In Praise of the At-Home Dad Convention

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

Humorist Dave Barry once warned that giving men responsibility for housework was a recipe for disaster. "The trouble is that men, over the years, have developed an inflated notion of the importance of everything they do, so that before long they would turn housework into just as much of a charade as business is now," he wrote. "They would hire secretaries and buy computers and fly off to housework conferences in Bermuda, but they'd never clean anything."

When I heard of the National At-Home Dad Convention, I felt a certain inescapable curiosity -- could this be the farce Barry warned about? The idea that my peers absolutely required a weekend of keynote speakers and breakout sessions to keep current with the latest fathering trends struck me as inherently silly. I had to see it for myself.

So about four years ago, I attended my first convention, arriving at the conference site -- a sprawling community college in the Chicago suburbs, rather than Bermuda -- prepared for the absurd. I wasn't disappointed. Amid the trappings of professional life, the PowerPoint presentations and the notepads and pencils, the meeting was notable for its general zaniness. One dad grabbed a guitar and sang a number about his impending vasectomy, another warned of the perils of playing James Brown for his toddler.

But for the next three years, I was pulled to the convention again and again. It wasn't that the program ever sounded stellar. Instead, I realized that the event offered a solution to the isolation of the at-home father.
Isolation takes many forms. It's hard to explain it to the guys on my old softball team, and even the wonderful, accepting, forward-thinking mothers in my neighborhood can't quite relate to it. But other at-home fathers understand isolation perfectly, and that's what makes the convention powerful. It's a vaccination against isolation, a reminder that there are lots of guys in the same position, however rare at-home dads seem to be when we saunter into the coffeeshop or the playground.

I won't be making the trip this year. With a new job and a new kid and obligations piling up quicker than I can write 'em down, it's not in the cards, and I'll miss it. After a decade, the convention has lost its sponsor and its traditional meeting space. But rather than fading away, a dedicated group of guys has worked for the last 10 months to get new space, new sponsors and pull together the most robust program I've seen. It's in Kansas City on Nov. 11.

If you are an at-home dad, it's well worth the trip -- Southwest flies to KC from BWI. Tell 'em Rebel Dad sent you.

The convention site is www.athomedadconvention.com and discounted registration is still available.

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

By Brian Reid |  October 5, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads
Previous: Going Places on the Mommy Track | Next: Choices


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



That convention sounds wacky, but kinda fun. I enjoyed your post and your open mind.

Please folks, Can we keep today's topic about balance?

Isolation is a big deal for many parents, and an acute problem for some. SAHDs seem to experience a unique twist on an old theme.

* What are strategies that have worked?
* What do you do to keep from feeling like a loser at the park (aparently "exclusion" is a common theme)?
* What do you do to keep your kids from being isolated - particularly when you don't have the money for a slew of extra activities?

Again, lets stay on topic. And, although life is certainly easier with a good income than with a bad one, please don't devalue the contributions or struggles of those with more (or less) than you. We all spend the first year pushing the stroller uphill, both ways, in the rain, without anyone to help us...


Posted by: me | October 5, 2006 7:09 AM

I enjoyed today's column -- but it got me thinking about double standards. You know how they always say that when a man is assertive, he's well, assertive, but when a woman is assertive, she's well, b*tchy?

I'm a bit concerned that when a SAHD is superorganized, everyone goes "Wow, look at that superorganized guy" but when a SAHM is superorganized, everybody says "look at the anal-retentive supermom. gee, I wonder what she's repressing and sublimating into housework? Her kids are gonna need therapy!" Isn't that just the same old double-standard?

Somehow, if Rebeldad had described a SAHM convention, I'm sure the hostility from some of our friendly neighborhood posters would practically be dripping off the screen.

And it got me wondering about the whole 'role model' debate too. How come when a SAHD decides to raise his child(ren), he's modelling caring and nurturing behavior -- but when a mom decides to raise children full-time, she's apparently modeling "how to be a loser and drop out of the workforce"?

When a guy goes full-bore for the career, he's modeling "how to be a loser dad who doesn't care about anybody but himself and who enjoys repressing women" and when a woman goes full-bore for the same career, she's "offering a refreshing take on how women can also be successful outside the home"?

Why is no one worried that Rebeldad's son is going to think that men aren't really good for anything except unloading the dishwasher and changing the vacuum cleaner bag? Why isn't it a two-way street?

Posted by: Armchair Mom | October 5, 2006 7:20 AM

To: me

Isolation is a big deal for a lot of Americans, whether they be parents, singles, seniors, or whatever.

How does someone let other people make them feel like a loser at the park? Sounds like a pretty insecure person.

Posted by: Elaine | October 5, 2006 7:32 AM

Betty Friedan wrote a lot about isolation among women who stayed at home; this is and was by no means limited to men. My impression was that many of these women dealt with it by drinking.

I've got to say, given the choice between a pitcher of martinis or a SAH convention of either moms or dads, I'd head straight to the fridge.

Posted by: Lizzie | October 5, 2006 7:33 AM

Lizzie - I'd be there with you and the martinis. Thing is, the kids would be better off if we chose the convention.

Elaine - Feeling like a loser in the park comes up a lot on this blog. Of course it is about insecurity, but why does the park have that effect on so many? Choose a softer word than "loser" if you wish, but the point still holds.

Posted by: me | October 5, 2006 7:41 AM

Lizzie wrote: I've got to say, given the choice between a pitcher of martinis or a SAH convention of either moms or dads, I'd head straight to the fridge.

I would enthusiastically second that. Don't think I'll be posting here anymore though. It's just gotten too bitter and man-bashing.

C-Ya

Posted by: Dad of 2 | October 5, 2006 7:42 AM

Stereotyping, a "natural" behavior pattern with roots in biology, can really limit experience.

Can we look at a particular experience, say a

blog entry we read; or
a parent encountered at the park,

checking this against patterns held in the mind about our values, anecdotal experience, parents we have known, etc.,

Then, can we construct an intentional respose, rather than a reaction?

How about try to see the individual behind the experience as worthy of respect and consideration, especially if they differ from us?

Why not ask, with courtesy, about those who have made different choices? The best responses here on the blog reveal the deeply personal process behind decisions.

Why not on occasion, ignore some responses?

Why not be silent, which looks like ignoring, but might be manners.

---
Brian, I always enjoy your posts. I suspect that this convention is ripe with humor. The songs you mention remind me of a folkie song I heard years ago parodying the stay-at-home experience. The chorus rang out,

"I am MOMNIPOTENT!"

The same album contained a song with the lament that the singer realized that "Leonard Cohen was never going to bring my groceries in."

Oh, the songs you could write.

Thanks, RebelDad. Glad you are a neti-zen. Web-based communities do address isolation.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 5, 2006 7:55 AM

I would love to hear how other folks address feelings of isolation. Ever since "Bowling Alone" I have wondered about our society and the pain of isolation. For millenia we have lived in small communities, and I suspect that, in America especially, we are the most isolated generation ever.

The feelings of isolation I had as a SAHM compelled us to make some drastic changes for our family. Anyone have any solutions that worked for them?

Posted by: Ms L | October 5, 2006 8:04 AM

Isolation responses:

To "Me": low cost, easy-intervention options include these two exercise/play options in our neighborhood

(BTW, neighborhood of SAhomes, WaHomes, WorkaOffice, etc -- never have we crabbed at each other. We all just try to get by, helping each other when we can, and ignoring "stuff" often. Online should borrow a page from real-lffe interactions.)

BASKETBALL
We have two basketball structures, (portable, family-kind not the park-installed kind) at either end of street with OPEN invitation for everyone to hang out and play hoops. Dads (sorry, reporting the truth) taught the mostly boys (truth again) games like Horse and One-on-One several years ago. Earlier in the day or week, parents sometimes chat online or on phone, reminding each other of the homework load, so to encourage the kids to get to the hoop for some "spontaneous" non-parent controlled time.

BICYCLES
Bikeriding! We have several trails that connect us to nature pretty quickly. Inflated tires and lubed chains mean that even the junky-est bike still works. Several parents routinely invite kids on a quick jaunt, again respecting the homework burden and afterschool activities.

Free or Near Free: Look for recreation-quality sports or classes. Living in the both the shadow and halo of UMCP means lots of free stuff to do or watch.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 5, 2006 8:17 AM

"I would love to hear how other folks address feelings of isolation."

Well, I'm a severe introvert, and back when I was on fellowship and spent most of the day by myself doing reading or research, it was pretty fabulous. Hence my comment about how I'd rather drink martinis than go to a SAH convention; I'd actually rather drink martinis than go to any convention at all.

There are parts of the country that are still very community-oriented. My mom grew up in OK and loves going back to visit her family; people there are much more likely to strike up conversations with people they just met. This gives me hives, but my mom loves it and thinks that taciturn New Englanders are cold and mean. I think that some of the community/no community thing is still very much regional.

Posted by: Lizzie | October 5, 2006 8:21 AM

Lizzie, you could indulge in that pitcher of martinis and THEN head to a SAH convention! Talk about balancing (or attempting to).

Seriously, I suppose a SAH convention is useful for either gender, if that's what floats your boat. But as a SAH parent, do you want to bond with another SAH or just another adult, period? And to travel to a convention to treat isolation tells me that as a society, we are losing the niceties and necessities of socializing, as we spread out and inhabit homes that have everything.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 5, 2006 8:26 AM

Armchair Mom, please resist that old saw. Seems that at least every other Rebeldad post gets either the "you're not special, women do this all the time" or "you guys get too much credit, where's ours"? Can't we just concede that there is less social support for SAHDs and suggest ways to fix that?

This is linked to the point somebody made yesterday about trying to achieve 50-50 balance across the genders as SAHs and WOHs. It makes it hard for guys like myself (who could potentially SAH) to choose it when there is both the isolation plus the constant backlash of women who imagine/insist my day would be full of people patting me on back like some kind of hero.

Rebeldad seems like a very durable guy, but it does make some of us guys (Like Dad of 2?) wonder why we're here. Some of us would rather stay and contribute, though it is tempting just to leave you all to your collective hand-wringing when the bashing begins.

Posted by: Random Guy | October 5, 2006 8:28 AM


One way of building a sense of community and connection in your parenting is to become involved in online communities. This blog is still marginal as we get too much drive-by snarkiness, but it may shape up nicely (yesterday was great, and I agree with others that simple filtering would cut most of our problems - passing through posts only if they have a signature, with a one signature per registered user quota).

But I have found online discussion groups, especially those requiring membership and real signatures, invaluable. My first was an open pregnancy list for moms expecting babies in May 1997 --- we became a members-only community and are still going strong with about 80 moms of 9yo's and more. We evolved through all the baby flamage topics and know each other very well now (which leads to much more respectful discussions); 20 of our families made it to our last in-person reunion and we generate ongoing discussion of usually 20 - 60 posts per day. It has been a great resource providing both community and expertise (ideas for quick meals, kids' movies and books, birthday presents, school and activity-related stuff, moms directly familiar with many medical issues, crisis help and support). When you have a sounding board of friends and colleagues in parenting which is 80-deep, chances are that collectively you can find out and consider a lot more, much more efficiently - even automatically in the course of chatting - than if you spent all your effort reinventing every wheel yourself.

Being a mom of a 9yo is not so isolating as being a SAHD. But specialty groups when I've been in more minority postions have helped a lot too. A breastpumping mailing list was great in those years I was pumping, for camaraderie, trouble-shooting, tips, etc, and was nice to actually read while pumping! And in the years when my youngest dd had extreme and uncommon medical issues --- for her, severe food allergies --- stumbling into a community of other moms, with extensive and varied experience with kids in exactly her rare subgroup, ongoing access to the top research specialists and current medical literature, and experience building diets with the same kinds of far-reaching restrictions . . . well this was the godsend that if it didn't save my child's life, saved her much pain, damage, and years of ill health. Here was where I *first* saw the AAP's recommendations when they first put them out for nursing moms of food allergic babies, when my dd was still spiraling deeper and deeper into crisis --- and following these recommendations, to zero tolerance eliminate all top 8 food allergens plus those I knew, as well as some online expert lc advice to address her secondary lactose intolerance, led to finally breaking her months-long decline and acute illness and getting her symptoms under control. (digression for the curious: Later, when challenged, she was actually allergic to all of them. She eventually outgrew all her food allergies, most at 2yo, soy at 4yo. This isn't uncommon for her kind of food allergies, non-IgE-mediated gastrointestinal reactions.) When I saw her regular ped months later, of course, she had no clue about those AAP recommendations. Pediatricians are generalists and cannot keep up with every less common issue affecting patients, so if your kid becomes unusual, the onus generally falls on you to tap into specialist level information somehow (referrals of course being a major step). Another nice thing about that group was the opportunity to give back, to pass on the kinds of information and resources that saved you to others still struggling; and even more, that the community remembered its members experiences, so the torch could pass from mom to mom with some expertise continuously present on even quite rare situations.

These kind of niche online communities can de-isolate even the rarest of minorities!

Anyway,

Posted by: KB | October 5, 2006 8:36 AM

Brian, love the Dave Barry thing -- and yeah, I think you are there. :-) But more power to you! I agree with the earlier posters that isolation is a hugely powerful force, whether you're a SAHM or SAHD, and you deal with that in whatever way you can find that fits your personality. For one of my friends, it's those "sell at home" parties -- totally not my cup of tea, but it keeps her sane and brings in a little extra cash, so yay her.

I think the isolation can be harder when you're an introvert -- you're generally more comfortable spending time alone and so can manage it for longer periods, but when you do need human contact, it can be really hard and scary to reach out for it (flying off to a convention where I don't know anyone would be a version of hell for me). When I had my daughter and was living cross-country from my family and friends and job, I started to go stir-crazy after a while. I ultimately found that outlet at the gym -- and that's the one part of my former life that I really miss now that we're back home.

Posted by: Laura | October 5, 2006 8:37 AM

When I take an afternoon off work and bring the kids to the playground, the other moms usually avoid me or glare condescendingly as if thinking, "Why isn't this loser dad at work"?

You know, I don't care. I don't need to chit chat with the moms about sleep schedules, diaper rash and solid foods. I don't need to justify anything.

I am having a wonderful time playing with my kids, building sand towers and tunnels, burying dinosaurs, playing tag, crawling through the playscape. I certainly don't feel like a loser when I'm caring for my two children. And I don't mind being "isolated" from the women that treat me that way.

Posted by: WorkerBee | October 5, 2006 8:40 AM

"me" put it nicely when they posted that isolation is pretty common among people--I think feeling isolated at the park and feeling like a loser are not necessarily the same thing. I'm at the park a fair amount with my son and when there's a large group of mom's already chatting, I tend to feel a little isolated, especially if the subject matter is gender-specific (breastfeeding, the impact of childbirth on one's body, etc.), but the challenge of being included is not much different here than in any other social situation--it helps to use some sort of strategy to get your "foot in the door", so to speak. A compliment toward someone else's child or a flattering question (e.g., Is she always so well behaved?) goes a long way. While I can't exactly speak about breastfeeding from a personal standpoint, you can always try and relate to the other person by asking them about their experience (I would sometimes say things like, "yeah, my wife had that same problem, how did you handle it?"). I had noticed my son having problems approaching other children at first--kind of the same feeling of isolation or exclusion because a game was already in progress or a little group had already formed, but I just kept encouraging to go ask someone their name or ask them if they wanted to go on the slide or play together, and slowly he started joining groups more and more. When it's a children's setting, you already have something in common to talk about, although I've been amusted about my own naivete going into this as I've discovered that just because I like a parent doesn't mean I like their kids and vice versa. If it's opposite genders mixing, you can always take the opportunity to ask the opposite sex for advice ("hey, I'm looking for a gift for my husband's/wife's birthday--got any ideas?").

as far as not having money, but wanting to keep your kids involved, there's a lot of free alternatives (your local park/playground; story hours and children's rooms at the local library; free movies and concerts in various neighborhoods and venues; play areas at Chick-fil-A, IKEA, McDonalds, etc; community centers; free or inexpensive children's workshops at crafts stores, Home Depot, etc.)

My wife felt pretty isolated at home when our child was just an infant, so she looked around for mom's groups and she eventually started her own parenting list-serv, which eventually merged with another... it's a great resource.

I'm only home one day a week with my son, but I get home most days by about 4:15, so I do get to spend a fair amount of time with him. I've actually had a harder time hitting it off with the other dads than I have had with the other moms, although the dads who stay home or are more involved seem easier to get on with.

Well, that's more than anyone needed to hear from me. I'd love to hear what type of strategies others have employed.

Posted by: marc | October 5, 2006 8:40 AM

Slightly off topic...

"This blog is still marginal as we get too much drive-by snarkiness, but it may shape up nicely."

Isn't it odd how different blogs/message boards evolve such different culture. I'm on a couple of pregnancy message boards and although the women have very different views about breast vs. bottle, natural childbirth vs. planned epidurals/c-sections, attachment parenting, etc., there is never, ever any meanness or lashing out. I don't think there is a moderator either, as my posts there appear instantly. Interesting, isn't it.

Posted by: JKR | October 5, 2006 8:43 AM

Greetings KB,

Enjoyed your posts yesterday. You (and others) show that we can be passionate and pointed about our balancing acts. We can debate, yet remain civil.

SCIENCE Profession ASIDE (ALERT)
I love pointy-sciencey-type-land. I straddle both worlds, helping sci-guys and sci-gals(eng-guys, eng-gals too) write clearly for the lay (guys and gals in suits)audience.

Brian brings up isolation; others ask about what works.

'Net-life can bridge this gap whether topics are a wide-net like parenting, or the smaller, high-stakes net of sick children.

I would love for this blog to be such a place of connection.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 5, 2006 8:50 AM

" . . . as we spread out and inhabit homes that have everything."

this comment by the original mom of 2 reminded me of the fact that in my neighborhood we have rather small homes, and this pushes us out to see other people. We spend lots of time at the park, or at the library when weather is poor-- librarian extraordinare Mr. Tony at NE library brought everyone out! and there will evidently be a business opening up soon called "The Living Room" that will be a place with all the grat toys that our homes don't have room for that kids and caregivers can hang out at. And they can be as loud as they please without offending other library guests. I'm sure all parents of either sex will be made welcome.

so, ironically, maybe tiny homes in tightly packed urban areas are actually BETTER for both parents and kids.

Posted by: Capitol Hill mom | October 5, 2006 8:52 AM

'When I take an afternoon off work and bring the kids to the playground, the other moms usually avoid me or glare condescendingly as if thinking, "Why isn't this loser dad at work"?'

how do you know that's what the moms are thinking? Maybe one is glaring because she's annoyed that her husband never takes the kid to the playground, another is glaring because she didn't get enough sleep, and yet another is glaring because her foot hurts! Or they glare because they you are unpleasant towards them. Or maybe your children aren't behaving and you aren't working to correct their behavior.

I have been to the playground thousands of times. Some people want to talk, and others don't. Some are there specifically to see each other. It's not all about you! Try being pleasant and friendly, but not too clingy, and see if things change.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 5, 2006 8:53 AM

Public gathering space seems to be dwindling these days, but I know a few moms who have approached either community centers or churches and asked about using their gyms or auditoriums on a regular basis and have gotten the OK either free of charge or at a pretty reduced rate (e.g. there's a group that meets in Beltsville MD at the Beltsville Community Center every Friday; the moms, dads, and kids who have gone there have become pretty good friends over the years).

Posted by: marc | October 5, 2006 8:55 AM

Interesting that yesterday some of you were talking about how girls in middle school should just "overcome" the awkwardness of being alone in boy-centered activities at school...

...and today were talking about how to ensure that grown men don't feel the isolation of the at-home father and how to overcome the mean stares of mothers on the playground.

Posted by: Meesh | October 5, 2006 9:07 AM

Back on topic:

I think a convention for stay-at-home-dads is great. They are such a small, somewhat marginalized group, so they need all the support they can get. I asked my (sensitive, progressive, sweet) husband last night if he would feel emasculated being a stay at home dad, and he admitted he would "a bit". I wonder, if the NYT covered the annual SAHD convention with as much fanfare as they do the supposed female 'opt-out revolution', would that help to chip away at the ingrained (conscious or unconscious) belief of most men (and many women) that staying home with the kids is not a socially acceptable option for a man? If everyone thought it were truly no big deal, would SAHD's become more common? Would RebelDad still feel isolated?

As for the isolation any new parent sometimes feels, being pregnant with my first child, this is something I worry/wonder about a lot, particularly as we may be moving shortly after the baby is born (my husband's work) and I'll be job hunting (tho' I'm considering applying to PhD programs). I see myself sitting in a new town where we don't know anyone, home alone with a baby whilst engaging in the excruciating task of job searching... I'm sure it will be wonderful being home with the baby for a while, but I can also see myself going out of my gourd without having other people to relate to. I know from the experience of moving to NYC almost three years ago that it takes a lot of effort to put yourself out there and make friends with people who already have well developed social networks (I think it's tougher in New York than most places-- sometimes you feel like you're auditioning to be accepted into someone's social circle...it's weird). I imagine that making that effort to get out there by volunteering, taking a class, joining an interest group, etc. is even tougher when you have young kids at home. I think for Americans in particular, because traditional social structures/groups are shifting and because of increased mobility (we don't live near our extended families and childhood friends as much as we used to), the workplace is an important social arena where we meet friends. Without work, I think one has to make a concerted effort to be a joiner, to reach out in the community (and on the web). Too bad it takes so much effort, but the alternative seems undesirable and unhealthy. I'm looking forward to hearing more tips on how to avoid new-parent isolation from those who've been through it!

Posted by: JKR | October 5, 2006 9:12 AM

experienced mom says: "Or they glare because they you are unpleasant towards them. Or maybe your children aren't behaving and you aren't working to correct their behavior."


Dang! Broadsided again.
This is a tough board.
You win.
Bye and have a nice day!

Posted by: WorkerBee | October 5, 2006 9:23 AM

I realize that my post could be considered snarky--I didn't mean to be. I wanted to make a point.

Dad of 2 gave me a chance to say it better. He's upset and wants to leave. Why? I don't recall seeing any rude posts toward Brian, or even the other times he's guest blogged.

What I think is that the men on this blog are *a little* sensitive to their own situations, just as the women (SAH and WOM, anyone?) are to their own. It's easy for the men to interpret a sarcastic post directed toward Brian as an attack on men.

Is it man bashing to point out that women have managed to do what Brian is doing? Was Dave Barry man bashing? Was it "six-year-old girl" bashing yesterday when people insinuated that little girls shouldn't be so sensitive and should just suck it up if she really wants to play chess? No, IMO.

Posted by: Meesh | October 5, 2006 9:26 AM

In my experience, the park is actually a really unlikely place for any adult to meet friends - men or women. When I take my children to the park by myself, I usually know at least one other parent there...but I didn't meet them at the park, I met them elsewhere. The groups of parents and children you see at parks have generally arranged to meet there - it's not like they all showed up without knowing each other previously and started talking about sore nipples.

I think SAH parents need to decide what's important re: socializing and removing the feeling of isolation - themselves, or their children. I'm a SAHM because I think it's best for my children, so the days belong to them. We go to the pool, the indoor park, the regular park, parent-child classes, to playgroup, out to breakfast or lunch, the library, after school activities. If I happen to have a nice talk with another parent while watching swimming lessons - great - if not, that's fine too. I'm there to watch my son, not make a new best friend. We're rarely home, and are always around people, so we're hardly isolated. That's why I always want to tell new SAHP's to just get out of the house and *do* something!

Regarding SAHDs specifically - I for one would never look at a dad at the park and think "what a loser, get a job." I believe SAHDs are more common in my area than in most, so the situation doesn't give me a second thought. But in areas where it isn't as common and might be looked at as "strange" - I agree completely with WorkerBee. The point of being a SAHP is to care for your children, not chitchat - play with your kids and enjoy them and don't worry about what other people say or think!

And before anyone says that I have no life outside my children - I'm simply talking about the hours that my husband is at work....I have plenty of time in the evenings and on weekends for time with my adult friends when I want it.

Posted by: momof4 | October 5, 2006 9:27 AM


When I need a break from *everything*,
I just go fishing.
Alone.

"Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers."


Posted by: TexFisherMAN | October 5, 2006 9:29 AM

I think you're right, Capitol Hill Mom! Smaller houses do help with community. Living on smaller lots-- which are therefore more walkable-- helps too. Thankfully, there is a small but growing trend of "New Urbanist" neighborhoods which have houses clustered together (with shared greenspace around it) and a focus on a pedestrian-friendly, front-porch lifestyle.

We went one step further and moved to a cohousing neighborhood, where we have a smaller private house (1800 sq ft) and shared community house (4000 sq ft, with a kids room, library, lots of recreation facilities). We share 33 acres with our 32 other neighbors, but our own private lot is only 1/10th of an acre. As an introvert, it works perfectly for me-- I can stay in my own private house when I want to, or go out and find a friend in the neighborhood easily if I'm feeling the need to talk.

And, wow, does it make it easier to be a parent.

Posted by: Ms L | October 5, 2006 9:34 AM

It's funny because I'm new in my neighborhood and I think that if I had kids, I would be welcomed into the fold. But because I don't have kids, I have nothing in common with the majority of my neighbors (almost all have children between the ages of newborn and 13--it's like the Twilight Zone). So I feel pretty isolated.

I have met people at the dog park, which is certainly the equivilant of the kiddie park in the sense that people can not like you because your dog is acting up, or you have no control over your dog, or they're all talking about buying a dog when you adopted. I also met people through volunteering. It's like work because you have to interact with people (where does this box go, where do I tell people to put stuff if they ask). It's not like a park or the gym where you could just be on your own. And I have volunteered a ton of places where people bring their kids. Some examples:

- Set-up/clean-up or manning water stations for the hundreds of charitable races in our area

- Running cash registers at a pet adoption event

- Filling boxes for a women's shelter

Posted by: Meesh | October 5, 2006 9:42 AM

Meesh - no your scenario is not man-bashing.

However, when WorkerBee essentially said, "I have noticed I am treated differently at the park. Why?" Then, experienced mom essentially says, "Maybe its you or your kids. Try harder." it isn't helpful either.

Consider this scenario.

A working mom says, "I have noticed I am treated differently at work because I desire a different schedule." A single, older man responds with "Maybe it's your problem. Try harder."

Does that at all help the WOHM's situation?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2006 9:45 AM

Lots of posts--sorry

I just wanted to agree wholeheartedly with KB.

Online groups are awesome for meeting people with similar issues or to get advice. Okay, so you may never meet these people in person, but that doesn't mean that you can't become interested in them. Case in point--how many people defending Father of 4 when nasty bloggers were attacking him? How many had ever met Father of 4?

I know that talking to people online is no substitution for talking in real life, but it can get you through. I like that when I read this blog I see familiar names and know about some of the posters' situations. I also like thinking about different points of view. It gives me something new and interesting to talk about with my husband in real life (when I'm sure we both sometimes wish the other one would go get kidnapped just so we could hear a new story).

Posted by: Meesh | October 5, 2006 9:47 AM

I think that some people are just friendlier than others. I talk to everyone who talks to me and if I get the sense that they are a nice person, I try to include them in the conversation. However, there are people who take the kids to the park for a break. If I am reading a book and I don't talk to you, it's not you it's me, I'm trying to sneak in a little studying.

Really, there are times on this board to where man bashing occurs. Dad of 2, don't leave, just ignore the posts you don't like or respond to them and knock their bias down.

Posted by: scarry | October 5, 2006 9:49 AM

JKR:

FWIW -- My wife became involved in Moms Club ( http://www.newcomersclub.com/MomsClub/ ) -- they have numerous chapters across the US after our first child was born and it was pretty critical to helping with the isolation of a first-time parent. She and some other parents she met through the organization eventually branched out from it and started their own 501c3 organization (that now has several hundred local members) with a focus on supporting parents at home with children.

Your mileage may vary -- but it helped us.

Good Luck.

Posted by: A Dad | October 5, 2006 9:54 AM

oh, good grief. It's just that I have never in 18 years seen a mom be hostile to a dad just because he was at the playground! There must be a reason they are being unkind to him, or he's imagining it. I was just trying to help.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 5, 2006 10:06 AM

Isolation is a tough thing to combat. My sister recently admitted to me that the reason primary reason she took us up on our offer to room with us after her apartment complex was bought up to make way for luxury condos, was that living alone was terribly isolating. She had those thoughts like, "I could die in this apartment and noone would figure it out for a few days."

Regarding the playground: I really think that all the insecurity which is going on in parents at the local park relates back to the memories it evokes about so many of our own personal child-hood memories of acceptance and the black-top jungle. Let's admit it, at some point in your childhood you were either teased, ignored, the victim of bullying or possibly even participated in a little bit of teasing or bullying just to fit in. This is especially true during recess when the social environment resembles something like "The Lord of the Flys". Admittedly many schools attempt to nip teasing and bullying in the bud, but a handful of playground aids and parents cannot oversee every exchange which goes on. I think we heap an extrodinary amount of baggage onto the simple act of taking our kids to the park, for the simple reason that this time we want it to be different for ourselves and our children. We feel that we need to get it right.

Now that I have identified the source of my insecurity, I know how to combat it. Anytime I feel those waves of insecurity creep up over me, I just remind myself that the other parents are probably dealing with the exact same issues. Then, I muster up my courage, smile, walk over, extend my hand and introduce myself to another parent who is standing alone on the sidelines. It gives me an extraordinary sense of empowerment, and helps me tame that insecurity beast. This technique works equally well for PTA meetings, Back-to-School night, Spouse's Company picnics, or any new social environment for that matter.

Posted by: dcdesigner | October 5, 2006 10:15 AM

oh, good grief. It's just that I have never in 18 years seen a mom be hostile to a dad just because he was at the playground! There must be a reason they are being unkind to him, or he's imagining it. I was just trying to help.
~~~~~~~~

In 18 years I have never seen a company hold back a talented employee just because she was a woman. There must be some other reason she is lagging behind or she is imagining it.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2006 10:19 AM

real men don't care about feelings. That's a female thing, and it causes a whole host of problems in the workplace.

Dad of 2, when you are done pouting, you may come back and start posting again.

Posted by: Real Man | October 5, 2006 10:20 AM


experienced mom, and others who don't mean to be mean ---

I'll say this in all earnestness, once, since it's often a case of verbal mannerisms that translate poorly to an online medium.

But beginning any post with "oh, good grief," or "oh, for crying out loud," (not saying that one was you, experienced mom) --- it's a bad start that gets hackles up. We don't necessarily read it with your inflection, it sounds - in my head - like total dismissiveness, akin to "oh, come one now, that is utterly ridiculous" (and I'll admit the voice I hear it in is mean and dismissive, but I can imagine it in a nice and baffled voice if other signs of a gentler tone prompt me to stop and try . . .)

You can't count on people reading your words with your tone, so it's helpful to avoid ways of speaking that are easily read as put-downs. These can be expressive judgment phrases ('good grief,' 'come now,' 'you've got to be kidding'), diminutive names (like 'honey', 'precious'), absolutes (like never, always, must), and of course dripping sarcasm.

It won't help posters with deliberate snarkiness, but reducing the unintentional could keep all of us happier. (and yes, people notice as attacks the ones that happen to hit their hot topics directly, while similar comments on other topics roll off their backs --- that's just human nature. Armchair mom, I don't think the answer is making sure we hurry to hurl them at everyone right off the bat, just so we can *all* experience feeling attacked.)

>oh, good grief. It's just that I have never in 18 >years seen a mom be hostile to a dad just because >he was at the playground! There must be a reason >they are being unkind to him, or he's imagining >it. I was just trying to help.

Posted by: KB | October 5, 2006 11:46 AM

I LOVE DAVE BARRY!

I, too, enjoyed Brian's blog today, and I am amused that there is a SAHD convention...only because I could not imagine the feminine equivalent, and as someone pointed out, we view things through our own personal situations.

Any change in the social norms requires time for the rest of society to catch up. There's a great story on the front page of the WP site about a Australian Olympian, Peter Norman, who publicly demonstrated solidarity with two black American Olympians in 1968 and was ostracized at home. Fortunately, most of the rest of the world finally caught up with Peter Norman's point of view.

In a few more years, SAHDs will not seem so out of place. Society on the whole will grow to recognize that good parenting isn't gender-specific.

Hence the moniker, Rebeldad : )

Posted by: single western mom | October 5, 2006 11:47 AM

JKR:

Oops -- posted wrong website for Moms Club:
http://www.momsclub.org/index.html

Again, hope you find it useful.

Posted by: A Dad | October 5, 2006 11:51 AM

Wow - snarky much, folks? Do I need to break out some chew toys or pacifiers? Geeze.

RebelDad, as a member of a minority myself (lesbian parent) I'm a member of a couple of online groups that really help keep me sane and connected - especially since my family is one of a kind in the local area, so far as we know. We have 'conventions' too - this year we're back in Las Vegas, next year in Dallas. They really help a lot with the isolation - I've even found a subgroup of this larger group that I'm very close with, and we have private 'retreats' to one of our member's cabin in the mountains once a year.

Isolation is a huge problem these days - partially because we DO all spend so much time on these boxes. If you can find a group of people that you have something in common with (and with the internet, even left handed people who like crocheting with dog hair yarn can find their matches - try googling that phrase and see how many hits you get) you can always find someone to talk to, connect with, and maybe even find a new friend. I've always found it endearing that one of the primary uses that people have for computers (which would see to isolate us) is to connect to others.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | October 5, 2006 11:51 AM

To KB

You know what's going to happen now, don't you?

Posted by: Elaine | October 5, 2006 11:56 AM

thank you KB. Isn't Leslie supposed to delete

'personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material'

????????

Posted by: experienced mom | October 5, 2006 12:02 PM

experienced mom your post didn't offend me I understand what you are talking about an you gave plenty of examples as to why someone isn't talking to SHAD.

Elaine, yes people are probably going to respond to KB, that's the nature of the blog.

dad of 2, I don't think you are pouting, I think you are fed up, I've been there before to on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2006 12:02 PM

I think that exchange between WorkerBee and experienced mom was quite interesting--I wonder if experienced mom would have responded the same way if WorkerBee had not written:

"You know, I don't care. I don't need to chit chat with the moms about sleep schedules, diaper rash and solid foods. I don't need to justify anything."

I, too, could give a crap about what any other parents think about me when I'm at the park, but the implication here is that the moms do "need" to "chit chat" about utterly ridiculous things like "sleep schedules, diaper rash and solid foods."

Both posters raised good points:
1) Try not to get caught up in caring about what others are thinking and feeling; and,
2) Don't assume you know what they're thinking or that it's about you.

I guess it's all in the delivery, eh?

I can't see myself ever going to a SAHD convention, but I'm not a big fan of conventions in general. I have found that any isolation caused by parenthood has been more than offset by the deepening bond with my family. A couple of posters today and yesterday keep asking about why more dads don't stay at home, but I wonder how many have that opportunity (much less want it)? For our situation, I would have been glad to stay at home (my wife might have preferred it too), but she was more comfortable being responsible for the child than being the primary bread winner (plus, she makes more money part-time than I would make part-time).

Posted by: marc | October 5, 2006 12:05 PM

Hey y'all, if there's anyone who cares, I PASSED THE BAR EXAM!!!

Posted by: Megan | October 5, 2006 12:05 PM

Yea for Megan!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: experienced mom | October 5, 2006 12:10 PM

You know I care! Good Job! Next up on your list "potty training" :)

Posted by: scarry | October 5, 2006 12:13 PM

Capitol Hill mom and Ms. L, good comments.

Two years ago, my soon-to-be ex-husband and I and our two kids moved into a nice home (traded up) in a new neighborhood touted as upscale, diverse and innovative. Two years later, I'm separated and raising my two kids (one with special needs) basically alone. The neighbors are nice but very busy and unavailable, don't have kids, have joined the community clique, or are flaky. I have gone to one of the community playgrounds so my kids can play with others (instant play group), or put my little ones in sports and other activities so they can at least socialize for a little while. My oldest pines for a best friend. My HOA fee is almost criminally high. Some of the older kids vandalize, use foul language or seem bored. The schools where I live are not the best, but b/c of my son's special needs, he need to go to public school to get the services. I have not been overly impressed by the private schools, either.

I love my home, but how is it really benefitting my family? There's a certain city in my county that has the better schools, and the communities seem tighter. The houses are smaller, but I feel a sense of community in certain parts. I live just outside the city limits. I question whether I should downsize carefully to make sure my children have more kids to play with, and at least one can attend a better public school. Although I'm an introvert, when I was young, I remember a variety of playmates, and more than one best friend.

I know that it's not so much the size of the houses but who inhabits them. But basement media rooms, luxury vehicles, the lack of safety in numbers (that is, lots of kids playing together) and the isolation in upscale-land makes me wonder what else is going on out there.

Talk about being off-topic! But all mothers and fathers, SAH or WOH, feel free to respond.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 5, 2006 12:15 PM

My husband took two of our children to the local children's museum on Monday when they didn't have school. He says he was the only dad there - just a factual statement. Left me wondering if all of the others were SAHMs or if Mom was the one who took a day off from work when the kids were out of school. I think it's great when we see dads out and involved and even better when we see the whole family together doing something rather than either mom or dad but rarely both. Also reminds me that our kids absolutely love it when both parents do some activity on the weekends with them and that it would be a good idea for both of us to take the same day off once in a while for a family activity.

I'm going to resist controversial topics if possible as I'm working on too little sleep after staying up way too late to finish a book - something I haven't done in ages and am now regretting a bit! But it was a great read and sometimes that's the way to balance work, family and mom-time -- i.e., sacrifice some sleep.

Posted by: SS | October 5, 2006 12:16 PM

Congrats!

Posted by: marc | October 5, 2006 12:16 PM

Awesome, Megan! Congratulations! I'm not surprised-- we know from your great posts that you're really smart. ;)

Posted by: Ms L | October 5, 2006 12:20 PM

To SS

Some folks couldn't go to a number of places on Monday because it was a religious holiday.

Posted by: Elaine | October 5, 2006 12:24 PM

That's also whay the children were out of school.

Posted by: SS | October 5, 2006 12:26 PM

what holiday?

Posted by: ? | October 5, 2006 12:29 PM

Sorry about the spelling error - see above re. lack of sleep.

Congrats Megan!

Posted by: SS | October 5, 2006 12:29 PM

Yom Kippur was on Monday if I'm not mistaken...

Posted by: marc | October 5, 2006 12:31 PM

Monday was Yom Kippur.

Posted by: Lizzie | October 5, 2006 12:33 PM

the original mom of two:

I'd investigate moving. You love your house, not your community. Mil rates (property taxes per assessed value) tend to be cheaper within city limits and more predictable. Choose a less burdensome house. (i.e. Yeah, I wish we had a third bedroom, but I don't lose sleep over it like I would over big maintenance bills - that's the "balance" part of this post. We can spend that money on important things like having fun together, tutoring, carvel.)

Posted by: me | October 5, 2006 12:33 PM

Continuing the museum tangent --

Monday is Columbus Day, and all of us daycare parents ("all" meaning all the people I know) have no daycare coverage but don't officially have the day off from work either.

If I take my little guy to Smithsonian Air & Space on Monday am I going to run into all of you there? :-) Or is that stuff closed for the holiday?

Posted by: Proud Papa | October 5, 2006 12:39 PM

OriginalMomof2 (sounds like the original family band -- was that a Disney movie long ago? Kurt Russell?)

Second the motion about living in small house with no great room or basement cavern.

DOES make us go outside.

But having said this, think of the many ways to bloom where you are planted. Perhaps YOU can spark more community in your neighborhood. Two or three families can make a community. Good luck. I would love to be your neighbor.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 5, 2006 12:40 PM

Ditto on the congrats, Megan! I remember opening that envelope from the Board of Bar Examiners with my hands shaking! I was so glad I passed, because darned if I wanted to take THAT again!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 5, 2006 12:41 PM

Proud Papa:
Montgomery County schools are "in session" and are having their open houses on Columbus Day. Monday is a work day for my office as well, but I am taking the time off in the morning to drop into my son's classroom for open house. So I hope to see lots of parents at the school :)

Posted by: dcdesigner | October 5, 2006 12:44 PM

Congrats Megan. I think the problem is not the size of the house. I don't think condo communities are any more neigborhorly. I actually think it has more to do with the % of working adults in the community versus SAHPs.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 5, 2006 12:46 PM

Thanks, everyone! It is a HUGE relief, like you said, originalmomof2, I couldn't imagine putting myself and my family through it again!

I just went back and read the comments and column, and thought you all might be interested to know that my husband saw an article about an online playdating service - works like dating services but to match up families in the same area with similar interests for playdates. I don't remember the address but if someone's interested I can probably track down the article.

And I really agree with the person who commented about doing things all together on weekends; my son, who is not quite two, will get a huge smile on his face and say, "let's all go together!" when he sees that we're doing something as a family, it's really sweet.

Posted by: Megan | October 5, 2006 12:47 PM

FWIW, I would love it if my daytime "mom's club" were actually a parents' group instead. My experience is that there are certain women who tend to talk way too much about feminine problems or complain about their husbands when they are in an all female group. Add one man, and we can actually have an interesting conversation!

Unfortunately some new moms are reluctant to include SAHDs because either they don't want to breastfeed in front of a man, or they fear socializing with men when their husband isn't around(this seems to be a conservative Christian thing, as far as I can tell).

I understand there's a movie coming out about a SAHM and SAHD having an affair during naptime called "Little Children". I hope this doesn't lead to further isolation of SAHDs.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | October 5, 2006 12:57 PM

Thanks, College Parkian! And thanks also for those sky reports you and the other posters provide on Achenblog. Those who haven't should read them sometime. They are really relaxing. The sound reports from Pat are good too. Concentrating on nature and your relationship to it can help with balance.

Enough of that philosophical stuff! :>

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 5, 2006 12:57 PM

To the original mom of two:

Starting over is difficult. My decision to move (across the country) was based on improving the standard of living for my child and finding an easier way of life. There are so many factors--emotional and financial--to consider.

Financially, it's not an ideal time to engage in a real estate transaction (tough time to sell, higher interest rates when you buy), so that is a consideration. However, if you "downsize," this may be to your advantage if you reduce your monthly living expenses. That's also the case if you reduce or eliminate an HOA fee.

From an emotional, peace-of-mind perspective, you want to be where your kids are happy, where there is a sense of community, where there are services available for your son, and hopefully where you have some sort of support system.

The other thing...are there any "ghosts" in your current home? And I don't mean the spooky Halloween ghosts...I'm talking about bad memories of a marriage that ended. If the place holds sadness and bad memories, that's another consideration.

Best of luck. And don't forget to take care of yourself as you go through the divorce process. My divorce was under friendly circumstances, but it was painful nonetheless.

Posted by: single western mom | October 5, 2006 1:09 PM

Finding a neighborhood with a community feel was so important to me-- and I know it has helped both of our daughters. When we first moved to our neighborhood, our almost-3-year-old didn't really know how to climb a ladder. When I took her to the playground in our old neighborhood, we were almost always the only people there. It was hard for her to learn to do things without an example-- and some of the equipment was too small for me to show her myself. She advanced so much physically soon after moving there, and emotionally as well. In our current neighborhood there are 7 children within a year of her, and about 15 kids of other ages. They all have learned to play well together, especially since there are a lot of adults who keep an eye out for them.

Last night I walked over to our community's main building to have a potluck dinner with my neighbors. Along the way I said hi, by name, to about 10 neighbors. An 8 y.o. and a 10 y.o boy were playing soccer on our neighborhood green, and I heard one say to the other, "Did you see that Aaron is walking now? It's amazing!" Aaron is a baby in the neighborhood, and everyone was oohing and aahing over his new accomplishment. While my husband and I had adult conversation in the main room, my kids ate dinner with their friends and went to play quietly in the adjoining kids room. This is an amazing break for us, with a 2.5-year old and a 4.5-year-old. On the way back to our house, we stopped at the neighborhood playground where my girls played for about 1/2 hour while I chatted with 3 different sets of neighbors-- two retirees, one mom with a baby, and one childless single guy.

By the way, the 10-year-old boy I mentioned earlier made us dinner one Sunday, with the help of two girls, 8 and 9 (and some supervision from a dad). It was just toasted bagels with turkey burgers and cheese, and salad, but it tasted great-- and I had such pride in my neighborhood's self-confident, helpful, independent kids.

OK, I'll stop gushing now. :)

Posted by: Ms L | October 5, 2006 1:13 PM

so, i've got a question:
how many of the moms or dads on this list actually had a discussion about which parent would stay home or, if neither parent stayed home, who was responsible for procuring childcare?

Posted by: marc | October 5, 2006 1:14 PM

YEA! YEA! YEA! It's such a great feeling to know that you are actually, finally, really a lawyer!! :)

Posted by: Betty | October 5, 2006 1:20 PM

which was? People won't know about other people's cultures unless you tell them.

Posted by: holiday? | October 5, 2006 1:23 PM

In addition to Yom Kippur, Monday was another religious holiday.

Posted by: AD | October 5, 2006 1:25 PM

test...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2006 1:44 PM

'Hey y'all, if there's anyone who cares...'

Actually, I don't care.

Posted by: to megan | October 5, 2006 1:52 PM

To to megan:
Why? I mean really, what's the point?

Posted by: Dixie | October 5, 2006 1:58 PM

"To Megan" -- well, apparently you did care enough to try to drag her down.

Yay Megan!! Big accomplishment!

Posted by: Laura | October 5, 2006 2:05 PM

Marc -

We both agreed to manage with only 20 hrs of care for months 3-12. I had more experience with hiring, so I did most of the hiring. We shared the total responsibility of running a home. More of the childcare balance fell on me in the earliest days because I was nursing, but there were many other tasks my husband took over.

We never sat down to negotiate our roles - not needed in our case.

Later, I did more of the admin parts of having a nanny because my Spanish is better.

Posted by: me | October 5, 2006 2:05 PM

Thanks 'A Dad'!!!

Posted by: JKR | October 5, 2006 2:11 PM

marc, we discussed daycare prior to our first child's birth, I selected one because I wanted to, we mutually decided I would do the day care run, as it was closest to my office, and my husband would shop and prepare dinner. After baby's birth, we mutually decided that we didn't want him in daycare for his first year, and that I would take a leave of absence. A nanny would have been a nice option, but that seemed too expensive at that time.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2006 2:16 PM

Congratulations on passing the bar Megan.
I can definitely see the need for the SAHD convention - it's a wonderful feeling when you feel all alone and then you find that there are others just like you.
About isolation, do working mothers find themselves isolated in their neighborhood? I know I do and I believe it's because I'm so busy with work during the week and with errands during the weekends that I have little time to reach out and make friends with the neighbors.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | October 5, 2006 2:16 PM

Marc, we've already talked aboutit, before the baby is even concieved.

I work at a boring desk all day. A baby in here would be a nightmare for everyone. My partner works at our church. Not only is there a fully stocked nursery (extra diapers, wipes, toys, a rocker and a crib available) but a steady stream of trusted friends and neighbors in there to ooh and aah over the new kidlet. Plus a full kitchen, peace and quiet, goreous woodlands with a walking trail for when the weather is nice and she needs to get out for a few. Even though she'll probably keep her job, she'll be a semi-SAHM, since she can have baby there and happy all the time. She did it with our 13 year old when she was an infant, too, and it was wonderful - she's got an amazing bond with her, more so than the birth mom, who was uninvolved for the most part.

Posted by: RebeccainAR | October 5, 2006 2:24 PM

to fabworkingmom:

I definitely have the isolation feeling (amongst many others). I don't get home until 6PM and my daughter sees other neighborhood kids playing as we drive up and wants to be with them.

I don't want to be one of those moms who expects the other mom to watch my kid, so I have to be the party pooper and tell her no, I need to fix dinner and I can't watch you and fix dinner at the same time. At this time of year, by the time dinner is done, its dark and all the kids have gone inside (and I'm now a mean mom).

So, back to the topic of isolation and balance. I need to find balance on the weekends between getting errands and chores done and letting my kiddos have some free time in the park. We currently live in a townhouse and I almost cried (from laughter or sadness or a combination) when my daughter said "Mommy, our garage is our backyard!"

I tried working out a babysitting sharing arrangement with the neighbor, but she'd rather have money than trade off care - which I can understand because she's a single mom, too - but its also frustrating.

Posted by: LGB | October 5, 2006 2:28 PM

Congratulations to Megan! Though it was pointed out yesterday that women should become scientists/engineers, not lawyers. You may be on the path to riches (and fame?), but you have clearly failed in the eyes of the parity police. So go immediately back to engineering school... :~)

Workerbee, I'm afraid your situation is not horribly uncommon. Others above have suggested some possibilities were the situation you were in might have been caused by other reasons.

Maybe.

But from a Dad perspective, this has happened to me when I am out with my kids during normal work hours (though I'm not a SAHP)-- and you get a pretty good feel when the bevy of women scatter in the presence of a man (or men). Or if not that direct, you just get those 'discrete' odd looks. It doesn't happen all the time, of course, but it does happen.

And though it isn't provable in a definitive sense, of course, after a while you come to realize it for what it is --displeasure that a guy has entered the area.

It is changing [slowly] and we all agree it shouldn't happen to Dads with their kids, but it's out there.

As a hopefully useful analogy, I find I trust women's intuition [hairs raised on the back of the neck--whatver] about when someone is leering after them. Such a feeling wouldn't be useful in a court of law, but that doesn't make it any less accurate.

I offer to our female posters that guys [many of whom can normally be a thick as a stump about picking up on other subtle social clues, including me], have a finely tuned sense of when we are unwelcome in such circumstances as described in the park situation above. I suggest many Dads of all stripes have lived through it.

So maybe Experienced Mom and others can use that as food for thought...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | October 5, 2006 2:33 PM

When my girls were younger, my husband walked with them to the school bus stop and stayed until the bus came. One of my neighbors ran an in-home day care. She had infants and school-aged children. She wanted him to walk the school-agers to the bus stop so she didn't have to take the infants out in the cold and bad weather.

She asked me if he would and I said I would ask. He refused - because the woman never said a word to him on the bus stop and asked me if he would help rather than asking him directly. So yes, I believe that women can be unwelcoming to dads who are out with the kids.

Posted by: xyz | October 5, 2006 2:41 PM

before I forget again: Congrats to Megan.

Texas Dad - nice post.

LGB - Can you find a compromise so your kids can play with the neighbors' kids. (Cereal for dinner when the weather is really nice? Cook the day before and reheat?) I can certainly appreciate not wanting to "burden" others with your childcare responsibility, but if you found a way to get past the formality of the first few playdates, those casual relaxed neighborhood relationships would enrich your life and make it easier to get the cooking done.

I split the kids my son knows into two categories: kids with whom a playdate would make my life easier, and kids with whom a playdate would make my life harder. It is worth the investment to find the former. If your kid is of the former type, I wouldn't worry about the burden.

(I let him make friends with either type, but I can be much more casual about having the "easy" ones over)

Posted by: me | October 5, 2006 2:45 PM

marc, my husband and I talked about the issue before we starting trying to have child. We both felt that we didn't want to have both of us working full time if we could avoid it in the early years, and came up with the plan to try to have the baby while I was in law school, and then when I graduated and went to work for him to either go back to school or work part time or some such. We didn't clarify who would be responsible for procuring childcare, but I basically have taken the lead on that, I think because I am more outgoing and had more connections to ask for advice, etc. But when it came to choosing a day care center, as opposed to lining up individual friends to watch him periodically, my husband was equally involved.

Posted by: Megan | October 5, 2006 2:46 PM

Marc,
We had a discussion. I said "Woman, you stay home!" She said "Yes, sir." Then I told my other wife to help her. They co-manage a grief counseling center from our basement, which they run with a grant from the Utah social services board. It helps all three of us acheive balance. I am a big fan of dicussions.

Posted by: Mr. Jeffs | October 5, 2006 2:48 PM

'Hey y'all, if there's anyone who cares...'

Actually, I don't care.

You must care or you wouldn't have responded.

Posted by: Scarry | October 5, 2006 2:52 PM

To Marc: welcome to the world of agonizing daycare decisions. One of the big problems is that you may feel a certain way before the baby arrives but you may feel completely differently once the baby is actually here. My advice is to see how you both feel about parenting full time before quitting your job in favor of staying home with the child. And if you both do want to work, the decision of nanny/childcare center/in-home daycare is a toughie. It's never too early to start researching the options, in my opinion.

Posted by: IA Mom | October 5, 2006 2:53 PM

xyz:
It is unfortunate that you husband felt that way about the request to walk the day-care children to school. The day-care provider may not have felt comfortable talking to another woman's husband. I am not sure what either party's cultural background is, but it could have also been deemed completely inappropriate to ask assistance from a man. Anyways, your husband missed out on the opportunity to connect with his neighbors and possibly even form some friendships.

Posted by: dcdesigner | October 5, 2006 2:53 PM

Megan - my husband and I had a plan similar to yours. I had my son just before I graduated from my MBA program (on the day of my last final!) and then stayed at home with him for the summer and then my husband quit his job and stayed with him till he was almost 1. I attribute the special bond they have to their time together those months.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | October 5, 2006 2:53 PM

Texas Dad of 2, I just saw your post, and it gave me a good laugh! I missed the discussion yesterday and didn't realize that I had gone so far astray! ;)

And thanks again to all of you for the well wishes!

Posted by: Megan | October 5, 2006 2:54 PM

xyz:
It is unfortunate that you husband felt that way about the request to walk the day-care children to school. The day-care provider may not have felt comfortable talking to another woman's husband. I am not sure what either party's cultural background is, but it could have also been deemed completely inappropriate to ask assistance from a man. Anyways, your husband missed out on the opportunity to connect with his neighbors and possibly even form some friendships.

Posted by: dcdesigner | October 5, 2006 2:54 PM

We talked about the type of day care we would have and the tasks required. After researching day care options, we choose a place together and decided who would drop off and who would pick up. The only monkey wrench was that after having the baby, I felt very drawn to want to stay home with the baby. But DH convinced me to give work a try. I did and I adjusted and found it worked pretty well for me. But each family is different. You can have the best of plans laid out but you can't really anticipate how you will feel before the child actually arrives.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 5, 2006 2:55 PM

I think the problem is that people are thinking of the SAHD convention in comparison to a SAHM convention. It isn't the same. A much more appropriate comparison would be to "Women in the Workforce" conventions or "Bring Your Daughter to Work" days, etc which are designed to promote unity and support for women struggling to find equity in the workplace. The SAHD convention is there to provide support for men who by being in a very small minority of SAHP population are isolated.

And many of the men on this board feel slighted and sensitive to the male-bashing because many of the women on this board are as dismissive of the men's issues in the home as male chauvinist employers and bosses are dismissive of women's issues in the workplace. The tired saw of "Why make a hue and cry over something women have been doing for years?" is the same as the bigoted retort of "Why do we have to make more concessions for women in the workplace? Men have been doing these things for years without complaining?"

To test how gender-bashing a comment, try reversing the gender and changing the environment from home to workplace. You shouldn't have a different reaction although many do. Think about it and see if you can understand why so many of the men feel that male-bashing goes on here. We'd never get away with saying the parallel things about women in the workplace.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 5, 2006 2:57 PM

to me:

Thanks for the cereal suggestion - I actually let her do that for the first time about a week ago after seeing it here after a big "duh, why didn't I think of that before" moment.

When Laura said "I think the isolation can be harder when you're an introvert -- you're generally more comfortable spending time alone and so can manage it for longer periods" - it really struck a chord with me. I think my kids sometimes suffer because of me being more introverted. But with the board suggestions in hand, I'll try to work harder on it.

Posted by: LGB | October 5, 2006 2:57 PM

The neighbor was someone I knew before she moved on our street and we had been in each others homes many times. we had even been invited to her son's high school graduation party at their house. she just wouldn't speak to him on the busstop and there was no cultural reason for it.

Posted by: to dcdesigner | October 5, 2006 2:59 PM

I thought you were finally in police custody? How's the balance thing working for you now?

Posted by: to Mr. Jeffs | October 5, 2006 3:00 PM

DC designer:

xyz:
It is unfortunate that you felt that way about HR's request for you to work more hours this weekend. Your male supervisor may not have felt comfortable talking to you directly. I don't know how culturally aware you are, but your boss could have assumed you would think he was insensitive to your family demands if he asked. Anyways, you missed the opportunity to learn new skills that might have taken you far at this company.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2006 3:04 PM

I don't see how this convention would be any different from any other convention centering on people's interests or activities. A bunch of speakers/discussions on things that are relevant to the interests and a roomful of vendors selling products targeted to the conventioners.

My hat is off to any parent that puts children and family ahead of material wealth and career advancement.

Posted by: Rufus | October 5, 2006 3:08 PM

Mr. Jeffs, thanks for the laugh of the day!!!

Posted by: experienced mom | October 5, 2006 3:09 PM

LBG. You are welcome. How about a "selfish" approach: you will have more time to yourself if you can find ways for your kids to play without your involvement. Certain neighborhood kids are like free babysitting: 1) my kid is engaged, safe, relaxed and happy, 2) I am in the garden, the kitchen, hiding in my room with a book...

dcdesigner: xyz's husband made the right call. Daycare kids cannot be handed off to an unlicensed neighbor at the bus stop. Full Stop.

Posted by: me | October 5, 2006 3:09 PM

Hey LBG,

You don't have to be an extrovert to make friends; you just have to find the extrovert in your neighborhood. He/she will lead the way and introduce you to other people.

Posted by: Scarry | October 5, 2006 3:09 PM

To Mr. Jeffs

You left out the "sex on demand" part.

Posted by: Elaine | October 5, 2006 3:09 PM

xyz
Actually, your husband was right to say no to your neighbor, and not just because she didn't ask him directly. The parents of the children in her daycare are paying her to watch their children, not some random neighbor of hers (nothing against your husband personally). From a liability standpoint, he should not put himself in a position to have to supervise a number of children at once.

Posted by: Charlottesville | October 5, 2006 3:10 PM

Maybe the real answer was to tell the neighbor she would have talk to your husband herself. Maybe it's best not to get mixed up in it at all. Oh well. Hindsight doesn't help too much.

Posted by: To xyz | October 5, 2006 3:11 PM

I quizzed my husband at lunch more about the museum experience and being the only dad. His comment was that it was only noticeable because while the moms were in conversation and watching their kids play, he was playing *with* the kids. We opined that the difference could be moms who needed adult conversation vs. a dad who normally isn't able to spend that kind of time with the children. Or, he's just a big kid himself. The moms didn't talk to him but he was too busy playing to really care. Here's what I've noticed though - while he views the day off as an opportunity to play, I too often view it as the opportunity to catch up on housework or errands. I had the last "day off from school" duty and it involved one delivery, cleaning, cooking, laundry and errands. I think I need to change *my* priorities for those days.

Posted by: SS | October 5, 2006 3:13 PM

Another interesting parallel. Women complain about the good ol' boy network in the workplace that impedes them from becoming a more integral part of the corporate machine because they aren't in the "in" circle. They feel slighted if men deny that this occurs.

Yet, when men talk about the isolation of going to the playground with their kids and feeling isolated from the mothers who are watching their kids, and feeling outside the "in" crowd, some women's reaction is that this isn't occuring.

Interesting double standard, eh?

For those who don't believe that this happens, then you need to stay home a little more often. In this day and age, men are viewed suspiciously around children and many men feel that they are being treated like potential child abusers anytime they are near children if they are unaccompanied by an adult female.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 5, 2006 3:13 PM

I have Monday off, but my husband doesn't, and the kids have school. It's one of my favorite days of the year :o) !!!

Posted by: xyz | October 5, 2006 3:13 PM

thanks to those who responded about choosing who stayed home or where to get childcare. we actually played everything by ear to see whether my wife would want to go back to work fulltime, want to stay home, or work part-time. she made the decisions on daycare and i tried to help with researching. no daycare ever worked out well for us (mainly because we wanted part-time care and our son had this crazy need for naps, but wouldn't go down without an elaborate ritual--we got plenty of flack from everyone about how he'd just fall asleep on his own or catchup on sleep, but he was the type who would just be cranky and make sure the whole world knew it instead of actually making up any lost sleep). i was curious as to how other worked it out (we had a patchwork couple of first years with my father-in-law and me taking days off, flexing our schedule, etc. when my wife went back to work part-time). i was also curious to see if any one was in a position (by choice or necessity) to offer any dads the chance to stay home full time.

i've got the unwelcome looks from moms at the playground before, but i find if you hold their children hostage on one of the swings or slides, they're almost always willing to negotiate... i mean talk and be friendly...

Posted by: marc | October 5, 2006 3:17 PM

LGB,
Ha! I get the label of "mean mom" among my son's group of friends (because I also find myself in the position of saying no a lot because of scheduling conflicts). It made my day to see someone else refer to themselves as such. We live in an apartment, and we don't even have a garage as a backyard! (although I try to remind myself we are lucky to have a balcony) And also as an introvert, I fear that I don't give my son enough chances to be social. One of the big problems for me is that my son's friends rarely want to have playdates at our house, partly because of the lack of aforementioned backyard, and also the lack of many other things including a game system, computer, cable television, etc. - you name it, we don't have it. Because my son (and his friends) would rather play at someone else's house, I find myself worrying that some other mom is doing more than her fair share of playdate hosting, and I am doing less. This leads me to say no to my son more often than I would like when he wants to go somewhere to play. Recently, we (finally) got a car, and I am hoping this will help, as it means I will be able to take the friends somewhere more entertaining than our house.

Posted by: TakomaMom | October 5, 2006 3:17 PM

Dadwannabe-I agree with you on how some of the conversations may be perceived by the male posters on the board as male bashing.

Also, in what culture is it not okay to say hi to male at the bus stop? Just asking, I'm not being snarky, well just a little, but I am curios.

Posted by: scarry on scarry | October 5, 2006 3:18 PM

"For those who don't believe that this happens, then you need to stay home a little more often. In this day and age, men are viewed suspiciously around children and many men feel that they are being treated like potential child abusers anytime they are near children if they are unaccompanied by an adult female."

Hmmm.....I'm "home" full time, and I don't believe I've ever seen or heard mothers be suspicious of men around children - at least not men who are obviously fathers, grandfathers, or caregivers of children at the park. I might wonder if a man was just hanging out at the park without any *children* with him, but not if he was unaccompanied by an adult female.

I would also be leary of an adult female hanging out at the park without any children with her. Men don't have the corner on child abuse.


Posted by: momof4 | October 5, 2006 3:24 PM

usually the moms that appear suspicious (uncomfortable is probably closer to the truth) seem to be responding to the dad directly and not worried about their children. some men aren't comfortable or at ease around women and vice versa--doesn't seem surprising that this shows up on the playground. i think it depends a lot on the playground (one where lots of different folks drop by vs. one a select group gets used to having all to themselves) in question and who is there.

Posted by: marc | October 5, 2006 3:34 PM

Maybe if your husband helped you with errands, cleaning, cooking and laundry you would be able to change your priorities when you have a day with the kids. Not snarky, it just sounds as though you are so hard on yourself, as so many women I know are.

Posted by: To SS | October 5, 2006 3:35 PM

"I understand there's a movie coming out about a SAHM and SAHD having an affair during naptime called "Little Children". I hope this doesn't lead to further isolation of SAHDs."

Check out the plot of this movie at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0404203/

"Brad (Patrick Wilson) is a househusband caring for his little boy while feebly preparing for his previously failed bar exams. He has a gorgeous but emasculating wife, Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) who's a successful PBS-style documentary filmmaker. Sarah (Kate Winslet), with an MA in English, in charge of a recalcitrant little girl with whom she has little patience at times, has a well-off distant husband (Gregg Edelman) who's a pretentious adman who gets off on Web porn. Sarah and Brad meet in a park where moms take their kids, in East Wyndham, Massachusetts. They wind up kissing when they first meet, mainly to shock the other moms. "




Posted by: DZ | October 5, 2006 3:37 PM

momof4--thank you. I think you have a very healthy attitude. Unfortunately, I've seen all too many instances of the former behaviour of suspicion towards men around children. I have male parttime friends who have been discouraged from volunteering with children's activities without an adult female. In my wife's girls night out group, some of her friends with children have told of instances where playmates have only been allowed to share playtime if the mother is available to chaperone and not if the father is available. Although it isn't frequent, these cases are common.

To me, it really is parallel to the gender glass ceiling and good ol' boy network that women encounter in the workplace. Both ideas are slowly going away, but they're both there.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 5, 2006 3:42 PM

SS, wow, that's right on target. I find when I have an "off" day (like a field trip day), I mentally fill it with all of the other stuff I can get done while I'm away from work. Whereas I note that my husband is better at focusing on just the single task at hand. I think each approach has pros and cons -- I get more things done overall (e.g., at bathtime, I fold clothes while the kids play), but sometimes that backfires (like when I burn dinner because I'm trying to pay the bills at the same time). I think we could both learn from each other -- I would do better to slow down and really focus more on enjoying my family in the moment (e.g., let my daughter "help" more with dinner, even if it means we don't eat until 7); and my husband would do better to think of not-specifically-assigned tasks that he might be able to get done when he has some time (like, say, picking up the laundry basket instead of the sudoku when it's his turn at bath night). :-)

DadWannaBe, you make a really good point about the role reversal. I know what ticks me off more than about anything else is when someone dismisses something I've observed or experienced -- oh, you're just imagining it, it's all in your head, etc. I know women and minorities for years have said, in effect, if you haven't been there, you can't understand -- because you're right, it's all the little subtle things that you can't put a name to, or that sound trivial if you say them out loud, but when you put them all together, they add up.

I also think there's a question of sensitization. For ex., a week or so ago when Leslie talked about the clueless men who run the country, it never occurred to me that was a male-bashing thing -- I automatically assumed that she was talking about people like Dennis Kozlowski and Andrew Fastow and certain politicians, i.e., that subset of men who are both in power and clueless, who are effectively waited on hand and foot in their personal lives and so who have just never had to deal with "balance" issues. It never would have occurred to me that she would be referring to any of the people on this board, who strike me as totally normal people who don't have $100K/year nannies and who face these kinds of issues every day. But then again, I think that if someone did a blog that talked about those "clueless high-powered professional women," I would have been offended -- even though, again, it clearly wouldn't have been targeted at me.

Posted by: Laura | October 5, 2006 3:45 PM

SS - please ignore 'to SS' - my husband does just as much, if not more, than I. When you both work, it never all gets done, even with everyone pitching in. And, yes, housework is more of a priority to me than it is to him, but I see that as MY failing, not his.

Posted by: xyz | October 5, 2006 3:48 PM

xyz - that's the truth - it is more of a priority to me than him. I've posted before that he does a lot and we have a good balance. My point was echoed better by Laura who hits the proverbial nail on the head about middle ground. I probably complain too much about not having time off, but then when I do, I fill it with chores rather than enjoying the fun stuff with the kids. Chores which really could wait a bit longer. And I really could do better asking for assistance with some things so I don't just do them all myself!

Posted by: SS | October 5, 2006 3:53 PM

oh goodness,
all i'm saying is in my experience, women have a hard time just letting go and enjoy - and that's sad. SS's husband was playing on his day off - she doesn't because she feels so much pressure. Maybe he is and maybe he is not doing "as much or more" than her, we don't know. They could both learn from each other in this instance.

Studies DO show that women do housework approx 20 hours each week MORE than men. Everyone should be aware of that.

Posted by: from to SS | October 5, 2006 3:54 PM

I wouldn't necessarily say I feel pressure to do house stuff on my day off, more that I tend to view a "found day" as a "catch up day" when I could instead look at it as an opportunity to hang out with the kids. I am also much more a "type A" than my husband which means I keep the to do list and tend to obsess more about what needs to get done. I can say, though, that in the effort to find balance, I've learned to let a lot go that used to drive me nuts. Not being home to notice the dust helps too :-) As does the big shaggy Newfoundland who reminds me that nothing really stays clean for that long. I'd like to think finding balance is more than an excuse for relaxing my housekeeping standards, but hey ...

Posted by: SS | October 5, 2006 4:02 PM

I'm tardy, but CONGRATS Megan!!!

Posted by: Meesh | October 5, 2006 4:08 PM

First, thanks single western mom. Good post.

Now:

"It is unfortunate that you husband felt that way about the request to walk the day-care children to school. The day-care provider may not have felt comfortable talking to another woman's husband. I am not sure what either party's cultural background is, but it could have also been deemed completely inappropriate to ask assistance from a man. Anyways, your husband missed out on the opportunity to connect with his neighbors and possibly even form some friendships."

Yup. I wanted to arrange a playdate with a neighbor's son and the only email I had was the husband's. I had met him first when I visited their home to check out the work being done in the basement. Then I met the wife later, when I brought my ex-husband over for the same purpose. Anyway, I emailed the husband about a playdate. The wife answered the email -- on his email address. So I still did not have her email, but she expressed an interest. When I replied (to him again, but addressing her), I received no answer. So I felt the effort was a bit too much for me, and I gave up. When I see her, we chat like nothing happened. So I'm guessing either she's pressed for time, she's flakey or I committed a faux pas. There is a subtle, unspoken "rule" that women apparently cannot talk to other women's husbands in the neighborhood. I heard female acquaintences talk about this "rule."

This can also play out the same way in the park. The interjection of a SAHD into an all-female group has the possibility of adding sexual tension (real or imagined) or breaking the above "rule." The dad is just trying to do his thing and not thinking about anything but kids and conversation, but...

So it's possible the home daycare mom was trying to abide by that "rule."

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 5, 2006 4:11 PM

theoriginalmomof2--Wow! I've never really encountered those "unwritten rules" Then again, I've tended to disregard many of those rules. I'm one of those weirdos who still keeps active socially with my ex'es. I've been to several of their weddings and I had more than one of my own ex'es at my wedding.

I hope that people will start to break away from those type of "rules" because they are as destructive as the good ol' boy network. This is the glass barrier that prevents integrating dads into the SAHP circle.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 5, 2006 4:20 PM

Oh my goodness, why didn't someone tell me about this rule. I talk to everyone! Husband, boyfriend, dad, brother, etc. I am probably the harlot of my new neighborhood. Shoot, mom of 2 where were you a month ago. Now, should I continue to talk to them or should I just ignore them. Also, what about if instead of a SAHD, there is a mother who is a lesbian, will her partner get offended? Now you guys have me worried that I am being perceived wrongly.

P.S. This is not a snarky post, I'm being serious.

Posted by: Scarry | October 5, 2006 4:25 PM

oh no, I have stay at home dad friends, I talk to other people's husbands, and I send my kids to play at houses where the dad is supervising. I didn't know I was such a renegade!!

Posted by: experienced mom | October 5, 2006 4:36 PM

To Scarry - I think it depends on where you live! I can tell you that neither my husband or I would be offended. We talk to all of our children's friends' parents without worrying about him talking to a mom or me talking to a dad. We also tend to socialize with folks who have children who are friends with our children so perhaps it puts all of us at ease to do so and there's no lingering weirdness if we dare have a mixed gender conversation about a playdate. I'd think if there's a dad/bother/male caregiver present, then that's the person to talk to. Kind of seems like the catch-22 if dads feel left out when no one talks to them but then there's some strange consequences if a mom does talk to them. Where does all this insecurity come from?

Posted by: SS | October 5, 2006 4:37 PM

I don't know SS, I know I don't care who talks to my husband. We want friends and we want our kids to have friends. I've never really thought about this before.

Posted by: Scarry | October 5, 2006 4:41 PM

LGB, try to arrange playdates at your house, then hopefully people will reciprocate. look for families with 3 or 4 children, they often don't keep score in the reciprocation department, and are used to having a house full of kids so one more doesn't matter much. They are the type to whom you can say, I have errands to do, can my daughter come over, and I'll have yours over on Tuesday. It's really hard to get this organized, but if you can establish relationships, it gets easier. As for the neighborhood kids, does your daughter really need your supervision outside the home? I don't know your neighborhood, but maybe you could get to know the parents by inviting them over for dessert one weekend, maybe they don't care at all if your daughter plays in their yard, if they have your phone number. Hard for me to say. We run a zone defense in this neighborhood, and the more the merrier! The parents watch over who ever is in their yard.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 5, 2006 4:45 PM

With fear of taking this off-topic, I'm wondering if my lack of concern over who talks to my husband is because both of us work and have conversations with other adults, male and female, every day. We even travel for our jobs, sometimes with coworkers of the different gender. It has never occurred to me to worry about a mom approaching him to arrange a playdate. Seems more like lots of folks with trust issues rather than a set of rules that I admit I didn't know about either.

Posted by: SS | October 5, 2006 4:45 PM

Scarry, I think you can relax. Just be kind-hearted and friendly.

Personally, if we were neighbors/had kids in school together I would be annoyed and offended if you chose NOT to talk to my husband - it would inevitibly make my life more difficult (i.e. if I'm not the parent who will be around for the playdate, I don't need to be involved in planning the playdate).

Posted by: me | October 5, 2006 4:48 PM

To Scarry and DadWannaBe
(writing as one in/out of home for about 23 years now).

Neighborhood and context can make a difference. For example in early years, while in graduate school, we interacted directly and indirectly with plenty of moms and dads working together to cobble a care and fun network in the odd hours of University-land.

Once we entered a neighborhood (circa 1986), the one stay-at-home-dad took a while to be integrated into the flow. Turns out he was very introverted, but also a pioneer. No Peyton Place/Wisteria Lane stuff at all. Who has time for that in real life, anyhooo!????

Now fast forward about twenty years. I see lots of stay-at-home or work-at-home dads with flexibility. I see a regular group of park parents meeting during the day: two dads are there full time; one dad moves between home and graduate school.

I do think that the sheer numbers (small but growing) and social learning of a generation is making life easier for dads around the neighborhood. Sorry DadWannaBe for those vibes you know about for self or friends. I believe you.

(Hellooooooo in there Brian R. What say you, oh keeper of stats and anecdotes on dads at home?)

But I suspect that neighborhood culture might matter. In my inner Beltway community (shabby by some standards, charming by others) well, lots of variation and celebration and no comment on how to be a family.

A friend out in a newer, planned gated community says, well, "nice houses, but nobody is home -- until late." Please don't slam me. I don't mean anything other than perhaps the commute-larger house tradeoff makes connection during the daylight hours harder in some neighborhoods. I rather imagine great people in the houses, also looking for how to balance family, finances, and fun.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 5, 2006 4:57 PM

So....it seems that when I posted on this issue last week (in the context of women thinking I'm hitting on them when I (married man) strike up a conversation) without reservation, 100% of female respondents indicated I was either imagining it or didn't matter.

When originalmomof2 brings it up, it clearly exists?

I feel petty pointing it out, but it's just strange to me that nobody thought it was noteworthy when a male pointed it out. I'm fed up too. I think I'll go keg-fridge-shopping with Dad of 2....

Posted by: Random Guy | October 5, 2006 5:00 PM

to experienced mom:

There are a couple of layers to the issue - while there is another family I trade off weeks we pick up eachothers kids from school with, my ex is not comfortable with her spending time over there without me until he meets the parents (and he's deployed now). I try to respect his wishes, because I know I'd want the same in return (though I wouldn't be likely to get it).

As much as I try to resist being a helicopter parent, I really got scared a few months ago when a girl was abducted from her back yard. The design of the town house is such that I wouldn't hear/see if anything untoward happened.

We live in a relatively new subdivision with houses still going up, I'm sure it'll just take some time to get it all going.

Thank you for the advice and support!

PS I try not to be snarky about him wanting to meet the parents, but honestly - how much can you tell from meeting someone once or twice? Alot of times you just have to go off faith they'll be okay people. I'm supposed to trust his judgement with his girlfriends/fiancees/wives that have taken care of her, but he can't trust my judgement on a neighbor play date - sheesh.

Posted by: LGB | October 5, 2006 5:01 PM

I know, I know. I try to be respectful and cordial and ignore nutty rules too. I think such restrictions are a function of insecurity, as pointed out above -- perhaps paranoia about cheating, etc. Especially if the neighbor happens to be single.

I wouldn't care about a neighbor talking to my husband. If something bad happens, it would happen regardless, right?

Scarry, you sound like you're surrounded by less insecure types, so no need to change up now! ;>

I do agree it depends on where you live.

Have a good one, all. And thanks for the low snark quotient today! I enjoyed it.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 5, 2006 5:01 PM

If I double-post, sorry. I got an error message.

I know, I know. I try to be respectful and cordial and ignore nutty rules too. I think such restrictions are a function of insecurity, as pointed out above -- perhaps paranoia about cheating, etc. Especially if the neighbor happens to be single.

I wouldn't care about a neighbor talking to my husband. If something bad happens, it would happen regardless, right?

Scarry, you sound like you're surrounded by less insecure types, so no need to change up now! ;>

I do agree it depends on where you live.

Have a good one, all. And thanks for the low snark quotient today! I enjoyed it.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 5, 2006 5:03 PM

'Alot of times you just have to go off faith they'll be okay people'

right! Tell your ex that a friend (that's me) said a short playdate, with extended drop off and pick up can reveal alot about people. Ask your child pointed questions about what happened when you were away, and you'll get the true picture. After all, they are trusting you when you have their child over too. I'm a big believer in the gut feeling.
Hang in there, and extra points for trying to accomodate the ex's unreasonable request!!

Posted by: experienced mom | October 5, 2006 5:13 PM

Hi Random Guy. Try staying, along with Dad of 2. Nicer today. We need cats and dogs on the blog. Pink and blue, too.

I recall that your post was about the pink vs. blue thing in social contexts. I mean that for short hand about women and men; sometimes communication is still difficult.

Do you read the Deborah Tannen books about communication? Very helpful.

And about what you said, I always find that wedding rings are helpful as one signal in that arena. I know that not everyone wears one.

Still, like Scarry, I am happy to meet pleasant people everywhere. I bet that could be you, too.

So stay. Help keep the conversation going. I'll try hard to listen to what you type, and ask you to tell more.

Off to soccer.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 5, 2006 5:26 PM

to TakomaMom:

Ha! I like your post, too!

For all people say about this blog being snarky and judgemental, I feel like it has helped me out.

I used to wonder if I was doing something "wrong" because people I did get to talk to didn't seem to have issues ... maybe they were just scared to air their dirty laundry?? I know some people appear to lead charmed lives and actually do have them - they're lucky!

Thanks for opening up and letting me know I'm not the only one :o)

Posted by: LGB | October 5, 2006 5:34 PM

Thanks to all of the snarks who stayed quiet today.

Thanks to all who made thoughtful posts.

Posted by: me | October 5, 2006 5:52 PM

To All: Wanted to let you know I've appreciated the comments. I apologize for not participating today -- I'm away on travel and my blog-life balance is out of whack.

Posted by: Brian Reid | October 5, 2006 5:56 PM

One more post:

Random Guy, I don't think I responded to your post last week, but I'm guessing you weren't imagining things. If you received a funny vibe and/or reaction, chances are you were right. I don't remember the context of your post then.

Different day, different posts. The men's views have validity, even if others don't agree with what you say. I certainly want to read what you have to say, and I'm sure there are quite a few others who do as well. Stick around.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 5, 2006 9:19 PM

I've stopped in every few weeks to check out Brian's posts and left quickly after sifting through the comments. This is my last visit.
I'm a Sahd (who's going to the convention) because it works well for my family and we all enjoy it (my wife's pretty amazing). Yes, moms on the playground can be mean and uninviting, but I think they're probably that way to most people. I'm amazed that there are so many moms who are sooooo stressed by their lives and trying to raise kids and careers and "keep balance" who still have time to keep up with this blog daily. I'm gonna get back to the fun (somewhat isolated) life of trying to show my daughter how to be a strong open minded independent woman. GOODBYE :}

Posted by: DadWannaBe's big fan | October 5, 2006 11:47 PM

Congrats, Megan! i was just wundering when you were going to pass the bar. My gutters need to be cleaned, and if my annoying son falls off the roof, I'll probably be looking for a good lawyer. :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 9, 2006 4:02 AM

great article,thank you from a work at home dad

Posted by: work at home dad | November 5, 2006 6:41 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company