Monday, June 25, 2012

I'm No Expert (And Neither Are You)

"Waste no time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one." -Marcus Aurelius

There's a word that I think is used too often in the media. And now it's permeating the blogosphere too. That word is "war." As a television news producer, I implore my colleagues not to use that word when describing anything other than an actual war. An argument, a disagreement, a scuffle, even a battle. But not a war. Wars are brutal, ugly, and tragic.

So all of this talk lately about "parenting wars" and "mommy wars" really irritates me. It's insulting to those who actually fight real wars. First off, let's end the "war." Second, let's everybody relax.

Ladies, ladies: you're both smart and hard-working.
And you're both making your kids uncomfortable.
The Hilary Rosen-Ann Romney spat started it. Then came the Time magazine cover meant to shock and awe. (Pardon the war pun.) In discussing these wars spats-at-best, I've seen more and more bloggers and parents calling out each other and being nasty while doing it. And it's not just moms and mommy bloggers. A militant faction of stay-at-home dad bloggers are demanding their due, their place in the parenting hierarchy. Instead of demanding attention, why don't we all just take care of our kids the best we can? Only your children need to know what a good, involved parent you are. Still, if you must, there are ways to disagree with people without being a jerk about it. That may seem ironic coming from a "ready-fire-aim" kind of guy like myself, but I am seeing a level of discourse that is just unproductive and unnecessary.

Usually the loudest people aren't the best leaders. They're just attention seekers. Unfortunately, they get a lot of attention anyway.

Found this gem to illustrate the ridiculousness
of this whole "debate."
One more thing: writing a daddy blog does not make me an expert on parenting. Blogging doesn't make any blogger an expert on anything. Too often I see posts offering parenting tips, or opinions on one way to parent over another. I think this is dangerous and presumptuous. Dangerous because no two children are the same. What works for one probably won't work for another. And I say presumptuous because no one asked you.

Look, I call my blog "Daddy Knows Less" because I DON'T have all the answers. I'm doing this for the first time. I've never had a five year-old daughter before. And if I have one again, I can assure you the same eating, sleeping, and potty training habits won't apply. I am here to share my account of my journey of fatherhood. Not offer help. When WE need help? We turn to our parents, our friends, a doctor. Maybe, but rarely, a book or magazine as a last resort. Inevitably, we go with our gut. Never a freakin' mommy or daddy blog. Please say it isn't so.

Being a dad blogger doesn't make me a good dad either. These are stories. Moments in time. Triumphs and failures. Yes, failures. We all have them as parents, no matter if we breastfeed our kids or not, and for however long. I would say most of us have way more triumphs. But we share the stories of the failures so everyone who reads us knows they are not alone. That we mess up too. (And a lot of times it's funny.)

Maybe a story about a failure inspires a conversation that ends up helping someone. But a blogger shouldn't preach. We should document, share, and engage. And we shouldn't judge or blast each other for our parenting styles or choices. Especially if someone is doing their best for their child.

Leave the advice to the professionals. Let's build a community where bloggers and readers can share their experiences. Leave wars to real soldiers.


  1. Now how are we supposed to over-react when you are talking common sense and all that? :-)
    Nice post!

    1. Hey, I'm just as guilty of overreacting to things as the next guy. But sometimes the righteous indignation and the demand for parenting equality is a bit much from all sides.

  2. Yes! In self-publishing (and I consider blogging to be the most gate-free version of that), just hitting "publish" doesn't make me an expert or correct or even truthful. I could type anything at all - and to get lots of page hits I could manipulate my "truth" or experience in any way I like. Who's going to know?

    Something I always try to think about when reading something especially judgmental and inflammatory - what is this person's goal? Conversion? Getting a response? Making her/his sponsors happy about ad impressions? Just having fun with emotions?

    And even when people have the best intentions, that doesn't make their information any more correct or better than the next person's. I don't discount arguments and experiences - but as you mentioned, it's dangerous when blogs (or more official sources) take part in a game of telephone with confidence. In the end, the words we type can morph into something entirely different.

    Great thoughts on this.

    1. I don't have sponsors. I'm not in this for that. And I will always give my readers the honest, raw, truth... whether it's funny or poignant or sad or whatever. Unfortunately, some people WITH sponsors and/or bigger audiences are more concerned with feeding the machine. That's where there bogus 'wars' come from. Thanks for reading and for your great comment.

  3. I'm no expert at leaving comments. Let's see if this works. :-)
    Just cuz it'll make you laugh have to let you know this is my 3rd try at this test comment due to ESS.
    (extreme self stupidity)

    1. Worked. And I expect nothing less from a non-expert such as yourself. ;-)

  4. I agree. I have some peace songs playing in my head.

    1. "Why can't We Be Friends" and "What's Going On" immediately come to mind.

  5. I think there can be a lot of valid reasons to blog, and I think it's fair for some people to use their blogs as a place to vent, or a journal, or as some kind of therapy, or as a way to find like-minded thinkers about touchy issues, or as a record of their experiences either for themselves or for their family...

    But I identify with your sentiment. I'm as tempted as the next person to try to start or win a conversation while blogging, either in a post or through comments. But almost every time I do, I find that I've gotten a little too shrill, that I've written too absolutely, or that in my haste to make a point, my argument just wasn't as careful or qualified as it would be if I was writing an paper or talking to a friend. The bottom line, for me, is to follow the kind of advice you're offering here: just tell my story, and stop trying to prove so much.

    1. Exactly. I admit that sometimes I fire off a post out of 'passion' or anger. And after I've settled down I may regret, or just think differently. That's why I let some of the stuff I write sit overnight before I publish. I like to channel the emotion I' feeling, then go back and say, "Is this how I really feel now? Is this fair? Or am I just trying to get attention.

      I don't fault people for trying to grow their blogs by stoking emotions. But I do have a problem with fanning the flames of a non-debate. There's a fine line.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment to this post.


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