I Have A Guy Toy... Or I Wish I Did Anyway

This is in no way an endorsement of Dodge, nor did Dodge ask me to post this (although, I'd likely compromise most of my stated blogging standards if it meant working with them and driving this bad boy around. Pssst! I like the R/T... in black.) Some of you know that I had a pimped out, loaded Charger that I planned to trade in as soon as the Challenger hit the market, but for some odd reason, I went with a minivan at the last minute. Yeah, weird. Call it an impulse buy.


I did a little work with Chevy a while back, and they almost had me convinced that the Camaro was the way to go. Well, despite how much I like the Chevy bunch and their great social media strategy, I can't let go of my Challenger dream. I'm not much into "guy toys," but this car--this beautiful, magnificent, machine is the exception, plus the commercial appeals to my patriotic nature. Good job on the marketing Dodge. 




PS. I'm still going to address my last post (thank you all again), but I had to put something up so people wouldn't land here and think I'm a complete pompous jerk.

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I Don't Need Swag. I Don't Need Brag. And I Don't Need This.

"To the person who's been trashing me behind my back I'd like to say Fuck You for not having the sack to contact me back. Way to be a man."
I was about to publish that tweet yesterday at 4:37 PM Central Standard Time. But I refrained. Anyone who knows me or who graciously follows my drivel, also knows that it's rare for me to be this openly confrontational; so whatever it is that's provoked my anger, it must be serious. It is. So what stopped me?
I wish that I could say it was myself, that I opted to take the high road by my own volition. But no. Instead I was distracted by a Twitter conversation with a long-time blogger friend, and then an even bigger email conversation with several other bloggers right after that. What we talked about ended up being directly related to what was pissing me off.

     Since early August, I've been feeling some animosity being directed my way. At first I blew it off as paranoia; however, the negativity continued to grow to a point beyond suspicion. So I did what I thought best by going right to the source. I emailed and DM'd the person. I retweeted their posts, and tried "friending" them on networks all with the hopes of making contact and clearing up the misunderstanding. To date, no response.

     That's fine. I can't get upset if that's someone's choice. It's a different story, though, when I find out the person has been trashing me behind my back and worse, blocking opportunities that I've been working the past 18 months to obtain. These people exist. That's life. Still, the sting from the damage done to me personally isn't soothed any by the simple truths of what we can and can't control. 

    I guess the real frustration for me is the major roadblock it's thrown up. Understand that over the past six months, I've been growing increasingly interested in the power of social media and it's ability to instigate change on such mass levels. To be more specific, I'm looking at it through the lens of it's potential in reshaping the stereotypical perception of fathers. A lot of people are. They're enthusiastic and with good cause. 

     There are TONS of books, blogs, and more dealing with the influence of social media, but the concept really hit me after reading David Meerman Scott's book The New Rules of Marketing and PR when he told of how bloggers essentially brought down journalistic icon, Dan Rather, and how bloggers carry more credibility than what's written in the Wall Street Journal. The idea of this, for lack of a better word, sounded empowering.

     With that in mind, I've been dedicating a lot of my energy toward another project, while working to learn from and meet some of the experts in this niche. One of my other main goals is to obtain a position with a brand, agency or firm where I can help foster relationships between companies who are sincere and dads who represent fatherhood today. Finally, I know what I want to be when I grow up.

     Unfortunately, however, the current road to this has been blocked by someone--ironically, a "dad blogger"--who has something against me. That or he's just really arrogant. Either way, it's pissing me off.

     During the aforementioned conversations that held me back from sending that Tweet, my friends and I discussed these circumstances and some interesting questions were brought up: Since dad bloggers are the new shiny toy, are some of them jockeying for a spot near what they perceive to be the top? Furthermore, are some of the dad bloggers who've made names for themselves prior to the whole "Year of the Daddy Blogger" craze, now feeling threatened by the mass infusion of new dad-filled URL's?

     Had you asked me this a year ago, I would've said no way. Now, I'm not so sure. Think about it for a moment. Transmitting our thoughts world-wide from behind a keyboard and screen affords us the opportunity to be whoever we tell people we are. Many of us dads interact with one another all day via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc, and if asked, we'd all generally agree that each of the others are a great bunch. But I wonder sometimes if we'd feel the same working at the same company in the same location. 

     Bob in accounting might be the greatly respected MegaSuperWow Dad to us online, but if we shared a cubicle with him, what would we think of him as a dad watching him stumble half drunk into work each morning and then listening to him flirt with Britney the blonde young secretary so fond of short plaid skirts? Sometimes I think we dads are deemed good fathers simply by virtue of having a blog, much in the same way people trust Catholic priests based on the sanctity of their heavenly vocation. 

     The sad fact, however, is that this is a false premise. I for one am a lousy, fucking father at times. Just in the past few weeks, as my stress level has shot through the roof, I've been unjustifiably short with my stepdaughters and hardly even spoken to my boys, yet go through all of my past blog posts and tell me where that shows. I doesn't. My point being that if we are naive enough to think dads out there aren't bad mouthing one another to make themselves look better or because they feel threatened then we're denying our human fallibility. 

     Don't get me wrong; I'm not talking about us expressing differing opinions on a topic, like say, daddy blogging itself RE: the big discussion a few weeks ago. Why we blog isn't my issue here; who the real person behind the blog is. And you know what, there are guys out their acting desperate and insecure.
     A while back, someone sent me a published list of the Top X Daddy Bloggers. Yeah, I was on the list, and flattered to be among a lot of great, great dads who I know personally. But it was just a list--not even a ranking. A simple list of favorites made by someone sharing which dads he enjoyed reading. The thing that stuck out, though, and I wasn't the first to notice this, was that the majority of the ensuing comments went something to the effect of, "Hey, next time you should have my dad blog on there." You'd have thought by the tone of the comments some of these guys were trying to get added to the final boarding manifest to Heaven right before Armageddon. 

     We dads might not fight over a bunch of freebies at a blogging conference but we'll beat the shit out of one another to get on an arbitrary list. We don't want swag; we want brag. I actually felt bad for the community-minded guy gracious enough to put the thing together, because I wondered how many dads unfollowed him after they didn't get onto (dramatic music please)..."The List." We're competitive. I get that. I've been left off of more lists than on, and yeah, it was a disappointing. But I'm not going to scream, "Hey, you forgot me!" Nothing is given, everything is earned, and how it's earned is a matter of character. 

     So where am I going with all of this? Is this some self-serving diatribe meant to make me feel better while at the same time giving me license to say whatever I think in the most brutal way possible? I'm not going to answer that. People will think what they want, which is obviously what sparked this rant. But if you're offended then maybe there's a reason.

     I will say, though, that my intentions have always been true, and my interaction with others in the dad community has always been sincere. Possessing no real control over the situation, the most anyone can ever do is hope that who they are as a whole person overshadows what, in this case, amounts to silliness. 

     In the meantime, I've got some decisions of my own to think about, one of them being if it's even best for me and my family to keep "daddy blogging" at all. That's not some dramatic daddy diva ploy. Of late, I've had to ask myself why am I even doing this? I don't need swag. I don't need brag. I don't need to subjugate myself to the pettiness of others, and I don't need to be on lists as a measure of my identity. What I need is to take care of my family, and having a fellow dad blogger impeding this isn't helping; so maybe I just need to move on. 

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Stefan Lanfer Asks, "Super Dad or Super Spin?"

I first met Stefan Lanfer last spring via the DadBlogs network, and was instantly humbled by not just his writing but also by his commitment to the Boston community. In addition to his blog, Dad Today, Stefan is a playwright and an author. I had the opportunity to read Stefan's book, The Faith of a Child, and I highly recommend it to both new and veteran fathers alike. Each of the poetic, free-verse-like passages had a calming effect, causing me to reflect on my own experiences as a young dad. Stefan is a sensitive, caring father, and it readily shows in his work. His guest post today is indicative of that.



Super Dad or Super Spin?

One of the things I have wondered about dad-blogging is how to ever possibly create a balanced, fair, “true”-from-all-sides picture of these years in our young and growing family. I am starting to think that maybe it just can’t be done. Not to suggest I am wantonly distorting or A Million Little Pieces-a-sizing my posts for extra pizazz or ZING!, but there is something unshakably limiting and distorting about the fact that, for all of these blog posts written and edited and published for the world to see, I am our family’s one and only narrator.

My kids, four and two, are still too young to really remember (aren’t they?) much from these years. At least for myself, I know that when I try to scrape the recesses of memory, there are a few hazy images from somewhere around age five - like the woods behind our house on Gregory Road (and especially that little gully we called “DEATH VALLEY!”) From age four-ish, memories get fuzzier and even less reliable. The only one I’ll stand by for sure is of being at the Cos Cob train station with my mom and baby brother, Peter, looking for my dad’s feet under the commuter rail when it arrived from Grand Central Station. Beyond that it is hard to say with much certainty which are actual memories, and which are just memories of the iconic childhood photos, or of the stories told, and retold, and RETOLD as I grew (like the one about three or four-year-old me, when urged to eat my vegetables, reliably protesting that, “I ate a pea in Longview” - Man, if I hear that story again, somebody shoot me.)...those stories, cemented into the mythology of who I was and what I was like when I was young.

Newly four, my son is just now BARELY edging into being old enough that his memories may actually start to stick. His sister isn’t too far behind. Soon enough, they’ll do amble remembering for themselves - even without an assist from the hundreds and hundreds of digital images, and videos, and blog postings, and tweets that are piling up in the wake of their youth. But when they do go back further, beyond memory’s reach, if they ever do go back, to dadtoday.com, or to the book that followed (The Faith of a Child) about our earliest years, they will find their dad looming LARGE, and their mom, well, mostly just there. And let’s be clear, this is NOT the way it really is around here. I’m not nearly as selfless, or savvy, or attentive, or cool as a cucumber as I may come across either.

In some ways, this skewed perspective is wired right in to how I am going about all this. It’s one of the first and maybe most important filters I use when thinking about what to share, and what not to. I put a lot out there in my posts. It’s part of my blog (and my book)’s reason for being. Guys like to give advice, to make jokes, to act tough. But to actually BE tough, to be strong, and most of all, to keep our cool and to be wise as life unfolds, I think we need a kind of honesty and transparency with one another that is all too rare - an unfiltered telling of our stories.

But that is MY sense of purpose. It sets MY threshold for how much I am comfortable putting out there. It is not necessarily the family threshold. So, on dadtoday, Ashley is ever present, always part of the best adventures, but rarely ever center stage - except on the rare occasions I break from writing about fatherhood to gush about how much I love her (I do), and how rich life is by her side (it is).

So, I suppose it is one of the benefits of our kids getting older - that soon enough they will remember for themselves their incredible, creative, joyful, irreverent, devoted, adventure-seeking, magic-making mom. And maybe they’ll ask me why that mom never quite showed up in dadtoday or in their book. And what was the big idea making myself out to be such a super dad any way? Such spin!

And maybe THAT’S the point when dadtoday.com should saddle up for its final ride off into the sunset (or sputter off into the ether, or whatever it is blogs do to fade away into the great beyond). Because that’s another thing I’ve wondered about blogging. The on ramps are so abundant, so easy to find, so easy to ascend; but the off ramps...not so much.



Stefan Lanfer is a Boston-based dad of two, playwright, and foundation strategy guy. He blogs about “the big mysteries revealed in the small moments” of fatherhood at dadtoday.com, and about finding time and ways to hang in there with the work you are most passionate about, even when there is no time, and when there seems to be no way at “The Write Map.” Lanfer is the author of The Faith of a Child and Other Stories of Becoming and Being Dad - a must read for any dad-to-be freaking out about the great unknowns to come. You can follow Stefan on Twitter @StefanLanfer.


Creative Common photo credits:
“Super Dad” by
Kimberly Vardeman
“Jogging into the sunset” by
Andy Hay

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Oh Snap!

This weekend Ashley was sick--like reverse-peristalsis-stay-in-bed-for-two-days sick. She's back to herself now, but for Saturday and Sunday I needed to stay on top of things, most notably Allie and Avery. Since keeping them busy is the best way to do this, I didn't anticipate any issues because I had already planned for this would be a "cleaning" weekend" which is a bi-monthly family event I concocted for whenever the house is on the verge of being shut down by the EPA.

Allie and Avery despise cleaning weekends, an attitude I find ironic given they are the main perpetrators behind most of the environmental hazards putting us at risk. With the haywire schedule over the past month, we haven't engaged in a cleaning weekend for a while; so the place had been a little more toxic than usual. The girls in particular have been out of control.

I understand their bedroom and playroom are going to be messy at any given period, but their aggravating habit of leaving things wherever they will without displaying an inkling of consideration for picking it up when finished had reached an extreme of late, spilling into other areas both in and out of the house. To give you an idea, Allie and Avery made noisemakers using gravel poured into water bottles which they then sold from a stand in the front yard hoping to attract the neighborhood kids as buyers. Twenty minutes later, with no one showing any interest in placing an order, the girls closed up shop, bruised by the realities of the current economy.

A while later, I went outside and found that, in order to dump off assets that could be used against them in the bankruptcy, the girls had tossed their noisemakers into the yard and bushes rather than in the trash as instructed. I was livid. Given that we rent, our house's landscaping is nothing to brag about. It's probably the worst on the street, and the front lawn looks sadly like the patchy coif of a recent post-chemo cancer survivor. Pathetic yard or not, few things turn me red like kids throwing their garbage on the ground for someone else to deal with. And it only got worse from here.

As mentioned earlier, it's been busy around here, and I haven't been enforcing the regular chore schedule for Allie and Avery, an oversight they had taken full advantage of. This became apparent in happening upon such discoveries as the wet moldy pile of washcloths growing ever higher under the sink after each bath. There were other disgusting examples (dirty underwear with skid-marks made by eighteen wheeler cowering under the bed), but despite being appalled by each new horror (half-eaten Slim Jims in nightstand), I really had to blame myself for not ensuring that they follow their daily task list.

I was rather vocal about how things were going to change, and this morning I woke up Allie and Avery fifteen minutes earlier so they'd have time to get ready for school and still finish their chores. Standing in the doorway I reminded them that they couldn't have breakfast until beds were made and their room was cleaned up.

"Are you kidding me?" Allie asked rising up from under covers. Five minutes later she was in the kitchen pulling the milk out for her cereal.

"Beds made? Room picked up?" I asked, but she didn't say anything. "Allie? Is it done?"

"Yeah." The curtness of her answer told me she was pissed about the rules going back into effect.

"Thank you, Allie. Now, I'm setting the timer on the stove ten minutes before the bus comes so you girls will have time to wipe off the table and clean up the bathroom." In saying this, I pushed more than just the buttons on the clock. The surliness bubbling beneath Allie's thinly restrained demeanor, erupted onto the surface.

"IF YOU'RE GOING TO GET US UP EARLY AND MAKE US DO ALL THESE CHORES THEN I'M GOING TO HAVE TO BE REALLY GRUMPY!"

I didn't say anything at first. To me it was actually rather amusing that she thought her reaction would reshape my whole world view on the matter. Allie is almost a clone of her mother, and Ashley's clashes with her own stepfather were the stuff of family lore. That it took him having a heart attack last month before Ashley would extend to him even an ounce of sympathy, hinted at the lengths I would likely need to aspire in order to elicit the same feeling from Allie one day.

For the moment, however, I'm was not taking any crap from a kid. "Oh really," I said in a matter-of-fact tone. "You think you're grumpy now? Just think about how grumpy you're going to be now that you're grounded--no TV of video games for a week."

Allie dropped her head, more pissed than ever.

Then Avery, who had been sitting next to Allie through the entire exchange, tapped her sister on the shoulder. "Hey, Allie," she said leaning in closer. "The adult just said, 'In your FACE!'"

Oh SNAP! Yeah. I kind of did.


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Clark Kent's Icebox: Mommy's Moods

Every once in a while, as any proud parent, I'll post something the kids have created on my "virtual" refrigerator, Clark Kent's Icebox. (Clever huh? ...never mind.) This is one of those incidents. A few weeks back Ashley and the girls went to have lunch with some friends. Turns out, Allie and Avery were the only kids at a table full of adults, quickly lead to boredom. To keep their minds occupied, Ashley handed them each a pen and told them to draw something on the napkins.

This seemed to do the trick for a while. Allie, for reasons unknown, came up with an artistic concept of drawing faces depicting her mother's moods from good to bad. Avery, who was obviously moved by her sister's flair and passion for the project, followed suit with her own interpretation of the same subject matter ...which by the end, strayed into the abstract.

See what I mean for yourself...




Here's Allie's...











And this would be Avery's...





And then mommy's mood takes a drastic David Lynch-nose dive...






There's a child therapist somewhere thinking that our family has issues.

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Odd Dad Out: Cards For Corn Syrup

Some of you know about a project I've been working on for the past several months called Odd Dad Out: Daddy Blogging in a Mommy's World. It's a collaborative site with regular and guest writers who are longtime mom and dad bloggers and/or have expertise in PR, marketing, web design, social media, publishing, etc. The fundamental intent for the site is to help readers who are interested in using their own blogs to become influences (note: I did not say make money), and although it's targeted to dad bloggers, the content actually applies to anyone. There will be more about the intent of the project later. Plus there's a little bit of humor involved.

I hadn't planned on announcing it until November after I had all the contributors who had given me verbal commitments lined up, and I had more content than just the filler stuff on there now. However, two recent events in the mom and dad community occurred that were too good to ignore.

On the dad side, if you're plugged in then you probably know about the "dad blogs suck" discussion taking place all over. This all began after Megan Jordan and I gave a presentation on "What Dad Bloggers Can Learn from the Moms" at the Type A Mom Conference. The "Do Dad Blogs Suck" question was then raised by Clay Nichols of DadLabs and has subsequently evolved into a spirited debate particularly in the comments section on a site called Glad Dads.

At the same time the moms have been talking high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), after several Mom Central bloggers wrote about the merits of the stuff as part of an organized campaign by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA). Most of the discussion has centered around the related health issues, but there has also been a lot of concerns raised about blog integrity and honesty as well as reviews for peanuts, this on top of the fact that moms involved were working on behalf of a controversial lobbyist group.

These sort of issues are in many ways foreign to the dad community, but for those of us looking to go beyond our niche with our blogs to influence issues such as the negative perceptions of fathers, the HFC incident makes for a good example of what we should be aware of, (especially if someone's signed up for Dad Central). I and others will elaborate more later on the topic of influence, but for the time being take a moment to at least become familiar with the level of awareness moms have when it comes to the word of blogging?


Cards For Corn Syrup
(from Odd Dad Out)


This week a sweet debate erupted within the mommy blogger/moms who blog community over a coordinated blogging tour meant to aid in dispelling the misconceptions associated with consuming high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS. The tour was part of an extensive “Sweet Surprise” campaign initiated by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), a Washington DC-based lobbyist group dedicated to the fair and ethical treatment of …corn. (Okay, refined corn if you want to get technical.) Read the rest here.

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The Texas Halloween Costume Massacre

This post is from my "Back Talk" column in the October issue of Houston Family Magazine.Costume choices today, especially for little girls, have me rolling my eyes.

The Texas Halloween Costume Massacre

Halloween scares me. I realize that’s sort of the point—ghouls, ghosts, goblins, and all that—but what I’m referring to is that it scares me as a parent with young girls. Since becoming a stepfather, I’ve watched my stepdaughters get dressed up and take candy from strangers going on four years now. Of course it’s always been a fun time for our family, but as the girls have gotten older, I’ve noticed an unsettling trend taking shape when it comes to their costumes.

To date the girl’s choices haven’t been bad. At ages four and five, they hit the neighborhood cul-de-sacs ransacking candy bowls dressed as a princess and a cheerleader. Subsequently, in the years that followed the girls went with superhero-themed get ups, together donning the cape and cowl of Batgirl, then switching to Wonder Woman and Supergirl respectively a year later. And for the record, I attribute these choices to their great admiration of me and my comic book hobby.

This October that trend continues as the girls want to be Princes Lea and Padme from the Star Wars movies. Thank goodness. Why the expression of relief? It’s because I’ve just lived through another twelve-month span of my stepdaughters debating costume possibilities for the next Halloween. Understand, this can be more than a little annoying to have rammed into my forehead five or six times a week, but until recently is was at least tolerable.

In the past, the girls’ suggestions were fairly innocuous ranging from Care Bears and Dora the Explorer to female Disney characters (the good ones) and cutsie animals. Typically, their choices will also mirror their current interests which can be a good thing, like when the girls became enamored with Coraline a clear sign I needed to lock up all the needles and thread to prevent any attempts on their part to construct any costume that included the attachment of buttons to their eyeballs. Aside from such occasional safety hazards (I recommend all parents hide superglue starting in September), this hasn’t caused a lot of concern. No so anymore.

I’m not entirely sure what happened since last October, but based on their Halloween costume requests the girls’ have changed, shunning sugar and spice and everything nice, choosing instead figures representing all that’s wrong with society. Within days of hanging up their Wonder Woman and Supergirl outfits, the girls were already brainstorming, and their first idea floored me.

“Hey, Ron, for Halloween I wanna be Snooki,” my oldest stepdaughter said.

“Yeah, me too!” her sister added.

Snooki?! How did they know who Snooki is? It occurred to me that maybe the girls had seen a picture of the notorious, four-foot tall party-girl in all of her horrible spray-tan glory and mistook her for an Oompa-Loompa. Sadly, this was not the case.

“Snooki’s not who you think she is, girls,” I replied. “You should probably pick something else.”

“Ohhhh, but you could be The Situation!”

Fears confirmed. Over the time since then the girls have named off one disreputable personality after another—Lindsay Lohan, Ke$ha, Sarah Palin, Nancy Pelosi, one of the Kardashian sisters, Kate Gosselin, Michelle “Bombshell” McGee, a BP safety regulator, and Stripper-Pole Miley Cyrus.

Given the girls’ suggested lineup, I think it’s clear why galactic heroines from a galaxy far, far away are more than fine by me, and more so considering the last-minute heart attack the two of them gave me after announcing their intentions to parade around the local church’s Fall Festival dolled up as Paris Hilton. Their plan fell apart, though, after they got into an argument over who the purse they were using didn’t belong to.

“It’s not my purse.”

“Well, it’s not mine either …but the Silly Bands inside are.”

However, if steering the my stepdaughters towards wholesome Halloween costumes sounded difficult, actually locating them turned out even more so, something their mother realized after searching through several stores one afternoon. I’m not kidding when I say she was mortified at the sight of a sexy witch outfit complete with thigh-high stockings being sold to ten and eleven year olds. That it changes the conation of “trick or treat” makes the discovery just that much more disgusting.

This then made me wonder, if it’s okay for a little girl to be a sexy witch, then what do they dress up as when they become teenagers and young women? I mean sexy witch is for kids; when they’re adults they’ll need something more age appropriate. So what’s that going to be? The logical choice based on the ratio of age to exposed skin established by the fishnet stockings would indicate that by age 25 a pointy hat, and nothing else would suffice as an appropriate costume. Makes sense.

On the other hand, I suppose my stepdaughters could just save all of their costumes from ages five through ten and then reuse them again ten years later. From what I can tell there seems to be a one-size-fits-all policy within the Halloween costume production industry. If this is their attempt at going green, someone should inform the design team that girls tend to grow a whole bunch from eight to eighteen. And “stuff” starts sticking out too!

Ultimately though, what the girls pick out for Halloween isn’t as horrific as the thought that sometime in the not-so-distant future I won’t be able to influence their costume choices. When they are partying in college, my suggestions to dress up as empowered women like, for instance, Ida Tarbell (leading investigative journalist from the late 1800’s who wrote the History of Standard Oil, currently included among the Top 100 Journalist Works of the 20th Century by The New York Times) will probably fall on deaf ears. The girls will grow up and I’ll have to let them. And that’s why my heart feels like it’s being attacked by a chainsaw-wielding psycho as I watch them grab their Jack-o-lantern, candy buckets and head out the door.

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On Dad Blogs Sucking, Perspective and Garden Gnomes

So, apparently a lot of people ignored my warning and read my off-kilter take on the Type A Mom Conference anyway. Now, I don’t necessarily consider myself a very perceptive individual, but I’m under the impression it touched a nerve based on the DM’s, Tweets, phone calls, emails, and comments I’ve received since hitting “publish” on Wednesday. (The people at Spanx, for one, are quite upset. “You, sir, are no Joe Namath,” expresses their position in succinct terms.)

Again, I’m not that too swift on the uptake, but there’s this itsy, bitsy, teeny, weenie, little part in the recap where I mention that someone, I won’t say who (his initials are …yeah me), blurts out something to the effect of 2010 not being the Year of the Daddy Blogger, after which, a bunch of dad bloggers put out some well-articulated posts addressing the claim. Coincidence right? Well, at least in one case, yes …sort of.

In a totally uncoordinated moment, Clay Nichols, who was also in Asheville this weekend, shared his candid thoughts ("Do Dad Bloggers Suck?") concerning CNN’s take on daddy blogging, Newsweek’s recent article on masculinity, and the disparaging claims made about dad blogs in the conference session. He was a little riled up (apparently Baby Bjoin makes a hot seat and I was in it), and hey, I don’t blame him. Clay and the DadLabs crew have been bustin’ ass demonstrating that dads are capable dudes in the world of diapers and teething. In fact, DadLabs is one of the positive examples of how to effectively use a social media platform to change misperceptions

Now, for a moment, let me go back to the session itself (“What Dad Bloggers Can Learn from the Moms”). Some feel I didn’t give my co-panelist Megan Jordan (Velveteen Mind) enough credit in the recap; so here’s the skinny.

What Ron did: Submitted panel idea. Showed up. Made slides. Hooked computer to projector. Clicked mouse. Introduced Megan. Offered supporting comment. Sipped on glass of water. Mentally pontificated on age old debate centering around the order of existence between chicken and egg. Thanked everyone for coming.

What Megan did: Everything else.

I’m not being patronizing. Megan gets all the credit for the concept (which was funny) and the message (which I fully agree with). I’m the one, though, who’s responsible for getting the session together and for the consequences in it’s aftermath. NEXT!

Back to my inflammatory remarks. Lemme ‘splain. No, ez too long. Lemme sum up.

2010 Is and Isn’t the Year of the Daddy Blogger
Yeah, political answer. (By the way, Jessica Smith still has her eyes on it this.) Is it the year we made our mark and firmly established ourselves? No. Is it the year we gained the attention needed to get the ball rolling to make our mark? Yes. This is something I purposely didn’t qualify in the panel, because it needed to be discussed. But in any case we should be looking at what’s the next step forward to definitely make that mark? See also Dad of Divas thoughts

Dad Bloggers Know Dad Bloggers Don’t Suck
I don’t think I need to list the plethora of incredibly written blogs by fathers focused on their roles (I’d point to my blogroll, but that got wiped out, thank you very much Blogger.) However, I think our male readership is… well, kind of inbred. There’s a general agreement that the majority of guys reading dad blogs are other dad bloggers. Backpacking Dad lays this out pretty well. Thus, we’re sort of preaching to the choir, and no, I don’t think other dads are going to read our blogs on their own volition.

Learn From The Moms
Prior to the Type A conference, I had an inkling of this, but after the first day of sessions …Holy Cheese Whiz on a Cracker! The ladies are doing all kinds of crap with their blogs, and not product reviews either (another topic unto itself). Something that always gets mentioned is dads working with brands and making money from their blogs. Sure that’s one way to do things, but there are other ways to use blogs as platforms for money-making endeavors, like say, advising local businesses on how to use social media effectively. But as JackB points out, we need to look the part too. (PS, I’m glad to share the slides from the session on building a media kit.) Hey, and just because a conference has "mom" in the name doesn't mean you can't go.

Diversify
Before the conference, I asked some top dad bloggers, social media consultants and PR guys what they thought moms were doing right. The feedback was great, but Jason Avant’s (DadCentric) comment really popped.

“…one element of the mommy blogging community that goes unnoticed is its sheer diversity of content. Moms are writing about an incredibly wide range of topics; along with the classic "diarist" blogs, there are review sites, how-to sites (covering everything from website design to photography to work-life issues), pop culture and sports blogs written by and for moms, and even political sites. These writers aren't merely clich├ęd "mommies". Their community is brimming with intelligent, diverse, and sophisticated women - women who, by the way, happen to be mothers. More and more dad blogs are popping up, and our community would be better served if we recognized the value of having something original to say about being a dad. Yes, it's wonderful, we should all strive to be great fathers, "society" doesn't "appreciate" dads, we're so much more involved than our fathers were - we get it. Our community would benefit if more dads were blogging about other stuff that affects us as men, and not merely "dads". There's much more to writing about fatherhood - and being a father - than simply talking about how great it is to be a dad.”

I saw this first-hand at the conference. Here’s the thing, as mentioned earlier, dads probably don’t read dad blogs, so how do we reach them? Go to them with sites that engage other aspects of male identity and interests but from the point of view of a father. We can be dad bloggers or we, like many moms, can be dads who blog.

Working Together With Moms
This is close to the learning from the moms point, but I’m hitting this because, there are a bunch of issues out their in blog world that moms discuss all the time. Mostly it’s the business end, but we should know what they are and work with moms as parent bloggers if these issues are applicable. Product reviews and doing crap for free is a solid example. I’m not going to expound much more than to say it was thoroughly denounced at the conference. We dads need to know the value our blogs just like moms.

Purpose?
A few dads have hit the nail on the head with this fundamental step. I’ll point to DC Urban Dad who’s been saying this all over in comment sections the last couple days (JackB is another). So why do we do it? I don’t think there’s a wrong answer here. To express thoughts and meet other dads? Cool. To establish credibility as a subject matter expert? Great. To get writing gigs? I’m with ya. To change the negative image of fatherhood? (The DADvocate is a good example) I’m right behind you. Make millions? Good luck with that. Get a job? That’s exactly what I’m trying to do. Whatever the reason, if we know our blogs purpose, then it’s just a matter of going in that direction, so drive on.

And my final point…

Garden Gnomes Are Cool.



…well they are.


Okay, I’m done. (So much for “sum up.”) The reason I posted this was to explain a few things and provide a little perspective. Agree / Disagree? I'm fine either way because in the end this is just blogging. I've got more important thing to deal with right now--real life crap that will probably never end up on this site. And one last thing: not only am I slow, but I also don't take myself too seriously. I sure as hell am not going to start now. Not on a blog.



PS. Neither to these guys!

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