Time has an article called, "Stay-at-Home Dads Are More Likely to Divorce"

It wasn't just that this article was offensive to men who stay at home, but it was just wrong. It took research on unemployed men and quite literally swapped out the term "unemployed men" with "stay at home dads."

The unemployed men weren't necessarily fathers at all, even if they were no one knows if they were "stay at home dads" simply because they were unemployed and lastly, most of the stay at home dads I know are not unemployed.

After seeing me post the article on Facebook, Al Watts, President of Daddyshome went to work.

After confirming the article was in fact incorrect he started contacting Time and the author. Originally the author stood by her article.

So Al talked to Dr. Aaron Rochlen (who happens to be keynote speaker for the At-Home Dads Convention) and he confirmed that the author was mistaken. He also knew Liana Sayer, the author of the research the article was based on. She too confirmed that the Time reporter was incorrect in the way she characterized the study and it had nothing to do with at-home dads.

So eventually Time and the author changed the article to Unemployed Men Are More Likely to Divorce.

So the question is, who cares? Why spend all that time and energy to get one article on one web site changed? Who the hell actually reads Time?

Because the media matters. What the media says and does effects how people perceive things.

Don't think that is true? People still use the term Mr. Mom. Come on. That movie was 1983, was no cinema classic, and it is still a lot of people's go to term for at-home dads.

And the Time article itself was repeated across the web. A lot of smaller web sites picked it up and repeated Time's misinformation.

And through the work of Daddyshome and Al Watts in particular the misinformation is starting to be corrected.

So yes, it matters what the media says. It matters when Time gets it wrong.

I am proud to be part of an organization that is working to set the record straight. And I am proud to call Al, not just Mr President, but friend as well.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Working Mothers Are More Likely to Divorce

I've already mentioned this article, "Stay-at-Home Dads Are More Likely to Divorce" with the URL why-its-not-okay-for-dads-to-stay-home-with-the-kids.

Now this is a quote from the article.

"Sayer found that a woman who was very unhappy in her marriage was more likely to begin divorce proceedings if she was working than if she was unemployed."

So this article could have bee titled "Working Mothers Are More Likely to Divorce" with the URL of: its-not-okay-for-moms-to-work-outside-the-home.

But my guess is that would have been controversial.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Don't lump me in with your dumb-ass husband.

It started with this article about a mom having trouble leaving her child with her husband. The article itself is not a dad bashing piece, but a mom who, while she knows her husband can take care of their child, has trouble giving over that control. The responses are mixed, but a couple stand out.

My favorite (in the comment I love to hate sort of way) came from Nay who said, "I have to make him food and put it in front of him for him to eat - he'll forget to eat for days on end."

Sorry, but that is not just "silly old dad" that sounds more like a mental disorder.

She concludes with this gem. "It's not a complex social problem on my end. It's a matter of my husband not being able to take care of himself properly, let along an infant."

I agree that if someone (whatever their gender) can't take care of themselves then you shouldn't put them in charge of a child.

And then there was this story where the author totally misrepresents research on divorce. And as Al Watts pointed out, the URL for this lovely piece of shit journalism is why-its-not-okay-for-dads-to-stay-home-with-the-kids.

Nice going TIME.

Then came this video from iVillage.

Don't you just love it when Amy Oztan states, "Let's face it, I think that in most relationships, men just suck at logistics." (HT NYCDADS)

So here is the deal ladies. I realize your husband can't do the laundry, boil water without burning it, clean the toilet, dress himself, change a diaper, handle the kids by himself, vacuum, or feed himself.

I'm sorry YOU picked such a loser. That really sucks for you.

But don't lump all men together. Don't put the great dads I know in the same category as your pathetic, dumb-ass husband. And I promise not to put you in the same category as my smart, charming, pretty and talented wife.