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.

28 thoughts on “Fatherhood, and the Esq. king …”

  1. Really? A title, looks and pedo blast is the best you can come up with? But then again, people who have been made fools of and turned inside out usually start with an ad hominem attack rather than actually discuss the facts. Oh, but you did have your friends patting you on the back. Try again sometime, hot shot.

  2. Kudos to Josh Levs and Robert Franklin, Esq.
    Real working men who were as appalled as I was when I read the man-hating article written by Jennifer Pearlman right before Father’s day.
    I’m glad CNN didn’t pay you for that article because it would have been a waste of money.

  3. You still don’t get it, do you guys? Jeff was not talking about ALL dads. But, as a public school teacher who has been teaching 8th grade for almost ten years in a lower income area south of Nashville, I can tell you how many crappy dads that I see…er…don’t see every year. Want to know how many dads show up on Parent conference night? How many ragged-tired moms I see on the same night? Now, I agree that there are bad moms out there–I’ve dealt with them, too. But, there is truly an overwhelming amount of dads who are doing their duty.

  4. “Robert Franklin, Esq.—be there. Come to school. Talk with mothers. Ask the questions, and see what I see.”

    So anecdotal evidence of you talking to some mothers trumps actual nationwide facts? That about sums most MSM sportswriters nowadays too. “Yeah, Jack Morris’s stats are lacking but he had that great game that one time and you HAD TO BE THERE”.

    My guess is there are just as many crappy moms out there as there are crappy dads. And that guess is worth about as much as your few interactions with some moms who provided the background for your “commandments”.

    I’ve got to stop reading this site. Although it is good for a daily facepalm headdesk moment, which is often cathartic.

  5. Jeff– I’m hardly invested in this debate ( I don’t have kids, don’t plan on having kids), but what’s the gist of your argument? He looks funny in an Internet picture (who doesn’t) and you assume he doesn’t know as much as you, because…. ?

    I mean, you’re a professional writer. You should be capable of way better than that. Okay, so a lot of people agreed with you via email. That’s how this shit works. How many people do you think emailed him in agreement?

    I guess the point is this: if there is an argument being made in this post, it’s a completely juvenile one, and it’s a little bit embarrassing for you. You COULD theoretically make a great counter to this guy’s comments. But instead you implicitly mocked his appearance and his name, and you never offer much substance at all.

  6. As a dad, I’m with Jeff on this one. I see so many other dads at the playground with their kids, and they’re talking on their cell phone or checking their email the whole time! I’m sure they think they’re a great dad because they took their kids to the playground, but they’re not connecting. Stop being so defensive, dads, and use Jeff’s column as an opportunity for some self-reflection and positive behavioral change. You can never be too great of a dad!

    1. Okay, I’ll see your generalization and raise you a generalization about women sitting at home on the sofa eating bon-bons and letting the TV baby-sit their children while they should be giving “child care”. Bottom line is: The only reason why people like Jeff think “men need to do more” is because working at a job is not seen by society as nurturing, as caring for your kids, and as being a “good parent”.

      The other part of this article is that it came out on Father’s Day, theoretically a day dedicated to Dads but, in practice, is mainstream man-bashing; do you think a Mother’s Day article entitled “Moms: Get your ass off the sofa and play with your kids instead of watching Oprah” would appear anywhere? God help the publication that did, they’d be crushed under a litigation of hate mail and their last memories on earth would be the ACLU and the NOW trampling on their corpse fighting for the juiciest scraps.

  7. I know a few stay-at-home dads, and it’s not an easy road for them. The moms are suspicious. Moms’ husbands are suspicious. The SAHDs have to work very hard to arrange stuff for their kids in a mildly hostile social environment.

    I know a lot of moms — working and stay-at-home. Some of them have great husbands. But some of them do EV.ER.Y.THING. And they are ragged-ass tired and sad. They love their kids, and they do everything they can for them. But “damn if he would just let me sleep in ONCE.”

    My husband is a more involved dad than many. Partly because he missed out on this process with his now-adult children, and he’s making up for what he missed. He’s also grayer-haired than what’s-his-name above, and strangers always assume he’s the grandpa.

    And taking potshots at his looks is a rather lame salvo.

    That said: Ain’t nobody always right about everything. And two people saying “I’m right and he’s an idiot” accomplishes nothing (see Congress).


      1. You werent making fun of his looks, you were making fun of his age (and how it affects his looks)?
        If he was young, would you have dismissed his arguments as you dismissed his arguments becusase you percieved him as being too old?
        There are many reasons to dismiss his arguments. The only good reason to dismiss his arguments, however, is becuase you have refuted them in some way, not dismissed him based upon his superficial appearance (or negative stereotypes of his gender).

  8. Jeff, although I agree with 90% of what you write (and also agree that anyone who uses Esq. is a most likely an insecure douche) I found your original column on this topic to be infuriating, and I still disagree with you here.

    The statistics this man cites, assuming he is not distorting them, are more compelling than your playground conversations with a handful of moms.

    Moreover, you are equating time spent with a child with QUALITY time spent with a child. I spent much more time with my mother than I did with my dad because my dad worked to support our family. However, my mother was emotionally abusive, short-tempered, and controlling. My father was a wonderful man and I have many fond memories of him. To suggest that my mother was a better parent because she was around all the time and did the laundry is nonsense.

    And since we’re using anecdotal evidence, I will offer that very few of the dads I have known through the years fit the description of fathers that you are putting forth. The vast majority are loving, caring, and deeply involved in their lives of their children.

  9. Don’t get too bent out of shape about his criticism. It seems everyone involved in that organization has been deeply hurt by divorce and child custody decisions. Whether they’re right or wrong, they are always in pain. One might argue that your CNN Article was a tad self-righteous in tone. It’s more than a little ironic that such an argument was made by a man who insists on adding “Esq.” to the end of his name.

    1. I’ve been happily married 25 years and a huge supporter of F&F. Glenn Sacks, who is the executive director there is happily married and was a stay at home dad. The reason this organization exists and the reason I contribute to it is because of the type of crap that Perlman wrote. This is exactly the attitude that comes from feminist groups, the president himself and family courts across the country. Our culture continuously denigrates fatherhood. When it comes to making a difference, my money is on F&F and the old guy. Perlman should stick to sports.

  10. Just because someone, a dad, might fall into the target demographic of Jeff’s column does not mean its necessarily aimed at you. Don’t take it so personally! Jeff can’t evaluate the parenting prowess of millions of dads he doesn’t know–he’s pointing out what he sees, in his opinion, as an alarming trend, and its up to you, the individual dad to self-evaluate and decide if you need to step up to the plate or not.

    I was fortunate enough to have not a stay-at-home dad, but one who was very, very involved with my upbringing and continues to spend a great deal of ‘quality time’ with me and my sisters to this day. Having a dad who not only fed and bathed me, and changed my diapers (which he claimed was so disgusting he couldn’t help but leave it in my mother’s hands) played with me, and read to me, but let me play HIS computer games WITH him and let me go fishing WITH him–turning what was supposed to be time AWAY from wife and children into father-and-daughter quality time, and sending me the message that he enjoyed my company beyond the bounds of minimal parental obligation, is one of the best things I can wish on any child. It unconsciously reinforces and reaffirms a child’s feelings of safety, and security, and being loved and wanted by their parents, and these feelings can carry a child, as they grow older, through the darkest of their hours.

    So if a few innocent people got caught by the shrapnel from Jeff’s blast at deadbeat dads, well, it’s an important issue and, in my opinion, needs to be blasted. It’s also a passionate issue for him, which is why I think we can forgive Jeff for a couple of articulatory missteps.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

    PS- watch this video! Obviously President Obama agrees with Jeff.

    1. Lucy, the next time this guy wants to take a shot at deadbeat dads, let him take a few shots at deadbeat moms as well (they exist and they are largely ignored by the misandric media of which this author is a part). In fact, to be fair, he must criticize deadbeat moms right before mother’s day (as men themselves get the most disrespect right before father’s day).
      It should be noted that women DEFAULT on their child support payments at a much higher rate than men do (but, our misandric media is more concerned with berating men than presenting reality as it is).
      Women kill their children far more than men (but people with the misandric worldview prefer to focus all their attention on what men do wrong and are eager to ignore what women do wrong – that way they can maintian their skewed view of men as bad people as well as their skewed view of women as perpetual victims).
      Hey author, when you ignore all the bad thigns women do and all of the good things men do, you do paint a picture of men that the president approves of, but you do not paint an accurate picture of the situation of the two genders. All you have done is paint a stereotypical portrait representing the new accepted form of hate and/or contempt, the kind directed at men.
      Just cuz journalists prefer to ignore the good that men do and the bad that women do, doesnt mean you are nice people. It means you are misandrics, because you only see the bad men do and the good women do. You can tell yourself all day long that you are for equality, but most folks will tell you otherwise (since you DONT treat men equally).

  11. Jaff says: 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….Kind of like saying that based on his internet photo, Jeff’s apparent lack of athleticism makes all of his arguments about sports, well, void. Jeff Pearlman is and always has been a self righteous clown. Jim’s comment above is spot-on and much better presented than anything Jeff has written on the subject.

    1. Actually, IIm, that’s a fair comparison. An athlete could certainly argue, “What the hell do you [meaning me] know? You don’t play.” And he’d be, to a big degree, correct. The column I wrote was about my experience as a father. MY experience—which I see every day. So when some guy, who is presumably not a modern father, says, “Modern fathers do X,” I certainly can say, “What the hell do you know?” Plus, IIm, his job is to defend fathers. So of course he took his stance.

      Anyhow, thanks for contributing. I may well be a self-righteous clown, but you’re the one leaving a comment on my blog (and not vice versa).

  12. While I agree, too many fathers aren’t, the sad thing is they lose.
    This comment was too weird though:
    Larry King would disagree.
    Rupert Murdoch would disagree.
    The many Grandparents raising their grandchildren would disagree.
    Your fathering story was pretty good – then you went and mucked it up.

  13. No offense, but no wonder you were bullied as a kid.

    His article totally ripped your points apart. As the father of a young boy, I don’t see your scenarios as much as his.

    Furthermore, to rip him is like ripping you for posting on your blog getting a “Peddi”.

    Seriously? Grow a dick. Please, for your kids sake.

  14. The geezer. 🙂 And please don’t think I disagree with you about much else.

    Steve702 and Lucy above are dead-on.

  15. Everywhere I look I see mums that aren’t doing enough for their families. Mum’s just aren’t out there earning the money to keep their families and are leaving it to dad or living off the social welfare. So many of them just sitting around the house, shops and playgrounds. Mum’s need to shape up.

    Sound familiar? Any hard working mums offended by this comment?

    Hard statistics versus prejudgement.

  16. 92.3% of all workplace deaths are of men (while women and their male defenders try to pretend that women dying on the job 6.7% of the time is equal to men dying on the jon 92.3% of the time). On the planet on which I live, equal work is equally dangerous, not far less so.
    While many, including our president, pretend women do equal work and dont earn pay commensurate with their efforts, they all IGNORE the difference in the type of work that men do (dangerous, far from home, with lots of travel even if you dont have to work far from home, longer hours, etc etc etc).
    Similarly, there have been many many studies done regarding traditonal work done in the home by gender (and nearly every single one of them, IGNORES traditional male work done around the home).
    If we ignore the work that men traditionallly do around a home, we can say men are lazy around the home (since we refused to count the things men usually do around a home). It isnt fair to ignore the thing smen usually do around a home, but it make men look bad and it makes researchers and man hating journalists feel good about themselves (Jeff is feeling so superior right now).
    The fun thing is, this has been going on for so long, people dont even think about it anymroe. Nearly, every study of house work ignores the work men usually do, in order to make men appear lazy. They are not equal comparisons of work since they include women’s traditional work and exclude traditional men’s work, but they werent intended to portray men and womenn equaly, it was intended to show how bad and lazy men are (so men could be shamed into doing more).
    Take the time, o haters of men, if you dare, and read one of those home studies that shows how lazy men are. read the fine print and EXAMINE how men’s traditional work is NOT counted. Read the fine print in more than oen of those studies and you will find they almsot all exclude men’s traditional work.
    They have lots of excuses why they ignore men’s work (none of them valid).
    They dont count changing the oil in a car as housework cuz it is a job men usually do (even though there is risk the car could fall on your chest and kill you, they dont count this task cuz they claim you only do it every few months).
    If you climb onto a ladder and risk death to get leaves out of the gutter, feminist researchers dont want your efforts counted, why? To make you look bad, they want to exclude the work you prefer to do around a home?
    Whatever happend to men getting choices (oh yeah, choice is reserved solely for women; men dont deserve choices, men deserve to be told what to do by women-life in the matriarchy involves men constantly berated by women and their male feminist counterparts)? Most folks are ignorant of the FACT that most men’s rights advocates are prior feminists who have been disapointed at the lack of equality fosterd by feminism).
    It may be fun for Jeff to denigrate the male (he gets so much encourgaement from the president and other misandrics-recall not all misandrics hate men, many like jeff, are merely contemptuous of men).

  17. American men do MORE traditional female work around a home than men from any country in the world!
    And American men are demonized (by the likes of Jeff and a couple a hundred harpies eager to agree with him) as lazy more than men from any other country in the entire world!
    This presents a particular dichotomy (if true). American men do more traditional female work around a home than men from any other country in the world and yet we are more demonized for doing less traditional female work around a home than men from any other country in the world.
    It is the constant shaming of men from the media and acedemics and others for many decades that has created the most domesticated male on the planet (even though he is demonized as lazy more than any other males on the planet).
    And the other day, I was watching Lisa Ling’s program, OUR AMERICA; the program was about men who go overseas to find a wife. Funny thing is, she pretended like she could not understand why American men would go so far to find a woman (that didnt hate them or feel complete contempt for men).
    American women reject American men more than women from any other nation in the world (and yet American men are more domesticated than men from any other nation in the world).
    Lisa Ling’s interviews with women from abroad answered the question Lisa was so ignorant of, Why American men would be willing to travel so far to find women (who didnt hate or feel utter contempt for men). Even though Lisa was oblivious to men’s concerns (as any good matriarchal supporter would be), the answers the women gave with regard to why they preferred to marry an American male told the story of women from overseas who appreciated the males the American women were so eager to reject.
    American males, statistically, are the most domesticated males on the planet and though it can be easy to find a couple of hundred angry females, Amercians men are recognized the world over for their value even if fellow American men and women are blind to it (including our president)

  18. If you ask Democrats about the motives of Republicans (or vice versa) you’re likely to receive a very skewed and inaccurate response. It’s they same thing asking women about men (or vice versa). Women are much more likely to seek out others and share their thought, men are more likely to retreat to their “man cave” — it’s simply the consequence of the way both genders are socialized from birth and the cultural “permission” they receive to exhibit these kind of behaviors. This is why you’re always going to have an overwhelming reponse from women about men’s behavior. So, Jeff, all those women agreeing with you doesn’t mean it’s true. I’m sure it makes you feel like a “Knight in Shining Armor” to spout off about how bad fathers are because they don’t take care of their family in the way you or someone else thinks they should. I know lots of fathers who work 60-70 hours a week so their mate can stay home full-time and take care of the kids. Somehow Dad’s hard work outside of the home is never considered “nurturing” or valued for the family in the same light as Mom’s. Lots of Dad’s would love to be more involved in the care of their children except for the phenomenon of maternal “gatekeeping” — that is a familial or cultural belief that only Mom should be taking care of the kids. They endlessly criticize, or in many direct or indirect ways, interfer with Dad’s efforts and he gives up. Often, these Moms have no idea what they’re doing to interfer with Dad’s efforts to contribute to childcare. Finally, there are lots of Dad’s who never had a role model to exhibit to them what are now considered to be socially acceptable fathering behaviors — because they grew up in an era when the societal expectation was that Dad was NOT expected to be involved or as involved as today. Rather than castigation, these Dads need the support, encouragement, and patience of a good mother/wife who understands that a father is ESSENTIAL to her family and is willing to provide some instruction to him. Jeff, if you’d step off your gallant steed and look around you would see a pervasive notion in our society that fathers are valuable only for the contents of their wallet or bank account, and not for the emotional support they may provide to their children. Consider these statistics: about 50 % of marriages end in divorce, about 60 % of these divorces involve children, and about 70 % of the time Mother receives sole custody and Father is relegated to a visitor in his children’s life — every other weekend or about 4 days a month. Often, this time for Dad is considerably less due to visitation interference by a vindictive mother. There are thousands upon thousands of children who never or infrequently get a chance to see their father — not because their fathers are irresponsible or dead beat, but because our divorce and child custody laws prevent them from being involved. Fitness as a parent is not a consideration. Resposibility doesn’t come without authority, and our society gives very little authority to fathers. Jeff, why don’t you criticize Mothers, judges, or legislators who don’t believe in fathers?

  19. To all the antifeminists and misandric-hating people out there. Thank you for your examples. Your part is critical in the fight against radical feminism. Your opinions and substantiations help men and boys.

    However, if you really want to help males the most, try setting the example and teaching to your kids that it doesn’t take women and kids to make a male a man. Fatherhood is great and certainly gives males character that childless, single men can never know (and vice versus), but it is NOT called manhood. All real men are not fathers and all fathers are not real men.

    This works because there is no other single reason that men have gone along with feminism—something that most of them didn’t want, and to be truthful, still don’t—according to unmixed company conversations in which men are too scared to be that truthful to women. (It is dubbed “respect” for women but it actually stems from competing for them).

    Teaching that males can be real men even if they do not want to be copycats seeking validation from other males is the most promising tactic that the mens movement can embrace—simply because if the man doesn’t “HAVE” to get a woman and have kids(that are likely to be stolen from him by the mother anyway), then he has no incentive to cave in and let feminists and women have their way all the time.

    Think about it. Freedom for males too is a strong, powerful message to send to a world that has changed so fast and in which the rug has been yanked out from under them. Freedom is power…dare to be man enough to go there.

    Don’t worry, procreation will not disappear and all men will certainly not turn gay. In fact, the point I am making has absolutely nothing to do with orientation, but everything to do with why men are losing…because they “have to”. Change that and you change the world. It is time men change despite their affinity for not wanting to—even though virtually everything else has! It is stupid to not change and yes men, just like women, can overpower the hard-wiring excuses, etc.

    Men are clinging to losing. Knowing it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks, it is not hard at all to start teaching this to our boys—who will listen to men if men dare to show the courage.

    Manhood is not group-owned and certainly is NOT one size fits all. Be yourselves and be strong. Having said this, being a puppet is not being a man.

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