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Showing posts with label fatherhood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fatherhood. Show all posts

17 April 2009

Live blog: Work-Family Balance for Women & Men

I am live-blogging from the Council On Contemporary Families Annual Conference.

18 August 2008

Work it, Mom! Monday - Dads & Single Moms

Today at Work it, Mom! I say a heartfelt thank you to Joe Kelly and the team at Dads & Daughters for all the awesome work they did the past decade. I'm so sad that they had to close shop. The Chicago Foundation reminds us that only about 3% of philanthropic money goes towards women and girls-centered programming. Thus the closing of Dads & Daughters shouldn't be a surprise, but it still hurts.

On the flip side...kinda...I got a call from the Tyra Banks show. They are looking for single moms who have babies or infants to appear on the show. You also need to be in a difficult situation, having a very tough time at life. If you fit that description and want to learn more email Sonia at sonia.juarez@tyratv.com. And let me know if you're going to be on! Yes, my readers are FIERCE! hehe....

05 July 2008

Why Tiger Woods' Miracle at the US Open is Horrible News for Parents

Welcome readers from the 61st Carnival of Feminists!

Days after Tiger Woods won the 2008 US Open columns sprung up about his amazing feat especially after it was revealed that his next appearance would be in the operation room to repair a torn ACL:

As great as Woods was in winning the most important major golf tournament of the year, he just got greater. We now know he gritted out all those big drives, made all those miraculous shots and holed all those magnificent putts on a knee that wasn't yet healed from April surgery. And on a leg with stress fractures in two places. - Christine Brennan, USA Today

“The diagnosis was not to play in the U.S. Open,” Hank Haney, Tiger’s swing coach, said Monday before chuckling. “There was no way he wasn’t playing the U.S. Open.”

That’s what makes Tiger, Tiger. His ferocious competitive streak – which in this case may prove harmful – coupled with his intense mental strength allowed him to not only proceed when he shouldn’t have, but actually thrive. - Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

Yes, there was hemming and hawing on the sports pages about whether or not Tiger should had played at all. But it was more related to his legacy...whether he would surpass Jack Nicholson for Golf King or not. Carol Slezak of the Chicago Sun-Times even reminded us that Tiger's feat is not unique:

You think Tiger Woods had it rough playing golf with an injured knee? Try vaulting on a severely sprained ankle -- and sticking the landing. Oh, how quickly we forget.

Twelve years have passed since Kerri Strug's captivating performance during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Remember her terrific vault and landing, followed closely by a look that said, ''I'm in excruciating pain,'' followed closely by her collapse onto the mat?

Just weeks before this "superhuman" display of athletic ability the NYTimes had us parents in a frenzy over our daughters' ACLs:

Janelle was one of the best players on a very good high-school team, the Lady Raiders of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. A midfielder and a 2007 first-team, all-Broward-County selection, she had both a sophistication and a fury to her game — she could adroitly put a pass right on the foot of a teammate to set up a goal, and a moment later risk a bone-jarring collision by leaping into the air to head a contested ball.

That she was playing at all on this day, though, was a testament not to her talent but rather to her high threshold for pain, fierce independence and formidable powers of persuasion. Janelle returned to action a little more than five months after having an operation to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, or A.C.L., in her right knee. And just 20 months before that, she suffered the same injury to her other knee.

There was a lot of skittishness around the blogosphere about this story. Was it a thinly veiled attempt to drag girls and women back to the time when even running was bad for our reproductive organs? Or a simple call to action, without the call, for parents to wake-up and smell the Icy/Hot?

So where does this leave us parents? Especially those of us with athletic girls, which I am a member of that club. Do we let them see sportscaster after sportswriter bow down at the Temple of Tiger and his amazing ability to win on a torn ACL? Do we afterwards tell them that it's ok for a man to do that and not "you, young lady. You're sitting out of your soccer tourney." Will we get back-up from their coaches? Or do we fall back on the "when you're an adult, you make your own choices," line again?

I'm a huge sports fan...HUGE. But I recall watching my classmates in high school play thru injuries, I see Hall of Fame football players limp thru Chicago, and my knees hurt like hell some days. Do I want that for my girl? Hell no. Do I want her to sit out because she might get hurt? HELL NO.

A middle ground needs to be found, settled, and established. I'm not talking laws here, I'm talking about parents being parents. We should not laud acts such as Tiger Woods at the US Open, Kerri Strug at the Olympics, or Curt Shilling's bloody sock. We should laud the Cubs for putting Zambrano on the 15-day disabled list despite his displeasure and every other player who sits out "just in case." Yes, championships will push us to do things we might not do during the regular season, but we need to ask what is best for the person. Will they be able to walk in 10 years? Will a 15-year-old boy hide his injury to be like Mike? Not just "will we win?" A lot of time and money has been spent to discuss steroids in sports and the way our kids look at it. We need to start talking about cortisone shots and playing on not just bum knees, but torn, broken knees.

Technorati tags: Title IX, sports, Tiger Woods, girls, ACL

15 June 2008

Father's Day Thoughts

First, my Work it, Mom column will be about Father's Day...check it out in the morning.

Second, our daughter made a t-shirt at pre-school for her daddy that she is just soooo proud of. She wants him to wear it every where and he wants to keep it pristine so when we're old, we can pull it out and cherish it. We had IHOP for POP - Mmm....pancakes. Then we went to the Andersonville Midsommarfest and had a great time. Annie, our dog, was the belle of the ball. Our daughter got to the top of the mobile climbing wall. I was proud to walk past Women and Children First and NOT go in and buy a book. Of course, tomorrow is book club...The day was just perfect.

Third, this post at Blogher about forgiving your dad is rather touching in both good and bad ways. I have a lot to forgive my father about, yet as my beloved Tia likes to remind me, I also have a lot to thank him for too. So while I wish he wasn't so old school that he could have told me how proud he was of me when I was growing up, I am thankful that he did teach me how to love baseball. I wish he knew how to communicate his feelings towards me, especially since our translator, my mom, is no longer with us, I am thankful that he is an amazing grandfather to my daughter, the only one not within driving distance of his house. I could go on and on, but I won't for both of our sakes. But I do want to try to evolve from holding grudges to having lots of wishes instead.

08 May 2008

The Feministing of Fathers

There are plenty of things that make being a mom worth it. The hugs, the kisses, the seeing your almost 5yo run across a soccer field, kick a goal, and then throw a smile and shy wave in your direction. But in the top 5 of the list of things that make this whole motherhood gig worthwhile is the blossoming of my daughter's father's feminism.

When I say blossoming, I mean it. When I met my husband (whom I married nine years ago today!) I was in some ways more radical than I am today. I was immersed in my Amnesty International activism and quite set in my 17yo ways. Heck, in my head I was on my way to Evergreen State College to kick my feminism into high gear! So he knew what he was getting into when he told me that he was crushing on me. I also knew what I was getting into when I said, ditto.

While he was more Alex P. Keaton than Steven Keaton, he was feminist enough for me. When we first met the idea of his wife keeping her maiden name was out of the question...Here I am nine years after our wedding still with the name I was born with. He's evolved in his feminism. Any credit that is due to me was a result of many debates, pushing, pulling, and yes, some nagging.

What amazes me is how much of the stuff that I used in those debates that he scoffed at now coming out of his mouth now that we have a daughter who is headed to kindergarten next year.

There's an old saying that to make a man a feminist, give him a daughter. It didn't work with Reagan, Bush, or McCain, but it sure has helped with my husband. I can't recall exactly what he said a few days ago, but I just smiled at him and beamed that look of love usually reserved for cheesy date movies or political spouses.

Over at Beacon Broadside, Kevin Scott discusses the pornification of Miley Cyrus not just from the POV of a professor of American literature and culture, but as a father:

Talk about teachable moments. Two days before the "topless Miley" stories broke all over television and online, my class and I were discussing the young star of the Disney show, Hannah Montana.


Knowing, as they do, how easy I am to distract, they asked me what I thought of Miley Cyrus, who plays a normal high school kid who moonlights as a rock star. (Don't we all remember that kid from our own high school days? No?)

I said, roughly, "Well, the music makes my ears bleed, BUT, considering the options, if my daughter were to be a fan of the star, I would probably decide to shut up and let her have her fun."


Largely, I agree with Cyrus' early comments, printed in Vanity Fair, along with the photos, that the image is "artsy." Yet there can be little argument that the girl in the photo—looking over her shoulder at you, with her lips plump and red, and her hair tousled as if awakened in the bed, nude, and clasping her satin sheets around her—is suggesting pleasures more adult than the age on the driver's license she can't yet possess would say is appropriate.

Then again, as a "Dad," I saw her ribs poking out and thought, "Man, somebody feed that kid."

With stories of dads who take their girls to get waxed, telling their daughters they are fat (personal anecdotes abound!), and other horrors, it is refreshing to see one and read of another who really get it. They understand that crap that their daughters will be growing up in and want to change things for the girls' sake. Yes, it is an extension of the patriarchal protection that makes this world insane in the first place, but it's a feminist patriarchy...I think.

Technorati tags: feminist, father, dad

08 March 2008

Happy International Women's Day!

And to celebrate, I shall blog about boys & men.

This is a phenomenal time to be a feminist, it really is. So much of what we have fought for in the last 150 years is finally blooming. No matter which candidate you stand behind, you have to stop and smile at how feminism has made it happen. The Council on Contemporary Families released a briefing paper a few days ago with an update on how men are faring in relation to their daily chores. While we are not at parity, they are doing a larger share than ever before (althou, I might suspect that when families were on farms, things were pretty 50/50). Thank you feminism. Hidden in the chore pieces is this tidbit:

The most dramatic increase in men's contributions has been to child care. Between 1965 and 2003, men tripled the amount of time they spent in child care (Bianchi, Robinson and Milkie 2005; Fisher et al 2006). Fathers in two-parent households now spend more time with co-resident children than at any time since large-scale longitudinally comparable data were collected (Coltrane 2004; Pleck and Masciadrelli 2003). In this period, women also increased their time spent in childcare and interaction with children, doubling it over the period from 1965 to 2003. This mutual increase in child care appears to be related to higher standards for both mothers and fathers about spending time with children.

So there ya go...stop feeling guilty about the time you spend with your kids because on average us moms and them dads are spending more time with the kids then before (again, that farm family probably spent way too much time together!). Thank you feminism.

Sometimes it is really hard to show people how feminism is not just about women. Yes, its basic premise is to bring parity. equity, equality, whatever word you want to use between the sexes. But what it really is doing and why the ultra-conservatives are in a tizzy is that feminism is breaking down gender roles. Yes, boys can still be boys and girls can still be girly. But those boxes are no longer sealed shut. I think we all know a girl out there who jumps in mud puddles with her pretty dress on, of course with stylish rain boots on her feet. I know moms who are very protective of their sensitive sons. Oh, they rumble with the best of them, but still have a very public and soft heart. I worry about them too. Will feminism help unseal boys' gender role boxes before they get called sissies or even worse, learn to suppress that gentle part of their soul?

A lot has been written on how Hillary Clinton is running like a man. Being tough on national defense and not showing much emotion. That is how the second wave of feminists/women of the 60s grew up. That was their personal defense mechanism. Compare that to Barack Obama who is the epitome of what us gals have been wanting in a man. Strong yet sensitive. We know he can kick some ass if needed, but can still curl up with us to watch a chick flick and not roll his eyes. Marie Wilson notes this:

I hope Obama's rise is accompanied by a new movement on the part of male leaders to ameliorate their leadership -- and that we can learn, as a nation, to truly accept women leading alongside them.

If Barack is our candidate for the White House and gosh darn it, he better win, I do hope that one of the things he ushers in is a new model for masculinity. Here's hoping that we won't see photo ops of him hunting, chopping down trees, at a Monster Truck show, or anything else stereotypically manly if its not something that he already likes to do. Here's hoping that the partnership that is his marriage brings this nation further along in household egalitarianism that the Clinton marriage started 15 years before them (of course without any intern situations).

No matter who wins, Barack or Hillary, if they win the White House, we all win. Feminism wins.

Technorati tags: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, feminism, gemder roles, Marie Wilson, masculinity, Council on Contemporary Families

02 March 2008

March 4th for Child Care & Head Start

TUESDAY, TUESDAY, TUESDAY...Get your lobbying fingers ready and let's fight hard for child care and Head Start. The National Women's Law Center (NWLC) has a campaign going on that we should all jump on.

Access to child care and Head Start is vital to women's economic well-being and the ability of their children to succeed in school. The Bush administration’s proposed FY 2009 budget would continue the administration’s long-standing pattern of freezes or cuts to child care and Head Start. Under its proposed budget, 200,000 low-income children and their families would lose child care assistance, and 14,000 children would lose Head Start.

Call or e-mail your Senators and Representative and let them know that they must reject the President’s FY 2009 budget request for child care and Head Start and support more funding for these programs. To call your members of Congress, please dial 1-888-460-0813 and ask to be connected. To find out who your members are, search the NWLC directory.

To contact your elected officials and let her/him know how you feel, just use their handy dandy form. And while you are planning, post this action alert and get more people involved!

Technorati tags: NWLC, child care, Head Start

21 February 2008

How Barack and Bill -- Yes, Bill -- Can Create Real Change

My latest column at Work it, Mom!

The Presidential campaigns have been raging for just over a year now. The GOP has their candidate, even if a certain former Governor hasn’t gotten the memo, and the Democrats are still in a horse race. What has been most intriguing to me during this primary is how Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton have been seen in the media.

I was a senior in high school when Bill and Hillary were on the path to the White House the first time. I was proud and quite surprised that the country was embracing this strong feminist of a woman. It seemed odd to me that so many people were embracing the idea of having a hands-on First Lady. Of course, I knew that she wouldn’t be the first. In the fourth or fifth grade I was obsessed with First Ladies. I even made a zine of them and highlighted my favorites: Abigail Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Jackie Kennedy. Having grown up with some pretty wimpy First Ladies – Barbara and her books and Nancy and her guest appearance on Diff'rent Strokes telling us to “Just Say No.” I was more than ready for a First Lady who looked like she was ready to change the world with the platform she would inherit. I still kick myself that I never got my hands on any of the “2 for 1” or “Vote for Bill, Get Hillary for Free” T-shirts that I recall seeing on the news.

Fast forward 15 years (dear goodness! It’s been 15years since high school?) and we working moms find ourselves in a rather odd situation. The woman that many of us heralded as our second President is now running for President herself. We witnessed Hillary Clinton attempt to reform our health care system, attend the 1995 United Nations 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing under a very feminist mother banner, and try to raise Chelsea away from the media’s prying eyes. She redefined the definition of working mom. The wife of her main opponent is also a working mom, one about whom I’ve heard many women say, “I wish she were running!” If Michelle Obama does have time for baking cookies, my money is that the Pillsbury Dough Boy is helping, too.

Michelle sat down with Katie Couric last week and Katie asked her the big question for First Ladies: What will be her cause?

read the rest at Work it, Mom!

24 January 2008

Update on Who Owns Jane?

Way back in August I blogged about a lawsuit between Geena Davis and Dads & Daughters about the ownership of See Jane. Well they have settled the lawsuit and on my birthday! woot! Here is a snippet of the press release:

OSCAR®-winning actress and producer Geena Davis and the charitable organization Dads & Daughters (DADs) today formally announced the transition of the SEE JANE™ program from the Minnesota-based DADs to a new life as an independent, Los Angeles-based nonprofit. In order to have more direct influence in Hollywood, See Jane will now be part of Community Partners, the Los Angeles incubator for growing nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for building communities.

Ms. Davis and DADs have previously been engaged in litigation over See Jane. However, Ms. Davis has recently withdrawn that litigation and retracted all claims against DADs as well as its President Joe Kelly and former Executive Director Nancy Gruver. Davis said, “I am very grateful for what DADs, Nancy and Joe have done for the See Jane program in bringing it to life, and I have great respect for the integrity and skill of their work.” Davis continued, “This is an exciting and strategic development for See Jane, and I will do everything I can to make See Jane reach its full potential as an independent nonprofit organization.”

Glad that this is settled and both parties can get back to being their kick ass selves.

Technorati tags: feminist, Dads and Daughters, Geena Davis, See Jane, movies

04 November 2007

What would you do to keep your job?

Would you:
  • Leave your child with the old lady next door that you really don't like?
  • Leave your child with a the guy you just met?
  • Take your child with you toting a box of crayons & coloring books?
  • Go back to work less than a week after giving birth?
  • Hide your pregnancy as long as possible?
My reaction is "hell no!" But I also know I'm one lucky chick. I work for an organization where I get a ton of sick and vacation days AND there has to be one hell of a good reason for me to NOT take a day when my girl needs me. The only time I ever felt like I needed to choose between my job & my daughter was a very short time I worked for a nonprofit and since I was less than six months didn't have ANY sick days.

I also know that many women, too many parents, have to choose between their job and their child's safety. Screw the mommy wars, we're talking about choosing between a sick kid with a 102 degree temperature and reporting to your hourly job where you live paycheck-to-paycheck without sick days.

Rhonda Present, Founder & Director of ParentsWork, recalls to us in the latest newsletter:
A few weeks ago, I was in a coffee shop working on my laptop when I noticed a little girl around five or six years old sitting alone at a table. She seemed to be entertaining herself with the piles of coloring books and toys spread out in front of her. Just as I was wondering where her parents might be, she called out "hi Daddy" to a uniformed man who appeared behind the sales counter. Could it be "Take Your Daughter to Work Day?" No, that doesn't come until April, I thought. So, there must be some other reason for the girl being here.

In my never-ending quest to understand and find solutions to the challenges parents face in juggling work and family life, I decided to ask the father about his situation. He explained that he is a single parent and that his daughter had been home from school sick all week. His own mother was going to come in from out of town to help but had to cancel in the last minute. So, he had no other choice but to bring his sick child to work with him.
Rhonda then points us to a new report out on working parents, Family Values at Work: It's About Time!, that outlines the hardships that happen out of bad luck and family UNfriendly values in our workforce.

Womenstake points us to a recent Nation piece on the plight of working poor mothers and the lack of subsidized child care. I am always honest with how much we pay for child care and when we first started at our fabulous child care facility 4 years ago, we were paying about $300 a week for 5 days of care. Yes, that's $1200 a month and yes, I understand that is some people's mortgage payments. Even the less than stellar places we looked at weren't that much less.

I am lucky...I bet a lot of you reading this are just as lucky...to have a job that pays you what you are worth, get to use sick & vacation days, and you can (barely) afford your child care.

Thus there is a good movement out there working towards paid family leave and paid sick days. What does business say about giving their hourly workers sick days? NO. Why? Because their schedules are already flexible enough that they can schedule their doctor's appointments on their days off. That makes sense because the flu lets us know when it's coming, right? And yet again, teenagers are the excuse for not providing benefits (they are also the reason some don't want to raise the minimum wage because teens don't deserve to earn a real wage)*:
[John] Maddox, the pizza parlor franchisee, said absences among his largely teenage workers were already a "constant problem," especially on Friday nights, when many call in "sick" an hour or two before their shift starts to attend a football game or a hastily called party.
Of course this all on the heels that research shows we are taking FEWER days off for illness:
Most employees with sick pay don't use it all each year, noted Ophelia Galindo, a health and benefits consultant for Mercer Human Resource Consulting. The amount of sick time they've charged has dropped slightly in recent years, she said.

The employers Mercer surveyed gave an average of 8.1 sick days last year, down from 9 days in 2004. Workers charged 5.2 days to illness last year as compared with 5.7 two years ago.
When will we start to treat each other as human beings and not just cogs in a wheel to earn each other money? Looking at this stat, I doubt anytime soon:
The United States is virtually the only industrialized nation that does not mandate sick pay for private-sector employees. Nearly half of full-time workers — an estimated 57 million — don't have the benefit.
Cross-posted at Chicago Moms Blog and Chicago Parent

*I do admit to calling in sick to go to a Cubs game with her family & boyfriend in high school.

Technorati tags: ParentsWork, Womenstake, Paid Leave, sick days, family values, work, child care

30 August 2007

Who owns See Jane?

Have you ever wondered why we don't see more girls as lead characters in children's movies and shows? Have you ever stopped to figure out the ratio of boys and girls as characters period? Well earlier this year, Dads & Daughters, released a study through the See Jane program, about gender and racial disparity in TV shows. In 2006 they released a studies about gender, gender roles for boys, and occupation in G-rated movies. All fabu work!

The See Jane program was touted with Geena Davis' name attached on press releases and fund raising efforts. When I first saw all this, I thought two things: WOW! About time! and Go Geena!
But today I read a story via the Chronicle of Philanthropy that Geena is now suing for ownership of the See Jane program. It boils down to who came up with the idea.

In 2004, Davis allegedly conceived the See Jane program, for which she has since raised $750,000, according to the suit. She actively promoted the program while working with Dads and Daughters.

See Jane's mission initially focused on research. According to a See Jane-sponsored study released in March, the way gender is portrayed on television can critically impact a child's development, particularly the "task of integrating what it means to be male or female into their own personalities."

According to her suit, Davis always maintained "complete and exclusive control of the See Jane concept."

I love both See Jane and Dads & Daughters, so I hope that they can come to a good conclusion without bankrupting D&D. They are doing such great work together and I hope that this is just a tussle and they can go back to viewing what our children are watching through that gender lens.

I know that it's very hard to conceive an idea, hand it over to someone else to run with, and then see things not going as well as you had hoped. I have no idea if this is what is really happening though. As I said, I just want them to go back to the research that makes us go Hmm....

Here are some findings from the various research reports:

  • In the 101 studied films, there are three male characters for every one female character.
  • Fewer than one out of three (28 percent) of the speaking characters (both real and animated) are female.
  • G-rated films show few examples of male characters as parents or as partners in a marriage or committed relationship.
  • Almost twice as many non-white males (62%) as white males (37.6%) are portrayed as physically aggressive or violent.
  • In...G-rated movies, whether animated or live-action, the most common occupation for female characters is white collar work, such as clerical and secretarial positions.
  • The top three jobs for male characters are white collar, blue collar and military.
  • Three quarters of all the single, speaking characters on children’s television were White, giving young television viewers a distorted ethnic worldview.
  • In live-action children’s TV (shows using human actors), 53.9 percent of characters were male and 46.1 percent were female. This translates into a ratio of 1.17 males to every 1 female—the most balanced ratio among forms of children’s electronic entertainment.
There are more reports due out, including one on the hypersexualition of children. I canNOT wait for that one.

X-posted at the Red Thread at Chicago Parent

Technorati tags: feminist, Das and Daughters, Geena Davis, See Jane, movies

25 August 2007

Fatherhood in the balance

I have to admit that I scoff at fatherhood initiatives. While the PR people might tell dads to buck up and take time for the kid, his work place tells a different story. Well, except that dads are the great winners in the wage gap war. Anywho, another celebrity became a daddy this week - Tom Brady.

The whole world seemed to know that his ex-girlfriend and baby mama was about to give birth. It was reported that Brady asked for some time off to be at the birth (which he missed by minutes) as well as afterwards to be with his child. I cant' find any reports if he's taking paternity leave, but he was back in the game for a pre-season game on Friday. Thus, one of the biggest names in professional sports can't even get a week off to be with his new baby? What kind of message does that send to all the dads & young men watching the game?

In a different show of fatherhood responsibilities, Tony Snow, White House spokesman, has quit his $168,000 job because it's not covering all the bills. Um, yeah...I snorted too when I first read that. Somehow I doubt it's medical bills because, well, unlike millions of Americans, he has health insurance. College tuition? I bet most of the parents of the students I work with don't make that much. Sure, Snow's gonna go back to spewing on the TV for bucks, which I'd do in a second if offered. But come on...at least give us a better reason! One that doesn't make us look at our tiny bank accounts and think, "Dude!" OTOH, maybe by spewing on TV, Snow will have more time to spend with his family.

Ah, celebrity fatherhood.

Technorati tags: Tony Snow, Tom Brady, football, NFL, fatherhood, family leave


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