Q&A With Author Dan Bucatinsky

Dan Bucatinsky bears all in his new book, Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight?, which hit bookstores today. With hilarious quotes, like “Daddy, smell my fingers,” this soul-bearing memoir recounts his journey through parenthood with his partner, Don, and their two children, Eliza and Jonah. We talked to Dan to get his perspective on the ever-evolving image of the “modern family.”

Q: The modern day family comes in so many different forms. How has the perception of family changed in recent years?

Images in the media, art, literature, and pop culture (especially in shows like “Modern Family”) resonate with everyone and bring us all closer. It takes knowing a different kind of family to be able to love a different kind of family. The media has helped people get to know us in a way we weren’t known before – and help teach that family is family no matter what form it comes in.

Q: What is your parenting approach when raising your two kids?

I fight the impulse to make it about me. I try to let them be their own individuals because I really want them to know I’m proud of who they ARE rather than what they DO (which isn’t to say I don’t cry every time I see that proud little smile on their faces when they feel accomplishment). And I don’t let them eat in the car.  That one is about me.  I’m tired of scraping squished raisins off leather.

Q: Why was it important to you to write a book about your experience as a gay parent?

I wanted to put something out there we would’ve found useful when Don and I started our parenthood journey — something honest and personal and funny.

Q: In what ways do your children benefit from being raised in an unconventional family setting?

Two gay men to dress you in the morning? That’s a guarantee you’re always going to match! Kidding aside, the terrifying act of speaking the words, “I’m gay,” forever changes a person. I can only imagine the value that adds to children raised by parents who have experienced that level of courage and honesty.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions individuals have of raising a child with two fathers or two mothers?

That one parent is always the ‘mommy’ and one is the ‘daddy.’ I find that while we gravitate to certain roles and strengths as parents, each of us take on both roles at different times.

Q: Have you and your children discussed the best ways to handle criticism from their peers? What go-to responses or approaches do you recommend?

We have been fortunate to live in Los Angeles, a city where we aren’t made to feel out of the ordinary. On the rare occasion when the kids are asked where their mommy is, they have always been encouraged to take a matter-of-fact approach: “I have two parents. Mine are both dads.” 

Q: And we must know, what has been your most embarrassing parenting moment to date?

I did a pretty awesome shake-your-bootie dance for the kids over breakfast one morning, and then they told their teachers about it. What happened to the rule, “What happens at the breakfast table STAYS at the breakfast table?!” When I saw the teachers in the schoolyard, they made me do it for them. I didn’t have a choice so I did the dance. Mortifying.

And now… some fill in the blank fun:

The parenthood moment you’re dreading the most is dealing with my kids’ heartache of any kind, the cruelty of other kids towards them, bailing them out of jail, or explaining why they can’t get a tattoo. I guess I’m dreading a lot.

The most original punishment I’ve used before is once they weren’t behaving in the car because they wanted me to turn on the radio. Rather than turn on the radio, I forced them to listen to me sing “Tomorrow” from Annie over and over again. It worked like a charm.

Once I let the kids drink Diet Coke. Big mistake. Now they want it all the time. I say ‘no,’ but my husband allows a sip here and there. It’s a constant battle.

I hate to admit it, but I know every word to the opening theme of “The Backyardigans” and “Little Einsteins.” My favorite tune to hum is the theme music to “Charlie & Lola.”

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