Doyin Richards

Doyin Richards is a best-selling author, contributor to NPR and HLN, and a charter member of the TODAY Show's Parenting Team. He's passionate about raising his two young daughters, helping to create a generation of woke kids, rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers, and eating Swedish Fish. If you like his stuff here, be sure to check him out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Ask The Dad: Girls’ Getaway

(Getty)

This question is from Jackie in Greensboro, NC.

I’m a SAHM with rambunctious twins and my friends are planning a girl’s getaway weekend next month. My husband is giving me a huge guilt trip about it because he says he has a really stressful job and I’m “disrespecting” him by taking a weekend away from decompressing. My girlfriends are pissed and I don’t know what to do. Should I stay or should I go?

If you’re asking because you want me to confirm the completely obvious decision here, I’ll be happy to oblige. Doesn’t your lesser half know that raising twins is a stressful job as well? I’m a twin, and my brother and I gave our mom a fresh dose of hell on the daily when she was a SAHM. Thankfully, we’re older now and she’ll be the first to tell you it was all worth it (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

Doyin, his twin and their mom
(Doyin Richards)

Anyway, most sensible people know that being a stay-at-home parent is more than sitting on the couch eating leftovers and watching Maury Povich reruns. Why the hell does he get all of the decompression time? Oh, you’re going on this trip, mama. Not only are you going, but you’re going like a damn boss.

Don’t ask him for permission. Does he ask for clearance from you when he does his thing? Probably not. Tell him that you’re heading out of town and bounce. If you’re worried about how competent your man will be with the kids, just enlist a family member (grandma, aunt, etc.) to check in on him. If those people aren’t available, “Susie” always is. Susie is that lady you keep in your extended circle because she brings bomb-ass snacks to your book club, but you’d rather tongue-punch the fart box of a constipated Billy Goat than spend a full weekend with her because she doesn’t stop talking about how her potty-trained 6-month-old says “mama” in Cantonese. Just tell Susie to pop by the house every now and then — and you know she will because it will make her feel better about herself when she confirms in her mind how much better she is at raising kids than you and your hubby are.

Oh, and when your man inevitably snitches on you regarding your whereabouts, you’ll have some explaining to do to Susie. But hey — after a kid-free weekend, you’ll feel like you can save the world, so you’ll be able to handle that with ease. Go party, get drunk, and turn “Mom Mode” to the off position. Your kids will be fine, your man will get over it, and you’ll be happier knowing that you’re standing up for yourself.

(Giphy)

Ask The Dad: Unwanted Kid Grooming Tips

(Getty)

This question is from Steve in Tallahassee, FL.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best hairstylist for my 4-year-old daughter. What irks me is the fact that when I try to style it, my wife always is watching over me or “correcting” my work afterwards. Even my daughter asked why mommy does her hair after I do it. How can I politely tell her to back off without being offensive?

Here’s the thing — I get where she’s coming from. If your hair game is less than stellar, it will be viewed as a poor reflection of her mom skills when others see your kid at school, the playground, etc.

BUT (and yes, there’s a but), she has to understand that at least you’re taking the time to try. Does she know how many dudes won’t even attempt to do their daughters’ hair? Fortunately, you’re not one of those guys. Of course that’s viewed as just a consolation prize to her, but that’s where you have to meet her halfway. Ask if it’s OK if you practice on her, spend time watching the infinite amount of hairstyling tutorials on YouTube, and keep demonstrating that you’re trying to get better. Trust me, eventually you will.

Just don’t do this, please.

(Giphy)

I’ve shaved my head since I was 18, so brushes and combs were viewed as foreign objects for most of my adult life. But now I can make a mean braid for my daughters. Just keep putting those reps in and you’ll get there.

(Doyin Richards)

But she also has to do her part, too. Maternal gatekeeping is an actual thing and it looks as if wifey is dealing with it. She has to understand that your daughter couldn’t give two shits about what her hair looks like, but she does care that you give enough of a damn about her to try. That is what your kiddo will remember about you when she’s ready to start a family of her own. Sometimes, a quick reminder of the big picture will let your wife know that micromanaging you does way more harm than good for your relationship with her and the relationship you have with your daughter.

Ask The Dad: Dealing With A Bully

(Getty)

This question is from Matt in Trenton, NJ. He writes.

There’s this little boy at our neighborhood playground who is always in my 5-year-old son’s face. He hits him, kicks dirt on him, and pushes him around. A couple of times I let it slide, but last weekend I finally confronted the mom about it. She rolled her eyes and said, “That’s just how boys play. If your kid can’t handle it, maybe he should play at home with dolls.” I was so pissed that I just grabbed my kid and went home before I did/said something I would regret. So should I just tell my son to kick this brat’s ass? (Please say yes)

Deep breath, my brother. I feel angry for you right now — especially since I was bullied mercilessly as a child. I mean, just look at the young version of me. To say I wasn’t a good-looking kid is an understatement, and I was a pretty easy target because of it.

Doyin Richards as a 9-year-old
(Doyin Richards)

I don’t know if this will make you feel better or not, but that kid will probably be getting his ass kicked in jail in a few years based on the “enlightened” mother he has.

This is more proof that toxic masculinity isn’t something that’s only perpetuated by beer-drinking, weightlifting, meathead dudes. There are women who subscribe to the bullshit “man up” culture too, and sadly, they raise sons. And people wonder how young boys turn into predators and assaulters later on.

My advice here is pretty simple: I abide by the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” rule. Take your son to the playground as usual. When the bully hits your son (remember, we’re talking about physical stuff here, not name calling), have him sternly tell the boy to stop (strike one). If he does it again, you sternly tell the mom that if her boy touches your son again he’s going to pop him in the nose (strike two). Then if he does it a third time, tell your son to unleash the beast and defend himself (strike three and his lights get knocked out).

I’m not in favor of hitting first, but I’m always in favor of hitting last. And when he cries to his mama afterwards, you can say, “Sorry, kid — I told you so. But here’s a doll that will make your boo-boo feel all better.” Drop that damn doll on the kid’s lap like a hot mic and walk away.

Passive aggressive? Yes.

Does she deserve it? Absolutely.

Father Figures: Hairstylist Dad

(Doyin Richards)

“My daughter and I were running late (as usual) so we grabbed a quick bite at Starbucks instead of making breakfast at home. While we waited for our food, I pulled out my brush and started styling her hair in front of everyone. Before I became a dad, I never thought I would be the kind of guy who would do something like this — let alone a guy who actually knew how to do something like this, but here I was. Hell, the simple act of me brushing my daughter’s hair went viral a few years ago, and I certainly didn’t see that coming. Fatherhood is strange like that.

As this was going on, an older gentleman sitting next to us said, ‘This is such a beautiful thing. You should take a photo of it. I have daughters, and trust me, she’ll appreciate this photo when she’s older.’ So I gave him my phone and when he snapped the photo, he said, ‘You should put this on Instagram or SnapTalk or whatever it’s called. You’ll be famous!’

The look on my daughter’s face says it all.”

Doyin Richards [daddydoinwork]

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com.

Ask The Dad: Standing Up To Your Mother-In-Law

Ask The Dad: Standing Up To Your Mother-In-Law
(Getty)

This question is from Tom in St. Louis.

About once a month or so, my mother-in-law comes to visit and she’s always shaming me for how I raise my 6-year-old son, Richie. I think he’s a phenomenal kid, but according to her, he either watches “too much TV” or he “eats too much junk food” or “he needs to improve his manners.” Whenever I talk to my wife about it, she brushes it off and refuses to address it. On my end, I feel like my MIL is trying to pull my punk card every time she says something and I’m about to defend myself the next time. Yes, I know he’s her only grandchild, but I’ve had it. Any thoughts for me?

Ah, the mother-in-law…

Your son is her first grandchild, too? Yeah, you know she’s going to have a lot to say. As much as you probably don’t want to believe it, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I believe her heart is in the right place. It seems like every MIL has an opinion on how the dad is doing his job, but it’s because she thinks she knows more than you.

Spoiler alert: she doesn’t.

I’m assuming she hasn’t raised a 6-year-old since the eighties or nineties — and I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be comfortable taking advice from anyone who hasn’t done the task in decades. Kids are much different now than when we were coming up and I bet there are many aspects to parenting today’s kids that she has absolutely no clue about. My mom does the same thing with my kids and I politely let her know that I have it under control. You need to do the same. Next time she pipes up, just say, “Thank you for the feedback, but I’m going to do it my way.” She may fire off another snide comment, but don’t start an argument with her. Simply repeat the same sentence with confidence. Just don’t be a dick about it. Eventually she’ll get the hint.

I got this.
(Giphy)

Richie is your son, not hers. If he’s a “phenomenal kid,” trust that you’re playing a huge role in that.

Ask The Dad: Using Single Dad Swag To Pick Up Ladies

(Getty)

This question is from Pete in Redondo Beach, CA.

I’m a single dad with a 3-year-old daughter (I divorced her mom last year…long story). Anyway, whenever I’m out with my daughter, women always come up to me to say how great I am as a dad. I’m a good-looking, athletic guy (no “dad bod” here), but the ladies are even more attracted to me when I’m out with my baby. I’ve gotten a bunch of dates because of it and I’m having a blast. Is it wrong for me to use my single dad status to attract women? 

Before I get to you, let me send a PSA for the ladies reading this:

I see this all of the time, and it’s absolutely insane to me. A dad can walk down the street with his kid in a stroller and an observing mom’s ovaries will explode.

(Giphy)

But if that same mom witnessed another mom doing the same thing, she would probably judge her for how dirty said stroller is. Enough already. Don’t give props to a man for doing rudimentary parenting tasks unless you’re willing to give props to a mom for doing the same thing.

Back to you.

My man, nothing is inherently wrong with using your single dad status to attract women. It is a problem if you’re using your kid to attract women. Are you putting on an act by being overly loving with your baby girl while some hottie is watching? What kind of message is that sending to your child? That’s she’s just an accessory to help you get laid? You are the primary male role model in your daughter’s life. Check yourself, please.

You’re a good-looking guy (I know this to be true because you said so), but that doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot to grown-ass women who are looking for men with character as well. Sure, they may think you’re cute at first when interacting with your kid, but what will happen when they realize it’s all a performance?

Just be yourself and don’t try so hard. I can’t explain why, but women are born with a heightened bullshit detector that becomes exponentially more powerful when they become moms. Don’t try to fool them, unless you’re cool with looking like the fool.

(Giphy)

Ask The Dad: Awful 2nd Grade Basketball Coach

(Getty)

This question is from Doug in Worcester, MA.

My son is in 2nd grade and plays basketball for a youth team. His coach is just awful, and by “awful,” I mean that I think he must’ve found out that the game of basketball existed yesterday. He doesn’t know his ass from his elbow out there. However, the kids seem to be having fun and the other parents don’t seem to mind. Should I just keep my mouth shut? I don’t want to be that dad, but also don’t want my kid to learn the wrong way to play basketball.

Bruh, you’re totally being that dad. Your kid is in 2nd grade, so that means he’s like 7-years-old, right? I coach a 1st grade basketball team, and I feel like I’ve done my job if I can get the kids to shoot on the proper basket.

(Doyin Richards)

But I get it — you’re from a diehard sports state, you love basketball, and you want to ensure your kid is being taught the right way. But based on the fact you said the kids are having fun and none of the parents are bothered by the coach, I’m wondering if you could be overstating how “bad” this guy really is.

If he’s enjoying himself, be sure to keep it that way — because finding activities that kids actually enjoy consistently is half the battle at that age. Besides, even if the coach is terrible, ain’t no college scouts coming to see your boy play right now anyway. If you feel like you’re a hybrid of Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich, you can always pull him aside at home to give him some pointers on the “proper way” to play basketball. Just don’t show up the coach in front of the parents and players. Then your son will have the label of the “kid with the crazy dad” (there’s one in every youth league) and that would really suck for him.

So yeah, just keep your opinions to yourself. Or else I may have to dunk on you.

(Doyin Richards)