Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jaws and the Greatest Father and Son Scene

JJ Abrams Ted Talk Fatherhood Moment

I recently saw this TED talk by J.J. Abrams on Netflix. The talk itself, like most TED talks, looks like it should inspire us more than it actually does, and like most people, I'm still bitter about the way the show "Lost" ended, but there's one short bit from this talk that has stayed with me. The relevant part about Jaws in this video starts at 10:38, but if you want the context, you can start from the beginning, or just know that Abrams talks about the real meaning of a show or a movie as opposed to the "hook" that draws you in. Spielberg is a master of this technique, drawing us in with aliens, dinosaurs, and explosions, while telling us stories of broken families, suburban, middle class fears, and in the case of Jaws, the story of a father eager to leave a positive legacy.

Enjoy this scene from Jaws, with one of the best father & son moments in film history.

Monday, November 25, 2013

This Week in Fatherhood 8: Jumping on Beds and a Thrift Shop Rap

This week's newsletter includes a couple of great videos, as well as personal posts about staying home with the kids, and about setting priorities as parents. As usual, if you like this weekly feature, consider subscribing to the newsletter!


When You're a Mom, There Are No Sick Days?
In a commercial from Vicks, mothers are told they can't take days off, because their husbands are useless and because their kids can't survive one day without them. It's offensive to dads, and more importantly, it's harmful to moms who struggle with guilt every time they leave the house. ("When You're a Mom, There Are No Sick Days"?)


Bedroom Acrobat
Great stuff from Kurtis Findlay's Tumblr page: Kids, Eh? 

Home Improvement

Or lack thereof, actually. One dad manages to ignore another week of leaky faucets, to spend more time with his kids. The faucet can wait. (Long Term Projects)


I finally got around to writing my own Movember post, complete with a glorious picture of my mustache. I also participated in a Twitter party, which is something I've managed to avoid until now, but was proud to be a part of this time. Not only did we manage to trend worldwide on Twitter (with the hashtag #MovemberDads), but we were able to raise awareness of men's health issues, and with a generous donation from Dove Men+Care, were able to raise money for research.

Other blogging dads are going the extra 7 miles with this video, conceived and edited by the people at Life of Dad. Yes, it's a Movember "Thrift Shop" rap!


Let kids be kids
While some people say any competitive aspect of sports is harmful, including score-keeping, others say that not only should we keep score, but we should encourage our kids to excel and stand out, because behavior on the field is an indicator of future success. Carter from Dad Scribe tries to find a sensible middle ground: letting kids be kids. (After-School Activities: Just Let Kids Be Kids)

Stay-At-Home Dads

Previously on the blog, I wrote a post about the auto-pilot I put myself in as a stay-at-home dad. On the one hand, I believe in thoughtful parenting, where every action we make as parents makes sense, and leads to a long-term parenting goal. On the other hand, in the real world, this is pretty much impossible to do, and we have to rely on auto-pilot to survive. (The Auto-Pilot: Pros and Cons of Staying Home With the Kids)


A second a day
A dad has captured the entire first year of his baby's life, one second at a time, on this video. Hey, if the first year of a baby's life had lasted 7 minutes, maybe we would have gone for a third child!

Great video, though.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My #Movember Post -- Thanks, Just For Men! #MoBro2013

Movember is a charity that allows men to be ridiculous/hipster/cool/pathetic/awesome for a month, while raising money for men's health research and awareness. Men's health--whether physical or mental health--can often go unnoticed, undetected, and untreated. It's a cliche that men don't like to talk about their problems, whether these problems are physical or mental, but unfortunately, we are cliches.

We have panic attacks? We're depressed? We have loss of energy? Naaa... Real men have no problem. Testicular cancer is something that happens to other people, and don't even dare mention men suffering from breast cancer!

Unfortunately, that's who we are, to a large extent, which is why Movember, as silly as it seems at first, is so important. We have to make this issue visible, and we have to be done with the cliche, and tell ourselves that doctors, mental health workers, and willing friends are not our enemies, and that real men, with mustache or without, care about their health.

To find out more about Movember go the their site.

To see the way Just For Men is promoting Movember, check out the Just For Men Facebook page.

To go to my own Movember page, click here.

And to see my mustache... look below. If you dare.

But wait!

Just For Men has a mustache contest on their site, and it ends on Tuesday, 11/26. They are offering one lucky mustachioed man the chance to be the next face featured on the 2014 Just For Men Mustache & Beard box! You can enter here.

And here's my entry (I know, right?):

I received products for free from Smiley360 in exchange for my honest review. You can joinSmiley360 here!

Friday, November 22, 2013

"When You're a Mom, There Are No Sick Days"?

There are two ways to respond to this commercial. First, from a dad's perspective, it's offensive to say that we can't take care of kids, and that without Mom, our kids would be sad and in constant pain. It's an old joke, years past its sell-by date. We're dads, we're dumb. OK.

The other way to look at this commercial is to see how harmful it is for moms. And the two are connected: when brands and popular culture ignore dads or treat us as incompetent fools, it's not simply offensive to dads, but also harmful to moms.

Women have gone through a relatively rapid transformation in the last few decades. After thousands of years with strict division of labor keeping them in the house, women were finally able to find work outside the home. However, this move to the public domain will not be complete as long as mothers who work outside the home are made to feel like they're abandoning their kids.

Society is slowly getting there, and although many stay-at-home dads and work-outside-the-home moms may not be comfortable with the Feminist label, they are working toward the feminist ideals of gender equality and of disproving the idea that conventional division of labor is the only natural way for parents to live.

The growing movement to change the perception of dads as incompetent is connected to the movement to remove the guilt working moms face every time they leave home for work, and this is the reason this commercial is so unbelievably wrong. Working moms and stay-at-home moms should be allowed to be sick. Stay-at-home moms should be allowed to lay in bed all day, knowing their competent partners are on top of the parenting thing. Sure, I'm not as good as my wife is at combing my daughter's hair. In my defense, I haven't had long hair in 20 years (and I probably didn't brush it when it was long, because I thought I was a rock star, and rock stars don't brush). So I'll give them that one. But while I comb my daughter's hair, my wife--whether she works outside the home or is a stay-at-home mom--should be able to watch TV and tune out. She's allowed a sick day. That's the benefit of raising kids with another person you can trust.

This commercial, though, tells mom two things:

1. You can't trust your husband

2. You need to be better by tomorrow, or else--

So join me in raising a toast (of hot tea) to all the sick mothers of the world, and let's tell them to take it easy today. And tomorrow. Take it easy until you're better. We've got this.

Monday, November 18, 2013

This Week in Fatherhood 7: Rules, Tips, and Leftover Candies

The 7th edition of the fatherhood newsletter includes posts about breastfeeding, gender wars, introverted dads, the struggle to find that elusive work-life balance. As usual, you can get this newsletter delivered to your email every week. Click here to subscribe!


Yes, fathers can write about breastfeeding and share their opinions, especially when a controversial plan in England aims to pay moms to breastfeed. You can agree with Henry, or you can argue with him on his blog. (10 reasons why paying mums to breast feed is a horrible idea)


Got candies left from Halloween? Hopefully the answer is yes. Well, what do your kids have to do to earn it? One dad is making his kids get some exercise first... It's a 2-year-old video, but I only discovered it today. And of course, since this is the Internet, some people have a problem with this video:

Gender Wars

While I agree that it's important to welcome dads into existing parenting circles, I also agree with a writer on BabyCenter, who says dads are better off not trying to get into unwelcoming circles, and their kids are better off as well. I also tell the story of being given dirty looks in a playground. (Gender Warfare and Dirty Looks)


A giveaway on Mommy's Busy, Go Ask Daddy offers a Disney Infinity Starter Kit, a Mike Wazowski figurine, a copy of Monsters Inc., and a $50 WalMart gift card. (Mega Monsters University Giveaway! (Ends 11/23/13))

Introverts and Extroverts

What happens when an introverted dad finds himself raising an extroverted child? Brent from Designer Daddy is taking a breather from chasing his son to write about the experience shared by many parents. (Chasing After Batman: An Introverted Parent Raising An Extroverted Child)


We rarely appreciate what we have as parents, maybe because when we do appreciate all we have, it can become overwhelming. As a father writes in this post: "My brain still fights me when it comes to having it all." Read this personal post, about coming to terms with happiness. (Sienna & the Moon Remind Me How Lucky I Am)


Want to help fund research and raise awareness for men's health?

You can give on my page. (here)

Or you can give to these more creative people:

On Designer Daddy: Brent will design an “I GOT MO’ED!” photo for a $20 donation to his Movember page. (What’s Been Going On With My Face…)

From Canadian Dad: Chris will post a mustache cover song on YouTube in your honor. Yes he will. Here's his latest:

New Dads

While us veteran parents are quick to dismiss advice from young, new parents, there's a lot to be said for fresh advice from new dads. Here's a good example of some great tips for new dads. (Becoming a Young Dad: Part 1)


Are there any? Jeff from Out With the Kids has written a controversial post a few months ago, arguing that using a kids' college funds to enhance their experiences is better for them than using the money for college. (The Case For NOT Saving For College). This week, he has followed up on that idea, with a post about ignoring the rules and deciding on your own priorities as a family. (It’s Not The Road For Us)

Work-Life Balance

In a personal post on my blog, I wrote about our long-term plan to leave the trap so many fall into: working to have enough money to be able to continue working. We're making sacrifices, but hopefully, eventually, it will all be worth it. (Leaving the Middle-Class Trap)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gender Warfare and Dirty Looks

When I first found this article on the Babycenter blog, my reaction was predictably defensive. After all, this is how it starts:

The discriminated dad has been getting his day in the press lately. There is a new story about stay-at-home dads almost every day detailing the unique issues that they face. To those gentlemen – you have my respect, admiration, and slight jealousy (for being able to spend so much time with your kid). That said, can you please shut up about the dirty looks you are getting?

There are plenty of charged words there, dismissing the difficulties of stay-at-home dads who want only what's best for their kids, which in many cases means being accepted into parenting circle populated by moms, who may disapprove of dads infiltrating the circles. Also, using words like, "shut up," is meant to end the conversation, rather than to contribute to it.

That said, once my immediate defensive reaction to the article subsided, I had to admit he had a point. Sure, I wouldn't have used these words (that may or may not be there only to get a reaction from a potential angry commenter), but I had to agree with a lot of it:

The gentlemen profiled in [an article the writer cites earlier] mentioned that he had to switch play groups because he didn’t feel welcome. Good. There is a fine line between sucking it up doing the best thing for your child and forcing something to work when you don’t have to. If people are not welcoming in a kid’s group, find a new group because the apple don’t fall far from the tree.

Damn right. If you're not accepted by the other parents, then you're better off without them, and more importantly, your kids are probably better off without their kids.

I talk about the way institutions and marketers continue to equate motherhood with parenting, while relegating dads to a secondary care provider status. This is bad for dads, as well as for the moms who are already often riddled with guilt for choosing to concentrate on their careers while giving up their "natural" place at home, and it's bad for kids who may spend their days with two parents who feel judged and ostracized by the institutions and by popular culture.

Saying that, I've been at home for nearly 6 years, and I don't remember any mom not welcoming me. Maybe I don't look threatening, and maybe it's because I live in a progressive area, but I've never felt unwelcome.

Well, except that one time.

I went to the park with my then-toddler son and infant daughter. I rushed there from home, trying to deal with two kids with different agendas, and finally, when we somehow made it to the park in one piece, I couldn't help noticing the stares. Why was that? Why were they looking at me like that?

Two things came to mind. One, this was a class thing. The park was in Roland Park, where the rich people in Baltimore lived. And they could probably tell I was living in Hampden, where the working class people lived. Rich people can tell stuff like that!

Or two, I was a man. With a beard. I was a man with a beard, who dared to step into the moms' territory, and these poor women had to share their precious park with a guy, and now they would feel uncomfortable gossipping about their nannies, or whatever it was these rich moms did. Yes, it was a combination of class and gender discrimination against me. And well, if they didn't want me there, I didn't want to be there anyway.

So I left about 20 minutes after I got there. And when I got to the car, I realized my fly was open.

Monday, November 11, 2013

This Week in Fatherhood 6: Best Days Ever and #MovemberDads

The 6th edition of the fatherhood newsletter includes two separate stories about kids in hospitals (everything is OK now), and about their dads who learned about the power of their communities. There are also dads talking about their best days as parents, as well as stories of guilt, identity, and, of course, potty training. If you want these weekly newsletter in your email, subscribe here. Thanks!

Best Day Ever

Buzz from DadCamp asked 7 dads (including moi) about their best days ever as fathers. Parents often make fun of themselves (we have no idea what we're doing, it's a miracle anyone on this planet is still alive, etc...), but every once in a while, it's important to remind ourselves that we are competent, and that we are capable of giving our kids positive experiences that will last a lifetime. (Cloudy with a Chance of M&M’s and 6 Other Stories About the Best Day Ever)


If I want to understand my role as a dad, and if I want to understand my kids, I need to figure out what is was like to be a kid myself. In this post, I tried to begin to understand. (The First Words of the Book I Will Probably Never Write)

Previously on

In this 1-year-old post, I had tried to react to the backlash coming from those who don't understand the reason I (and others) have a problem with companies that ignore or mock fatherhood. It's not about being offended--it's about building a better society. Calling out companies is not the goal--it's a starting point. (The Case For Calling Out Offensive Companies)


Found this video about bullying. The text at the end reads, "A typical work day doesn't look like this. And a typical school day?" Sure, some criticism of this video is fair (there's plenty of mental bullying at work places, for example), but the graphic, physical nature of this video can help illustrate to those who think a certain level of bullying at school is acceptable, because "kids will be kids," that it is never acceptable.

 (via Reddit)

Disney Side

Charlie from HowToBeADad often has cool opportunities to collaborate with brands, and this video is one of his best. We all work very hard to create and maintain our adult, responsible identities, but every once in a while, we should all show our untainted, innocent sides.


As a stay-at-home dad, I understand the guilt Matt from the NYC Dads Group felt when he wasn't around to help his son during an emergency. On the way, though, he found out could trust his community, his wife, and his son to be strong. (While I Was Gone)


A personal story about a kid who gets to play with his dad's stuffed dog, Oliver. Really, I have nothing to add. Just read it. (All About Oliver)


Many of us are growing our mustaches for Movember, in the hope that people donate to the good cause, and that people who are curious and shocked by our ridiculous/awesome facial hair will ask us about it, and then find out that the Movember campaign helps raise funds to enhance awareness for men's health issues (physical and mental), as well as to fund research. My own Movember post will be on the blog soon. Until then, read these posts from other blogging dads:

Jeff is #RunningForMo, donating $2 for every mile he runs, jogs, or walks this month. (Running For Mo)

Movember makes another blogger remember all of his previous facial hair styles, hoping he's healthy enough to see his kid's first facial hair. (Health Week: My Many Faces)

Jason participates in Movember, following the passing of his step-dad from prostate cancer. He writes, "I’m not doing it just for the fun – I’m doing it for my step-dad. I’m doing it for me. And I’m doing it for my children." (My inspiration for Movember)

And until his mustache grows, Chris from DadNCharge is celebrating fall...

Potty Training

Learn about the 7 circles of hell that constitute potty training. Well, it's a funny reading, but it's also helpful for parents who are about to rise to the challenge. (Potty Train Your Shit Monster in 3 Days)


Jason from Out-Numbered is recording videos with his rock star daughters. Also, Jason is the dad I want to grow up to become.

Social Media

Following an emergency visit to the hospital with his son, Carter from DadScribe discovers the potential for good in social media, and finds that Facebook "friends" can be just that. (In Our Darkest Hour, the Kindness of (Facebook) Friends Sustained Us)

Friday, November 8, 2013

The First Words of the Book I Will Probably Never Write

I came into the world, and I saw this guy. This completely random guy. And I thought he was a pretty big deal. 40 years later, I know he was no better or worse than any other guy--he was just the random person chosen by fate to raise me--but at the time, I thought he was everything. And even though 40 years have passed, from my first moment to my last, that random man has been and forever will be my starting point and my reference point. Which is really unfair to me and to him.

See, even now, knowing how silly it is to compare myself to this random guy, and how unfair it is to blame him for mistakes I make in the present (and definitely for those I'm bound to make in the future), and how much of a waste of time it is to try to win his approval, still after all these years, I still do that, and I'll do that for the rest of my life. I'll try to please him, I'll try to beat him, and I'll try to blame him. And poor guy, he just wanted a kid--he didn't know kids come with a lifelong of baggage. Poor guy just wanted to be a dad.

And then one day it dawned on me, like the cliché that I am, that I was a random guy too, no better or worse than anyone else in the hospital on the days my kids were born, and that those random babies I held would--from that moment on--try to please me, compare themselves to me, beat me, and blame me... And poor me, all I wanted was to experience the best parts of my childhood again. All I wanted was to have an excuse to watch the Indiana Jones movies again.

To understand who I am as a father, and to understand my kids, I have to first understand the son that I was and the father I never bothered really knowing. And now I have this responsibility--this overwhelming responsibility to teach my kids that they don't need to please me, that they shouldn't compare themselves to anyone, and that they should never blame anyone. And I'll fail, I know I will, because while in theory I'm a great dad who can write all the right words, I'm not free from being a son, and I never will be. I'm just this random guy, after all, no better and no worse than anyone else. Just a random guy, with an awesome responsibility, who is doomed to repeat the mistakes of his father, and probably blame him for that too...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

This Week in Fatherhood #5: Baseball, Halloween, and Daylight Savings Disappointments

The 5th edition of the fatherhood newsletter includes 2 baseball posts from a father and a son, an inspiring post about bullying, a very funny daylight savings time cartoon, and a lot more. As usual, I hope you subscribe to the newsletter to get these posts by email every week.


Aaron, who writes at Daddy Files, has written about an emotional day at the World Series game with his brother and his father. If you read one baseball post this year, make it this one.

“I know it’s stupid, but I never thought I’d live long enough to see a World Series game, especially with you two.” My brother and I said nothing, but we understood everything. So we put our arms around him and made our way to our seats in the centerfield bleachers.
(“Hey Dad, You Wanna Have a Catch?”)

Well, make it two posts, because Bill, Aaron's dad, has also written about going to the game with his two sons in a column in The Sun Chronicle, writing, "On Thursday, October 24, 2013 I realized one of my lifelong dreams. I went to a World Series game at Fenway Park with my two sons. And even though the Red Sox lost, it is an evening I will never forget." (The post also appears on Bill's blog: Going to World Series a Family Affair)


A couple of years ago, I found out that James, who writes the awesomely named blog Luke, I Am Your Father, and his wife, were trying to adopt a baby and were having a hard time. Then a year ago, they were finally able to add Annabelle to their family. She's just had her first birthday, and hopefully you can head over to his blog to congratulate him and his wife. (1 is the Happiest Number)

There was only one post on the blog this week. We had to put our dog down earlier in the week, and I wrote about that. I wrote about meeting the two Pit Bulls, about putting them down, and about their lives with us. I wrote about the guilt of not being as emotionally attached to the dogs after we had a kid. And I wrote about the void. (On Dogs and Men)

Previously on

As usual, I'm reviving an old post here. This one was written when the future of gay marriage was still unclear. It was a short post about explaining gay marriage to my kid. It was a very simple post, too, because explaining logical things to kids shouldn't be complicated or long. (The Simplicity of Gay Rights)


Chris from DadNCharge has an interesting story about standing up to a bully. The problem of bullying often focuses on dealing with the bully and with the helping the victim, but the real secret weapon here are the bystanders who decide to do the right thing. Chris found out this week that his son has stood up to a bully on the school bus, and he couldn't be more proud. Read the story here: Fourth Grade Bully Handled

Facebook Updates

Hostile Takeover

Mike, who writes at Puzzling Posts, had his blog taken over by his 3-year-old daughter. The blog now includes her favorite colors, and an expose on her sister's food choices. (Imagining turning this site over to my daughter)


This one is from the always funny Neal from Raised by my Daughter


Yep, poetry. Because Arjan from the blog The Neverending Miracle has just had his first baby, and if that doesn't make a man write a poem, nothing will. (The Golden Tree)


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