Alright Dads, the Jig is Up!

As I blearily opened one eye to read my email on my iPhone this morning, I was excited to find that my Google alerts had caught this delightful article outlining what we ladies have suspected for a while: that men are hard-wired for parenthood just like women.

Without getting too science-y, the article describes how testosterone-oriented behaviors can interfere in childrearing, and that men who spend the most time taking care of their kids have the lowest levels of testosterone. Basically, this means that when it comes time to care for the kids, it’s not just women who adjust to the changes- men adapt too.

By itself, I would have thought this article was interesting, but probably would not have necessarily felt the need to share. But since reading it this morning, it seems as though this idea is EVERYWHERE. Maybe it just crawled into my brain and affected the way I saw everything today, but I could swear there were more dads in the SittingAround twitter feed, which lead to reading more Dad Blog posts. This one, which made me smile at how well it illustrated the science, is a personal favorite today: The Joys of Fatherhood

And then came the Johnson and Johnson commercial. The adorable baby, dad, and frog filled ode to family time:

So men, we were already on to you, but now we can prove it! I think this means we’re going to be seeing a lot more dad-oriented, kid products and entertainment in the future, too. Have you seen any? Share! Especially if it’s really cute…we like it when it’s really cute. 

Transformers + Thomas the Train = Trainsformers

Or, pure awesome.

I often feel guilty about the amount of time my technophile son spends playing with my iPhone. This morning, however, he woke me with a YouTube video that showed me this was time well-spent. This Thomas-Transformers mashup marries the toys of my childhood with the bane of my existence the toys of his.

Op-Thomas-prime? Mega-train? Hilarious. (Note: some of the language in this video is not suitable for young children)


Lessons in Coop Cooperation


It’s an established truth amongst those in the know (a group growing every day) that coops help makes parents lives better. They save families money, build community, and help parents achieve that illusive “balance” we all seem to be chasing in our lives. But like in any group, especially one in which a number of different households are involved, there are going to be hurdles to overcome. Adam Rabiner, a member of the Prospect Heights Babysitting Coop, was kind enough to write about some challenges that his coop battles, how they are facing them, and the lessons they have learned in the process:

Coop Waffle Party
Courtesy of Andrea Kaplan

My Brooklyn baby-sitting coop formed six and a half years ago, about the time my first child was born.  With eleven active members, those who post for a sitter have a strong chance of getting one.  Our principal challenge over the years has been to increase those odds even further and to create a coop where every single member goes out and sits at least periodically.  Members have voiced concern that it is difficult for prospective new members to feel comfortable coming into a group with a sizable number of inactive members who they may never meet.  Coops are based on trust and ongoing, dynamic, relationship building, and it may hard to build up trust in this situation.  Achieving full, active participation, though, has been elusive, and in fact may be unrealistic.


Our group has pursued several strategies to encourage maximum use.  One is simply moral suasion.  At business meetings we’ve had frequent conversations about the benefits and necessity of a fully engaged membership.  We’ve also created both positive and negative incentives to encourage use.  For example, we instituted a new rule that families who do not go out at least once in a given calendar year will be penalized and those who go out the most will be rewarded.  With four months remaining in 2011 and seven families sit-less this year, the verdict is still out on how effective this reward system will prove to be.  Our latest effort is to have the Membership Chairs reach out to these families and speak to them about the reasons they are not using the coop in order to explore ways to better address their needs.


Courtesy of Mark Jaffe

I’m hopeful that this last strategy makes a positive difference – but my sense is that families choose to use or not to use a baby-sitting coop for various reasons, some of which may be beyond the control of the group.  Members may move away from the neighborhood, remaining with the coop out of loyalty and friendships, but find using it impractical.  They may find alternative care arrangements for their kids.  They may need to take a hiatus due to having another child, unusual family living arrangements, or life circumstances.  They may simply enjoy attending a coop’s social activities and remain members for that reason alone.


Ultimately, it would be grand if every single family that joins a coop chooses to use it several times a year.  That’s a gold standard and I’d be happy to see it realized in my Brooklyn neighborhood.  I’m waiting to see if our latest efforts to spur greater usage bear fruit.  If they do not, I remain comfortable knowing that a coop can be functional, even vibrant and healthy, with a dozen or so committed members.

A big thanks to Adam for sharing his wisdom and experience. We will be eager to hear about Prospect Heights’s progress towards their goal of 100% participation!