Hey dads: Do you have an issue with your children?
Perhaps your son hates school or listens to his iPod too loudly. Maybe your daughter refuses to do her chores and would rather text all day. Maybe you just want to learn to be more involved with your kids. Who ya gonna call? How about Mr. Dad, "America’s most trusted dad"?
Oakland, CA resident Armin Brott has cornered the market on all things "Dad." In addition to his syndicated Ask Mr. Dad column, which is syndicated nationally, Brott has a weekly radio show, Positive Parenting, and has written nine best-selling books on fatherhood and parenting. His latest, The Military Father: A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads (Abbeyville), was just published.
Brott has three daughters, Tirzah, 19, Talya, 15, and Zoe, 6. To learn more about him, visit mrdad.com.
Editor Janine DeFao talked to Armin Brott:
How did you become Mr. Dad?
It started almost 20 years ago, before my oldest was born. I was looking around for resources and there was nothing out there for dads – classes, groups, books, magazine articles, all were for women. It was annoying to me and I started taking notes. I never intended to become a writer, but I wrote an essay for Newsweek and the response was massive. My first book came out not long after that, in 1995.
How has information for dads changed since then, especially with the advent of the Internet?
The accessibility of information has changed and that has made a great difference. There are some more books out there, but I’ve found most of them to be not helpful or in the humor genre. A lot of books aimed at dads are condescending. We haven’t quite gotten, as a society, to a point where we’re putting dads on equal footing with moms.
How can moms get dads to be more involved with their children?
Item Number One is to just back off . It sounds harsh, but there’s this sad reality that dads will be as involved with their kids as their wives will let them. Moms set the tone. If you tell fathers they’re doing something wrong, they don’t want to do it again. It’s never malicious, but it’s hard for women to give up control of the home.
Does being Mr. Dad put pressure on you to be perfect?
I do feel like a failure in a lot of ways if I’m having problems with my children. But it’s probably my imagination more than anything else that I’m under a microscope. I don’t think anyone really cares, except to point out the irony.