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.
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.
I recently wrote a guest post on the City Dads blog, sharing some ways to be an ally to LGBTQ parents and families. That list could have been endless, but I know folks (especially other parents) don’t have time to read all day!
However, I couldn’t stop at that first dozen, so here are twelve more ways you can support, protect and advocate for queer families and parents. And while this list focuses on families, many of these actions can benefit anyone in the LGBTQ community.
As a gay dad, it should come as no surprise that I read LGBTQ children’s books to my son. But what about all of you awesome straight parents out there? How many kid’s books with LGBTQ characters or stories have you read to your children?
I asked this question in a Facebook group of 1,200+ parents, and was disappointed that the most common answer was none. Even more surprising was that many hadn’t even considered it. Further, the majority polled didn’t know what LGTBQ children’s books were available… or if they even existed at all.
Luckily, Designer Daddy is here to help!
The list below contains books that are about same-sex parents or LGBTQ people; others address gender expression or identity. Some simply include queer characters as part of the story, without directly focusing on them. All are valuable stories to help normalize LGBTQ people and to teach children (and parents!) empathy and acceptance. It also sends the message that should your child ever identify as LGBTQ, you will be there to celebrate and support them.
There are certainly more exhaustive lists to be found, but this one is unique in that it’s DESIGNER DADDY APPROVED™ — meaning the stories are great, but the pictures are also pretty fabulous. Happy reading!
You can’t swing a mismatched sock without hitting someone giving you parenting advice. Talk shows and books, blogs and social media, teachers, therapists, other parents, your parents — it’s everywhere and it’s constant. And as we’re a year into a pandemic, lord knows we need all the advice we can get. But I also know I’m not always ready to digest it.
Speaking of parenting advice, I recently sat in on a conversation with Jessica Lahey. Her book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, is a New York Times bestseller. She’s also a teacher and a mom, and chock full of delicious parenting know-how.
Jessica crammed a lot of wisdom, feedback and advice into our hour-long chat, sponsored by Responsibility.org. And while a lot of what she shared rang true, I found myself terribly overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with good and helpful information, but overwhelmed, nonetheless.
Quarantine life has been taking its toll on me lately, and most days I feel like I’m just getting by. I was tempted to give in to my anxiety, chuck all this info out the window, and hope for the best (a common defense mechanism for me). But this time I took a different approach.
Partway through Trump’s first year in office, I wrote the predecessor to this post. As we near the end of his term rampage, who would have thought I’d be able to create an entirely new list of 26 horrifying words associated with our 45th president? Anyone who’s ever heard him speak (or Tweet), that’s who.
Over the last four years, I, like so many others, have thought “Surely this can’t get any worse” more times than I can count. Each time I was proven wrong, as Trump’s ego, ineptitude and callousness one-upped itself on a near daily basis.
As a parent, I’ve also had more difficult conversations with my son than I can count. In the last 12 months alone, we’ve discussed enough terrible topics to fill a lifetime. How in the hell were we supposed to be prepared for all this? The chapters on global pandemics, police brutality, psychotic leaders and domestic terrorism were missing from my parenting handbook.
So sit back, raise a glass (or two) and help me toast an alphabet we hope to never repeat. Again.
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THE ABCs of TRUMP, Part 2
Warning: As with everything Trump-related, some language may not be suitable for children. Or anyone, for that matter.
A is for ALTERNATIVE FACTS
When a kid exaggerates out of embarrassment or self-centeredness, it’s a fib. When it’s Kellyanne Conway defending false claims about the overblown attendance of Trump’s inauguration, it’s a bald-faced lie. The moment we began to realize the amount of fucked-up fiction we were in for. • Alternative As: Antifa, asinine
B is for BULLY
Trump is the quintessential bully, in that he finds pleasure in cruelty, equates intimidation with power and has no sense of remorse. He also likely doesn’t know what “quintessential” means.
C is for CONSPIRACY THEORY
If there’s a conspiracy floating around, you can bet Trump either started or promoted it. A suspicious sampling: anti-vax/vaccines cause autism, Biden/Ukraine connection, climate change denial, COVID-19 conspiracies (of which there are legion), “deep state,” Epstein didn’t commit suicide, Hurricane Maria death toll, Obama “birther” conspiracy, QAnon, Russia investigation counterclaims, Stop the Steal/voter fraud and impersonation, Trump Tower wiretapping, wind turbines cause cancer.
For the full list, check out THE ENTIRE WIKIPEDIA PAGE dedicated to Trump’s favorite conspiracy theories. • Extra Cs: Charlottesville, China, coronavirus, coup
Around this time four years ago, there was a barrage of articles, posts and memes declaring 2016 the “Worst Year Ever.” Between Trump getting elected, Brexit, Orlando, Zika and an inordinate amount of celebrity deaths, we thought it couldn’t get any worse than that.
But then 2020 came along.
Alright… this is where I’m supposed to impart some wisdom. To share valuable life lessons I’ve learned during this never, ever ending pandemic. To give you pointers on ways to talk to your kids about responsibility and resilience. Unfortunately, I got nothin’.
Luckily, I know someone chock full of wisdom and pointers. I recently sat in on a chat hosted by Responsibility.org, featuring parent coach, Washington Post columnist, author and hilarious human, Meghan Leahy. To give you an idea of why I enjoyed Meghan’s talk so much, I’ll be sharing my favorite quotes from the conversation throughout this post. First up, my absolute favorite:
“Everyone is a hot, hot mess.”
If you can’t relate to that even a little bit, you’re in a state of deep, blissful denial.
Lest you think I and my family have all our shit together, guess again. In between the cute IG pics and the occasional informative blog posts, our life is a series of bumps, mishaps and near catastrophes. Several times a week, I apologize for yelling at my kid. School is a source of constant stress; ADHD is a sonofabitch and not at ALL suited to distance learning. Screen time is through the roof. We almost never eat dinner together. We order takeout multiple times a week — often from more than one restaurant. My hermit-like husband works ’round the clock. My projects have slowed to a crawl, leaving me frustrated and hopeless at times. I’ve fed my insecurities by keeping Amazon in business, perfecting my margarita, and with much too much actual food.
I’m excited to partner again with Med-IQ to help raise awareness about obesity and the misconceptions surrounding it. At the end of my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked below. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about obesity, a chronic disease. This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.
I’ve learned a lot during the many years I’ve dealt with obesity. First and foremost, that no one can fight my battles, make lifestyle changes or advocate for my needs but me. Sure, there’s a never-ending stream of information and influence from media, medicine and society in general. But not all of it is helpful to me — and much of it isn’t helpful to anyone.
I’ve also learned a lot about speaking up for myself to those treating my obesity. Between having conversations with experts, reading educational materials and sharing my own stories, I’ve gained so much valuable knowledge — and I once again want to share it with you.