Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yes, Vivia, there really are Stay-At-Home Dads

So I rarely blog.

So writing two blog post in as many days is crazy.

Writing two blog post in two days about the same person, fucking nuts.

But looking at Vivia Chen's twitter feed she shared another blog post she wrote on the same subject.

This one at the law jobs blog where she pontificates that maybe women lawyers just don't make enough money to have spouses staying at home.

I don't know if female Wall Streeters are more open about being the breadwinner in the family than their sisters in Big Law. But as I noted in Time, the arrangement "might be more palatable if the wife makes an outrageous amount of money." In other words, if the wife is an I-banker pulling in gazillions of dollars, maybe everyone will learn to make peace with the gender reversal.

"The problem might be that women lawyers aren't making enough money to feel they can justify having a househusband," one female lawyer explained to me. "Making half a million or even $1 million doesn't compare with what bankers bring home."

I don't know whether that means female lawyers can't afford stay-at-home spouses or that only the super rich have the freedom to break gender stereotypes.

Again, WTF?

My problem is not that she wants to talk about how gender roles play out in her social sphere. But it is like she doesn't even know there is an outside world.

This October I went to Denver for the 18th Annual At-Home Dads Convention. Yes, 18th annual. So while growing At-Home Dads are not some brand new invention of the super rich.

And I hung out with, learned with and learned from about 80 other guys who are the primary care givers in their families. Guys that change diapers, take the kids to school, cook dinners, do laundry and all the other things associated with running a household.

While sharing your financial records is not required for acceptance I feel pretty confident that most don't have wives making "gazillions of dollars." In fact there are several guys that were there on scholarship. The National At-Home Dad Network has a special scholarship fund to help guys who want to come but wouldn't be able to because they just can't afford it.

What Chen, and people like her, seem to miss is it isn't all about money.

Sure, you need money to live and function. For most, but not all, our wives made more or at least had more earning potential when we started having kids. Money is one factor in a list of things that led many of us to stay home.

But the primary thing was making a choice. Making a choice to have a parent stay home and take care of the kids and the household.

What Chen seems to dismiss is the sacrifice families make to have a parent, mom or dad, at home full time. Maybe it means giving up summers in Paris or living without cable. But somehow we survive.

So Viva (I hope you don't mind me calling you Viva. After two ranting blog post I feel we should be on a first name basis) it isn't just about money. It isn't about some magic number of dollars, like a gazillion, that we come to and say this is the point I will stay home with the kids.

Now I'm not saying your kids are ruined if both parents work. Each family has to make decisions on what works best for them. Just stop pretending that this is some choice left only for the super rich. Stop ignoring the reality of stay-at-home dads who wives don't make a million dollars. Don't be oblivious to the scarifies many families make to have a dad stay home to raise the kids and care for the household.

No, we may not have your net worth, but a lot of us are pretty fucking happy!

previous post: When Reporters Should be Embarrassed by Their Lack of Knowledge

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When Reporters Should be Embarrassed by Their Lack of Knowledge

So, the New York Times comes out with a big article, Wall Street Mothers, Stay-Home Fathers

This leads Vivia Chen of the Time blog to write, When Stay-at-Home Husbands Are Embarrassing to Their Wives

Several dads responded, and they did a fine job.

Dave Lesser wrote Sorry Honey, Vivia Chen Thinks I Embarrass You

Eric Boyette wrote Frankly, my dear...

Understandably the focus was on the "embarrassing" part. I mean it was in the title. But there is something else in her article I found more disturbing.

The NYT article was focused on women in the top echelons of banking.

And this is the type of world Chen lives in, which she is happy to tell us. "I’ve been covering the elite echelons of big law firms for over 10 years"

And in her writing on at-home dads she could feel the embarrassment. "I sensed that reluctance when I did a story on female partners at big Wall Street firms with househusbands a few years ago."

So understand that her article is what she "feels" based on her mingling in a world of seven figure salaries. But at the end of the article she writes this:

"What remains to be seen is what happens when the economics are not so 'obvious' — when women work at more pedestrian, less lucrative jobs."

Wait. WTF?

No, we don't have to wait. It is happening. Just because Chen doesn't hang around with us mere mortals doesn't mean it isn't happening.

I know a lot of at-home dads. I'm guessing a lot more than Chen and all of them have wives with "more pedestrian" jobs.

She is suppose to be a reporter, but you don't have to pull your head very far from your diamond encrusted ass to know these dads are out there.

There are articles written about them.

There are conventions for them.

There are studies about them.

For Fuck's sake, do a google search and you can find hundreds of blogs written by them.

So maybe in the world of seven figure salaries and vacations in the Hamptons and private jets Chen's spider senses are right and some of those women are embarrassed by their at-home husbands.

But to write off the rest of us like we don't exist.

To call yourself a reporter and not even take the time to fucking Google your subject matter.

So Vivan Chen, the truth is we don't have to wonder what happens with at-home dads in families with more "pedestrian" jobs. For most of us it is working quite well.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What are you trying to say?

I didn't want to get misrepresent what was said, so whenever possible I embed the actual Facebook or Twitter post. Any direct quote from Facebook or Blog replies are in red.

So a little corner of the interwebs kind of went crazy last week.

Apparently it started when D.A.D- Dad All Day shared this Facebook post.

Now this is something many at-home dads have to deal with.

In response, High Gloss and Sauce penned this column, Advice to stay-at-home-dads from a cold, cold playground mom

This is not a new idea. If you search Google you kind find all kind of articles on the subject.

Personally I have seen it before so I didn't even comment on her article, but several dads jumped on about the sexism in her statements.

And several dad bloggers had blogs replying to the post.

What I found much more interesting than her article was her reaction to the push back.

She said that she doesn't want drama.

However she seems to create drama.

One dad did accuse her of editing her blog. After she pointed out that she had deleted comments he quickly apologized because it was a comment, not the blog post, he was thinking of. Here is that exchange.

Somehow that became multiple Facebook & Twitter post about how she was unfairly attacked for editing her blog.

In her latest post she writes "I'm not willing to take on the internet militia and defend every idea into cyber death (I do have other things to do in my day,) but if you want to have a conversation with me about how I protect and value my marriage, I'm an open book - in person, online or if offered, the opportunity to sky write."

But while she will take to Twitter and Facebook about one person mistakingly accusing her of rewriting her blog, and she will interact with those that call her names and will certainly reply to those who defend and support her, she doesn't seem interested in replying to civil questions about what she was trying to say.

At the end of the day I think the problem is that it is unclear what she is trying to say.

This is the paragraph from her original post that probably sums it up best.

So why are the ladies not meeting up with you? I'll say it to you straight. It's because being a stay-at-home mom is a precarious position itself. We have zero income and rely on the goodness of our relationship with our spouse in order to care for our own children all day. I'll just be honest with you. I love my husband to pieces and pieces. I'd pick him out of all the stars in in the sky, but even if he morphed into a troll who demanded I fix him 300 sandwiches, I'd carry on like I do without missing a beat. I get to be with my kids all day. That's a gift. If there was any drama or reason for him to leave me, it would mean leaving my kids to get a job in some cube somewhere. No, he's never expressly said "thou shalt not hang with stay-at-home-dads", but I believe the message is implied along with not setting his car on fire and sneaking poison in his breakfast. If I want to keep my spot in life, it's just easier to not rock the boat.
She got mad when someone understood this to be similar to cheating. (she compares it to poisoning her husband) "Is anyone actually reading my post? I also did not say play dates with SAHDs is tantamount to cheating. Geez, my husband couldn't care less what I do. I just don't think he'd be wild about me play dating with guys int he same way I do with other moms."

But then what is she saying it is?

It is obviously about sex because when asked about hanging with gay dads or lesbian moms she said, "I'd make an exception for a gay dad. Lesbian moms are no problem at all. I've known a few of them and it didn't cross my mind to be anything out of the norm. It's really the straight man thing."

And she shared how she would be comfortable right now. "I'm hugely pregnant with my 3rd right now too, so I'd be equally as comfortable. Think about when you only had one toddler and you darted around town though. Hanging out with a guy all day? I'm just admitting the truth."

She said it is not about at-home dads motivations.

If you read my post, I underscored the idea that it has nothing to do with the motivations of the SAHDs. No one is accusing you of anything."

But then offers this as "proof"

UPDATE: I just received this email from a supportive SAHD,

"I understand where you're coming from ... I'd bang you if I had the chance ,)

(that's why I go out on group play dates only )"

Point = proven.

One email from some creep (and if you email some stranger, especially if both of you are married, and say you would "bang" them I think creep applies) doesn't prove a point any more than this mom proves women shouldn't be in charge of children.

And she complains that, "It gets really awkward when you have to nurse and they're lurking around play group."

If you don't like breast feeding in front of people of the opposite sex, or in any public situation, I totally understand. I don't like showering in the giant open room that is the YMCAs men's shower. But we are not lurking to catch a glimpse of your breast. Most of us are married and have fine breast we can go home and see without the drama and without an infant attached to it.

Not only are a lot of people confused about what she is trying to say, I'm honestly not even sure if she knows what she is trying to say.

She says her husband doesn't care, but he wouldn't like it.

She says it is not about the motivation of dads, but a dad saying he would "bang" her is proof.

She says she hates internet name calling, but calls people who disagree with her "little man boys."

If you can figure out what her original post is about can you share it with the rest of us?

This image accompanied her original post. I guess it is suppose to represent at-home dads?

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Participation Medals

I saw another one of these post blaming all the world’s woes on participation medals in sports. Apparently all your great parenting can be undone by a $2.00 medal.

It made me think back to my younger days. I played some organized sports and truth is I cannot remember if we got medals or not. I do remember playing in little league and quitting after a year because spending Saturdays sitting on a bench and possibly being put into the game in 9th inning to strike out because the game was already out of control wasn’t all the fun.

But the greatest baseball games I played in didn’t have umpires. They weren’t organized by parents. We didn’t have matching shirts or team names. They were the summer days I spent at my grandparents and the neighborhood kids would show up at the park.

Sure, some kids were better than others so we learned how to divide up to make it an even match. And everyone played. No one just sat on the bench because they weren’t good enough. If we couldn’t field full teams we had to agree on rules on how to play.

Maybe the problem isn’t whether your kids get medals or don’t. Maybe it is because they cannot play without it being “organized.” Maybe it is because parents take youth sports way too seriously.

It seems to me that if there is anything to worry about it is the kids who are earning the trophies. The ones with great sports talent who along the way are taught that their sins outside of sports, can be forgiven because their play on the field is so great. The ones who will never learn that there are consequences for their actions until it is much too late.

That seems to me to be a much greater threat than the 7 year old who got a participation medal after 8 weeks of baseball.

The other argument is that it’s not like real life.

It is not suppose to be “real life.” They are kids.

In real life you probably aren’t going to be playing a sport.

If you want to get your kids in a sport for real life then get them in track, because no matter how old you get you can run. You can run 5Ks or 10Ks or marathons. But watch out because you know what, in those everyone gets a participation medal.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Modern Dads: Micro Review

So there is a new reality show about At-Home Dads on A&E, Modern Dads.

I should state a couple of things first. I don't have cable so I didn't watch the episode live. I did watch it online after the premiere.

I'm not a fan of "reality" television. I prefer professional actors and quality writers. I'm sad that even though I have never seen their shows I still know about Kim Kardashian and Honey Boo Boo.

The Good: The dads didn't come off as totally inept at being dads. There seemed to be real community and comradery among the dads.

The Bad: A lot of time given to Stone and his exploits to bag women. Hardly saw the dads actually interact or take care of their children.

The Ugly: Am I the only one that thought the scene of making the stock for the birthday party was some of the worse writing and acting on TV. They weren't 2x4 boards and holding them with your foot is not a good idea. I'm guessing some prop guys actually made the finished product.

Bottom Line: It certainly could have been worse. The problem is most of parenting isn't actually that exciting to watch as an outsider. I will watch to see what happens over the first 6 episodes to see if the dads develop more fully as characters or if they still spend an enormous amount of time talking about their junk. And please don't ask me about Duck Dynasty because I haven't seen it.

Grade: B-

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just Another Brick in the Wall

Since the National At-Home Dad Network started the campaign against the term "Mr. Mom" the response has been generally positive.

But some people don't think so.

For some it is the love of the movie.

Some consider it a badge of honor.

Some have named their blogs after it.

To be clear, getting rid of Mr. Mom won't suddenly make being an active father easier.

It won't make an ignorant pastor change his point of view.

It won't suddenly convince misinformed mothers that dads are equal parents.

What it will do is remove one very visible brick from the wall.

The wall that separates parenting into Mom duties and Dad duties.

And there is a wall. Parenting issues are still code for Mom issues.

We don't ask, can parents have it all? We ask, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All

And while feminist can argue about choosing to stay home there is still an assumption that mom is the one that can truly parent.

"She believes that every household needs one primary caretaker, that women are, broadly speaking, better at that job than men...."

And these attitudes have real impacts in the world. From our policies to baby changing stations.

When I first started as the primary caregiver 13 years ago it was next to impossible to find a changing station in a men's restroom. We were members at the local zoo and I took my son there a lot. I complained because they didn't have a changing station in the men's restroom. I didn't do it to be an activist. I did it because I was a paying member and I wanted to be able to change my son's diaper in the convince of the bathroom.

Now I look beyond just me. I want to change the world.

When my sons grow up, and if they are blessed enough to be fathers, I want them to deal with less societal pressures. If they have jobs I want talks about work/life balance to include them. If they choose to stay home for their families I want them to do it without having to worry about how they will be treated for that choice or worry about finding a changing station in the men's room.

Changing the world may start with doing what is best for my family, but it doesn't stop there.

So I will work to end a term that implies that dad is a fill-in, a temporary place holder for the person who should actually be in that position, Mom. I will work to remove one more brick from that wall.