"Their Kid" A Post About Step-Parenting By Juggling Eric

In my absence this week, I am thankful to have a couple top-notch dad bloggers filling in for me. Taking over today's duties is Eric of Juggling Eric who I share a big commonality with, well other than we're from Texas. Eric is a stepfather, which is the topic of his excellent guest post.

Their Kid

My parents were divorced when I was five years old. Both my parents remarried, and while I was never close to my step-dads, I was particularly close to my step-mom. My dad was 28 and she was 19 when they got married. So at 19, she was a mother of an seven and four year old. Now a days, that may seem the norm in most public high schools, but I'm sure it was a big change for her. I called her "mom" and would prefer her company to my father's. She was my second mother and I treated her as such.

Fast forward to the year 2002 (20 years later) and my dad and step-mom are getting a divorce, yet I still called her "mom". A year later at my niece's first birthday party (during their time together, they had four children together), she was referring to me as the kid's "half brother" when she introduced me to her boyfriend's family.

What the hell? I was calling this woman "mom" and now she's referencing me as someone who is only "half" related to "her" kids now?

It was obvious at this point, I was back to being "Dan's Kid". The birthdays, the vacations, the secrets shared were all dismissed because there was no marriage certificate any longer to give her that responsibility.

Needless to say, I felt betrayed. Just because I didn't share her blood, I should still have been considered as one of her kids after 18 years right? After all this time, I was always considered a "step-kid". Someone who was easily disposed of because she wasn't married to my dad any longer.

That same month, I met Michael.

"Kristie's Kid".

As my relationship with Kristie grew, as did my relationship with her six year old son. We were best buddies. I took him camping, we went to ball games and wrestling events. I would get pissed when I would hear stories about what his dad wasn't doing to be a contributing father. We would talk about his mom and I getting married, and I told him he was going to be up there with us because he was involved in this relationship as well.

Even when times were rocky between his mom and I, I still called and talked to him. I still took him places and was still a part of his life and he was a major part of mine. Even when it wasn't looking like his mom and I were going to be together, he asked about the whole wedding thing. I told him no matter who I married, I would want him up there with me as one of my best men.

Well things got better with Kristie, and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. Before I asked her parents, I asked Michael if I could marry his mom. He was excited as I was when he gave his approval. He wasn't baggage that came with this girl. He was part of this girl's life. As important as it was to Kristie that she find someone that can support her and her son, it meant just the same when it came to Michael's concerns regarding his mother's well being.

Since I started blogging about my life as a husband and father last year, I never prefaced a story about Michael as "my step-son Michael." I've always considered him my son from before getting married. I've explained that he is my step-son if I felt my audience would be confused.

I've come across some dads who blog and consider other men's children as their own (Ron, Justin and Doug to name a few). I've also come across stories of parents who differentiate between their kids and their spouse's by calling them their "step-kids".

To me this puts more pressure on an already tense situation. Actively considering a child as a "step" instead of your own, regardless if you didn't hold them when they were born, prevents bonding. Sure you're likely have rebellion and comparison to their absent mother or father. Sometimes they'll disagree with you on everything just because they want to "test" you. But you need to stick to your guns and still consider them your own. Don't get the "ship them off to military school" at the first sign of disrespect attitude. This can happen to children regardless who parented them.

Last month a woman was in the news because she put her adopted son on a plane back to Russia stamped "return to sender". What gives her the right to make that choice for the child? That tells me she was never ready to be a mother in the first place regardless of the boy's medical issues. My daughter was born with an immune deficiency, that required specialists and diagnostic tests dozens of times in her first 18 months of life. That doesn't give me the right to send my daughter back to where she came from. One it would make my wife very sore and two they are now my responsibility to give the best care I can give her.

The same goes for my son that was born before I met him. Just because my blood doesn't flow through his veins, doesn't make me any less responsible for him. The fact that I have a responsibility to his mother means he deserves the same consideration and any child born since we've been married.

If you're a step-parent or going to be a step-parent, take note that any child that already exists isn't just part of the package. Whether they have custody or you see them every other weekend, be their parent. They may not call you "Dad" or "Mom", but that doesn't make you any less of one. Hug them, call them, talk to them, love them the same way you would if they were your own. Let them know it doesn't make a difference they came from someone else.

Looking back on my childhood, I realized that I did not have that assurance I was actually part of my step-mom's family. I was just part of the package my dad brought in. Michael has the assurance that if anything tragic were to happen to his mother, and even though I have no legal claim to him at that point, I would fight his father tooth and nail for him. I would not stop until my heart no longer beats and my blood no longer flows. With my only regret being that my blood does not flow with his.

You can also find Eric on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @ericdbolton.


A Dad's Resume As Read By His Son

I wrote this post a few years back, but the sentiment behind hold no less weight today than it did when I first published it.

As I sat at my desk thinking about my father, I remembered his resume that mom sent me to fix up. I had read through it a few times before thinking of ways to rearrange the formatting and beef up the content, noting how modest my father was in conveying his occupational expertise. When I tried to talk to him before about updating the details he became elusive and a little annoyed.

Normally, that behavior would be frustrating but I understood what he was thinking since downplaying accomplishments and talents is a hallmark of his. As such, the resume sat dormant, relegated to a few gigabyte of information in a hard drive somewhere, until I thought about it as part of my Father's Day reflections. Looking at it as a son, I realized how much I've learned about being a man through the few short lines outlining my father's professional life.


HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA 1967 Randolph-East Mead High School

A good education was something always recognized by both my parents who both attended college, but were unable to finish. What I really learned from my dad in this short snippet of information, however, was about sacrifice. Even though we lived by modest means, my sisters and I never went without. We always had what we needed to include a private education that my father worked hard and sacrificed his time to earn for us. Today I see so many fathers who won't sacrifice even an afternoon of their own time for their kids and yet I had a dad who gave up time, money and opportunities year after year so his children could have the best he could offer.


Journeyman electrician with experience working alone and supervising other workers as a general laborer, material handler, and conduit installer, as well as operating forklifts, manlifts and bucket trucks. Over 600 hours of classroom instruction, now a teacher in the electrical program.

My dad is hands down the hardest working guy I know. He's approaching retirement age and yet I still hear stories of how he runs circles around younger guys in a profession that is physically demanding. A lot of guys his age are content to waste as much of their time as they can drinking coffee and BS'ing with co-workers about the ills of society, like why they can't get disability to help them pay for another dozen donuts. While these guys are running at the mouth, my dad is doing his job and theirs, and doing it quicker and more accurately than they. Because of this work-ethic, he's been offered chances for more responsibility, but he keeps turning them down - not because he's afraid of it, but because my dad prefers to get a job done right and have something to show for it rather than get bogged down in the politics surrounding it.

Co-owner of family business, a lawn, garden and agricultural supply store. Duties ranged from warehouse/grinder man to President of Corporation. Company grew from one location with annual sales of $360,000 to six locations with annual sales reaching $3,500,000.

From almost the time I was born until just after I left home, my Dad worked in a family owned and operated agri-business. He and his brothers started it after their dad - my grandfather - got laid off from a factory job and needed a place to work. My Dad was the youngest of the five brothers, and yet he took charge when the time called for it. It had to be uncomfortable, and there always was an easy way out, but my Dad stuck it out. He was loyal to his family and to his employees.

One of the hardest jobs I ever had was working for my father in the business. I say it was hard because Dad wasn't about to let me be "the boss's kid." I used to hate it, but I later realized what he was teaching me. Not only that, I learned what it meant to set a positive example. Dad was a favorite of all those he worked with. He was personable, sincere and fair. I don't know how many times I watched him unload an entire truck load of fertilizer, or corn, or dog food in the middle of the summer. While others sat in an air-conditioned office, Dad would be sweating in the back of a rig, even when he was president of the corporation.

United States Army Laos & Cambodia: Completed two tours during the Vietnam War, led classified operations as a team leader and was honorably discharged. Awarded the BRONZE STAR for meritorious achievement in ground operations against hostile forces.

These few sentences don't convey the half of it. Even today, with the books and movies coming out, Dad remains low-key on his service as a Green Beret in the Army. Dad never had to say much for me to realize how important that funny hat perched at the top of the bookcase was and how much it symbolized. As I got older and fished out more and more stories from him, I new what I wanted to be when I grew up.

There were times when no one was around that I would take his beret and practice snappy salutes in front of the mirror. When you're a kid, what you see is the adventure and danger, but what I came to realize after I became a soldier myself is the cliche behind that kind of reasoning. What my dad (and many like him) had was a desire to be a part of something bigger than himself, and yet to express that sentiment openly would in some ways blunt the sincerity behind it. To talk of being noble is only talk. The true definition of it only comes through action without an expectation for recognition.

This showed to me how I am to act in every situation. As I've talked with my Dad about some tough circumstances in my own life, he has remarked that he wouldn't even know how to deal with what I was going through. However, the truth of the matter is, I wouldn't know how to deal with it either had I not had the example my father set for me in how to act honorably, even when you make mistakes.

4 Children (1 Son, 3 Girls), all happily married 10 Grandchildren (4 Grandsons, 4 Granddaughters, 2 Step-Granddaughters)

I know these aren't the typical distinctions for a resume, but they are the right criteria for the man I'm writing about. I've heard my dad lament more than once over the belief he didn't do enough, but the fact of the matter is he (along with mom) did all he was capable of doing, which is a great deal compared to an average guy. What he's done has paid off with a happy set of kids, and grandkids, as well as one swell wife. My father, like all dads, had his moments of imperfection, but but no one will ever say he didn't work his hardest or put his needs ahead of his family's.

Cards have their place this time of year. In a card I get to express to Dad my appreciation and love for him and then it goes into a shoe box where it will spend the future with many year's worth of other cards from me. With a blog, however, I get to share who my dad is with the world, and, at the same time, I also have the chance to express my appreciation and love for the man greatly responsible for making me who I am today. Thanks Dad. I love you.


The Father's Day Conspiracy

To me Father’s Day isn’t so much a day of appreciation for our fatherly efforts as much as it is a symbolic reminder of what a revolutionary figure I and millions of other stay-at-home dads (SAHD) are in bucking the standards for this holiday. And just what standards am I referring to? The standards set by the greeting card industry, specifically Hallmark.

It’s a well known fact according to the Internet that, along with three other major corporations, Hallmark secretly controls the world. While Apple, Google and Walmart regulate technology, information, and foreign trade respectively, Hallmark dictates how people see holidays and special occasions. Conspiracy enthusiasts refer to these companies as “The Quadrilateral Alliance”—a union so powerful it even pulls the Masons’ strings.

Read more.

Brought to you by the fine community at Dad-Blogs and their Fatherhood Friday Series.


A Tsunami for Fathers Day

As a tribute to Fathers Day, Stephanie, the wonderful mind behind The Tsunami Mommy (@theTsunamiMommy), is running a month-long series of guest post written by dad bloggers such as veteran blogger Jack of Random Thoughts, Vincent Marra (The Dad Jam), writer Aaron Guveia of The Daddy Files, John Dadlez from The Mommy Daddy, and Chris Singer the superstar SAHD of Tessa's Dad (check them out). I am privileged to be included as part of this group of great guys. Many thanks to Stephanie for sharing us with her community of readers. I hope you enjoy this post about what celebrity fathers want vs. what they actually received as gifts for Fathers Day.

* * *

I really can’t believe that it’s June already. It seems crazy that twelve months have gone by since we celebrated the month’s biggest holiday—Flag Day. Now you might be wondering why I, as a dad with five kids, would consider Flag Day a bigger holiday than Father’s Day. Well for one, flags are just plain cool; this alone serves as argument enough. Even so, there is one more reason which I hesitate to bring up because it might come across as unappreciative. But, since your interest may have already been piqued, I will share it despite the risk of garnering your scorn.

You see, unlike Flag Day which involves little in the way of expectations from others, Father’s Day can result in the dashed hopes of dads who were anticipating one thing as a gift but then received something entirely different. It happens more than you realize; you just don’t notice it because some men are masters at putting on a sincere looking face in masking their disappointment over a new pair of pink Argyle socks or a hardback copy of Great Bathroom Reading for Men: Volume Seven (which, by the way, has a decent forward by Isaac Asimov).

Read the rest of this post (and the others) HERE


MomLogic Announces the Real Model of Fatherhood: Dad-Zero

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA—In a statement released yesterday, parenting website MomLogic announced that their team of scientists had created the world's first fully cloned father using DNA from Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, Al Bundy, Peter Griffin and that bald, pot-bellied guy on the cul-de-sac who wears deck shoes and dark socks when mowing the lawn. “We’re calling him Dad-Zero,” said MomLogic spokeswoman Katy Geiger. “Our staff found it too difficult to write about the new generation of fathers, so we pieced together a singular image the majority of our readership and advertisers could relate to,” Geiger went on to say that Dad-Zero would be a tremendous help in streamlining content and in cutting costs associated with the time needed to obtain what she referred to as “facts.”

However, yesterday’s news did not go without reactions from both advocates and opponents of Dad-Zero. Mindy Bateman who’s the president of Dad Bash, a New York City, PR firm dedicated to upholding the current image of how fathers are portrayed in the mainstream media, firmly supported it. “My grandfather was a drunk; my father was never around; and my husband can’t be left alone with our kids. Dad-Zero accurately depicts today’s men in their role as a parent.” Bateman added that she would be recommending Dad-Zero to all her clients which include Lifetime TV, Cosmopolitan magazine, and Babble.com.

Others, like People for the Ethical Treatment of Men (or PET-M) West Coast Coordinator Walter Goldman, disagree. “MomLogic is hell-bent on believing what they want to believe about fathers. It’s ludicrous!” Goldman also contended that MomLogic’s intent to streamline content with Dad-Zero was actually just a way to cut corners and mask it with some cheap laughs. He cited Sean Bean as Executive Editor at Baby Talk as a perfect example of a parenting publication in touch with today’s family.

When asked about this in a follow up interview, MomLogic’s Geiger dismissed the notion of being out of touch as simply not true. “We are continually looking to our readers—both moms and dads—for feedback,” she said, pointing to a May 2010, MomLogic survey asking participants to select what they thought dads ‘REALLY” wanted for Father’s Day. Choices included: “World’s Greatest” memorabilia, a bottle of booze, sex with mom, and a BJ. Geiger finished by calling into question PET-M’s own credibility in voicing their position.

Indeed, PET-M’s tactics have been deemed as radical, and their vehement opposition to the Dad-Zero project since its inception three years ago has gained them national attention. PET-M held a number of peaceful rallies outside MomLogic’s Burbank, California headquarters. In 2008 the protests turned violent, however, after one PET-M member tossed a bucket of fake dad’s blood on MomLogic’s Managing Editor, Gillian Sheldon as she walked out of the building. Five months later PET-M hailed five injured Greenpeace activists as heroes for their actions in ramming a MomLogic boat that was hunting Sperm Whales off the coast of Newfoundland. Stillmen downplayed these as minor compared to the bigger picture.

MomLogic, who is a part of the Warner Brothers Women’s Digital Network, has not been immune to its share of controversy too, most recently when someone uploaded footage on YouTube from a MomLogic company outing. In the video, employees can be seen beating a man-shaped piƱata until it falls on the ground; after which, an unidentified women sets the remnants on fire to the crowd’s chants of, “Who’s your daddy now!” Geiger would not comment on the video except to say the situation was still being reviewed.

Critics place the blame on Sheldon and her prior experience as the Supervising Producer for the celebrity gossip site TMZ.com, a media outlet known for poor taste and unsavory methods its news coverage. Lending to their contention is Sheldon’s official MomLogic profile which boasts that, “[h]er experience covering celebrity meltdowns translates well into the world of diapers, tantrums and teen sexting.” (Shortly after this post was published MomLogic removed Sheldon's profile from their staff page. She's now an independent creative consultant.)

Arguably, a TMZ-like vibe can be felt in much of MomLogic’s Fathers Day-related material. One posting, for example, offered gift suggestions for Deadbeat Dads, and while the despicableness of such men goes without doubt, the piece comes at a time when many previously paying fathers are now unable to meet their obligations due to job loss and the court’s reluctance to grant adjustments.

“If Dad-Zero were divorced he’d be a deadbeat for sure,” Geiger said with a chuckle. “Come on, people it’s meant to be funny.” Based on the reader comments, however, many failed to find humor in this and similar content like “10 Reasons Father Doesn’t Always Know Best,” where a wife uses derogatory examples of her husband’s parenting foibles in what appears to be a recognizable variation of Dad-Zero. But to MomLogic the punch line never gets old as they’ve run this same post every June for the past three years. (Several hours after this post went live, MomLogic ran a positive post on stay-at-home dads.)

Experts like Gregory Steinem, a professor at Northwestern University’s School of Communications, recognize these tactics as more than simple comedy, but rather a fundamental part of a MomLogic’s marketing strategy. “It’s a classic case of stirring up sh#t,” according to Professor Steinem who authored a book on the topic entitled, Stirring Up Sh#t: How Parenting Websites Seek Negative Attention for Fame and Profit.

“Basically, sites like this will say whatever's necessary to create controversy in order to bolster their traffic which they then use to show potential sponsors and advertisers to gain ad revenue.” Professor Steinem went on to mention that even publishing this article plays into their game, but then added it was a catch-22. “How are you going to show people an ugly dog if you can’t point the bitch out?”

When asked about this, MomLogic’s spokeswoman said she was not in a position to discuss the company’s business practices. Geiger was equally reticent in addressing questions about the initial prototype for Dad-Zero, but she did confirm that this early version known as F.I.L.T.H., or Father I’d Like To Hump, was based on the same criteria MomLogic used in naming David Beckham Father of the Year in 2008.

“That was a valuable trial-and-error period for us, and it proved there was no such thing as a perfect father, not one with a body like that anyway,” she said smiling. “F.I.L.T.H .was scrapped, and we shifted our focus to a more realistic goal using authentic features like emitting nasty odors and sitting on the couch all day.” Geiger was quick to dismiss rumors that the F.I.L.T.H. project was shut down because it tended to sleep other women and toss kittens into moving traffic.

Even so, MomLogic feels confident Dad-Zero will be a hit to the extent they have already drafted plans for two future models: Dad-Zero MF-R and Dad-Zero SOB. “The obective is to roll them out in conjunction with June 2011 reposting of “Father Doesn’t Know Best,” said Geiger.

For now, however, it’s too early to gauge the success of Dad-Zero. In the end what this will be predicated on is a fundamental question: Will our society accept Dad-Zero as an accurate representation of today’s father, or will MomLogic’s logic make the parenting site the butt of its own jokes?

Father and The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart seems to think the later based on his commentary from last night’s episode when he asked what MomLogic and British Petroleum had in common. “They’re both spewing toxic crap all over the place and need to cap it off.”

Clark Kent is a journalist for Metropolis's The Daily Planet.

NOTE 1: This post is meant to be satirical; however, the majority of the embedded links are tied to factual information.

NOTE 2: After this post went live, MomLogic's Julie Taylor quickly wrote a positive piece on SAHDs and removed Gillian Sheldon's profile from their staff page.


Man Of The House: "Ms. Pack Man"

I've made mention several times of a new men's magazine call Man of the House.com that I and several other writers including DadCentric's Jason Avant have been contributing to. Now that it's up and in the full swing of things I thought it time to share a few of the articles from there starting with one about my disdain for packing the girls' lunches for school. Enjoy (And please share the info about Man of the House.com with others. Thanks.)

Ms. Pack Man

Among the litany of tasks endemic to my role of stay-at-home dad, packing my stepdaughters’ lunches ranks above all others in terms of loathsomeness. Scrubbing dishes, washing clothes and shopping for groceries aren’t exactly bonbons and video games, but none of them incur unsolicited feedback either. The girls could care less about clean flatware or double coupon savings, but should I send them off to school with an intact apple rather than a sliced and peeled one, it’s a sure bet I’ll hear about it at the bus stop that afternoon.

“You did it again,” they both will say in a flat greeting.

Of course being the adult, I am quick to reset their expectations, but even so, this still fails to prevent them from leaving me less than subtle reminders whenever opportunities present themselves. A few weeks ago my (jobless) six year-old, Avery, sauntered into the kitchen, noticed I was slapping together turkey sandwiches and admonished me for royally screwing up her order the previous day. “And don’t forget the mustard this time—both sides.”

Read the rest of my misadventure at Man of the House.com


Running With The Big Dogs At DadCentric

Well, we survived the move... mostly (I keep finding these mystery boxes full of more crap I didn't know we even had). More on that later, but for now, I'm thrilled to be guest posting today over at DadCentric. If you've never heard of this bunch, then let me tell you, they are one of the preeminent blogs among not just the dads but the mom bloggers too.

DadCentric is lead by writer Jason Avant (@PetCobra) who also serves on the advisory board for the Modern Media Man Summit, and who I'm glad to be joining as a contributor to a new and very promising magazine, Man Of The House.com.

The members of the DadCentric team are an equally talented bunch comprised of Croutonboy! (Cheeky's Hideaway), Greg (Hopeless Cases), fellow Texan The Holmes, the gifted Two Busy, Warren of Mr Big Dubya Whit, the conductor of the Honea Express and last but not least, Kevin of Always Home And Uncool (who is anything but).

I hope you enjoy my contribution to DadCentric's month-long series 30 Days of Dads (which you should totally be keeping up with - they had Brad Meltzer guesting - Brad freakin' Meltzer!)

Oh, and the title of my post about famous fathers is, "If They Only Had A Daddy Blog."

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