Daddy’s First Day at School

abandoned childI wrote this piece a few years ago, but recently came across it and got hit with the same wave of emotions that made me write it in the first place.

Last week, I drove my daughter a few blocks from our house, and abandoned her. Well, I didn’t really abandon her, I just took her to preschool. But it was my first time, and somehow, I felt I’d done something wrong.
When our oldest child was born, my wife and I arranged our schedules so we could spend as much time with her as possible. And for the first two-and-a-half years of her life, at least one of us was with her almost all the time. But as I sat in my car—having just dropped her off for her first day of preschool—I began to wonder what kind of parent I was, leaving her all alone with people I hardly knew. Would they read to her? Could anyone possibly teach her as well as my wife and I had? Who would encourage her? And who would love her? I was nearly overcome with a need to run back to the school, grab her, and take her home where she belonged.
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My Daughter is Profiled in Popular Photography Magazine!

My daughters continue to amaze me with their talent and accomplishments. Popular Photography magazine apparently agrees with me, as evidenced by their recent profile of my oldest, Tirzah. There’s an excerpt below along with a couple of her pics. Read the whole article here.

tirzah brott photography While searching for subjects for a project at Bard College in Annandale on-Hudson, New York, Tirzah Brott met an older woman who dazzled her with her sense of style. “I ran into her on my block—turns out she lived nearby, and I photographed her in her front yard and interviewed her,” Brott says. “She told me she was a Broadway star in the 1950s. And she showed me all these photographs of her when she was younger, on stage and off—it was incredible!”

tirzah brott photographyFor Brott, now 25 and on her own big-city journey as an assistant photo editor at New York magazine, the encounter crystallized her appreciation of “women of a certain age” who have personal panache. “There’s a consistency in their style,” Brott says of her favorite portrait subjects. “Every single thing either matches or embodies their era. The shoes are right, the stockings are right, the earrings are right. And it’s not an ‘old woman’ outfit. They haven’t allowed their age to change the way they present themselves.”

From Popular Photography, September 23, 2015

OMG, Can’t You Smell That? When Teens Don’t Bathe…

when teens don't batheDear Mr. Dad: My 12-year-old daughter won’t shower, she won’t brush her teeth, and she wears the same clothes every day—and sometimes even sleeps in them. Honestly, she’s not very pleasant to be around. Is this normal? Either way, how can I motivate her to be a little cleaner?

This probably won’t help you feel any better—and it certainly won’t do anything about the smell emanating from your sweet daughter—but what you’re describing is very common among pre-teens. Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix.

There are a number of possible explanations. First, disregarding personal hygiene is sometimes a symptom of depression. Think about other areas of her life: Does she seem withdrawn socially? Have her friendships changed? Are her grades dropping? Have her diet or sleep patterns changed? If any of those are true, call her pediatrician. He or she will know whether to call in the mental heal professionals. Plus, a few words about showering from a non-family member might make a difference.

Second, she may be too busy—at least in her mind. From your perspective, she probably spends way too much time on her computer or her phone—time that might be better spent with a bar of soap. From her perspective, she’s just staying in touch with her friends.

Third, she may be trying to get your attention. Clearly, she has.

Fourth, this could be a power play. At 12, your daughter is relatively powerless. You may get her involved in family decisions and you may give her choices, but the final decisions are yours. Not bathing, brushing teeth, or wearing clean clothes might be your daughter’s way of exerting some control. The same dynamic is common among kids who are obese or who have eating disorders. Forcing a child to eat, stop eating, or get in the shower is nearly impossible. As a parent who’s been exactly where you are, I’d much rather be worrying about a hygiene problem than a potentially life-threatening eating disorder.

Here’s what you can do to help.

  • One common pre-teen and teen refrain is “you just don’t understand me!” There’s some truth there. Pre-teens have a lot going on in their head and we rarely ask about it. A few non-judgmental questions will show her that you care and might help you get to know her better.
  • Adolescence is a time when kids want to be liked and fit in. It’s also prime time for bullying and teasing. Nobody gets picked on, bullied, or socially excluded more than kids who are visibly or olifactorily different. Explaining to your daughter that she may be jeopardizing her social life might make a difference.
  • Do nothing. Actually being excluded or teased by her peers will get the point across more effectively than anything you say.
  • Have her read the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle story, “The Radish Cure.” The fictional Mrs. Piggle Wiggle comes up with delightfully creative solutions to parenting problems. In this story, she recommends to the parents of a child who refuses to bathe that they wait until their little darling is covered by half an inch of dirt, then, when she’s asleep, plant radish seeds. Seeing the sprouts was all it took to drive the child into the bath.
  • Don’t make threats. Threatening to take away her phone or Internet time may make the problem worse. If you absolutely must make a threat, be sure you can follow through. In a moment of frustration, I told one of my daughters that I wouldn’t take her to school the next day unless she showered and brushed her teeth. Dumb move on my part.

Principles Successful Fathers Use

Wayne Parker, author of Power Dads.
Basic principles succssful fathers use to raise happy, responsible children
Issues:The 10 power principles included in PowerDads are all about learning what’s important in this role we call fatherhood and developing the skills to implement the power principles in every day parenting.

Struggling to Pay for College + Power Dads

Bobbi Dempsy, author of Degrees of Desperation.
Topic: The Working Class Struggle to Pay for College
Issues: Why some couples seeking financial aid might better off if one of the spouses quit working; how the cost of college has far outpaced inflation: the dangers of cashing in retirement accounts to pay for college; why some private colleges might actually be cheaper than public ones!

Wayne Parker, author of Power Dads.
Basic principles succssful fathers use to raise happy, responsible children
Issues:The 10 power principles included in PowerDads are all about learning what’s important in this role we call fatherhood and developing the skills to implement the power principles in every day parenting.