Stay-at-Home Dads Online

Using last Friday’s Morning Edition piece on stay-at-home-dads as a starting point, I spent a little while on Father’s Day exploring the online world of my fellow “SAHDs.”

Friends, it ain’t pretty. There are a fair number of resources out there, including a respectable passel of blogs, but levels of defensiveness, self-pity, and self-indulgent rambling all run high. I find it disturbing that things have come this far without anyone giving the acronym “SAHD” a quick and well-deserved death. Here follow some highlights warning signs . . . was mentioned on NPR and even linked from their website; it’s also the googleking of the searchphrase “stay at home dad.” After getting past a couple obvious negatives—disturbing color palette and ten uses of “SAHD” on the front page—it looked to be a pretty good site, with lots of crunchy content. I went right away to the Articles section . . . and discovered that it hadn’t been updated since 2001. Same with the News section. Not exactly the hallmarks of a go-to resource worthy of national attention.

NPR loses points for that bit of sloppy linking, but gains them back for mentioning the fine site Rebel Dad. They lose them right back again, though, for not noting that said site is a blog. And a pretty good one, too, written by a guy who’s shouldering the whole links-with-commentary burden of this particular subculture, and not falling behind. But even Rebel Dad’s “Dad Links” section only includes links to the aforementioned Slowlane, a nonexistent site called “Proud Dads,” another one called Father’s World (check it out—sometimes you can judge a book by its cover), and a site about mothers. Slim pickins.

Then there’s the Full Time manifesto:

If you are a “stay at home” parent because you can’t hold a job, this site is not for you. If you are a reluctant “at home” parent who simply does it because your spouse can make more money than you, this site is not for you.

But if you have put your children ahead of your career because you think it will benefit your children, and if you have actually come to ENJOY it, then you have found a home on the web . . .

Identifying those who aren’t welcome to your site isn’t the most approachable way to kick things off, but at least the manifesto is excluding some real nasties: total bums and embittered grouches who resent their spouse and kids. But while there’s probably guys like that out there, there are many more who find themselves staying at home because they have trouble holding jobs or make less than their spouses, but nevertheless love their kids more than anything and are stupendous parents. I guess they’re out of luck, though.

It is time for “stay at home” fathers (and mothers) to go on offense. And it starts by renaming ourselves.

Say it with me: “I am a full time father.”

Say it with me: we are not under attack, and as we are not recovering addicts we do not need to engage in AA-style gestures of self affirmation. Furthermore our self-esteem is just fine, thank you, and if you keep bandying that term around somebody’s going write a cheesy self-help book about us, which would be disastrous.

As someone who maintains a weblog about his own daughter, I must be very careful when throwing around accusations of self-indulgence. In my defense, while Cerin Amroth is available for anyone to see, its intended audience is “those people with an interest in Ella’s life,” and if you don’t fall into that category you can certainly entertain yourself elsewhere. All the same, even the most Ella-obsessed folks, such as her grandparents, can reach a point beyond which they do not require additional information. For example, I can’t imagine that they, or anyone else in the entire known universe, would give a flying fig about exactly how long it’s been since her diaper last leaked, or what her exact sleep schedule is, hour by hour, day by day. “Surely,” you might say, “No one would maintain a site with information like that.” But you would be wrong.

In the face of all of this, where oh where is the well-designed, witty, irreverent, self-effacing web resource for stay-at-home dads SAHDs full time fathers guys like me? Seriously: I’m asking. If it isn’t out there, then somebody please create it. I’ll help.

_(cross-posted to Cerin Amroth