Doyin Richards or something you find in dirty diaper. We aren't sure.

Doyin Richards

Ask The Dad: Done With Fatherhood

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This question comes from Kristin in Los Angeles.

Hey Doyin, you are a fantastic asset to The Dad with your advice column and, hopefully, you’ll be a fantastic asset to my family. Here’s the quick story: My husband is a great guy and we have two beautiful daughters together (6yo and 3yo). Recently he stopped being as involved with the girls as he used to be. He often just sits on the couch, stares into space, finds little joy in anything, and complains when he has to do normal “dad stuff.” I’m not sure what’s going on with him, but my girls are noticing it, and we’re all miserable. You have a great way with words. How can I smack some sense into him and get him back to being the guy we all love?

Thanks for the kind words, Kristin. I also think I’m pretty good at this advice column, but there’s one factor I’m most proud of: I don’t have all of the answers and I don’t pretend to. Based on what you’re telling me, I can tell that your situation at home isn’t going to improve with me dishing out a few witty lines or by “smacking some sense into him.”

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Have you considered that your husband could be suffering from depression? To be clear, I’m not here to dish out medical advice, but coming from a person who suffers from depression (me), it certainly looks like he checks many of the boxes. Sadly, we still live in a world where men can’t openly talk about being depressed without being viewed as sissies who can’t “suck it up” and deal with it.

To emphasize how big of a deal this is, depression is currently the leading cause of disability worldwide with more than 300 million people affected by it. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that a solid percentage of those 300 million people are men who are suffering in silence. Could your husband be one of them?

In my personal situation, I kept my depression to myself and I became more irritable, disinterested, and hopeless around my children. No way in hell I was going to say anything because I thought people would punk me for being soft. This continued for years before I finally hit rock bottom and visited with a therapist — and without hyperbole, I can say that decision literally saved my life.

Now I’m able to enjoy the good, bad, and ugly things that fatherhood brings.

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If you want my advice on this, I would HIGHLY recommend that both of you visit with a licensed therapist as soon as possible. He/she can help to unpack whatever is wrong with your husband in a way that I can’t. If he enters the sessions with an open mind, I’m confident that things will improve.

Even in today’s “man up” culture, I wear my depression like a badge of honor because I understand that true strength doesn’t come from wearing a mask of fake toughness, but by being vulnerable and admitting you have a problem. I hope your husband will agree with me.

Ask The Dad: Not Good Enough

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This question comes from Dan in Fresno, CA.

My wife’s best friend is married to a stay-at-home dad (let’s call him “Reggie”). My wife is constantly in my ear telling me all about the “wonderful” things Reggie does with his daughter. One day it’s a photo of the French braid he created for her, another day it’s the tea party he hosted for her and her little friends. Our daughters are the same age and I’m tired of my wife trying to shame me into being something I’m not. I don’t do hair, tea parties, or grocery shopping, but at least I provide for my family, unlike Reggie. How can I get it through to my wife that she has a good thing in me?

What was that, Dan? I can barely understand you since you’re chewing on that Peanut Bitter and Jealous sandwich.

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At least you provide for your family? Do you even know what a stay-at-home parent does, my guy? I feel like I’ve covered this already. Choose your words better next time.

But I get it. You’re upset because wifey is pumping up Reggie instead of you — but taking potshots at him is lame, because it isn’t about him. It’s about you.

When it comes to criticism of any kind, I always advise people to consider two things: the source and the accuracy. If at least one is on point, you’re doing yourself a disservice by ignoring it. I’m going out on a limb here, but I think your wife knows you pretty well, so the source doesn’t get any better than her.

Without knowing a thing about your family dynamic other than what you just sent me, I’m going to assume that your wife wants you to do more for your daughter other than bringing home a paycheck. And with that in mind, why don’t you do hair or tea parties? Are you too cool for it? Are you scared to do it wrong? Too busy? None of those are viable excuses. I’m telling you right now that when you’re six feet under, your daughter won’t give a fresh damn about your fancy job. What she will care about are the memories you created with her — like doing hair, tea parties, and other ways to bond. In other words, she’ll remember how you were as a dad.

Speaking of which, this isn’t 1950. Anyone who thinks being a dad only means paying the bills is a fool.

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In regard to your wife, you need to let her know that the passive-aggressive stuff needs to stop. I gave you my assumption as to why she’s behaving this way, now all you need to do is confirm it. “Hey honey, I feel like you’re trying to tell me something by bringing up Reggie all of the time. What specifically do you want from me?” Once she gives you an answer, act accordingly.

We’ve established that you’re a great provider. Now it’s time to step up and provide the things to your family that won’t cost you a dime.

Ask The Dad: The Dirty Mouth

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This question comes from David in Cleveland, OH.

I have a buddy in my neighborhood who is a fellow dad and our young sons are really close friends. The problem is, the dad likes to swear a LOT. Every other word is “fuck” this or “bullshit” that, and that would be fine if we’re watching sports together as grownups, but he has no filter around the kids either. I’ve told the dad about this, but he still continues to do it at my house when the boys are playing together. Last week, my son’s 2nd Grade teacher informed me that he’s swearing a lot in class, and my wife and I never swear in front of him at home. How can I get it through to the dad to stop swearing in my house without hurting his ego or impacting our friendship?

David, let me ask you something.

Let’s say this guy enjoys coming over to your house, but has a habit of whipping out his junk and peeing all over your floors.

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You’ve told him to stop, but he still does it — and now your impressionable son is “watering” his 2nd Grade classroom with his dirty lemonade and his teacher is not here for it. Would you write to ask me how you should discuss this with your buddy in a way that wouldn’t hurt his fragile ego? Chances are you’d throw him out on his ass, call the cops, get a restraining order, etc.

You can argue with me all you want that peeing on your floors and cursing in your house aren’t the same thing, but the common denominator is this “friend” of yours is straight up disrespecting you in your own home, and that is not OK. Additionally I can’t help but find it concerning that you’re so worried about this dude’s feelings when he clearly doesn’t give a damn about yours.

I don’t have much to say about how you should handle this other than to put your big boy pants on and set boundaries. Your house, your rules. You don’t want anyone cursing in your house, fine. Firmly tell him again that this cannot continue, and if it does, he simply cannot come back (and the same goes for his son).

If he truly values your friendship, he’ll respect your wishes.

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By the way, why is there no mention of how to talk to your son about this? Maybe because you already have that covered? I hope so, because that would be the headline for me. He’s in 2nd Grade and he’s already getting in trouble for his mouth? That needs to end immediately.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but your #1 priority in life as a dad is to your family. Unfortunately, I see this with a lot of men where they’re so focused on keeping things cool with their grown ass buddies that their relationships at home suffer (parent-child, partner-partner, etc.). Don’t be that guy.

So are you going to let this guy come into your home and make the rules? Fuck all that. (Excuse my language)

 

Ask The Dad: The Gun Playdate

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This question comes from Phil in Dallas, TX.

Doyin, I’m a big fan of your work here, although, I have to admit I never thought I’d be the one writing in with a question, but here I am. My 7yo daughter has a really close neighborhood friend and she’s always at her house. The problem is, my wife recently learned that this girl’s dad is an avid gun enthusiast and now she refuses to let our daughter play there. The dad was in the military, owns his own consulting business, and is extremely qualified/trained to own guns. My daughter is devastated that she can’t play at her friend’s house and I think my wife is completely overreacting. What would you do in this situation?

Thanks for the kind words, Phil.

The gun debate is on fire right now and I’m not here to change anyone’s mind on that front. If you must know, I’m not a “gun guy” — but I respect responsible gun owners and their rights to own firearms. That said, your wife isn’t overreacting. Check out these quick facts:

1,300 children die and over 5,700 children are injured by gunshot wounds every year in America. Also, firearm-related deaths are the third leading cause of death among children behind illness and unintentional injuries (such as car crashes and drowning). This is a BIG deal.

Now, is this dad out here trying to be Yosemite Sam? Probably not.

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But it would be foolish to believe that guns don’t pose a threat to kids, regardless of how responsible the gun owner is, or how “foolproof” his method is of hiding his firearms. Speaking of which, one dude I grew up with told me recently that “a locked up gun or an unloaded gun is useless, because no bad guy is going to break into my place and wait for me to unlock it from the safe or load it.” That means a loaded gun is somewhere in the house that could potentially be accessible to kids. Could the same be said for your neighbor?

It would be pretty sad if your daughter lost a friend over this, and I don’t think that needs to happen. Going forward, I would suggest meeting with the dad (along with your wife) and tell him your family’s concerns. If he acts like a damn grownup, he shouldn’t take offense to the fact your wife is worried about her daughter being in a house with guns. Additionally, why not just have this girl come to your house for playdates instead? Seems like a fair and easy compromise to me.

Last, but definitely not least, you need to take your wife’s concerns seriously and not write her off as some overprotective mom. What would you rather? Ignore your wife’s feelings and make her resent the hell out of you? Or simply roll with my suggestion? Even if the dad is offended that you questioned him, so what? That’s his problem, not yours.

The gun debate will certainly continue, but there should be no debate when it comes to doing what you feel is right for your children.

Ask The Dad: The Boy Who Likes Dolls

Young child playing doctor with a doll. (Getty/Kristal O'Neal)

This question comes from Tony in Ontario, CA.

I have an 8yo daughter and a 5yo son. A couple of months ago, my daughter gave my son one of her old dolls, and he loves it. I refuse to let him leave the house with it for obvious reasons — but whenever he’s home, he is always singing to the doll, brushing the doll’s hair, feeding the doll, etc. This isn’t what I expected when I had a boy. Should I put my foot down and take the doll away or should I just pray he figures it out on his own?

Bruh…

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I gotta keep it real with you, my dude — your son is the last thing you should be worried about.

You mentioned this isn’t what you expected for your son, but what were you expecting, exactly?

That he would bench press 225 lbs straight outta the womb?

Ask for a shot of Jack Daniels before bedtime?

Fight any kid who looks at him the wrong way?

Give you a rundown of the “cuties” he plans to spit game to in his kindergarten class?

Hit you with quotes from Braveheart on the drive to school?

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Seriously, I need to understand why you’re so concerned about his love for dolls. From what you’re describing to me, your son seems to be a nurturing, loving, and caring little boy — the kind of boy that may someday grow up to be…

…wait for it…

.

.

.

.

A GOOD DAD.

Because you were kind enough to reach out for my help, I’m not going to end you on these internet streets. However, I think you really need to reconsider what true masculinity is all about.

Despite the numerous obstacles little girls have to deal with, at least they live in a world where they believe they can do anything and be anything. Unfortunately, we’re letting our sons down in that regard. We have to get past the nonsense that the only acceptable emotions boys can express are happiness, anger, and lust. If our young boys bottle up other feelings like sadness, empathy, and kindness it could end badly for them.

The suicide rate is four times higher for men than it is for women and I’m sure a main reason for that is boys/men don’t feel comfortable being true to themselves based on being shamed by society or their parents. Needless to say, this is something to be taken very seriously.

Since you asked for my advice, I’d suggest embracing the fact that your son is happy. He is hurting absolutely nothing (except maybe your ego) by playing with dolls, so let him do it. If it makes you feel better, there are actually dolls on the market that cater to little boys. Doing so doesn’t make you “soft” or “weak” as a dad; it shows that you’re interested in raising a well-rounded young man. A young man who won’t contribute to the frat-bro toxic masculinity that will end up making your daughter’s life more difficult as she gets older.

The world is changing, Tony. Your 5-year-old son has figured it out. It’s time that you join him.

RELATED: I Went to a Frighteningly Realistic Doll Event to Please My Daughter – Fatherly

Ask The Dad: The New SAHD

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This question comes from Barry in Colorado Springs, CO.

I’m a Customer Service Rep for a large telecommunications company and my wife recently got promoted to Executive Vice President at her job. The good news is she’s going to make a ton of money with her new position, but the bad news is she’s going to spend a lot of extra hours at work. Because of that, we agreed that it would be best for me to leave my job to be a stay-at-home dad to our 18-month old twins, which isn’t a big deal because my salary is crappy. I know I should be OK with this, but I’m worried about what my friends and extended family will think of me if I’m not working anymore. You did the stay-at-home dad thing. How did you handle it?

Let me correct you, Barry. You may not be working in a cubicle in corporate America, but you will be working. Probably harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. I think the major issue for most men in terms of the transition to being a stay-at-home dad (SAHD) are the misconceptions about the job. It isn’t just parking yourself on the couch watching SportsCenter all day.

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You will be 100% responsible for the lives of two tiny humans. That means feeding them, bathing them, entertaining them, teaching them, soothing them, getting them to take naps, cleaning up their poop, etc. In addition to all of that, you’ll be responsible for keeping the house clean, doing laundry/dishes, going grocery shopping, taking the kids to doctor appointments/playdates, the list goes on and on. By the end of your first week, you’ll be wishing you were dealing with irate customers at your day job, trust me.

So you believe me when I say that you will be working, right? If so, then you shouldn’t have any issues dealing with the Neanderthals who don’t understand that being a SAHD is a real job. There are approximately 2 million dads in America who choose to stay home with their children, so you are hardly some outlier.

Yes, I did the SAHD thing and it was the hardest job I’ve ever had in my life — but it was also the most rewarding. My kids look at me like I’m a damn superhero for all that I do for them and we have a bond that will never be broken. That in itself made the sleepless nights and frustrating days worth it.

(Doyin Richards)

So how did I handle the people who didn’t like the fact that I was a SAHD? I just didn’t give a shit about them. My focus is and always will be on my family.

At the end of the day, whose opinions are more important? Some unenlightened clowns who don’t understand that it isn’t 1950 anymore or those of your wife and twins? I think we both know the answer to that.

I’ve said it once, but I’ll say louder for those in the back: THERE IS NO MANLIER JOB ON THE PLANET THAN BEING A GOOD DAD.

Own it and wear it like a badge of honor, my friend.

Ask The Dad: The Drinker

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This question comes from Justin in Los Angeles.

My father was an abusive alcoholic. He physically abused my mother and my siblings. Fast forward to my adulthood. I’m a father of two. I never seen it coming even though it’s in my blood. I recently started drinking every night. Although I’m definitely not abusive, I’m having trouble kicking the habit. I love my wife and children very much and although I would never do any harm to them, I feel like I’m doing harm to myself. Any ideas to help stop drinking?

First off, I want to give you serious props for your bravery in writing this question. For some reason (and we all know the reason), men don’t like admitting when we have problems, but the strongest dudes I know are the ones who reach out for help.

From my vantage point, it sounds like you’re drinking as a coping mechanism and you have to get to the bottom of it. Since you mentioned this started recently, what changed in your life to get to the point where you’re now drinking every night? If you don’t determine the root cause of your problem, you’ll only end up treating symptoms — meaning, the problem will keep coming up over and over again.

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If you’ll allow me to get personal for a minute, I had drinking problem too. Mine was a little different because I didn’t need/want a drink every night, but when I drank, I got wasted. Similar to you, I would never harm my family — but I certainly was harming myself. In September 2016, it all came to a head when I went out to a friend’s birthday party and got drunk out of my mind. The next morning my kids were jumping on top of me to play with them, but I snapped at them to leave me alone. They were so upset.

At that moment, I realized the root cause of my drinking problem was I didn’t like myself very much. I believed the only way I was tolerable in social settings was to be a sloppy drunk, because “who would like the sober version of me?” I thought. Needless to say, I finally got over my hang ups (with the help of weekly therapy sessions), and I’m back to being comfortable in my own skin again. I haven’t had a drink since September 18, 2016 and I have no desire to ever again. It’s not just my family that motivates me to be better, but I want to be better and healthier for myself.

Now back to you, Justin. My suggestions to stop drinking are pretty simple:

  • Figure out why you started (and are continuing) to drink.
  • Figure out why you want to stop and use that as your motivation.
  • Begin the process of stopping to drink. I was able to stop drinking cold turkey, and I recognize how tough that can be for some people. Go forward at your own pace, but always go forward.
  • Get support along the way. There’s no way I’d would’ve been able to get through that time without the support of my family and friends, and I’m sure your loved ones will be there for you, too. Also, don’t rule out therapy or online support groups. You’re not alone, and there are more people willing to help you than you know.

Stay strong, my brother. Speaking from experience, I know you can do it.

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Ask The Dad: The Over-The-Top Birthday Party

Young girl holding a birthday cupcake (Getty/Kris Timken)

This question comes from Jordan in Dallas, TX.

Our 2yo daughter’s birthday is coming up and my wife is absolutely losing her mind over it. She invited 85 people to our house, hired a magician, caterers, and is pulling out all of the stops. I mean, I love my kid, but I think it’s ridiculous that she’s insists on doing all of this for a toddler’s birthday party. Oh, did I mention because she’s a stay-at-home mom, that I have to foot the bill, which currently stands at over $1,500? I know we do everything bigger in Texas, but this is crazy. How can I get her to see the light?

$1,500 for a 2yo’s birthday party?! That’s straight up insane. I see this a lot with new parents, though — they plan these extravagant parties not because they want to do something great for their kids, but because they want to show the other parents how great they are. In other words, the kid is really an afterthought as the parents use the big party to feed their own fragile egos.

I was guilty of this, too. When my oldest daughter had her first birthday, I hosted a lavish party (not to the tune of $1,500, mind you) and at the end I wondered why we did that. She was stressed out by all of the people trying to hug and touch her and ended up melting down about 20 minutes in. It was a complete mess.

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Based on my understanding, it looks as if you already committed to the $1,500 expense, so you’ll probably have to eat it instead of risking WWIII with your family by cancelling everything. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a serious talk with your wife. If you’re like me (and most other families I know), I could think of 1,500 things I’d choose to spend $1,500 on. That money could go towards her college fund or a fun vacation where you actually bond with your family rather than feeding/entertaining 85 people that you probably don’t even like.

I’d ask your wife what her fondest memories of childhood are. Personally, I remember going fishing with my dad and having my mom teach me how to ride a bike. Best of all, none of those things cost them a dime. Do you know what I can’t remember? Any childhood birthday party I’ve ever had. Hell, if your kid can’t remember to not crap her pants on a regular basis, how would anyone expect her to remember this party?

This should be about your daughter, not a grown-ass adult’s ego. Without even meeting your little girl, I can guarantee she’d be just as happy crushing some cake around a few friends and family as she would if you tried to create Disneyland-lite. Not to mention, if you continue down this road, your kid will expect these kinds of over-the-top parties. Good luck trying to tame that beast.

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At the end of the day, children just want their parents’ love, support, guidance, and attention. None of those things require a mortgage payment to execute. Additionally, the measure of a good mom or dad is raising kind, thoughtful children. I’m sure you’re wife’s heart is in the right place, but a firm reminder regarding what parenting is truly about will probably make her see the error in her ways and save you some money in the process.

Ask The Dad: Bad Influence

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This question is from Marty in Alexandria, VA.

One of my best friends is a guy named Bob (not his real name). We went to college together, played on the football team together, and partied hard together. Anyway, after college, I decided the single life wasn’t for me, so I got married to my lovely wife and we had our daughter, Alexis, who is currently 18 months old. Bob is still single, drinks constantly, and uses the words “chicks, bitches, and hos” to describe girls and women. Long story short, I’m realizing that he’s kind of an asshole and I probably shouldn’t have him around as I’m raising a young girl. Should I cut him out of my life?

Ah, I’m quite familiar with this one, Marty. It’s the “what-if-it-happened-to-my-daughter?” epiphany. In other words, you probably didn’t have a problem with Bob’s behavior until you found yourself responsible for raising a tiny female human (yes, I know the same epiphany happens to men who have sons, too). Would it be better if you realized this prior to having a daughter? Sure, but at least you grew up and realized that something needed to happen.

When we become dads, everything about us changes. Many of us become more loving, sensitive, and empathetic — and in the process, we become more aware of the company we keep. When I first became a dad, I remember cutting a bunch of people from my life because I knew they would have a negative impact on me as I navigated through fatherhood. For example, the dude who kept asking me to play Edward Forty Hands with him on random Tuesday nights had to be cut from my squad immediately.

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If Bob is truly important to you, I suggest having a man-to-man talk with him first. It doesn’t need to be anything deep, either — just tell him that you’re a dad and a husband now, and things have changed since your college days together. He either needs to start addressing women with respect (something he should’ve figured out on his own by now, but whatever) and stop acting like a sweaty frat bro, or you simply can’t have him as a friend anymore.

By doing so, you’re putting the ball in his court. Will he realize the error in his ways and be cool with your new (aka, more mature) friendship? Or will he come at you with some toxic masculinity bullshit about how you’re a whipped sissy? Either way, it will make your decision much easier.

Kudos to you for realizing that nothing in the world is manlier than being a good dad.

 

Ask The Dad: Losing More Than Weight

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This question comes from Dante in Silver Spring, MD.

For the new year, I want our family to get healthier. I’ve always been a fit guy, but my wife has put on some weight over the past couple of years. I’ve noticed that my 11yo daughter is starting to get a little chubby as well. When I told them that they should have weight loss as a goal in the new year, they both looked at me as if I was the biggest asshole on earth. How do I get my point across to them that I have their best interests at heart?

From an outsider’s point of view, I don’t blame your family for thinking you’re an asshole. I’m not saying that you are an asshole (because I don’t know you) — but unless you’re someone’s boss, you can’t tell anyone what their goals should be. Weight is a really sensitive issue for many women and girls, and a lot of that is due to the immense pressure society puts on them to look a certain way. It’s no secret that eating disorders and depression are major concerns for our young girls, and it could be for your daughter as well if you approach this issue the wrong way. I have two young daughters, and I’m doing my damnedest to ensure they view their self-worth by what’s on the inside. Will I be successful? I have no idea. But if I’m not, it won’t be because I’m focusing on their weight.

Since you’re telling me this is about health rather than appearances, I’d start by preparing healthier meals. Can you cook?

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If not, you better learn, because it’s unfair to expect your wife to do it all.

I’d also suggest exercising together. It doesn’t need to be anything intense, either. A simple family walk around the neighborhood each evening would do wonders in that regard and you’ll get to enjoy some bonding time in the process.

Whatever you choose to do, I would highly recommend that you avoid putting any emphasis on their alleged “chubbiness.” One thing to keep in mind is maybe they’re happy with the way they look right now. And if that’s the case, you shouldn’t force your wishes on them by nagging them to lose weight. Doing so will put you at risk to lose more than weight — namely, your family’s love and respect.

 

Ask The Dad: The Breaks

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This question comes from Tim in Hartford, CT.

My family just bought a house and moved to a nice neighborhood in Connecticut. Everything has been great so far, except for the fact that our neighbor’s kid comes over often and breaks my kids’ toys. We’re not talking about fine China here, but these toys are important to my 4yo and 6yo kids. The kid’s dad was there to witness his son breaking one of my daughter’s dolls and he didn’t even flinch. Should I confront the dad and/or kid? Or should I just suck it up as the new guy in the neighborhood so I don’t make any waves?

Sucking it up is definitely not an option here, Tim. I’m not going to suggest that you thump any skulls, but there’s nothing wrong with setting boundaries. Similar to you, I recently moved to a new neighborhood and my girls frequently play with the kiddos in our neighborhood. Whenever they come into my house or my yard, I lay down specific ground rules stating, “I expect you to respect our things and respect each other. If not, playtime is over.” It’s just a nice way of saying, “Don’t be an asshole.”

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Sure, accidents will happen — but there’s a big difference between an innocuous mishap and a systemic pattern of behavior. Going forward, the first thing I’d do is ensure any high-value toys (aka, toys your kids would lose their collective shit over if they were broken) are put in a safe place. Yes, I know kids can be materialistic and believe everything is high-value, but you know the truth. Then I’d give the neighbor’s kid the same “respect” speech I give the kids in my ‘hood and see what happens. Hopefully that’s all it will take to get him to fall in line. If not, I’d approach the parents and tell them everything.

It doesn’t have to be confrontational, either. Something like, “Hey Mr. Jones — my kids enjoy having little Tommy come over, but he has broken a few my kids’ toys. Can you please ask him to be more carful?”

Unless the parents are complete jerks, that should do the trick. If they come at you with any toxic masculinity bullshit like, “It’s not a big deal, boys just play rough,” then at least you’ll know not to let them in your house again — but I honestly don’t think it will come to that.

I totally get that you want to be a nice neighbor, but at the end of the day, your kids come first. Draw a line in the sand and be prepared to take action if anyone tries to cross it.

Ask The Dad: Holiday Party Gone Wrong

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This question comes from Ricky in Boston.

Our company holiday party was last weekend and I got hammered. I know that isn’t really newsworthy, since thousands of people get hammered at holiday parties all over America, but I made a pretty big mistake. According to one of my buddies, I was talking shit about my daughter’s nanny while I was there, and one of my coworkers is really close friends with said nanny and she apparently heard all of it. Of course I don’t remember any of this, so I don’t know what to do from here. Should I say something or just leave it alone?

Why can’t all holiday parties be like this one? It seems like whenever humans get in the mix, everything totally goes to hell.

This is a tough one, my man. First off, how bad the shit was you allegedly spewed? Were you mean-spirited (talking about her looks, her hygiene, etc.)? Or were you talking about logistical things (she shows up late, doesn’t clean up after herself, etc.)? Either way, it isn’t good if it gets back to her — so I certainly wouldn’t let it slide without investigating first. This woman is responsible for caring for your kid and there are few things more important than having a good relationship with her.

I’d start by observing your coworker and nanny to see if you can read their emotions. I know dudes generally suck at this sort of thing, but try anyway. If they act normally around you, then maybe you can let it slide without bringing it up. However, if you notice anything weird from them (standoffish behavior, being short with you, etc.), you need to address it immediately. A simple heartfelt apology to the nanny would probably do the trick. If she’s a grownup, she probably has experience being on the receiving end of some drunken shit talk (haven’t we all?), but if it’s something she doesn’t feel like she can get over, then you may need to find someone else to watch your child going forward. The last thing you want is to potentially put your child in danger because you acted like an asshole. In regard to your coworker, you can apologize to her as well if she’s acting differently around you, but afterwards you probably should just keep it professional with her going forward.

But you know what the most important bit of advice is, right?

Giphy

Ask The Dad: The Christmas Disaster

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This question comes from Spencer in Los Angeles.

We moved to LA before my kids started school in September and my 6-year-old daughter became really good friends with an 8-year-old girl who lives two houses down. A few days ago, my daughter ran home to my house crying because her friend’s dad told her that “Santa Claus doesn’t exist and it’s just your parents who gets the gifts.” I’ve been absolutely beside myself since this happened. I want to kick this guy’s ass and my wife says I should just leave it alone. I need you to be the tiebreaker.

Oh man. I had the Santa myth ruined for me when I was a kid by our elementary school’s librarian. I remember it like it was yesterday, and to this day I’ve never witnessed anger in my mom’s eyes like I saw when she found out. I remember that she dropped me off at our neighbors house, peeled out of our driveway, and came home to say, “I handled it.” I still have no idea how she handled it, but the next morning the librarian and the principal personally apologized to me. Parents are great like that.

The bad news for you is I’m not going to be a tiebreaker because I’m not a fan of either of your solutions. It’s not a good look to kick your neighbor’s ass, so don’t do that. It’s also not a good look to do nothing like your wife suggested. You need to head over to his house and have a stern (but not threatening) conversation with him.

Christmas is a unique holiday because there are many different ways to celebrate it (if you choose to celebrate it at all, that is). For example, there are a lot people who enjoy many aspects of Christmas, but don’t subscribe to the Santa thing. No matter what the situation is, it’s not his place to put his own beliefs into the heads of your innocent daughter, and you need to tell him that.

Setting boundaries is a good thing, because I promise you he won’t make the same mistake twice if you deliver your message effectively enough — and you don’t have to put your hands on him to do so. As far as your daughter is concerned, she’ll get over it because kids are way more resilient than we give them credit for. Trust me, I got over it once I saw the bike I asked for under my tree, and I’ve been good ever since.

My mom and her twins

However, if he makes a similar mistake again, then all bets are off. The good news is I don’t think he will.