As a “daddy blogger” who sketches out writing topics on a nearly hourly basis, I am constantly trying to predict which topics are not only interesting enough to me, but also the ones that will resonate with the people I don’t even know.
Since my daddy blog, dad from day one, was picked up by Parents.com in May 2011 and rebooted as The Dadabase, I have been keeping a close eye on which posts became the most popular.
Ultimately, I am always “taking requests” based on what topics people tend to enjoy reading about.
Specifically, I know now that any time I mention a TV show title or the word “vegetarian” or I do some kind of countdown or list, more people are likely to read. But what else attracts readers here? Let’s find out right now, together.
#1 The Half Abortion: Only Keeping One Twin- No matter how passionate your stance on abortion, there’s definitely something unnerving about finding out you are a twin, but that your sibling was selectively aborted while you were chosen to survive.
#3 Positively Communicating to My Seven Month Old Son- I realized my ability to truly polarize an audience when I suggested it’s uncool to jokingly offer to give your kids away to strangers. There is a 100% chance you’ll either totally love or hate this one- no in between.
#6 The Positive Re-branding of Fatherhood- Sure, the sitcoms of the Nineties will always hold a special place in my heart; especially thanks to their enchanting theme songs. However, there was a major downside to them- the way most of them portrayed fathers.
#7 6 Things This Dad Got Wrong During Pregnancy- Despite the fact that’s it’s sort of my job to act like I know what I’m talking about as a writer, I’m often wrong. In fact, here’s looking back at 6 particular times I missed it.
#10 Little Boys Live in Their Own Little World- To be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure why this one made it to the Top 10; unless it’s because people get to see me back in 1991, wearing neon green suspenders? Probably not.
Tune in a year from now when I review the Top 10 of 2012. No, wait- actually, come back before that, like tomorrow.
“How many train wrecks do we need to see?” -Jack Johnson
In the midst of the recent highly publicized false accusations of 17 year-old Justin Bieber being a dad, I can’t help but keep thinking of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. I’ve made several random jabs at the show, vaguely proclaiming my passionate hate for it; but I figure today I should explain why exactly I hate 16 and Pregnant more than I loathe Two and Half Men.
1. It glorifies teen pregnancy. Granted, I want no part in casting stones against a teen mom who is willing to keep her child as opposed to aborting him or her. But it’s pretty hard to deny that the producers of the show find ways to make the event girly, using a cutesy diary theme with cartoon drawings and voiceovers from the teen moms.
2. It makes stars and role models out of the teen moms. I personally know a 20 year-old girl who is pregnant with her 2nd child. She had her first child when she was 19; different fathers for both babies and I’m pretty sure she never really loved either of the baby’s fathers. About a year ago I remember her bragging to me: “Maci from 16 and Pregnant was here in Nashville a few weekends ago. Some people said she was at the mall…”.
3. It doesn’t prevent teens from having unsafe sex. Sure, I can’t prove this; but I assume that there is some underlying message that the show somehow scares teenagers into being more careful about their actions. I’d say if anything, the show is more likely to promote abortion as 16 and Pregnant goes through great lengths to show how a baby is an inconvenience.
4. It capitalizes on the unfortunate. I personally believe that a lot of these teen moms subconsciously get pregnant on purpose because they are so deprived of love and attention in their lives. They are living a sad story which they are desperate to improve somehow. Like much of reality TV, the show draws in millions of viewers who secretly want to watch a train wreck to make themselves feel better about their own lives.
5. The teen dads are usually awful fathers. Of course they are; they’re still in high school, playing football and hanging out with their loser friends. On the show, the teen dads often admit to their (ex)girlfriend, the mother of their child, that A) they are not in love, B) are only still together because of the baby, and/or C) wish they didn’t have a baby. As if dads didn’t already have a bad rap in the TV world, these guys aren’t helping.
I’m not saying the show should be taken off of the air; the banning of anything is typically the best way to promote it. In fact, with the link below, I’m technically promoting 16 and Pregnant myself. But ultimately, I believe I have shared 5 solid reasons why even the mention of the show makes me cringe.
I think the best way to begin is to share a few things that I would rather do than take an eight month old little boy on a plane from Nashville to Sacramento:
1) Be forced to watch a 24 hour marathon of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, sending out a Tweet every 15 minutes praising the show, though I despise it more than the awful movie Something Borrowed; which is the worst movie I’ve ever seen- and that’s saying a lot because I’ve seen When in Rome.
2) Shave “racing stripes” into my hair until they grow out and when people ask me why I have resorted to a hairstyle trend that was briefly popular in 1988, I could only respond by saying “Cut… it… out!”, along with doing the accomanying hand motions, made famous by the character Joey Gladstone on Full House.
3) Walk barefoot on broken glass like Bruce Willis did in the first Die Hard movie.
When taking an infant on a plane, you must provide proof that your child is less than two years old. I know this now because we did not. (Dave Stanley, if you are reading this, I’m going to need you to email Jack’s birth certificate to me so we can leave Sacramento on Sunday…). The lady was nice and let us board the plane anyway. Thank God.
I’ve never seen my son pee so much, in a reasonable amount of time since his diaper was last changed, that I look down and see a puddle at my feet while standing in line to buy a snack before boarding the plane. And I didn’t even care that I didn’t have time to wash my moistened hand before boarding the plane.
A guy who looked just like “Comic Book Guy” from The Simpsons brought his Shih Tzu dog on the plane, hogging up the front row of seats; when my wife and I tried to sit in the remaining two seats next to him, he responded sarcastically with, “Uh, sure, I guess it wouldn’t be a bad idea for both a dog and a baby to sit in the same row.” It wasn’t worth it; we ended up settling for having to sit in the middle of the plane; my wife was in front of me and I was in the row behind.
The flight involved Jack sleeping as long as either my wife or I held him while standing up in the aisle. My arms are still sore from that.
Of course, Jack won’t remember any of this along with how much he didn’t enjoy the flight. But at least he can read about it in a few years.
Ah man, there for a minute I actually forgot… We still have do this whole thing again when we fly back to Nashville. Shazbot!
I’m learning just how polarizing my perspective on parenting can be. When I published that post, I had no idea that it would ever become so popular, as well as, so infamous. I just thought it was another post like any other day. It didn’t stand out as particularly special to me. Boy, was I wrong- because it hit a sweet spot for so many readers and struck a nerve with the rest. People either completely loved it, or hated it as much as I despise the TV show 16 and Pregnant.
Some of the best entertainment I’ve had in a while was reading through all the comments on the Facebook wall for Parents Magazine. While I felt so encouraged from those who supported me, the majority of the people who opposed my viewpoint said some really angry and/or hilarious stuff. (One of my favorite comments involves a unicorn.)
A common occurrence from several readers was the feeling that my tone was snobbish. This was implied because I stated I don’t like to see parents sarcastically joke about giving their kids away to strangers in public. (What about parents who can’t have children? How do they feel when they witness this same event?)
Sure, it regularly crosses my mind that having a child is tough; especially when he is not behaving as I would like. But I’m his dad and I’m suppose to be his number one supporter, not his number one critic.
Am I naïve and inexperienced when it comes to being a parent? Of course I am. I’ve only been a dad for seven months.
I have to speculate that that has something to do with why Parents.com chose me as their official daddy blogger, instead of a seasoned veteran who actually knew what they were doing. My lack of experience is one of the reasons The Dadabaseis interesting- because I am a newbie. I am learning something new as a parent everyday. I am wet behind the ears; that’s sort of my specialty here.
However, I was additionally perceived as a snob because some readers felt that I do not yet have the authority to write about communicating with my child because he is so young. But like I said in the article, I’m setting up the patterns now for how I will speak to him as he gets older. After all, it’s a gradual process and this is my way of preparing for it.
Another reoccurring (and I believe, caricatured) perception of me from those who disagreed with my viewpoint is that I am a hippie living in La La Land. That I am just so easygoing that my son is going to walk all over my wife and me as he gets older. That I am so preoccupied with not speaking sarcastically to my son that I will completely neglect the need for discipline.
Ironically, just a couple of days ago I did a Dadabase post about I how endorse and practice the “cry it out” method to get my son to sleep at night, prompting one reader to post this comment: “Actually, what you have done is not teach him to sleep well, but teach him that, no matter how hard he cries, how scared and alone he feels, or what his needs may be, you will not be there for him… Congratulations!”
The truth is, I actually worship the importance of creating structure for my son, setting realistic expectations for him, and when the time eventually comes, following through with discipline; not just threatening it.
It’s interesting to me that I am paradoxically both a snob and a hippie. What a weird combo.
Side note: Thanks to the Facebook wall comments, I was made aware of the fact that there was a typo in the article. I said “my wife and I” when I should have said “my wife and me.” My college degree is in English, of all things. So that’s one embarrassing faux pas. I went back and fixed it.
To some, I came across as a snob who thinks I am better than other parents and that my parenting style is superior to theirs. Similarly, these same readers jumped at the chance to criticize me for disagreeing with their own parenting technique. Is it safe to assume that these readers who so passionately disagree think that their parenting style is superior to mine?
As parents, we all do what works best for us and what we believe will be best for our children. We all have controversial parenting styles compared to other parents out there.
But while it may appear that I am clueless or fanatical to be so darn positive, just know this: My head may be in the clouds, but my feet are planted firmly on solid ground.
Maybe somewhat surprisingly, I am a proud Country music fan- though I’m ultimately a Dave Matthews Band/Guster/John Mayer/Bruce Springsteen/Tom Petty kind of guy.
In the past few weeks, in the midst of leaving our lives behind in Nashville and entering uncertainty and a current status of “in between jobs” in Alabama, not having much to do but constantly search for jobs and take care of our baby, the lyrics to a Country song by Andy Griggs from 1999 keep coming to my mind: “I promise you now, you won’t ever be lonely.”
Though the song is obviously written from the perspective of a man in love with a woman, looking forward to spending the rest of his life with her, the lyrics now speak to me in a different way:
“You’re safe from the world wrapped in my arms and I’ll never let go. Baby, here’s where it starts and I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely. Here’s a shoulder you can cry on and a love you can rely on. For as long as I live
there will always be a place you belong.”
But while the words to this song obviously make perfect sense in the perspective of me speaking to my child, they actually are more relevant to me in this mindset: I won’t ever be lonely. Not just him. But I won’t ever be lonely.
I am better able to understand now why there are so many pregnant teenagers and why MTV’s 16 and Pregnant is such a popular show- because so many kids today are lonely.
(I am under the crazy notion that a good number of pregnant teens and extremely young parents are not getting pregnant simply because of the careless lack of birth control, but instead because they subconsciously want to be have a baby in a attempt to be loved by someone.)
So many daughters have never been told by their fathers that they are beautiful. So many sons have never heard their father tell them “I’m proud of you”. Having a baby definitely changes the lonely factor in many ways. Even if the 19 year-old father who works for minimum wage at the oil change place bales on her soon after the baby is born- at least that young mother will always have someone depending on her.
Granted, I haven’t been lonely in a long time. But I can easily remember it. It can be painful; literally. Last week I watched a National Geographic documentary on solitary confinement where I learned that loneliness is processed in the same part of the brain as pain. I can easily remember being 20 years old, feeling lost, out of place, an unmatched. I wondered for the next five years if I would be like the actor who played Mr. Belvedere, who never married or had children his whole life. But at age 25, my wife and I met each other and those heavy and desperate thoughts of loneliness haven’t entered my mind in over four years.
Now at age 29, I am the opposite of lonely. I have a wonderful wife and a beautiful and hilarious baby son that I will always matter to. And I have a feeling that the older our son Jack gets, the more attention and energy of mine that he will require. At least until he reaches 7th grade and gets too cool for me.