I was walking with Gray in the new and improved Baby Bjorn on Black Friday, as Dibs was taking a much needed nap, and an old Scottish woman approached me on Union St. “Oh, he’s a precious baby,” she said. “Oh, thank you very much.” “What’s his name?” she asked. “His name is Grayson.” She then said, “What a nice name. Fathers in my day didn’t do this, you know?” “You know, they didn’t do it in my day either,” I replied.

I keep running into this topic. The whole idea of Dad’s being all sensitive these days. I read a post by Natali Del Conte-Morris about The Era of the Sensitive Dad, and my mom talks about my involvement with Gray a lot. That’s really when I decided that perhaps I should tackle the subject.

Suffice it to say, my father wasn’t the best at being a father. This is something I’ve known from being older. Small things, like never changing a diaper, showing any real interest or really being affectionate were par for the course. Of course, my (Step) Dad was the exact opposite of that. He was/is hugely involved in my life and (as soon as we move home) Grayson’s life. Obviously, when modeling myself after who I wanted to be as a father, it was a no-brainer.

It just seemed natural to want to spend time with Grayson, and make sure Dibs was taken care of to the best of my abilities. And, with all honesty, to see the pride he has from filling a diaper, makes me just as proud. So, yay, whoo-hoo, I’m an amazing dad.

But, what about the other side of the coin? What is scaring me now is what my friend, Christian, brought to my attention.

In summary, are we turning our kids into pansy’s by being so involved and nurturing? When you look at athletes and successful men, they generally have one thing in common: being driven to succeed at a Hitler level, or just being completely abandoned by their fathers. We looked at examples of this, and it really started to take shape. Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, LeBron, every rapper, and every dude on Wall Street. The list goes on and on.

Perhaps the environment we’re creating for our sons is too easy, too nurturing, too sensitive.

Then, just like clockwork, my friend, Alison, posts a story about how trying to create the perfect environment for your child will make living with kid unbearable.

Can we, for a moment, flash back to the benign neglect of the 1970s and ’80s? I can remember my parents having parties, wild children running around until dark, catching fireflies. If these children helped themselves to three slices of cake, or ingested the second-hand smoke from cigarettes, or carried cocktails to adults who were ever so slightly slurring their words, they were not noticed; they were loved, just not monitored. And, as I remember it, those warm summer nights of not being focused on were liberating. In the long sticky hours of boredom, in the lonely, unsupervised, unstructured time, something blooms; it was in those margins that we became ourselves.

They’re right! I loved not being a micromanaged child. It gave me the freedom to make my own choices, for better or worse, and become a person. It’s a good article, you should read it.

A frequent discussion between Dibs and I is how we are going to handle the discipline of Gray when the time comes. Her concern is that she’ll be forced to be the tough one, because, well, you don’t earn the name Diabla without being a tough one.  Now I realize that this is a terrible idea!

Tonight when I get home, I’m making Gray go out to find a stick. That’s right, a stick to give him lashings with!

Or… maybe I’ll just continue to be an awesome dad, and hope for the best?

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