Excited to say that I, Russell Peterson aka DayParentDad, was featured today in the Financial Times of London as an at home dad who has successfully returned to work.
According to Emma Jacobs, the author of When stay-at-home fathers rejoin the work force, “Architect Russell Peterson used to say that waiting at tables and cleaning a combine harvester were the hardest jobs he had ever done. Then he became a stay-at-home dad. ‘It far outstrips those,’ he laughs. ‘It’s a tough job.’”
In the article, Mr. Peterson goes on to say that after selling his successful architecture firm and staying home for 16 years with his children, it was almost impossible to get an interview at a firm. He said, “One of the biggest areas of discrimination,” he says, “is towards dads coming back to work.”
Ms. Jacobs concludes the article with, “Despite the difficulties, Mr. Peterson maintains that the experience of being a stay-at-home dad was valuable not just to his family but also his work, improving his understanding of how people relate to the built environment.”
Being an at home dad has made me a better architect.
Unethical behavior, disrespect, and possible plagiarizing in competition dance. Surprise!
This week in Minnesota, several teams at the state dance competition accused one of the top winning teams of plagiarism. The winning team had copied costumes, music and a bit of choreography. They claim they were "inspired" by the other team. Many people believe they plagiarized with a few changes around the margins. Instead of filing a complaint, other competition teams stood on the sidelines and held hands in objection. Those teams were disqualified. Seems to me neither behavior was appropriate.
I entered my daughters into dance programs when they were in preschool. I remember going to my first competition dance as an at home dad and seeing little girls with almost nothing on running around wearing huge hats filled with fruit. Carmen Miranda wore way more clothing than these first graders. After hours of watching thousands of dancers and hundreds of moms push and pull and cajole and scream, I called my wife in disbelief. Who would do this to children?
Why would anybody pay thousands of dollars to a studio with a damaged floor where kids got injured year after year in over training on a bad surface just to win a trophy? Why would a parent spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to an out of town dance organization to come in for a few "rock star" hours and try to teach thousands of kids on a dirty, carpeted ballroom floor? Why is hazing with ropes, kitty litter, and assorted other shaming techniques allowed in any environment - especially a so called education one?
These things arise, because the system is pervaded by back stabbing and gossip and cheating and lying and child abuse and theft. The world of crazy dance moms and unethical dance instructors does not just exist on television. It is real. Leaders in the industry need to name it, take decisive action, and stop it. Which is exactly what the state high school league needs to do in this instance.
We eventually found a couple of good schools with quality, ethical environments. My advice if you chose to participate is the following: keep your head tall, smile and wave at others no matter the drama, be respectful, walk away from the bad behavior, and role model healthy attitudes for your kids. I did the best I could at protecting my children. I hope you can do the same.
After 16 years of being an at home dad and the primary caregiver, I've come to the conclusion that there are three basic lessons every child needs to learn:
1. Pay attention to the world around you.
My children will tell you that they have heard enough of this phrase. I'm glad. Because I see this as the biggest problem in our world today. We walk around talking on our phones while hands are attached to a 2,000 pound vehicle's steering column not even knowing that the semi truck next to us is merging. We walk down the street eating our lunch or listening on the headphones without acknowledgement of the kindness and beauty around us. We fail to maintain our built environment, so that it decays and must be discarded. People starve in the streets, die from preventable diseases, and suffer needlessly because the end game at times seems to be take as many green backs with you to the grave as you can.
I say, there is another way. Be conscious of where other people are and what they are doing. Look at mother nature and revel in the smallest detail. Celebrate the creations that we have made together. See others in a new light as they walk down the street. Be the one who basks in the sunlight and stops to not only see the roses, but appreciate the gardener behind them. Close the door and turn off the lights because a house is not a barn and conserving energy keeps the planet for our children's children.
The smallest detail that we notice is the celebration of what makes us unique and powerful.
See the world. Really see the world.
2. Respect the (potential) inherent worth and dignity of every person, but be smart.
The first part of this lesson is a modification of the first belief and principal of the Unitarian Universalist association of churches. Regarding this principal they say, “Reverence and respect for human nature is at the core...We celebrate the gifts of being human: our intelligence and capacity for observation and reason, our senses and ability to appreciate beauty, our creativity, our feelings and emotions...We can use our gifts to offer love, to work for justice, to heal injury, to create pleasure for ourselves and others."
To me, the first part of this statement means be nice by being careful with your words and actions. But it is so much more than just a surface existence. Dig deeper. Help others. Think about another's situation before responding or complaining. Be proactive and help those in need and those who are suffering. This is about compassion, love and generosity on the most basic level.
The (potential) part is my modification. I do believe that loving each other, at some basic unconditional level is a very good thing. But we know that not all people act on this potential. In fact, many do just the opposite out of selfishness, greed, hatred, mental illness or a host of other maladies. Thus, the slightly skeptical side of me says: Put yourself out there. Love those around you. Respect their capacity to be good. But pay attention to the signs around you. If this person is taking advantage or demonstrates behavior that is not worthy or dignified. Be smart. Walk away. In cases where people are being abused or taken advantage of by someone who has lost their worth and dignity, advocate for those people.
This is the only way the world gets better.
3. Live your true self.
Being true to your own being is the best way a parent can demonstrate that their children must be true to themselves. We must give our progeny wide latitude in exploration while establishing boundaries with consequences and at the same time be patient with developmental stages. We must throw aside stereotypes and traditions that discriminate. It will not always be easy for our kids and we cannot protect them from every harm. But if we nurture, support and instill the belief that our kids should be true to their own heart and true to the passion for living their unique life, they have the potential to live an exceptional life.
Live an exceptional life.
These lessons start before our children are born. It is a way of thinking and living that we and our spouse practice on a regular basis. It begins with the loving way we treat each other. It continues by speaking to our children with respect and not talking down to them. It extends in the love, compassion, and boundaries we establish for our children as they grow. It reveals itself as they encounter the world and mature to adults through our loving and supportive guidance. We have the power to create a fantastic next generation.
Pay attention, respect their worth, and be true to oneself.
By Russell Peterson | Copyright DayParentDad.com All Rights Reserved | 11 February 2015