Stay-at-Home Dads: the Stats, the Struggles, and the Benefits

Stay at home dad salute
(SUPPLIED)

If you were asked 40 years ago to describe a typical family dynamic, it’d be pretty straightforward. The first image that came to mind would probably look something like The Dick Van Dyke Show. Dad gets home after a long day’s work, hangs his coat, and asks, “what’s for dinner, honey?” before sitting down at the table for his allotted hour of family time. This snapshot in history is quickly fading, and in case you’ve been sleeping, there is no one correct way to be a family. In fact, the so-called “traditional family” has evolved so drastically over time that the idea of the “breadwinner father” and “homemaker mother” is, quite honestly, antiquated.

This clear and distinct shift in typical roles within a family is due to the fact that, well, families themselves are changing. According to Pew Research Center, the makeup of a typical family has undergone a dramatic shift over the last 50 years or so. In 1960, for example, 73% of children were being raised by their married parents (specifically, a mom and dad in their first marriage). Today, however, fewer than half (around 46%) of children are living with their married mom and dad. Clearly, things are changing. Divorce is more common, as is being a single parent and co-parenting. Having children without being married is on the rise, and same-sex couples are finally being legally recognized (it wasn’t until 2019 that the U.S. Census Bureau provided estimates on households with same-sex couples); a lot has happened over time to make the idea of what a typical family looks like far more flexible.

Through all of these shifts in family structures, one thing hasn’t changed – someone has to take care of the kids. Over the years, the number of stay-at-home dads has been on the rise. The Pew Research Center states that in 1989, only 10% of fathers were stay-at-home dads. In 2012, the percentage reached 16%. It’s important to note, these numbers are reflective only of dads over 18 with their own children living in their households (though of course there are plenty of amazing dads filling the father role for children who aren’t biologically or legally theirs). Though that number increased drastically in just 23 years, there were many reasons why dads were taking on the stay-at-home role. In some cases, it was because of the father’s inability to find employment, or due to a disability. However, the most incredible shift happened within the category of dads taking on the stay-at-home role simply because they wanted to. In 1989, only 5% of stay-at-home dads cited that they chose to do so, but that number grew fourfold in 2012, with 21% of stay-at-home dads citing that same reason. Things are changing; not only are there more stay-at-home dads now than almost any time in history, but more men are actively choosing to be a primary caregiver for their children.

Steve, a former stay-at-home dad (his kids are fully-grown now) from central Illinois took over as primary caregiver in 1987. In Steve’s case, it was the logical choice for him to become a SAHD – his wife had a stable job, and he was burned out at his. Although it wasn’t as common in the 80s, Steve thoroughly loved being a stay-at-home dad, and he even helped normalize the practice within his community. “It was even more fun than I expected,” Steve told The Dad, “And I was accepted by the other moms at the various activities we would do during the day. After a year of taking my kids to swimming lessons at the Y they eventually change the name of the class from mom and tot to parent and child classes.”

Even being a trailblazer in the field of stay-at-home dadding, Steve was fortunate – he had a lot of support. “Although people would occasionally assume I was just babysitting for the day to give my wife some time off, most of the responses I got were jealous dads wishing they could stay with their kids while their wives worked.”

For a deeper look into life as a SAHD in the early 90s (and some amazing 90s fashion), check out this video of Steve and his family.

Tom became a full-time SAHD in 2008 when his son was 2. Although caring for his son was Tom’s primary job, it wasn’t his only job. “I’m a custom furniture builder and trim carpenter”, Tom explained to The Dad, “so once [Tom’s son] started school full time, I was able to start some occasional work. As he has gotten older and more self-sufficient, I’ve been able to take on more jobs, but rarely have I put in a full 40 hours in a given week since I took over.”

He fit in his second job when he could, but as most parents know, being a primary caregiver is a full-time job in itself. “None of my friends or acquaintances whose wives stayed at home thought that was the easier role,” Tom noted, “indeed they acknowledged it was probably harder.”

For Tom, falling into the role of stay-at-home dad was planned – even before kids were in the picture. Tom said of his wife, “Even while dating, we had decided that should we ever get married and have kids, we’d rather take a financial hit so one of us could stay home. Her social work career was always on a clear upward trajectory, so not only did she have stable professional income with benefits, she also had a fulfilling job that she was great at and loved.”

Aside from the convenience of his wife’s successful career, Tom explained, “I also am just more temperamentally suited to the role. For want of a better term, I’m more ‘childish’, and love all the kid stuff – exploration of the world, toys, playing games, etc. I’ve also always been the cook in our relationship, so schedule wise it was easier for me to handle shopping and cooking while toting my boy around.”

SAHD Tom
(SUPPLIED)

Marcus Stricklin, a dad we met after he shared a hilarious Despicable Me-inspired rule-setting TikTok, explained both the joy and exhaustion that comes with being a stay-at-home dad. “I have been a stay at home dad for the better part of 5 years,” Marcus told The Dad. “I also write, so I manage to get up early, and write in the morning before everyone is up, then make their breakfast and lunches, while attempting to dodge a toddler and his constant needs.”

As a father of five, it seems fitting that Marcus should get some serious recognition for his long days – trying to coordinate his kids’ days, getting his own work done, and making sure everyone’s needs are met. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

At times, upon seeing Marcus running around with his five kids, “They assumed I was actually the Manny,” he explained. “Many of them asked how much I charged. I wish I were joking about this.”

Like most SAHDs, Marcus took on the challenging role because it made the most sense for his household. “It’s a choice,” Marcus said. “I could work, but the amount of money we have saved on daycare and after school care in the last 5 years, is close to 60k combined.”

“I am constantly tired by the end of the day. I have little to no free time, but at the same time, I’ve had the chance to spend an insane amount of time with my children, and that is the best part.”

SAHD Marcus
Multitasking like a seasoned professional (SUPPLIED)

Like Marcus who was confused for a “Manny,” stay-at-home dads often aren’t given the affirmation they deserve for the incredibly challenging job they do every day. Nish, a stay at home dad intermittently from 2011-2015 shared some of the challenges he faced over the years. Many of those challenges were caused by a society that, at least to some degree, still sees the ability to provide financially as a key feature of masculinity. “Someone called my ex my ‘sugar mama’,” Nish recalls. “There was a general stigma about my ex making the money. When we needed to cut costs, it mostly ended up being something I needed or liked.”

Nish struggled with being a stay-at-home dad. He struggled with not feeling like he was contributing enough financially to his family, even though he acknowledged he was doing what needed to be done. He explained, “Being a SAHD can be lonely in that both men and women are put off by you in different ways. I personally had trouble opening up to anyone at all”.

Other stay-at-home dads we spoke to felt at least some degree of judgment surrounding their primary caregiver status as well. “People looked at me very strangely when they found out I was a stay at home dad” SAHD Marc told The Dad, “I’m also a giant guy with a shaved head, so that could be part of it too, but other stay at home dads experienced the same thing.”

Stay-at-home dad Ryan expressed dismay at just how often dads are left without recognition for raising their own children. “Moms get a lot of credit for raising good kids, as they should. But there are a lot of dads out there working their ass off. And we aren’t all that bumbling doofus that you see portrayed in commercials. God I hate those commercials.”

We freaking hate those commercials too. And sadly, preconceived notions about being a SAHD aren’t isolated to the United States – BBC Three put together a highly relatable video based on some ridiculous things stay-at-home dads have heard.

The description explains, “From “Can you change a nappy?” to “So who wears the trousers?”, stay-at-home dads get asked all sorts of questions about their experience of being a stay-at-home parent. Here, some fathers tell us how they’re not taken seriously, what it’s like to be the only dad in a world of mums, and why raising their children is never ‘baby-sitting’ or ‘daddy daycare’.” Give the full video a watch below, and perhaps, quietly send it along to some friends and family members that need a crash-course.

We have undoubtedly come a long way in terms of broadening the scope of what is seen as normal and acceptable in terms of family dynamics. However, we clearly still have a long way to go. Parenting is one of the hardest imaginable jobs – incredibly rewarding, but incredibly difficult. When all is said and done, every single one of us has the exact same goal – moms, dads, grandparents, stepparents, caregivers – we’re all just trying to raise the absolute best and happiest possible kids.

12 Funniest Parenting Tweets of the Week 11/27/20

Funniest Parenting Tweets of the Week 11/27/20
(Getty/Cavan Images Twitter/dadmann_walking)

According to my records, we are quickly approaching The Season To Be Jolly. No matter what holiday you’re celebrating in the coming month (though we’re all united in the celebration of a Happy Honda Days), the lead-up is full of anticipation. This year, as we’ve grown tired of saying, things will look a bit different. As always though, we can count on our kids to remind us what’s really important – making the best of every moment, because they really do grow up too fast. Here are 12 of the funniest parenting tweets this week, from Twitter parents who certainly know how to make the best of things.

The Thanksgiving dinner our ancestors intended

I see no problem with this

Ho Ho Ho

Thoughts and prayers

Heartbreaking

It’s almost impressive

A true inspiration

Sounds unhealthy

Might as well buy stock in Duracell

You know they’re kept in my room

There goes the rest of your day

Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing

Did you miss last week’s funniest parenting tweets?

Deployed Dad Stays In Touch With Kids Through Ring Doorbell

Kids Use Doorbell for Deployed Dad
(YouTube/Ring)

Though there are certainly drawbacks to living in a world run by technology, advancements in technology provide incredible solutions to many of life’s problems. Especially during the era of COVID, technology has allowed us to stay connected when other modes of communication are no longer an option. Even before the pandemic, communication was a challenge for many – particularly members of the Armed Forces deployed overseas. Being deployed means leaving everyone and everything behind in order to bravely defend your country, and sadly, it often means missing out on some of your kids’ milestones and celebrations.

While stationed in the Middle East with Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division, Peter DeCrans bought his family a Ring doorbell, assuming it would help him keep his family safe while he was away. For those who don’t know, a Ring doorbell is equipped with a camera that connects to the homeowner’s devices. If someone presses the button on your Ring doorbell while you’re away from home, you can see the camera’s video feed from wherever you are.

This feature brings peace of mind when you’re away from home, knowing that you’re able to keep a virtual eye on your house from anywhere in the world. But for Peter DeCrans, this feature gave him an incredible gift – one that no doorbell in history has been able to provide (a very odd sentence, yes, but they’re just going to keep getting weirder as technology evolves).

Every morning before school, DeCran’s 7-year-old son Zerick and 5-year-old daughter Petroula recorded a video using their Ring doorbell. And throughout his 10-month deployment, Peter DeCrans was able to receive them – over 100 videos of his adorable kids to keep his spirits up and remind him why he’s doing what he’s doing.

The videos became a highly-anticipated part of DeCrans’s days, something he eagerly looked forward to and cherished enormously during his time away from home.

DeCrans told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, “It was one of the best things ever, a little slice of home. When you’re gone that long, you miss your kids, and you want to see them. It’s a way to feel connected to what’s going on.”

From thousands of miles away, DeCrans got the latest news from his kids. He heard about their days, new dances they learned, skills they proudly mastered – DeCrans was kept up-to-date on it all.

“It was just part of the routine,” he explained. “They’d get dressed for school, and then they’d swing outside and leave a quick message telling me about their day. … One day Zerick had really long hair, and the next day he had a buzz cut because he had a wood tick in his hair, and he didn’t want long hair anymore.”

In return, DeCrans recorded his own videos. Using a Kindle app he read stories to his kids, continuing a beloved activity the family did together while he was home. DeCrans was able to remain a big part of his kids’ lives from thousands of miles away, and it was all thanks to a doorbell.

This Is the Ultimate DC Extended Universe Chronological Timeline

dc movies in order
(Warner Bros.)

For decades, DC made money off all forms of Superman and Batman. Each superhero had his own television show(s) and a slew of movies. While the ultra-good Superman didn’t make much of an appearance in the early aughts (other than on Smallville), the brooding Batman reigned supreme. No matter the legendary actor who portrayed him, Batman was a blockbuster. With the likes of Penguin and Riddler, he’s had some seriously memorable villains. And let’s not forget the Dark Knight films that offered a particularly dark but enchanting look at Bruce Wayne’s most notorious enemy, The Joker.

Then came the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). With the rise of Ironman and the rest of the Avengers, Batman suddenly didn’t have the same draw. After all, who can compete with Thor? Even Superman isn’t worthy. DC needed to find a way to compete with the MCU and with the end of Marvel’s “Phase 1” in sight, DC jumped at the chance. Enter the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Playing off MCU’s lead, it was supposed to be a series of DC Character-led films all connected, full of callbacks and easter eggs. Sadly, it quickly jumped the tracks. (Or the shark, depending on how strongly you feel about the DCEU.)

There is an order to the DCEU films, though, and following it can make them more enjoyable. If you want to watch them in chronological order, so the flashbacks and callbacks make the most sense, here’s how…

DC Movies In Chronological Order

Wonder Woman

First, there’s the Wonder Woman flashback to Zeus’ creation of the Amazon women and their homeland, Themyscira. After all, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is Amazonian. The rest of the movie’s plot line takes place around World War I, when Captain Steve Trevor accidentally finds his way to Themyscira and is thus followed back to London by Diana/Wonder Woman, where she takes an active role in fighting alongside Allied Forces.

Man of Steel

Man of Steel was technically the first to be released within the timeline, even though the events within the movie all happen after Wonder Woman. Most of the film takes place in present-day (-ish), around 2013 with Superman (Henry Cavill) in his mid-to-late twenties. There are several “flashbacks,” however. The film shows the destruction on Krypton, Kal-El’s home planet, as well as his life as a child growing up in Kansas, as Clark Kent.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The vast majority of Batman v. Superman takes place about a year and a half after the events of Man of Steel. The film largely centers on Batman/Bruce Wayne’s (Ben Affleck) grudge against Superman because of the events of Man of Steel, so you’ll see flashbacks of that destruction, as well as looks at Bruce’s childhood in the ‘80s. So, still clearly after Wonder Woman.

Suicide Squad

Nearly all of the film’s events take place about 12 months after the events in Batman v Superman. How do we know? The biggest factor is that the death of Superman is brought up in the film. We also witness Bruce/Batman taking a step back and handing over the Justice League reins to Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). All clearly signs that time has passed.

Justice League

Justice League pushes the story further into the present, starting about a year after everything that goes down in Suicide Squad. That said, there’s a pretty cool flashback to the fight against Steppenwolf (the supervillain, not the band) that took place in the days of Atlantis and Olympus, thousands of years prior.

Aquaman

Technically, you don’t need to have seen any of the other DC movies in order to watch Aquaman, enjoy Jason Mamoa’s acting and still get the gist of the film. It does, however, take place some time after Justice League. (It also includes gloriously ‘80s flashbacks for a look at Aquaman’s origins.)

Shazam!

Did anyone even watch Shazam!? We won’t judge you if you skipped this one. For the record, though, almost all of the movie takes place over 2018’s holiday season.

Birds of Prey

As previously mentioned, this is where the DC franchise has started to unravel. Birds of Prey. This was the standalone, entirely following Harley Quinn, that fans wanted most. It happens several years after the events of everything in Justice League but pays very little mind to anything Harley did with the Suicide Squad. Hopefully, subsequent movies pull things back together.

DC Movies By Release Date

Man of Steel
June, 2013
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
March, 2016
Suicide Squad
August, 2016
Wonder Woman
June, 2017
Justice League
November, 2017
Aquaman
December, 2018
Shazam!
April, 2019
Birds of Prey
February, 2020

Michael Jordan Donates $2 Million To Food Banks in Chicago and Carolina

Jordan Donation
(Twitter/FeedingAmerica)

It’s the season of giving, and Michael Jordan once again proved why he’s a GOAT by making a huge donation to Feeding America to help the nearly 80 million food-insecure Americans during the holidays. During Thanksgiving week, Jordan donated $2 million to the organization supporting food banks around the country.

Jordan has proven his charitable side during the pandemic, as he helped fund two health care centers for uninsured people in his current hometown in North Carolina. It’s a huge gift from the sports legend that made a tremendous impact on those at-risk communities. And now, Jordan is helping feed the hungry in Chicago and North Carolina by gifting the proceeds of the recent “Last Dance” documentary on his final season.

Feeding America announced the gift and described it as ‘an incredible gift to be thankful for’ and said it would help feed their neighbors. Jordan, for his part, released a statement acknowledging the donation.

“In these challenging times and in a year of unimaginable difficulty due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to pause and give thanks,” he said. “I am proud to be donating additional proceeds from The Last Dance to Feeding America and its member food banks in the Carolinas and Chicago to help feed America’s hungry.”

The NBA Hall of Famer is certainly trying to rewrite his next chapter, as he’s been on a major philanthropic phase in the last year, with this gift, opening two health care centers for the uninsured, and with a $100 million gift over 10 years to fight racial inequality.

Jordan continues to cement his legacy as the GOAT.

Dad Keeps Thanksgiving Tradition Alive By Taking Post-Dinner Nap Over Zoom

Dad Takes Nap on Zoom
(Getty/Dylan Ellis)

CHULA VISTA, CA – While the Christiansen family was unable to gather in person this year for Thanksgiving due to the pandemic, 41-year-old Jason Christiansen, a father of two, wasn’t about to let that stand in the way of tradition, as he set up a Zoom call so that the entire family could watch him take a post-dinner nap.

“It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Uncle Jason passing out on the couch,” said Jason’s niece Debbie, who along with the rest of the family played some virtual boardgames over Zoom while the audio from Jason’s snores intermittently cut in and out of the call.

While there was a brief moment where the entire Zoom call paused to see if Jason was waking up, it proved that he was just switching positions from one where the laptop camera showed an unflattering angle of his double chin to an even less flattering angle revealing his belly peeking out from beneath his shirt.

“It’s been a strange year, but it felt refreshingly normal to watch my brother fall asleep after consuming his weight in mashed potatoes,” said Jason’s brother Henry, who was grateful that Jason had upgraded to a premium Zoom account so that the family didn’t miss a single second of him napping.

As the entire family said their goodbyes and signed off the Zoom call around 10pm, it wasn’t until 3am that Jason finally woke up from his lengthy Turkey-induced nap and finally shut his laptop screen before immediately going to bed so he could sleep off the rest of the meal.

Despite being completely plausible to parents, THIS JUST IN is satire and intended for entertainment purposes only. For more stories like this one click here.

Tyler Perry Feeds 5,000 Families at Drive-Thru Thanksgiving Food Giveaway

Tyler Perry Thanksgiving Giveaway
(Getty/Albert L. Ortega Twitter/emilieIkedaFOX5)

When it comes to famous people, 2020 has shown us who the true GOATS are, the ones who help people in their greatest hour of need and go above and beyond in delivering that help. And it’s also shown us the ones who are astonishingly silent during this time or paying only lip-service when it comes to making a difference. You probably don’t need a reminder, but Tyler Perry is indisputably in that first group. That’s why he was recently crowned the people’s champ.

Perry has always had a philanthropic heart, giving to the people and charities that make a difference. But he’s kicked it up a gear during COVID times. He bought groceries for thousands of seniors during the height of pandemic paranoia, he went above and beyond to get his studio open safely so he could get people back to work, worked with local law enforcement to get gift cards to families in need, gave away $20,000+ in tips at his favorite restaurant, and is just an all-around good guy. Now, he’s helping feed people on Thanksgiving.

His studio announced the news of a giveaway of non-perishable food items and gift cards to the first 5,000 families who came by. The poster for the Thanksgiving giveaway said they wished they ‘could feed everyone’, but wanted to do what they could during a time when so many are food-insecure.

In a sign of how much it’s needed, cars started lining up THE DAY BEFORE the giveaway, like they were selling Playstation 5s. The long line even caused traffic problems.

Perry has given back during the holidays before, most notably a couple years back when he paid off $500,000 of layaway balances at Walmart for families. And this Thanksgiving give-away is another that will not soon be forgotten.

This should be the new barometer for charity work. If you’re causing traffic, it tells you what you’re doing is substantial, and it also tells you there are a lot of people in need, and hopefully his generosity inspires others to give back however they can during the holiday season.

Dad “Really Sad” That Vegan Relatives Can’t Attend Thanksgiving Amid Covid

Dad Sad on Thanksgiving
(Getty/PeopleImages)

CHESAPEAKE, VA – The COVID-19 pandemic has forced families to alter their Thanksgiving plans this year, meaning 36-year-old Greg Jeffries won’t be able to host a big family gathering like normal, which in turn has left him “utterly distraught” over the fact that his vegan relatives won’t be attending.

“I’m heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken,” said Greg while stuffing the tofurkey he bought last week straight into the trash, which he would have been forced to make for his sister-in-law and her husband before they ultimately canceled their travel plans.

While Greg also claimed to be sad that his meat-eating family members wouldn’t be coming to dinner this year, he made a point to stress that he was extra “inconsolable” and “unsure if he would ever find happiness again” over the fact that his vegan relatives wouldn’t be showing up and bringing vegan side dishes that took up valuable table space.

“Tears of joy? No, I’m really sad,” said Greg, who had tears running down his face when he pulled the delicious, meaty turkey out of the oven that he and his wife would be sharing without any concern for the dietary restrictions of others.

As Greg and his wife sat down to enjoy a smaller than usual Thanksgiving together, he realized that by this time next year the entire family would be able to gather safely again, vegans included. It was this realization that made him truly sad for the first time all day.

Despite being completely plausible to parents, THIS JUST IN is satire and intended for entertainment purposes only. For more stories like this one click here.

Former NFL Star Gives Away 200 Thanksgiving Turkeys

Marshawn Lynch handing out turkeys
(Twitter/RobDeMelloKHON)

Once a famous athlete retires, the sports world is quick to forget them. If they suddenly pop back up in the news, it’s not usually a good sign, but Marshawn Lynch is a clear exception to this. The former All-Pro running back who led the Seattle Seahawks to a pair of Super Bowls made news this week for his charitable side, as Beast Mode handed out 200 free turkeys to families in Hawaii (where he lives).

Big charitable efforts from celebrities are usually PR stunts, tied into a vague sounding foundation without a clear impact on helping people (this isn’t to dog all charities, some obviously do major good). Then there’s the other side of it, where people give directly to those in need. Like Josh Gad giving money to laid-off Disney workers, or Tyler Perry buying groceries for senior citizens.

Beast Mode falls into that category, as he not only helped buy turkeys for 200 fams, he donned the PPE and handed them out himself.

Officially, he partnered with Young’s Fish Market and his foundation, Fam1stFamily, to pull off the Thanksgiving giveaway. Former star football player at Hawaii, Chad Owens, also helped pass out the turkeys, and said they were “blessed” to have Marshawn out there donating turkeys and that he was there ‘to help and support Marshawn in his wanting to give this Thanksgiving season.”

Lynch has always been a big force of giving back to the community, as he’s participated in numerous food drives, built a school in Haiti, bought a soul food restaurant so it wouldn’t have to close and much more. And he also does stuff like this, which will make a big difference for a few hundred families on Thanksgiving. In the spring, he drove around on a golf cart handing out face masks to people to help stay safe during the pandemic.

Lynch was a terror on the field (hence the Beast Mode nickname), and though he was never a big interview off the field, his actions speak much louder to his character than any words could’ve.

 

Florida Man Becomes a Hero After Prying His Puppy From the Jaws of an Alligator

Florida man saves puppy from alligator
(YouTube/Inside Edition)

Buckle up folks, Florida Man is back. This isn’t your typical Florida Man story though – this time, FloridaMan is the superhero we desperately needed. While out walking near his backyard pond as he’s done countless times in the past, 74-year-old Richard Wilbanks had an encounter he won’t soon forget. Wilbanks took his 3-month-old puppy out for a walk, and unfortunately, a hungry alligator was quietly lurking under the pond’s surface.

Typically, when we see videos of alligators, it’s their powerful jaws and mammoth size that makes our blood run cold. Our only saving grace (or so we thought) is that their legs, though clawed and terrifying, are disproportionately small. They don’t seem like they’d be the most coordinated of creatures, let alone the fastest. But as Wilbanks, unfortunately, found out, a nearby snack is enough motivation for these short-legged predators to kick it up a notch.

“We were just out walking by the pond,” Wilbanks told CNN, “and it came out of the water like a missile. I never thought an alligator could be that fast. It was so quick.”

Before Wilbanks’s brain could catch up with his adrenaline-fueled body, the Florida retiree was in the pond with beloved puppy, his hands wrapped around the jaws of the alligator. He managed to keep the young alligator still as he poured all of his effort into prying open its powerful jaws.

After a Herculean struggle that was caught on nearby security cameras, our hero freed his helpless pup from the nearly 4-foot-long alligator’s grip. As if the remarkable save wasn’t impressive enough, this absolutely beast of a man held his cigar in his mouth throughout the entire encounter (which is honestly the most Florida Man thing we can imagine).

Wilbanks’s hands were cut badly from the alligator’s teeth, but after a trip to the doctor and a tetanus shot, he’s healing well. As for his puppy Gunner, incredibly, the dog was less injured than he was. With a single puncture wound on his abdomen, a trip to the vet was all he needed before returning home for some much-needed rest.

As for the alligator, well, he didn’t get his meal. But because of a partnership between the Florida Wildlife Federation and fSTOP, an organization geared towards conservation education through photography, residents of the area value living alongside native wildlife.

Wilbanks told CNN, “They’re part of nature and part of our lives.”

He explained that he didn’t want the alligator removed or hurt in any way, but he will be taking precautions by walking farther from the pond in the future.

“Our pets, they’re just like family to us,” Wilbanks said.

You hear that, alligators? Dogs are friends, not food.