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.