Ask Your Dad Blog

Thursday, April 16, 2015

We Don’t Hit

This week Huffington Post ran an older post of mine about a fit that Duchess threw in the parking lot of her daycare. For the most part it was well received. The post was actually a year old when they ran it, and it was incredibly interesting to read the comments, most which fairly assumed the fit was recent. From my experience the first time I ran the post about the fit, I knew that some commenters would remark that I should have immediately spanked my daughter. What was new this time around was the extent to which they suggested it. Some even suggested that I should have spanked her so hard that she “couldn't walk for a week,” which I am fairly sure is illegal in every state.

A lot of folks told me that by not immediately hitting my daughter I was sending her down a bad path in life. One even said she would end up exactly like alt-rock singer, Courtney Love. Now leaving aside the fact that Love is a pretty talented and successful woman in spite of her struggles with addiction, I really don’t think that not hitting my child is going to set them on the path of becoming a drug-addicted musician. Now if I bought her an electric guitar and some heroin, that could be trouble.

But like I said. the post was a year old, and I was afforded the unique perspective of reading the comments while knowing this: my daughter hasn't hit her mom or I or anyone else (that I am aware of) since that incident. Sure, she had some struggles before that. I documented them well, which, if we are being honest, is much more likely to lead her down the path of female garage-rock-band lead singer than any ass-beatings I have failed to provide.

Here’s the thing. I've said this before and I will say it again. And again. And again… just like I do with my toddlers. We don’t hit.

Sure, we want to at times. And sure, it is probably effective. If I had taken my daughter and hit her hard enough to scare the daylights out of her the first time she slapped me or her mom, perhaps that would have immediately curbed that behavior and the daycare fit would have been prevented. But what folks don’t seem to understand, perhaps because I haven’t explained it well enough, is that curbing the behavior has always been a secondary or even tertiary goal to Stevie and I. Helping our children become emotionally healthy, teaching them to understand their emotions and be able to cope with them, those have always been our primary goals. We believe… we hope... that good behavior will come from teaching our kids empathy, not out of the fear of consequences for bad behavior.

It doesn’t always work right away, but seeing how my daughter behaves now and how she behaved then, makes me think that perhaps we are on the right track. Because now, when Captain whacks Duchess upside the head, you know what? She doesn't hit back. She looks at him and says. “We don’t hit, Captain.” Then he whacks her again and laughs. OK fine, It’s a slow process, but it is a process we believe in. It is what is right for our family.

Of course, as always, I could be totally wrong. We’re just winging this shit and pretending to know the answers. Maybe I’ll hold off buying her those toddler guitar lessons for now.

Thanks again for reading. I truly appreciate all of your feedback, even when you tell me I’m wrong. And if you spank your kids I don’t think you are horrible or that I am a better parent than you. We’re all finding our own way. Spanking is just not for us. Please come say hello on Facebook and Twitter!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Girls Who Sing

I play a lot of music in the car with my kids. Duchess and I sing as loud as we can and Captain joins in with random words here and there. It is quite cute, or it is ridiculous looking depending on your perspective. Regardless, we love music, which is why I was so surprised when Duchess pointed out an obvious blind spot in my music catalogue the other day.

"Dad, do you have any girls singing songs?"

"Sure! I have... uhm."

I started skipping through our current mix. Jack Johnson. Xavier Rudd. Third Eye Blind. Dave Mathews Band... hold on. How did Dave Mathews Band get on there? Nevermind. Ben Folds. Glen Hansard.

I kept hitting forward and not a single female artist came up. Honestly, I was embarrassed. I love plenty of female recording artists, but I guess when I am making a music mix I am inadvertently sexist. I needed to fix this ASAP. As soon as I got home I hopped over to the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page and asked my internet friends to make some suggestions.

Ok, quick question. While listening to music with Duchess the other day, she asked me "Dad, do you have any girl...
Posted by Ask Your Dad Blog on Wednesday, April 8, 2015

And holy moly! What a response it got. I got hundreds of comments with hundreds and hundreds of suggestions. I have enough amazing suggestions to make a thousand playlists for Duchess. In fact, my good buddy Jeff Bogle who writes Out With the Kids actually took the time to make me a playlist. Jeff reviews Kindie Music on his blog and even has a monthly podcast! You should really check out his page and please tell him I say hello!

Here is the playlist Jeff built for Duchess. It was really such a sweet thing for him to do. Give it a listen with your kids. All the songs are all kid-friendly and adult approved!

Who would you suggest we add? Leave your suggestion in the comments, or on the Facebook post above, or just yell it really really loud!

P.S. Since we're talking about female singers, I just have to share a video of my favorite female singer in the whole world. This is a little old, but it will never get old to me!

Duchess: Daddy, can we show them the snowman song now?
Posted by Ask Your Dad Blog on Tuesday, March 11, 2014

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Last Night Was Hard

Captain woke up at two in the morning. 

Stevie got out of bed, went and got him, calmed him, took him to the potty, waited with him, took him back to bed, comforted him, and then came back to bed. At three in the morning he woke up again. I got up, went and got him, calmed him, took him to the potty, waited with him, took him back to bed, comforted him, and then came back to bed. At three-forty-five Captain woke up again. You know the drill.

This went on until four-thirty this morning. We took turns. We loved our kid while we were in the room with him, and when we came back to bed we cursed his name. We were so frustrated. This shouldn't have been happening. He’s two-and-a-half. Two-point-five-year-olds should be sleeping through the night. We should be sleeping through the night. I wanted to throw my own temper-tantrum. I wanted to slam doors and scream. I wanted to yell at Stevie, not because this was her fault but because I just needed to yell. 

Instead, she pulled me close. 

“I’m frustrated too. This will pass,” she said.

“I know. I’m just tired.”

“Me too.”

We closed our eyes and immediately fell asleep. 

At 4:45 AM Captain woke up and started crying again, and I wanted to die. Yes, that is overly dramatic but everything is overly dramatic at 4:45 AM. I threw the blanket off me, jumped out of bed and stomped to his room. I’ve learned not to dramatically open his door, because he is generally behind it. Instead, I opened it slowly and my son’s tiny face peered through the crack. 

“Don’t look at me like that, tiny puffy face man. I am tired, I have to work in a few hours and this is your fault,” I thought.

Tiny puffy face man looked at me and did his little lip quiver thing that is usually cute, but not at 4:45 AM.

“Dammit! I used to sleep! I used to sleep all night. I used to sleep in. Your mom and I took naps. Everything was easier. Why won’t you sleep? What are we doing wrong? What are you doing wrong? WHY?” 

But he didn't have an answer. He was just a face at my knee in zip-up footy pajamas and a stuffed Winnie the Pooh tucked under his arm. We stared at each other and I tried to hear him

“I’m tired, too. I’m frustrated, too. And I don’t have words, or someone to pull me in close and tell me this will pass. All I have is you, and you look really angry right now.”

I was angry. I've been angry.

I picked him up and pulled him in close. He wrapped his tiny arms around me and we went over to his rocker. He immediately laid his head on my chest and I lost it. 

“My friend died. My friend died and he was a daddy like me. I’m sorry that I have been angry lately. Your dad is dealing with some stuff, and I don’t know what I am doing. I have no idea what I am doing, and I’m afraid you can see it. I’m afraid you aren't sleeping because you can sense that there is something wrong with me. I’m worried that you aren't sleeping because I’m not sleeping.” I rambled on for a few more minutes whispering fears and prayers, and then he was asleep. I stood up, carried him to his bed, gently laid him on his mattress, and tiptoed out of the room. 

When I crawled back into bed with Stevie, she pulled me close again.

“You ok?” She said. 

“Yeah. I’m just frustrated. And I’m tired.”

“Me too. This will pass.” She kissed me on the forehead a little longer than usual.

A couple minutes later Captain started crying again. 

“I’ve got him,” we said.


Hey gang! A few things. Posts have been sporadic lately. I know. I'm sorry. Like this post kind of touches on, I've been dealing with some stuff. I am fine. Really - just sad and trying to find happy things. Writing has just been difficult, but it is getting better. If you need more Ask Your Dad in your life, I'm still posting quick, funny stuff on the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page and on Twitter. Please come see me there. I promise to have more fun, frequent, happy, funny posts up here soon. Thanks for everything!

- John

Friday, March 20, 2015

Our Candy-Free Easter

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DisneyEaster #CollectiveBias

I think everyone naturally wants their kids to take after them. In looks, personality, kindness to humanity, that funny way you kind of half-snort when you laugh. It’s the narcissist in all of us. But there are those little things that you secretly hope your kids don’t catch on to. For me, it’s sugar.

Admittedly, I’m the sugar fiend of the house. I may or may not have secretly purchased a separate order of Girl Scout cookies that stay hidden at all times. I have a problem. But it’s not one I want my kids to get. It’s a problem and it’s one I try to keep well hidden.

We’ve tried to steer clear of too much sugar for Duchess and Captain. Obviously, that doesn’t work all the time. But we did successfully convince Duchess that Chocolate Milk was only allowed in Grandma’s house (it’s illegal everywhere else). Captain thinks that the serving size of Skittles is a single Skittle. Needless to say, we eventually end up throwing away ¾ of our Halloween candy.

While most of the time it’s easy enough to just not bring sugar into the house, holidays can be hard. They all seem to be so centered on how many different shapes we can form marshmallows and Reese’s into (there’s only one shape for that, btw. And that’s round. Every other shape is wrong. There’s a chocolate to peanut butter ratio issue. But that’s for another day).

With Easter coming up, I ventured to Walmart to see what kinds of non-candy items we could find to fill the kids’ baskets with this year. I skipped past the pre-packed Easter baskets and went straight for the Disney buckets. It wasn’t hard to find plenty of things to fill them up with! We got an assortment of Avengers and Disney Princess toys, along with a few other non-candy goodies like some seeds for the Duchess’s garden and a water color kit for Captain.

So what do you have planned for your Easter basket this year? If you’re also looking to avoid the sugar, here’s a list of 20 non-candy “treats” to help you along. Add more to our list in the comments!

1. Playdough
2. Hot Wheels
3. Bubble Bath
4. Party store grab bag items
5. Chapstick
6. Temporary tattoos
7. Crayons
8. Nail Polish
9. Sidewalk Chalk
10. Stickers
11. Watercolor Set
12. Kite
13. Seeds (to plant a garden)
14. Finger Puppets
15. Card games
16. Bubbles
17. Frisbee
18. Sunglasses
19. Books
20. Movie Tickets
21.   Water bottles
22.   Flash Cards

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dude, Where’s My Changing Station? I Feel Your Pain, Ashton Kutcher.

According to his Facebook Page, ‘That 70’s Show’ star Ashton Kutcher recently experienced one of the more unfortunate rites of passage into fatherhood: frantically looking for a place to lay your kid down and wipe their ass.

Any time your kid needs a diaper changed, it can be an intense situation. On rare, explosive occasions it is an emergency. In these more urgent moments, it is not uncommon to see a parent holding their kid out in front of them at arms-length, as if they are radioactive, or as if shit has breached the protective barriers of the diapers and is invading the multitude of spaces that shit should not invade.

It is this scenario that I choose to picture Kelso in as he runs into the bathroom of some unnamed LA restaurant only to find a cold marble countertop, soap dispensers, and a couple lonely urinals. I know how you feel, Ashton. I have been there too. It is infuriating.

Continue reading on Lifetime Moms...