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Boys playing with dolls is supposedly taboo in American culture, but in reality the toy industry caters to it. What I mean when I say that the toy industry caters to the idea of boys playing with dolls is a product cleverly (or perhaps not so cleverly) disguised under the product category of “action figures.” What I imagine is really looked down on in boys who play with “girls” dolls.
When I was a young boy I had a few different sets of these action figures. I had a Batman, which I recently passed down to Jupiter, who was also a dress up doll as he is able to switch out from his costume to Bruce Wayne. I had a Pee-Wee Herman action figure complete with his pal Chairy from the Pee-Wee’s Playhouse series. I also had all four Ghostbusters action figures and some ghosts for them to trap complete with the Ghostbuster’s House (dollhouse) and a Ghostbusters car. These are only some of the various action figures I spent my childhood playing with.
I was not alone in my love of dolls… er… action figures. My brother was very fond of his G.I.Joe action figures. He could often be seen playing with them in his room.
As I mentioned, I passed down my Batman and his Batmobile to my son Jupiter to enjoy, as his interest in the Batman franchise has recently gained steam. I did the same with the Pee-Wee Herman set that my mother had the good foresight to save from my childhood. The other day Pee-Wee even borrowed the Batmobile. I love Jupiter’s imagination.
The point is, that there is far less gender difference between the toy options of boys and girls than the mainstream would like to believe. The industry manufactures different versions of the same basic toys for either sex, but they are played with pretty much the same.
I have been wanting to see this film since I first heard about it. I grew up listening to a lot of punk rock, so I was very interested to see what the artists interviewed and followed in The Other F Word had to say about parenting.
The documentary finds several veteran punk rockers and asks them questions about the hardships of touring with their quasi-famous punk bands while trying to raise kids at the same time. At first the film is pretty depressing. It depicts the punkers as absent fathers who are out doing shows which they do not really have very much passion for anymore. One of them admits that they might as well be blowing up balloon animals, implying that they are nothing more than cheap entertainment bought and sold by the same types of corporations that some of them set out to rebel against.
In one part of the movie, Lars Frederiksen of Rancid, takes his kid to the playground and clears the whole place out. He jokes on screen about how all you need to do to get the park to yourself is bring your punker dad and a camera. I can relate a little bit, as my own tattoos and facial piercings seem to intimidate some other parents before they talk to me.
In another part, Fat Mike of NOFX talks about how he cannot stand the boring stories that come from the parents of his daughter’s schoolmates. I can imagine with all that he has been through, it is tough to live up to his standards. He has had a tough life and been through some pretty rank scenarios from what I gather of his public persona. Seeing what less dramatic people spend their time doing must be a real let down.
Later in the film, some of them talk about how their own parents did a pretty poor job of bringing them up. At least these punkers are providing for their families. The whole economy of it all is not very well for them. The millionaire rockstars are all set and small bands get to stop playing at some point, but the guys in the middle end up having to do a lot of touring just to make ends meet.
At the end, there is hope for Jim Lindberg of Pennywise. He quits the band to spend more time with his family leaving the rest of the band obviously a little ticked at his decision.
I am glad I watched it. It was a real eye opening look at the hapless geezers who used to be my childhood idols. Usually when NOFX comes anywhere near, I am eager to get a ticket to the show. Now that I have seen how enthusiastic they are about their obligation to the fans, I am not sure I will want to go. I will probably pony up the 30 bucks or so anyway, because god forbid Fat Mike’s daughter might have to go to a less pristine school with even more boring schoolmate’s parents.
If you are interested, the film is still playing in a couple of theaters but is otherwise available exclusively through iTunes.
Parents, watch out! Your kids might not appreciate the sounds you make with your significant other at night.
The girl, 15, told an officer that she wanted to go to a local shelter “because she heard her mother having sex” and “felt disrespected” by her 35-year-old parent’s actions. The teen acknowledged that “there was no form of abuse or neglect in the house.”
Seems a little over the top to me. After some sense was talked into her, the 15 year old decided that she still wants to live at home. If your kid is trying to regulate your sex life, maybe you should have a look at your relationship with them.
Some of the best toys cannot be bought in the toy section of the store. Regular household items that can be repurposed as toys can inspire great imagination.
Jupiter and I had just used up a roll of wrapping paper after we wrapped his cousin’s birthday present. I told him he could play with the cardboard tube that was left over. I remember my mother giving them to me to play with when I was a boy and I figured he might like to as well.
He immediately found several uses for it. First he made his voice sound tunneled by speaking through it. We have all done that. Next he used it to hit the dogs. I was not to crazy about that and advised him against it. Then he started using it as a tunnel for his Hot Wheels cars to drive through. I am sure he will find many more things he can do with it too. What are some other good household items that can be repurposed as toys?
I have seen a bit of controversy stirring up in the stay at-home dad world lately. First I saw one of my dad friends post this video about “Little Boy Larry” by Mark Driscoll a few days ago. In it, Driscoll describes at-home dads as less than manly lazy asses who live off their wives and what they really want in a wife is a mom because they are deep down mamas boys.
I am not that familiar with Driscoll. I may have heard the name a few times, but this is the first time that his name has really caught my attention. Wikipedia has him as a Christian pastor from Seattle, so the sense of patriarchy does not surprise me. There is a lot of patriarchy justified in the Bible, but I will get to that in a minute. I have have to wonder if, since he calls relationships where the man stays home with the kids while the wife works a mother/son relationship, he then considers a more traditional relationship where the wife stays home with the kids and the husband brings in the income a father/daughter relationship. If he does, he has a lot more psychological issues going on than I care to comment on.
The friend that originally posted that video on his Facebook stream then posted a letter of apology to Driscoll on his blog, Go Ask Your Mother, where he rightfully points out just how ignorant Driscoll is with his assessment. There he says that Driscoll routinely takes the Bible out of context, which I agree with although maybe not for the same reason. The only context the Bible should be in is that it is an ancient text wherein the New Testament was written by first century rulers to help control the peasants of the time, and the Old Testament is a bunch of distorted stories passed down that resemble Pagan and other polytheist gods from up to 6000 years ago. The Bible is nothing more than a 2000 year old game of telephone, also known as Chinese Whispers or grapevine, in which a message gets passed around from person to person through whispers to one another. Any child who has played that game for five minutes knows that the message gets completely distorted in almost no time, let alone for 2000 to 6000 years (depending which part we are referring to) of translating and retelling and translating up to the many various versions and interpretations we have today.
Using the Bible as a guide to live ones life by is at minimum useless, and at most highly irresponsible and dangerous, let alone telling other people that they should live their lives by it too. Sure, a person could live by only the sometimes good messages of love thy neighbor and turn the other cheek presented in some of the gospels, but then they have to ignore all the murder, genocide, rape, hatred, bigotry and other evil perpetrated by Yahweh and his followers that is also presented throughout just as much if not more than the peace and love hippie jargon. By separating those elements out through their own interpretation, one has to admit that no moral sense comes from the Bible, but from their own genetic sense of altruism. At that point the Bible is completely useless to those who are already good and an excuse for hatred of people different from them by a large number of people who support war and bigotry based on select messages from it.
I could probably rant on about the Bible for awhile, but as it is only tangential to the point of this post, I will move on for now.
Chad goes on in his “apology” to describe his own situation which lead to him being a stay at-home dad, which drastically contrasts to the picture that Driscoll paints. Actually, I have met many at-home dads since becoming one myself and most of them have been similar to Chad’s situation and absolutely none have been anything like Driscoll’s version. I am not saying that lazy stay at-home dads do not exist, but that they must be far and few between from what I have seen in my own experience. Even dads that stay home because they have lost their jobs in the recession do not fit Driscoll’s picture. I have met a few of them too, and the ones that I have work just as hard at taking care of the kids and the house as the rest of us while they continue to look for work.
I also came across another at-home dad’s blog called The Daddy Doctrines which had a post that also mentioned this Driscoll video. The rest of the post goes on to talk about how he saw a reaction from a friend of his agreeing with Driscoll and even going a bit further. I can understand the author who had no idea that this friend felt that way about what he as an at-home dad does. He then goes posts one of his own rants about how wrong the biased gender role perception of parenting is and I completely agree with most of what he said too.
To be honest, I would not be surprised if some of my own friends and family keep their own quiet reservations of their feelings about the arrangement that my wife and I have decided on. At first I was a bit affected by much of society’s negative perception of dads who stay at home, but I have since found many others through the At-Home Dad’s Convention and forums such as AtHomeDad.org who have helped me vent frustrations and get over those issues rather quickly. Think a bunch of guys talking about feelings is not manly? Too bad. You are wrong, we do and it does a lot of good for us. Try it sometime.
Moving on to another post by another dad friend of mine, Robb, posted on Daddyshome.org, which is the organization that runs the convention and the forum mentioned in the last paragraph, an organization that I am proudly a member of. In his post, Robb talks about two articles that he has seen which he thinks are casting at-home dads in a wrong way.
The first article he talks about is from Forbes in which Frieda Klotz seems to think that stay at-home dads may be temporary affectation due to the recession and that the public perception, based on the response to an earlier article that she wrote, is that husbands staying at home are not well equipped to rear children, although she admits in the article that she is happy to entertain a fanciful marriage to a child rearing man.
The other article that Robb talks about is one from Bloomberg Businessweek. In it the author, Carol Hymowitz, talks about the stigma of stay at-home dads.
Even as the trend becomes more widespread, stigmas persist. At-home dads are sometimes perceived as freeloaders, even if they’ve lost jobs. Or they’re considered frivolous kept men—gentlemen who golf. The househusbands of highly successful women, after all, live in luxurious homes, take nice vacations, and can afford nannies and housekeepers, which many employ at least part-time. In reaction, at-home dads have launched a spate of support groups and daddy blogs to defend themselves.
I do not know about the luxurious homes, nannies, and housekeepers. Perhaps there is some of that out there, but I have not met those guys either. This article also paints at-home dads as a result of the recession.
There is another part of this Businessweek article that hits home for me where there is the story of a mother who works while the dad stays at home where the mother seems to feel a bit guilty about not spending as much time with the kids as the husband. I know that my wife goes through this as well, but I do not see how this is odd. When the father works I would imagine a father who wants to be involved with his kids feels the same way. I know from experience when I was still working for the first three months of our first son’s life that I felt that way.
Robb goes on to argue that in his case it was a conscious decision based on the desire to have a parent at home raising the child rather than have a daycare do most of the raising and the difference in earning potential at the point that they had kids between he an his wife. He talks about having Dr. Laura as a source for some of his desire to have one parent in the home. While I agree with some of what Dr. Laura says, and indeed have spent some time in the past listening to her myself, I am not too sure she is necessarily speaking too highly of stay at-home dads in this video.
I can echo Robb in the conscious decision to stay at home. Chris and I compared our earning potentials at the time and it was immediately obvious that I would be the likely candidate. I quit my job as soon as Chris’s maternity leave was up and have been staying at home ever since. Chris herself says that she would not have the patience to do it, so the arrangement works better despite the earning potential difference. I hold what she does for our family in high regard as she does me for what I do. It is a partnership that works very well for us.
Robb also talks in his article about how men and women parent differently and how one way is not necessarily better than the other. I agree that different parents do it differently and that, while there is certainly some wrong ways to parent, there is also more than one right way to parent. I do not agree that this is a gender thing, but an individual difference. I am sure that there men who make the same parenting decisions a mother would and vice versa. Maybe currently there are more similarities in the way men parent and more similarities in the way women parent, but as time progresses and the idea of gender roles becomes less common, I think there will be more of a mix of parenting styles in both genders.
This whole stay at-home dad controversy is part of the a larger effort to stop unnecessarily defining gender roles that was coined with the feminist movement decades ago. Many of the goals of the feminist movement have been partially realized, but the male parts are still quite a bit behind in redefining their roles. We still have a long way to go in both female and male role definitions, but progress is being made. There is always backlash against any progressive movement which is strongest at the start. It was that way with slavery, racial minority rights, feminism, gay rights and those still have some pretty large mountains to climb. One of the other movements that I spend a lot of time paying attention to, the atheist movement, is one of the most hated groups there is. In recent polls, atheists are regarded on par with rapists by religious types. While I have gotten into being a stay at-home dad later in the anti-gender-role movement, it is still far from over and in the grand scheme may turn out to be that this is just the beginning.
We recently moved Jupiter’s bookshelf out of his room and into the play area so that he might have more encouragement to read. He likes to look at and read books a lot and I thought that he might benefit from it being in the area that he spends more awake time. He had been spending time reading during nap or bedtime and not getting enough sleep. One day I asked him if the books were distracting to him and preventing his sleep. Later that day he told me he wanted the bookshelf out in the living room. I think this arrangement has turned out for the better.
I also thought that as Tsunami gets older they will probably like to share their books with each other so that they can both read all the books. Right now we pick out the books which we read to Tsunami and sometimes Jupiter picks them out for him too, but soon he will have his own book interests that he can share with Jupiter. Any suggestions to add to the shelf?
Today, many websites are going black in protest of the Protect IP bill now going through congress designed to ruin the way the internet works. Watch the video and follow the link below to let Congress know that you like the internet the way it is.
I think divorce gets a bad rap in our society. It gets painted as a problem when most often it is a solution to a problem marriage. Sometimes, for example when people marry their high school sweetheart, people have made an error in thinking that they have found someone who matches what they want for the rest of their lives. In this case, a divorce is the solution.
Successful marriages have been studied to be associated with higher education and age. This makes sense. The more you know, the more you know what you are looking for in a partner.
Many people are foregoing the whole idea of marriage altogether. Many people realize that as people grow, interests change and that you cannot definitely say that two people will remain interested in the same things for the rest of their lives. I am married to my wife, but I can see that point of view.
Marriage in The US is also convenient for legal reasons. Taxes are higher on single people, and while the state using taxes to encourage marriage is deplorable, it is cheaper to be married. There is also the issue of custody should something unfortunate happen to one of us. Men do not always get the kids in that situation if the parents are not wed, but that varies from state to state.
Chris and I had Jupiter out of marriage voluntarily. He is, by definition, a bastard. We did not see why marriage and kids necessarily needed to go together. Chris had just gotten out of a marriage and I did not see the need to rush ours. But we both wanted to have kids and thought that we would both be good parents to a kid.
I waited until after Jupiter came to ask her. I did not want to give off the perception that we were getting married just because we were making family. I wanted marriage to actually mean something. It is different for different humans, but to me it means that I think we can grow our interests together for a long time.
It seems to me like the perception is opposite the problem. Sometimes people just should not get married, but they do anyway. Sometimes people make a mistake that they only realize later on. No doubt divorce is a terrible thing to have to go through, but I think that it is sometimes necessary. Really, I think divorce statistics are a bit irrelevant as a negative, because sometimes marriage was the problem and divorce is the solution. If the divorce rate is up, that could mean that people are finally getting the right solutions to their problems. If Chris did not have a divorce before me, we would not have this awesome family together.