Tag Archives: Metaphor

Dad’s Role In The Family

Dads matter.

That seems like a no-brainer these days, but for much of the 20th century, the role of the father in family life, especially the rearing of children, was assumed to be minimal.

Note that word there — assumed. There really wasn’t much in the way of research done on the effect a dad has on his children’s growth and development. After all, Freud Himself enshrined the role of the mother as vastly important to the personality of the child so who were they to argue?

More recently, researchers have been turning their gimlet eye to dadsdads_best_1 and finding out what I’ve known all along: Dads matter.

Did you know that a healthy father can ease the impact of a mother’s depression on the children, while a depressed father is a risk factor for excessive crying in infants? That fathers can suffer from hormonal postpartum depression?

Or that fathers’ early involvement with their daughters leads to “a reduced risk of early puberty, early initiation of sex and teen pregnancy”? We’re not sure exactly why, but Bruce J. Ellis, of the University of Arizona, has noted that exposure to fathers’ pheromones can slow down pubertal development.

In a review of Paul Raeburn’s “Do Fathers Matter?” in the New York Times, Mark Oppenheimer reports that numerous researchers are finding that fathers have some surprising effects on their children.

Older fathers are more deeply involved with their children’s schools, more likely to attend ballet classes or know their children’s friends. On the other hand, the children of older fathers seem to have stronger genetic predispositions toschizophrenia and autism — so much so that older dads should get genetic counseling, Mr. Raeburn argues, just as older moms hear about the risk of Down syndrome.

On yet another hand, the children of older dads are taller and slimmer. So there’s that. (Nobody knows why.)

That nobody knows why there at the end is a familiar refrain in a lot of sociological research of this type. We’re able to find the effects, but because the initiating incidents are so intertwined with multifarious actions by multiple actors, it’s difficult to sort out which cause is the, well, cause.

For instance, research shows that dads are the dudes who have a bigger effect on their children’s vocabulary than do moms. One prevailing theory for this has to do with vicious stereotyping. Because, the theory goes, the mothers are around the little dudes and dudettes more (because women stay home and men work outside the house of course), they tend to tailor their vocabulary to words the kid already knows. Fathers, however, because they’re absent for more time, don’t know their kids as well and so introduce words that are novel to the child.

Does it surprise anyone to think I might disagree with this theory. I know the reason my young dudes have great vocabularies (and they do. No question.) is because I actively worked at it. I wouldn’t use baby talk with them and didn’t dumb down my vocabulary when I talked to them.

I did explain a lot of words, but I made sure to expose them to the variety of vocabulary victuals I liked to serve up on the plate of life. Even when the metaphor is horrifically strained because of atrocious alliteration.

Dads matter. We’ve always known it, but now it’s up to science to start letting us know how and why. And it’s up to dads like us to make sure we matter because of our presence, rather than our absence.

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This is the 2,000th post here on the Guide, dudes.

That’s 2,000 times either I (Richard Jones) or Barry (Barry Robert Ozer) have hit publish and sent something out to you, our (hypothetical) constant reader.

This blog has been running in one form or another since about this time in 2008. The first post actually was published by Barry on January 27, 2008.

In fact, Barry actually wrote the entire first week of the blog. Well, the first week’s worth of posts since they weren’t daily back then. After he convinced me, in the best fashion of Tom Sawyer and the whitewashed fence, that I really should be the one to write these things, I’ve been doing most of them ever since.

Although, really, I think the best posts are those that Barry brings to me. He’ll have something happen in his life that sparks an idea, he’ll write it up and then I’ll punch it up a bit, send it back to him, do a bit more editing and then put up here. The collaboration sparks things.

Things like our book, A Dude’s Guide to Babies, still available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine booksellers across this great country and other almost-as-great countries around the world.

When we started this blog, George W. Bush still was the president. Barry was happy about that. I wasn’t. Before our first year was up, Barak Obama was president. I was happy about that. Barry wasn’t.

We started this blog as a way to drum up interest in the idea of publishing our book, the aforementioned A Dude’s Guide to Babiesbut it’s become so much more for me.

While we don’t get all that much feedback here on the site, we do get a number of comments from folks through our Facebook feed, Google + and other social networking sites. We really do appreciate those of you, especially you, Chris Upson, our most frequent commentator, who take the time to let us know where we got it right and where we got it wrong.

I was going to thank the (metaphorical) little people, but realized that might not be as funny as it could. It’s also not true. I might be the person with his fingers on the keyboard, but it’s only because I got invited first.

When we started this blog, there weren’t a whole lot of places where men could go to talk about parenting. The idea of a stay-at-home dad was just beginning to gain traction as something other than a comedy idea. It still was a tremendous step up from where the idea was when I started doing it 14 years ago, but still far below where it is now.

Which is not to say the idea of a dad staying home to care for his kids doesn’t still get mined for far too much silly, dumb attempts-that-miss-wildly at comedy. But it’s growing into an accepted idea you won’t have to fight for.

So, thanks, everybody.

We’ve been having a great time. Spread the word. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends about us.

We’re a fun couple of guys and we’d love to hear from anyone.

Thanks for reading however many of the past 2,000 posts you did manage to read. Thank you for your support.

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Labor Day

No, even though my Mom kept saying this was the truth, today doesn’t have anything to do with how long our various mothers labored to bring us into this world.

Instead, Labor Day is a day set aside to allow us to labor over a grilling fire one last time before summer ends, to give us one more day at the lake, one more time out in the heat of the backyard with the sprinklers flashing rainbows into the sunny sky.

Or, you know, not.

It could be that Labor Day originally was founded to celebrate the working man (and he was, for the most part, a man back then), who sweated his day away on the assembly line, or out in the hot streets, laying down the roadway the white-collar workers used to drive in to their cushy jobs in the city with their fancypants air conditioning.

Labor Day was designed to honor those who actually produced an actual thing, instead of giving us a service. The people honored by Labor Day were singled out for a number of reasons: 1) to say thanks for helping build this country on their metaphorical, economic backs and 2) labor unions used to have a lot more members, a lot more money and a lot more pull so they could get something like this put on the national calendar with relative ease.

What? It’s true.

Since it’s founding, many folks have tried to usurp Labor Day’s reasons for celebrating. (Hello, Mom, wherever you are!) A lot of folks these days think it’s a celebration of the dwindling few who actually are able to find, get and keep a job for longer than a quarter or two. And a job with bennies? Dude! That’s something to celebrate.

Regardless of the reasoning behind Labor Day, I do enjoy one last fling at summer. I’ll be using the day off to relax in the backyard, crawl under some shade and spray an appalling amount of bug spray at anything that so much as twitches a blood-thirsty proboscis in my general direction.

We all have our own ways of celebrating. That’s mine.

Enjoy yours.

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