In this month’s feature for our “Awesome Parent Blogger Series”, we are thrilled to bring you an interview with a single father who embraced fatherhood whole-heartedly when he became a father to 3 children – Dave Taylor.
You may know him from his popular youtube channel askDaveTaylor and popular website askdavetaylor.com. He’s a life long entrepreneur, who helped to create the modern Internet, has launched four startups and written 22 books. If you are like me who grew up in the Internet age and worked in technology, you probably read a few of his books.
When he became a parent, he started to write about attachment parenting and then ventured into creating gofatherhood.com. His blog has inspired many parents (both moms and dads) to parent a little more consciously.
Read his blog, you will find that he’s a role model to many parents out there.
Let’s welcome Dave Taylor to our Awesome Parent Blogger Series.
1) What prompted you to start your blog gofatherhood.com back in 2010?
GoFatherhood actually started life as The Attachment Parenting Blog and my then-wife and I was (theoretically) co-authoring articles on attachment parenting and life with little ones. Turns out it was really all my effort and as the babies became toddlers and then children. Well, attachment parenting is generally a parenting philosophy for birth to a year or two, so it seemed less applicable. When we divorced, I decided to refocus the blog on my journey as a father, hence GoFatherhood. My focus has always been to try and write about the experience of parenting rather than my experience parenting my own children. I use my kid’s and our experiences as examples or a launching pad. I find that so much parenting information is from non-parents, and I think it’s a breath of fresh air, particularly for men, for fathers, to get stories from the trenches.
2) How has blogging affected your family’s life?
Overall blogging about children and parenting has been a fantastic experience. It’s opened up so many doors and given us lots of experiences that we wouldn’t have even known about otherwise. My kids have gotten toys, movies, books, we’ve been able to try lots of different foods, and we’ve gone to restaurants, shows, live performances, even theme parks so we could share the experience online. Blogging has also opened me to other perspectives and other styles or approaches to parenting. It’s a sure bet that whatever you talk about with parenting, someone else is going to come along and tell you that you handled it poorly and should have done something entirely different. That’s hard, personally, because it can feel like an attack when you’re hoping for support, but get beyond the ego part and it’s been a great way for me to expand my horizons as a parent. I’m a lot more mellow because of blogging too.
3) What kind of boundaries do you draw when blogging about fatherhood?
I don’t write about really personal challenges, I don’t blog about arguments or fights we have, and I try to always refer to my ex in a polite and mature fashion. In person, over margaritas, those conversations would definitely be a bit different! It’s the dilemma of reading about parenting online, actually: In the midst of a family crisis, we shut down and stop sharing. So others looking in feel like it’s an idyllic life and there are never any issues. The entire journey of my divorce I don’t think I once mentioned that we were going through a divorce, let alone the thrashing, fights, contention, even the stupid legal stuff and how it ended up being skewed in favor of my ex far more than I felt should have occurred. Ah, but here I am sharing some of that! See? It’s tricky to find that boundary and stick with it.
Which leads to the question: Why have those boundaries? Why have any boundaries at all? Well, I think that all of us humans have a line where we try to balance our inner journey and inner experience with that which we share with others. Whether a best friend since childhood, a spouse we adore or a pal down at the gym, we have our filters, and necessarily. That same thing happens online. If my son and I argue about something, do I really need to share that with anyone else, let alone my blog readers or the great swirling chaos of social media? There’s no real benefit that can come of that other than hurt feelings and a violation of trust. Oversharing is not caring about your audience, it’s, um, well, maybe an issue to consider with a therapist. I know, my two cents.
4) Have your teenage children ever feel their lives affected by your blogging?
My children – now 22, 18 and 14 – have learned to trust that if I write about them, it’s with a (reasonably) positive light. I don’t use my blog as a diary or form of online writing therapy, so they never really have to worry that I’m going to spill the beans on something!
5) After a few years of blogging, how did you turn your blogging into a business?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for so many years at this point that everything I do generally has at least a touch or element of business associated with it. I didn’t actively pursue turning my GoFatherhood blog into a business, however, I just started to have companies reach out to me for possible opportunities and partnerships. Turns out dads writing about fatherhood are a bit more unusual than moms writing about motherhood. Go figure. To keep that moving along smoothly, I’ve really put in a lot of effort to deliver above and beyond expectations with everything I do. I always, 100% of the time, always deliver and try to do so with flair and élan.
I say that because overall bloggers are known as being a bit slack with deliverables, and the horror stories of companies paying big bucks to get coverage that never happened are rife throughout the industry. I like to keep President John F. Kennedy’s dictum in mind with all of this: ask not what they can do for you, but what you can do for them. Yeah, I paraphrase a little bit.
6) What are the biggest challenges a single dad faces when parenting?
I think the greatest challenge of single parenting of either gender is finding balance. The 50’s stereotype of homemaker mom who nurtures and is involved with homework while dad’s working and the disciplinarian no long works, nor was it particularly balanced, but… but there’s something to be said about having the multiple personalities of good parenting be represented by multiple parents.
It does kind of take a village. So single parents are kind of stuck because they have to be kind, warm, loving, caring and tough rule makers and disciplinarians at the same time. Doing one without the other creates children that aren’t really prepared to succeed as adults. You can do both, but it took me a few years to learn how to be nurturing and in the moment, not worrying about The Right Thing.
Add a separate household and now you have inherent conflict because however much you try to stay in sync, it’s impossible to have two households parent exactly the same way. We used to try synchronizing bedtime, but I’m better at getting the kids to bed on time (heck, I’m better at everything to do with punctuality, but that’s another story!) so we couldn’t even do that with the kids.
Is one parent better than the other? Often not, though each is convinced they’re doing it better. And so, more conflict. Hurrah. The additional layer with this is that historically men haven’t been the primary parent or nurturer. Men were out hunting while women were in the cave raising the younglings, and some of that is still part of our cultural value. So when I would show up at kindergarten to pick up my little one, all the moms would stop talking and stare at me. “What are YOU doing here, dad?” was clearly written on their faces.
Time and again, I have had to educate teachers that ‘parent appreciation’ involves children making cards or gifts for mom and dad, not just mom. My youngest lived with me full time for two years too and even during that period well-meaning adults would ask her about how it was going at mom’s house. The assumption: Kids live with their mom and dad’s just in the picture for weekends or holidays. Honestly, that gets annoying as heck after a while and I know there are plenty of other stay at home and primary fathers who experience this every day at school, at the playground, at the mall, etc.
7) What advice would you give to single moms out there parenting their children without a dad present?
Hmmm…. make sure you aren’t just representing the stereotypical super mom approach of adoration. Kids thrive in an environment that offers them support, love and challenges too. Not every piece of art is a masterpiece. Not every homework assignment deserves an “A”. And sometimes, just sometimes, your children have to fight their own battles.
8) Has being a single dad made you a better dad (any advantages)?
Hard to separate it all out. 22 years of parenting, or, heck, if we combine ’em, 54 years of parenting has taught me a lot about what really matters, what’s really important, and how to model the behaviors you want to see in your children. Not sure I’m a great dad, but I sure as heck try, and I love the heck out of my kids, so I think that’s all that’s really required to learn and get better, right?
9) What would you say to a new mommy blogger about venturing into the blogging space?
Don’t overshare. Don’t write things that you wouldn’t say directly to someone, whether it’s a girlfriend, your spouse, or one of your children when they grow up. What’s the old phrase? Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want to see printed on the front page of the New York Times. And be kind to other people. Honestly, it might make for good clickbait, but no-one wants to read constant complaining. If your life’s that difficult a therapist might be a much better path to happiness than a therapeutic blog :-).
10) What advice do you have to give to any new single dads out there?
Keep your sense of humor and play the long game. And man up, be a parent. It’s not about feeding them candy and letting them stay up late because you won’t have to argue about bedtime, it’s about creating a safe container within which your children can feel your love and know that it’s not a holiday every time they’re with you. And make the time to stop whatever you’re doing and listen to them. Do what they want, pick movies they want to watch, play games that they’ll understand and enjoy. It’s all going to work out in the long run, so be patient. And laugh a lot.
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