Saturday, November 26th, 2011
In this highly anticipated follow-up to Losing Man Points Vs. Being a Good Dad, I will help society identify what is considered as crossing the line from being an active and admirable dad to just another “look at me!” Tweeting tool who happens to have a kid.
Based on my research, it pretty much all comes down to this: An active and involved dad ultimately loses man points when he is not discreet about his fatherly role; when he abandons the art of being subtle by either A) making a dramatic production of the event or B) trying to make it look too easy. Accordingly, when a man loses enough man points, he gets his man card pulled.
But thanks to my scholarly work published here on Parents.com, I am actually earning man points by helping to prevent other men from becoming “that dad.” Here are the top 4 ways that dads lose so many man points all at once, they get their man cards pulled:
1) Telling other men “cute” stories about their kids. Recently I did a post which told about how my son’s KinderCare teacher threw a Baby Birthday Party; cutting out a paper crown for him and having his toddler classmates thumbprint it as their signatures.
Granted, I have pictures of the event hanging up at my cubicle at work. But you better believe I didn’t go around to the other guys telling them the story behind the pictures. I told the few women that I work with, but not the men. Because men don’t tell each other cute stories!
Men just spit out the basics to each other, like “Hey, my kid is learning to walk this week.” Not, “OMG! So right now, little Carter is totally trying to figure out this whole walking thing. He’s like, “Daddy Bear, I’m not sure about this…”.
2) Using “baby talk” in public. First of all, no man should ever say to his kid, especially not his son, “You want your passy?” Allow me to be too frank; “passy” sounds (and is spelled) a lot like another word used to describe what you are if you’re a man who uses the word “passy” in public. Also off-limits are “sippy cup” and “boo-boo.”
3) Abusing social media. It is not acceptable for a dad to Tweet each time his kid eats a new food, needs a diaper change, or is having an “off” day. Even worse, daddy bloggers should not be allowed to use the phrases “I just need a place to vent” or “I have to blow off a little steam.” No, no you don’t. Sack up.
Dads don’t throw pity parties. Instead, they distract themselves with sports or have some kind of hobby that doesn’t require men to look directly at each other for more than five seconds at a time.
4) Making it look too easy. Parenting is hard for guys. How are we supposed to remember the difference between a onesie and sleeper? In which of the 13 compartments of the diaper bag are the wipes?
If you’re the exception to the rule, then secretly I envy you that your brain is able to successfully function as both a man’s and a woman’s- because I’m sure that totally scores man points with your wife. Just don’t rub it in the rest of our faces.
Pretend you’re still trying to figure this dad thing out like the rest of us, Mr. Mom. Help us look good- or we’re taking away your man card.
Reminder: Mail me your family’s holiday card and end up on my fridge. You’ll be entered for upcoming drawings here on The Dadabase.
Nick Shell c/o The Dadabase
300 Seaboard Lane #5
Franklin, TN 37067
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Sunday, November 20th, 2011
There are basically two ways to be “that parent.” You can be over-involved in your child’s life; actually encouraging separation anxiety for them by drawing out goodbye’s by petting them and crying with them whenever you leave them at daycare.
Or you can be under-involved; letting your child run free in the grocery story, occasionally tossing them empty threats of “time out” when you get home.
Neither extreme is good. That’s why we normal parents do our darndest not to be “that mom” or “that dad.”
But this gets complicated because it’s no secret what a challenge it is to balance our parenting expectations with practical reality. It seems that to some degree, we all are “that parent.”
It’s necessary that I turn the question to myself: How am I “that dad?”
I am weird because I won’t let my son watch TV until he’s at least two years old. Plus, I am really strict about what he eats: No processed foods- that means no fruit juice.
Oh yes, what a cruel, demented, over-the-top man I am to keep my child from things I had when I was his age back in 1982. But I’m not going to change; I’m always going to be kooky like that.
So I guess I fall into the category of “over-involved.” Some of my critics could probably say that I am ironically depriving my child in a subconscious effort to declare my authority as an active and effective father.
Maybe I am. Because I don’t want to be “that dad.” I mean, the other kind of “that dad.” The kind I’m not. Or at least the kind I think I’m not.
As long as other parents are critiquing my parenting style, which they always will, I will always be “that dad.” I would say that I don’t care what other people think of me anyway, but I have observed that people who usually say that actually really, really care what people think of them.
It’s like a 14 year-old girl who says, “I’m so over him now.” No, no you’re not. If you were, you wouldn’t have to go around saying that to your friends, who are all wearing black Breaking Dawn t-shirts.
So in conclusion, I believe no matter what you do, you are “that mom” or “that dad” to the very parents who you yourself perceive as “that mom” or “that dad.” Get it?
In other words, the title of this post is misleading. There is no way to refrain from being “that parent.” You already are.
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Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
Having a son means that there is always a part of me floating out there in the universe. Whether he’s simply just asleep down the hall or away at day care while I’m at work, part of my brain is constantly thinking about him.
He is in everything I see. He’s in every random thought I have; from Gummy Bears to a Pomeranian with a buzz cut.
A few days ago on Facebook I saw a picture of two Pomeranians posted by one of my former students in Bangkok at Global English School. So inevitably, the following conversation followed:
Nick Shell What kind of dog is the one on the right? It’s look unreal!
October 20 at 12:32am
A-ngoon its look unreal because its smile right ?? they both are pomeranian but the right one have a shorter hair ka nick
October 20 at 2:46pm
Nick Shell The right one reminds me of my son I am probably going to use this picture on my website about him.
October 20 at 7:09pm
October 21 at 11:38am
It turns out that this Pomeranian happens to be famous; his name is Boo and his Facebook page has well over 2 million “likes!”
I can’t look at Boo and not see my son Jack; the way Boo is smiling, the shape of Boo’s face- that is my son as a Pomeranian!
Granted, a Dadabase post like this one will never show up in the Top 5 Most Popular Posts section on the right side of the screen. It’s so out there, I know. But I just couldn’t keep this enchanting and bizarre photo from the world; simply because I love to talk about my son- even in the form of a yappy little dog.
Maybe it’s just me that somehow sees the abstract resemblance. But I’m sure I’m not the only parent out there who thought their child looked like something just as weird. When you look at the world through my eyes, you see Jack-Man in the strangest of places.
Passing the Mic:
Do you think Jack looks like Boo?
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Deep Thoughts, Must Read, Nostalgia, Storytelling, The Dadabase
Friday, October 21st, 2011
A few days ago at a tour of the GM (Chevy) headquarters in Detroit, I met a fellow “daddy blogger” who runs a website on fatherhood called 8BitDad. I told him how last week I interviewed myself for the first of my new series, Interviews with Non-Famous People, and was currently looking for more dads to feature in it. (In order to be considered the least bit famous, you have to have a Wikipedia entry written about you.)
Zach Rosenberg, the Co-Creator and Editor-in-Chief of 8BitDad, was game for being the 2nd person to be interviewed for my series. (I’m in bold italics, he’s not.) Here’s what went down:
How is your daddy blog, 8 Bit Dad, different from mine?
I think the main difference is that you run an actual blog – that is, a “web-log” – a journal of events. 8BitDad is closer to a culture-site. So, where yours is deeply personal about your own family, ours isn’t – but is deeply personal matter. In a sense – and this is of course not an insult – if someone wasn’t interested in hearing about you, particularly, you lose them as a reader. Generally, I just lose readers for making bad jokes and ruffling feathers around moms and dads.
Does the term “daddy blog” annoy you?
It does – I don’t like “blog” in general. But there’s a distinction – not all fatherhood (and motherhood) sites are blogs. 8BitDad, not a blog. Parents.com, not a blog. But Parents.com has bloggers who blog on their particular wing of the site. I don’t necessarily like being “lumped in” as a daddy-blogger because I’d like to think of myself as more of a journalist, but let’s be honest – I’m not really beating the street the same way I used to when I worked for a newspaper, and as far as being lumped-in, what a great set of guys to have as company. All of the “dad-bloggers” I’ve talked to have been awesome.
Though I have my assumptions, tell me exactly how you came up with the name of your blog. (I will need you to use the word “stellar” in your answer.)
Well, my friend Bryan Ferguson and I were talking about starting some kind of fatherhood site one night while talking smack about a couple baby products. We thought “man, we’ve got to get this attitude up on the internet.” So we had our goal – a stellar, fatherly attitude. But what to call it? We both liked that nostalgic idea of the Nintendo as being the icon of “our generation”, but knew we couldn’t be something like NESDad or Nintendad. We had maybe three names we liked at the end of the night and when I woke up the next morning, Bryan texted me “I took the plunge and registered 8BitDad.com” so we ran with it.
In an effort to mock the trend of using 3 one word sentences (Just. Like. This.), please describe your blog accordingly. Just. Three. Words.
Paternity. In. Pixels.
Recently you published a post criticizing Parents.com. For those who didn’t instantly click the hyperlink in the sentence above just now, explain what your beef is with the website that is ironically hosting this interview.
I know, right? Talk about some form of irony, or coincidence, if you’ve got a degree in English and know that it’s not really irony. Well, I’ve got a beef with most “parenthood” sites. In a nutshell, parenting websites are typically very mom-oriented, even if they use the words “and dads” from time to time. They’ve got largely female staffs, primarily female bloggers, and, if you’re into chicken-or-egg debates, primarily female readers.
Fathers do still visit parenting sites like Parents.com but it’s tough to feel like part of the community when it’s all mom-this, mom-that. I love moms and I respect all the things they do – but Parenting sites need to also consider fathers – and that’s where my specific beef came in: I get Parents.com e-mails, and they use banners like the one I showed on 8BitDad – emblazoned with things like “Free Stuff for Mom & Baby.” Well, I’m neither mom nor baby. I’m a parent, which is why I was on Parents.com.
I’m a father – a proud one, and I don’t want to sift through mom-stuff to find something that applies to me. I mean, hey, you don’t need to really answer this, but as a father, doesn’t it irk you that right above your bio is a link to “Mom Tools” and “Win”? Where’s “Dad Tools”? You know why it’s not there? Because ask anyone else on your editorial staff why “Dad Tools” is missing and I guarantee they’ll ask “what tools do dads need? They’re not carrying a baby.”
The perception is that dads don’t need anything, and if it were offered, they wouldn’t take it. I’m not trying to knock moms down, I just want equal representation in a place that’s named after the genderless reference to kid-having folk.
What has been your biggest challenge so far as a dad?
My biggest challenges have been walking-the-walk, so to speak. I do a lot of talk on my site about patience, but patience with a baby, toddler and youngin’ is tough. Sometimes, you just don’t know what to do. And I’ve always had a rule – whatever I want to do/say right after my kid makes me hit the roof is exactly what I don’t do. I take time to think, relax and be consistent. Any fight you have with a 2 year old is a losing one. If you’re fighting with a kid that has no sense of reality and logic, you lose. That’s a tough nut to crack. So staying patient and being the adult, when all you want to do is yell back, that’s the toughest.
What is the weirdest thing about your parenting style?
Probably my commitment to my kid’s health. You look at me and think “alright, he’s a 300-pounder, his kid’s got to have bacon grease for blood.” But it’s not like that at all. We make all our kid’s food fresh and healthy. He gets peas and carrots on his pizza, made with thin, homemade dough and homemade sauce.
He doesn’t drink juice – I’m one of those weirdos. So he gets milk in the morning and night, and water all day. Kid loves water. He’s on the right track. And shhh, don’t tell him, but when my wife and I indulge in fast food, we make him that at-home-healthier-equivalent and wrap it in one of the fast food wrappers so he thinks he’s getting a treat too.
Poor kid will think Taco Bell burritos have peas, corn, carrots and broccoli in them until he’s old enough to drive there himself and buy one. I mean, really. I may have hit the hamburger buffet a little too much in life myself, but my kid doesn’t know good from bad – so I need to teach him good eating so by the time he’s a teenager, he’ll have the foundation for healthy living.
What is your favorite quirk about your child’s personality so far?
He’s picked up my wife’s and my speech patterns and phrases. So if we go out to dinner, he will ask a waitress for a glass of water, and use “please” and “thank you.” You don’t expect it from a 2 year old. And I know being polite isn’t a quirk, but it just sounds so funny. You don’t expect toddlers to be polite. They’re pretty unsavory people, so when they say “thank you” or “I love you” unsolicited, they sound quirky.
Is your dad a rabbi or does he just play one on TV?
Both. He played one on Diagnosis Murder, that old TV show with Dick Van Dyke. Sometime later, he finished his rabbinical school and was a real one. He usually played judges, jerk doctors and sweater-wearing fathers, but never decided to become one of those. I mean, we live in Los Angeles – no need for sweaters there.
What is your favorite (8 bit) regular Nintendo game? Your answer must serve as a metaphor for fatherhood, in some way.
I always go with the underdog, Metroid. Large, free-roaming world, ominous music, deep weapons system for the time, multiple endings, secret codes (including one that wasn’t unveiled until recently!), and a surprise female lead. Hmmm…not sure I can come up with a fatherhood metaphor for that one since it was “Mother” Brain and a woman protagonist. Maybe…uhhh, that’s what happens when there’s no fathers around? *snicker*
I could, for the record, be persuaded to say MegaMan 2 solely for the music.
I’m sorry; you’re wrong. The correct answer was Super Mario Bros. 2. It serves as a metaphor for fatherhood because it teaches kids to eat vegetables. Actually, it teaches kids to pick up vegetables and kill their enemies with them. I guess you’re right, Zach Rosenburg.
See bro? Also, I’m sticking with my answer, even thought my metaphor is weak.
You have the last word, 8 Bit Dad.
I may sound like I’m militantly pro-dad and anti-mom. I’m not. I’m against the splitting up of moms and dads. From time to time I enjoy a good joke but not at the others’ expense. The Father’s Movement was born out of the Women’s Movement; when women started going to work, someone had to stay home with the baby. So – that became fathers. But there’s still a lot of leftover law and not-on-the-internet legislation and perception changes that need to happen for fathers to get their fair dues.
We’re slowly being regarded as legitimate parents – but the laws are far behind. So, although us fatherhood writers have a lot of fun pissing and moaning about simple stuff on the internet, there’s more important work to be done out in the world. Check out the National Fatherhood Initiative or Fathers & Families to see what kind of laws are being made (and which ones need help) if you really want to give father’s a boost! Also, thanks man – always good talking to another father. Power to the Paternal!
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Zach Rosenberg’s Bio:
Zach grew up under a nearby orange tree in California’s San Fernando Valley. He has worked at publications such as Filter Magazine, Geek Monthly Magazine, UNleashed Magazine, WYWS Magazine,The Los Angeles Sentinel (“the largest Black-owned newspaper on the West Coast”), and also worked on His Side with Glenn Sacks (“The largest mens’ and fathers’ issues radio show in America” in 2001).
His son was born in January 2009.
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