Dawn of the Dad

Tuesday, June 13, 2006; 9:57 AM

In the world of parenting media, mothers rule. Dads are an afterthought.

Consider the home page of Parenting magazine. Readers can click on pregnancy, baby, child, mom, and buying guides. Once a year, dad gets a blurb to mark Father's Day.

"Pregnancy and baby magazines still pretty much ignore men or treat them as obstacles for women to overcome," says New York blogger Greg Allen, who writes the blog Daddytypes.com. "Women are still the overwhelming focus of the 'baby industrial complex's' marketing and design efforts."

Allen is one of a growing number of bloggers and podcasters who have bridged a small part of the gap. Some focus on parenting gadgets--top-of-the-line strollers, home planetariums and family-friendly hotels. Others dive right into emotional terrain such as first steps, bedtime reading--the kind of comments, joked London Daily Telegraph's Tom Leonard, that "they previously had to hide from polite society." They may be men but don't underestimate the gooeyness to which they can stoop."

The paternal scribes include:

* Allen, a self-employed filmmaker who once mapped out changing tables in men's rooms in New York. Allen writes about what he calls "dad-friendly" products, like high chairs without ruffles and diaper bags that don't look like purses.

When he started Daddytypes in 2003, he says in an e-mail interview, "almost immediately, I started hearing from other dads who were trying to do the same thing: find ways to get more involved with raising their kids."

He also tackles balancing work and family, an area where he feels fathers are underrepresented. "While it's cool now to be seen as a great, involved dad, it's still not acceptable--or professionally wise--to question your own career situation in public," Allen says.

* Laid-Off Dad, who took care of his son full-time after losing his job. He has since returned to work (he prefers to remain anonymous because of a blog-averse employer) but continues to blog about fatherhood. Laid-Off Dad's personal ramblings include playground stories, exchanges with Mrs. Laid-Off Dad, and the trials of "shin mange" caused by his son pulling himself up by dad's leg hairs.

"Good writing is good writing, whether you're a mom, or a dad, or medieval ichthyologist, or whatever," he wrote in an e-mail. "If anything, I think 'dad-blogs' are great for debunking the perception that fathers are clueless about or indifferent to raising children."

- A writer and photographer who goes by AJ of Thingamababy works from home in rural northern California. Like Daddytypes, Thingamababy focuses on toys and parenting gear, including helpful tips on building a birthday pinata that requires no swinging of blunt weapons to open.

Also on Thingamababy: A list of top ten oddest Playmobil characters, including the portable bathroom cleaners (complete with wheelbarrow), hazardous materials crew and safe crackers--"I want my daughter playing with two thieves who are breaking into a safe with a blow torch," AJ writes. "Yep. Who the hell is in Playmobil's focus groups?"

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