Hello and welcome to a strange new world. You have traveled far through the desert, only to be met time and again by one empty oasis after another. You are lost and alone, wandering, wondering if someone, anyone, knows how you feel. And just when you think you can't go on, and no one could possibly understand your struggle, a hand reaches out to you, lifts you to your feet, and carries you to the promised land. He feeds you knowledge, shelters you from the self-righteous (and the ridiculous), and provides you with the tools you need to survive in this brave new world. You are a stranger in a strange land, but you are not alone. Let him be your guide. Follow closely as you travel together on this adventure of a lifetime. For now, you are a foreigner to "Fatherhood" but soon YOU will be the master of this realm.

"No Man is Expendable!"

This is Fodder 4 Fathers...

Fodder Up!: Teaching Your Toddler to Share

If there's one thing you'll never have to teach a toddler it's how to defend their property from encroachers.  Anyone who has ever attempted to take candy from a baby will tell you the idea that possession is nine tenths of the law isn't learned, it's inborn. And it doesn't take an elaborate psychological experiment to test this theory- all you need is an empty room, two toddlers, and a single, unclaimed toy. Ever watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship? You think that's ugly, just watch two kids fight it out for who gets to walk out of the ring with Tickle Me Elmo? I don't know about you, but watching 200lb adult males beat the crap out of each other seems a whole lot more civilized than the biting and slapping, kicking and eye gauging that goes on between two kids defending their individual claims to a toy. Hell, I'd sooner stick my hand out to break up a dog fight than risk the loss of a limb trying to take a toy away from a determined child. Talk about being "possessed."

Boys? Girls? It doesn't matter. Being left alone in a room with two toddlers battling over toys is like being a referee in a fight to the death. It's like the ultimate Kumate between Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, and unless you know how to intervene, someone's going to get hurt. And if your not willing to teach your child the concept of fair play somebody else will, and learning it on the playground from a much larger kid who isn't so concerned about your kid's safety isn't the way to go (I know).

So, while it may be cute to watch your little guy get possessive about anything and everything from a toy, to a chair, to a your wife's cell phone, it's not so cute to pick your ten-year-old up from school after getting suspended for stealing another kid's lunch (so my Mom tells me). So it's better to step up, step in and tell your kid to step off as you teach him the most important lesson a father will ever impart upon a child - the lesson of sharing.

In the grand scheme of life, might is NOT right, greed is NOT good (sorry Gordon Gekko), and no possession will ever replace the value of a good friend. Yes, the world is full of bullies, and there will come a day when your child will need to defend his claim to what is rightfully his, but that's what lawyers are for. Fathers are for teaching children what's right and what's wrong (and a healthy respect for authority never hurts either). So don't let your child dictate the terms of ownership. Mediate.

Here's a crash course on sharing:


And the world is once again a happy place...

A Little Off The Sides Please: Contemplating a Toddler's First Hair Cut

Genetics is a funny thing. For nine months after conception, couples ponder the possible pairings of their DNA hoping for a favorable outcome. We calculate the chances of every single chromosomal coupling of our genetic material, wondering how our children will look, act, and even sound. We think back to the teachings of grade twelve biology and the ground breaking work of botanist Gregor Johan Mendel and his theories of heredity and inheritance and attempt to surmise who our children will be, only to realize we can only predict this with a modicum of certainty. We follow the laws of predictability trying to figure out how dominant and recessive genes will either work together or work against one another to produce offspring that will either represent the best of two family trees or the worst of two individuals. How stupid are we?

Rated R: The 100 Best Movie Insults of All Time (Beware: Course Language)

Repeat after me... "F@#% yeah!" This one's just for Mom and Dad. Put the kids to bed. Send Grandma and her sensibilities home, and turn up the volume. The time for watching your words, holding your tongue, and maintaining your composure is over for today. Let loose the trucker mouth and remind yourself what it's like to be an adult (and not a preschooler)... This ought to help you get the Dora The Explorer theme out of your head (you know you were humming it)!


The Fears of the Father: Dads with Daughters

As a father with a daughter, there are many things that keep me awake at night. True, my daughter is only eighteen-months-old but the thought of her ever dating sends a chill up my spine that sends me directly in to panic mode. What the hell do dads do when their daughter's reach dating age, and what the hell can I do now to prepare myself for this unenviable inevitability? Buying a shotgun is a given, but what else can I stick in my anticipatory arsenal to ensure that my daughter, the little girl I am bound by both duty and honor to protect (mostly from herself), doesn't find herself in a precarious position of any kind?

Fodder Up!: Part VIII - The Disciplined Dad

As a father, if you learn one valuable lesson from your kids it is this: before you can discipline a child you must first learn to discipline yourself. If you look at your relationship with your child as a battle, you have already lost. You can't negotiate with a baby. And it's futile to think your posturing is going to help you gain any ground with a toddler. When it comes to parenting, might is not right, and force won't get you far, so you need to be disciplined in your approach. You must be tactical, practical, and unflappable if you ever hope to come out on top, but it is always better to rule by example than by an iron fist.  This is Fodder Up! Today's lesson: 
 Disciplining Dad.

The Discipline Cheat Sheet:

Image Link: http://grouchymuf
It is no secret that children like to push the boundaries of acceptable behavior, and pushing their boundaries means pushing your buttons. It's all part of the learning curve, for both you and your child. It is up to you, as the parent, to learn right from wrong (the proper way to discipline a child), and then, and only then will you be able to pass those lessons on to your children. 

We call this the Discipline Cheat Sheet, your guide to disciplining your child. You can call it your salvation.

Fodder of the Week: Is it Possible to Predict Adult Attractiveness from Infancy?

If you've ever read the classic tale of The Ugly Duckling, you'll remember that you should never judge a book by its cover- especially when genetics are involved. Some creatures are just predestined to look more graceful, more exotic, more streamlined than others, while the rest of us, well, we're just not so lucky. But looks can be deceiving even from a very young age considering all creatures (mammals for the sake of this argument), big and small, go through some kind of metamorphosis between infancy and adulthood. And in that big box of chocolates we call life, you never do know what you're gonna get.

So the question is: are attractive babies destined to be attractive adults while the parents of ugly babies are destined to shell out a lot of money for rhinoplasty, orthodontists and laser hair removal? I'm not so sure. And, here's why... I've watched a lot of television growing up, and if casting agents (professionals that get paid a lot of money to find cute kids who will hopefully remain that way through puberty) can't predict attractiveness, who the hell can? Lets go off the list: Tina Yothers (Family Ties)? Nope. Mayim Bialik (Blossom)? Nope. That kid that played Stephanie Tanner on Full House? Nope. They were all cute kids, but, man, puberty, adolescence, and I hate to say, adulthood have not been so kind. What about the boys: Emmanuel Lewis (Webster)? Nope. Gary Coleman (Diff'rent Strokes)? Nope. That kid that played Steve Erkel (Family Matters)? Nope. And don't even get me started about some of the kids from The Brady Bunch, The Facts of Life, or The Cosby Show. Yesh.

True, in the history of film and television there have been some standouts- Alyssa Milano (Who's The Boss): cute kid, smoking hot adult; Natalie Portman (Beautiful Girls), never skipped a beat; Soliel Moon Frye (Punky Brewster); and Nicole Eggert (Charles in Charge), who grew into a beautiful woman, if only to have recently let her looks wane. But they are the exception to the rule. Even Drew Barrymore (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) one of the cutest kids to ever grace the silver screen has teetered back and forth between hot and not in adulthood. So what does this say about your kids?

Well, every parent, no matter how hopeful, must realize that just because your kid came out of the womb looking like roses there's a solid chance they may not stay that way through adolescence. And that works both ways. Yes, there are many documented cases of ugly kids becoming ghastly looking adults (Clint Howard, Dustin Diamond, and that kid that played Kelly in the original Bad News Bears), but there are just as many cases of kids pulling through an ugly childhood to become stunningly symmetrical adults (although I can't think of any).

So what can we conclude from all of this? Nothing. I was just reliving my childhood; talking about some of my favorite TV shows and films. The only way to get to the bottom of this is to wait until somebody does a study on it... Wait a minute?

And there's your answer?

But, it gets worse.


Here's some fun who's hot/who's not links on this most interesting of topics:

Fodder 4 Fathers Featured "Baby" Book Reviews: Adam's Product Pick of the Week - "Baby Barbells"

There's a reversal of fortune that occurs between husbands and wives after the birth of a child. Whereas new moms begin to shed the pregnancy pounds slowly over time, first-time fathers begin to gain weight exponentially in a mere matter of months. Some, long before the baby is even born: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/men-who-swell-with-pregnancy

The fact is between caring for a newborn, working long hours, the time it takes to commute to and from home, and the stress that comes with their new found responsibilities most first-time fathers (to some degree) find themselves letting themselves go. Call it a lack of motivation, a lack of sleep, or a lapse in good judgement, many new dads just seem to find themselves packing on the pounds and digging themselves deeper and deeper in to a big bowl (and belly) of Jell-o.

But don't despair. You don't need a fancy gym membership or a personal trainer to get back in to shape. All you need is some sensible eating habits (i.e. not fighting the family dog for your kid's leftovers), and a few simple exercises, using nothing more than your own bundle of joy, a baby carrier and a your own sense of balance (between raising happy kids and your own health). This is the brainchild of Joshua Levitt, ND- father, naturopath, and visionary behind Baby Barbells: The Dad's Guide To Fitness and Fathering- a book that has been called "the quintessential handbook for a new generation of cool dads."

Let's check it out...

Fodder Up!: Part VII - First Aid Part II - Broken Skin, Bandaids, and Brushing Up on Your Bedside Manner

Website Link for Image Origin

It's no secret why most babies cry for their mommies when they hurt themselves. It's because their fathers are big, fat (not literally), fumbling oafs (or so their wives say) when it comes to the careful execution of first aid. Truth is most New Dads have the bedside manner of a proctologist- they want to get in and out of there as fast as possible so they can go back to whatever they were doing before the "accident" in question occurred. They think handling a boo boo is merely treating the physical symptoms (covering up the cut or the scrape or the sliver) not realizing that the more important thing to do is to address the psychological distress that accompanies such an event. Well, we don't tolerate your turn and cough approach around here. It's time to Fodder Up! Today's lesson - First Aid Part II - or what we like to call, "Boo Boo 101."

Fodder of the Week: Stay At Home Dads

If you've been paying attention, our Featured Father of the Week has undergone a name change. It will now be called Fodder of the Week, and will include topics for discussion as well as influential father's of note. Look for it every Tuesday as part of our new regular roster.

Click for Link
This week's installment: Stay at Home Dads

Definition and Background Information:  

Articles and Statistics: 
Today I'd like to take a moment to recognize the brave men who call themselves SAHD, or if you prefer, Stay At Home Dads. This small but growing group of brave souls (worldwide) wages a war every day to care for their kids amidst the extreme prejudice of a society that cannot fathom their resolve to be the primary caregiver to their kids in a world that still sees fathers as the primary breadwinner. Get over it already. Dads are proving that anything moms can do we can do equally as well, with a few minor differences in methodology. So to all the guys who cook, clean, care for their kids, and live to blog about it, this is for you.

This song was written by John Lennon as an F@#% Y@# to his critics when they ridiculed him for choosing to drop out of the limelight to raise his son, Sean. That was over thirty years ago. I guess some things change, and some thing remain the same, but a good F@#% Y@# song never dies.

All our best to all the Stay at Home Dads and their families. You are all pioneers in a brand new world, and we salute you for it.

- Fodder 4 Fathers 


Be The Ball: Great Fatherly Advice from the 10 Best Sports Films of All Time

image courtesy of http://argotanochre.com
They say enrolling your kids in organized sports will teach them many valuable life lessons (sportsmanship, teamwork, selflessness, discipline). But what about us First-Time Fathers? For us, there's always our beloved sports flicks from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Life lessons abound in these classic films about the underdog, and if you pay close attention you might even find some great fatherly advice you can pass on to your kids.

Fodder Up!: Part VI - Taking a Temperature/Reducing a Fever

"I Wish My Mommy Was Here!"
This week we're going to really get our hands dirty and delve right in to a topic that makes most new dads extremely uncomfortable. So far we've overcome some pretty standard fears that come part and parcel with parenting (changing a diaper, CPR, bathing), but this one possibly takes the cake. It's something that will elicit fright in even the most confident of caregivers as it can strike at any time without warning. We're talking about a fever- and you better give it the respect it deserves. It's time to Fodder Up!

What is a fever? A Medical Explanation:

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: knowledge is power. So before you go freaking out the first time your newborn feels a little warm, let's educate you on what a fever's all about.

Basic Training: If Dads Ran Their Own Pre-Natal Classes...

Image courtesy of the film Full Metal Jacket, 1987
For a man, sitting through six weeks of pre-natal classes is no better than sleeping your way through a grade nine health class. Both are about the birds and the bees (with the obvious exception that one is about avoiding pregnancy and the other is about celebrating it) but neither teaches you anything you can't learn from your older brother. If you ask me, six weeks of breathing exercises, soothing massage techniques, the art of the foot rub, and expert commentary from people who merely want to hand out business cards can be better spent watching the "Baby Story" marathon on the Slice Network. Sure, you're there to support your wife, the one carrying 50 extra pounds of fetus, placenta and water weight, but even she feels your pain and wishes you didn't have to be there (mostly because your snoring is embarrassing her).

Let's be honest, your presence at a traditonal-style pre-natal class is about as necessary as your presence at the birth of your child. You're just there for show. Between Doulas, and Doctors and a direct line to the on-call nurse, you're about as useful in a delivery room as a groom during the planning of a wedding.  Don't get me wrong, you want to be involved but as you're not the one carrying the precious cargo you might as well not be in the room. Except, you will be in the room and if no one includes you in the conversation the second your kid wiggles his way out of the birth canal you're going to be at a loss for what to do when your presence is required the most.

Why Can't We Be Friends?- Parents for the Ethical Treatment of Parents

Recently, I was lucky enough to be put on to an article about a fellow dad blogger being blindsided in to a well publicized conversation about who is the better parent, moms or dads. I'll be honest with you, there was a time, not too long ago, where I myself would have engaged in this kind of bitter rivalry as, let's be honest, sometimes, in our society, it's hard to be a New Dad. But, I'm starting to see the error of my ways. Nothing can be gained by engaging in this discussion. In the end, nobody wins and the people that suffer are the ones we as PARENTS have sworn to protect- our children. So maybe it's time for us to give the whole "anything you can do, I can do better" attitude a rest, and focus on what's important: a concerted effort to raise well-adjusted children that won't need to waste most of their adult lives in therapy.

The truth is we can debate this issue and all look like fools, or just agree to disagree, attend to the task at hand (raising great kids), and let it go already.

"Walking It" Into The End Zone: Your Toddler's First Steps Toward Independence

"What walks on 4 legs in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, and 3 in the evening?" The answer: "Man" (The Sphinx’s Riddle, Oedipus Rex). It's the natural progression of our species. We learn to roll, then we learn to hold ourselves up off the ground, then we learn to crawl, and finally, we learn to walk our own path. And for any toddler the key to independence is the ability to take those first few precious steps without any help from Mom or Dad. 

But, it's not so easy. And if it's not a physical barrier that keeps your child from taking that first step on their own, it's a psychological one. But if you want to help your child to reach this all-important milestone, it's really just a question of balance- between the body and mind. And if you, as a parent, can control your actions, nature (and a bit of time) will help your child to learn to control their own.

To succeed, you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you."- 
Tony Dorsett

So forget the quarterback mentality that hasn't worked for you till this point, and instead think more like a cheerleader. Don't call the plays, asking you uncooperative toddler to stand up and walk every chance you get. You'll never score a touchdown that way. Instead, it's better to coax your child to continue when you see that they are ready to make a play, even if it's only for a yard or two. It's a game of inches after all, and every gain contributes to the ultimate win. Lead your child by encouraging his need to succeed, but don't pressure him to run the play down field only to risk him fumbling the ball- that's a recipe for psychological injury (fear of failure) that could sideline your kid for weeks, or even months. In other words, help your kid walk when they want to walk, but don't demand they perform on command. That doesn't work on most athletes, and it certainly doesn't work on most kids.

It's all about conditioning. You have to fine-tune the body to perform. You have to control the mind to overcome your fears. And you have to be ready to get in the game, plain and simple. You can't force your kid to walk, or run, any more than you can force him to eat his Wheaties. Every parent wants their kid to be first-string- the kid that walks, runs, and makes it into the end zone before any of their contemporaries- but slow and steady wins the overall foot race to this often elusive milestone. Heck, you're kid could go from sitting on the sidelines (unable to roll over) to being given the ball and talking it all the way down field (running) to victory. Stranger things have happened. You just have to believe. 

Sure, it's only natural for a parent to want to help their child to succeed, but sometimes you have to allow your kids to fall flat on their face if only to show them its not the end of the world. And, if they're not ready yet, all they want to know is that you'll be behind them every step of the way. That's your job- a most important one.

Just know this, not every kid is a phenom, but sooner or later, in terms of getting to step on to the field, every able kid makes the team. And that's all any dad can ask for. 

Here's some links to help you when you're unsure how to help your child reach this all important milestone:
  • http://www.whattoexpect.com/toddler-walking-tips.aspx (link
  • http://www.babycenter.ca/baby/development/walking/ (link)
  • http://www.babycenter.com/0_your-child-doesnt-walk-yet_12579.bc (link)
  • http://www.makingmilestones.com/?p=49 (link)
  • http://www.todays-mommy-baby-toddler-guide.com/babywalkingshoes.html (link)

This Wasn't In the Brochure?: The Hardest Part About Being a New Dad

The experience of first time fatherhood is different for each of us. What some deem as hard work, others take to with the utmost proficiency. It's not rocket science, being a dad (although some would lead you to believe that) but there is a steep learning curve that like any roller coaster will take you up and down and then loop you around. Having kids is easy (from a man's perspective anyway). The more difficult experience is raising them.

But what is the hardest part of having/raising kids? Is it the sleepless nights? The midnight feedings? The constant crying? The struggle to meet all of your day-to-day obligations? The financial burden associated with everything baby? The structured schedule you are afraid to deviate from? The battle for who is the better parent between you or your wife? Is it the weariness that you feel; that feeling that you can't go on for another day? The worry that you're just not cutting it as a parent? The fear that all parents face, wondering what they would do if anything ever happened to the most important person in their lives? Am I even in the ball park? I don't pretend to be you, so all I can do is surmise an educated, estimated guess.

Again, it's different for everyone, as each of us struggles with this newfound responsibility in their own unique way. But if you ask me, the hardest thing about being a parent (father in this case) is having to leave my daughter every morning to go to work and missing out on her day. But, that's just me.

So the real question is: what's the hardest part of being a "new" parent (let's hear from the new and more experienced Moms too) for you? 

Here's a few interesting articles/blog posts/surveys to get you started:
  • http://www.apparenting.com/whats_the_toughest_thing_about_being_a_father.html (link)
  • http://www.aceshowbiz.com/news/view/00041348.html (link
  • http://kevinrossen.com/personal/hardest-part-of-being-a-new-dad/(link)
  • http://toryandtegan.com/2008/02/the-hardest-thing/(link
  • http://babybump.alt12.com/community/groups/114-june-2011/polls/3489-whats-the-hardest-part-about-being-a-new-parent-getting-up-during-the-night-when-the-baby-cries-/results (link)

Economies of Scale: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Adding A Second Child

If you thought this was going to be a discussion about deciding to have your first child, sorry, we're fast tracking here. Nope, today we're talking about something most of you can't even fathom as you're already elbow deep in more baby doo than you can handle- the second child. And it's not really a discussion about "if" you should have a second child, but more a conversation about "when?" True, there are many couples, who, for their own selfish (and justified) reasons, won't even consider having a second child, whether it's due to a bad experience with the first birth, personal finance issues, or dreams of one day traveling the globe sans children. And they are entitled to this lifestyle choice. The rest of us, well, we're either crazy for wanting a second child, or we loved our first kid so much we didn't want to burden them with being solely responsible for caring for poor old Mom and Dad when we inevitably hit the invalid home. It's a choice we make. Unfortunately, in this day and age, it's not such an easy one. 

The Future of Fodder 4 Fathers?: The World Weighs In...

Matthew Borkoski Atlas Statue
When we started our little "Father Blog" we never knew how far it would go. What started out as a quest for knowledge has quickly turned in to a worldwide phenomenon, and we have you, our fans, to thank for it. So to all the New Dads, wives checking up on their reading habits, fellow bloggers, Facebook friends (both Foreign and Domestic), Twitter followers,  parenting professionals, businesses. and everyone else that just happened upon us, we thank you for letting us be a part of something much bigger than ourselves. And, if you haven't joined the movement, what are you waiting for? We're only getting started...

Fodder Up! Part V: Bath Basics 4 Babies (and Daddies 2)

"I Dare You."
If you're a new parent, but especially a new dad, nothing will freak you out more than bathing your baby for the first time. I mean, who wouldn't want to combine some of their worst fears into one daunting task? First you have to undress the squirming, screaming newborn. Then you have to correctly carry her to the baby bath without hitting her head against the rock hard porcelain tub or sink. Then you have to immerse her in warm water, hoping she doesn't freak out, take in a gallon water and drown. Am I in your head, or what? But those are just your fears talking. In reality, giving a baby a bath can be the best, most relaxing part of your day. All you need is a few pointers to get you started. Gentlemen (and ladies), it's time to Fodder Up! Today's topic: Baby Bath Basics.

F4F Featured Reviews: Baby D's Product Pick of The Week

When choosing the best diaper cream to use on your child, it's important not to be "rash." With so many products on the market to choose from, you could spend hundreds of your hard-earned dollars going from one cream to the next without seeing an iota of improvement from one cream to the next.

Buying diaper cream is almost as painful as watching your wife buy anti-aging cream- the prices vary greatly, the most expensive ones aren't necessarily the best, and all you can do is take the manufacturer's word for it as you shell out ten, twenty, thirty, forty dollars at a time on "a miracluous improvement." At Fodder 4 Father's, we don't buy that strategy. So when you want to know what really works on those red, raw, really nasty rashes, there's only one solution- snoop in your friend's medicine cabinets.