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Fatherhood in the 21st Century

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Archive for February, 2010
If you are a full-time stay at home dad, you may think this article is a little obvious. However, if you are thinking about becoming a stay at home dad and want to know what it might be like, I think this article could be very helpful to you.

Today is my 7th and final day as a stay at home dad, at least for the time being. As an experiment, I would have to say that it was a success. Our days went something like this:

We would wake up at a normal time: between 6:30 and 7:30. We would eat breakfast together and watch Thomas and Friends or Dora the Explorer.

At 8, when we would ordinarily leave for daycare, we would often start to watch Sesame Street, and then lose interest and start playing trains. I would try to work on my laptop from 9 until 10:30, with limited success. Then, when Nick would get frustrated that we weren’t playing, we would start an activity until lunch. After lunch he would lay down for a nap. At that point, I would have about two hours to do some work. When Nick woke up from his nap, I closed the laptop and played with him until Mom got home.

As far as playtime goes, we did a wide variety of things. I tried to get out of the house a little bit every day. Two activities in particular really stuck out as huge successes: swimming and going to the library.

The swimming pool was full of other children and parents. This was a fantastic opportunity for Nick to play with other kids, and would be a great way to keep him socialized with other children if he was no longer going to daycare. I also found the other parents to be quite friendly and helpful. They were mostly women, but there were a couple of other dads there as well. In addition, the pool offered swimming lessons for children as small as 18 months, giving them an early start on their water skills.

The library was also an amazing experience. We attended a class called “Toddler Time”, which was intended for kids of about 18 months to four years old or so. The class ran for about 25 minutes, and included story-telling, a puppet show, sing-a-longs, and lots of other kids. After the class, most of the children stuck around the library playing with toys and reading books until lunch. Once again, lots of friendly parents.

We did a few other things as well – got haircuts, did some shopping, went to McDonald’s for lunch and playtime in the kid’s room. Today, I believe that the plan is to go to a pet store and pet the animals.

You could easily set up a routine so that you have one activity that you do every day that gets you out of the house, keeping your child socialized and preventing you from going stir crazy. The afternoon nap is a nice respite where you could get caught up on some reading, do a little work, take a nap, or hit the video games.

All in all, it was a very positive experience, and I am really glad that I had the opportunity to do it. I think that I am going to make some changes to my work day a little bit as a result too. I was really surprised at how much I was able to accomplish in my day when I really focused on it, and that will help me be more efficient next week. In addition, I think I will take at least one day off every month just to hang out with Nick and go swimming or to play. The weekends around here are usually rushed and full of tasks; we had really high quality play time together this week. It was a nice change of pace.

As always, I’d love to hear your comments.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

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While I have dramatically cut back on the hours that I work in the past year, my son does still go to daycare for a portion of the day (typically from 8:30 to 4). Our lifestyle changes have meant that I can spend much more time with Nick and more time at home, which has been very positive and something that I am not willing to give up.

For two days this week and all of next week, our daycare center is closed while the wonderful women who run it take a well-deserved vacation. So, I cancelled all of my out of the house meetings and am keeping Nick at home with me. So far, the experiment has been going great, although I do find it difficult to find the time to sit down at the computer and type when my son is pulling at my leg and asking me to play trains. What I did yesterday was get up early and work before he got up, then took regular and long breaks throughout the day to play. We even went out to the library together for a little while. Of course, I worked while he napped in the afternoon too.

However, I do feel guilt. Like, if my son is here, I NEED to be playing with him all the time. I know he needs time to play by himself to develop his imagination, but I still feel guilty. In fact, as I write this he is watching Sesame Street and I have a nagging feeling that I am letting Elmo babysit while I ignore him.

I will check in next week after I’ve got some more practice doing this and let you know how it all worked out. In the meantime, if any of you SAHDs out there want to share any tips for working while your kids are at home, I’d love to hear them.

I have one other little thing to mention to you. This site is proud to participate in Fatherhood Fridays, a feature run by www.dad-blogs.com. Well, this just happens to be the 52nd Fatherhood Friday. That’s right, one year of excellent dad blogs. If you haven’t check it out yet, please visit them today.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

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I am a big fan of podcasts; I listen to several as a way of keeping myself educated and informed on business matters. I’ve been searching for a good fatherhood podcast for some time, with limited success. It’s not so much that the podcasts haven’t been good, just that they haven’t really struck a chord with me. For example, the GeekDads podcast is very well done, but just didn’t really catch my attention.

A couple of weeks ago I visited Cast Of Dads and downloaded episode 7. Entitled “We Were All Morons”, I thought it was worth a listen. Unfortunately, it took me until yesterday to listen to the podcast – it was worth the wait.

The podcast consists of 5 Dads who are responsible for 13 children across a wide range of ages. The banter was natural, and really sounded like a group of guys just getting together and talking about the things that were on their minds.The podcast included a great discussion on dealing with bullying that I though was handled really well. All too often a group of guys would revert to bravado and deny that they or their children were ever bullied. Instead, these men offered up personal insights and workable solutions to the problem. Bravo.

So if you, like me, enjoy listening to podcasts, please check out the Cast of Dads. Their podcast is located at:http://castofdads.squarespace.com.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
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This picture was tweeted to me yesterday morning. I thought it was fantastic and worth sharing.

Drew Brees and his son

Drew Brees and his son

I couldn’t find the source for this image, so if anyone knows, please tell me so I can give credit where it is due.

Several months ago I was interviewed by author Craig Baird for a new book that he was writing about becoming a dad for the first time. Craig is a well-established author, and I knew that he was interviewing many other fathers for his book, so I was really honored just to be selected for the interview process. I signed a release form so that my information could be used if my interview happened to be one of the few that would end up being selected.

Time passed and I had not heard anything about the book for some time, so I assumed that I had not made the cut. Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I opened my mailbox and found a copy of I’m Going to Be a Dad: Now What? Everything You Need to Know About First-Time Fatherhood inside of an envelope. Hurriedly, I flipped through the book, hoping to find my name, and I did. A two page spread chronicling some of my experiences leading up to the birth of Nick and the changes that he brought into our life. It felt great to be given the chance to share my experiences with so many potential readers, just as I share a lot of my thoughts with all of you here.

I wanted to post the story here immediately, but I thought it would be prudent to actually read the book first, to make sure that it was worth talking about. Featured in it or not, I try my best to provide only good information to all of you.

So, I took some time to read the book, and I was impressed. The book really focuses on first-time dads, and most of the information contained in it will be old news for anyone who already has children. However, if your significant other is pregnant right now for the first time, I would really recommend picking the book up and reading through it. If it’s been a while since you’ve had small kids in the house, the book could also serve as a refresher course on babies. It is well-written, and offers many different viewpoints through interviews with real-world dads.

You can buy the book from Amazon.com by clicking here.
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The medical journal The Lancet has retracted the controversial 1998 study which first suggested a link between the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine and Autism.

I hardly think that this will quiet the controversy, but it is an interesting development. Here is a link to the story on CNN.com:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/02/lancet.retraction.autism/index.html

The story at CNN has some interesting related articles and a video, but I am also copying the story here for you to read.

The Following Is From CNN.com:

(CNN) — The medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday retracted a controversial 1998 paper that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism.
The study subsequently had been discredited, and last week, the lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research.
The General Medical Council, which oversees doctors in Britain, said that “there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper” and that his “conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible.”

The panel found that Wakefield subjected some children in the study to various invasive medical procedures such as colonoscopies and MRI scans. He also paid children for blood samples for research purposes at his son’s birthday party, an act that “showed a callous disregard” for the “distress and pain” of the children, the panel said.
Following the council’s findings last week, The Lancet retracted the study and released this statement.

“It has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were ‘consecutively referred’ and that investigations were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.”

Dr. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, said he reviewed the GMC report regarding Wakefield’s conduct. “It’s the most appalling catalog and litany of some the most terrible behavior in any research and is therefore very clear that it has to be retracted,” he said.
CNN was unable to reach Wakefield for a comment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention praised The Lancet’s retraction, saying, “It builds on the overwhelming body of research by the world’s leading scientists that concludes there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism. We want to remind parents that vaccines are very safe and effective and they save lives. Parents who have questions about the safety of vaccines should talk to their pediatrician or their child’s health care provider.”

Since its publication, Wakefield’s study has attracted many critics who argued that the work had been so flawed it should not be regarded as scientific. Wakefield theorized that the measles vaccine caused gastrointestinal problems and that those GI problems led to autism. In his view, the virus used in the vaccine grew in the intestinal tract, leading the bowel to become porous because of inflammation. Then material seeped from the bowel into the blood, Wakefield’s theory said, affecting the nervous system and causing autism. But subsequent research has been unable to duplicate Wakefield’s findings.

A September 2008 study replicated key parts of Wakefield’s original paper and found no evidence that the vaccine had a connection to either autism or GI disorders. The study, conducted at Columbia University, Massachusetts General Hospital and the CDC, also found no relationship between the timing of the vaccine and children getting GI disorders or autism.
The Wakefield study has been a key piece of evidence cited by parents who do not vaccinate their children. “The story became credible because it was published in The Lancet,” Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, said Tuesday. “It was in The Lancet, and we really rely on these medical journals.”

Singer, the mother of a child with autism, added, “That study did a lot of harm. People became afraid of vaccinations — this is the Wakefield legacy — this unscientifically grounded fear of vaccinations that result in children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Retractions are rare in medical journals and usually occur as a result of fraud or plagiarism, said Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. “It is a major event when there is a retraction like this,” she said. “It sounds like there was a misleading design of the study … patients not randomly chosen. There were ethical violations.”

William Schaffner, professor and chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, described the journal’s level of action as “unprecedented.”

“Since Wakefield’s study came out, some 20 other studies have come out, and each one of these studies, done by different researchers, in different populations and in different countries has denied the associations between vaccines and autism,” he said. “… Scientifically, this story is over.”

Schaffner added, “This series of events is damning and should refocus all of us in the field to find better methods of diagnosis and treatments.” The Lancet came under criticism for the initial publication of the paper 12 years ago.

Calling the Lancet’s retraction “exceptionally disingenuous,” Dr. Paul Offit, author of “Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure,” said the medical journal has much to be embarrassed about over the matter.

“The science in that paper was never that good enough to warrant publication,” he said. “And it did a lot of harm. …

“The mere publishing of this paper created something that will never fully go way — the false notion that MMR caused autism,” said Offit, the chief of division of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The retraction did little to change the opinion of Rebecca Estepp, a spokeswoman for Talk About Curing Autism. Estepp said her son has autism and bowel problems. She said she remains convinced he had a vaccine reaction and that Wakefield’s research helped doctors identify how to help her son. “I guess the GMC can say whatever they want to say for the rest of their existence, but I know that my son got better because of Dr. Wakefield,” she said.

Cases in which U.S. families have sued alleging a vaccine-autism link have had mixed outcomes. In 2007, a U.S. federal program intended to compensate victims of injuries caused by vaccines concluded that a 9-year-old girl’s underlying illness had predisposed her to symptoms of autism and was “significantly aggravated” by the vaccinations. Two years later, three different American families sought compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, but the panel ruled that they had not presented sufficient evidence to prove that the vaccines caused autism in their children.
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