JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Fatherhood, and the Esq. king …

The e-mails and comments came. And came. And came.

Thank you.

Amen. You’re 100% right.

I wish my husband felt that way.

God bless.

Dead on.

How many were there? I’d say, literally, hundreds. Best guess—450. Maybe more. I’m referring to the number of women—mothers—who wrote to me after my CNN.com column about fathers needing to step up; needing to play less golf and more Candy Land. In my 17 years of writing, I’ve never received a more overwhelmingly positive response. Oh, some fathers complained. Maybe 20. Another CNN.com columnist (a man) branded me a fool. And one of my space alien dog’s friends—a stay-at-home wolf with 27 chickens—didn’t agree.

But otherwise …

Why? Because I’m right. Too many dads out there stink. They don’t devote enough time to their children. They make sure Mom wakes up both weekend mornings. They can’t change diapers and they wouldn’t recognize a jar of baby food if it walked up and said, “Hi, I’m baby food. Open me.” That doesn’t mean all fathers are bad, or even most. But there are legions of indifferent, uninvolved fathers who could do more.

Which brings me to Robert Franklin, Esq.

I don’t know Robert Franklin, Esq. I’ve never heard of Robert Franklin, Esq. I’m generally suspicious of people who attach “Esq.” to the end of their names … in the same way people insist—at all times—being called doctor. I digress: Early today Robert Franklin, Esq. wrote a column for Fathers and Families about why I’m an idiot and he’s right and dads rules and I clearly have no idea what I’m talking about. To prove his point, Robert whipped out a bunch of statistics about fathers, and how they’re constrained for time and devote X to this and … blah … blah.

Then I looked up Robert Franklin, Esq. This is him:

I could be wrong, but I’m guessing Robert Franklin, Esq.—based on his apparent advanced age—hasn’t spent too much time of late hangin’ around the ol’ schoolyard. Which sorta renders his argument, well, void. Truth is, guys like Robert Franklin, Esq. can cite 1,000 facts, whip out 1,000 numbers, throw out this and that and make the point that someone like me doesn’t know shit, because I didn’t properly research the subject and it’s the same ol’ tired blah blah blah.

Robert Franklin, Esq.—be there. Come to school. Talk with mothers. Ask the questions, and see what I see. I’m not bragging that I’m a stay-at-home dad (you’re right, not all people enjoy the luxury), but I am arguing that it provides me with a vantage you almost certainly don’t have—and, I’m guessing, never did have.

Lastly, on a personal note—I love groups like the one Robert Franklin, Esq. belongs to. Read the website … scan the links. I’m being serious—the idea of equal parenting is wonderful, and great, and I’m as loud a proponent as you’ll find.

It’s just that, well, too often we dads fall short.

Which, I’m guessing, Robert Franklin, Esq. knows.

He is, after all, Esq.