Friday, December 4, 2009

Do Not Change That Dial!

Greetings from the editing room! Just a quick note to share that the rough cut of the film is nearing completion. It's been an amazing experience piecing this film together so far and I can't wait to share it with you come Father's Day. So, any lack of activity on this blog for the next short while should only be construed as all my blood, sweat and attention going into making this film all that it should be. Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good Work By Good Men

The more projects out there that try to get conversations with men (and women) going the better. I recently came across The Good Men Project and their goal is to jumpstart this conversation via a documentary, book and some 'unconventional' conventions. All royalties from the book go to The Big Brothers Big Sisters Association and The Boys and Girls Club. Definitely a project worth checking out, supporting and getting involved with.

Friday, November 6, 2009

You Had To Be There

Admittedly, I'm not a big country music fan, but listening to Tim McGraw's new song about absentee fatherhood really touched me - especially after learning that his biological/absent father was a major league baseball player.



Here are the lyrics:

"You Had To Be There" by Tim McGraw

He sat down, picked up the phone and said Boy, I'm your old man.
He touched the glass between the two, as if to shake his hand
The boy he didn't budge, not even so much as a blink
The man said oh come on, better late than never, don't ya think.

He said I read it in the paper, can't believe you're 21,
I can't believe some son of mine could do the things I hear you've done.
He went on like some big hero, who flew in to save the day
And the boy said if your here, to steer me right, man, its too late

You had to be there, and I'm talkin from from day one.
Thats the only time a man should talk through glass to his new son
And you'd have to go back, and teach me how when i was nine
Cause my mama couldn't throw a ball even if she had the time.
I should have been learning how to fish, instead of learning how to smoke.
I bet if you'd of whoopped my tail, i'd never thought it was a joke
He said sometimes the will for doing wrong is way too strong for any mama's prayers
You had to be there.

The man said, boy I'm sorry that you hate me like you do
The boy said dry it up man, we ain't making this about you.
Its about a teenage girl against the world who was left there high and dry
About a kid who might have stood a whole lot better shot at life, but
You Had To Be There
And I'm talking from day one,

Thats the only time a man should talk through glass to his new son
You'd have to go back and teach me how when I was nine
Cause my mama couldn't throw a ball even if she had the time.
I should have been learning how to fish, instead of learning how to smoke
I bet if you'd of whooped my tail I'd never thought it was a joke
Sometimes the will for doing wrong is way too strong for any mama's prayer
You had to be there.

Before the boy hung up the phone, he said they say me I'm out of time
And it hit the man, right there and then
My god son, so am I

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NYTimes Article: Parents Working Together

Check out this NYTimes article about the barriers dads face in terms of becoming more involved and how important it is for parents to not only work together but to respect their different parenting approaches. It's more evidence that people really need to be educated about how to work these things out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

For Charlie, On Your Sixth B-day

Dear Charlie,


Your mother and I can’t believe that yet another year in your life has passed and you are now the amazing age of six! Every time your birthday rolls by I can’t help but think back on that moment, not so long ago, that you arrived. You were so little that you couldn’t even cry yet. All you could emit was a tiny little squeak. But from the moment you came into our arms, we have loved you and will always love you.

I really marvel at all of the new things you are capable of doing and experiencing. You make your bed and dress yourself every morning. You can write your own name. You know how to swim in the deep end of the pool and traverse underwater like a frog. I was so proud of you on our camping trip when we trekked for three hours over a giant mountain. Last week, when I got to watch you in action at school, I was so impressed by your prowess with building blocks. You definitely have a creative bent as well as an engineer’s mind. I wonder whether you will end up going to MIT like your grandpa and your uncle. I know Nani and Papa wouldn’t mind as that would put you closer to them. But let’s not rush things. There’s still so much time before such things, still so many things to do and learn and share.


I’m so happy that you now have a wonderful teacher who can appreciate all of your strengths and your individuality. You are a very lucky boy to have her in charge of you this year and I only wish I had a teacher like her when I was in Kindergarten.


Charlie, it’s so exciting for me to see you growing up as you are and to be able to walk alongside you as you take more steps into the world. It is not only a joy but a life affirming privilege. Your mother and I are so proud of you and always remember that we will always love you – no matter what.


Happy 6th Birthday, son!


Love,


Daddy

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What Is That?

Check out this short film from Greece about fatherhood. It's very touching and something all of us parents should remember when our kids ask us the same question over and over and over. (Thank you, Betsy, for bringing this to my attention.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Dividends of Dad


This morning I helped chaperone Charlie's Kindergarten class' trip to a local farm. It was the first time Charlie had ever been on a school bus. At the farm we went on a hayride with the final destination being a giant pumpkin patch. After selecting pumpkins, we all munched on fresh donuts and cider. Then it started to rain, so we all hopped back on the bus and back to the school.

Back in Charlie's classroom, his teacher informed all of us chaperones that we could take our kids home, but Charlie insisted on sticking around until the official time to leave. So, there I was, the only parent in the classroom, with a front row seat of my son making a city out of wood blocks with his classmates. Getting a glimpse of Charlie in Kindergarten like this made me feel as lucky as if I had a backstage pass to a Springsteen concert. It was one of those moments that, as a father, was just pure, unadulterated joy; and it's moments like these that make being involved with my sons the greatest investment of my time. Thank you for this morning, Charlie. I love you.

If

Monday, October 12, 2009

Progress Update




If you've been wondering why this blog has been a little more sporadic of late, the reason is purely that all of our energy and time is going into getting this film completed. It's that mammoth an undertaking. Right now we are in the editing phase, with a little more additional filming. Watching the film coming together is a truly remarkable thing to behold and we can't wait to share it with you.

Something else we're very excited about is the upcoming revamp of the main Evolution of Dad site as well as this blog. It's going to be awesome!

Lastly, in the near future we'll be putting up our very first podcast interview an author of special note. This is still in the preliminary phases so I can't say more, but more about this soon as well.

So, thanks for your patience and your interest and looking forward to sharing more from the Evolution!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pony



If you were around in the early '80's you knew the full impact that Michael Jackson had on the world. I can remember walking down the street in Boston, circa 1984 and witnessing a gang of kids parading about, all wearing the signature silver glove. No artist since the Beatles has had such an influence on so many people.

So, what does this have to do with fatherhood?

Watch the above interview clip between Larry King and Rabbi Schmuley, who was close with Jackson and you'll see why. The fact that Jackson would focus on a childhood memory of his father placing him atop a pony at a carnival as the sole reminder of the love between them is staggering; but even more so, that this need for love from his father drove Jackson to find it from his adoring fans - what a tragedy. If ever there was an iconic example of what can happen to a person when their father is not a source of care and love, Michael Jackson's tragic story is it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let's Come Clean About Housework

Okay, time to come clean. When I was filming Dr. Michael Kimmel recently about men and housework, what he said is basically what my wife has been saying for years about me and housework. Guess I'm not alone in this. (Deb, I promise to do better.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Evolution of Dad on "A Conversation With Men Radio Show"

Last night I had the pleasure of being the guest on a blog talk radio show called "A Conversation With Men" with host Michael Taylor. Click here to listen to the broadcast. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Evolutionary Paternity Test?

A friend recently asked me if I was aware of a NYTimes article from a few years back that discusses how babies are more likely to resemble their fathers and that this is an 'evolutionary' way of getting dads more connected with their babies. Pretty wild stuff. If you have an opinion about this, please chime in...

The Continuum of Dad


This past weekend Charlie and I went camping up in the Catskills with some family friends. For my son it was a weekend of first times. First time in a canoe. First time sleeping in a tent. First time climbing over a mountain. For me the time we spent together was one long, joyful echo of a camping trip I took with my dad long ago (minus the rain, gratefully) as well as stories he had told me about a boy scout camping trip he had done with his dad years before that.

In the middle of the first night, Charlie awoke to take a pee and I accompanied him out of the tent with a flashlight. Standing there beside him, I couldn't help but think about the true meaning of leaving one's mark on this world, of legacy, of immortality. Like the constellations in the night sky that night, the continuum of time was so incredibly evident to me. I pondered the beginning of the latest Star Trek movie that had James T. Kirk being born at the moment of his father's passing or of a baby Superman being jettisoned from Krypton as his parents perish. I considered how, no matter all the achievements one can do in this world - no matter how much money, power, or monuments a person accrues to be remembered, there is nothing that leaves ones mark or (dare I say) touches immortality as our children, who will (G-d willing) continue beyond our time here.

Like you, I occasionally ponder the meaning of life. I observe how, no matter the success one achieves in life, if a dad (and this doesn't exclude moms, of course) isn't connected with his children - if he doesn't take the time to pass on his values, his dreams, his love and his time, then in some larger way this sense of meaning, of continuum is greatly lessened.

Driving away from our campsite, Charlie chimed in from the backseat, "Daddy, I really love being with you." Thanks, Charlie. Thanks for being my continuum.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Custodial Bias - A Double Edged Sword

One of the things I've been grappling with in the film is to what extent is there bias against dads when it comes to custodial battles. It seems to me a complex picture, having more to do with the prejudices of individual judges, different states and how overloaded the courts are - and there's definitely can be a bias as a result.

But here's a different perspective. A few days ago, the NYtimes published a very intriguing article about a custodial suit involving a military mom and a civilian father. The article focuses on the bias that military moms in particular face when dealing with divorce proceedings:

"Some advocates say an unspoken bias against mothers who leave their young children has heightened both legal barriers and social stigma when these women try to resume their role as active parents," the article shares.

So, there you have it. When a mother puts aside her maternal responsibilities to go and be involved in what is most typically considered the ultimate male pre-occupation and then seeks custodial rights, she is punished in much the same way as would more typically a father who wants equal custodial access with a regular mom.

The sword cuts both ways.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nozzle Toh-mato Cinderella

My family and I were having dinner tonight and Jamie pointed across the table to the giant bowl of heirloom tomatoes with basil and mozzarella and asked for 'Nozzle Toh-mato Cinderella, please."

We all nearly fell off our chairs in laughter.

Upon thinking about it, "Nozzle To-mato Cinderella" is probably the best way to describe today - a day in which all things old somehow became again. Maybe it was because of the perfect early Fall weather. Maybe it was escorting Charlie up the street to his very first day of Kindergarten. Maybe it was the car ride with my wife this afternoon in which we discussed plans for Charlie's birthday party. Maybe it was flying along the highway with the windows down and the radio blasting John Mellencamp's "Paper In Fire" and remembering doing the exact same thing when I had just turned Seventeen. Maybe it was sharing a pumpkin/peppermint ice cream sundae with Charlie to celebrate his big day. Maybe it was the excitement of editing the "Evolution of Dad" project this afternoon.

Whatever it was, it was a special day. As much as I love the summer, it's great to be back in September, which to me is always the true beginning of the year. Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope you are having a Nozzle To-mato Cinderella day - if not now then sometime soon. Peace.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Job Description: Parents

For a hoot and a holler (and maybe even a sob) check out this job description for parents courtesy of DIY Father. Great stuff.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Justin Roberts Rocks!

Thanks to NYC Dads Group for bringing this to my attention:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Train Makes A Very Good Hat!

This morning, in a moment of sheer brilliance, my younger son, Jamie, decided to 'wear' his electric toy train by turning it on and then placing it on his head. Needless to say, it took about fifteen minutes before I could disengage the locomotive's wheels from my son's springy locks.

At the time, I was so exasperated with both of my sons that I nearly let Jamie wear his new hat for a while. But then I remembered how, as a five-year-old, I came up with the ingenius idea of creating a Spider-Man mask by taking some Wrigley's gum, sticking it atop my hair and then pulling the sticky strands down so to make a gummy web around my head. This was just after my mother had spent an inordinate amount of time blow drying my hair. So, in the great scheme of things, I think Spider-Man beats out Mavis any ole day of the week.

As anyone who has kids probably knows, being a parent can be a truly exhausting experience. The day-in-day-out experience of making sure the kids are properly fed, dressed, behaved, taught important lessons, loved and protected can really wear one down. The amount of gray hairs on my head are certainly a testament to this. But then I remind myself that someday these kids are going to grow up, have their own lives and not need as much attention and I know I'm going to look back on moments like these with a deep fondness. So, thanks for wearing the train hat, Jamie and when your own child comes up with a unique hat to wear, I hope you get as much of a chuckle with it as I did with you today.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Aidan Quinn Joins the Evolution!

Today, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Aidan Quinn for the project. Aidan is the dad of two daughters, the eldest of whom is autistic. Listening to Aidan talk about the challenges and wonders of being a father was very touching.

I have always been a big fan of Aidan's, dating back to the father he played in Avalon. And if you haven't seen this cinematic gem, go rent it immediately. The loving manner that it depicts fathers and sons (as well as grandfathers) will bring you to tears - at least that's what it does for me.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts about fatherhood, Aidan.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kramer vs. Kramer: 30 Years Later


I can't recall another film that nailed a moment in our culture better than Kramer vs. Kramer did back in 1979. I can remember my parents coming back from a matinee screening of that film and talking at length about how they felt about it. Mind you, divorce wasn't (thank God) an issue in my household, but the movie really stirred things up - just as it did for so many others across the world. What kind of mother was Meryl Streep's character to have left her husband and son like she did? What would happen to this little boy who would be brought up primarily by a dad? Is the legal system this biased against dads?

Thirty years later the veracity of this film strikes me without any depleted impact. Minus the people smoking in offices, the dated clothing and a scene having no doubt been shot from an office in one of the twin towers, not much seems to have changed from when this landmark film arrived. The struggle of work/family balance, the reasons for many-a-divorce, the bias of many judges in the courts, even the basic identity of what it means to be a man - all remain to a great extent still unchanged to this day. Yes, there have certainly been strides towards more gender equality, flexible work schedules and an increase in dads staying at home, but at the end of the day, we as dads still remain in a period of confusion, caught between the cultural ideals of what it means to be an 'involved father' and the realities that determine how involved we can truly be at this point.

Still, there's hope, just as there is hope for Dustin Hoffman's character at the end of the film. There is the possibility of change, the opportunity for things to keep getting better. The evolution is slow, yet inevitable. I can only wonder how my boys will perceive Kramer vs. Kramer when they watch it in their adult years. Hopefully, things will be improved enough for them to chuckle at not only the workers smoking in their offices but about how the role of dad was perceived back when.

(Below is an interview excerpt by Dr. Michael Kimmel on the topic)

video

Monday, August 3, 2009

Star Wars Under The Stars With Charlie



Okay, I have something to admit. I'm a Star Wars junkie. Have been this way since the age of seven, when my dad first took me to see the original film. The first three movies still hold a lot of magic for me. So, now that my son, Charlie, is nearly six, I have been fairly excited about sharing the original movie with him.

First, we listened to NPR's radio dramatization of the film. By the way, it's great for longer car rides and it's really first rate, with many of the actors reprising their roles. Charlie was fairly enamored by the radio version, so I felt he wouldn't freak out too much watching the actual movie. He's still pretty sensitive when it comes to seeing movies and gets really nervous when characters find themselves in peril.

I was going to play the movie for Charlie in our basement, but then decided to make it a little more special. So, this past Thursday night we invited all of our neighbors into our backyard for a screening of Star Wars under the stars. Everyone brought their lawn chairs. One neighbor (an at-home dad) built the movie screen. Others brought candy. The lightning bugs were out and the air was electric with excitement. I sat close to my son as we watched the film. For me, it was more interesting watching my son's reaction to the movie than the movie itself at this point.

Watching the Star Wars films has always been a bonding experience between my father and I and now, to share it with my own son, is one of the more meaningful things we've done lately and something that I think will linger in Charlie's memory for many years to come. I know it will linger in mine.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mommy and Me

Over the past year I've taking my younger son, Jamie, to the local Jewish community center for a 'Mommy and Me' class. Being the only dad present has never troubled me. Everyone is friendly and respectful. Sure, the moms feel more comfortable with asking each other out for lunch, etc, but what's important is that my son have the benefit of the class.

As for the name of the group, I have shared my preference for altering it. Why not change it to 'Parent and Me' or 'Toddler and Me' - something a little more inclusive. The response was that adjusting it from the generic 'Mommy and Me' confused people as to what the class was about as it's such an ingrained term. While I didn't agree with this, making waves in an otherwise friendly environment didn't seem appropriate. I don't consider myself to be a militant dad, just one who would like to see things be more equitable and inclusive from all sides of the parental spectrum.

This morning, however, something interesting happened. At morning snack, the teacher brought up, specifically for my attention, an article that had just come out in the local paper about another 'Mommy and Me' class in the area. When a dad, who had a day off from work, arrived to this other class with his excited daughter and wife, the teacher brazenly informed them that the dad would need to leave as this was a mom's only class and the 'daddy and me' class was on Saturdays. He was asked to wait at a nearby coffee shop until the class's conclusion, which he did. His wife was so upset by this that she wrote the editorial letter (unfortunately, the paper's link does not work.)

Anyway, the teacher of my son's class asked how I felt about being there and I reassured her that, while I would prefer a different title to the class, it wasn't really a problem for me.

After the class had ended, the woman who runs the whole nursery school program approached me as well. She was greatly irked by this article as well and it had made her aware of how exclusive the 'Mommy and Me' moniker really is. So, now it's going to be changed.

What I get from all of this is the extent to which things really do not change unless someone decides to take a stand. Too often dads (and moms, too) just continue in lock-step when moments like these arise. One can only imagine how many other dads have been discouraged away from this other 'Mommy and Me' class and things like this will keep happening until people make a fuss. If change is going to happen quicker regarding the way dads are treated at work and elsewhere, they are going to need to step up to the plate and demand it. Otherwise, dads can continue keep going lock-step to the coffee shop when it comes to getting connected with their family.

Pondering Utopia


Try reading Jeremy Adam Smith's brilliant The Daddy Shift and then watching Dances With Wolves in the same week. It's a weird, yet wondrous mixture of media.

Near the end of Jeremy's book, he contemplates the possibility of a utopian world where families are more involved and integrated, where there is a deeper connective tissue between work and family and community and the planet.

And then there's Dances With Wolves, a film that in my mind exalts all the very same ideas, but through the lens of a white man becoming integrated into a peaceful American indian tribe that roams the plains. A tribe that promotes friendship, spirituality, family, community and love. When I first watched the movie upon its release, I felt the desire as the credits rolled to literally go and touch the screen, I wanted to be a part of this imagined world so badly.

If only these utopian visions were true, I often lament. At the end of Costner's film, the destruction of such a way of life is imminent, which makes me yearn for it all the more. And yet, was it just an impossible dream? An imagined mirage that really has no place in our world? The child in me strives to believe that's not so, but the adult me knows better.

And yet a utopian ideal has some worth, not necessarily as an expectation of destination but as a compass to point us at least in the right direction. So, bringing it back to fatherhood, will we ever reach a point where fathers have a true family/work balance, where we live in a society that values people over money, where there is a deeper connective tissue between all of us? I hope so, but at the very least, there is a direction to head towards in the foggy journey. Thanks Jeremy and Kevin for the reminder.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

NYC Dads: Mark Your Calendars!

The NYC Dads Group is sponsoring an amazing event later this month. On Wednesday, the 22nd from 6-8pm, Jeremy Adam Smith, author of the amazing "The Daddy Shift," is going to be giving a talk at the lower Manhattan branch of the 92nd Street Y. For more info, check out here. I'm hoping to attend as well. And if you haven't scooped up a copy of Jeremy's book, whadayawaitingfor??

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Evolution of Dad across the Atlantic

It's always interesting to see how trends in fatherhood are translated on the other side of the Atlantic. I was recently interviewed by The Times in Britain for an article on how the role of dad is changing. Aside from quoting me as saying 'mum' as opposed to 'mom' they did a really good job at presenting a balanced view on the subject of dads. Perhaps what's most intriguing is their perspective that us American dads are much more open to sharing our feelings on the subject of caregiving than our British counterparts. Ironically, while there may be an openness over here, the policies of our country lag behind England when it comes to paternity leave and such. No matter, the times they are a-changing.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Conspiracy of Silence?

Yes, it's that wild and crazy time of the year when fatherhood is back on the cultural radar. I honestly have mixed feelings about Father's Day. It's great to have a holiday promoting the importance and appreciation of dads and yet, between the commercial push and the general shallowness of the media coverage, I find myself shaking my head.

I just came across an article from The Observer over on other side of the Atlantic which goes beyond head shaking to mere bafflement. The basic premise is that more and more men are coming out about how much they don't get or appreciate being dads.

Huh?

Maybe this is a British thing. I dunno. I mean, are there days that I would like to throw my boys out the window? Are there moments when I feel like banging my head against the wall? Are there times when re-reading their favorite book of Thomas for the 10,000th time is perhaps the dullest experience ever? Absolutely! Boy, there was a moment this weekend when my wife and I were with our sons at the Olive Garden and, between the screaming, standing on seats and food throwing, I'm certain the twenty-something hipster waiter was thinking, "Who would want to do this to themselves?"

And yet, would I change a thing about having kids? Would I trade in the accrued gray hairs, the loss of time, the lack of sleep, the destruction of my home, to be single and free again?

Not on your life.

What also bothered me in particular with this article was the given assumption that somehow dads have no paternal instinct compared to women, so women are just naturally suited for the job. The research about how fathers have chemical changes as well as their counterparts has been substantiated again and again. Sure, being a father really starts on day one for most new dads, but at the end of the day it's on the job training where it's really about, for moms or dads.

I think there's a balance in all of this, of course. Spending all the time taking care of one's kids, just like spending all the time away from them, can be equally troubling for dads. I think it's important for dads (and moms) to keep their sanity by getting out once in a while, having another part of their lives taken up with work, etc. It's this balance which is the toughest in our society and really where the struggle lies.

Maybe it's different for British dads but I doubt it. Maybe there are other dads out there who just don't want to be around their kids. My response to that - don't have kids then! Obviously, fatherhood is not for everyone, but a 'conspiracy of silence'? Please!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A MUST Read


I just started reading Jeremy Smith's The Daddy Shift and so far it's everything one could hope for in a book about how the role of fatherhood is changing. Wow! Hats off to you, Jeremy, for writing a book of this caliber. More to follow once I've completed the book.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Memorial Day Weekend Experiment

So, you’re out at the playground with your kids, or visiting a museum or even sitting with them at the breakfast table and there’s that urge to check your email, read the latest Twitter, text a friend, etc. You can do it fairly subtly these days. A brief glance at the device in your lap, so that it’s not so readily apparent as putting a phone to your head. It only takes a moment or so of time, so what’s the big deal?

Has this ever happened to you?

Personally, it’s a perpetual temptation. Sometimes I wish I’d never gotten that cellphone that receives email. Boy, do I check it more than I should. I initially programmed the phone to send a signal every time a new email came in and by the end of the day I was worse than a Pavlovian dog.

We live in this crazy world where multitasking is expected, where our food is sugared up, where a million and one things are grabbing at our attention, so that we can’t spend too much time focusing on any one thing. We are now busier than we’ve ever been before. More information. More ways to connect with people. More of everything.

Are we happier?

For me, it’s a deep struggle. I really want to be PRESENT with my kids when I’m with them. Yet, more often than not, the mental stimulation of being around them is so lacking that I find myself craving to read the NYTimes on my phone while simultaneously keeping an eye on my boys as they take a bath or glancing at my email while walking my elder son to preschool. I look around and see that I’m not alone in this. I see moms and dads in restaurants, at the playground, texting, emailing, twittering, while taking care of their kids. Are we really with our kids when our brains are sucked into our iphones or blackberries or even the newspaper? And what’s this teaching them? That it’s okay not to be present in our lives?

Obviously, we can’t disconnect ourselves with the world or be left out – or can we? Is it possible to carve a balance? I’m going to try a simple experiment over this Memorial Day Weekend. No twitter. No texting. No email checking until after the kids have gone to bed. No cell phone usage unless it’s something relating to close friends or family. So, if you need to reach me, don’t be surprised by the delay.

Better yet, if what I’m writing about strikes a chord, I welcome you to try it as well. Let’s make this Memorial Day Weekend into what it should be about: direct contact with those we care about the most.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not Without My Daughter!



I can't say that Taken is the kind of movie one thinks of when it comes to father/daughter relations, but seeing it tonight certainly made my paternal instincts rise to a steady boil. There really is something primal about watching a father relentlessly trying to save the life of this daughter. While it's a sad commentary about our culture that the father portrayal is yet another inabsentia-dad-on-the-mend, the love between Neeson's character and his daughter felt very real to me. Definitely a recommend for this Father's Day season:)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Video That Explains Everything

My elder son and I watched "The Story of Stuff" this evening and, while it wasn't specifically about fatherhood, it gave a pretty good explanation as to why the priorities of fatherhood and the family are so screwed up at this point. If you haven't seen it already, please do so. Then share it with your friends, your families, anyone who is willing to listen.

Back in the Evo Dad Saddle

Hey out there.

I know. Long time since the last post. It's been a long, cold winter, but the 'Evolution' continues and I'll do my best to keep up the posts as well as push this project through to its completion.

It's amazing what an economic downturn can do with regards to more dads being at home, huh? There's been a lot of media hype about this lately, but the story still sound resounding similar to the tired 'Mr. Mom' story.

What I think is really interesting are how different dads react to finding themselves out of work and stuck at home. Are they open to the personal growth inherent in getting to know their kids better or are they too down about the situation because it goes so much against their ideas of man as the provider?

As always, with each dad it's different. If you are such a dad, write to me at dana@evolutionofdad.com as I'd like to hear your story and maybe include it in the film. Thanks again.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Early Morning With Charlie

The day begins in my household with my five-year-old son, Charlie, groggily coming into my bedroom and giving me a nudge to get up. We're usually up before his younger brother, Jamie, and so we tiptoe downstairs into the family room and sit on the couch, a milk in his hand and a glass of orange juice in mine. Sometimes I quietly read to him. Other times we just snuggle up and talk.

This morning, Charlie felt insistent on wanting to contribute something to the 'daddy movie' and after hearing what he wanted to say, I promptly turned on a video camera. Here are the results:

video

My reason for sharing this is somewhat selfish: that someday, when Charlie is an adult and struggling to find his own place in the world, he may remember what it was like when he was young and the time we shared. Anyway, thank you for the kind words, Charlie. I love you so much.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Work-At-Home Dad: White House Style

There's an interesting article from the NYTimes titled "Michelle Obama's Balancing Act" and, while I'm thrilled that the First Lady seems to be taking a stance on matters of work/family balance, it's disheartening to see how much this is still thought to be a mom's issue and not a parental one. Also, take note of the experts that were interviewed for comment. God forbid some expert dads be included..

I'll echo one of the comments left at the bottom of the article: I wonder, what would people’s reactions be if the headline were “Barack Obama’s Balancing Act.”

Not to be too sour grapes, I'm thrilled that this sort of story is even coming up. (Can you imagine the title "Laura Bush's Balancing Act?") Also, it's great to be reading in a related article about our new President's apparent happiness over having to work 'at home.' Obviously, being the Prez is not your standard At-Home Dad model, but perhaps emphasizing this will make the concept more digestible to the masses. We'll see:)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Dad

Last week was a difficult one for my family. My dad had been complaining about a really, really bad headache that just wouldn't seem to go away. His doctor checked him out and then quickly sent him to the emergency room.

It turns out he was bleeding in his brain. Fortunately, the part of the brain it may have affected wasn't going to impair any of his functions.

Thank God.

My father called me on my cell to share what had happened. Through my life he's always been a fixture of calmness, of deliberation and fortitude; but this day his voice coming through my handset was only of humbled emotion.

"I'm so lucky, Dana. I'm so lucky. My mummy was watching over me," he practically cried, talking about his mother, my grandmother, who had died four years before I was even born. Hearing him like this, I nearly broke down myself.

The area of the blood burst was behind his right ear and, while the doctors were positive about the non-damage it had enacted thus far, they were also concerned that this was perhaps something my father had from birth or that it might be the beginning of further leakages.

When the doctors asked my parents if my father had ever had any 'head trauma' they both replied "No." But when I learned about the location, it dawned on me that it was at the bald spot behind my dad's ear that was a result of my dad being roughed up at age Fifteen. The story was that when he and a friend were walking home one night from the local Jewish Community Center, they were jumped by a gang of kids who screamed out antisemitic slurs as they beat my father to the ground.

My dad had long forgotten the incident, but thank God it left a deep impression on me, when he told me about it years ago and that I would make the connection now. Lastly, how bizarre it is that an antisemitic incident from Forty-Six years ago would now play out in this fashion.

Once it was clear that this leakage was an isolated incident due to outside forces, we were told my dad would need a 'procedure' to 'glue' the hair-like vein that was bleeding. This would entail the 'Fantastic Voyage' of a thin wire being sent through his body and all the way into his head. If it didn't work out, brain surgery was the next option - something we were praying wouldn't be necessary.

Last Friday afternoon, while the doctors sent the thin wire in, my family and I waited, holding our collective breaths.

Finally, the doctor called and the procedure had been a success. Thank God. After several days recovery in the hospital, my father is now back at home.

I am still emotionally exhausted from the ordeal. More than anything, seeing my dad go through the perils of this past week serves as a strong reminder of how fragile and fleeting life is and of the importance of family. Maybe my father is right that his 'mummy' was looking after him and I only pray that she continues to do so for a very, very long time.

Amen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

You Simply Melt Right In...

My kids are pretty heavily into Schoolhouse Rock at the moment and it's great to be sharing something that I used to love watching as a kid on Saturday mornings. The music is great and more educational than a thousand Sesame Streets.

This was a special day for our nation and, as we watched President Obama be elected, I couldn't help but hear that song "Great American Melting Pot" playing again and again in my head.

"America was founded by the English,
But also by the Germans, Dutch, and French.
The principle still sticks;
Our heritage is mixed.
So any kid could be the president.

You simply melt right in,
It doesn't matter what your skin.
It doesn't matter where you're from,
Or your religion, you jump right in
To the great American melting pot..."

It's a special day when the ideals of our nation become a reality as well as a helpful reminder that in America anything can happen.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Music For The Film

Singer/songwriter Adriel Borshansky is working on a new song for inclusion in the film and I'm so excited about it that I wanted to share it in its very early form.

Here's the demo/lyrics for a taste of what's to come:



(read on as you listen to the song)

I stepped down
And let another mission consume me
I stepped down
And let the house fall

And there's nothing I can do
To write it all anew
To fill the void with roses and letters
Would make the distance all more true

Can it be saved
Can I become the man my children crave
Can I transform
And finally show that I'm above the norm

I took a step down
From my values and my reasons
From the source of all my feelings
To work

Well I'd love to say I'm sorry
I would love to make it up
But I wasn't even there
To understand the way that works

And there's nothing I can do
To write it all anew
To fill the void with roses and letters
Would make the distance all more true

Can it be saved
Can I become the man my children crave
Can I transform
And finally show that I'm above the norm

Let's rebuild our broken bridges
And come back to things that really matter
We will fall in mounds of snow together
Bound by love that's been with us forever
I can't keep on living buried
Underneath this blanket made of stubbornness
I must despair before the power
Of my deep, hidden love

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dear Do-Nothing Dad


Here's an article from Cookiemag.com (of all places!) that I think sums up a lot of my personal feelings regarding so many dads out there that make the rest of us look bad - and their dutiful, enabling wives. Special thanks to my wife for bringing this to my attention and to Graham Carr for cooking it up.

Monday, January 5, 2009

In Memoriam: Ralph Benitez

A few days ago one of the project's subjects, Ralph Benitez, passed away. Given his long battle with AIDS and his deteriorating health, his death was not a shock, but it is still so sad. Ralph exemplified all the best we hope for in a dad. His care, love, wisdom and sense of humor were apparent every moment that I was lucky enough to spend with him. When I think of it, his story will really be the heart of my film - as it should be. His passing is a reminder to me and to all who knew him how we can never take for granted the good people in this world and that one should never judge a book by its cover.

I miss you, Ralph.