Daddy Skills

A special shout out to all of us fathers who know EXACTLY what he is rappin’ about. This generally applies to dads that spent most of the day with our kids. The stay at home moms already know this stuff. You guys can just sit back, nod your head and enjoy the beat.

From the no sleeping in, the multiple choice breakfast, the quick change diaper, sliding down the slide together, talking to the moms at the playgrounds, play dates…all of it. Been there done that. I wouldn’t change a thing.

9 1/2 years and two kids worth of daddy skills – yes indeed!

The Moynihan Report

“From the wild Irish slums of the 19th-century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future–that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, disorder. . .are not only to be expected, they are very near to inevitable.”

Daniel Moynihan-1965

It’s a statement that rings true today just as it did forty years ago.

I think everyone should be required to read the Moynihan Report. This document, known then as “The Negro Family: The Case For National Action,” is now referred to as the Moynihan Report. The report was leaked to the media in July 1965, one month before the devastating riots in Watts. Moynihan urged that the Federal Government adopt a national policy for the reconstruction of the black family. He laid out clear arguments, noting that the real cause of the troubles in the black community, was not so much segregation, or a lack of voting power, but that the structure of the Negro family is highly “unstable and in many urban centers…approaching complete breakdown.”

Mr. Moynihan was ostracized for his findings with the release of this report. Critics came from all corners of society. Civil-rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis spoke out angrily against the report. Others said that is that it assumed that middle-class American values are the correct values for everyone in America. They suggested that he assumed everyone should have a family structure like his own.

Well, after 47 years to observe what has happened,  I feel he was right. We now have generations of fatherless kids who have no guidance. Widespread fatherlessness is a major problem in our society and is affecting people in ways they may not totally understand. Take a look at what is going on in communities of color all across the United States. It is now effecting people of all hues.

The effects of widespread fatherlessness are everywhere and has a direct impact on nearly all of the social issues facing America today. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America, almost one out of three, live in homes where the biological father is absent. The number of single parent households living below the poverty line is staggering. Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2010, 31.6 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 15.8 percent of households headed by single men and 6.2 percent of married-couple households lived in poverty. Since the publication of the Moynihan Report, the proportion of African American children born outside or marriage has ballooned from 24 percent to 70 percent today. Things are CLEARLY not getting better.

Little has changed to improve the lives of black children since then. In fact, it has gotten worse. This is a phenomenon that is becoming a bigger problem than we’d like to admit. The acceptance of the ‘new normal’ of widespread fatherlessness will eventually have the same devastating effects in the white community as it has had in the black community for decades.  Moynihan meant for the report to serve as a call to action for a larger discussion and planned social and political intervention. I feel the time has come to have that conversation, to begin a new dialogue and to spread awareness of the issues that still persist almost 50 years later.

Kay S. Hymowitz sums things up in her essay “The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies,”

So, have we reached the end of the Moynihan report saga? That would be vastly overstating matters. Remember: 70 percent of black children are still born to unmarried mothers. After all that ghetto dwellers have been through, why are so many people still unwilling to call this the calamity it is? Both NOW and the National Association of Social Workers continue to see marriage as a potential source of female oppression. The Children’s Defense Fund still won’t touch the subject. Hip-hop culture glamorizes ghetto life: “ ’cause nowadays it’s like a badge of honor/to be a baby mama” go the words to the current hit “Baby Mama,” which young ghetto mothers view as their anthem. Seriously complicating the issue is the push for gay marriage, which dismissed the formula “children growing up with their own married parents” as a form of discrimination. And then there is the American penchant for to-each-his-own libertarianism. In opinion polls, a substantial majority of young people say that having a child outside of marriage is okay—though, judging from their behavior, they seem to mean that it’s okay, not for them, but for other people. Middle- and upper-middle-class Americans act as if they know that marriage provides a structure that protects children’s development. If only they were willing to admit it to their fellow citizens.

I Have Female Privilege

I found this on the Good Men Project blog and think it is a great conversation starter. I think Rachel Goodchild raises a lot of great points and many of them hit home.

Times have changed. You may not see it now, but the pendulum has already swung. Books like The Richer Sex by Liza Mundy lays out the facts concerning the strides women have made, and illustrates the changes in our culture.

For instance, women have taken the lead in college graduation rates. 57 percent of undergraduates are female, and women earn the majority of doctorate and masters degrees. According to the 2009 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 4 in 10 working wives outearned their husbands–an increase of more than 50% from 20 years before. The recent Census Bureau data states that single childless women ages 22 to 30 in the majority of large U.S. cities now have a higher median income than their male peers.

What will these changes mean for our culture, modern relationships and family?

I Have Female Privilege by Rachel Goodchild

I was raised a feminist. My mother was a feminist, and my father was too. When I was a girl, feminism was a noble pursuit- a drive to gain the equality (though now I prefer the word equity), that our mothers and grandmothers had not experienced. And it was needed. I do not doubt it, nor take for granted the ground that they took. We have perhaps forgotten how hard it was for women to do what they wanted in terms of partner choice, the choice to have children, attending school and universities, then work in a career of their choosing.

And yes, I know that battle has not been won everywhere. There are countries or cultures where horrendous things happen to you if you are female. But in my country and in my culture, and in many other western countries, I would suggest the tide has well and truly turned.

I have occasionally felt the sting of NOT being male – the invitation to join the “real men” at work when offered a leadership position, the fact that there was the assumption by the outside world, when my marriage broke up that it would be me that would care for my children, though I had also been the income earner (not that I opposed that I would, though the easy assumption did rankle), that I have struggled with that curious mix of needing pretty finery and makeup and eradication of hair in socially unacceptable places (except of course on my head!) to appear more professional, and so on, but I am very aware that I no longer live in a man’s world. This world is a woman’s world. And us females are now the humans holding the privilege.

I try not to use it. But I know it’s there. I am all too aware the pendulum of power has swung, and being aware of that knowledge itself is enough. However I see women around me use our shared privilege all the time, and it does sicken me.


If I were to use it, what would that look like? Well, let’s look at how the tides have turned.

1. I’m allowed to be far more open about my sexuality than a man is. In fact, if I’m bisexual, it’s encouraged (both male and females encourage it funnily enough). If I’m hetero, I’m allowed to make comments about how hot men are, compliment men without others thinking it’s harassment and generally can make lewd comments about any person, be them male or female, and it’s considered ok. I can say “I fancy him so much I’d even rape him” or “I need to pull him into the storeroom and show him I mean it” or “He is mega hot” about any male whether he is seventeen (I am forty) or seventy. I can sit in a Twilight movie and drool at Jacob (for instance), and not be seen as a dirty old woman.

2. If my partner and I were in a domestic dispute and both violent, or both shouting, and I hit him … if the police were called, my male partner would still be the one far more likely to be taken into custody for the night. If my male partner tried to report domestic violence, it would be harder for him to have the charges laid, than if I did so. In fact, while there is a charge of Male assaults Woman in my country, there is no Woman assaults Male. That would be classified instead as General Assault.

3. If my relationship with the father of my children was to break up, I’m far more likely to get the kids. And if I want a child, but don’t have a partner, I can do that too. I get to choose whether I have the baby or not, I get to choose whether the father’s name is on the birth certificate or not (and if he queries it, he’s the one who has to pay for the DNA test) and if he’s named as the father, he then has to pay child support, whether he was aware I was trying to have a child or not.

4. I’m allowed to be as education- and career-driven as I want to be, and push for the top, seeking equity and equality in everything. But when it comes to dating and relationships, I’ll want the dates paid for, the doors opened, the bling bought. And if I want to choose to not be career-driven, and be instead at home, and not work, then I can far more readily choose that option too than a male partner could.

5. If I write an inflammatory comment, or a blog, or article, and a man questions anything in it, all I need to do to shut the conversation down is call him a bully, or say he’s a privileged male. I can also make disparaging comments about his sexuality, his economic standing, the size of his penis, and his ability to do pretty much anything in return for him disagreeing with me. I can do this, because when I do, I KNOW there will be a bunch of other women who will stick up for me.

Because as a woman … I now have privilege.






Easter 1977






My father just turned 77 on Thursday. He and my mother are still alive, married and well. Early in the morning, my kids and I gave him a call to sing happy birthday.  I think about how amazing it is to have the ability to call either one of my parents on any given day and be able to speak with them. Most of my friends can’t. I’m very fortunate to have this in my life and I take advantage of it as often as I can. Life is short. The older I get, the more I realize how precious each moment is.

I think about the things my father did for me when I was a child. I remember when he used to get on his knees, take off his glasses and I used kid boxing gloves to pretend box with him. I remember how he used to take me to football practice, basketball practice, exposed me briefly to martial arts and other sports like baseball and tennis.

He worked long hard hours to keep the bills paid and moved his family from Bloomfield to Manchester Connecticut for a better life, education and surroundings in the suburbs back in 1973. We lived a very comfortable existence growing up. Since he was the sole breadwinner for a while, he had to do what was necessary to keep things together. My mother stayed at home until we got old enough to be on our own. She did her part in doing what was necessary to help my father raise a family. Her role as a stay at home parent was crucial to our development. Being a father now, I totally understand the things they both did but never told me about.

For instance, when I pay for things for the children , they have no idea how it is done. They just want the admission paid to the amusement park. They want to jump on the hotel bed while we are on vacation like I used to, not knowing how much this is setting me back financially.  They want good healthy food at dinner, they want new toys, they want swimming lessons, new bikes, clean clothes…the list goes on and on.  Right now, I am fortunate to provide what they need, not necessarily what they want. I ain’t getting them no iPad! Especially since I can’t afford an expensive toy for myself.

My father provided everything our family needed and was a man who exemplified leadership and integrity. A true head of household. I realize all of this stuff as my kids got older. I sometimes wonder if I’m turning into him. In many ways I am, but in some ways I know I am the total opposite. My mother was the one who was supportive of everything I wanted to do musically. My father was of the mindset of being able to have a job that provided stability. He wanted his kids to be able to have the skills that would enable them to be able to get a steady job with benefits. I totally understand, but at the same time, I know there is more than one way to be a success.

Growing up in Connecticut, many people are not exposed to the entertainment industry and how lucrative it can be. There are all sorts of career opportunities. Maybe now he can see things a little differently since I have become a successful full-time musician. I want to expose my kids to as much as I possibly can. There is a whole world out there to explore and I will support their interests wherever they lie. I still want them to understand the risks of any career path – whether is is a CPA or a film editor. There are risks and reward in everything we do in life. I think the biggest difference with my father and I is that I tend to be less risk averse.

I must say, he did pay for some of my drum equipment later in life –  a big help. Even though he may not have seen a musician’s life as a long-lasting career path, he was supportive of me throughout my life, and to this day, always has my back if times are rough.

It takes a strong man to raise three kids in the suburbs of a rapidly changing culture after the unrest in the 60’s. He learned from the mistakes his father made and chose to be fully present in his kids lives. I think that made a massive impression on me. That is probably why I refused to leave my kids while my ex tried to kick me out of her life as well as our kids lives. I was going nowhere. I’m here for my kids just like my father was for me and my sisters.

Who knows what my kids will do when they get older. I just want to be there to give them guidance like my father did. I will be their emotional, spiritual and financial support. I will be there when they fall, and I hope to still be able to answer their call at 77 like my father just did last Thursday.