LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

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...

SORRY TO BURST YOUR BUBBLE: OVER-PROTECTIVE PARENTING IS BAD FOR YOUR KIDS

“WHAT UP WITH DAT, DAD?”
Maybe it's me, but there seems to be a lot of uptight parents these days. I see it in playgroups, the playground, at family outings, and on Facebook. People just seem to be so tightly wound when it comes to their kids. I guess some might call it "Helicopter Parenting" but I prefer to call Control Freak Parenting. People, let your kids fucking breathe! You can’t prevent everything. Sooner or later you’re going to have to go to emergency for some stitches, or to set a broken bone, or to remove a peg from your kid’s nose. Now, no one’s telling you not to watch your kids… just stop standing over them like that vein on your forehead is going to explode if they try to put sand in their mouth. 

Relax! Sure, we all have our hang ups. I personally have a fear of my daughter choking, but it’s more because I’m afraid I won’t know what to do if it actually occurs (I’m enrolling in refresher classes). But that’s MY hang up. My 2-year-old gags all the time, but you just learn that it’s normal for a child to do that as they learn how to eat solids. Many times she gags herself because she thinks it’s funny. I don’t, but it’s her sense of humor. And I guess we as parents need a little more of that. 


All parents have some hang up of some sort. I remember my dad losing his mind if one of us had our glass too close to the edge of the table. I know my brother loses his sh@# when his kids (aged 6 and 9) go out on their Grandmother’s balcony (10 stories up). You’re entitled to your phobias as a parent- you just can’t pass them on to your kids. 

You don’t like animals? Well, why can’t your kids like them? You have a fear of heights and throwing up on strangers? Cool, let someone else take your son or daughter on that roller coaster. You think micro-organisms are plotting your death? They might be, but slathering your kids in Purell is only going to kill all the good bacteria that keep them healthy.  

Stop over-thinking all aspects of your kid’s lives. Have your one, or two, or three, four, five, six, or seven phobias that force you to bite your lip, many, many times, as you take your child out in public, but don’t freak your kids out with them. And you know what- don’t freak me out with them either. I DON’T WANT TO KNOW. 

Yes, kids can get salmonella from raw cookie dough. Well, so can adults, but I seem to have built up an immunity to it over time. Are you going to rob your kid (or your husband) of one of the greatest joys of childhood? Let them lick the freakin’ bowl (and the beaters too). Let them eat some sand or dirt, and play on the monkey bars, and jump off the garage, and use a skateboard, and eat some junk food every now and then, and bloody up a nose. Each and every one of these things is a rite of passage, and when you keep your kid from trying new things you’re robbing them of the joys of childhood… and you’re robbing yourself of all the best parenting stories too (“We spent all night in emergency all because Billy stuck the letter X up his nose and we couldn’t finish our game of Scrabble until it was removed.”) 

Let’s stop with the “Helicopter Parenting” and institute “Drive-by Parenting” where we let our kids have their space (in a confined area where no one will abduct them) and pop our heads in occasionally to say “Wuz up? Need a juice box; a diaper change; some forceps to remove that crayon from your nostril?” Let’s go back to that. Let’s be cool again… or as cool as parents can be. 

I’ll put down my Slap Chop if you put down your sanitizing wipes, your toddler leash, or your bubble wrap. We can do this. We can be the encouraging parents we set out to be… or at least one step closer to that.  Just breathe, and let go of the can of Lysol…

There, isn’t that better now?... for the kids?

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CONVERSING ABOUT CHILD ABUSE: IT'S NOT AN EASY CHOICE FOR EVERYONE

 

There’s a great line from my favorite film that says a man who puts himself in a position to be a force for change will "either die the hero or live long enough to become the villain" (The Dark Knight, 2008). Now, I don't fancy myself a hero, and I certainly don't see myself as anything more than what I am- a guy who merely wants to do right by his kid- but I certainly know that the double-edged sword of public opinion cuts both ways. And when you put yourself out there, you never know how your actions will be perceived from one moment until the next.

DON'T SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT: ARE DAD'S JOKES ABOUT DAUGHTERS DATING OUTDATED?


 All dads with daughters make the same joke about buying a shot gun anticipating the day when their little girls will come of age and start accepting suitors. But we all know that if we armed every dad with a Winchester our emergency rooms would be full of dumbasses that shot themselves in the foot. So, putting all jokes aside (I’ll try my best), let’s talk about the reality of what dads can really do to prepare themselves for the day their daughters start dating.

BURSTING THE OVER-PROTECTIVE PARENTING BUBBLE: WHY THE ODD BOO BOO ISN'T SUCH A BAD THING FOR YOU OR YOUR CHILD


The longer you're a parent, the more you realize you can't protect your children from everything. Sure, you could go the old "Bubble Boy" route (the Jake Gyllenhaal and John Travolta versions), but that's not really protecting your kids (unless they actually have a rare auto-immune disorder that makes even the air around them a potential killer). No, most of us just have to let our kids be kids and cross our fingers that our trips to the emergency room will be few and far between. As, let's face it, control is an illusion and although there are many things you can (and should) do to protect your kids, there are also many things you need to allow them to learn and experience on their own (i.e. “no pain, no gain”).

BABY BLANKET BINGO: SPELLING OUT THE REALITY OF SECURITY BLANKET ATTACHMENT IN TODDLERS

"WHERE ARE YOU GOING WITH MY BLANKIE???"
They say "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." Well, "they" never tried to take a security blanket away from a toddler. A child and her inanimate, dirty, germ-infested friend: there is no stronger bond. Oh, you can try to momentarily separate the two- for a bath, a meal, or even a trip to the park- but never, EVER, lose track of where you put it, because, as any experienced parent will tell you, if you lose your kid's blankie--- YOU'RE SCREWED.

FODDER 4 FATHERS: GOING LEGIT?

I know it seems like we haven't blogged much lately, but that's not to say we haven't been busy. We have big things planned for the near future: a website, a book and an app. We hope that you'll bear with us while we get all these projects going so we can get back to what we love most... talking about fatherhood.

In the meantime, we hope you'll help us go "legit" by voting for us to be one of  Babble's Top 50 Dad Bloggers for 2012. Please visit the link below to vote:


http://www.babble.com/dad/fatherhood/top-50-dad-blogs-nominate-a-dad/index.aspx

And, look for a new blog post tonight. As always, we thank you for all of your support.

Adam, F4F

YOUR MORTALITY AND YOU: WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR CHILD, WHAT SHOULD A DAD DO?

Every once in a while I 'll see a movie that really bring that whole idea fatherhood thing home to me. Don't get me wrong, I know I'm a dad- I've known it for over two years now. I mean, if the diaper changes and the feedings and the seemingly endless birthday parties for one snot-nosed kid after another didn't give it away, the increase in my monthly bills certainly has. But, if I look at it logically, I'm just at the ground floor of fatherhood. I'm just scratching the surface of what will be asked of me of over the next 10, 20, 30, even 40 years of my life...if I'm lucky to be around that long.
 
And, that's what made me really sit up and pay attention to "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," a film that looks at the aftermath of what happens to a family when the dad dies during the Twin Tower bombings of 9/11. Will I be around that long? And, if not, how do I plan for it?


Now, I'm not talking about a will. Sure, a will is important, as god forbid if something happens to me (and/or my wife) I want my child to be taken care of. But that's just one concern. My bigger concern is how will I be able to leave a piece of ME behind so my child never has to feel like I have abandoned her?

I accept my mortality- I could die tomorrow- and I don't want to leave my child wandering, wondering how I honestly and truly feel about her; how I honestly feel about life (and death); and how I really feel about the world I leave her to grow up in. Now, I could leave this up to a bunch of other people to fill in the blanks- people who think they know me (family, friends)- but I'd rather just cut out the middle men and do it myself.

HERE'S SOMEONE WHO MIGHT HAVE BENEFITED FROM A LETTER FROM HIS OLD MAN

What I’m proposing is a kind of living will, a journal, written solely from my unique perspective as “Dad.” Sure, it’s easy for me to do this as I’m a writer (sort of) and it’s not that hard for me to get my feelings on the page, but you try writing a letter to your child that explains each and every feeling you have about them,  now and for the future. These will be my words- not my wife’s, not my siblings’, and not the words of some lawyer I hired to be the executor of my will. This is dad’s take on his relationship with his child, from the day she was born onward, updated periodically just to keep her on her toes. I mean, I sure hope I get to be around to tell my daughter what I really think of that guy she dates from grade 11 to 12, and I hope I get the opportunity to tell her that there a better fish in the sea when she dumps his ass for cheating on her with the school lunch lady, but there are no guarantees. So I may have to improvise and come up with a list of advice for all situations; for all contingencies.


I’ll be honest with you, I never thought of myself as a journal writer, but after watching this movie I’m inspired to leave my kid a few volumes on what she has meant to me over these last two years; how being her father has changed me as a person; and what I would like for her future (with no pressure of course). It’s just something that I think every child needs… well, that and an inheritance.
Maybe you should think about writing one too? After all, you’re not going to live forever and who better to hold the real book on you- the man, the legend- than your child? Just something to think about… when you’re crossing the street, or getting on a plane, or eating a hot dog. You know… that every day stuff that never killed anybody.

And, if you get a chance, please check out this great film.