Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Eviction of Eloise

Okay, I know this isn't about writing about Darfur or what's going on in Iraq or New Orleans, but I have to let it out.

Every morning I read to my boys while they drink their milks. It's a gift, really, to be able to do this. The experience has made me a sort of connoisseur of children's literature. One of Charlie's favorite books (and mine as well) is Eloise by Kay Thompson. For those not acquainted, Eloise is the story about a precocious, fast talking six-year-old girl who lives with her nanny at the Plaza Hotel in New York. The story was written in the Fifties and has sparked several subsequent Eloise books as well as movie and cartoon adaptations. The drawings are as fantastic as the writing.

Anyway, I recently had the brainstorm of bringing Charlie to The Plaza, where we'd sit in the hotel lobby and I would read the story to him where it theoretically all takes place. You have no idea how excited my little four-year-old son was at the prospect of this literary adventure. In the numbing December air we trekked all the way to the hotel only to learn that the Plaza Hotel, that mainstay of New York opulence and the setting for so many different movies, had become, aside for a small sliver that's still being renovated, condominium-ized.

The doorman who stopped us at the revolving doors into Eloise's Mecca had the forlorn look of a man whose children had been snatched from him. He explained in somber terms the endless parade of other parents with their excited young Eloise fans that he had been turning away. Why couldn't the lobby at least have been left for people to come see, even if the rest of the place could be private? Why couldn't a child be allowed a few happy moments to fulfill his or her fantasy of standing in the lobby where this beloved character had played? There was no use in complaining to him as he was just a self-described 'door pusher' and not the one in charge.

All we could do was peer past this pathetic gate keeper at the empty, lifeless, gold-adorned lobby, where never an entranced child would be able to linger, unless he or she lived there. The life had been sucked from the place. It was as if Eloise and all that is vivacious about her character, had been tossed out.

My son was bewildered from that point on all the way to tucking him into bed tonight. He kept asking the same question over and over.

"But why can't we go there, daddy?"

I can't tell you how many different ways that I tried to explain it to him: that things sometimes change. That sometimes the special things in this world can come undone even if we don't want them. That there are people out there who want things all for themselves.

"But why, daddy? Why?"

After a certain point I realized there was no way his four-year-old mind could understand why he couldn't go into this place and I just acquiesced, telling him I just didn't know. And honestly, emotionally, I don't either.

I know that some of you reading this are thinking that this particular blog is a bit sentimental and perhaps even a nary trite - and you're probably right. But to me at this moment, the idea of children not being allowed into the Plaza lobby is indicative of all that is wrong with our American culture, where money is always more important than people, where greed is king. My film focuses on how dads suffer in this culture, but truly, it impacts nearly everything, from the pesticide-laden food we eat, to the environment that we are destroying to the lead-covered toys our kids play with....

"But why, daddy? Why?"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

To War or Not To War

There’s been some activity recently in the media revolving around the ‘Daddy Wars’ term and I’ve been hesitant to support it, but the tide for me seems to be turning in my mind.

My hesitancy stems from the whole bloated ‘Mommy Wars’ thing which from my vantage point is a trumped-up concept by the media to rile women up and further cloud what the real picture is in terms of family/work balance. Every time I hear that phrase, I just shake my head in disgust. Frankly, it’s comparable to the ‘Stay-At-Home Dad as a growing movement’ articles and segments that keep cropping up. These are media pieces that focus on the wrong things with the (intended or not) effect of maintaining the status quo of people finding themselves torn between jobs that demand complete commitments and spending time with their families.

So, now the ‘Daddy Wars’ concept is starting to appear more and more in print and my initial reaction was to discourage the phrase as it seemed a thankless sequel to ‘Mommy Wars.’

However, something altogether more interesting seems to be occurring with the ‘Daddy Wars’ concept. The conflict isn’t being perceived between Traditional Dads and the Stay-At-Home Dads (which would be obvious manufactured companion to the ‘Mommy Wars’) but between dads who desire to have more of a work/family balance and their bosses, who are more typically dads themselves at a slightly older age and bred more on being more of a dedicated breadwinner. This idea was most recently written about in USA Today; and for a deeper analysis, please check out a commentary blog about it by Brian Reid, aka Rebel Dad. I’ve argued with Brian in the past against the ‘Daddy Wars’ idea but he seems to be winning me over on it. Thank you, Brian.

What this speaks of are two things: first, that the generation after mine (Gen Y) is gearing up for settling down and they seem to be wanting more family/work balance than any generation previously. This is caused mainly by changes in technology and more women in the workforce and with higher paying jobs; and I think these trends are only going to be intensifying as the years unfold. Second, as sociologist Michael Kimmel said to me quite succinctly in a filmed interview, “The ones who are holding back men from being more involved with their families are primarily other men and that the only way dads are going to be making more headway is by men being more supportive of each other at work when it comes to demanding flex time, a shortened work week and other creative work proposals to cause more family/work balance.

Let the first cannons be heard. The war has begun.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Seasons Greetings From The Evolution of Dad Project!

This morning my elder son, Charlie, asked out of the blue if we could "make another movie of us on the couch." I wasn't even sure what he was talking about until he blurted out as he'd been trained, "Happy Father's Day!" And then it hit me that this would be another good opportunity to pull out the video equipment and create another couch message. So, here it is. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

An interview with Dr. Michael Kimmel

A couple of days back I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Michael Kimmel at his fantastic home in Brooklyn and film him in his private office. Dr. Kimmel is one of the leading experts on masculinity and having him in the film is absolutely essential. Dr. Kimmel is as engaging on film as he is insightful. Here's a brief snippet on how he sees fatherhood and parenting shaping up in the next thirty years. Enjoy!

Friday, December 7, 2007

EvoDads Align with MomsRising.org!

Hey there! Sorry for the lag in entries over the past few weeks - due mostly to pushing the film forward in every other conceivable way.

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Joan Blades, who is best known for being the co-founder of MoveOn.org. Joan is determined to change the world and my hat goes off to her. If anyone can do it, she can! Last year she founded MomsRising.org as the springboard for change in terms of how moms (and families) are treated by the country. Hillary and Obama have both mentioned the site subsequently and membership is growing at a ridiculous rate. My guess is the site will become as influential as MoveOn.org in no time, so be sure to check out their site and get The Mother Manifesto DVD/Book. When it comes down to it, all this relates to dads just as much as moms.

With all this in mind, it seemed a no-brainer to align the project with Joan and her growing force in the war for the family. Joan was gracious enough to allow room on her mom site for an EvoDad blog and it couldn't be more of a privilege to be on her site. Thanks, Joan!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Houston Alexander: UFC Fighter and Single Dad of Six joins Evolution of Dad Project!

About ten days ago I learned from a Yahoo sports article about a UFC fighter, named Houston Alexander, who is a single dad with six kids. What Houston said in the article about how he is with his kids was incredibly poignant and something that needed to be in the film. The article also shared how Houston, a native Nebraskan, would be in Newark for the latest UFC bout on November 17th. Thus began a crazy process of trying to connect with Houston while he was in my general area - and boy was it worth it. Aside from being built like a tank, Houston is a thoughtful and eloquent man who who welcomed the idea of doing something for dads out there.

I keep talking about how the success/failure of the film will be whether it connects with dads who think this film isn't about them - the dads that look at housework and childcare as emasculating - the dads who, if they could only see the bigger picture of fatherhood, might actually find ways to get more involved. Having Houston "The Assassin" Alexander onboard brings the project one step closer to reaching those dads.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Evo Dad Podcast - By Director Dana Glazer

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of being the guest on a podcast with Stefan Korn from New Zealand-based Internationaldad.com. Stefan certainly knows the bigger issues about dads and it was a real pleasure speaking with him. The sound quality (from my end) is a trifle muffled but I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gimme Some Truth! - By Director Dana Glazer

There's been a lot of noise in the media about the so-called "Mommy Wars" which now things seem to be sequeing to "Daddy Wars" - and honestly, the whole thing pretty much makes me nauseous. The deeper I get in the research of this film, the clearer it becomes that most of what we are experiencing in the media regarding motherhood and fatherhood is trumped up BS created primarily to cloud what's really going on out there.

It's easy to seemingly pit at-home moms and dads against their go-to-work counterparts but the honest truth is that most parents are doing the best they can for their kids regardless of what 'type' of parent they are. No one is better than anyone else, although articles like the one in Men's Vogue and the accompanying critique in the NYTimes would make you think otherwise. To glorify or shun any of the social choices parents have to make in our backward-thinking cash culture is just adding to the problem.

If a media article, segment, essay, whatever, does not include a discussion of gender equity, real work/family balance, then it's skirting the deeper issues at hand.

Here's what Brian Reid, aka Rebel Dad, had to say about this, which I think sums up a lot of what's going on here, at least in respect to dads:

"I think the next great battle over parenthood will be between fathers who want to be able to take advantage of the great flexible workplace of the 21st century and the old-line bosses who fail to see the light. It will not be between at-home dad and go-to-work dads. I'm not pleased that LeDuff has decided to spend so much time rhapsodizing about having to "decide if the child is more important than the stature, the action, the money" and setting up a ridiculous, non-existent conflict."

Thank you, Brian, for continuing to shed a balanced light on what's going on with our culture. The evolution may be a slow one but it is inevitable.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Meet The Vachons - by Director Dana Glazer

Over the past week I have encountered three different people who claim to have been misquoted by the Time Magazine article on dads. Their reactions ranged from annoyance to outrage. I've been thinking about this ever since and was about to post here about it, when I discovered that Amy and Marc Vachon did me the favor of writing more succinctly about it in their blog than I probably could.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Marc and Amy Vachon this weekend while in the Boston area. They are at the forefront of a new movement of parents who strive for gender equity and have a site that shares their unique perspective. They are also a couple of the kindest, warmest and most energized people you will meet. At a later date I will post a snippet of what I filmed, but in the meantime, read their blog and check out their site. They are true pioneers and The Evolution of Dad is incredibly lucky to have them aboard.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

For Charlie, On His 4th Birthday - By Director Dana Glazer

My elder son, Charlie, turns Four tomorrow. Honestly, I really can’t believe it. He’s such a big boy now. It seems like almost yesterday that I was racing back to Jersey from the Hamptons Film Festival after my wife called me to share that Charlie had decided to arrive five weeks earlier than his due date. As it turned out, I could’ve gotten there by turtleback and still made it in time as Charlie was born Nineteen hours later.

Every birthday since I’ve written a letter to Charlie on his birthday and this year I thought, given the theme of the film, it would be fun to share the note here as well as read it aloud to him as I typically do. So, here goes…

Dear Charlie,

Wow! Your mother and I can’t believe you are now Four years old and we are so proud at how wonderful a person you’ve become. So much has happened this past year. You can speak better than some adults I know. You finally got the hang of the toilet this past Spring and now you don’t even need a potty seat to sit on it properly. You’ve made some good friends at school, like your buddies Matthew and Zachary and Lily. You’ve figured out how to share and also how to stand up for yourself when needed. You’re learning to be a good brother to Jamie and your patience with him is greatly appreciative. You can walk all around town without the need for a stroller. You can ride a big boys bike with training wheels. You can tread water all by yourself! This has been a big year for you.

Charlie, we’ve also been very excited by your fascination with all things mechanical. You have shown cleverness and creativity - things that will serve you well throughout life. One thing I remember your doing this past year was coming up with the idea of playing the radios in both your room and Jamie’s, shutting those doors, sitting in the living room and toggling the baby monitor from channel “A” to “B” as if you were a disc jockey. Recently I observed how you took your Velcro wallet and slipped your hand through it to make it into a wristband. You’ve always been into buttons and how things work but to demonstrate an ability to use your imagination like that is really wonderful. I’m not sure where you are getting this from, but my guess at this point is you have an engineering mind like your mother’s father. It’s so wondrous to fathom what you get from where. Your tunnel vision focus is definitely from me – a double-edged sword as you can already see – as is your boisterous lack of volume control – something I’ve always had to work on.

It’s been such a joy finally getting to watch some of my favorite movies with you. Seeing your reaction to viewing The Yellow Submarine was such a thrill for me. I love hearing you sing all of those songs. Sitting with you thru The Red Balloon was equally special and I can’t wait to take you to see it in a big movie theater – something I’ve been looking forward to doing with you since the day you were born.

There’s nothing better than having you come into our room at 7am (no earlier!) giving me a big hug and kiss and saying, “Good morning, Daddy, time to wake up.” Spending mornings sitting on your bed, with Jamie sucking on a bottle and your resting next to me as we read a book is something I know I’ll miss when you and your brother are older.

A week or so ago, as we were getting into the elevator of our building, I had this flash of what you will look like when you are a teenager. The amazing (and frightening) thing is that the way time is moving along, you’ll be there in no time.

I love you, my beautiful son. Hoping you have a terrific birthday to remember. May you always be so blessed.

Love always,


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My #1 Life's Lesson - By Guest Contributor David Bohl

I was recently asked by Dana Glazer to write about something I've learned through my experience as a father.

This really got me thinking, as I've learned so much throughout my years of making mistakes, correcting them, learning from them, and attempting to change my habits and behavior to create a better life for myself and those around me.

This personal reflection has awakened memories in me of the one thing I need to remember each and every day. Let me share it with you.

I'm a pragmatist, and I need to keep things in proper perspective, so here's my perception:

Fatherhood, and life, is much closer to The Sopranos than to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. And they're much different from the epiphany experiences many self-help books would have you believe are happening to everyone who reads them, except you.

I am a voracious consumer of personal development books. I love them, and am constantly reading them. But I have noticed a pattern in these books. They tend to be about “how horrible my life was, what happened (my big epiphany) and how great things are now.” I think that kind of self improvement literature can be a little discouraging to many people – those who don't have the big epiphany, and those who thought they had done everything as instructed, experienced the success they worked for, and then found themselves struggling in the some area of their lives.

And I don't think that's how things really are.

Looking at my entire life, as a father and in every other area of my life, I have a great life.

After spending a recent weekend with my wife and now-grown kids, simply practicing my deepest family values - I found myself wondering how my life could get any better.

But there are problems I continue to struggle with. I didn't suddenly have a big awakening, stop struggling with that area, and have a great life from then on.

I do have a great life. It continues to be great. But there are always areas that need more work, and when I smooth them out and that area gets to be what I want, then I keep going. It's not that I don't grow and improve. I do. It's that there's no sudden point at which everything transforms.

Which brings me back to Extreme Makeover and The Sopranos. The end of each Extreme Makeover show brings about this unveiling of a great new life, something completely different and unexpected.

But that's not really how life is. There is no series of before and after pictures to compare and contrast, nor the changing of an ugly-duckling life into that of a swan.

Life is much more like Tony, Carm, Meadow, and A.J. Soprano.

If you were a regular Sopranos watcher, you may have expected the final episode to end in all sorts of unimaginable bloodletting, despair, and, well, finality.

But it didn't. The last few minutes of the show was filled with tense moments that, if you were like me, kept me on the edge of my chair in anticipation of something grand that could occur at any second. You and I examined every character in that scene and reviewed every event that took place and every relationship twist and turn that occurred in the years that The Sopranos were on HBO. You played out tens and hundreds of different scenarios in your head.

And when the TV screen went blank while the family was gathering at a local diner, you, like me, felt that something went wrong with the cable/dish signal.

So what happened to the Soprano family in the show's final episode?

Nothing. Life went on – period.

The Sopranos seldom gave viewers what they expected. Similarly, life is seldom what I expected, and that's the lesson that I must remember every single day of my life.

The only expectation that always becomes reality in my life is that things change. No matter how hard I work to become a better husband, father, friend, and member of the community, life happens despite my best-laid plans.

There's no 'secret' to life, nor final destination to great relationships, success, happiness, and fulfillment. Life is a journey.

When I accept this fact, and make every effort to learn and grow throughout my life - building patience, endurance, and persistence to deal with the obstacles and challenges seemingly thrown at me - my life will continue to be great. All I have to do is live – to be fully present - in each moment and enjoy the journey. These feelings (I call them the 4 As) of being Awake, Alive, Aware, and in Awe will continue to nurture me and those around me.

(Lifestyle Mentor, Personal Coach, Author, Educator, Entrepreneur and Dad, David B. Bohl is the creator of Slow Down FAST. For more info go to: http://www.SlowDownFAST.com and visit his blog at http://www.slowdownfast.com/blog)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Lessons in Forward Thinking - By Director Dana Glazer

It's always a good day when I can say that I have gained a fresh perspective on the project. This morning, Jessica DeGroot from Third Path granted me such a perspective.

You know it's easy to look at where we are presently and think that we are so much more improved than we ever were. It's our society's predilection for the latest/newest/state-of-the-art that drives this perhaps. I can remember growing up and thinking that somehow my generation and I were somehow innately smarter than previous generations - that we had a handle on technology like no one before us. (That's what a lot of TV marketing, video games and an unhealthy emphasis on youth can do for kids, I suppose.)

And so it stands now that my generation would like to think that we are so much more 'evolved' as parents than our parents had been for us. I mean, forget about childcare and consider what we were eating back then (I remember thinking that 'artificially flavored' was somehow a good thing!) or that it was a good idea to squeeze as many kids into the back of a station wagon as possible (not to mention my sitting on the arm rest in the front seat when driving with my grandparents!) God only knows what our kids will be doing with our future grandkids in the name of leading healthier lives that goes against what we're doing with them right now.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's extremely easy to look at where we are in time and congratulate ourselves too much about what we're doing as parents and all the state-of-art things we're utilizing to do (Organic food and Mozart for babies anyone?) The technology is changing at such a rapid pace that it's hard to see what things will really be like in 20-30 years just as no one in the seventies could have foretold the pervasiveness of the internet. Undoubtedly, these technological advances will have a deep impact on the family unit in ways we can't even imagine now.

Which brings me to my conversation with Jessica DeGroot, who seems to have an insightful grasp as to where we are at in the evolutionary process of balancing work and family and a good hint at how, technologically, things are shaping up. I was asking Jessica about what companies stand out now in regards to better balancing work and family with their employees and she replied that, while there are some companies doing some good things in this regard, it's still very much a pioneer effort, led by a few business leaders who are "at the blackboard, still trying to work the math."

Now, what was really insightful for me was Jessica talking about how these business leaders are learning to "manage technology in a more creative way." In other words, these pioneers are striving to utilize the current technology to help create a more balanced work/family arrangement. Presently, we are at a transitional point between the industrialized age and the informational one. This is having a massive influence on how work is structured as so much more can be done by satellite than ever before. Companies are having a tough time making this transition because they are structurally so entrenched with older models of operation (ie. large headquarters, face time and having flex time be an exception than the rule for employees.) As Jessica sees it, new and innovative models for employees in companies "is the future."

Technology is forever a double edged sword. It can bring us all together in unique and previously unimagined ways (consider this blog - something I would never have conceived doing a year or so back) or it can subsequently be used to further dehumanize and compartmentalize people. It's in what one does with it, of course. Technology can never replace direct human contact, but using it to extend out to more and more people, while also making sure to maintain real physical interactions - aka "managing technology" - that's a good hint as to where everything, in the best of ways, is heading. Thank you, Jessica.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Evolution of Dad in TIME MAGAZINE!

It's always good to see one's project in print in one of the biggest magazines out there. If you've got a hard copy of the latest Time Magazine (with the breast cancer cover) check out the very end of the "Fatherhood 2.0" article and there's a small plug for the film with a link to some exclusive video content we did for the magazine.

Check it out!

From what I gather, the article was supposed to be the cover story and when the editors decided to go with breast cancer, the dad story got cut in half, with our inclusion landing on the editing room floor. Oh well. However, the reporter who interviewed me and Dallas, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, did the honorable thing by making sure we were 'touted' in the actual magazine and then featured in her Time online blog. Hats off to you, Lisa!

And by the way, regardless of not being included in the body of the article, it really is one of the better pieces out there about what's going on with dads. Lisa and her collaborator did their homework and it shows. Check the article out.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Invisible New Dad - By Director Dana Glazer

It's fascinating to me how the media keeps playing the same stories over and over again relating to dads. Just this week, there's a spate of them in Newsweek. The continuing themes are:

-At home dads are still referred to as "Mr. Mom" in the headings.
-Todays dads are a bit more involved with their kids but still lagging behind moms in every department.
-There's a societal confusion about what defines the role of dad and a paradox regarding the expectations about childcare and breadwinning.

Are these articles really focusing on an actual social shift in the role of dad or are they just placating the feelings and frustrations of their female readership?

Socioligist/Author Michael Kimmel wrote in an article about how only the disenfranchised are truly aware of the disparities in life - that if one is in an empowered group, social disparities that they don't face are invisible to them. In other words, if you're short, you're more aware of tall people. If you're black you're more aware of others who are white. If you're poor, you may be insecure around people with money.. Now, obviously, these are broad generalizations, but I think there's some truth in this perspective.

How this relates to dads is that, for many men, the struggles that their wives endure are somewhat invisible to them. For so many men, the notion of bringing home a paycheck is all defining. Our culture perpetuates this by its focus on maximum productivity and efficiency. Dads may want to be spending more time with their kids but the larger cultural message is that they need to be more committed to working longer hours out of the home. There may be some guilt involved regarding the desire to be with the family more, but given how stringent most companies are about giving 150% to the job, most men (and some women) don't want to jeopardize their jobs by demanding a more balanced approach to work/family. So, for most dads, they just settle into workaholic mode, convincing themselves that this is what they're supposed to be doing. And why shouldn't they feel this way? Their companies and co-workers support this message. Our free market culture supports this idea. This is what their dads did before them. Their wives may be frustrated but that's just the way it is. And so, for so many dads, the larger issues are somewhat invisible. (For the dads more aware of these issues, the likelihood is that they are single dads, stay-at-home dads and divorced dads, who have been given a taste of being with the kids or who are the sole care for their kids or who are legally restricted from seeing their children.)

With all this in mind, my goal is to create a movie that doesn't just connect to those who are aware of these issues but to those who it's been invisible to; for only when more dads get a taste of how much more fulfilling their lives and their family's lives would be if there was a greater balance between family and work - as well as illustrating practical creative solutions to achieving this - can any change ever really occur.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Third Path - By Director Dana Glazer

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking with Hanne Weedon from a Philly-operated organization called Third Path. What she and Third Path stand for is directly aligned with one of the main issues I'm covering in the film: how to get dads more involved with their families by finding creative solutions to the balance of work and family.

Third Path's grassroots approach is to create a support network for families that are seeking to balance work and family. One of their methods is to collect stories of creative approaches different families have taken. They are also putting together a dad seminar, which will happen next fall.

Talking with Hanne, it's so abundantly clear how removed our free market consumer culture is from the values of really emphasizing the family. By demonstrating positive examples of how some people are able to navigate work/family is extremely inspiring and certainly what I intend to include in our film.

It was such a pleasure speaking with Hanne and I'm so excited to hopefully include them and some of the families they represent in the film. For more about third path, visit thirdpath.org.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Playing Catch - By Director Dana Glazer

Today our 10 month-old-son did something rather extraordinary. I plopped a tennis ball in his lap and he grabbed it and flung it back at me. It was one of those dad-son moments that one hears about and I can't tell you how excited I was. Images of years to come - playing catch with this boy floated through my mind. I thought back on my own dad and I in our backyard, tossing a ball back and forth.

There is truly something iconic about playing catch with one's father and then one's kid(s). It's somehow ingrained in us. Ralph LaRossa does a good job at dissecting why this game of catch is so important to us. He speculates it is a result of the glorification of baseball and suburbanization - both taking place in the Mid-Twentieth Century. I think the game of catch is a symbolic form of communication between fathers and kids. There's a rhythm to the gesture. It's a connective action. A tangible link between generations.

Whatever it is, it feels good to have Jamie joining in on this long, iconic tradition and I certainly plan to include footage of fathers and their kids tossing together in the film.

More Housework For Guys = More Sex?? - By Director Dana Glazer

There's been a lot in the news recently about how there's a correlation about how when men do more of the housework it puts their wives more in the mood. A recent conversation with Sociologist Dr. Michael Kimmel further echoed this. It's certainly a great headline - at least from a guy's perspective (you know what's mostly on our brains:)

However, I felt that a little more research was needed, so I did a little recon at a mommy community know as Kaboose. You can read the whole thread here

The results were consistent with what I've been hearing - that YES! there is a correlation. It seems quite obvious, if one really thinks about it. More housework on the man's part makes for a more cooperative family situation. And yet, statistically speaking, men are still lagging way behind in the house care dept. It goes back to male identity issues, I suppose, something I hope Dr. Kimmel will elucidate further in the film. Hopefully, the message will ring loud enough to make a difference in terms of helping create a more balanced family situation. And if you're reading this and you are interested in sharing your experience on film in this regard, please reach out to me at dana@evolutionofdad.com.

One of the challenges I face as a filmmaker is to make a film about dads that plays to dads and men (although certainly not to the exclusion of women - don't get the wrong idea.) Using sex as an impetus to promoting dads being further involved with the family isn't the big picture but it's definitely a useful catalyst.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Evolution of Dad Production Vehicle - From Director Dana Glazer

Only with a film like this can one get away with a stroller-turned-equipment-truck. That's Jamie, my 10 month old, at the wheel. Lucky for us he hasn't joined the teamsters yet:)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The SAHD Myth?? - By Director Dana Glazer

Recently I happened across a blog entry by Penelope Trunk aka "The Brazen Careerist", titled "My Own Marriage and the Stay-At-Home Dad Myth." It was definitely thought provoking and anything that stops to make one think, in my mind is a good thing.

Is the concept of the happy Stay-At-Home Dad doing the laundry, shopping, schlepping the kids, etc, a true and accurate generalization or is it, as Ms. Trunk would say, a "myth"? Obviously, the discussion bares a lot of significance, given the topic of our film and the emphasis on the extreme version of involved fathering: SAHD's.

I can honestly report that the majority of Stay-At-Home Dads I have met and spoken with are satisfied with their work. Is it possible that only the happy, contented ones are open to talking about it? Possibly, although I certainly have talked to some that are unhappy with the arrangement. Being an at-home-dad, just like an at-home-mom, is something that some people shine to while others don't. It really has to do with one's personality, what one values as fulfilling and one's outlook on the world.

For many men or women, the idea of tossing out one's career dreams and ambitions to the wind, because one's partner is making more money, can be quite upsetting. The cultural messages to excel in the marketplace can exacerbate this. So, for dads and moms at home to be working on a side project, is a way of maintaining one's identity outside of being a parent - something, personally speaking, that can be essential to making the situation work. I think this holds for many moms and dads alike.

The only difference is that being an SAHM is more culturally accepted (albeit with its own degree of negative perceptions) than the SAHD. At-Home Dads are also more isolated because there are fewer of them, they feel shunned by society as a whole, they often feel apart from other moms - and if there are other home-making dads around, the mutual commonality of being at home with kids that works so well between women, doesn't translate quite as well for men.

The bottom line is that our culture does not make it easy for families to cope, given all the conflicting messages we've been told. We're all still so caught up with antiquated gender roles that don't necessarily have a place in our own personal lives.

The other part of the equation is: what is best for kids? The way I see it, the more involved both parents can be their children's lives, the better. What dads and moms each bring to the table are unique and mutually enriching for the kids (and themselves in the process.) And from everything I've read and the experts I've spoken to, it's fairly clear that both parents are equally able to care for their kids - although they may do so very differently.

Going back to Trunk's assertion that the happy SAHD is a myth - let me say this: It may very well be for some people, but for others this role could be a very meaningful, fulfilling experience - something they'd never considered in their lives before children. Better that we promote this new design of dad and pave the way for others considering becoming SAHDs than to get stuck on outmoded, limiting cultural models of what dads can and can't be - something Trunk's "myth" back-handedly supports.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

THE TROOPER AND THE HARE - by Tracy Russell, Associate Producer

Two Saturdays ago, Dana and I had the good fortune to meet dad Kevin Knussman and his family in Easton, Maryland. Kevin, a retired State trooper, sued the state of Maryland in the early 1990's, upon their refusal to grant him leave to provide care for his ailing, pregnant wife Kim and, later for their newborn daughter, as Kim recovered. Kevin and his family slowly and steadily persevered through a ten year legal battle that ultimately awarded them minimal financial gain but became the landmark case for fathers in the US seeking leave under the FMLA and being met with employer opposition.
Kevin Knussman says that he just had to take a stand for what was right and what was right for him was and is, that, family needs come first. You may think what I was thinking- that ten years is an incredibly long time to maintain focus on any goal, particularly one that carries with it an element of discomfort. It takes a person of incredible resolve to continue employment with an organization that he or she is in conflict with and that is exactly what Kevin Knussman did. Not to mention the razing by his fellow troopers to be endured, as you can imagine.
He remained employed by the State, as the court battle progressed, until he had accrued 23 years of service and was able to retire. He now works part time as a volunteer firefighter and is the primary caregiver for his two daughters, while his wife Kim works full time outside of their home. The societal consensus seems to be that, if a man prioritizes family over work, then he is somehow less of a man. Kevin's wife Kim; however, contends that her husband is the "manliest of men," for putting his family first, for stepping, with open arms, into an opportunity to be an involved, engaged father and for creating and maintaining a true partnership with her, in not only the raising of their children but; also, in the maintenance of their home.
As I sat there listening to Kevin and Kim speak about their life together, something became as gorgeously clear to me as the weather that day in Maryland- something having to do with commitment, something about how truly and fully committing yourself to- a cause, a partner, your children, or any goal really; insures, that no matter how tough the fight, no matter how gargantuan the demons, no matter how many hurdles or how long it takes, you can do it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Recurring Narrative of Dad? - From Director Dana Glazer

Last week, as I was sitting in my local hair salon awaiting a trim, I noticed an US magazine on the table next to me. It's cover story was about celebrity dads with an emphasis on how cool these daddy's are. I perused the pages and there were a bunch of pics of different movie stars on parade with their kids. Brad Pitt. Heath Ledger. You get the idea. It was hard to tell who was really involved with their kids and who was opting for a little friendly PR. There was an image specialist who was quoted as saying that things have changed in Hollywood with dads no longer shy about showing off being involved dads for the camera compared to prior generations of celebrity men.

I asked the salon owner if I could have the magazine copy, thinking that while of course this isn't a film about celebrity dads, the face they had been emphasized as cool dads reflects upon the acceptance of our culture regarding the image of involved dads in general.

Cut to a week later and my phone conversation with Dr. Ralph LaRossa, who has been studying fatherhood for the past twenty-five years. I mentioned this article to him and his reaction was quite intriguing. In sum, his perspective is that while we'd like to think that dads of today are more involved than ever before (and there is some evidence to support this - witness the larger number of SAHD's than ever before) the idea that we think one's generation of dads is so much more involved than previous ones is a recurring cultural narrative that occurs with nearly every new generation. In other words, every generation likes to separate themselves as being special and more improved than the previous one. (Pepsi's "The Choice of a New Generation" slogan keeps reverberating in my ears.) Dr. LaRossa shared how he can find a 1950's article that promotes the same kind of celebrity dad as the one I read in US magazine. He also said there were similar findings about the cultural view of dads in general in the 1920's and even as far back as 1900!

So, going back to the US magazine article, from this line of thinking, the celebrity dads story is just another recurring cultural narrative designed to make us feel better about ourselves and, frankly, to sell magazines.

Unlike US Magazine, I have every intention of digging deep into the real issues and narrative thread of the American Dad, and yet, to emphasize LaRossa's findings too much - that we are overplaying our specialness, our generational identity, in all of this...I'm not sure how many people would want to watch that version of this movie. It's not fun being told one isn't so special or unique.

My mind keeps jumping to Howard Beal in "Network" and how, after becoming a populist hero by expressing his "Mad as hell!" anthem, then succumbed to the influence of the corporate philosophy and told his audience that they were all just a bunch of "transistors."

Nobody wants to hear they aren't special.

There's a balance between sharing the complexity of the truth and trying to paint a picture that is inspiring, entertaining and thought provoking. Ultimately, a little pepper in the stew is a good thing.

More food for thought...

I've certainly read about how there was a movement for dads to be more involved in the 30's, but Dr. LaRossa gave an intriguing perspective on why it occurred then: he cited how the primary defining identity of fathers is completely connected to the socio/economic factors of the time; and so in the 1930's, when so many people were financially not faring so well, the primary dad characteristic was more about 'being a buddy' to one's kids, whereas in the '50's, the cultural emphasis was mainly on being the breadwinner - partly due to a period of economic growth, where more men were able to bring home a better paycheck. Interesting!

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Involved Dad:A Societal Paradox - By Director Dana Glazer

Yesterday we went out and filmed some on-the-street interviews around town, asking people how they see the role of fathers. Initially, the responses weren't terribly revealing as most everyone we spoke with agreed that involved fatherhood is a good thing. I don't think anyone in this day and age can disagree with that - at least not the people I've come across so far. It seems to be a cultural belief that being an involved dad is important. Heck, even MacDonalds has a commercial promoting the idea. Nothing wrong with that!

In the interviews we asked people what they saw the priority was in terms of the most important role of a dad - and they almost unanimously chose involved with kids over financial support.

But now here's the contradiction: when the same people were the asked their attitudes about Stay-At-Home Dads the majority of them viewed this extreme version of the involved dad as unacceptable behavior on a man's part.

"A Stay-At-Home Dad is a man too lazy to work for a living," one woman said after speaking so glowingly about how important an involved dad is.

And herein lies the cultural paradox: we live in a society that espouses the virtue of an involved dad, however, when it comes down to it, the real value our society places on dads is still firmly anchored to the fifties notion of the breadwinner dad.

Now, of course this is all somewhat extreme. Certainly there has been a shift for dads to be more involved with the care of their kids. And certainly there were people we interviewed who were very accepting of Stay-At-Home Dads. It's not like things haven't changed - but they have changed a lot less than we'd like to think.

The paradoxical cultural message we are brought up with is very confusing. There is a bit of confusion at this point especially to what it really means to be an involved dad - and the next time we film on-the-street interviews, my goal is to dig deeper into this.

My wife had an interesting insight into this which I think is worth including. From her perspective where dads are currently is parallel to where moms were in the 80's, trying to navigate between having careers and the home front. The notion of 'quality time' was a fairly constant phrase back then, which emphasized that it wasn't the amount of time one spent with one's children but the quality. Certainly, there's nothing wrong with that idea but my wife saw this socially ingrained phrase (and I'd agree) as a way of justifying more time away from home.

There's a lot of confusion, pressure and guilt around how much time should be spent at work vs at home and the answers are neither simple nor easy - for dads and moms alike. What I do hope to explore in this film are creative solutions that different families and companies have undertaken in terms of flex time, staggered schedules, etc, with the hope that it will open up minds as to how to improve our society or at least creatively navigate a better family/work balance.

Dad the Nurturer - From Deborah, Wife/Huntress to the Director

I never think of myself as the “breadwinner” in the family, although I most definitely consider my husband to be the primary childcare- giver. He is up every morning at 7:00 AM (I’m a crank in the morning), giving bottles, reading stories, changing diapers, fixing breakfast, doing “potty duty”, with little complaint and often quite a lot of laughter from both of my beloved sons.

I love that they are close, and although I am sometimes jealous of the time he spends with them, I realize that having their father around as much as he is may just be the single best thing we do for them in their young lives.

When my first son was born, I made a promise to myself that I would encourage my husband’s involvement. So I tried very, very hard not to interfere in his parenting; after all, who was I to be in charge? We were both completely new at this. Still, this was incredibly hard for me as I am extremely controlling by nature. I knew, however, that if I kept insisting that things be done “a certain way,” he would become discouraged and not feel that he could be so involved. Of course, he was nervous (so was I: neither of us had ever changed a diaper in our lives) but he was also pro-active, asking the neo-natal nurse to show him how to change the baby, to feed it and burp it. He watched the baby nurse clean the baby for a week, then insisted she let him do it, while she watched and directed, so he would learn to it properly.

My husband, it turns out, learns best with a “hands on” approach, and he learns well. In fact, he is five times the “baby bather” that I am (although I am twice as fast at a diaper change.) And it was this act of bathing our son every morning that led to all the morning rituals after, to hundreds of stories being read while milk was sipped and my son was snuggled in his father’s arms. It led to mornings of “tickle time” (rougher play, perhaps, than mine but my son never laughed louder) and couch forts, of peanut butter toast and building cardboard mansions; magical mornings that are now shared by my infant son who looks on and laughs at their antics with surprise and delight. Someday, soon, he will join them, and I know, as I lay in bed, supposedly sleeping in, that I will hear the sound of their laughter for years to come.

So although society may have some issues with the idea of leaving dads in charge, I know the truth is my children will never be in more capable hands then with their hands-on Dad.

Mom the Huntress

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Family/Film Balance - from Director Dana Glazer

The weather was perfect, the crew assembled, the stars seemingly in alignment for filming on-the-street interviews today. But then...the fateful call from our sitter. She had food poisoning and wasn't going to be able to make it. Given my wife's strained back there was no other option but to postpone filming.

Such is the nature of shooting a film about involved fatherhood while being an involved father. Sometimes it's an integrated affair and sometimes.... Filmmaking, by its nature, is an all consuming affair. The good news is that there couldn't be a more integrative project than this one, but reality sometimes butts heads with one's desire to be productive.

This was a point of frustration this morning but then I reflected on one of the major themes of the film: that our culture is too geared toward maximizing production and efficiency to the detriment of dads (as well as the rest of the family.)

Wasn't my frustration just another manifestation of this?

The answer lies somewhere in figuring out a balance between family and work - one of the toughest things to do. Certainly, my intention is to get this film done as effectively and quickly as I can - but not when it's to the detriment of family. So, filming will wait. My elder son and I will go out to the park where he will dance through the sprinklers with the world's largest smile; and at the end of the day, isn't that what this film is truly about anyway?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Visiting "Fatherneed" - From Director Dana Glazer

I've been reading Dr. Kyle Pruett's "Fatherneed" this weekend and what an incredible book. It really covers the gamut of fatherhood experience in ways that only a book can. Honestly, I've felt a bit humbled as Dr. Pruett has made such strives in articulating the benefits of involved fatherhood in this book - and then I consider that the book has been out of print for a while. What a travesty! It's not that old a book and what it discusses is more relevant now than ever before. Is it that people don't like to read books about dads? Certainly, if you go to Barnes and Nobles you won't find much in the child care/family section that relates specifically to dads. At least that was my experience. I'm assuming that if dad-related books were flying off the shelves there'd be more available. This thought of course leads to the question: are people going to want to watch a movie about dads? And then I consider how the Father's Day video just reached 400,000 views on YouTube this weekend and keeps growing. The amount of times people have shared that they cried in response to the video is overwhelming for me personally and only further commits my every waking moment to making a film worthy of the American Dad. But in the meantime, if you want to read a great book about involved dads, go find a used copy of "Fatherneed" or order one from Dr. Pruett (as I did) and please tell him that I sent you!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I Cringed Too - From Marketing Associate Jonathan Trenn

When I saw the pillow get tossed at the little boy, I cringed too. Couldn't help it. Toss was a bit too fast for my liking and the pillow didn't seem all that soft.

Then the little boy chuckled. He loved it. Because he knew the toss was a sign of love from his dad.

I don't think it's necessarily strictly a sign of the difference between moms and dads. I'd bet a lot of dads would cringe for that first second. Maybe more dads than moms would have noticed the child's reaction and saw he enjoyed it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

MORE PILLOW TALK - From Associate Producer Tracy Russell

Ah, yes the infamous pillow shot. I must confess that I too am in the "moms who cringed when the dad throws the pillow at his kid," group. And, I too have been thinking about that basic truth: that men and women are different, so it follows that; of course, fathers and mothers will parent differently. In their traditional gender roles, fathers hunted, built and sought,outside the home, the necessities for family survival; while mothers kept the home and nurtured the children in its protected environment. As the children grew, the sons accompanied dad on his excursions and learned his role and the skills necessary to perform it; and the daughters remained on the home front with mom and learned her role and the skills necessary to perform it. Some would say boys and girls have a natural inclination towards the skills associated with their gender roles. I think there is definitely a truth in the relationship between these roles and biology- the family benefits from father going out in the world and utilizing his greater physical strength to hunt and build; the family benefits from mother remaining in the home and feeding the baby with milk created by her body. The Hunter. The Nurturer. Some version of these roles has been in place since the beginning. Am I suggesting that fathers are not capable of nurturing and mothers are not able to care for their families with achievements outside of the home-of course not. I know many nurturing, emotionally available fathers and I am one of many mothers; who, on a daily basis ventures out into the world for family's sake. Yes, I am oversimplifying a very complex issue, but it looks to me like our society continues to have more trust in dad as hunter and mom as nurturer and it seems to relate to a very old, very deep, fear for survival.

I am beginning to see these basic truths (men and women are different; hence parent differently and society has not quite adjusted to the idea of dad as nurturer, mom as huntress,) in relationship to the custodial issues in our country that Dana, Camila, myself and others on our team are unearthing during the course of our research. As a society, we do not yet trust dads to take care of their children, in the same way, years ago we were very uncomfortable with the idea of moms working outside of the home. The custodial bias that stems from this fear is sure to subside more and more over time, because, to echo Dana's prior blog, people are evolving. People are opening up to the masculine and feminine that co-exists within themselves. Dad the nurturer and Mom the huntress doesn't so much speak of role-swapping, as allowing an (often hidden) part of oneself to come forth. My hope with this movie, is that we will give credence to Dad the nurturer, who is arising and will no longer keep quiet and at the same time give sufficient attention to how dads do parent differently than moms. And that is okay. It is more than okay, as stay-at-home dad Dallas (or perhaps Stuart Smiley) would say "It's good enough."

There is no stopping this evolution. And who wouldn't want that? Because it is a progression towards wholeness. For ourselves and our children.

Friday, July 13, 2007

People Who Live In Glass Houses Should Throw Pillows - From Director Dana Glazer

My mother called me the other day to share that she had watched the “Stay-At-Home Dad – Redefined” segment, which I recently posted.

“I loved it, Dana, but there was one part which really made me cringe.”
“What was that, mom?”
“Where the dad throws the pillow at his kid. I cringed.
“Mom, it was a pillow.”
“I know, but it still bothered me.”

We got off the phone soon after and for a split second I became rather worried about it. Would other people react the same way? I mean, this was my mom – the one who usually gives glowing reports. I mentioned the conversation to my wife and she shared a similar feeling. My sister-in-law had reacted to it as well.

And then it dawned on me: this brief, three second shot was the line-crossing distinction between the way most moms and dads typically handle their kids. The dads and men I’ve shown the clip typically chuckled at the pillow toss. It goes along with wrestling on the carpet, tossing the kid in the pool, carrying the kid through the air like a fighter plane around the house....

Do most moms do this? I’m sure some do as much as I’m sure some dad out there is going to watch that pillow hitting the boy and cringe – and not only is that fine by me, but it’s part of the point of the film. We’re in a time right now where women are doing men’s things and men are doing women’s things. The old rules no longer apply. There is an openness in the air about how to live, affected by changes in technology, economics and social movements. The evolution of dad, mom, family, society – it’s all connected. The key is becoming more open minded to new models and respecting differences of approach, if they’re beneficial – and especially if they involve pillows.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Redefining the Stay-At-Home Dad - From Director Dana Glazer

I have so many hopes for how the finished film can potentially help the American dad as well as the family unit overall. There really is the possibility of changing people’s perspectives on how we see fatherhood and creating an impact not only on father/son/daughter relationships but to possibly influence corporate and governmental policies regarding paternity leave. However, if nothing else happens, I hope the film can redefine what it means to be a Stay-At-Home Dad. This was the initial impetus for making the film and although the scope has changed, fundamentally it’s still extremely important to me.

Personally, I have felt the angst surrounding being an at-home dad. In the past I felt emasculated, angry, alone, helpless and belittled. God bless my wife for the continual emotional/financial support and reminders that what I was doing regarding care of the kids was the most important thing I could have been doing at the time – and still is.

I used to think I was cursed in some strange way. I have always had a passion for filmmaking and have always had a talent for making films but the segue from being a starving artist to a paid filmmaker has been a struggle for me. It’s been frustrating to watch the years go by, trying to screenwrite my way up the Hollywood chain with some success but not enough to push things over the edge. The values they have over there are somewhat poisoned and I found myself writing things that neither fit what they were looking for nor was satisfying for me on a deeper level; and after ten years of banging my head against the wall, I let it all go to focus more on family and to do this project on the side.

It was the best choice I could’ve made.

Making a film about fatherhood is the most integrative thing I could be doing with my life right now. Talking to so many people about what it means to be a dad and studying fatherhood in every possible way has allowed me not only to make something that goes to the core of my being but also to grow as a father and to really appreciate the precious time I have with my kids.

At this point I see jettisoning my former ‘sideways’ career as being the best blessing I could’ve been dealt. Had I not been granted this hand, had I succeeded in being that Hollywood director that my whole life had been geared towards, I would not know my kids as well – and they wouldn’t really know me, warts and all.

So, thanks for allowing this private digression and let me get back to point: if nothing further, I hope the finished film will allow you to view what an involved dad does from a more meaningful, empowered perspective. Below is a video I just put together for the possible supplemental inclusion in a Time.com article. It is a brief sample of what this larger film is about. Dallas Hayes, the subject this short piece focuses on, has the potential for redefining our cultural assumptions about Stay-At-Home Dads.

I hope you find him as inspiring as I have and look forward to hearing what you think.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

From EvoDad Subject Dallas Hayes...

I asked Dallas Hayes to contribute to our blog and here's what he wrote. Enjoy! - Dana

Good Enough Dad:

I'd like to thank Dana Glazer for his kind words, calling me an 'amazing father', however I want to point out that that is not how I see myself. I worry that as a subject of this film that I will be held up as an example of 'how to be a dad'. Perhaps I'll be seen by others as presenting myself as some kind of authority on how to be a dad. Please know that nothing could be further from the truth. If anything I see myself as a 'good enough dad', but more on that later.

My reasons for participating in this project are varied but most important is not to make a statement about the quality of parenting but about the quantity. I know that to others, the focus of my experience is that I'm a man who is a full time stay-home father. For me the focus is that I'm a parent who chose to stay home.

When it comes to the actual parenting we follow the tried and true practices that first-time parents have followed for millennia: we're winging it. What is important to us is that whether our parenting is good or bad, that there is a lot of it.

My only advice would be to be confident. After all humans have been parenting for close to 200,000 years, and there are over 6 billion of us on earth now. Surely it can't be that hard. Fortunately, in my opinion being the best parent you can be requires only that you be yourself. Your parenting ought to be an expression of who you are, a representation of the life you've led and lead. After all, you are you; your child is your child. The rest happens on its own if you let it. I am aware that society does not share this view. Our media is filled with admonitions and dire warning of how our screwed-up parenting is screwing up our kids. Our media also fosters the unrealistic expectation that all children are by default perfect and only become less so in the hands of their parents. Ignore this. My position is not that I'm perfect, nor is my child, neither is my parenting. My position is that as human beings with almost 200,000 years of evolution built into us, if left alone we'll do a job that is GOOD ENOUGH! Provided of course we’re there to do the job.

I know "Good Enough" is a tough cry to rally around when it comes to parenting. I'm aware that we all have hopes and dreams of greatness for our children and "good enough" just doesn't seem like it's going to get the job done, does it? I can't answer that for you. As I said above your parenting has to be an expression of who you are. For me, when I thought about parenting I was forced to realize that my hopes and dreams as a parent were ancillary to my responsibilities as a parent. I'll start off by saying that to me the 'hopes and dreams' are wish-fulfillment, they represent what I want for my child and they need not to be realistic at all, in fact they should be unrealistic. Better call Child Protective Services if I'm not dreaming of raising the next Einstein, Bill Gates or Shaq. The 'responsibilities' are more concrete, they represent what I think my family needs, what my child needs, and what society needs from me in my role as parent of a new member of society. The responsibilities as a parent and the hopes and dreams of a parent are not exclusive at all, but I think it can be said that all too often nowadays having hopes and dreams is seen as being the same as fulfilling the responsibilities. Let me tell you the hopes and dreams I have for my son, and as I see them, the responsibilities. I'm a simple man. If my son is happy by his own definition of happiness, and rich enough to buy his poor devoted parents a canal house in Amsterdam, and a villa on the French Riviera before we're too old to enjoy them, I'd be happy. Needless to say, that represents my hopes and dreams. The responsibilities were a little harder to formulate. Took me a little while to figure out how to put into words what I feel my family, my child and society needs from me as a parent. Finally I boiled it down to this: My responsibility as a parent is to raise my child to competent independent adulthood. I know it doesn't seem like I've set the bar too high, but remember these are responsibilities, they represent the minimum of what I expect to achieve as I perform the duties of a parent, what I keep in mind as I go about my day with my son. Our society encourages setting the high bar, the higher the better. In fact you may be seen as a neglectful parent if you deprive your children any conceivable opportunity for greatness, but not if you deprive them of yourself. My parenting is based up rejecting this conventional wisdom.

To sum up: Ignore the experts, be yourself, be realistic and most importantly: be there as much as you can.


ANOTHER FIX OF...FATHERHOOD - From Associate Producer Tracy Russell

Too much information running through my brain...and yet I'm SO driven to seek out more and more and more... I fear I have recently fallen victim to that curious 21st century condition, web junkieitis. And the really nutty thing is I don't mind! Thanks for joining me, by the way, for this late night nosh. This weekend I concentrated on two information gathering agendas- finding companies to approach for sponsorship and finding contact information for our "wish list," of well known people we would like to have appear in the movie. I have gleefully been plugging away at these tasks with the utter satisfaction that only an internet addict could muster. As I travel further into the maze, down the rabbit hole and occasionally off on a delicious tangent that can't be ignored (which I then foward into piles of emails to Dana- sorry Dana,) I am beginning to fully realize the enormity of our subject matter, FATHERHOOD and the enormity of our responsibility to our subject matter and to the subjects of our subject matter. It's daunting, yet absolutely magnetizing. And, as I consider this, I see more clearly now that it's not the gathering of information that's so intoxicating, It's the educating of oneself about what is really going on "out there." It's the grappling with tough issues in order to come to some kind of understanding. It's the playing a little part in the making of something big.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

A BALANCED MEAL OF...FATHERHOOD - From Associate Producer Tracy Russell

"Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste..." Actually, I am a woman of taste...and debt. The debt part, well, that's for another blog (the single mother's in debt support group blog, maybe.) But the taste part, that's relevent here. I have had the good fortune to become involved with this tasty project- at once innovative (the salad of microgreens,) challenging (the raw oyster appetizer,) substancial (the pot roast entree,) and comfortingly sweet (the chocolate pudding dessert.) My name is Tracy Russell and I am working with Dana on Evolution of Dad, as an associate producer.

Since Dana last wrote, shortly after Father's Day, we are cooking! The Father's Day Video on YouTube peaked at over 368,000 viewings! One of the many contacts resulting from the Father's Day Video posting is Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, a freelance writer for Time Magazine, who called Dana last week and interviewed him for a proposed article about fatherhood. Check out her blog bite about our project at http://time-blog.com/work_in_progress/
for the date of 6/26/07. This week a local publication printed an interview with Dana that really goes into some nice detail about his motivation behind the project. Check out the article at http://www.hudsonreporter.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18535926&BRD=1291&PAG=461&dept_id=523592&rfi=6 .

I am beginning to carve into the daunting task of finding sponsers to help support the filmmaking process. If anyone has ideas of specific companies who may be inclined to want to align themselves with a positive film project about fatherhood- let me know.

Hungry for more updates about this project? Sit down with me tomorrow for another juicy morsel...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy YouTube!

I posted the Father’s Day videos about a week before the big day and the hits were a mild trickle at best. I would excitedly come upon an occasional email sent to my account that a comment had been left. By day 5 the main video had reached just under 500 hits and I was happily resigned to the fact that my viral marketing idea had kind of flopped on its face. Oh well. It had seemed to be a good idea when it struck me in the shower six weeks earlier. At the very least all the people involved could share the video with their dads and I could do the same with mine.

And then Father’s Day arrived. Strangely, I tossed and turned that night, literally imagining a flood of email comments in my inbox. I did expect that there would be a little more activity and if the hits broke a thousand I’d be all smiles, but the dream seemed like a ridiculous exaggeration.


Upon opening my computer yesterday morning I encountered what can only be described as an email deluge. I tried to keep up with it but realized fairly quickly that it was going to be near impossible. Like someone reaching to close the valve on an overflowing toilet I changed the YouTube settings to halt sending me notices.

The views counter seemed to freeze at 22,554 and I left for Father’s Day dinner feeling vindicated, yet expecting that would be it. Then, two hours later, my ever-faithful associate producer, Tracy, called to share that the views were now around 68,000 and we were at the #1 spot on the YouTube.com homepage.

I'm still a little dizzy with excitement even as things are starting to subside. The video as of this writing has about 144,00 hits. The comments I've received have been so touching and heartfelt.

Making this film -- no -- making films in general is ultimately about connecting with people in a heart-to-heart manner and to do so with this many people is incredibly uplifting for me. So, if you watched the videos and shared a comment on YouTube, I thank you. This has been a very special 24 hours for me personally, soaking in people's reactions and their outpouring of feeling. God bless YouTube for allowing a small video like the one I posted to be shared by so many so quickly. What an amazing site.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Just in time for Father's Day...

It’s been an incredibly intense six weeks since I last wrote in. In mid-May a small film crew and I went around New York City and filmed near to 150 people, talking about their dads. The purpose for this endeavor was to make a short Father’s Day Video. The result was amazing. The candor that some people spoke about their relationships with their dads was incredibly moving. We were also amazed at how many people were happy to be on film until they learned that they would be talking about their dads; and how some people spoke about their dads with incredible anger. The experience really drove home how important the father/son/daughter bond is and the extent to which so many suffer due to their lack of it. It is just confirmation about the importance of a film about involved dads.

I want to thank all the people who generously agreed to be in the video as well as Tracy, Pat, Angelica and Brittany, who schlepped around the city with me, working extremely hard. You guys are the best!

I hope you enjoy the Father’s Day video, which is now posted on the main page, and, if it speaks to you, please share it with those you care about….

Lastly, please check out the 'clips' section to meet one of our amazing dad subjects!

Until next time…

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

An update...

The project has certainly ‘evolved’ since I first embarked at the beginning of the year. What started off as a touchy-feely film about nurturing dads has become something much deeper. Tapping into the vein of all things fatherhood has far greater depth than I could have imagined. My personal understanding of how the role of fathers (and mothers for that matter) have been shaped by our culture is something I really knew little about before this project.

The film has also become increasingly more progressive than I had previously anticipated. I had little idea to the extent that our culture emphasizes productivity and infinite growth to the detriment of the fathers (and mothers and the family for that matter.) My hope is that the film will ultimately shed some light on this and will help influence some societal changes in the way that our government and corporations handle the family domain.

Regarding production progress, filming commenced at the start of last month and we are near finished with documenting the project’s first subject, a New York City-based Stay-At-Home-Dad named Dallas. Not only is Dallas an amazing father and a fascinating person to watch, but the manner by which his life philosophy plays into his involvement with his son is incredibly profound. We will be posting some clips of Dallas and his family in the near future so stay tuned!

As I mentioned previously, this documentary intends to cover the gamut of involved dads and not just ones who stay at home. If you happen to be or know of any dads that might be good to include in the film please let us know. Some of the dads we’re looking to include are:

-single dads who are the primary caregivers
-dads who stagger their work schedule with their wives to balance equal time with the kids
-dads whose wives are in the military
-dads who work full time but go the extra mile to be involved with their kids

Thanks for reading. More developments to follow…

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How do you define 'Involved Dad'?

When I originally began this project, the intention was to make a documentary solely about Stay-At-Home-Dads (SAHDs). However, the further I journeyed into the research, the better idea seemed to be more inclusive of all fathers who are ‘involved’ with their kids. So, that’s how I defined an ‘Evolved’ dad. There isn’t anywhere on the website that specifies this is only about Stay-At-Home-Dads. The logo (masterfully crafted by artist Mike MacLean) has a father with a briefcase as well as a bjorn; and yet, after putting out the first wave of emails, launching the site, etc, the majority of responses are either from Stay-At-Home-Dads or people talking about SAHDs.

How interesting.

My thought has always been that the extreme version of the Evolved Dad was the Stay-At-Home-Dad and it will likely be an emphasis in the film, but not to the exclusion of the rest of the dads out there.

Which brings me to the meat of what I’m exploring at the moment. In reflection, I suppose that making a film about being a father is a personal exploration into where I am at this point in my life. (Not that the film will focus on this, as I’d rather stay behind the scenes, aside from expressions like this blog.) The point being that I never even thought of myself as a Stay-At-Home-Dad until a good friend suggested I make a film about the subject given where he saw me in my life.

To be honest, the moniker, Stay-At-Home-Dad, isn’t something I’ve ever been terribly comfortable with. Am I comfortable with being a dad? Absolutely and proudly. But Stay-At-Home-Dad brings on that whole “Mr. Mom” connotation – something I definitely feel the negative vibe about. (At the initial point of research I put out a bunch of flyers around town sharing my interest in speaking with Stay-At-Home-Dads and a few days later, happened to come across one of them. Scrawled on the paper was “Mr. Mom.” Ouch! I wondered what the person was thinking when they wrote that. Was the sting intended? As a further aside, I hope to interview some of the people behind the Mr. Mom movie to see what their perspective is now on the moniker they helped birth.)

I grew up in a fairly traditional family with a lawyer for a dad and a mom who was there mainly to take care of my sister and I, although she certainly kept busy with a small interior design business. In other words, I was born and bred to be the breadwinner dad. Hence, the idea of being a Stay-At-Home-Dad never really crossed my mind until it happened. From the dads I’ve spoken with so far, most of them would probably agree with this last statement; and yet, the rewards of getting to know your own kids this well, to be so included in their lives – it might not look cool from the outside world, but when you really care about the kids, at a certain point, who gives a sh—t?

Now, let me be clear. The film is less about canonizing Stay-At-Home-Dads than about promoting the idea of fathers to be more involved with their kids (regardless of the 'type' of dad) and to challenge different gender assumptions that we (myself included) have been ingrained with. There is so much that is backwards about our society in its treatment/depiction/deemphasis on fatherhood. My hope is that this film will help counteract these things to the extent that some teenage boy watching this might think to himself how cool it would be to someday become an involved dad.

Mr. Mom be damned:)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Evolution Begins...

Hi! Thanks for checking out this brand new blog. My goal is to continually share all things related to the making of this film. The Evolution of Dad Project is perhaps the most integrated film I could be making at this time. When I'm not researching, filming, etc, I'm helping take care of my two sons. It's a strange and wonderful thing to be living what one is filming.

I've been working on this project since the beginning of the new year. The research has been extremely enlightening and continues to be so. So many assumptions about fathers and mothers have been challenged. My hope is that this film will have an inspiring, positive impact on the way we view family relationships.

A personal anecdote: last week I took my three-year-old son to the "Little Gym" for some exercise on the mats and balance beam. We were having a blast together. Every so often, however, this little girl would come over to me and want me to lift her up as I was doing with my son. Eventually, her mother came over, slightly embarrassed. She explained that her daughter has this tendency to 'latch onto' any of the other dads around and that today she had picked me. The mother explained how jealous it made her husband. I just nodded at her and my son and I went on our way, but deep inside I kept thinking that the little girl was reaching out to a father figure as her own was probably not sufficiently present in her life. How many other boys and girls grow up with this father absence?

This little instance is just another reminder why making a film about involved fathers is so important. Thanks for reading this very first blog. I hope you continue with me on the journey to making this film.