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Rare Stay-at-home Dad Sighting

Jon Whittle

It’s interesting that on a day when the New York Times’ website led with stories about the stalled Mideast peace talks and contentious midterm elections, it also reported that stay-at-home dads are not treated well. Yesterday, Matt Villano -- a great writer and a work-at-home dad -- guest blogged for NYT’s Motherlode about a recent outing with his 16-month-old daughter. Matt thought he was going to reading time at the local library, only to discover he was in a diorama at the Museum of Natural History. He was treated like an endangered specie: the library staff oohed and ahhed (“A daddy!” the librarian yelped upon spotting him), snapped photos, and even sang songs about him. Matt’s anecdote fit perfectly with yesterday’s news: the modern dad has been negotiating for equality for years and has gotten nowhere (Mideast peace talks), and he’s patronized damn near every time he makes a public appearance (midterm elections).

Let’s face it: dads are fighting an uphill battle (see: Everest, Mount). No matter where you look, we’re taking shots. Open the Oxford American Dictionary, where father is defined as “to treat with the protective care usually associated with a father.” (Usually?) Visit Google, where “mother” generates 312 million search results and “father” generates 270 million. Check your desk calendar: Father's Day has been celebrated annually since 1972; by comparison, Mother's Day was designated an official holiday 58 years earlier in 1914. Peruse the bloggers on there is a mom going through a divorce, a mom who survived cancer, an African-American mom, a single mom, a pregnant mom, and a working mom. Not a dad to be found.

Granted, we have not made it easy on ourselves (according to the National Fatherhood Initiative, the federal government spends $99.8 billion assisting father-absent homes every year). But the tide is turning, and things are going to change around here starting October 20th. That’s when yours truly is launching Pop Culture, a blog dedicated to exploring dad’s place in modern society, defending his rightful place in it, and helping Mom better understand him.

As we all know, when it comes to parenting Mom is CEO, and Dad is regional vice president of operations. Well guess what, people of the Interweb: I’m due for a promotion.   

Shawn Bean is the executive editor of Parenting Early Years. He lives with his wife and two young sons in Florida, where family time often means fielding questions about body parts, ninjas, cavemen, and lava.