Monday, January 26, 2015

Similac Welcomes Dads to the Sisterhood of Motherhood

If you're confused by the title of this blog, you aren't alone. In advertising there are brands that clearly value dads and see the importance of including them in all things related to parenthood.  Brands like Dove Men + Care, Toyota, and NyQuil have seen the light and have produced such great ads that my wife will yell from the other room "Chris! There's a dadvertisement on TV!"

Some brands recognize just how important this is with Super Bowl XLIX ads set to star dads as the prominent role for a least three brands.  There is no greater feeling as a dad to see advertisements that include us in the way we exist in the world, being the best fathers we can to our children. Modern fathers are tired of the bumbling dad stereotype. Ads that showcase men who care for their children and are actively engaged in their lives are real representatives of modern fatherhood.

Unilever's Dove Men+ Care gets that saying in their recent "Real Strength" campaign,  "This inspired us to share a film that shows what strength truly looks like today. Especially at a time when fans are overwhelmingly hearing about physical feats on the football field, we wanted men (and women) to hear at least one voice saying, 'Care Makes a Man Stronger." I'm here to tell you Similac, that I care.

It's true that Similac laid some important groundwork with their latest video about accepting all parenting styles and choices and not being judgemental of others. The video is an amazing collection of different parenting styles and choices we make as caregivers from babywearers, breastfeeders, working moms, stay at home moms, and even stay at home dads!

I was ecstatic that all were represented and was surprised when the moms called out the stay at home dads saying "Oh, it must be Mommy's day off", a phrase we hear all too often when we are out with our kids. We have never seen a collection of stereotypes all going after each other in this manner.

You had me Similac. I was excited. I thought "I dont know what this is but I want to be a part of it!" I wanted to see where this was going and well, if you haven't seen it, you should watch it now:

You had me until you asked me to become a part of the Sisterhood of Motherhood. I am not a sister or a mother, I am a dad so now I am wondering how do I fit in? Similac's campaign is about accepting all different parenting styles and not judging but then excludes men altogether by asking us to join sisterhood and motherhood?

It just doesn't make sense considering they had input from at least one father. I can just imagine someone at the advertising agency saying "But Sisterhood of Motherhood sounds SOOO good! Who cares if the dads get offended?" So why make a big deal out of it? Because it's not authentic to say one thing but then totally mean another.

For me, Similac represents that the time that I was able to bond with my children. Our first child wouldn't latch properly and we had to finger feed him. When we determined that he wasn't getting enough nutrition that way, we supplemented with formula. For lots of other dads, using formula like Similac may be the first time dad gets to feed the baby. Dads of all different kinds of families have fond memories of that bonding time so why use a tagline that precludes dads altogether?

Dads aren't part of the sisterhood of motherhood. The sisterhood of motherhood sounds like an exclusive club for anyone without a penis. As a stay at home dad it is hard enough to find other parents who accept you in social circles. Ask any dad if they would like to join the sisterhood of motherhood as an honorary member and I am sure they would question what that means.

I commented on Similac's Facebook page as many other dads did that using that slogan alienates 50% of the audience to which someone said "I don't think men are their target audience" Huh? So why were men included? Because Similac knows that men are parents too. Dads want to be included so why not end a wonderful video with "Welcome to Parenthood, we are all in this together" You can use that Similac, for the good of all dads, I hope you do.

Want to weigh in with your opinion? Visit the DadNCharge Facebook page and leave a comment

Monday, January 19, 2015

Of Dreams and Jellybeans

Back when I was an art teacher I devised a lesson plan for my Studio Art class. I wanted them to pick a speech, lyrics, or words that meant something to them. Then, we were going to transform those words into art. My example, was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his I Have A Dream speech. I honestly couldn't think of a more powerful collection of words. The result, was the above drawing, done by me painstakingly hand written out using Sharpie markers of variant colors to express the magnitude of those words.

I have a dream. Those four words put together can inspire so much raw emotion in us all. We can think back to the injustices that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood up against and all of the people who fought against inequality. I can't imagine my kids growing up in a school that isn't as diverse as it is, benefitting from the culture that each race and ethnicity brings to the forefront in education. A multicultural classroom helps our children grow in so many ways not only academically but socially and emotionally.

My four year old daughter Heidi asked me "Why does my friend Aaliyah have darker skin?" I've said this to my older two before but couldn't remember how I phrased it. I said "Because there are all kinds of people all over the world that are different that come from different places. What makes them different, makes them unique and that is what makes them special" I glanced in the rearview mirror hoping what I had said made some sense.

She was still hung up on the differences in their skin not because of ignorance but because she is four. At four you are just starting to realize that there are other people in the room that you may be playing in. They are learning what it means to share and cooperate and that can be hard. What I wanted to tell her was that there really is no difference between her and Aaliyah and that it was the content of their character that mattered but how do you explain that to a threenager? Candy. Kids understand candy.

What's your favorite flavor of jellybean? I asked.
Cherry! She shouted.
Then you are Cherry.
What is another flavor that you like?
Then Aaliyah is like Lemon.
All of your friends are like all different flavors. Each one is good but for different reasons. Put them all together and they make everything even more wonderful.
They are like a rainbow! she yelled.
Yes, exactly. A beautiful rainbow.

Of course, we'll revisit that someday when school can reinforce what we are trying to teach. We will be sure by seven, like my daughter Sarah displays that "No person has the right to rain on your dreams" I love this. Our dreams, our aspirations locked in a singular moment of marker against paper, solidifying that this marker is here to stay and so are my dreams.

I love to see that Sarah is going to be a peacemaker at home by sharing with her little sister. I will be sure to remind her to "Be like Doctor King" the next time she doesn't want to let Heidi play with Ballerina Barbie

 I am buoyed by this quality in her that really seeks to help others and that her aspirations include planting a garden that can sustain people that have no food. Dreams are wonderful. Dreams keep the hope alive. Those dreams are backed by words. Powerful, magical words that when written by a child just makes you stop and remember that you too have dreams and remind you how much you believe in jellybeans.

A photo taken by my mom in Miami Beach after meeting Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Just Say No

I probably say it a thousand times a day and honestly, it feels good to say it.

"Daddy, can I have a popsicle for lunch?" asks my daughter.
"No. A popsicle is not lunch. Eat your lunch and then we can talk popsicles."  I say.

"Daddy, can I play on the iPad?" asks my son.
"No. You already had your screen time today.  Did you pick up your room?" I say.

 "Daddy, can I...." ask my children... "No." I say.

When shopping with my children, I avoid the toy aisle like a the plague because I know even getting near it will result in a barrage of No's that will crescendo into a giant NO that makes people's heads turn.  This kind of trip has me grabbing the items I need frantically only to be faced with the tempting last ditch effort by marketing gurus at the checkout counter to buy their toys - like a consolation prize to your children for surviving the trip to the store.  Where's my consolation prize?  It my shred of dignity because I was strong enough to face my children's momentary disappointment by saying "No."?

I am not alone with my frequent use of "No."

"Daughter, will you eat these peas?" I ask.  "No." she says. "Can you just try one pea?" I ask.  "No." she says.

"Do you have to go pee?" I ask.  "No." she says.  "You must try to pee before we leave." I say."NO, NO, NO!" she screams.

(10 minutes later she is using the portable potty in the back of my minivan on the side of the road.)

Many kids learn "No" before any other word. Why? Because it is so easy to say!  Yet for some reason, many parents have such a hard time saying it because they feel like saying it is hurting their children. For instance take the parents who pamper their children at day spas.

Adult spas are cashing in on your inability to say No to your children. One woman from this article, Ms. Ehresman, who paid $400 for spa treatments for two 8 year old girls, was quoted saying “I don’t want them to feel that my saying ‘no’ means that I don’t love them,” 

Why in the world does a child need to go to a spa to get a massage and facial? Tough day on the playground? Was preschool that arduous?  Saying "No" doesn't mean you don't love your children.

Saying "No" means that you do love them. It means that you love them enough to set limitations on what is appropriate for them and helping to demonstrate the difference between needs and wants. This parent is setting a precedent for the future. At some point, she will have to say "No." or it will get our of control. What sort of young adults will these children become when massages and facials are the expectation they have at the age of three?

You can still pamper your children without giving into their demands to show them that this is the way they are loved.  I am not against showing your children that you love them by doing something special. However, you can teach them that being feminine doesn't have to be rooted in activities that are just plain inappropriate for their age.

My wife regularly pampers our daughters without taking them to a spa. She creates moments where they can bond and be pampered by their own loving mother. They take baths and showers, get into tiny robes, paint their nails together and do their hair and watch a musical. It's a bonding event that won't cost you a cent.  Even dads can create this experience by letting their daughters paint their nails and brush their hair.

Pampering children at a spa this early in life is setting a dangerous expectation which is based solely on their outward appearance. Let's give these girls something to look forward to when they are older and stop ushering them into adulthood before their childhood has even begun to wane.

Our kids are growing up too fast. We want them to slow down and stay children while we scoot them into experiences and roles that they just aren't ready for. There is a time and place for pampering when it comes to our children. Some parents just need to be stronger when it comes to the choice between Yes and No.

There are just certain things my children don't need to have or experience. Distinguishing the difference between needs and wants will help you make better decisions when your children ask you for something. Spoil your kids with your love and attention, not spa packages that build on a narcissistic attitude. Learn to say "No" because you love them, not because you fear they won't love you because you say it.

Would you take your child to a spa to get this full treatment or would you say no? Join the discussion on my Facebook page.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Christmas Poem For Parents

Christmas with kids really is the best.

With my wife in her PJs and me under covers

We just settled down for a short winter's rest

We knew in five hours three kids would be screaming

They'd jump in our bed, yelling and beaming

And although we will groan, be tired, and protest

We really can't wait because it's not Christmas we detest

We love their little faces and their excitement they share

When they say much too loudly, "He really was here!"

As they rip through the presents and they marvel at the bike

You will remember the past 

When it seemed the paper and boxes were all that they liked

But they're growing up fast and you start to see

It is this time right now together, is how life is meant to be.

Though our eardrums might shatter from their volume and chorus

We count on the fact that our kids will never bore us.

We love them and can't wait for tomorrow to come

Though tonight we may have drank more than a surly old bum

Head straight for the treem though you feel you might die

And enjoy every moment before it passes you by.

Take heart when it's over that you made it to this day

And that at least for two hours they won't ask you to play.

Enjoy your Christmas with the kids like I will

Now, where the hell is my coffee and the Advil?

Merry Christmas to all from DadNCharge and family

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Micromanaging Mommy

I'm sitting in the waiting room of my dentist's office with my three year old daughter. A dad is there with his three sons, knocking out their checkups in one fell swoop. The younger son is exploring the basket of toys left out by the dentist. To my left is a boy playing on a phone totally oblivious to everything around him. An angsty teenager enters the room and plops down next to the technology whiz. The dad picks up the younger one and wants to say goodbye. He has to head off to work and hoists him up onto the bench so he can give his dad a proper bear hug.

All is right with the world that is, until the mom walks into the room.

"Get down from there!" she yells at the younger boy. "What is wrong with you?" In the instant she made her way through the door, the temperature in the room has dropped a degree or two. The dad instantly said "It's not his fault, I put him up there to give him a hug"

The mom shrugged it off and moved onto her next target, the slouching teen who had just been put through the paces in the chair, visibly wiped out from the morning's cleaning and exam.

"What's your story?" she said brusquely. While he mumbled something to her, the younger one found the toy bin again and was touching all the buttons on one of those annoying sound byte books.  "Will you CUT THAT OUT Jimmy?" You can't touch the buttons if you aren't going to read the book.

As she turned to cut down young Jimmy for his exploration of the buttons, she knocked the lamp beside her so that it tottered and started to fall. "Mom, the teen said, the lamp, you almost knocked it over." he said with urgency. "I DID NOT knock it over." was her response. "Jeez, I was just trying to help" and again Jimmy turned back to touching those buttons again.

I looked at my daughter, who at three was sitting happily next to me looking at a book, her legs swinging low at the bench, her wisps of curly hair hanging just below her cheek. She looked up at me with her dazzling blue eyes and smiled. I tried to focus on that smile and ignore the fussing and constant micromanaging of this mom.

We all know parents like this who are constantly on their kids for this or that. I understand that everyone has bad days but I wonder if the way we talk to our kids and handle situations are different for moms and dads. I don't know her story or what happened to her that morning. She could have had some bad news or missed her morning coffee but I wondered why everything seemed to change when she took over.

As the primary caregiver, I understand the desire to want to tear your hair out when the kids frustrate you, though in my case I don't have that outlet. But, this mom seemed to be setting herself up for failure. Why the constant need to critique every action? The boys certainly weren't bothering me or my daughter and it wasn't until her constantly judgmental voice repeated itself before I found it grating.

I couldn't wait to get out to there to be honest. The way she picked on her kids reminded me of a bully and I felt sorry for them. Everything from her tone to her icy stare made me re-read the same magazine page five times over. I was afraid to turn the page thinking it might have a butterfly effect on her mood.

I see it all the time at the playground in the way that dads let their kids play. The moms hover over their every move and the most dads react only when someone is in trouble or needs help. At the mall in the play area, the moms are constantly talking to the kids to not do this or that while the dads just sit back and observe. Limitations on our child's behavior is fine but what is the constant nagging going to accomplish?

Kids are going to push our buttons and we might fly off the handle. We aren't perfect, no one is. So why is there a need to constantly micromanage a child's behavior? Stifling exploration is only going to lead them to believe that they can't do anything by themselves. Micromanaging is only planting the seed of doubt in their abilities to be independent thinkers. Give your children the freedom to explore and figure things out themselves or you will hurt them in the long run.

Are you a micromanager when it comes to your kids? Join the discussion on my Facebook page

Friday, December 12, 2014

We Are Groot. #OwnTheGalaxy with a Guardians of the Galaxy DVD Party

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #OwnTheGalaxy #CollectiveBias

What do you get when you put together a group of wise cracking superheroes whose job it is to tackle life's big problems one day at a time? The Guardians of the Galaxy? No. Dads. 

That's right dads. An awesome group of dads in the Philadelphia area who are part of The Philly Dads Group. That's why, as the creator of the group, creating a Meetup around the Guardians of the Galaxy DVD release on December 9th made total sense.

I knew after this movie that I had to #OwnTheGalaxy so I rushed out to WalMart, found the Guardians of the Galaxy display and bought myself the BluRay version to watch on a dad friend's 80" projection TV.

As a Walmart Exclusive, The BluRay DVD set includes an exclusive Character O-sleeve that has one of five embossed designs. The Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack ZinePak, also a Walmart Exclusive, comes with an exclusive 64 page magazine with cast and crew interviews, exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and trivia PLUS a custom “cassette" laptop decal.

Walmart has great deals on Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise now and you can earn a $5 Gift Card automatically at checkout when you purchase a Groot, Drax or Rocket Raccoon figure for Disney Infinity 2.0. This offer is available From 12/7 - 12/13, so act soon.

Not only that, but for our Guardians of the Galaxy Meetup, I scored some Guardians of the Galaxy gear from WalMart including some toys to raffle off to our attending members including the Big Blastin' Rocket Raccoon and the Star Lord Battle Gear.

The movie features the wise cracking Star Lord, the muscled, somewhat unhinged Drax, the gentle but powerful Groot, the weapon crazy Rocket Raccoon, and beautiful assassin Gamora. Sounds to me like a bunch of misfit dudes and that one cool girl that likes to hang out with the guys.

Guardians is the ultimate movie about a group of people with such different personalities that you think they can't come together and conquer the bad guys. I thought it would be the perfect hangout movie for a night in with the guys. So we planned a dad's night in, a We Are Groot party, to share our love for geeky superhero movies.

Each member will be bringing their special talents to the table, literally as we all plan on bringing an app to share. Whether it is my guacamole, Jeff's cupcakes or Robert's hummus, we all have something that makes us unique.  I can admit, that sometimes it is hard to organize a bunch of dads to get coordinated but not it is not has hard as organizing a party with Groot.

A video posted by Chris (@dadncharge) on

What you will find in the movie and our movie viewing night, is the coming together of a group of people that are very different in every way except that in our group, we are dads not superheroes. That is our common bond and I am honored to be a part of that group each and every day I get to spend with these fathers in activities with and without our children. We will come together for friendship. We will come together for fun. We'll do anything to support each other as dads. We are Groot.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Frankly My Dear, I Do Give a Damn

I haven't shaved for days and can't remember when the last time it was that I took a shower without my kids staring at me asking a million questions.Sometimes, these kids are like my worst Walking Dead nightmare come true. I would hole up in the bathroom, keep the door shut, and pray that I wouldn't see little hands creeping under the door and pounding on it alternately while demanding goldfish like they were brains.

It's no wonder that when the kids finally go to bed, we are free from the demands and we take advantage. That usually means her checking out of her styling work clothes and into a robe while I bang out the dishes before she falls asleep. I need something that will really grab her attention and get the engine revving. 

The hard thing is, that I may have just spent all day doing laundry or scrubbing the toilets so I am not usually in my best form when we get together after a long day. That is, unless you consider a hoodie and track pants with a possible three day funk as your best. Come to think of it that may be the reason moms are shying away from me on the playground.

Thanks to Life of Dad, I have my frank Body scrub to help me put the moves on my wife. She loves coffee and just the smell of it wakes her up. I know with frank, she won't be able to resist. Actually, I am counting on getting down and dirty in the shower with frank just to get clean.

frank is a body scrub from Australia that uses all natural ingredients. Their Cacao and coffee scrub is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and I will get that all just by scrubbing myself down for an invigorating recharge. Not to mention the smell. My skin felt great after using it, and the aroma lingered on me for a half a day.

Believe me, the people at frank knew what there were doing. Combining coffee and chocolate brought my wife to the yard. And, with me using it, it gives all new meaning to ordering a Tall when it comes to this coffee and cacao smelling man.

A video posted by Chris (@dadncharge) on
If you are looking for a unique way to give back to the person you love, give frank a try this holiday season. What would be better than a spa quality pampering right in your own home?

Not everyone can have as much game as I do however. The Captain at Tales from the Poop Deck called me out so I'm calling out A Geek Daddy to Up His Game with frank. I think he has been in that Stormtrooper costume for too long. I find his lack of personal hygiene disturbing. One of Yoda's most popular quotes came from Luke's long day training in Dagobah doing one handed handstands and making rocks float. Luke said "Master Yoda, should I try frank Body Scrub?" Yoda said "There is no try, there is only do." Good luck @GeekDad248, may the frank be with you.

I have partnered with Life of Dad and frank body for this promotion.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Gameband Makes Portable Minecraft A Reality

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GameOnTheGo #CollectiveBias

My son doesn't have a portable video game system. While he has played games through apps, even those get tiresome after some time. So, I decided it was time for him and I to try the world of Minecraft together. So, as an early Christmas present  I bought him a Minecraft Gameband™ at my local GameStop in the mobile gaming section. What is a Gameband? It is basically Portable Minecraft that goes wherever you go.

He had been talking to me earlier in the school year saying that he didn't know what the kids were talking about at lunch when they talked Minecraft. So, I figured that we, as father and son, could figure it out together.

The 8-Bit world of Minecraft is a tricky one. Not knowing that I had set up the game in Survival mode, it quickly became dark and I was attacked by a pack of wolves and killed.

"Let me help you dad" he said as he took over. No sooner did he take over the mouse did he create a house out of things he gathered by cutting everything with a sword and gathering it. I realized quickly that I was out of my league and started just watching and learning instead.

Gameband Minecraft™ is the first-ever Minecraft wearable. It is a band that displays graphics from the game that you can customize using the preloaded with PixelFurnace, an app that lets you customize Gameband with messages, images and animations that you create and share on the PixelFurnace site. Not only that, but it has a watch function with a date feature making it a multi-functional gift.

The Gameband automatically saves all your progress in the game, your Worlds, and any data that you collect and backs them up onto their secure, cloud-based servers. Even if you lose it, you can contact Now Computing and order a replacement with all your data intact! Gameband belongs to Now Computing and is affiliated with Minecraft. Any feedback about Gameband, should be directed to Now Computing.

How does it work? Pull the Gameband apart and the connection points house a USB!  Gameband comes in two sizes 6.7 and 7.2 inches so make sure you know your child's wrist size before you purchase one.

We customized the graphics that display and set up the date and time. Soon, my son was wearing it like a watch all the time. If he heads to a friend's house after school, he can use the Minecraft Gameband to play right on his buddy's laptop.

Why is this so great? You can take Gameband anywhere there is a computer, play on it, and it saves everything right on the wearable! Are you going to Grandma's house for the holidays? Does it get boring? Take off your Minecraft Gameband and play it on Grandma's computer without lugging around your system with you.

Did you finish your homework early at the library and need to kill some time? Pop off the Gameband for some Portable Minecraft and use it on the library computer. It is that easy! The fact that we can take this game anywhere with us and have it available as an option to play was just amazing.

If you would like to see the Gameband unboxed, check out the video below