Tag Archives: debate

Stop Telling Parents Not to Talk About Politics

“Stick to parenting.”
“I thought this was a parenting page, stop talking politics.”
“You make this look like a parenting page but it’s just the liberal agenda in disguise.”

I’ve gotten a lot of comments over the years far worse than the ones above, yet I’m less irritated with the threatening and hateful rhetoric than I am with the criticism that comes with running a parenting page that also talks politics.

First of all, this is free content. Facebook isn’t paying me to have a page or write things on it and I don’t host ads on my website so I’m not using that traffic to monetize my site. I do it because it’s fun (most of the time) and I gain some sense of satisfaction from it. If you were a paying customer then MAYBE you’d have some ground to stand on because you could argue you’re not getting your money’s worth, but seeing as this is free and Facebook is optional, stop your bitching.

Second, I’m not hiding anything nor am I out to trick anyone. Yes, this page is mostly about parenting. However, right there in the “About” section DIRECTLY ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE, here’s what it says:

Yup, that’s right. The same people bitching about the “liberal agenda” masquerading as a parenting page didn’t even bother to check the freaking “About” section, which would’ve told them, in no uncertain terms, I regularly write about politics.

Third, this is my page. I created it, I crafted it, and I and I alone decide what gets posted. That means the people whining about what’s on my free page that they’re under no obligation to visit, have essentially come to my virtual house where they decided to bitch about how I decorate and offer me unsolicited advice on how it can look better.

To which I say “Get bent. Screw you. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.”

You want to disagree with me? Fine. I love debate and I’ll gladly engage in it with you. But debate the issue. If you think Donald Trump is the best president we’ve ever had and all my criticisms are unfounded, then argue your point. Prove it. Back up the things you say with facts and supporting evidence. I promise, I’ll hear you out. I’ll disagree with you vehemently, but I’ll listen.

What I won’t listen to is you telling me what I should and shouldn’t be writing on the page I created and run all by myself.

I’ve been doing this a lot of years and 99% of the time it isn’t that people don’t want to talk politics — it’s that they don’t agree with MY politics. It’s so indicative of the ridiculously polarized environment in which we currently find ourselves. When people find their way to my page via a non-political article they enjoy but then scroll through my archives or social media and discover I’m a liberal, that’s it. After discovering they don’t share my political views, they can’t like one or two things about me — they have to dislike EVERYTHING about me. Because otherwise, they’re supporting liberals and liberals are BAD. It’s all or nothing, middle ground be damned. Even though they like the parenting and fatherhood stuff, they don’t want to hear me mix in my political views if they don’t jive with their own.

Sure, there are some people who genuinely don’t want to talk politics at all, and those people I direct to my good friends at Life of Dad. There’s something to be said for desiring a little escape from the overwhelming political mess and divisive atmosphere we’re in right now, and I’m glad there are sites out there that provide it.

But my page is not that. It was never meant to be that. It never will be that. And in fact, I feel a responsibility to talk about politics MORE, not less, as we get further into the failed experiment of the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

The thing that infuriates me the most is the belief that parenting discussions should be separate from politics, when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

What’s happening under Trump is unprecedented and awful and must be discussed at length. And newsflash — it not only impacts you as a parent, it affects your children as well.

The  anti-immigrant sentiment has many children worried about losing their family members and having their lives uprooted when Trump deports them. There’s been a spike in hate crimes since Donald Trump won the election, as xenophobia and fervent nationalism has caused increase violence under the “America First” umbrella — especially in the classroom where some teachers report bullying is on the rise in the name of Trump.

And just last week, Trump began the process of pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement. The man who holds the highest office our nation offers doesn’t believe in basic science, and has us joining Syria and Nicaragua as the only two  nations who won’t do their part to combat climate change.

The main goal for every parent is to leave the world a little better for their kids than they found it, yet we’re living under a presidential regime that is pro-coal, anti-science, and anti-planet. If you can’t see the importance of politics as it relates to parenting in the context of “we need to take care of the freaking planet for our kids,” then something is fundamentally wrong with you.

Think about that — we can’t even agree on saving the planet. That ain’t right.

So no, I will not stop talking about politics on my parenting page. As comforting as it may seem to bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is normal, that’s just not the case. So while all well-reasoned, intelligent, factually based arguments are welcome on my page, the one thing you aren’t allowed to do is tell me what I should and shouldn’t be writing about. Facebook is free, so if you want a parenting space without politics, start your own or scroll on by to one of the other millions of pages out there.

What’s happening in our world is worthy of discussion, especially among parents.

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There’s No Such Thing as Taking Too Many Pictures of Your Kids

cell phone

“Put the phone down.”
“You’re taking too many pictures of your kids.”
“Your eyes are the best camera.”

If you’re a parent with Internet access of any kind, you know how controversial a topic phones are in relation to your children. You can’t whip out a soon-to-be-outdated phablet without hitting some parenting “expert” or “guru” telling you what a materialistic and superficial jerk you are for posing your kids in a pumpkin patch or posting a selfie with the kids to Instagram during Touch-a-Truck.

I’m pretty confident in my parenting, but after reading so many of these articles talking about how I’m not actually enjoying life because I’m living it through my cell phone camera lens, I started to worry maybe they were right.

So one day I left the camera in the car.

I took Will and Sam on a hike through some local conservation land, and it was gorgeous. It was hot out, but felt 10 degrees cooler when we entered the forest and walked beneath the canopy of towering maple trees. The pine needles padded our steps and my boys bounded forward with youthful zeal, as slits of sunlight periodically found them and dotted their backs.

We explored the forest and inspected downed trees while wondering if a giant blew them over in a fit. We climbed rock formations and claimed them as newly discovered lands (Willtopia, SamLand, and Dada’s Village if you must know). We ran to the next trail map and studied it forcefully, as if it alone held the key to our ultimate survival.

And then we saw the butterfly.

A Monarch butterfly, you know the type. Wings a deep Halloween orange with jet black lines that made it look like an ornate stained glass window. Little white circles dot the tips of the wings and its head, as it rests on some grass seemingly weightless. It was totally still, and so were my boys. Enraptured. Until…

“Dada,” Sam whispered excitedly. “Take picture of butterfly!”

Crap.

“Sammy, I can’t. I didn’t bring my phone with me,” I said with fear rising in my throat. “But that’s OK, wanna know why? Because we have something better than a camera — our eyes. Let’s look at the butterfly and study it really hard, and we’ll take a mental snapshot so we’ll always have the butterfly in our memory.”

I even did that thing where you make a camera out of your hands, hold it up to your eye and snap a “mental picture.” And I immediately recoiled in horror and felt an unyielding desire to kick my own ass.

He knew it was bullshit. I knew it was bullshit. Sam flipped out and started crying, because — well, that’s what almost 3-year-olds do. The unphotographed butterfly must have also sensed the bullshit level rise to dangerous levels, and with his moment of zen interrupted by shrieking, flew off for parts unknown.

In a desperate attempt to stop Sam’s meltdown, Will had a phenomenal idea. He reminded Sam about our geocaching adventures, and started talking about finding hidden treasure. This idea pleased Sam greatly as his sobs subsided and excitement took over as both boys turned to me for the coordinates to our next find.

Coordinates I didn’t have, because I didn’t have my phone with me.

Taking an excessive amount of pictures of your children and adventures is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing. Committing things to memory and looking at the world absent a lens is overrated garbage, mainly because 1) taking pictures doesn’t always take you out of the moment, and 2) my memory sucks.

I’m a working dad. I’m up at 5:30 am, I work all day, I come home to parent, I do some more work, I go to bed. My mind is a ball of mush. It takes me at least two tries to get my kids’ names right, I poured my beer into a sippy cup last week, and the only things I truly remember are random ’90s song lyrics. So while it’s a noble thing to live in the moment and try to commit to memory the look on my sons’ faces when faced with the unparalleled wonder of a Monarch butterfly, I’d rather have my camera so I can have it forever and share it with the people I love who weren’t there.

Cell phone cameras are incredible and allow me to relive moments from years ago whenever I want. You’d be surprised how much I revisit them, especially now with Facebook’s “On This Day” feature that allows you to relive memories from years ago.

Excess can be a real problem in so many areas, but when it comes to pictures of the people and places I love most, there’s no such thing as too much. So have fun being “in the moment” and thinking you’re superior because you left your cell phone in the car. I’ll be busy happily recording memories and avoiding toddler meltdowns.

Just think, if I listened to the know-it-alls and didn’t have my phone with me, I’d miss moments like this.

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Why I’m an Unapologetic Manners Nazi

manners

“Manners are the basic building blocks of civil society.”
– Alexander McCall Smith

My kids are exceedingly polite and well-mannered. I don’t say that to boast or exaggerate, I say it as simple fact. It’s not luck of the draw or accidental, either. They got that way because my wife and I relentlessly hammer home manners and follow through on punishments should they forget their manners or act rudely in public.

Simply put, MJ and I are “Manner Nazis” when it comes to our kids. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m not sure how or why stressing good manners is controversial, but it is. Television star Mayim Bialik says she doesn’t force manners on her kids or correct them when they forget. Bloggers like this one feel forcing your kids to say “I’m sorry” is bad, because it’s not authentic. Even some of my fellow friends and dad bloggers have disagreed with me on this, saying it’s pointless to force kids to say “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry” at a young age because they’re too immature to know the meaning of those terms.

That last part is true, they are too young to completely understand the concept. But guess what? That doesn’t matter.

Getting kids into good habits, even when they don’t fully understand them yet, is a positive thing. Both Will and Sam learned how to sign please and thank you around their first birthdays. Did they know exactly what the term meant? Of course not. But they knew they had to say it first to get what they wanted, and they learned they had to sign “thank you” afterward to show appreciation. Now, at 22 months, Sam says please routinely when he needs something, and thank you (really it’s more like “Chinch Choo”) after he receives it.

Will, who is 7, also has impeccable manners because we’ve made it a priority.

When he enters a conversation, it’s always with an “excuse me.” If he’s done something wrong, he apologizes. When he was younger, it started with a simple “I’m sorry.” But as he got older and could comprehend more, we’d always have a conversation about what went wrong and we’d explore the reason he’s sorry. Now when he’s done something to offend, he not only apologizes but he tells you why he’s sorry and what he could have done differently.

Unfortunately, parents making it a priority to raise well-mannered kids are in the minority these days.

I know I’m going to sound like the old guy complaining about the damn kids on his lawn, but take a trip out to a store or restaurant and you’ll see what I mean. Kids standing on the seats and even the tables. Older kids throwing food and not picking it up. Children shouting their orders at the waiter instead of asking nicely, with no correction from mom or dad. And then, not surprisingly, I watch mom and dad treat the waitstaff with the same dismissive contempt. Go figure.

Meanwhile, if our kids do make a mess while out to eat, we make them pick it up. If it’s Sam, who is still very young, then either MJ or I gets down on the floor and collects all the food he dropped. One time, a nearby restaurant patron said “Why are you doing that? They’re paid to do it.” I responded with a very simple “Because I’m not a jerk.”

Instilling good manners and politeness in your kids has very little to do with being seen as a good parent, or having your kids reflect well upon you. It’s about much more than that.

Unfortunately, good manners are so rare they are now the exception. That means Will is routinely praised by everyone from his bus driver to random strangers in restaurants who are impressed with how he handles himself. If he keeps this up, that ability to impress will extend to his future teachers, bosses, clients, and even his romantic partners.

It’s learning how to behave and thrive in mixed company, and how to make everyone feel welcome. It’s learning to treat people with respect. It’s knowing if you’re seen as someone who respects others, everything you say will carry that much more weight and value. If he’s up against an equally qualified candidate during a job interview or going for a promotion, perhaps it’ll be his “soft skills” and how he conducts himself that gives him the extra edge.

My main job as a parent is to love and raise quality human beings who contribute something positive to society. As far as I’m concerned, that starts with teaching them good manners.

It starts by parents modeling good manners at home and out in public, and stressing them at every turn. Are my kids perfect? No. Do they occasionally forget their manners? Absolutely. Mistakes happen, and if they’re contrite then no harm no foul. But if they keep being punks after they’ve been warned, then there are consequences.

It sucks to punish your kids, but we do it because otherwise they don’t learn anything. So an “I want ice cream!” one time earns a warning, but a second offense immediately after that means he’s going home with no dessert. Otherwise, if we give in to demands instead of making polite requests the norm, I truly believe we’re contributing to an entitlement problem that already plagues too high a percentage of this generation of kids.

Some will dismiss this entire piece as just another crotchety, holier-than-thou parent humble-bragging about how his kids are flippin’ wonderful. And others will continue to tell MJ and me we’re too strict with the boys when it comes to manners, and we need to relax. At least that’s what I think they said. Truthfully, it was hard to hear them over their kids running around being brats.

But the bottom line is manners matter. It’s not only good for society as a whole, but it’ll benefit your children as they grow up as well. Raising polite human beings is important, and the world desperately needs more of them.

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If You’re Defending Josh Duggar, You’re the Problem

Josh Duggar repeatedly molested underage girls, including his sisters, while his parents sought to cover it up and avoid talking to the proper authorities. You’ve seen the news by now and you know how utterly revolting it is from every angle. I don’t need to cover the horrifying details here.

I read the news last night as I was going to bed. I thought finally, even the most ardent supporters of TLC’s clown show won’t be able to spin this, and perhaps common sense will prevail. The blanket condemnation and the collective horror at not just Josh’s action, but the duplicitous cover-up by his parents, will be the nudge all of the extreme fundamentalists require to come to their senses.

Turns out I was giving that particular group far too much credit.

Right, Samantha. Because the first thing a rational person thinks after finding out about a serial child molester who targeted sleeping children including his own sisters aided by his parents in a massive coverup to hide the facts until the statute of limitations had run out, should be “Boy, I really hope I can still watch all these people on TV every week.”

Oh you’re sorry, Republican Girl. You are very, very sorry. Mainly because your definition of “amazing people” includes child molesters and those who enable them.

duggar1

Catherine has taken the “blame the media” approach and given it an Alex Rodriguez level steroid injection. Instead of questioning why Josh Duggar is molesting young girls and, more importantly, why his parents wouldn’t alert the proper authorities, she points the finger at the DAMN MEDIA! After all, how dare reporters look under the surface for things and file FOIA requests to obtain information from official sources and then publish that information for people to read. Wait. What? That’s PRECISELY the job of media members everywhere? Oh. Well, nevermind then…

These two esteemed Twitter users were far from alone in making this point. As instructed by the Far Right Emergency Handbook, religious conservatives everywhere immediately started shouting about Lena Dunham (and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton too, just because) and pointing out the LIBERAL HYPOCRISY of getting upset about one and not the other.

Dunham, in case you hadn’t heard, described a moment in her childhood when she — at the age of 7 — looked in her 1-year-old sister’s vagina, found some pebbles, and then alerted her mother. Clearly this single incident is exactly the same thing as being a 14-year-old, repeatedly groping and fondling young girls while they’re sleeping, having your parents cover up that abuse over the course of years, all the while telling anyone within earshot gay people are dangerous pedophiles.

That’s not just apples and oranges, it’s apples and fire hydrants.

duggar2

Got that? It’s less about the criminal molestation and more about the actions afterward. And Josh Duggar apologized, so dude — move on already! Right? Hell, this thing has been in the news cycle a whole 20 hours and we’re STILL TALKING ABOUT IT! But it’s interesting Valerie thinks failing to alert the authorities and trying to pass off a summer remodeling homes as “therapy” is “lifting up the name of Jesus.” Jesus didn’t return an email seeking comment for this piece, but I have to believe he’s not too thrilled to be involved in this one.

duggar3

This is the craziest comment I’ve personally seen on this issue. And it’s also the most frightening, because it’s 100% pure, unadulterated praise. For Josh Duggar. An admitted child molester.

Kelly is right in that Josh Duggar didn’t “justify or defend.” Mainly because there’s just no way to justify or defend being a serial child abuser. And yes, he confessed. Bravo. It only took him 13 years, a hidden letter in a book that was sent to Oprah Winfrey’s show, and multiple FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests that revealed hard evidence in the form of police reports that couldn’t be denied.

But “humility and redemption?” Is it humble to publicly call gay and transgender people dangerous pedophiles when YOU are actually the dangerous pedophile? Sorry, but I fail to see how Josh Duggar is “redeemed” by being exposed as a dangerous and utterly hypocritical fondler of young girls, and part of a family that would DARE cast stones regarding homosexuality when they were housing and covering up for a pedophile in their own four walls.

When you think about it, several members of the Duggar family seem more like sociopaths than anything else.

All I can think about are those poor girls, the victims of Josh Duggar’s abuse. Did they get the help they need? Have they suffered additional trauma having to live with their abuser and see him every single day for all these years? Or were they afterthoughts in the mad scramble to protect poor Josh’s reputation?

Either way, if you’re someone publicly defending Josh Duggar or the Duggar family after this unspeakable atrocity, you are every bit as big of a problem as the perpetrators.

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Moms Should Be the Most Upset with Piers Morgan’s Paternity Leave Comments

paternity

You know who should be the most upset regarding Piers Morgan’s bafflingly backward comments about modern fathers not wanting paternity leave? Moms.

The British television host was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last week, when the issue of paid paternity leave came up. It was then Morgan decided to reach back into the 1950s to pull out this gem. “Most dads don’t want to do paid paternity leave. They pretend they do, but after two weeks of a tiny little baby…all they’re doing is eating, guzzling, and depositing, it isn’t the most exciting gig in town.”

Despite that being moronic enough to cause co-host Mika Brzezinski to literally roll her chair off the set in wide-eyed horror, Morgan didn’t apologize or reconsider his stance after the show. In fact, he doubled down with these tweets.

That last one is the real problem, because it assumes moms know everything about child-rearing from the get-go while dads are “invariably utterly useless” when it comes to babies. Or, to be blunt, taking care of babies is a woman’s job.

What Morgan apparently fails to realize is most first-time parents are equally clueless. There is no child-rearing DNA that is biologically inherent in women but not men. Yet Morgan’s comments set the stage for the unfair societal expectation we place on new moms to automatically know everything. Meanwhile fathers are seen as “Super Dads” just for changing a diaper, because the bar is set so low compared to moms.

By tapping out at the starting line and playing the “well dear, you’re so much better at it” card, Morgan places the burden of child-rearing on moms and minimizes the importance of shared parenting. Perhaps he’d be interested to know women account for 40% of all breadwinners in American homes, meaning many moms are no longer content to be saddled with all the household duties while the man returns to work.

But if dads accept Morgan’s tripe about being useless then they are let off the hook. No paternity leave, no early bonding with the child, a slower learning curve for how to take care of the baby, and a decreased role as a caregiver.

And then there’s the fact that what Morgan is saying just isn’t true.

The Boston College Center for Work and Family surveyed more than 1,000 fathers, and found 89% think it is important for companies to offer paid paternity leave. Also, more than 90% of fathers reported spending time caring for their new child and changing diapers during their time off, while more than 80% went food shopping, cleaned the house, and prepared meals.

“When men fail to be active co-parents in the first few months of the child’s life it sets up a pattern that is difficult to change,” according to the findings.

Which means maybe it’s just Piers Morgan who is useless to his wife in caring for a new baby, and not “most men.”

Speaking as a father of two (soon to be three) who took time off after both kids were born, I can personally attest to the fact that it is a vital and cherished time. My paternity leave allows my wife to rest and recover while I bond with my baby (and take care of my other kids). My company gives me two paid weeks of leave which, while I wish it were longer, I’m also fortunate to have.

Morgan is right about one thing – it’s not always exciting. Then again, it’s not supposed to be. It’s messy, hectic, life-changing, monotonous, difficult, wonderful, and sometimes it downright sucks. But guess what? Welcome to parenting, Piers. We don’t do it for the excitement, we do it because it has to be done. We do it because it’s so incredibly important. And we do it to let our wives know it’s not all on them.

Here’s to more paid paternity leave for more men who would be more apt to take it if not for antiquated, less evolved attitudes like Morgan’s.

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