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.