Anything & everything parenting-related. Or gay parenting-related. Or specifically dad-related.
In addition to Thanksgiving, November includes another opportunity to be grateful — National Adoption Month! Just a little over 13 years ago, we created our family through open adoption, and we couldn’t be more thankful for the joy and fulfillment our son has brought to our lives.
In honor of National Adoption Month, I recently helped give a presentation* about LGBTQ parents at one of my chorus rehearsals. Afterwards, I wanted a place to share the links and photos from our talk, so decided to pop it onto the blog. You know I never pass up an opportunity to celebrate queer families!
I’m now the parent of a teenager. While that statement fills me with an expected amount of anxiety, I’m also unexpectedly hopeful. Or maybe that’s delusion. Or maybe my Starbucks is hitting just right this morning.
On the evening of my son’s 13th birthday, I was on the phone with my mom. We were reflecting about how Jon was becoming more independent, responsible, and mature – and just how much fun he is to talk to. She then added, “I haven’t seen him go through any angsty, isolated stage yet. And I don’t think he will.”
I quickly knocked on wood and jokingly scolded her for jinxing the next seven years. Yet in truth it was an encouraging observation from an expert in the field, having raised four boys.
So while I’m still in the throes of denial optimism, I thought I’d jot down 13 parenting lessons I’ve learned… to commemorate making it this far.
Shit’s getting real, y’all. Why does seventh grade seem significantly more ominous than previous grades? Perhaps because it’s the year kids become teenagers. Maybe because it’s when puberty kicks into high gear. Or it could just be that the word “SEVENTH” seems so much longer than “SIXTH” — I mean, it’s a whole ‘nother syllable!
I recently wrote my first piece for Parents, about the Parental Rights in Education Bill (aka the “Don’t Say Gay” bill). This measure seeks to ban sexuality and gender discussion in Florida schools.
As both an LGBTQ parent and the parent of a child that identifies as bi, it wasn’t difficult for me to imagine all the ways this could harm families like mine.
The legislation would essentially erase LGBTQ students and their families, as well as queer history and culture. It’s sad, enraging, and absurd all at once. Sad as I think of all of the young people it could suppress and ignore. Enraging as both a protective papa bear and as a child who grew up closeted and afraid. Absurd as I witness the equivalent of attempting to remove unwanted letters from the alphabet.
While I was only hired as a writer, the illustrator in me had more to express about this hate-fueled bill. Click on the image above for a closer look.
Be sure to check out the full article, where I explain more about the bill, as well as ways to combat similar legislation in your own town, county, or school district.
HAPPY 2022! Can you believe we’re still* talking about (and dealing with) this $@#% pandemic?!?
As we transition from a year full of ups and down into one full of unknowns, many folks are experiencing high levels of anxiety (raises hand). And this is by no means limited to adults. Kids and teens are right there with us.
The hardest part for me has been getting my hopes up, making plans, looking forward to the future…only to be sucked back into a new wave of quarantines and testing, and the accompanying stress and fear. For parents, the challenge has been and continues to be — how do I manage my own anxiety while also helping my kids cope with theirs? Sometimes it feels like the blind leading the blind.
The end is in sight! We’ve nearly made it out the other side of the pandemic. Yet I sometimes miss those early months of quarantine where the focus was pure survival. Spirits were low, but so were expectations. Teachers and parents were more lenient as we all navigated unknown, unpredictable waters. Now that things are slowly getting back to normal, the pressure to be a Parent MVP is creeping back in. The urge to compare gets stronger every day, as does my old pal, anxiety.
As is often the case in parenting, my son taught me a lesson about comparison, expectations, and what kind of dad I should strive to be: Most Improved.
Okay, so the award wasn’t for my actual parenting skills, but rather my writing about being a dad during a pandemic. A series of posts I wrote during 2020 has won the Iris Award for Best Sponsored Content!
What’s an Iris Award?
Think the Oscars for parent blogging. Attendees of the Mom 2.0 and Dad 2.0 conferences nominate and vote for their peers in a variety of categories, ranging from writing to photography to podcasts. Each year the awards ceremony is a swanky affair held at the end of the Mom 2.0 Summit. While this year’s virtual version wasn’t nearly as swanky as usual, it was certainly no less an honor to be recognized.
Here we are, back-to-school, and already almost two months into sixth grade! My son is full-time in person (masked) at his new middle school, making new friends, learning new things, showing signs of growth and maturity. There were moments during the last year and a half when it seemed like we’d never get here.
If you’re like me, you spent a lot of time and energy worrying about this new school year, given the 18 months prior we all had to endure. And while I’m thrilled (so far/knock on wood/fingers crossed) with how things are going, I want to make sure I’m as prepared as I can be for any challenges that come along. Because one thing every parent can be sure of is that there will be challenges.
I recently attended a webinar hosted by Responsibility.org that addressed some of the concerns many parents and caregivers are facing. Here are just a few of the questions (and answers) that spoke to me most.
We’ve been pandemic parenting for over a year now… and it’s been a hell of a year, hasn’t it? Compared to so many that were medically or financially devastated by Covid, our family got off fairly easy. Yet I imagine everyone looks forward to putting this behind us, allowing it to fade into a surreal, scary, traumatic, lonely, stressful, depressing — and oh so monotonous — memory.
Between the isolation, health scares, lost work and the flaming dumpster fire that was virtual learning, I had to do something to keep my sanity, fill the time, and lift the spirits of my housebound family.
While distance learning was (and is) a largely futile endeavor for my ADHD kiddo, his school interjected some fun as best it could. Spirit Week was always one of my favorite events growing up, so I was pleasantly surprised when Jon’s school added a couple of extra themed weeks to the calendar.
As it’s no secret Dad loves any excuse to play dress up, I wasn’t letting my son have all the fun. I got us all involved — picked out props, took pics, and occasionally had some Photoshop fun before sharing on social media. It was such a hoot, I added a few themed Spirit Days of my own. If I’m being honest, sometimes I was probably the only one truly enjoying it — but kudos to Jon and Papa for letting me force convince them to play along!
So, as we surpass the year mark on quarantine life, I wanted to commemorate all of the wacky, weird and spirited photos from the weary months we’ve made it through.
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HOPPY EASTER! 👯♂️🦄 Not an official Spirit Day photo, but officially adorbs. Trying to find some fun hidden in our son’s first Easter not spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s.
April is Alcohol Responsibility Month. And as a parent, making our children aware of alcohol and responsible drinking should happen early, appropriately and repeatedly.
But first let me drop a bit of awareness on you…
In 1991, 80% of American teens had consumed alcohol at least once. By 2020, that number had dropped to 44%. Some credit this decrease, in part, to an increase in parents talking to their children openly and honestly about alcohol.
This past year I’ve had the pleasure of working with Responsibility.org, whose mission is to facilitate these lifelong conversations between parents and kids. I’ve learned a ton from my interactions with the organization and strive to impart some of that knowledge to my readers… and of course, to my son.
So, in honor of Alcohol Responsibility Month, I thought I’d do just that — have a conversation with my 11-year-old about alcohol.
As I was coming up with questions, I realized I hadn’t had much in the way of father-son chats about alcohol. I knew he’d seen me and his Papa drink — and probably more often during quarantine. But what did he really know? What had he actually observed? How worried should I be?
Below is our enlightening (and entertaining) discussion.