Archive for June, 2006

The Myth of the New Dad?

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Zac recently wondered ifDoes Father know shit? there was much difference between the way kids behaved in the 50s and the way kids behave today. And while that’s still up for debate, a new study says modern dads are pretty much the same as the dads of the 50s:

Two US researchers from the Universities of Florida International and Miami, Finley and Schwartz, have “redone” Parsons and Bales’ famous 1950s study on fatherhood (Volume 7, No.1, 42-55 of Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 2006).

The outcome of the revisit is surprising in that it is surprisingly similar to the outcome 50 years ago. Examining the “characterisation of the fathering role”, Parsons and Bales found this centred on so-called “instrumental” functions. That is, fathering was more about providing income, protection and discipline, than it was about “expressive” functions. These, the more emotional aspects of care-giving, were found to be largely motherly functions.

The article goes on to point out that while dads these days aren’t doing more than their pops and grandaddies before them, the moms of today are sharing the “instrumental” functions while continuing to be the primary “expressive” caregiver.

This begs the question, are those of us who think we’re renaissance fathers with our daddyblogs and Baby Bjorns really just blowing smoke up each other’s asses while perpetuating the traditional parenting paradigms? Or, is it possible that the study is flawed, and this latest crop of dads is truly as evolved as we pretend to be? After all, guys who’ve only become dads in the past five years are a drop in the bucket of the total number of fathers in the world. Could we simply not yet be a large enough sampling to make an impact on a study conducted today?

Are we the future or are we woefully stuck in the past? Discuss.

- Matt

Is Anyone On This Bus Interested In Disciplining My Son?

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Remember how I was whining and bitching about rowdy kids in public last week? The Onion has a great story to go along with it:

I’ve tried to control my son in the past, but I clearly lack the most basic parenting skills and have perhaps done more damage than good throughout his young life, but I can tell you what definitely does not work: half-heartedly scolding him from across the bus, letting him run around and swing on the silver poles to get it out of his system, taking away his toys and immediately returning them on the condition that he behave, telling him to go talk to the bus driver, and, finally, completely ignoring himmy preferred method to this day.

More here.

- Zac

Make Lemonade

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

PJ and I started our Hypnobirthing classes and I have formed a couple of thoughts about it already (as I am wont to do).

If you’re not already aware of it (as most people aren’t) the concept is simple: Most couples approach the process of labor with fear and anxiety (and in a lot of ways rightly so: It is a major event). When you get scared (fear/anxiety) the physiology of your body causes everything to tense up (good ol’ “Fight Or Flight” reflex) and makes the opening of the uterus and cervix difficult and painful. If you can relax and control the fear and anxiety, the birth can be if not pain-free, at least not the huffing and puffing screaming scenario that most of us associate with the idea of childbirth. Matt briefly touched on it in a previous post.

First of all, I kinda think “Hypnobirthing” is a lousy name, because it automatically conjures up visions of corny magicians and some joker holding a pocket watch in front of your eyes until you cluck like a chicken. I wish they would have called it “Focused Birthing” or “Relaxed Birthing” or “The Mongan Method” (after the woman who popularized it). If you say the word “Hypnobirthing” at a party, you automatically feel stupid, and I think the new-age cheesyness of the name could turn people off before they give it a shot.

RelaxSecond, people who I know who are science-minded natural born cynics have done it and have had great success. Matt’s wife Jackie wrote about it a bit and in conversations with her PJ and I were very convinced (unless you were lying, Jackie. You best not be lying). We’ve seen a lot of videos of these couples giving birth and throughout the whole thing they are focused, calm, often smiling. There is obviously a lot of work when the baby is actually being born, but it isn’t screaming, sweating, “I Hate You!!! What Did You Do To Me!?!” kind of labor, it is relaxed and calm birthing with patient quiet coaching from their birth partner, often whispering in the woman’s ear. The babies are born (sometimes quickly, sometimes after 36 hours of labor) wide-eyed, not crying, calmly aware of their surroundings…not red-faced and screaming like what I used to imagine a newborn to be like.

Thirdly, I really believe it works after going through this simple exercise in class: Relax. Take slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes. Picture a kitchen. A nice kitchen. Somewheren you have been before and have fond memories of. Look at the countertops and the appliances. Feel the textures of the surfaces. Smell what’s cooking on the stove. Feel the heat from the burner and hear everything in the kitchen.

Look down on the cutting board and you will see a lemon.Lemon
A perfect lemon. Yellow. Waxy. A little stem on the end. Pick it up and feel all of the pores on the surface. Feel how it is cool to the touch and gives a little when you squeeze it. Bring it up to your nose and smell the tart citrus smell of the skin. Now pick up a knife and cut the lemon in half slowly.


Now bring the lemon up to your mouth and bite into it.
Man oh man, my mouth salivated, my jaw burned and tingled, my lips puckered…and why? Was our Hypnobirthing instructor secretly filling the room with lemon Pledge? Did she silently squirt lemon juice into my closed mouth? IT WAS ALL IN MY BRAIN, MAN!!! The power of her suggestion and my own experience of what it is like to bite a lemon told my physical body how to react, and react it did.If I just told you “Hey bro, imagine biting into a lemon” you might go “Yeah, that would be sour” but to be relaxed and focused, and really involved in the experience made it that much more potent and real.To take this to its obvious conclusion, you can use the power of your mind and the control you have over your physiological system to monitor and modify your pain and anxiety impulses and shut them out to a large extent. I have a first-class bullshit detector, and I really feel as though there is validity and merit to this system.I hope our birth goes as smoothly as Oscar’s did.If not, I want my money back.

- Zac

And hey, what’s the deal with kids these days?

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

Kicking & ScreamingWhile eating at a major fast food joint the other day, PJ and I had an interesting conversation on kids in the 1950s vs. kids today as we were watching a three-year-old tear the building apart while his parents calmly drank their Diet Cokes and ate their 1600 calorie meals. I’ve been wondering: Did kids in the ’50s act this way? If Ward and June were out with the boys, would The Beaver have thrown his hamburger patty onto the floor and then raced around in circles screaming?

I’m honestly asking (I wasn’t around then). Was society so buttoned-down that kids acted like little adults? Or was the fear of Dad and “the belt” a motivating factor in keeping the kids in ship-shape? I was able to find this image of a kid throwing a tantrum in a buzz cut and short pants which looks like it’s from the late ’50s or early ’60s, but I don’t know for sure.

I’m wondering if our culture of “Holding the Child as Precious” is really the best way to go…giving in to a kid’s demands or letting them run wild because you don’t want to stifle their creativity. Don’t get me wrong, a kid’s going to get tired, and cranky, and not want to be shopping for women’s shoes, and the tantrum is often inevitable, but I just don’t see any of the kids on My Three Sons laying on their stomachs and kicking the linolium in Woolworths.

Is it because kids aren’t playing stickball Buzz & Cindy love readingin the sandlot and therefore engaging in productive but unsupervised behavior? Kids playing stickball vs. adults coaching and refereeing Soccer League? It just seems as though some parents have lost their authority over their kids in a lot of cases, and can’t be bothered trying to reclaim it.

Old-timers: Were kids that bratty in public when you were young?

- Zac


Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

ThisMr. Toad's Wild Ride might fall under the “too much information” category, but I have to bring it up. In all the advice-laden encounters I had with other dads leading up to Oscar’s birth, no one had the common courtesy to tell me the six weeks following the delivery would be my horniest to date.

First of all, Jackie’s on plant shut-down until her six-week midwife checkup, and knowing I can’t have sex is the world’s most potent aphrodisiac. Then there’s the living, breathing testament to my virility living in my house constantly reminding me of his existence. It’s getting to be ri-goddamn-diculous.

Am I a unique case, or is this just some dark dirty secret about fatherhood everyone decided to keep from me?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a tree with a knot in it.

- Matt

“Hey, dude, are you there? It’s me, daddyblogger.”

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Great article on Dad Blogs in the Austin American Statesman. Really sums it all up.

- Zac