What began as an interview about my book, developed into a much more involved conversation about fatherhood and what it means to stand alongside a pregnant partner for nine months.
What began as an interview about my book, developed into a much more involved conversation about fatherhood and what it means to stand alongside a pregnant partner for nine months.
They say the number one method for correcting and guiding behavior in your children is creating clear rules and guidelines...and sticking to them.
That is often more easily said, than done:
My new book, "What Do I Do While You're Pregnant?" is now available on Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle).
It is a refurbished, reworked and updated version of a previous publication, which originally took the name of this blog, "Men Get Pregnant, Too."
One of my primary reasons for undertaking the updating of the book ,which I had spend so many hours writing and babying through the publishing process, was, in fact, the title.
If I were nearby to explain the story to moms in the store, or they gratefully took the time to read it, they found it was like no other parenting book they had read. "I had no idea dads felt that way!" was a common reaction. Otherwise, upon seeing a book, writing by a dad, titled "Men Get Pregnant, Too," they would guffaw, drop it back on the table , and pronounce, "No they don't!"
Indeed, we don't. But male pregnancy was a metaphor for the angst felt by any first-time parent, be they adoptive, or expecting a baby being carried by a same-sex partner or a surrogate.
There is no such thing as feeling detached while waiting to become a mom or a dad.
Hopefully, this relaunch will encourage moms and dads to read the book together, and spark a new discussion about how men, or other parents-to-be who are not carrying their child through pregnancy, experiences those nine months of gestation.
To order for yourself, or as a gift, just click below!
Many parenting books deal with pregnancy and mothers-to-be.
Some mention fatherhood or focus on the humorous side of a dad who is all thumbs.
This book is a unique story by an expectant dad who is remarkably candid about how terrifying and overwhelming it is for BOTH parents to become responsible for a baby for the first time. It is respectful of both sexes; remarkably aware of of the incomparable experience of physically carrying a baby for nine months, as well as how confusing it is for a father-to-be on the sidelines wrestling with how to voice his insecurities.
How does he encourage and comfort his wife, while also balancing and expressing his own worries about becoming a first-time parent? When he is told he should be 100% involved in the pregnancy, what does that mean? Can he insist on knowing the baby's sex? Should he be planning his own baby shower? Who can he talk to about the overwhelming job of being the source of information for an entire extended family?
"What Do I Do While You're Pregnant?" is an honest and touching book by a dad-to-be wrestling to find his place. He balances news of his possible infertility and his pregnant wife's medical emergencies with his own phantoms symptoms and sleepless nights. This funny and poignant story respects an experience which is unique to both first-time parents.
CTV National News reporter Vanessa Lee stopped by my home yesterday to talk to my daughter and me about James Harrison.
The NFLer returned his sons' participation trophies because he felt they hadn't really earned them; after all, real men don't get trophies for showing up; they have to beat somebody first.
In Ms. Lee's report, my daughter and I share our views. In addition to what was said on camera, here are some additional benefits/philosophies, in my opinion, regarding participation awards:
Home should be a safe place; a place where, regardless of failures through childhood (or adulthood), our sons and daughters can drag their hanging chins through the front door and be welcomed and consoled. The participation trophy is a hug from a coach. Dad's should be allowed to return hugs to the league's head office.
As a Father's Day treat, I allowed myself (sandwiched between my children) to watch one of my favorite shows: CBS Sunday Morning. Their reports are timely and intelligent, sensitive and textured, and Charles Osgood is as warm and soothing a television host as there ever was.
Yesterday's theme was—appropriately—fathers.
Lee Cowan's cover story—"Daddy's Home: Embracing Paternity Leave"— focused on the unforgivable lack of a nationwide parental leave policy in the U.S. (Cowan points out that the U.S. is one of only two countries in the world that does not have country-wide paid maternity leave!)
Steve Hartman invited cameras to follow him as he helped his widowed father move out of their family home in Toledo and into an apartment, leaving behind a trove of memories. (The report includes a wonderful montage of old pictures placed against the backdrop of present-day images of the cottage).
There was also a current events piece about the tragedy in Charleston, a retrospective on Jane Russell, and a feature questioning the future of Vietnam's floating market in an evolving economy.
Then came Jim Gaffigan's rant on Father's Day.
My kids watched it with me. The three of us were full from the breakfast my wife had prepared (green eggs and ham, bacon, coffee, and fresh Quebec strawberries), the cards my children had constructed and colored lay next to my new paper weight: a rock from our garden decorated by my daughter so it resembled the moon.
Jim began his speech:
It's Father's Day. Ugh. How weird is that? A day to honor Dads? It doesn't make sense.
Mother's Day I get. They are mothers. They brought us into the world. Father's Day is like celebrating Darth Vader's birthday.
Great. Cuddle up kids. He continued:
"I guess since we honored mothers in May we should probably give a day in June to that guy who gets up early on his one day off to abandon us to go golfing."
I'm sure there are some really good dads out there, and I commend both of them.
I do do things with my kids, but when I come back from an outing, just know they are going to be sunburned, covered in mosquito bites and, yes, I forgot to get napkins when I bought them ice cream.
Wait, I lost one of their shoes? Well, at least I took them out! You're welcome.
He went on. But, I think we get it.
We got it when it was Archie Bunker in 1971.
We got it when it was Homer Simpson in 1989.
We got it when it was Ray Romano in 1996.
We've been getting it for a long time. There were several decades when we even deserved to get it.
But now it's tired, and insulting and—worst of all—counterproductive.
I know, he's a comedian. Fantastic. If that's your brand of humor, yuck it up.
But there are many of us dads who work hard to be what our children expect from a parent, and what society is only very slowly awakening to.
We are fathers who are working hard, not to prove that we can do it just as well, but working hard to succeed, so it becomes a given that we are doing it just as well. We want the care and love we provide for our children to be taken for granted, as it has been for mothers all these years.
We challenge dads like Gaffigan to understand that it is not about being lauded for taking an active role in their children's lives with a "Look he can do that!" But rather to assume that we should be doing that.
We are all parents to these children. Mothers and fathers.
Incompetence in not gender specific, it's an individual failing.
Physical and mental nourishment and enrichment are not gender specific, they are necessities to be provided to children by anyone who happens through this child's life.
That is why the dads in Lee Cowan's cover story are stitching together sick days and vacation time to be home with their kids.
Unfortunately, that feature was also stitched into a Father's Day show which chose the easy way out, at the expense progressive parenting and social change.
I was reading this article in the National Post about an English professor who left his career in education to pursue another as a mixed martial arts fighter.
As a metaphor to illustrate how men today are less likely to engage is risky behaviour relative to their counterparts a generation ago, the journalist wrote the following:
Much of the violence we commit is now done at arm’s length — by way of technology. Canadian soldiers charged up Vimy Ridge in 1917. Today, a drone might do the trick. The most dangerous behaviour most North American men engage in is driving a car. And there is a good chance it is a minivan, a boxy emblem of masculine decline.
I added the italics.
"...minivan, a boxy emblem of masculine decline."
I drive a minivan, so do many of my peers.
Before I defend whether I am "in decline", I would like to ask: in decline from what?
From the soldiers we are all supposed to be? The bar brawlers arrested after their team loses the game? The boors whose families are not to distract them from the NFL triple header on Sunday?
I disagree. As would, I feel safe assuming, the fellas at the National Fatherhood Initiative, or the Dads Groups in New York City, or Boston, or Chicago.
Or the more than one-thousand fathers who are member of our Dad Bloggers Facebook group.
It is at this point in the argument I am often told I am blowing something out of proportion, or that I'm missing the point, or that I am taking the metaphor too seriously.
But, that is the point. There are those of us for whom this argument is taken very seriously.
Modern weakness is not men driving minivans; it is men who try to hide their family vehicles from their peers, lest they be judged to be somehow emasculated.
The weakness has become being too proud to miss an NFL match in favour of the one being played on a soccer pitch by your 8-year-old's team.
The decline is represented by the words "Because I have to." which too often follow "I drive a minivan."
I love my van - not only because of its higher seating position and because it makes sense - but because of what it represents. I love listening to the doors being slid open a little more firmly than they need to be. I love watching the cartoon dust ball of schoolbags, lunch bags, and splash pants in the rear view mirror as my kids (always!) rush to get seated in the morning.
I love that my van represents for me, the evolution of who I have become.
I have never been in a fight, and I certainly don't regret that. But, challenges? Everyday. And those challenges are made even greater by the same circumstances which necessitated an upgrade in my vehicle's cubic footage.
My van is not an emblem of masculine decline; it is a badge of honour.
We are changed by multitudes of experiences; by tragedies, by relationships, and most definitely by parenting.
The irony of parenting is it demands a flexibility of spirit during those years when we become more and more assured and steadfast in our own belief systems.
We struggle to teach our children open-mindedness and the advantages of critical thinking; while we stodgy parents gradually seem to become convinced we have found the easiest way of doing almost everything.
Inflexibility and likeability are inversely proportional.
Our children and (for the most part) our partner will always love us…but will they always like us? Of course not. Not always. But it is important as we grow older not to lose our intellectual and emotional elasticity. Part of maintaining that flexibility – that likeability – is understanding that some things are worth capitulating to simply because they are important to somebody who is important to us.
Where (or whether) you go on vacation; altering a work schedule to be more available; being more understanding of a family member’s choice of friends (or the volume of the music blaring from their room!), are all examples of the constant adjustments and conversations which define a family’s dynamic as a being unto itself.
Compromise is as necessary as it can be difficult, especially as age coupled with the triple role of partner, parent, and individual, combines to make you gravitate more than ever toward a need for your own space and your own sources of stress relief.
There are very few greater gifts you can give to a family member than to demonstrate your understanding for what is important to them.
I was once told “The most interesting person in a room is the person who makes you feel like the most interesting person in a room.”
We spend a lot of time sharing rooms with our partners and our children. The challenge is to not only seem interested, but to be interested. Our relationships will inevitably change us. Being attentive to how you change can not only result in more “I love you’s” but, even more importantly, more “I like you’s.”
According to this article in The Mirror (as well as, I assume, hundreds of other publications worldwide), Katy Perry's Super Bowl halftime show will make "faces melt".
My kids have seen "Raiders of the Lost Ark", therefore they have already seen melting faces. No problem there. However, I am not sure my fatherhood sensibilities are prepared for my 8-year-old daughter to witness on-stage acts which may cause her face to melt.
Perry provides some inspirational backbeats for our living room dance parties, as well as many motivational melodies during road trip sing-alongs.
As much as Katy's audio may be the voice of my kid's generation, I'm not sure how video-Katy's onstage cabaret will be perceived.
I'm not sure that after explaining words such as "alibi", "veterinarian", and "gazelle" gleaned from this week's Thea Stilton novella, that I am quite prepared to define words such as "gyration", "wardrobe", and "malfunction".
I worry turning the television off prior to halftime due to the possibility of sexual innuendo smacks of over-protectiveness and helicopter parenting. However, my little 8-year-old girl has so far shown every sign of eventually becoming a self-assured, confident young adult with just the right amount of "My Way." I see no need to potentially derail that with thirteen minutes of "cleavage sells records."
Katy may stick to script and deliver no more and no less that she promises: a fantastic show, supported by Lenny Kravitz; a fantastic light show; and maybe the onstage appearance of an (endangered?) jungle cat.
But, she also may not.
So, thanks in no small way to Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, I'm leaning towards relying on my PVR to screen tonight's halftime show, and, if it proves worthy, turn it into tomorrow's after school special.
I believe in free-market enterprise. The NFL owes my family nothing. If I want to be assured of appropriate family viewing, I can tune in to Treehouse, or the Disney Channel, or that dolphin documentary I recorded two days ago. I don't have to tune into a sporting event watched by billions which will be the main talking point among anyone I come across over the next forty-eight hours (as it is, if the game is a blowout, there is a fair chance I will switch to Downton Abbey at 9pm).
However, it would be nice to share this thing; this thing which has the potential to have the rare qualities of appealing to all age groups in my home; of providing talking points along with a sense of competition and history; of exposing my kids to one heck of a thirteen-minute blowout concert.
But, just in case...because of what maybe an exaggerated sense of parental duty...because the NFL's track record is somewhat concussed, my PVR will do the heavy lifting tonight. I'm not ready for my 8-year-old's sexuality to kickoff just yet.
My stockings were not hung by the chimney with care. They were hung with a hammer and a slight bout of impatience. My index finger, a victim of a wayward blow, began to swell.
My daughter, my son, my niece and my nephew ‘decorated’ the tree. They started by stringing the lights around my ‘discount’ spruce (which, after tax and the couple of extra garlands my wife threw on the counter, cost only slightly more than the retail one I bought last year). Before the kids were halfway done, the tree looked like a hostage of the Christmas season: it so was tightly wrapped in lighted electrical wire, its branches pointing directly north, victims of a rude and violent cinching. It took me twenty minutes to free them, another twenty minutes to re-light the bush, and a final twenty to vacuum needles which were being scattered towards heating ducts.
At least, unlike parents, the tree doesn’t have to become the Ethan Hunt of Christmas shopping:
“Hello Mr. Hunt. This mission, should you choose to accept it, includes the following tasks:
This message will self-destruct in five minutes...which will seem like a relative eternity when compared to the minutes of actual relaxation you are about to experience over the holidays.”
Did you ever wonder if, perhaps, there is a reason Santa only delivers once annually? Perhaps he avoids using a noisy motorised vehicle, and evades and face-to-face contact, after millennia of experience with children.
Maybe that’s the real lesson of Christmas: go like gangbusters for twenty-four solid hours, then retreat to cottage country - as cold as it may be - and take the next three-hundred-sixty-four days off.
Now a graduate of the programme, Xiaoyang Luo completed her thesis "Organisational Factors Impacting Fathers’ Use of Parental Benefits in Canada". Some of those conclusions have been summarized in this article she wrote for the Vancouver Sun.
It is another set of findings which further support what more and more dads are accepting as fact: an involved father enriches his children's lives and also builds a stronger relationship with the other parent.
The article also discusses the importance of employers accepting the merits of flexible paternity leave. The full thesis is available here: Organisational factors impacting fathers' use of parental benefits in Canada
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE:
Tags: canada, canadian fathers, fatherhood, Kenny Bodanis, men get pregnant too, mengetpregnanttoo, parental leave, paternity leave, sfu, simon fraser university, study, survey, Xiaoyang Luo