Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pushing Brands to be More Inclusive Toward Dads

No More Mr. Mom
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Emma Johnson for The Real Deal blog at the RetailMeNot site. In an article titled, "No More Mr. Mom: Daddy bloggers fight for their right to parent—and big brands listen," I tried, alongside bloggers and writers at Daddy Doctrines, Hogan Hilling, Dad or Alive, and DaDa Rocks, to say why I thought it was important to call out brands that ignore dads or portray dads as bumbling fools.

The case we all made then, which some of us repeated last week during a Google Hangout, was that this was not simply an issue of dads being offended and crying foul. During the hangout, we talked about this as an issue that should be important to moms as well as to dads, since the more dads are being portrayed in a positive light and encouraged to do their share in the house, the more moms will be able to be free to advance their careers outside the home. We also mentioned the chicken and egg issue with marketers (are they feeding off society, or are they also "feeding" society?), and we gave a number of examples of good marketing to dads, as well as bad marketing, ending with an understanding that the best portrayal of dads is one that doesn't try to define fatherhood using outdated stereotypes, but one that simply shows dads and their kids at their most normal parent-child moments.

I hope you get a chance to look at the video. It's just under 30 minutes, and it's worth it, if only to hear just how thick my accent is. Frankly, I had no idea. In my head, I sound like John Wayne.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Team Single Jingles: Man UP Monday

I'm going to share with you today a little bit of information about testicular cancer. As part of Team Single Jingles, my duty is to convince you to feel up your testicles, or to convince a man in your life to touch his. Here's some info with helpful links:

Testicular Cancer is the #1 cancer in young men ages 15 to 35

Testicular Cancer is highly survivable if detected early

Young men should be doing a monthly self-exam

It's OK, I didn't know all of that either.

But now we're starting an important conversation here and elsewhere. When I grew up, breast cancer was still a relatively taboo subject, but gradually, knowing women should perform self-exams or routinely get checked has become mainstream knowledge, and now it's as mainstream as, I don't know... as knowing people should floss. If we care about ourselves, we need to take care of ourselves, and the hell with taboos.

Men are not there yet, for two reasons:

1. Men build and destroy and conquer and love and hate, and we do it all for country and for glory! At the same time, we can't even bring ourselves to call these things testicles. We're just really uncomfortable about that area. We have 700 different names for testicles, so how can we be expected to talk about testicular cancer?

2. We don't know about testicular cancer, and we don't know about the risks and about the way we can do self-exams.

Well, Team Single Jingles can help with the second point. Between the links above, the video below, and the shower card you can order here (for free), ignorance should not be an issue anymore. And as for the other point, well, we'll get there one day, with your help. Repeat after me: "Tes-ti-cles."

Team Single Jingles on Facebook

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Father's Day Present I Really Need

I'm going to schedule this post to magically appear on Father's Day, since I'm not going to be online today.

See, I love to give myself excuses. It's OK to look at my phone while I'm in the playground, because my kids are having fun! And come on, it's the one time they really don't need me! And it's OK to be on the computer at home, because my kids play so nicely with each other!

I'm not judging the people who do these things, myself included. Parenthood, especially for stay-at-home parents, can be as mind-numbing as tracking the flying patterns of fruit flies, and sometimes using a smartphone is the only thing that makes us feel like ourselves. When we look at Facebook and Twitter, we don't simply look for ways to waste time until our kids go to sleep so we can get our slightly-less-interrupted hour and a half to be ourselves. See, doing these things makes us feel relevant, or even just normal. It's important for us to know what's going on in the world, or else we have nothing but our identities as parents. And with all due respect to the kids and to the roles we've taken upon ourselves with open hearts and with sound-ish minds, we sometimes need our phones to keep ourselves from falling apart. We're parents, but sometimes we let that part of our personalities take over. We need to remember that we're also friends, sons, and daughters, and we're political activists, and music lovers, and Star Wars fans, and sometimes, just because we can and because we're sick of having to find excuses every time we take a freakin' break from parenting, we like to crush candies on our phones, dammit.

But not today.

Leading up to Father's Day, I've been receiving dozens of emails every day, filled with potential product reviews especially relevant for Father's Day (although frankly, the connection at times has been rather forced). They all start the same way: Dad has had enough of receiving ties! This Father's Day, give him what he really wants, a ___!

Overwhelmed by these emails and underwhelmed by my desire for any of these items, I decided to not have a Father's Day shopping list or giveaway or any other "What Dad Really Wants For Father's Day" post. This Father's Day, I'm calling myself out. This Father's Day is not a celebration, but a reminder. This Father's Day, I'm giving myself the gift of my kids, uninterrupted.

My kids will survive an afternoon with a distracted parent. They'll survive an entire childhood like that. But they notice.

My kids will survive a lifetime with a parent obsessed with his non-parent identity, but will I? 20 years from now, hell--a year from now, when I look back at the only time in my life I've had a 5-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl, will there be regrets? What will seem more important, looking back: going over my Facebook notifications, or finishing that LEGO set with my kids?

Happy Father's Day to all the dads here, and a Happy Father's Day to me too. It's not always easy, but watching these cool kids grow is always and forever the greatest thrill and the greatest honor of my life.

The Father's Day Present I Really Need

The Father's Day Present I Really Need

Friday, June 14, 2013

Nametrix Review: for the baby-name obsessed

I'm a bit obsessed with baby names. I think all new or soon-to-be parents are obsessed with names, but that obsession never wore off with me. In my defense, while we're (pretty much?) done, our friends keep making them babies, so the instinct to immediately start checking names on the Behind the Name site never wears off.

And I like checking the popularity of my kids' names (and of others' kids). See, there's a whole philosophy here. You want to pick a name that represents your kid, which is impossible to do, since he's a baby. You don't want the name to represent you--it's not about you after all (which is why pseudo-cool names never appealed to me. I'll pass on enough emotional baggage to my kids. Can't help it. But I can help removing that particular baggage they will have to carry for the rest of their lives. I'm talking to you, Frank Zappa).

Also, pro-tip: here's my formula for how to NOT pick out a girl's name: Google a bunch of possible names, and if there are more porn stars than cool, accomplished women with that name, the name is out.

When I did a search for Madeline, I came across this video of Madeline Kahn singing with Grover, and knew I had a winner.

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was Nametrix, an app I had a chance to try. It was developed by a dad from Seattle, and it's just what I needed, as an obsessed name-a-holic on the go.

It's a fun little app for soon-to-be parents and for crazy people like me. If you want to check it out, here's the iTunes page. It's $0.99 right now, which is nowhere as close to what your kid will pay to overcome having a silly name.


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