Thursday, January 17, 2008

Why Generation 'Me' is Going To Work For Us

There's been a lot of writing lately regarding the new generation that's crept into their Twenties and are now seeking their own slice of the American Pie. Words like 'narcissistic' and 'most self centered' are used fairly liberally towards this new crop of kids. What I also keep hearing is that this generation was brought up with 'trophies' and 'adulation' and the inability to be told 'no' to. I've heard from teachers that it was difficult dealing with their parents, who treat their children like little Messiahs - and when there's a problem at school, it must be the teacher's fault. Sounds pretty terrible, huh?

Well, let me share the upside of all of this: This new generation of kids are inevitably going to affect more family work balance than ever before? Why? Simply put, because in the next few years, when they start settling down and having kids and wanting to spend more time with them, they are going to DEMAND to have more work/family balance; and there are so many of them that companies are going to cede to these demands, change their policies, in order to maintain a better worker pool.

I think USA Today spelled it out fairly accurately in an article they published a little while back:

"They're young, smart, brash. They may wear flip-flops to the office or listen to iPods at their desk. They want to work, but they don't want work to be their life."

Keep reading that last part of the quote. It goes straight to the heart of things.

I used to think that my Generation (X) was going to be the one to shape things up (and doesn't that fall in line with most generations and the marketing campaigns that push it along:) But now, of course, I have a clearer perspective. There might be company policies about paternity leave, more flexible schedules, etc, but it's fairly irrelevant because for most of us Gen-X dads (and some moms, too) it doesn't even occur to us to ask - or if it does, making such a request is so looked so down upon by the powers that be that few dare to make them.

My prediction: not so with Generation 'Me'. They are going to ask big time because it's in their lexicon of desire for self-fulfillment and because for many of them, they remember all too well growing up under the auspices of daycare and full time nannies since their parents were too busy (warranted or not) to be around too much. Remember the cultural creation of 'quality time?' My theory is that it was created sometime in '80's to make working parents feel better because they weren't able to give their kids what they really need: quantity time.

So, keep an eye on this new Generation that everyone older seems to be up in arms about. They're going to change family/work balance in ways previously inconceivable - and then just wait until they are in their forties and now hold the reigns of management. Take a guess at what kind of work/family precedent they will then be beholden to when the toddlers of today march out of college? The Evolution of Dad will be something else altogether and I can't wait, as a granddaddy, to see it.

Evo Dad out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Househusband Macho!

Mike Nobel, a songwriter from Maine recently sent me what he calls a 'Stay-at-home Dad anthem' and I think he might be onto something. Check out Househusband Macho!

Besides being hilarious, what I really like about the song is that the husband is going to 'get lucky' that night. Works well with my research findings that dads doing more housework puts their wives more in the mood. Thanks, Mike, for putting this to music.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

WANTED: Working Dads Seeking More Family/Work Balance

As you may have read from a previous post on Daddy Wars, I believe the sparks of battle are beginning between working dads who want more family/work balance and management. As such, I'm putting on my war correspondent cap and am seeking any working dads who fit this. If you are such a dad or know such a dad, let me know. Likewise, if you are in a position of authority in your company and want to share your point of view, the Evolution of Dad is equally open and welcoming. Let's get this story right! Feel free to write me at:


Monday, January 7, 2008

Opening Up The Daddy Dam

My hope has always been not just to make a movie about dads but to spearhead a movement of fathers (and moms, too) finding creative ways to better balance work and family. From going out onto the streets and interviewing people it's so evident how many suffer because of the poor relations they have with their dads. I really hope we can change this. It will create a better America, a better world.

Let's do this together.

I've decided to open up the dam a bit with this blog and am welcoming in more perspectives on fathering than the movie itself can conceivably hold. In upcoming blogs I'm going to include all different types of media that are indicative of what this project stands for. Eventually, the website will reflect this with additional sections. So, if you have something dad-related to share, a song, an essay, a movie review, a home movie, a picture, send it on over. No promises, but I'll post it if I can.

On that note, here's a video I was recently sent by Spencer Altman, a work-at-home dad living in NYC. Between wandering the streets of Manhattan, checking out hip cafes with his seven-month-old son in tow, Spencer has created a kids clothing boutique, SohoKind, which has some very cool designs. Check 'em out. Spencer seems to have a clear idea about his new role as dad. Here's his video:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Evo Dad View On Maternal Profiling

Reading the stories by so many moms about how they have been discriminated against at the workplace is unsettling at best and horrifying at worst, but it’s not surprising.

First, I think what companies are doing is very typical of ego-oriented human behavior. We all like to think that we’re important, that what we’re doing is a priority. It brings me back to High School where I recall nearly every teacher expecting that we’d treat his/her class with the highest priority. Children in particular have difficulty understanding that the world doesn’t revolve completely around them. Why should it be different with companies as they are paying people good money to be dedicated to their jobs. Shouldn’t they deserve nothing more than complete devotion? (And by the way, this isn’t purely directed at women but at anyone who seems as though they may not put the company first: ie Stay-At-Home Dads returning to the workforce. )The stockholders are expecting massive profits, so the pressure is extreme to produce with maximum efficiency. There’s a lot of insistence on paying the fewest people to do as much work as possible. How can moms expect to be treated without discrimination in such a company-centric environment?

The answer is that moms (and dads, too) shouldn’t accept this corporate behavior and should demand more family/work balance. What’s wrong with most companies today stems from our I-ME-MINE consumer cultural values. It really goes to the core about what is wrong with our culture at this point – that greed and personal interest trump all else. It’s not about moms or dads or families anymore, but about how we treat ourselves. It goes deep into the core of our societal values.

The good news is that there is a greater awareness of these issues thanks to people like Joan and her army at MomsRising and I’m optimistic that we are currently going through a turning point in terms of how people see gender equity and family/work balance. Old models of business are becoming obsolete by the powers of the internet, more people able to work at home and more women in the workforce than ever before; and with this, things will change. Things are also changing because the upcoming new generation of moms and dads are becoming more expectant of a greater balance – likely a reaction to having been put into daycare when they were kids and not wanting to feel as detached from their kids as they may with their parents. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s on the way.

Lastly, as a concerned father and a filmmaker moving through the process of documenting the evolving role of dad, it seems to me once again that the only way to hasten change in family/work balance is to get dads into the mix. The more this becomes a women’s issue, the more resistance we’re going to see with things changing. Only when moms and dads alike demand increased work/family balance will change really kick in.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Love That Binds

Hey out there. The holidays are over. The New Year has begun and the Evolution of Dad marches onward. There's really so much to do.

I had the greatest luck while in Boston to go to a Celtics game and not only watch the team trounce its rival but also that I happened to be sitting next to a very lovely family of four, the Mosley's, in which the father was a SAHD circa 1990. One doesn't come across too many families from that far back who fit this. What makes this particularly helpful for the film is that their son and daughter are both old enough to really talk about their experience. Ally is 22 and George is 19 and plays football at Georgetown. What immediately came across was the love that binds this family. I don't know what was more fun, continually switching seats so to get to talk to each of them throughout the game or the game itself.

Several days after Christmas I snuck away from my own family and interviewed the Mosley's on film. The experience was incredibly moving for me and for them. There was something truly deep going on and it was a privilege for me to record it. After filming concluded they graciously gave me some old home movies shot on VHS tapes. Today, I watched them and watching Ally and George when they were little kids added an even greater appreciation for their journeys. Their dad, Wayne, who looks remarkably the same as he did Seventeen years ago, is such a gentle but powerful force in the family. He and his wife, Robin, are still as much in love as from what I watched from 1985.

With so much misery out there, it's always reassuring to meet a family like the Mosley's or the Vachons or the Knussmans (see prior posts.) These are families that aren't stuck in old ideas of how families should be defined. Each in their own way have found unique ways to balance their families. It may not be the high drama that sells on TV but there is something spiritually cleansing and affirming about being in their midsts.

On a personal note, I keep reflecting about why, psychologically, I was drawn to making this film in the first place. There are many reasons, I suppose: to create something meaningful. To inspire dads to get more involved with their kids. To connect with more people. To feel validated as a father. However, I think the biggest reason is to find balance - something which seems to elude me more than I wish it did. Somehow, someway, my greatest hope is that buried in the hours of all this footage, balance may be found.