Nabbing Dads From the Very Beginning

As I mentioned last week, I am (again) a new father, which meant that I had the opportunity to spend a healthy chunk of my summer at Inova Fairfax Hospital. Though, admittedly, I didn't have the hard job; it wasn't an unpleasant stay. The nursing staff was exceptional, and there is a deli in the atrium that makes cloak-and-dagger sandwiches on the grill that are just to die for.

Fairfax is one of the busiest hospitals for deliveries in the country, and they have the routine down, from the baby security system to the instant availability of lactation consultants to a list of prenatal education classes that goes way beyond just the standard-issue Lamaze-type class. They have classes for parents having multiples, parents preparing for Caesarean section, classes for siblings, classes for moms with asthma, even classes for grandparents.

The gaping omission, of course, is anything aimed specifically at fathers.

This is unfortunate for a couple of reasons. The sooner dads get comfortable with parenting -- not just the nuts and bolts of diapers and bottles and growth charts, but the day-to-day comforting and play -- the more involved they tend to be. The American Academy of Pediatrics realizes this; they launched an effort two years ago to use pediatrician contact with fathers to help them "become avid, successful learners and providers."

Just as importantly, no aspect of family life is changing more rapidly than fatherhood. The rules and expectations of fatherhood even a decade ago have changed radically, and it's a totally new ballgame compared with my own father's experiences. Yet there's nothing to guide dads through that: no celebs to mimic, no magazines to read and only a few books that scratch the surface.

But what if there was a way to nab dads while they're still in the hospital, groggy and smitten? A way to get them to a dad-focused parenting skills class or even a guys-only discussion group? Don't laugh - Prince William Hospital's Wellness Center tried a program called "Proud Dads" a few years ago that was basically fathers swapping stories and hints and experiences. I showed up for one of the sessions expecting to be underwhelmed but left with a couple of new ideas and much better grip on the experiences of different dads. The class puttered out after a little while for reasons I'm not clear on, but I'm still inspired by the experience.

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

Editor's Note: We're experiencing some technical difficulties that have affected the timestamps and the order of comments. As we resolve these issues, later posts may actually appear higher in the comments than some earlier posts. This will happen as the comments get back into sync with the actual time. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

By Brian Reid |  August 3, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads , Guest Blogs
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how many rebel dad blogs are we going to have to read?

Posted by: yawn | August 3, 2006 7:16 AM

I find this whole "changing fatherhood" trope strange. When I was born in the 70s, my dad got up with me every night and throughout my childhood took care of me (drove me to school, cooked, etc). While some may argue he did this because my mom was very sick throughout my childhood, I would say he did it because he loved me and really wanted to have children (he was 40 when I was born). There were other fathers in my neighborhood who were similar to my dad too. They all seemed to be old fathers though. I think there are a lot of men who really are reluctant fathers who get pushed into fatherhood by their wives/girlfriends.

What do you envision "dad prenatal/parenting" classes to be like? Should there be a "father-focused" "What To Expect, When You Are Expecting"?

(I must admit I did not read any pregnancy related books during my pregnancy, so I am naming a popular one of the top of my head.)

Posted by: riley | August 3, 2006 7:40 AM

To riley: I suspect your experience was probably unusual. But I'd love to hear from others ... are there dads reading this that believe they are *less* involved than their own fathers were a generation ago?

To jon m: from thr folks I've talk to, there has been a subtle shift towards more involved fathering, even in the last 10 years. Preschool types say there are more dads co-oping, longtime PTA boosters say more dads are showing up to meetings, and stay-at-home dad who have been doing the gig for 15 or 20 years claim they see more fathers on the playground. It might not be a sea change, but it's noticable.

Posted by: Brian Reid | August 3, 2006 7:55 AM

Posted by: riley | August 3, 2006 07:40 AM
"changing fatherhood" trope

Wow. Nice $5 word this morning. My experience with a "dad" group of newbies is that they all tried to help each other renovate the old (charming but crumbling) homes we lived in. Lots of painting, some demolition; some friendships continue into the second decade.

Posted by: College Parkian | August 3, 2006 7:58 AM

I think part of the issue here is that, as a group, men love instruction -- instruction guides, instruction books, instruction videos. So as some fathers decide to approach fatherhood in a way they perceive is different than in the past, I guess they are looking for the instructional guide to give them the secrets.

I agree with ME Dad ... use your common sense and instinct and see what works. If it's not working, try something else -- welcome to motherhood! :)

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | August 3, 2006 8:07 AM

Brian is making an important point, that the presumption of this very thoughtful hospital program is that mothers and grandparents will be primary caregivers, not fathers. And it is this sort of cultural conditioning that makes gendered patterns of caregiving persist. I'm not a class-loving, book-reading kind of parent, either, but I really value Rebeldad's alertness to these kinds of assumptions, and I think he's right that if dads dive into caregiving immediately, they'll be able to claim as much expertise as their wives and not have to cede all domestic authority to women who have been taught in so many ways that butt-wiping and mushy food are somehow their natural talent.

Posted by: kittkicks | August 3, 2006 8:07 AM

I've been of the opinion that the imbalance in childcare load all starts with maternity leave. Most mothers, regardless of their work situation, are going to be off for at least six weeks, and a lot for 12 weeks when their baby is first born. Dads, on the other hand, may just take off a week or two. What I think happens in this time is that while mom and baby are figuring each other out, dad is left out of the loop. Mom has a lot of one-on-one time learning how to take care of the baby, learning what the different cries mean, what works for soothing the baby in different situations, and all without someone looking over her shoulder. When dad is home, he doesn't have the benefit of that one-on-one time. So either mom tells dad what will work (which may not work for him anyway and also sets up the mom knows better than dad thing) or mom just takes care of baby because she can't deal with how long it takes for dad to figure out baby's problem. I'm not sure what the solution is. Maternity leave is often (usually?) unpaid so to have unpaid paternity leave as well isn't usually financially feasible.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | August 3, 2006 8:22 AM

From Nat's 11:29 a.m. post. (looks like screwed up times again today)
"Women just instinctually "get" babies. "

Sorry. Going to have to disagree with that one. When our first was born, I (we) spent so much time getting ready for the birth itself that it was only after the fact that we realized we really didn't know what to do with that little being when we got her home. Seriously, the first night home from the hospital, we didn't know how to put her to bed, i.e. how much she should be wearing, how many blankets to swaddle her with, and what do you do with that sleep positioner thing? We actually called a friend of ours to ask.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | August 3, 2006 8:31 AM

I agree with 10:27 am (although, inexplicably, it's only 8:30). All those classes Brian listed were for "parents." That includes dad (or boyfriend or girlfriend). There isn't anything that dads need to know that moms don't also need to know, so they should both be involved in the learning process. Also, parents are a team. They should be learning the same things. Imagine if there were classes for only dads, and moms had their classes. What if different information is taught (as can happen with some teachers)? Or what if mom interprets it differently than dad? Then there would be conflicting ideas that cause friction. But taking classes together means you can talk to each other about the information, iron out details, and come up with questions together. Dad-only classes would only serve to alienate the father.

And if you want to talk with other guys about it, no one is stopping you! Men are becoming fathers every minute of every day. Dads are everywhere. You know how easy it is to start a blog, or even a neighborhood group.

Posted by: Meesh | August 3, 2006 8:36 AM

It involves some of the "veterans" bringing in new babies for the "rookies" to practice on. They also just go over things and give suggestions on how to manage it all a little more smoothly.

http://www.bcnd.org/public/org-history.htm

Posted by: mwh | August 3, 2006 8:48 AM

It is simply not true that women "get" babies. It's thinking like that that makes men feel pushed aside in the parenting process, what drives the whole "fathers are incompetent" stereotype in our society, and what excuses men for not being involved in child rearing.

Women learn by trial and error just like men. The difference is that women are with the baby 24/7 from the moment it's born until it's time for daycare. Women HAVE to learn quickly or the baby will die. If a man were put in that situation (like the guy above who was laid off), they will be able to do exactly what women do.

My brother grew up with sisters and babies in the family and babysat in high school. He is more prepared for fatherhood than I am for motherhood because of that.

And, to the point of the blog, there are classes available to both parents. If women just "got" babies, they wouldn't need classes. Both parents can benefit from these classes.

Posted by: Meesh | August 3, 2006 8:50 AM

I'd be curious to know if they'd offered a "dads only" class in the past and had underenrollment. My husband was all for the baby first aid session, but no way did he even consider the dad class. I bought him a "preparing for fatherhood" book and he never cracked it.

He's a great hands-on dad, though. He just learned by the seat of his pants (pretty much the way I did).

Posted by: MommaSteph | August 3, 2006 9:22 AM

The reason classes are needed for new dads is because so many men, growing up, did not have hands on fathers to be their role models. The classes aren't to teach them anything their wives/girlfriends/etc. don't ALSO need to know, but it's to give them a comfortable learning environment where they have the ability to let down their guards and just be "new dads."

I liked this post, and I like RebelDad, but I think that so many people are busy disagreeing over why dad's deserve a "special" class that they're missing the point. More education should be something to applaud, not criticize. If Brian has suggestions from a new dad's perspective, we should not be tearing him down, we should be listening critically and learning from it ourselves. I hope Fairfax Inova (and other hospitals) do start to have a New Dads class, and I hope a lot of dads take advantage of it. No matter what other classes they go to.

Posted by: NoVA | August 3, 2006 9:48 AM

Nat wrote, Women just instinctually "get" babies"

I am a woman and I don't.

Posted by: riley | August 3, 2006 10:02 AM

At least some of you had dads. Mine died when I was six and all I can remember of him was the arguments he used to have with mom. My mom never remarried either so it was just us. Can't we just let people choose to take a class if they so feel inclined? Rebeldad you may want to check your local churches or health departments for classes on fatherhood. I'm checking out today. I have a feeling its going to get nasty in here.

Posted by: Fatherless | August 3, 2006 10:12 AM

I'm curious- how has fatherhood changed from just one decade ago???

Posted by: Jon M | August 3, 2006 10:16 AM

I'm unimpressed too.
Lamaze classes and other prenatal classes are intended for both mothers and fathers. Why does anyone need a class to be a better dad? Holy cow fatherhood is not a disease in need of a support group.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 10:27 AM

WE WOULD NOT BE HAVING THIS DISCUSSION IF MORE WOMEN WOULD LEARN THEIR PLACE, STAY AT HOME AND RAISE THE CHILDREN!!!!!!

AGAIN....

WE WOULD NOT BE HAVING THIS DISCUSSION IF MORE WOMEN WOULD LEARN THEIR PLACE, STAY AT HOME AND RAISE THE CHILDREN!!!!!!

WOMEN: STAY AT HOME AND RAISE THE CHILDREN!!!

My wife does what she is told.

Posted by: Grrrrrrreat Dad | August 3, 2006 10:31 AM

I see that my father in the seventies was way before his time, he bathed my brother and I as babies, changed our diapers did the 2 a.m. feeding so my mom could sleep through the night. On top of that he worked 7 days a week.

Although he worked alot of hours, he spent time with us and helped us in any way he could.

He was very involved and my brother and I respect him for that.

My husband is involved with both his sons, my motto is it takes two to make a child and to raise the child as well.

My husband followed my lead with the first one and now is a pro with the second.

No amount of classes out there will encourage all father's to actively participate unless their willing participants.

It's amazing to still witness parent's of my thirties generation, whose husbands would rather drive their toys ie. motorcycles then spend time with their kids.

By far, my husband is more involved than the others in the neighbourhood; it's a sad testiment to our times I guess- women have advanced in many ways but sadly in other ways the men need to start picking up the slack.

Posted by: Mom in Canada | August 3, 2006 10:50 AM

Leslie, you ask how to get underinvolved dads more involved. Ask him to help. Praise his efforts. Don't be a critic. Point out to him that the baby seems to like the way his daddy holds him. Leave him alone with the baby. Don't stand over him telling him what to do. My ex-husband was very young, only 22 when our son was born, but he was involved from the start. I was very proud of him and I appreciated that our son was equally happy with either parent. Mom's have to support the relationship between their children and their children's fathers. Everyone in the family benefits. Rock Creek Mama, I think you're partially right. Little girls are socialized to care for babies, but women don't necessarily know what to do with a new born. I didn't. My husband and I learned together.

Posted by: Old mom | August 3, 2006 10:51 AM

I got together with some dads after my son was born. We wanted to discuss how we fit in and how to handle our roles as fathers. Most of the talk was how to get our neurotic wives to lighten up and how to get a babysitter so that we could go out for an evening. That first year for the first-time mothers was a doozy for most of us.

None of us are in contact now. The wives didn't get along or couldn't get together outside of the weekly gathering.

Posted by: Working Dad | August 3, 2006 10:52 AM

I think classes or ongoing support groups for dads is a good idea, but they need on-the-job training as well. No matter how much you know about babies (which for plenty of men and women is...not a lot), you don't know a thing about YOUR baby until you get home. Having dad stay home and be alone with the baby is a great idea, both for bonding and for making them be fully responsible (and therefore having to figure out how to do stuff, like calm the baby, interpret their cries, etc.) I went back half-time at 8 weeks because my husband was home full-time, and it really helped him develop confidence as a dad.

Posted by: Arlmom | August 3, 2006 10:52 AM

"Why do people go bananas over the idea that mothers might "get" babies better or have a special connection to a child that the father doesn't have?" -Rock Creek Mama

Well, the "get" part is what is not true. You even said that mothers "MIGHT" get babies better--it's not a proven fact because it all depends on how you were raised. Were you around babies a lot as a kid? Then you probably "get" babies. But no person is born knowing how to take care of babies. If that were true, how come we don't leave a six-year-old girl alone with a newborn? Rearing a child is all about learning; it's not innate.

As far as mothers having a "special connection," that might be true. Although if I had a baby with my husband, I certainly wouldn't fall back on that little gem everytime he did something wrong.

Posted by: Meesh | August 3, 2006 10:58 AM

I'm an involved (I think) dad of an 18-month old. Reid mentions one of my pet peeves - the so-called parent and baby magazines (Parenting, Baby Talk, Parents, etc. which we've been given subscriptions to) are geared 90% or more towards moms. For example, "Parenting" magazine is really about "mothering." "You" the reader is assumed to be a mom. Dads are mentioned in the context of as "how to get dad to help," or "let dad do things his way." Sometimes if you're lucky there's a special "dad's perspecptive" page, which is aimed at explaining dads to moms. Admittedly, this isn't the biggest deal in the world, and the basic info (where it exists) about nutrition, development, discipline techniques, is useful to both of us. But I wish there was a publication that really writes for both parents. I'd read it.

Posted by: DC | August 3, 2006 11:03 AM

Can anyone recommend some good books for men who are step-fathers? I just re-married, and my daughter is quite young. I try very hard to encourage and instill confidence in my husband, but none of this stuff comes natural to him. Please help, if you can. Also, any tips you can share from similar situations would be helpful.

Posted by: Somewhere | August 3, 2006 11:06 AM

Men don't need to take classes to figure a lot of this stuff out. I'll try something, and if it doesn't work, I'll try something else. If it's still not working, I'll research on the internet or in books. I definitly don't need the support group function that a class provides. I do NOT see myself attending a Dad-focused class to talk through some of the challenges of babies/toddlers. I'm way too busy doing the raising, working, and living that goes along with the job.

One caveat to this is that if one of my kids had special needs of some sort, I can see myself in classes focused on whatever that need would be. But not for our kids who, thankfully, do not have those special needs.

Posted by: ME Dad | August 3, 2006 11:09 AM

Wife of a very involved dad here who does not necessarily believe that women "get" babies any more than men, but I do believe that women are more programmed to pay attention to the overall needs of parenting. Case in point: getting out of the door with a baby. After two years, my husband has finally realized what is needed to be done in terms of getting our daughter dressed, packing food, diapers, etc. He always just sort of assumed it would be done. This probably stems from maternity leave, as many have noted, when moms learn how to get organized and anticipate the child's needs. I am not saying every man is like this but my husband, a well-educated, very organized and extremely involved dad just seemed to lack that sense. I am not sure it can be taught in a class.

Posted by: Downtown | August 3, 2006 11:18 AM

My family had an expression, "Watched by the father" that meant something terrible had happened to the child. Very sexist, but sadly true. One of the first time my dad watched my brother and me alone, we were 3 and 1. My mother came home after 4 hours and found us incredibly whiny and difficult. My father was mystified about our behavior until my mother was able to determine that he had fed himself lunch but not us, since we "didn't ask for it." The first time my cousin was watched by her father they ended up calling poison control since he had accidentally let her eat lead solder (he didn't want to let watching his daughter stop him from his plumbing project). We have many more stories such as these in our family. Maybe we were just unlucky.

I believe things have changed hugely in the last generation. My husband is now a SAHD and he is better than me as a parent in so many ways (though of course I have strengths too).

By the way, Brian, I was part of the Mom's group that helped start the dad's group at the Prince William Hospital center. All it took was the moms in the moms group connecting a few of their interested husbands together, and some publicity. I'm glad it lasted fairly long (It started over 4 years ago).

Posted by: Ms L | August 3, 2006 11:28 AM

First off, I know a 100% effective tool for getting a dad to become a loving and skillful parent: Lay offs! My husband would not be the father he is today if he hadn't been laid off and become the primary care giver for our daughter.

When visiting my parents the other weekend, my mom was SHOCKED when the baby fussed and my husband picked her up, changed her diaper and eventually calmed her down and got her laughing again with a game of silly faces and tummy tickling. Mom was shocked because, as she told me, my father NEVER would have done that when I was a baby. Made me so proud of my husband!!

While lamaze classes and such are for both parents, really, they are just trying to get you through the birth. Women just instinctually "get" babies. We start as little girls with baby dolls, picking out baby names in junior high (after we've planned out our fantasy dream wedding to Kirk Cameron), then we babysit, and next thing you know we're out of college and our friends are starting to have babies. This isn't the same for guys - more often than not they get parenthood thrust upon them and it's kind of sink or swim. I know my husband had no CLUE what life was going to be like with a baby, while I at least had some idea, however small. I wish some of his dad friends had reached out to him like some of my mom friends reached out to me those first days and weeks. I wish there was more information and advice and support for dads beyond the stereotypical dad-as-goofup stuff you see.

Rebeldad, we need more guys like you!!

Posted by: nat | August 3, 2006 11:29 AM

Very suspicious. Has anyone else had their posts not show up?

Posted by: curious | August 3, 2006 11:42 AM

I can't believe so many people are against the idea of classes for fathers! If you wouldn't like it, you wouldn't have to take it, but jeesh, why would you be against letting a man who actually IS interested in taking such a class have the opportunity to do so?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 11:56 AM

Are fathers really changing? In my opinion, it seems that the latest generation of fathers just likes to think of themselves as improved and enlightened.

I was also born in the 70s. My father was 30 when I was born and had never cared for children before he and my mother had me. Yet from the start, he was very involved. He changed diapers. He got up with me every morning when I was a toddler, fed me breakfast, and took care of me before he went to work so that my mother could get an extra 30+ minutes of sleep. He did dishes, did laundry, drove me and my four siblings to activities, played with us, helped us with homework, taught merit badges (Girl Scouts & Boy Scouts), and genuinely enjoyed talking/being with us. He also worked 60-80 hour weeks.

My father was a good father because he was determined to do so. He came from a poor and broken family. He decided that when he had a family of his own, he would be a devoted and loving husband and father as well as a good provider. And he was/is.

As for classes and training, my father did have the benefit of our religion, which is very family-focused and offers ongoing, weekly instruction as well as many other resources on how to have happy families.

Posted by: MBA Mom | August 3, 2006 12:02 PM

First, let me echo Rebeldad's general praise of Innova Fairfax. My little guy was born there last year and it was great experience. Very attentive staff and great modern facilities.

I would disagree with the poster that said that the classes offered are for both Mom and Dad. I attempted to go to one and it was made clear to me that part of the purpose of the class was for new moms to bond. Plus, the new moms in the room were in their gowns and were not comfortable with a strange man there to see them partially clothed.

Rockville Mom's theory on how the imbalance starts seems to me to be incredibly insightful. I think it very much explains my own situation.

I would like to add that the imbalance need not remain forever. Over time, spending 1-on-1 time with my child on nights and weekends has enabled me to catch up. But my wife had to allow me the space to do that by not dictating my interactions with the baby. I had to make my own mistakes and build my own relationship with the little guy. He now has lots of things that he prefers mom for (naturally) but also some things that he prefers me for -- he likes my lap better when Baby Einstein is on. Apparently I make better animal sounds.

-Pp.

(P.S. - Without Leslie to supervise here, anyone know who we can call at WaPo to get the timestamp problem fixed? It's killing me.)

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 3, 2006 12:07 PM

This blog is so hard to follow that it is worthless unless somebody gets the stupid timestamp thing fixed.

Posted by: Argh!!!! | August 3, 2006 12:09 PM

We're working with our blog hosts to get this timestamp issue resolved. I apologize for the confusion.

Posted by: washingtonpost.com Editors | August 3, 2006 12:12 PM

Everyone write to blogs@washingtonpost.com at the top to report the timestamp problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 12:19 PM

Lieu -- do you really need both parents home for three months? It sounds great, but it would never happen at my company.

I agree parents should split all the parenting, but those first three months, Mom's got what Dad can't give. There's plenty of opportunities down the road for Dad to take the lead. My awesome wife nursed those kids for at least six months, and taught them how to sleep at night. But from the time they were about a year old, she was "deaf" to them in the middle of the night -- she sleeps through everything and now I get up with the kids in the middle of the night and early in the morning. Her "turn" at night was hard and intense, and my "turn" at night has gone on for years.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | August 3, 2006 12:31 PM

"i agree that women "get" babies more and can have a special bond with them that their fathers don't have. doesn't mean women are born with the ability to change a diaper and men aren't, there really is something with the biology of carrying a child for 9 months that puts a woman at least a smidge ahead of the men on child related things"

I think there's a big difference between "getting" babies and starting off with more of a bond. I agree that having the physical connection of carrying a child as part of your body creates a special emotional connection that a father may not share right off the bat. But I totally disagree that this gives a woman any other extra knowledge or innate understanding - when my son was born, I had no better idea of what his cries meant, how to hold him, how to change his diaper, or do anything for him than my husband did. All I knew was that until a few minutes ago, this little being had been part of me, which is truly special, but enough to give me a leg-up on caring for him outside of the womb.

Posted by: Megan | August 3, 2006 12:35 PM

I was born in the late '50s to older parents. My father was always very involved in raising my sister and me. My mother used to tell me that he insisted in changing my diapers when he was home. My father worked and my mother stayed at home, but my father didn't want to miss out. In fact, I remember that when ever I had a night mare, it was my father that come to comfort me. My mother was a very deep sleeper, and my father just naturally woke up first. While my parent were very "traditional" in a lot of respects, their parenting techniques were very modern for the time. I certainly didn't know any better!

I obviously pick a husband that had a lot of the same traits. We also started our family late. I suspect that being older has something to do with a man's level of involvement.

My husband insisted that we both take a baby care class. We took this class before the baby was born and it wasn't in a hospital. I secretly wanted to take the class because I thought it would be great for my husband to learn a thing or two, but I was surprised how much I learned! All of the students were couples. Everyone learned a lot. The focus was definitely on how both parents can care for a baby. This was in 1997.

Given the way I was raised in the late '50s/early '60s, I'm surprised at how uninvolved a lot of fathers are. I expected more "progress."

Posted by: SLP | August 3, 2006 12:36 PM

Rockville Mom posted: "I've been of the opinion that the imbalance in childcare load all starts with maternity leave. Most mothers, regardless of their work situation, are going to be off for at least six weeks, and a lot for 12 weeks when their baby is first born. Dads, on the other hand, may just take off a week or two."

I agree. When my first son was born, I was in grad school and was only able to be home for a week. Because of my schedule though, I had a lot of flexibility and was able to do a lot more to help out. When our second son arrived, I was in the Army (post 9/11) and was able to take about 3 weeks off, but had to monitor what was happening with my organization. My DW could only stay home for about six weeks after Number 1, but was able to be home for several months after Number 2.

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 3, 2006 12:43 PM

Whoa, a subject I've thought a lot about.
Let me reassert the question here: What support is helpful for men, what do they want, and how can support groups be targeted toward them?

So here's the initial problem: I think we're living in a time where most of this generation's young dads grew up in traditional households (I certainly did, in the 70s), or those where the mother was just starting to work. (like others have said)

There's a strong drive (or model) for the fathers to raise kids in the same mold that their fathers did. However, there are also strong societal pressures for the fathers to grow up in a more progressive parenting role. "The rules and expectations of fatherhood even a decade ago have changed radically, and it's a totally new ballgame compared with my own father's experiences," says rebel dad.

A fathering or how-to-be-a-dad for dummies class, to be successful, needs to correctly target its audience, where on the spectrum the dad will be -- or should be.

Hospitals or community centers should offer two classes. The first would be Introduction to being a Dad, where the medical/developmental basics are reviewed. The second class would be titled something like How to be an Involved Father, tweak the title to not exclude or alienate the un-involved father, but to me, this is the next, modern, level.

Every father needs some baseline education about the new child and his wife, that's a given. But bringing men into the fold of parenting as a matter of course is where support is most necessary. Some parents have no interest in going in this direction, and that's ok for them. I think, however, a lot of men want 'in' on childrearing from the start. We want to be responsible for as much as possible to help raise our perfect (ha) child.

Are there any Public Health professionals who read this blog who can offer some more disciplined commentary?

Posted by: First cup of coffee | August 3, 2006 12:45 PM

I agree with Proud Papa - moms have to let their husbands parent from the very beginning. I have to say from my experience that classes only helped with the birthing process not the parenting process. I was clueless but determined to plug along and determined to involve my husband as much as possible. As far as I was concerned we were in this together and I was going to make sure he was an involved father - I grew up with a father that was not involved and did not want that for my children. Moms- it helps if you don't set yourself up to be the "expert" in childraising and allow your husband to learn in his own way. You can't dictate how the household is run and then complain when your husband leaves you to do everything yourself since nothing he does meets your standards.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | August 3, 2006 12:45 PM

My husband has been great with our son -- he does diapers, feeding, baths, you name it. When our son was newborn, he was a terrible nurser so my husband always had him with the bottle while I bonded with my pump (wretched experience) and they've been especially close ever since. The first time I left them alone for a business trip, though, my husband didn't notice that our son had stopped drinking water because his throat was sore. After 2 days, of course, the boy was listless and Dad perked up to the problem, but it took a hospital visit to re-hydrate him. Now we joke about remembering to water the baby. So, yes, Dad was really clueless that time, and yes, he's still a great Dad who does lots of what seems to be the "new" definition of involved fathering. Is that any different from any first-time parent, though? Don't we all -- mothers and fathers -- have some wacky story about what happened with the kids before we 'figured it out'? But we generally muddle through those times and overall it works out.

Posted by: water the baby | August 3, 2006 12:51 PM

"I'm curious- how has fatherhood changed from just one decade ago???

Posted by: Jon M | August 3, 2006 10:16 AM"

We're all ten years older.......

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 3, 2006 12:51 PM

It's interesting what Riley says about her father being older and that she saw older fathers in her neighborhood being involved with their kids. My dad was 49 when I was born, and I was his first. He was a very involved father, and I just thought that was the norm. As I got older (in college), I started to realize my situation was not typical, and many women and men I met felt very distant from their dads.

I think Riley is also right that many men get pushed into fatherhood before they truly want to be fathers. Women who later complain that their husbands/boyfriends aren't involved with their kids need to ask themselves if they did something to help set up that situation.

Posted by: JM | August 3, 2006 12:55 PM

I've heard great things about the PEP program -- Parent Encouragement Program. It offers just the kind of insight and help that ProudPapa is describing.

Posted by: PEP | August 3, 2006 12:55 PM

Why do people feel compelled to slam the guest authors and their topics?! Yesterday and today, the first thing posted was an insult. If you can't say something nice, you know what to do! When you go to parties, do you tell the host, "Huh, what a crappy place you have here"? Thank you, Brian and Kevin, for your guest posts.

Posted by: niner | August 3, 2006 12:56 PM

In my experience, the mother is the one who sets the expectation for the dad's level of involvement. Most men worth marrying and having children with WANT to be very involved with their kids. But some women seem to prefer playing a martyr role so that they can complain about how little their husbands support them. These are the moms who get mad when hubby doesn't do something exactly the way Supermom does.

Posted by: MomNC | August 3, 2006 1:00 PM

Look, if I didn't clean, DH would wait for mold to grow and then think about it.
If I don't put gas in the car, he waits to putter into the service station.
If I don't make dinner, he orders out or eats junk.
If I don't change the baby's diaper...
You get the point.
It's not about women being better equiped or wired to deal with babies. It's about us being better at thinking/planning ahead. And the fact is, you have to have this skill to be able to take care of a baby.

Posted by: MD Mom | August 3, 2006 1:02 PM

In my experience, the mother is the one who sets the expectation for the dad's level of involvement. Most men worth marrying and having children with WANT to be very involved with their kids. But some women seem to prefer playing a martyr role so that they can complain about how little their husbands support them. These are the moms who get mad when hubby doesn't do something exactly the way Supermom does.

Posted by: MomNC | August 3, 2006 1:04 PM

I have to agree with the posters who say that some men get "pushed away" from active parenting (I accidentally typed "partnering" first but it IS that too) when the baby is young. I've seen a couple of my friends be so critical and so anxious that everything be done "right" that they turn into "hovermoms" and literally push the father away or take the baby from him. The result: The babies are now toddlers and the fathers are not that involved in caregiving (though they like to "play" with the kids) and the moms are angry that "dad won't help out".

Posted by: Clover | August 3, 2006 1:06 PM

It's even more disturbing that people are taking shots at the guests considering today's topic. Generally, women want men to be involved and help more. And when these two dads took the time to write up some aspect of their lives that they care about and share it, they get slammed and told that they don't need dad-only classes. And we wonder why men feel alienated?!

Rant over, please continue.

Posted by: niner | August 3, 2006 1:07 PM

Ok, someone wanted a "public health official" to chime in, well, I'm a pediatrician.

While I don't think there is anything wrong with having a class for just for fathers, it is better to have parenting classes that includes both parents. Meesh's posts are right on. I actually think this support group/father's classes is a gimmicky silly thing. As some of the posters above have said, you learn as you go and if you do it, you learn. Read the books mom's read. I don't think a parenting class will encourage fathers to participate more in parenting. It's attitude and expectations (both family and society). Mothers and society need to have these expectations and most fathers will follow.

I thought yesterday's blog was dull. This one is even duller.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 1:10 PM

This is really another way to put the focus back on THE MAN during pregnancy and immediately after birth.

When a woman's pregnant, no one pays attention to her husband/boyfriend/partner. No one cares. After the baby's born, he gets even less attention because now his partner focuses on the baby instead of him. So too do most of their friends and family.

Give me a class, a support group, a mountaintop where I can be remembered, praised, and glorified as I used to be. I want to feel special too!

Posted by: Old New Dad | August 3, 2006 1:21 PM

Rockville Mom - You are TOTALLY right. We are extremely lucky since we both have white collar jobs, and I know this isn't possible for everyone, but both husband & I took 3 months of parental leave (mine was FMLA and vacation and his was paid paternity leave and vacation) and I can't tell you the difference I think it's made. When nosy/old-fashioned people give him a bit of "shouldn't-your-wife-be-doing-that" flak, he just looks at them innocently and says, well, if you think a child benefits from having one parent at home, wouldn't it benefit even more from having 2 loving parents caring for him? That always quiets the nay-sayers.

Posted by: Just a thought | August 3, 2006 1:23 PM

When our first was born a decade aqo, I don't recall that there were any classes for fathers. We did take a class together & I read one or two books colleagues had suggested...some parts I read aloud to my husband. The best advice we got though was from the nurse on call the day we went home from the hospital. Her advice, "the baby is not a china cup, she's not going to break".

Posted by: working mom of two | August 3, 2006 1:25 PM

I am not a father (yet) but my wife and I are planning to start very soon. I intend to be fully involved from the start, but there are so many little details that we will need to know it could be a little overwhelming. My dad was totally uninvolved in raising any of us (he went deer hunting the day my brother was born) and I definitely don't want to do that.

A class on what to expect after (not before or during; plenty of assistance given both online and at the hospital for that) the baby is born would be very helpful; we don't live near any relatives that have children and having some "hands on" training would be useful.

Posted by: John | August 3, 2006 1:27 PM

It is impressive how well feminists have finessed their spouses on parenting.

Professional feminist women abort inconvenient offspring, pawn the ones they do allow to live off on school/daycare for the bulk of their day, yet expect all the respect and consideration due a devoted mother.

To their husbands: Stop acting like girly men! What have you achieved from kowtowing to their devotion to the mentality of victimhood, except escalating demands for even more subservience.

Guys, it's ok to be a man like dad or even grandpa. Stop trying to become your mom.

Posted by: Greg | August 3, 2006 1:35 PM

My advice is be careful what you ask for. My husband is a very involved father. So involved that it drives me crazy. He tends to be the one standing behind me questioning my every action and offering advice on how to do it (whatever "it" happens to be) right.

Posted by: Jolie | August 3, 2006 1:37 PM

Why do people go bananas over the idea that mothers might "get" babies better or have a special connection to a child that the father doesn't have?

This should fall into the "no duh" category. For me, the physical aspects alone of pregnancy and having a new baby resulted in a bond with my daughter that her father doesn't have. My daughter is 2 and I still wake up first if she cries in the night.

Here's the thing...so what? There's still plenty of opportunites for DH to get in on the nurturing aspects of parenting. I think nearly all Mamas have a special bond with their kids, and that doesn't have anything to do with whether fathers might like to meet other dads and learn about parenting in their own right.

Posted by: Rock Creek Mama | August 3, 2006 1:38 PM

Lieu, interesting comments. I think men tend to identify themselves and their overall success through their jobs more than women do. That's been my observation, and I've heard quite a few others say the same. That could account for the "my job is way too important to take that much time off" comments.

Another thing. My mom recently commented to me on how men are much more nurturing these days with their kids. She didn't sound particularly thrilled with this, probably because I think she may have been questioning the manhood or masculinity. That could also be why some men shy away from being involved fathers with the caretaking -- they may not think it's very "manly."

They do miss out, though. My husband did help out with the kids when they were babies. He was pretty good at it. Now that they're older, he's less good at it because he's constantly working. What can I say; you win some and you lose some.

Posted by: momoftwo | August 3, 2006 1:41 PM

Soo.... is "DH" a term of endearment (I know what it stands for) or should us guys be reacting the way ladies do when you call them "baby"??

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 1:44 PM

I don't know why everything is out of whack, but I agree with Lieu's "3:41 posting." Men patronizingly said to me before I had a child, "why aren't you taking more time off, it's not big deal. One year out of your whole lifetime to work - that's nothing!" and yet GOD FORBID a man take that time off, or 12 weeks for paternity leave. Men should stand up to their employers - they can't get fired for taking parental leave that their employers offer. And to the poster who asked: "do you really need both parents home for three months?" One, yes you do - many women have post-partum depression or a case of the baby-blues, and two, I have a feeling if YOU were going to be the one who had to stay home alone with the kid, you'd be all for a splitting the responsibilities with your spouse.

Posted by: Just a thought | August 3, 2006 1:45 PM

"Why do people go bananas over the idea that mothers might "get" babies better or have a special connection to a child that the father doesn't have?"

It's not a "duh" situation by any means. And so people question that statement because although perhaps 98% of women "get" babies from the first instant of conception or whenever, there are women who don't. I'm not a freak, but I've never wanted to be pregnant. I don't "get" babies, although I relate well to toddlers, kids, and teens. I have no interest in pregnancy or childbirth, which at times makes me think I see it more from a man's point of view.

Saying women "get" babies in a way that most men don't is a huge blanket statement that isn't true, so we shouldn't base discussions about fatherhood on that premise.

Posted by: J in Alex. | August 3, 2006 1:46 PM

Lieu seems to be a little naive here about being penalized in the job for taking the time off. Just because it is not legal does not mean that you will not face negative ramifications from not being there. Furthermore, if someone, man or woman, takes a lot of time off, and nothing "falls apart", maybe it does mean that their job is dispensable and so are they! That seems to be a big penalty.

Posted by: Dave | August 3, 2006 1:53 PM

My mother's mother, my mom, and all my aunts and uncles have always said their dad (my granddad) was great with babies and loved taking care of them. His twelve(!) kids were born between 1930 and 1955, so it's not like fathers only got involved with their children in the '70s.

If all women "get" babies, then why can't we accept that some men DON'T get babies and just don't want to deal with them? Maybe if the moms just accept that daddy isn't going to change diapers or get up for 3 a.m. feedings, then dad will get involved when Jr. is 3 or 6 or 12. If you marry a guy who hasn't already said or demonstrated that he's way into taking care of kids, don't expect him to change the day you come home from the hospital with a tiny newborn. I think a bit less nagging, exasperation, and criticism from new moms would help dad who don't "get" babies adjust much better.

Posted by: Clover | August 3, 2006 1:54 PM

"Women just instinctually "get" babies. We start as little girls with baby dolls, picking out baby names in junior high (after we've planned out our fantasy dream wedding to Kirk Cameron), then we babysit, and next thing you know we're out of college and our friends are starting to have babies."

That sounds like a class thing as much as a gender thing. When I was in junior high, my female classmates and I weren't picking baby names - it seemed like a thing for pregnant teenagers to do, not something for us to do yet. When I was in high school, many of us did extracurricular activites and homework for advanced classes (the better to get into competitive colleges) instead of much babysitting.

"You can't dictate how the household is run and then complain when your husband leaves you to do everything yourself since nothing he does meets your standards."

Maybe some of it is housewives trying to have job security? If your husband thinks only you know how to take care of the house and kids, and thinks he's useless at it himself, he may be more likely to keep putting up with you after you two fall out of love.

"I think Riley is also right that many men get pushed into fatherhood before they truly want to be fathers."

It would be better if every child is both to parents who both feel ready and willing to raise the child.

Posted by: Maria | August 3, 2006 1:57 PM

Rebel Dad -

What about dads who don't seem interested in learning or are overwhelmed/clueless? You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink...Any advice to new moms (who are overwhelmed themselves and understandably focused on baby, not dad) on how to get underinvolved dads more involved in babycare?

Posted by: Leslie | August 3, 2006 1:59 PM

It sounds like it might be almost as useful for men to have a class for dealing with new moms as one for dealing with new babies. Educating them on the signs of postpartum depression and caring ways to deal with it, being forewarned about ways clingy moms may unintentionally sabotage their relationship with their children, things like that. With the baby, you're going to learn together. With the wife, it's relationship with a person you've known and loved for some time undergoing a lot of change. Like most others, these would be good topics for everyone involved, but it probably could get more candid and detailed with no women in the room.

Posted by: SEP | August 3, 2006 2:03 PM

Clover, if there are guys out there who don't "get" babies and aren't really interested in taking care of them, then why on earth are they having babies?!?!?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 2:07 PM

To those who over the last several days said "get over it" and "stop whining" when I asserted that workplace discrimination figures into many mothers' decision to "opt out", read the following from today's NYT.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/30/jobs/30wcol.html?8dpc

If men and women could balance caregiving with work, these types of lawsuits would not be necessary. Business in the country needs to get a clue.

Posted by: off topic | August 3, 2006 2:14 PM

That phrase "watched by the father" would work well in our house. Everytime he "watched' (a term that does not quite fit the activity--more like 'was in the same house as the baby while mom was gone) the baby there was an accident. She rolled off the end of the bed, climbed out the crib and fell, etc. After the first couple of incidents I just decided to not leave her alone with him. He just did not pay attention because he was doing his own thing. I know that sounds bad. It is. I was very sad about it for a long time. Now that the kids are older, I can leave them alone with him, because they can cook if they get hungry! Nothing is perfect.

Posted by: parttimer | August 3, 2006 2:16 PM

Rock Creek Mama, your comment that "mamas" have a natural bond that fathers do not is part of the problem with men not being involved. They are made to feel inferior and pushed aside from the all-important "mama." It also offends me personally. I was not lucky enough to be able to conceive and give birth to my two precious sons. They are now adults but I feel I had and still have quite a bond with them.

Posted by: Suzy | August 3, 2006 2:25 PM

For John | August 3, 2006 01:27 PM

Since you are planning, I will suggest you and your wife "wing it". My husband and I did that and it turned out very well. We read no books on pregnancy, took no child care classes and just decided to go into it. I found this good because I did not freak out or ruminate on every single issue. I don't constantly compare my child to others or the so called "normal" development milestones because I don't know them unless the doctor points them out. This creates less stress and more happiness. You are able to deal with issues when they are real and happening, not with hypothetical situations with a low probability of happening.

In this day of information overload, it is nice to not be over-informed, IMHO.

Posted by: riley | August 3, 2006 2:36 PM

To GrrrrreatDad, Greg, and Old New Dad, thanks for the laughs. I almost choked on my soda because of your hilarious posts!

Keep up the good work, or shoot yourselves in the face, whatever mood strikes you.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 2:37 PM

Leslie - the best way to make underinvolved dads more involved is to be less involved - leave him with the baby and go out for a break, make him feed the baby at night (that's what pumps are for), make him change the diapers, etc. DON'T GIVE HIM THE CHOICE TO BE UNDERINVOLVED. I can't say this enough - the trend you start on when the baby is born is the pattern that you will continue with. If you(mom) feel the need to be the one ALWAYS feeding the baby, always changing and bathing the baby, always doing everything, your husband will step back and his underinvolvement will be a self fulfilling prophecy.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | August 3, 2006 2:40 PM

Interesting discussion.
I have friends, who, after each of their children were born, each of them took off 12 weeks. People were amazed and asked: can you do that? You must have a lot of leave!
When they explained that the law is that you could take up to 12 weeks off after the birth of a child - mother OR father - people were amazed still. They didn't understand how a dad could want to do that.
Part of all of this is the expectation that the father doesn't matter, anyway.
My husband took four weeks off after number one. My sister wore it as a badge of honor that her husband took no time off after their first was born (on a Saturday - but she had a *C-Section!*). I thought: that's great for you, but my husband wants to be home to take care of me and the kid...

Posted by: atlmom | August 3, 2006 2:43 PM

It's funny that guys will sometimes claim that they can't possibly take time off because it will affect their careers negatively, but then they don't acknowledge that maternity leave negatively impacts the careers of women. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander buddy!

I think lots of dads spend most of their free time thinking about their jobs. Sometimes I'll be discussing a toddler discipline problem with my husband, trying to find a good method for teaching my toddler not to perform some bad behavior, and he'll cut in with a question about what we should do with some aspect of our retirement investments. I spend all my free time trying to make sure I remember to put the diapers in the diaper bag, or trying to figure out how to get my kid to stop whining all the time. I don't know if it's a sort of subconscious task specialization, or what.

Personally I don't think there should be separate classes for dads. Apart from breastfeeding, for which there are special classes that only require the participation of moms, what do dads have to do differently? My husband gets most of his parenting advice from (often male) colleagues at work anyway. Any guy-specific advice (such as why I should stay home with the sick kid instead of him) I just don't want to know about!

Posted by: m | August 3, 2006 2:48 PM

i agree that women "get" babies more and can have a special bond with them that their fathers don't have. doesn't mean women are born with the ability to change a diaper and men aren't, there really is something with the biology of carrying a child for 9 months that puts a woman at least a smidge ahead of the men on child related things. and that's ok, i think. but it should never be an excuse for not letting dad join in the fun of 2am feedings and poopy diapers.

i also agree that the pattern you establish at birth sticks. if dad is involved (even if he has to be "forced" a little bit) from day one, the payoff down the road is much more equal parenting. let dad fail a few times. so what if he can't diaper as well as mommy...after a few poopy blowouts, i bet he learn. that's much better than mom snatching the baby and telling him he can't be trusted to properly change the baby.

Posted by: j | August 3, 2006 2:55 PM

To those who over the last several days said "get over it" and "stop whining" when I asserted that workplace discrimination figures into many mothers' decision to "opt out", read the following from today's NYT.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/30/jobs/30wcol.html?8dpc

If men and women could balance caregiving with work, these types of lawsuits would not be necessary. Business in the country needs to get a clue.

Posted by: Try again | August 3, 2006 2:57 PM

"While I don't think there is anything wrong with having a class for just for fathers, it is better to have parenting classes that includes both parents."

IN A PRE-BABY CLASS IN THE LAST CENTURY ON ANOTHER CONTINENT THAT WAS TAUGHT IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE, MY HUSBAND CAME TO EVERY SINGLE CLASS WITH ME TO TRANSLATE IF NEED BE. I TOOK WRITTEN NOTES. ALL OF THE OTHER DADS CAME TOO. SOME OF THE OTHER MOMS WROTE NOTES TOO.

ONE DAY BECAUSE OF A SCHEDULING CONFLICT, WE ATTENDED A DIFFERENT SECTION, TAUGHT BY THE SAME INSTRUCTOR. THERE WERE NO OTHER DADS PRESENT. THERE WERE NO OTHER NOTEBOOKS. EVERY SINGLE MOM PRESENT LOOKED AT MY NOTEBOOK, AT MY HUSBAND AND ME, AND I COULD SEE ON THEIR FACES AS CLEARLY AS THOUGH THEY'D SAID IT OUT LOUD. "DAMN, I KNEW HE WOULD HAVE COME IF I'D JUST TOLD HIM HE HAD TO."

EXPECTATIONS MATTER.

Posted by: cotopaxi | August 3, 2006 2:59 PM

Editor's Note: We're experiencing some technical difficulties that have affected the timestamps and the order of comments. As we resolve these issues, later posts may actually appear higher in the comments than some earlier posts. This will happen as the comments get back into sync with the actual time. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Posted by: washingtonpost.com Editors | August 3, 2006 3:03 PM

curious wrote: "Very suspicious. Has anyone else had their posts not show up?"

YES!! I wrote a detailed post (not too long, but detailed), and it has not shown up! And I can't remember exactly what I said, only the basic points, so I haven't reposted. GRRRR....

Posted by: NoVA | August 3, 2006 3:05 PM

If you submitted a post and it does not show up, scroll up. New posts are not necessarily showing up at the bottom where they should. Sometimes, they show up further up, in some inprobably place.

Posted by: Rockville | August 3, 2006 3:19 PM

....some of them actually aren't being posted. Probably a symptom of the same problem.

It's either the apocalypse or something is wrong with Sen. Ted Stevens' "tubes".

Posted by: But | August 3, 2006 3:30 PM

All -- Sorry I haven't been more in the thick of it when it comes to today's comments. When it comes to work-blog balance, work wins out.

To Leslie: There are two responses to your question. First, we want to make sure that guys who *want* to be involved get the resources they need. I think there are a lot of men who would be more active if they had some guidance or role models. As for the uninvolved dads, we need to catch 'em early. That's why I wrote about hospitals. No one is apathetic about fatherhood on the maternity ward. The more time that passes, though, the more the gender roles kick in. A dad energized in the first few months is an involved dad for life. (This is why paternity leave -- though economically difficult in the US -- is so important.)

Posted by: Brian Reid | August 3, 2006 3:31 PM

Rebeldad is the first reason I've ever considered human cloning a good thing.....

Posted by: Just a thought | August 3, 2006 3:34 PM

My husband is pretty involved. He gets my daughter up in the morning, gets her dressed ( I lay out all her things the night before), gives her milk and a small snack and delivers her to day care. He changes diapers and whatever. He also bathes her on Saturday morning. But he is no way as involved as some Dads. He shys away from taking her to a store with him. He doesn't want to take time off for paternity leave. When she was born, he had just started working. So he did not have a lot of leave. So he took 5 days off when I was in the hospital, c-section, and then another two weeks off. Then he was off to work. I took 5 months off with our daughter. Now, we were discussing the current government proposal that would give an extra 12 weeks of paid leave for maternity/paternity leave. This is in addition to normal leave accrual. We were discussing this with three other couples. That would be amazing if this rule goes in effect. No more spacing your kids out 3 years apart to stay home with them. No more worrying every time your kid had a cold, you still had to send them to day care because you were saving leave for baby #2. But you know what the response of the guys were. They all, including DH, said they would not take 12 weeks off because they think they would be penalized in the job force. Even though as government employees this is not legal. Then they all said and get this, that their job was waay to important to just pick up and leave for 3 months. I think that is insulting. Like womens jobs are not so important. I think people have an over sense of importance about what they do. Everyone is dispensable and I have seem high grade women managers take 3-5 months off with their kids and the office did not fall a part. I would love to see classes for fathers and more men involved. Cheers to all your involved Dads. Your doing the right thing.

Posted by: Lieu | August 3, 2006 3:41 PM

"Rebeldad is the first reason I've ever considered human cloning a good thing....."

If you want a male point of view, I find fo4 more entertaining and a better writer. Even if I don't always agree with him. Today's blog was lame.

Posted by: contraview | August 3, 2006 3:42 PM

"...Then they all said and get this, that their job was waay to important to just pick up and leave for 3 months. I think that is insulting. Like womens jobs are not so important. I think people have an over sense of importance about what they do. Everyone is dispensable..."

It's not that they overestimate the value of their jobs, it's that they fear other people underestimating the value of their jobs. The more dispensable people find you, the more easily they can dispense with you. What if you're an engineer and your boss thinks "I can fire 3 engineers and still stay in business..."? What if you're a homemaker and your spouse thinks "I can get a divorce and still eat home-cooked meals..."?

Posted by: Maria | August 3, 2006 3:43 PM

That's nice. F04 is definetely witty. But I already know funny people. I want to know more men like Rebeldad.

Posted by: To contraview | August 3, 2006 3:50 PM

"Clover, if there are guys out there who don't "get" babies and aren't really interested in taking care of them, then why on earth are they having babies?!?!?"

Good point. This applies just as much to those women who don't "get" babies and aren't interested in taking care of them either. Babies deserve both interested fathers and interested mothers.

Maybe some of the guys who don't care but have babies anyway just want to be ultratraditional? Ordering a teenager to "STAY AT HOME AND RAISE THE CHILDREN!!!" is probably easier after you got her pregnant with some children, after all...

Posted by: Maria | August 3, 2006 3:52 PM

Having read these posts, I can't figure out if my husband is a "new generation dad" or an old-fashioned one. When our first child was born he took 2 weeks paternity leave. That's the maximum he could take and he was very proud of himself that he did it. He changed the diapers, took our son for walks, and basically spent time with a newborn in a way that amazed me. However, he never, never, never got up at night. He claimed that he just did not hear our son cry. Amazing, since the crib was in an adjoining room. Anyway, the paternity leave ended and he went to work and I stayed home for two more months. His help got less and less, almost as if the novelty wore off. I had to start to ask for help. He would not say not but he would not ever say to me "I will take X for a walk" you go a take a nap or whatever. When our second child was born he also took paternity leave but he used this time to stay home and surf the internet. It was good to have extra pair of hands and he did take our older ones for walks and such but a lot of it was done at my urging. A few years later (today) he has to be asked (to be told in reality) to take kids to the park, to play with them, to spend time with them. He does it when I ask but it is NEVER PROACTIVE. But when they play together I see how much love there is between him and the kids and I know that he is a good father.

Posted by: confused | August 3, 2006 3:58 PM

Clover, if there are guys out there who don't "get" babies and aren't really interested in taking care of them, then why on earth are they having babies?!?!?

Because their wife got pregnant?

Because they want children but don't feel comfortable care of an infant? Mothers do so much of infant care that some fathers just assume they won't be very involved until the child begins to walk.

Posted by: Clover | August 3, 2006 4:00 PM

"It's either the apocalypse or something is wrong with Sen. Ted Stevens' "tubes"."

I guess he had his tubes tied.....

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 3, 2006 4:02 PM

"Clover, if there are guys out there who don't "get" babies and aren't really interested in taking care of them, then why on earth are they having babies?!?!?

Because their wife got pregnant?"

.......geeesh....how did that happen??? Dam......just dam......gnashes teeth, hopes for a successful post......

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 3, 2006 4:09 PM

A men's only "baby" class??? Hahahahahaha!

How about we call the club "Diaper Daddies" or maybe "buttwiper Boys" Hahahahaha!

If you want to get us dads more involved in child chores, make a little chart wwith rows labled with "Bottle Feeding", "Bath Time", and "Diaper Change". Tape it to the fridge and every time we complete one of these tasks, we get a little silver star pasted on the chart. When we fill up the entire row, reward us with sex. I could go with that.

Men are just big babies you know, and we should be treated as such. Spending time with us should prepare you for your children. Every woman knows that the first thing she has to do with her mate is potty train him. You know, teach him to keep the toilet seat down. If he masters this tasks relatively quickly, let's say within a year or two, you've probably found a man that's capable of doing a small share of the woman's work around the house.

Good luck. Hope this helps you ladies understand how most of us men think.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 3, 2006 4:21 PM

Fo4, you slay me....you're funny, and I know funny....I'm a CLOWNFISH!!!!!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 3, 2006 4:28 PM

"Because their wife got pregnant?"

Is that a joke? Did you intentionally not say "they got their wives pregnant" to be funny, or do you seriously think that's all it takes to deflect the blame? If you don't want kids, you'll do all it takes to not have them. Trust me.

"Because they want children but don't feel comfortable care of an infant? Mothers do so much of infant care that some fathers just assume they won't be very involved until the child begins to walk."

So they're not interested because they think the mom will do it? That doesn't really sound like a causal relationship to me.

And the last argument sounds like "I want to have a law degree but really don't feel like going to law school. Can't someone do that for me?" I'm sure there's a way to get a fake law degree, but you won't pass the bar, and you won't be a lawyer. So these fathers may procreate and people will think they're fathers, but they won't be able to do anything without their wives, and they won't actually be dads.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 4:35 PM

Dadof2, you clearly are a man who takes responsibility for his reproduction. But on these very boards I've read comments by men and women who, when asked why they ended up with a third, fourth, or fifth child they didn't expect or plan for, replied, "Well, things happen."

Men don't always plan for their wives or girlfriends to get pregnant. Sometimes it "just happens" and one or both parents isn't ready for parenthood (or another child) but they have the child anyway. This is reality. It's one of the reasons some dads aren't "involved".

Some men really DO think that they had little control over their wife getting pregnant. And to be fair, women have been known to say, "Yes, honey, three is enough" and then plan to get pregnant again anyway. At least one man I know got a vasectomy because he didn't want to use condoms and his wife lied to him about her desire for more children. He cared enough about his kids to be a good dad, but some men feel used when the wife decides "they" will have a baby, so they end up not spending much time taking care of the child they feel they didn't agree to have.

Posted by: Clover | August 3, 2006 4:38 PM

In all seriousness, I do see the need for more male support groups. I've noticed more and more children being raised by single fathers than ever before. I've been watching a step-brother, for the last 15 years, raise his daughter all by himself. What a guy! No offense to all you single moms out there, please. I know it's hard for all single parents, but I can see "Fathering Education" classes out there to fill a much needed void.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 3, 2006 4:42 PM

4:35, I am not giving those "arguments" as rational excuses, but more examples of the way men in this world have been known to think about childrearing. Look around you. Not every guy out there is thrilled to have a baby, and they come up with lots of interesting "excuses" and internal rationalizations for not being involved. I'm just trying to talk about the psychology of the situation.

And yes, there are plenty of moms who have little interest in involving the father in baby care. Doing it all by themself gives them added prestige, attention, etc.

This isn't something I think is just fine, but something I think is reality in a lot of homes.

Posted by: Clover | August 3, 2006 4:45 PM

"So they're not interested because they think the mom will do it? That doesn't really sound like a causal relationship to me."

Sounds like a LOT of men to me! If they don't want to change the poopy diaper, they don't do it, or do it badly, and then they know they can walk away.

Posted by: Joyce | August 3, 2006 4:50 PM

I fail to understand why some women (Joyce, above) insist that men as a group "know they can just walk away" from child-rearing.

That's ridiculous.

It is possible that we know we can "walk away" if you insist we do it your way. Our suggested way may be just as good, and if you insist it be done YOUR way, then do it yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 5:22 PM

My wife and I had a deal when our kids were babies: I didn't change diapers and she didn't fix the flat tires of the car. She also didn't change the storm windows, build the deck, go outside in below zero temperatures to hook up a battery charger to the cars dead battery, or shoot the racoon that got into the garage and started fighting with the dog. Think she got a bad deal?

It may be a city/country thing, because now we live in the city and I see here that there is more blurring of the essential and wonderful differences between men and women.

Posted by: Greg | August 3, 2006 5:27 PM

No surprise that some of the fairer gender see a new baby as an opportunity to unleash their control-freak side on their equally overwhelmed and uncertain spouse. Yes, thats not cool. You don't now get to order me around without basic respect just because there's a baby. We're partners. If you wanted somebody to order around like an indentured servant, go hire a nanny to abuse.

Posted by: C'mon | August 3, 2006 5:29 PM

C'mon,
Your wife should not have to order you around. When the baby cries, you should be getting up to tend to it without your wife's instruction. If it needs a diaper change, you should not wait for your wife to ask you to change it. You should be an adult and take charge. If you don't, then it becomes your wife's job to boss you around because you aren't able to do it without her supervision. You are reducing yourself to child status when you aren't proactive in caring for your baby. If you don't want her to treat you like a servant, take charge of your duties and show her that you are competent and willing. Otherwise, shut up.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 5:56 PM

I don't "get" some of the responses here about men not necessarily wanting to help take care of their own babies. You were certainly willing to MAKE that baby, weren't you? If you were, then it seems to me you automatically take on the responsibility to help take care of it.

To me, that means helping by feeding it, cleaning it, and yes, changing the smelly diaper.

Posted by: John | August 3, 2006 6:44 PM

My husband has never taken more than a few days off after the birth of a child (we have 3 now). He's an involved Dad, but taking care of a newborn just isn't a 2 person job, and making the gesture of staying home wasn't worth either using up all his leave or going without a paycheck. If I had needed a c-section, it might have made sense for him to take a little more time off, but I can't imagine having us both home for more than 2 weeks.

Posted by: About paternity leave... | August 3, 2006 6:53 PM

No father here has advocated "not taking care" of our children. What some men believe is that our duties are different from our wives. We're the muscle - they're the hug. The difference between the way kids react to their dads and the way they react to their moms is just so apparent that it shouldn't require discussion. Why try to force men to feminize themselves to satisfy some idealogical goal? There are plenty of crap jobs to do around a house and a family besides changing poopy diapers.

Posted by: Greg | August 3, 2006 7:37 PM

To 5:56 - as I said, my wife and I are partners. I see an issue, I address it. That includes dirty diapers.

"If you don't want her to treat you like a servant, take charge of your duties and show her that you are competent and willing. Otherwise, shut up."

Really, genius? The point is that when I address something, you don't get to stand over my shoulder and evaluate the work-in-progress. Because I have more respect for you than to do that to you. Because if micromanagement is fair game through all marital interactions, prepare to take no end of crap for how innefficiently you load the dishwasher and the crappy way you maintain the cars, which leads to them being unreliable money pits later.

So basically, if you micromanage your hubby, he gets to micromanage you. And if you don't want to be micromanaged, then shut up.

Posted by: C'mon | August 3, 2006 10:41 PM

Men are the muscle and women are the hug? Oh brother. Pardon me while I go hurl. Living in the burbs, two incomes, the heaviest thing to be done is...I don't know. Cut the grass? Who knows. Who picks up after the dog? Poopy diapers are so no big deal. I would much rather change a poopy diaper than kill a spider. I can do it, I'd just rather not. My kids love both of us and need affection from both of us. When my husband came back from a 4 month goverment sponsored trip when our kids were babies, he grabbed the kids first and cried over them, then me. We could connect over the phone and e-mail, while he only got to talk to the kids twice the whole time (and one was nonverbal). It's not 'feminine' to take care of the ones you love. It's human. When I went fishing with my husband once, we caught several fish which we were supposed to cook. He had to gut and clean them. MUCH worse than a poopy diaper to my p.o.v. Who cares about diapers? Are you a team player or selfish?

Posted by: parttimer | August 3, 2006 10:53 PM

I don't fix flat tires either, nor do I mow the lawn or take out the trash: my husband does those things. But I'll tell ya: mowing the lawn and taking out the trash occur a total of twice a week, combined. My husband has never had to fix a flat tire. By contrast, I change a poopy diaper every single day (and with newborns: 7 or 8 times a day!). Frankly, changing poopies doesn't bother me, but I don't like the "I'll do the muscle jobs" as a defense for not helping with the kids. Taking care of children is a 24/7 job. And frankly, it's pretty darn physical. (You try getting a pair of long pants on a wiggling toddler who thinks we're playing a fun game of catch). Other household tasks are occasional. It's not really fair to compare them.I think a fairer comparison is of time spent on tasks. If dad works a full day then relaxes on the couch all evening, while mom takes care of the kids all day and continues to do so all evening until mom and dad both go to bed, then mom's getting a raw deal and dad should admit it and pitch in.

Posted by: m | August 3, 2006 11:27 PM

Taking care of children is a full time job. Morning until night. That's why the model of a father working and a mother running the household makes so much sense. The problems start when the wife/mother works a job. When that happens the woman's workload effectively doubles.

Women say they need to work for three reasons (as I understand it): 1) money 2) respect 3) independence. Let's take a look at the three: 1) Earn less money as a family. Live in a smaller house. Drive 1 car. Take fewer vacations. Buy less stuff. Materialism and greed are unsustainable anyway in the long term in this society. 2) If we as a society showed more respect for full time, stay at home mothers, more women would do it. And not working a job doesn't mean that a woman can't have a fulfilling creative life - not with the technology we have. There are many things women could do to express themselves while running the home. With all the problems you see every day, what if women devoted a couple hours every day to volunteering for social change programs. Wouldn't that be more fulfilling than getting the quarterly sales report done? 3) If you want independence from someone, don't marry them. The purpose of marriage is to become co-dependent with someone you want to spend the rest of your life with.

Posted by: Greg | August 4, 2006 8:54 AM

I have had it with this argument of living frugally on one salary. Of course, there are different circumstances and some jobs don't cover child care expenses (husband's or wife's job, I don't care) BUT in most cases that second paycheck is 50% of the family income and to give it up is to subject your children to life of poverty and boredom, especially in the Washington DC area. I am not talking about those families where one income is sufficient for a comfortable life. I am talking about us middle income families where that second paycheck goes to pay for education, mortgage, soccer and music lessons, an art class, a dance class -- anything that develops and encourages hobbies and, yes, vacations, which are also very important to the overall well-being of a family unit and actually go a long way to educate children and expand their horizons. I think carrying your load when it comes to child raising is a small price to pay.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2006 10:28 AM

I guess the timestamp problem isn't fixed afterall - Greg's posts should clearly all be dated "August 4, 1892"

Posted by: darn | August 4, 2006 10:50 AM

I agree 100% with what Greg is saying....*if* every time he uses the words "women" or "mothers" he would substitute "people" or "parents."

Posted by: momof4 | August 4, 2006 11:19 AM

to darn

THAT WAS SO FUNNY! I'm laughing in my cube now. Thanks for vocalizing what we're all thinking. And you too momof4.

Greg, newsflash, when parents have a baby, everybody's workload increases. If a dad doesn't expect this, he should expect his wife to leave him and to never see his kids again, not that he'd care apparently.

Posted by: Meesh | August 4, 2006 11:55 AM

"And not working a job doesn't mean that a woman can't have a fulfilling creative life - not with the technology we have. There are many things women could do to express themselves while running the home. With all the problems you see every day, what if women devoted a couple hours every day to volunteering for social change programs. Wouldn't that be more fulfilling than getting the quarterly sales report done?"

There is no logical reason why this statement applies only to women. If women can do it, so can men. Yet I think you would argue that. Is there any other reason why men should work instead of women?

And what would happen in your ideal world? The female workforce would be drastically cut, by at least half if not 75% (if you're assuming that women would stay with the kids until they move out at 18). What would happen to those companies? They rely on women--it's not as though women are just taking up space while a man is sitting around waiting for that job. How would you envision the corporate world adapting and continuing to function?

Posted by: Meesh | August 4, 2006 12:09 PM

And one more thing (I swear this is my last post).

To all the dad whose wives have "nagged" them into not caring for the child (how convenient), where is your backbone? It's just as much your child as it is hers! You have every right to say "Hey, I'm doing this my own way." And for crying out loud, communicate! If she's hovering and criticizing, tell her so and warn her that you won't do anything if you don't learn how to do it on your own.

How can inisist on raises at and insist that you play golf on the weekends but not insist that you deserve a title role in parenting? Are you scared of your wives?

Posted by: Meesh | August 4, 2006 12:27 PM

It's not easy to "communicate" with a wife-mother who is screeching at you that you are doing, basically, everything wrong. If you ask her to calm down, she shouts louder. If you ask her if you can take the baby for a while so she can shower, she says that "You'll just get her excited and then I'll have to calm her down again." A guy can take only so much of this before he says, "Whatever. I'll be playing a videogame."

Posted by: Andrew | August 4, 2006 1:06 PM

Many of the expenses that have been cited as a reason for the need for a second income wouldn't be necessary if the mother were able to provide the service. The arguement for living at a reduced income lifestyle is based in part on a belief that many things we think we must have are actually not necessary to having a fulfilling life.

to darn: My position is based on the future as much as an appreciation for the past. The American lifestyle is possible only because the rest of the world has not reached our level of demand for resource-based stuff. We consume the largest chunk of every natural resource produced in the world. That won't always be. Globalization will inevitably mean other countries will obtain more of a share of those finite resources, meaning our share will be reduced. Meaning less stuff. Meaning we had better learn how to enjoy human relationships again.

Momof4: Sorry, but every time I try to think in terms of people instead of men and women when considering the roles we play in each other's lives, I get a flashback to the I-Robot scene of thousands of adrogenous "entities".

Meesh: For your point on women compared to men in social change organizations. I think these endeavors would be much more sccessful if managed and operated by women, who have a superior ability to sympathize and encourage - not to mention much more patience and a better commitment to healthful living.

On the impact on the workforce. As lifespans lengthen, men and women will postpone marriage giving women the opportunity to work for some time before assuming the mother role, thus accumulating assets and experience. Also I do not advocate that all women become mothers or get married. Certainly many women will choose a professional career over a family. Many others will choose a career and marriage, but no kids. My points are aimed at couples with children. Additionally, women could focus on work that allows teleworking, which is a marvelous opportunity for women who want to combine a career with motherhood.

Posted by: Greg | August 4, 2006 1:26 PM

Greg, the mother in your example would have to be a rennaissance woman. Clearly, a mother's presence in her children's life is beneficial but realistically speaking parents would still have to pay for professionals to provide professional instruction to their children in music, art, sports. Each family figures out their finances differently and what is important to one family maybe a luxury to another. What are you going to say to your kids when they can't go to a college of their choice because you did not not save enough money for them living your frugal life style?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2006 1:33 PM

Andrew, I've been debating whether to respond to your post, since obviously every situation is so different and you can never really tell what's going on from a short post. But reading it tugged at my heart, so I just wanted to say that if you are still in the early months, to hang in there and not give up on your wife yet, because those months are the hardest and it gets a lot easier.

Being home alone all day with a newborn to six month old really kind of warps your mind a little bit. They are so needy, and so incapable of communication other than through crying, which can just become so exhausting and overwhelming, that I think a lot of new moms totally lose perspective and everything becomes about keeping the baby calm so she doesn't have to deal with the baby freaking out. And sadly, this means not handing control over to dad if she thinks he isn't as skilled at keeping the baby calm. I know that I was like that with my husband, and I feel awful about that looking back now. But things really changed as our son became more alert, easier to entertain, and I finally learned that it is ok for the baby to cry for a bit while someone else deals with it. Now my husband spends more time with our son than I do (I work full time and he part time), and really has become the expert. He's an awesome dad and we're a happy and close family.

Sometimes it just takes time to figure that out. So by all means, play videogames or do what you need to stay sane in this time, but I hope you won't give up on your wife or on establishing your role as parent.

Posted by: Megan | August 4, 2006 1:34 PM

"to darn: My position is based on the future as much as an appreciation for the past. The American lifestyle is possible only because the rest of the world has not reached our level of demand for resource-based stuff...Meaning less stuff. Meaning we had better learn how to enjoy human relationships again."

Sure, I agree, but there's absolutely no reason in any of that that things have to be divided along ancient conceptions of gender roles. A huge portion of the job market right now is services, not manual labor, and there is simply no reason a woman should stay home with the kids instead of a man, unless you also cling to the view that women aren't as smart as men. I'm sorry your imagination is stuck on I-Robot (whatever that is), but many of us are able to have deep, meaningful relationships in which we care for each other according to our needs and desires, not outdated conceptions of men as muscles and women as hugs.

Posted by: darn | August 4, 2006 1:35 PM

To the unnamed poster: If a a single income were insufficient to meet basic necessities, it would be foolish for the woman not to work. In such a case, however, it would be wiser for the couple to forego having kids until it were possible for a single income to support the family.

On your rennaissance woman point: imagine if all the talent, drive, and creativity professional women pour into their jobs went instead into the lifestyle I described. Such a woman would indeed be a female Goethe. (That's a joke! I had to work a dead white male into it somewhere and that's the best I could do.)

Your point on college: In the future educational reform is going to completely change the structure of organized learning, greatly opening opportunities to study while also dropping costs. The only thing standing between now and then are the teacher's unions. But that's a different subject.

Posted by: Greg | August 4, 2006 1:50 PM

I am not aware of any educational reform like that in the works I am with you on teacher's unions. Are you saying Harvard is going to be free in several years? Or U of M?

I am not trying to pick on you but a lawyer (for example) working mother may not be qualified to teach her children piano, or a foreign language she doesn't speak or tennis. But she can certainly earn enough money to pay for it and to pay for the top instructor. Why should she deny her children this opportunity? For the record I am not a lawyer but I wanted to give you an example of a high wage earner.

Really, just in my example, we we waited to have kids I would have been infertile. Your recipe for living on one income does not take into account female biology.

Posted by: unnamed poster | August 4, 2006 2:00 PM

darn: I'm sincerly respectful of any relationship that works, including those which would not work for me personally.

On the gender roles point it's kind of "baby with the bathwater". We can agree that men and women are equally intelligent, talented, and creative, but also agree that we are different in our strengths, weaknesses, interests and prioritizations. It is as simple to me as saying let's give equal respect to the different endeavors. Nor is it a power advantage. My wife and the majority of full time mothers I know are not in the least little bit subservient. As a matter of fact, I'm supposed to be writing software documentation right now and my wife is glaring at me for being on a blog. I'm about two postings from a meltdown so I'll try to make my points as well as I can in the very, very near future.

Posted by: Greg | August 4, 2006 2:05 PM

Hi unnamed poster: Free, no, but as more and more learning becomes self-driven and education moves over to the Internet, course times on all levels will be reduced as well as the requirements for brick and mortar investment. Of course there will always be schools, but once the situation is objectively analyzed and the political power of the unions wane, great changes will be made to education.

On the economics point: While specialized instruction would be more effectively done by a professional, wouldn't there be some emotional advantage to a mother and child struggling through the learning process on some subject together?

Posted by: Greg | August 4, 2006 2:18 PM

"darn: I'm sincerly respectful of any relationship that works, including those which would not work for me personally."

I hope this is sincerely meant, because your posts indicate that you firmly believe it must be women at home and men at work. I agree we all have different "strengths, weaknesses, interests and prioritizations" and that we should "give equal respect to the different endeavors", but I mean as actual individuals, not as genders. I know many men, my husband included, who are caring, loving, affectionate, patient and snuggly - they are very well suited to stay at home with children. I know women who are not. I think those people should follow their individual/couple-based preferences, not those expected of them based on their sex. If you are simply advocated for the idea that things are probably better when one parent is at home, I don't have a big gripe with that. But if you're really saying it has to be the woman at home, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

And for the record, I never have said or think that a parent who stays at home is subservient. I just think that no woman should be expected to stay at home because of her gender alone.

Posted by: Darn | August 4, 2006 2:26 PM

Darn: That's what I do believe, in general. Philosophically. For me.

The only reason I get into discussions like this is that there never seems to be a "live and let live" perspective from the advocates for gender-neutral relationships, or whatever you want to call them. Our kids, for example, do not get educated and entertained by people who take a lassiz-faire attitude toward the opinions I am expressing. On the contrary!

So what to do? If it can't be ignored, it must be opposed, and the way the whole debate on these issues has become institutionalized has made it impossible to ignore.

Posted by: Greg | August 4, 2006 2:42 PM

OK, Greg, now you've just got me confused. How is my attitude not live and let live? I'm the one saying people should do what they want as individuals, where as your previous posts say that you have a problem with women working. It seems to me that your attitude is not live and let live, at least not any more so than mine.

Posted by: Darn | August 4, 2006 2:47 PM

Greg,

In your view, should a woman making a 6 figure salary (not me but hoping) stay at home while her 5-figured salaried husband continuous to work? Isn't the quality of life of this family going to go down BECAUSE they will (and believe me they will) start arguing about money. Again, I want to keep it in the context of sane 40-hour a week jobs with little or not travel.

Posted by: unnamed poster again | August 4, 2006 2:50 PM

Nothing in your posts marks you as an advocate, but simply as someone with an opinion on the subject. My point did not and was not intended to apply to you. By advocate I mean, for example, a teacher who instructs in such a way as to cause a desired outcome in a student's opinion.

Hi unnamed poster again: The single income lifestyle only works if the single earner is filthy rich or no one in the family is very acquisitive. What determines the quality of a life? A family that spends a lot of time together is usually a pretty happy bunch of people. And much of that comes from a mom's constant presence and influence.

Posted by: Greg | August 4, 2006 2:59 PM

This is probably too far on in the comments for anyone to still be reading, but my husband attended the Doctor Dad class at Anne Arundel medical Center and said it was worth every minute and every penny. AAMC also has a number of great classes for every aspect of pregnancy and they haven't left out the dads. He knows more about baby care and such than I do right now! (due in two months) Check it out... http://www.aahs.org/events.php?id=319 maybe some of the other hospitals in the area could start this up.

Posted by: mdsailor | August 4, 2006 9:57 PM

This whole thing is hard to follow because the time stamp issue. Anyway, I was advocating, I stay home for the first 12 weeks and DH stay home for the following 12 weeks. The baby would be 6 months old before going to day care. Or close to that if DH wanted to stay a few weeks right after the birth. To me having a child out of primary day care for the first 4-6 months of their life is beautiful. I am very well aware that people are dispensable. I think it is unrealistic to think you are. People that think they are kidding themselves. The law protects them from getting fired for taking family leave. Now, it the private sector, I can believe they will be pretty retailatory if you take the 12 weeks. Here is were sexism works the opposite. Because if they did that to a mother, they can say "law suit" but if a man does take FMLA, they can be unfortuante consequences. Like less promotions, worse assignments etc... But DH and the couples that were discussing this worked for the federal government. And that is harder to do. Not impossible but harder to do. Most of this is paranoia and fear. I don't actually think it happens in federal service that often. I have seen men do it. And no negative consequences. So that is a level of sexism that needs to be addressed. Greg-man, you are from another century. I hope it works for your family but where is it written that a man can't take care of his children. Clearly, some men do. As far as both taking the first 12 weeks together. Man that is even better suggestion!

Posted by: Lieu | August 5, 2006 9:41 AM

Lieu - excellent idea. Because then men staying home for weeks at a time can feel the isolation people are talking about in today's blog. And when Greg wrote: We're the muscle - they're the hug, I almost wretched at work.

Posted by: Just a thought | August 7, 2006 1:52 PM

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