Yesterday I bragged on how much I loved the “Pals” ad by Robinsons. Since then, I’ve read some comments online pointing out that the commercial closes with the tagline, “It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend.”
For some people, that motto carries a different meaning than it does for me.
Here’s an example, from “richa20560″ on The Drum.com, of the kind of comments that barb in between the positive ones, in reference to the ad:
“Nice ad if you reversed the strapline. Current ad epitomises everything thats wrong with current parenting practises, kids have plenty of friends in their life but only 1 mum & dad this trivialises the importance of stepping up & being the dad you can’t always be their friend, to infer its better to be their friend devalues the vital role of a parent, sometimes you have to say no & sometimes they won’t like you for it. Better to be a dad and raise a child capable of making friends, than being the only one who can bare to be their friend.”
As for me, I hear the phrase “It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend” and I don’t think that the message is to be a parent who overlooks discipline for the sake of wanting your kid to like you.
I can hear it without thinking it is promoting something stupid like buying alcohol or cigarettes for your kid, too.
Instead, I totally get what ”It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend” means; without jumping to polarizing conclusions or taking it so literally.
As I mentioned yesterday, it’s impossible to love and lead you without serving you. Therefore, so many of the elements of me being a good dad require that I am a good friend.
My interpretation of ”It’s good to be a dad, it’s better to be a friend” is this: The best part of being a dad is the part where I get to have a buddy who loves me unconditionally.
I could go on to theorize that the worst part, or, my least favorite, is the discipline part. However, it’s no less important that the “being the friend” part.
As your dad, I do my best to make sure the majority of our time together fits into that glorious (and more marketable!) “friend” category; because a good friend can still teach, mentor, and even discipline you.
Really, I guess it just comes down to a person’s definitions of the words “dad” and “friend.”
Today my wife read a very intriguing article to me, graced from the pages of the December 2011 issue of Redbook magazine. It was written by mom blogger, Jill Smokler, who cleverly crafted a virtual confessional for parents where passing judgment is not allowed.
Her blog is called Scary Mommy. In fact, in it, Smokler has incorporated “Like,” “OMG! Me too!” and “Hug” buttons for contributors to compliment each other.
What do I think of it? I love it.
It is no secret that in the culture of mommy and daddy blogging, crucifying a blogger or commenter for being a “bad parent” is the norm. In fact, the witch hunt to “out” a bad parent has become a sort of unofficial game to many.
In Smokler’s article in Redbook, she confronts the heckling habits of many parents commonly found in the parenting blogosphere:
“So why the condemnation? Why does identifying someone as a poor mother make us feel better about ourselves? There is no trophy for best parenting, and nothing to be gained from pitting ourselves against one another.”
These two articles of mine continue to engage new readers each day to The Dadabase. Yet the titles of them alone contain a subconscious message: Read this to learn how wrong or at least how out-of-touch with reality these other parents are.
If I simply wrote cute stories about my son, The Dadabase would not be a growing blog. So I try to keep the “cute stories” portion down to only about a quarter of my material; making the majority of my posts about external parenting issues, only seasoned with my paternal viewpoint.
In other words, “cute stories” alone don’t sell- they’re just the icing on the cake. As a daddy blogger, I have to continue to be engaging, and I have quickly learned that any post I write that invites a reader to share their input beyond, “Oh yeah, I could see that,” or “I totally agree,” but instead sparks them to make a moral judgment, if only in their mind, is more likely to become a hit.
So am I adding to the noise or playing a different tune? That’s for you to decide.
Interestingly, right as I was putting the finishing touches on this post, I received the exact type of snarking comment I am referring to when I use the phrase “judgmental parenting culture.” Take a look at 7 Reasons a Vacation with a Baby is No Vacation to see what I mean. Unlike most stone throwers, though, she actually left her full name.
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.