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The SAHD problem

I was just telling Kelly the other day that rather than get all worked up about discrimination against dads, I'm actually more inclined to support fighting the "generic parent bias." It's not about At Home Dads per se. It's about moms being seen as the default parent. Yes, the assumption is that dads are so bad at parenting that we're not even present. But the issue affects aunts and uncles, grandparents, two-dad households.

I filled out an alumni survey yesterday for my college and was a bit amused/impressed that Question 27 in the demographic info went so far as to give check boxes for Male and Female...plus a fill-in box for Other. Unfortunately, that same level of flexibility hasn't hit other areas like parenting. I'll be the first to admit I'm doing nothing remotely related to my major and/or degree. Never really have.

But the rest of the survey did a fairly nice job of getting to the heart of the other side of a college education. It's not just job prep...my school actually did/does a terrible job at that, but it's liberal arts so what do you want. The bigger issue is that I came out a more thoughtful, kind, and aware person. Well, I'd like to hope that I already was thoughtful, kind, and aware.

Yet when it came time to fill out the education level, employment status, income and other usual suspects, it was the next in a long line of surveys I've seen recently that fail to capture what's really going on in society today. And that failure--from the census under-counting dads to our political process--fails to take into account the new roles we all play (women too) in the modern world.

I'd like to think I'm a productive member of society. I'm at home shaping a future generation of who-knows-what. Workers, thinkers, leaders. I don't really care what my kids grow up to be. But when the people who look for markers and ways to categorize us try to capture a snapshot of who I am for marketing purposes I guarantee they come up short.

It's all too complicated for them. The education level that exists somewhere beyond college degree but no graduate degree. Employment status? It depends on what you mean by "part time" and "employed?" At least we're starting to get beyond the idea that everybody who is at home is unwillingly jobless and that some of us are at home by choice. Income? That's a tricky one. You want mine? The household? Both are not a true picture of how we handle finances.

And just last night we were discussing that we rarely watch "regular" tv. We mostly cherry pick the best shows for dvd or watching seasons On Demand. We own no land phone line. We both have mobile phones which we only answer if we recognize your number. Nobody ever leaves voicemails. If you really want to contact me, e-mail and I'll get back to you when I'm not wiping peanut butter off my toddler's face or changing a puke-covered shirt from my infant daughter.

That's the new reality of families. You don't have to find a way to label me. I'd just appreciate a Facebook style "it's complicated" recognition that your old ways of lumping people together no longer work.


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