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men who change diapers change the world


Wednesday, 1 December 2004
Who's that man messing with my blender?
Topic: tv shows
When wife swap first started sniffing around for families several  months back I suggested to the one of the assistant producers that

When wife swap first started sniffing around for families last summer I suggested to the one of the assistant producers that they try an at-home dad swap. They inched ahead a few weeks ago when wives were swapped and one at-home dad stayed put as his wife took off. (His new wife made him get a job). Tonight at 10pm (EST) ABC's Wife Swap does a daddy switch tonight at 10pm, where one of the dads Zev Paiss of Boulder Colorado works at home with his wife and cares for his two daughters  Zipporah, 5, and Halonah, 6.  I spoke with Zev and his wife this afternoon and found that the producer first called him last June and he said no, as his wife though it would be "too chancy". They persisted but he still said no, but added "too bad you don't swap a dad!" Finally they called back again and offered to switch dads and he bit on the offer.

Even if you are not a fan of reality shows you will enjoy watching this "part time" at-home dad Zev trade places with a Kenny Davis. (He is shown at left with Zev's wife Neshama). Davis a 10 hour-a-day motorcycle mechanic from Colorado Springs. Davis has a girlfriend, with three teens at home (12,13 and 16). 

When asked the most striking difference between his family and the "new" one, he immediately said,  "My 5 and 6-year old kids do more chores then his three teenagers do!"  Apparently the Davis's yard was a mess so he made the teens clean it up. "They seem to have more pride for their yard after they cleaned it up" 

ABC's short description?  The husbands hit the road-and the skids-when an environmentalist dad whose family is focused on communal living and saving the planet swaps lives with a hard-living, leather-wearing biker dad with his 'born to be wild' family. 


Posted by athomedad at 2:41 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 1 December 2004 2:42 PM EST
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Tuesday, 30 November 2004
Five brand new reasons why you are not an at-home dad.
Topic: Census Figures
I came home from the children




The media came a calling today wanting to know why there are only 98,000 at-home dads left in America. The census released a new report this afternoon which included a 98,000 number that was actually released two months ago from 2003 numbers. The number was down from last years 105,000 stat from their June 2003 report (these numbers are from actual March 2002 data, Are you still following me here daddy?). I'm sure you are a little confused and I'm sure part of it stems from me using too many run-on sentences in my rush to throw this out. In any case most reporters (with the exception of those of the caliber of Marilyn Gardner at the Christian Science Monitor) who report on these press releases stop reading them at the 98,000 number and the inevitable headline "MR. MOM GOES BACK TO WORK!" may be shouted to us in tomorrow's USA Today. I tried to explain that a difference of 8,000 dads is statistically meaningless, the 98,000 number even more so because it excludes dads at-home full or part time (1.4 million), dads with wives who didn't work the entire 52 weeks (besides sick days, ect), and single fathers to name a few. Of course those in the know realize this is old news.

The new news is that In today's report the census has come up with 5 brand new reasons why you may not be an at-home dad. Please deduct the following dads.

  • ill or Disabled (455,000 dads)
  • Retired (108,000 dads)
  • Going to School (90,000 dads)
  • Could not find work (111,000 dads)
  • Other (157,000 dads) (What are these other dads doing? I'd like to see another break down on this..)

Include these dads in and you have 1 million dads easy... and we haven't even touched the dads who work at-home.

In the last ten years, I have talked to just about every type of dad that has been excluded by the census who consider themselves an at-home dad. They don't seem to love and care for their kids any less then the dad who says on a census form that they "wanted to be home to care for home and family". As the census explains in today's report "Estimates of the numbers of stay at-home fathers caring for children under 15 are based not on the parents activities as childcare providers but rather on the primary reason they were not in the labor force for the previous 52 weeks." So the number starts at about 2 million working and non-working at-home dads, then when all the criteria is met we end up with the 98,000 figure. With the same formula the number of at-home moms are estimated to be 5.4 million. Go figure.


Update: USA Today was the first out of the gate this morning with the headline: Census: 5.4 million mothers are choosing to stay at home with a short tidbit on the US Census report. Reporter Sharon Jayson did manage to get one quote for the dads from David Molina, an at-home dad to twins near Phoenix, who tried working but stayed home "It was not worth it," he said. "It was a rat race. It got to the point where both of us were having to stay later at work than we could and we would call each other at 4:45 and say for the other to pick up the kids."


Update #2:   Peter Grier and Sara B. Miller of the Christion Science Monitor chime in on the  Incredible shrinking US family and the 98K number "The Census Bureau judges that there are only 98,000 true stay-at-home dads in the whole country, despite the number of cinematic depictions of fathers who lose their jobs and find happiness ferrying kids to school and constructing art out of toilet-paper rolls" ....

Note: Right in middle of the  same article while discussing households the Monitor had a blog moment by writing  "Sponges living by themselves in a pineapple were statistically insignificant and thus were not included in the Census figures. That would be "SpongeBob SquarePants," a Nickelodeon production"

 


Posted by athomedad at 10:36 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 1 December 2004 6:28 PM EST
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Monday, 29 November 2004
I'll have some prolactin with lactation on the side please.
Topic: at-home dad convention
New Page 1 Some notes from the convention I promised

Some notes from the convention I promised you - Veteran at-home dad researcher Kyle Pruett of the president-producing Yale U delivered the at-home dad convention keynote speech. Although It was weighed down with research data and words like "prolactin" no one whined or took a nap. It's because he's a pretty funny guy, didn't show any diagrams like the one at right, and he knows his dad stuff. (If the diagram excites you, click on it and you can learn everything there is to know about prolactin.)


Pruett talked about the piles of studies on the hormone level changes in a dad's body before and after he becomes a father.
One hormone, prolactin, (which helps moms produce milk) was up 20 percent in new dads while testosterone levels dropped.. He mentioned one study that was well covered by Psychology Today ??researchers asked couples to hold dolls that had been wrapped in receiving blankets worn by a newborn within the preceding 24 hours. (After their wives gave birth, fathers held their actual baby.) They listened to a six-minute tape of a real newborn crying and then watched a video of a baby struggling to breast-feed. The investigators took blood from the men and women before the test and 30 minutes later. What they found is startling: Men who expressed the greatest desire to comfort the crying baby had the highest prolactin levels and the greatest reduction in testosterone. And testosterone levels plummeted in those men who held the doll for the full half-hour.?

Pruett's 4 main talking points:

"What I found out was what you are doing is all right and that you do not have to have a sex change to do it"

"Babies respond better to higher tones, but once they are upset they respond better to a lower voice, so [the dads] should get up when the baby cries at night"

We are genetically wired to be good fathers just as moms are - In his book The Nurturing Father he writes "We know for certain that men can be competent, capable, creative caretakers of newborns. This is all the more remarkable given that most men are typically raised with an understanding that they are destined through some natural law to be ineffective nurturers. . . . The research on the subject, some of it now decades old, says this assumption is just not so. And it says it over and over again, in data from many different discipliners.

When your wife disagrees with you she is right also - Pruett notes while mom and dad will handle the same situation differently they are ?both right? in their actions. For example he says "Fathers are more likely to encourage their kids to tolerate frustration and master tasks on their own before they offer help," he explains, "whereas mothers tend to assist a fussing child earlier." With this balance the kid understands that he need to take risks but he knows to be careful the next time he wants to steer the sled off your breezeway roof.

I?ll add a few notes about some of the other dads at the convention tomorrow.. - Pete


Posted by athomedad at 3:38 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 18 December 2004 4:25 PM EST
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Thursday, 25 November 2004
Looking for something?

Happy Thanksgiving guys. I almost didn't make it to the at-home convention this year. I've been caring for my nine-year-old son who has been wheelchair bound the last 6 weeks due to leg surgery (to correct one leg longer than another). I ended up watching the Red Sox Yankees series from the Boston Children's hospital in the wee hours... I could even see the Citgo sign out the window. My son will be back to school next week so I promise I will be back to my blogging game. I will give my thoughts on the convention and a bunch of other at-home dad news. You may have noticed that I've begun adding to my at-home dad blog list. If you would like to be included let me know.


Posted by athomedad at 1:33 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 28 November 2004 12:39 PM EST
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Wednesday, 6 October 2004
Extreme Stroller walking

Looks like at-home dad Michael Zorek has taken stroller walks to an extreme level. A few years ago this New Yorker started requesting to have his 4 month old Jeremy's picture taken with celebrities he has meet in the city. It started out with the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis and Tiki Barber. Over the next few years with the help of attending book signings, charity events, and political campaign stops his kid mugged with Howard Dean, Spike Lee, Julie Andrews, Bill Clinton, Ringo Starr, Billy Joel (at right), Halle Berry, Sarah Jessica Parker and on and on. As the pictures grew he threw them on is web site "Who is that with Jeremy" he's claimed to have 425,000 hits as of today. Asked in an interview by AP reporter Rebecca Miller weather he is exploiting the child, he says "I don't want people to think we're monsters and that I drag him around and thrust him at people," he said. "I ask people if I can take their picture. If they say no, they say no." Besides, he says his "snapshot days are numbered.... He's starting preschool, which will cut down on his celebrity-trolling excursions."

At-Home Dad Playgroup Updates: We have a new playgroup in Lincoln, Nebraska, And Marc Allen is now the new playgroup leader at the Delaware At-Home Dad Association (DADA) calimazoo@netzero.net taking over for Stuart Ungar, thanks for the service Stuart!


Posted by athomedad at 10:33 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 28 November 2004 12:40 PM EST
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Wednesday, 22 September 2004
The Stay-at-Home Dad Handbook

An at-home dad book I have been working on has finally been released. Those that I promised a copy to will get it by the first week of October. I have stories and quotes from many dads that have been in the At-Home Dad Newsletter, active in the playgroups and websites. Here is a list of those people. Thank you so much to those that contributed. Although it's billed as a "handbook" the several stories submitted by dads, some humorous some heartfelt, will distract you from the "handbook" implication. If you read a copy I hope you enjoy it, let me know what you think. If you would like to actually be an author of a profitable parenting book on fatherhood, it's pretty easy, you just have to be Bill Cosby. His book Fatherhood which according to slate.com started the round of huge advances for the big names. If you still want to try, here's a poor overview of what you need to know. The Proposal - Submitting the idea is easy, getting the publisher to say yes is not. You or your agent (if you have one) will peddle your idea to a bunch of publishing companies, in my case 30. I got back 29 vague rejection letters that went something like this: Although we felt that, Peter has a nitch audience we are discouraged by the past performance of fathering books but we do hope you find a home for it (read: we don't think it will make money). One of of the publishers may bite, which in my case was the Chicago Review Press of which I am grateful. The Advance - This is the fun part, on the strength of your proposal idea they actually give you money before you have even written the book. Of course you may have to settle for something less than the million dollar Bill Clinton-ish advances. Writing the book -That's easy, just write as you go. When your baby is doing something, like say, projectile vomiting, don't clean it up right away! Write down what you are seeing and feeling while the vomit is still fresh in your mind. That way the experience is written raw and is believable and funny. The editors love that stuff. The First Draft, The Second Draft, The Third Draft - After submitting your "final" copy (you will be asked to re-write it over and over until you are totally sick of your own book.) it is then the copy editor's job to edit out all the good parts you wrote about projectile vomiting. Naming the book - My title was picked out of a few choices. When I submitted the manuscript to my publisher I offered the title, Men who Change Diapers and the Women who Love them. I thought was it was pretty clever until they they started tossing around the four magic self explanatory "how-to" book title words like, manual, guidebook, survival guide and handbook. (Amazon has 144645 titles with "handbook" in it.) Thus we went from the Men who Change Diapers title to The At-Home Dad Survival Guide which lasted a week until it gave away to the final mainstreaming title: "The Stay at-Home Dad Handbook" which you will likely find in the book stores nestled between the Stay-At-Home Handbook and The Stay-at-Home Parent's Survival Guide. Promoting the Book - I've just started doing that now, I will keep you posted on my progress in future posts. If you still want to write a dad book, I'd be more than happy to help you out through the book process by e-mail or at the At-Home Dad Convention. -Pete

Posted by athomedad at 1:46 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 28 November 2004 12:43 PM EST
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Friday, 17 September 2004
Pampers melting in a Maytag dryer...
Topic: music

We start out with a new song and music video out of Tennessee that would have been the theme song of the movie Mr. Mom if it were written 22 years ago. It's from the Country music group Lonestar out of Tennessee, called Mr Mom. It's at No. 71 on the billboard charts and 30 on the country chart. The lyrics below are lock-step from the movie script Mr Mom right from the first line.... "Lost my job, came home mad...." with the usual expectations "Watch TV and take long naps" Then of course the exaggerations of dad's ineptness at home "...Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer....The kids won't eat my charcoal cake" They have also come out with an animated video ("Lenny" plays "Mr Mom" at right) for the song which you can see and listen to here, If that doesn't work try here. The video was Directed by rev-o lution pictures' Roman White offered this consolation saying "I hope viewers enjoy it "especially those real-life Mr. Moms out there working in the trenches." In an interview at about.com, lead singer Richie McDonald (who co-wrote the song)says "Mr. Mom? is more of a tribute to the housewife, the one who doesn?t get the credit. I can?t imagine doing what my wife does, and if I did, the result would be Pampers in the dryer, crayons all over the floors and walls. ?Mr. Mom? is a light-hearted way of saying thanks to the stay-at-home mom. They have a tough job." He reflects his thought with the final lines " Thought there was nothing to it...Baby, now I know how you feel"



Mr. Mom By Lonestar

Lost my job, came home mad
Got a hug and kiss and that's too bad
She said I can go to work until you find another job
I thought I like the sound of that
Watch TV and take long naps
Go from a hand working dad to being Mr. Mom


Well
Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer
Crayons go up one drawer higher
Rewind Barney for the fifteenth time
Breakfast, six naps at nine
There's bubble gum in the baby's hair
Sweet potatoes in my lazy chair
Been crazy all day long and it's only Monday
Mr. Mom

Football, soccer and ballet
Squeeze in Scouts and PTA
And there's that shopping list she left
That's seven pages long
How much smoke can one stove make
The kids won't eat my charcoal cake
It's more than any maid can take
Being Mr. Mom

Well
Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer...
[refrain}

Before I fall in bed tonight
If the dog didn't eat the classifieds
I'm gonna look just one more time

'Cause
Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer....
[refrain}

Balancin' checkbooks, juggling bills
Thought there was nothing to it
Baby, now I know how you feel
What I don't know is how you do it





Posted by athomedad at 12:28 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 18 December 2004 4:29 PM EST
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Wednesday, 15 September 2004
We're here! We're Home! Get used to it!

More news from the Batman fiasco - . ...This quote from Matt O'Connor, a spokesman for Fathers 4 Justice "If a bunch of amateur dads are able to get around (security) without too much trouble at all, that is worrying," It's the first time I have heard the term "amateur dads". If we are good at being a dad but still don't get paid are we still amateur dads?

One group who didn't have to wear Batman-like tights to get publicity was Kevin Kellar's, Austin (TX) Dads group shown above. They continue to rack up publicity and have 80 members on board. here's the latest spot on their local station (A second window may pop up as the video starts, just close it) I have also added the video on our playgroup site.

Latchkey Kids ---> Slackers ---> At-Home dads - One survey I missed the boat on while I was goofing off this summer was also reported on late by Laura DeMarco of the Oregonian titled Gen X turns out some grade A parents and is worth a read. The premise is that the Generation X kids - the 60 million Americans now between the ages of 25-47 (I barely made the cut!) who were labeled as "slackers" in the 90's are having kids now and more of them are at-home dads. The article points out some stats sprayed to the media late last year from a Reach Advisors survey titled "From Grunge to Grown Up," which surveyed 3,020 Gen X and baby boom parents. This survey spawned several GEN-X articles in the media this spring and summer, (my favorite spin of the media reporting is from daddytypes). The survey noted that "Xers were the first generation with large numbers raised in broken homes (read: Latchkey kids). Almost one third had divorced parents, compared with 13 percent of boomers". With this background they were labeled as spoiled (read Slackers), "mocked in pop culture as lazy, selfish types who would rather spend their time moping in overpriced coffee shops than moving into adulthood." So why did they end up as at-home dads instead of slacker parents? The article quotes James Chung, the president Reach Advisors "Gen Xers grew up in the aftermath of a time of much social upheaval, in an era of rapidly increasing divorce rates and mothers rapidly re-entering the work force, Some of them want to raise their families different from the way they grew up." The bottom line: We are college-educated homebodies and our kids have more fun, more discipline and more time home with us.


Posted by athomedad at 12:57 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 September 2004 4:15 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 14 September 2004
Get me a beer from the bat refrigerator Robin!

BAAMMM!! I couldn't resist this story after my mention, of sports vs. dad heroes last Thursday. Today, a dad dressed up as Batman somehow managed to scale Buckingham palace to draw attention to the organization Fathers 4 Justice. Their aim is to protect fathers? rights to access to their children after marriage breakdown. Apparently Robin couldn't make it past the tight security. Batman finally left his perch after 5 hours as the cold was too much for the caped crusader. Incredibly this isn't the first time this has happened. Scotsman.com reports that on Saturday, the London Eye was scaled by another dad from Fathers 4 Justice dressed as Spiderman. Maybe we can hire the Hulk to climb the Golden Gate Bridge for an anti Mr Mom crusade.

KAPOOOW!! "Boys Behaving Badly" is now my my favorite at-home dad playgroup name for a new playgroup out of Australia.

WHAPPP!! Brian Reid reveals his new site design and comments more on the Australian playgroup at rebeldad.


Posted by athomedad at 12:39 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 14 September 2004 12:39 AM EDT
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Thursday, 9 September 2004
Sports Heros vs. Dad Heros

If I were to hire an ad agency to promote at-home dads this would be pretty close to it. I spotted it in the August 23rd Issue of Time magazine. As the photo shows at left,It features a 1970's style baseball card but instead of Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox, we see an unknown  "Jerry Chambers". This generic "DAD" card has him ironing what looks like a pair of slacks with the his profession "Ironer" emblazed on the bottom.

The back is hilarious with stats on his "washing ironing and folding record"  with a break down of the number of clothes  he has ironed each year. They guy even irons shirts and blouses (I don't know about you but my wife wouldn't let me near her clothes with an iron) The stats are complete with his percentage of clothes "lost per load".   Underneath the stats it says "You don't have to be a hero to be a hero"   The Ad was designed by the AdCouncil to promote adoption. Their line  "You don't have to be a hero to be a hero." challenges me to think about the issue of the sports hero vs. the involved dad. In the absence of a dad or the presence of an ignorant dad,  kids will instinctively turn to a father role model to take his place. More times than not its either a sports hero or a  gang member that takes his dad's place.  In the media what gets more attention? Sports heroes, or at-home involved dads? No research needed here but it's a good reminder to me to wonder how much of a father figure I would be if I were working outside the home.



Posted by athomedad at 1:35 PM EDT
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