Dads Who Inspire Me – Meet Dave Taylor: The OBHF Podcast Ep.13
While discussing dads who inspire me, and who might be a good interview subject, our good friend Dave Taylor’s name came up. It’s kind of a full circle moment, since Indra met Dave about 10 years ago at a Blog World conference. At the time, she came home saying “We have to start a blog.” Of course life got in the way, but here we are at last. Indra struck up a friendship with Dave and when he came to San Diego on business we had him over to dinner.
We’ve been good friends ever since, in no small part because of social media and how it keeps us all connected.
Dave Taylor is a pretty big deal on the inter-webs, with his popular tech website askdavetaylor.com and parenting blog gofatherhood.com. He’s fully committed to fatherhood and that’s why (in additional to his impressive tech know-how) he’s one of the dads who inspire me. With two kids in college and his third starting high school, he’s going through lots of milestones with his family right now.
In this episode you’ll find out about:
- Attachment parenting – what it is and why people do it
- One of the hardest parts of divorcing when you have kids
- Why nurture only goes so far and nature inevitably takes over
- Why Dave is one of the dads who inspire me
- And much more…
You can listen to the pod on the blog, on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. We’re so glad you’re listening! And if you like what you hear, please give us a top rating on Apple, it makes a difference and we’ll be forever grateful!
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- Dads Who Inspire Me - Meet Dave Taylor, host of AskDaveTaylor.com, OBHF Podcast Ep.13 Transcript
From the Dusty Urban Ham Shack studio of WB6QWD, lit by a single Edison bulb hanging from its cord in the ceiling, I’m Paul M. Bowers,[Singing Paul M. Bowers]. Thanks ladies, and this is the Our Bird Has Flown podcast.
Indra Bowers Commercial: The Our Bird Has Flown Podcast is sponsored by Green Fresh Florals. San Diego-based Floral Design shop owned by our good friend, Carlos Franco. A creative genius in floral design. You can check them out at their store on 4th Avenue and Hillcrest or visit them online at greenfreshflorals.com.
Paul M. Bowers:Dave Taylor! What a pleasure to talk to you today.
Dave Taylor: Well thanks! Hi Paul.
Paul M Bowers: You’ve had quite a journey for being a dad, haven’t you?
Dave Taylor: Yeah, it’s been quite an adventure, but I think every parent gets to have the great adventure of parenting. That’s the small print on the contract that you didn’t realize when you looked at your wife and said, “My goodness, she’s attractive!”. [laughter]
Paul M Bowers: That’s what I said when I saw my wife.So, this is a part of a series of dads who inspire me and there’s a lot of things that tie the dads together that I always find fascinating and one of them is starting with their father and their experience of their father because it obviously affects who we are at a core level of some sort. My understanding was your Dad drove an English Taxi?
Dave Taylor: Yep, my dad went through that whole sort of blue-collar journey where he really wanted to go to college and really wanted to be a draftsman but his father, who was also a cab driver in England, refused to let him go because my grandfather was afraid that he’d have to disclose his income.[laughs]So, college was out.
So, my Dad basically, he was a barber, he was a cab driver. He did a lot of fairly what we consider blue-collar work and then he came home one day from working all day and having earned almost nothing and then he said to my mother “You know what, let’s move to America. Let’s do something different.”
So, they basically up and packed. I was 9 months old and my sister was 5 years old and we jumped on the Queen Mary and we came to America and he reinvented himself and got into you know, maybe not so much of what we have today, but into the tech industry and he joined a company that did typeface design and so he became director of marketing which was quite a jump from cab driver and barber but he ended up doing really well in the field and ended up getting awards and such. So quite the sort of classic American journey.
Paul M Bowers: So, you’re an immigrant family. Where did you settle?
Dave Taylor: Yes. So, when he came to America, my aunt, my mother’s sister, was already here with her American service-man. So, my family is like 4 generations English and so they were living in the Bronx and so we ended up in the Bronx for less than a year and then moved to Long Island and I was there, living there until I was about 8 or 9 and my dad got a great job offer in Los Angeles so we went across country and moved to LA and that’s really where I grew up, in greater Southern California.
Paul M Bowers:And at some point, you went to school and became a fabulously educated person.
Dave Taylor: Thank you, appreciate that.[laughter]
Paul M Bowers: But at some point, you met some woman who eventually became the mother of your children.
Dave Taylor: That is a correct statement. [laughs]. So, I was living in the Bay Areaand working for a national computer magazine and so I met this gal through the Sierra Club. They had some events for singles and so it actually ended where I moved to Indiana from Northern California at that point. I moved to Indiana by myself, fingers-crossed, hoping that she would actually move and that all the stuff that was going on with her family didn’t end up torpedoing our plans.
The good news is that she did move and we did end up together And we have three lovely children who are now 21, my daughter, 18, my son and 14, my other daughter and the sad news, I don’t know, sad is not necessarily the right word, but 10 years ago, we also divorced and went our own ways but obviously with our 3 children in the loop, we stay very close and continue to text everyday mainly because that’s what you need to do when you’re divorced parents because there’s a lot of child logistics.
Paul M Bowers: Well, that’s part of why we’re speaking. Because I’m looking for people with experiences of fatherhood very different than my own and I’ve spoken to a lot of people. Blended families, single-parent, incarcerated and to me these stories are fascinating, and I have a huge amount of respect for those that have overcome some of these struggles. Now at the very beginning, my understanding was that you started a blog about attachment parenting. Can you tell us about that?
Dave Taylor: Right. So back in the day when our oldest was just a teeny, little spark, we got plugged into something called “attachment parenting” which is a philosophy that says you should be with your baby as much as possible and there should be a lot of skin contact and touching and holding and such and there’s’ a lot of psychological data to show that not only is that really good for the mental and physical health of the baby, but doing the opposite is actually really problematic where you know, you have children that don’t experience human touch. It actually turns out to be a really bad thing. [laughs]
So, the initial vision was that we would have an attachment parenting blog and that was something that the two of us would write. I was already in the online world; I was already a writer so none of that seemed at all daunting.
It ended up where really, it was just me writing it, and so when we divorced, and at that point, of course, let’s see, my oldest was 12, is that right? 11. But when we divorced I just decided to reinvent it as just a fatherhood blog because I was basically the only one writing for it anyway and I wanted to continue writing about my journey rather than just have it go nascent because we as a couple, that were no longer a couple, were clearly not going to be worrying about writing blog posts.
Paul M Bowers: Was that the nexus of “gofatherhood.com?”
Dave Taylor: Yes, so gofatherhood.com used to be apparenting.com and for a while, I recall if you were to do a google search for attachment parenting, we were the number 1 match, which was pretty cool. [laughs]But again, it just hit a certain point where I said my youngest is no longer a baby, I’m not really attachment parenting anymore and now I’m just parenting. So, I just want to write about all of that. So that’s how that sort of reinvented.
Paul M Bowers: Tell me about attachment parenting. Did it, I hate to say. Did it work? Is it true? At that point did you have different children with which to compare the outcome of those techniques? Tell us about that.
Dave Taylor:[laughs]You know, it’s kind of hard to know just like with any parenting technique because you don’t have, like a double-blind test. You don’t have one of your children that you ignore while you endow the other one with vast amounts of affection. That would be actually fairly problematic
Paul M Bowers: I think there would probably be some problem with that, some ethical dilemma with that.
Dave Taylor: I think Child Protective Services would get in the loop. [laughs]
Paul M Bowers: Don’t tell them. Just shut them up. Mind your own business[laughter].
Dave Taylor : True, but we ended up hanging around a lot of other people that had a similar philosophy and, you know, it worked really well for us, in as much as that felt like the right way to parent And I want to give both of our parents a lot of credit because I think this was fairly alien to them, in terms of, how to have a baby in bed with you and such, and yet there was never really any criticism that we should be more strict or we shouldn’t touch them or it’s okay to let them cry it out or anything like that.
But having said that, I think that attachment parent is something that’s really important for maybe the first year or two and then it really sort of fades out because the, once they’re talking, once you have mobility and such, it’s a different ball game and then you really get into what I would just describe as basic parenting and modeling.
And you know well too, that the hardest, and probably the most surprising part of parenting is that nothing you say actually matters because all your kids are doing is watching what you do and that turns out to be kind of a drag because it’s so easy to give the lectures and they’re sitting there watching you, you know, not tell the waiter when they forget to charge you for the appetizer, or not leave a tip or doing all these other things that a lot of people do without really thinking.
But then their kids are watching and getting the message that you don’t necessarily need to walk your talk because life is what you make out of it, or however they rationalize that.
Paul M Bowers: Well, I think a good parent operates with integrity and I know for us [laughs], we behave with integrity, but there are things that we don’t say. For a long time, I know in our house, using curse words, we didn’t use curse words. It was just something we didn’t do around him and now I’m quite proud to say, he has mastered the use of obscenities in the appropriate places at the appropriate times. Is something that makes one’s chest pump with pride
Dave Taylor: The deuce you say.[laughter]
Paul M Bowers: So, tell us now, you’re a single dad, you’re doing the swapping back and forth, you’re shuttling kids between hers and his. Tell us how that works for you. It sounds based on what you told me so far that it pretty much works for you.
Dave Taylor: Yea, you know it’s been an interesting journey because I think that, to be totally candid, when we divorced, I really wasn’t a very good father because I ended up, particularly for the 1st year or so, I was so caught up in my own stuff that it was really hard for me to see my children and see their needs and that really hurt them and you look back, and it’s just like “well, if I had a time machine and could give myself some wisdom, but I can’t.”
So, when we started, we always agreed that it would be 50:50 time but it ended up where the kids would spend their school nights with Mom and their weekends with me which I guess worked really well. They just had a really hard time switching during the week and my job, I ended up needing to have my evenings free too. For example, as a film critic, I need to be able to go see movies.
Dave Taylor: So, it didn’t work for me to have the kids during the week. So, it ended up being fairly complicated. Zoom forward a couple years and then we were at 50:50 and that was working pretty well and then zoom more forward, and for the past couple of years, my son, he ended up going to a boarding high school, we can come back to that, my daughter matriculated and went off to several adventures before she started college and my youngest has been living with me full-time for over 2 years.
So, it’s sort of an interesting journey that we went from being in the same house to mostly having the children with Mom and now having all 3 of them this summer.So, my older two are waiting for college to start up again. All 3 of them are with me full-time.
Paul M Bowers: Got it? And…
Dave Taylor: And that’s their choice.
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Paul M Bowers: So, we’re back from commercial with Dave Taylor of askDavetaylor.com. It is once again my pleasure to have you here. We’re talking about how you have navigated your childhood and you’ve got 3 kids and you’re going back and forth and it sounds like you have it straightened out. So, now you mentioned that you have a son that went to a high school far away from home. Tell us a little bit about that.
Dave Taylor: Right, so, one of the tough pieces is that for at least the 1st year after separation/divorce, my ex and I spent a lot of our energy hating on each other. And it was immature, coming from a place of pain and hurt. It was really hard. Divorce is really, really hard and even the person that starts the divorce proceedings might think “oh, I’d rather be at home by myself than with this person I dislike.” It’s still hard.
I think people underestimate just how difficult it is, not just for the kids, obviously, the kids are hugely impacted by this. You have this vision of being a single parent and you have everything exactly how you want and it’s going to go really easy and it doesn’t.
I think that’s actually quite rare. Our children, in different ways because of their different ages and different developmental cycles and developmental stages, each of them was deeply impacted by the divorce and by the fact that each of us struggled to say anything nice about the other person which, again, all the divorce books, everyone says, never speak badly about your ex but, man, it’s really hard not to have it creep out especially if your child is complaining about the other parent.
It’s really hard not to say “I know” and “I get it” and “Yeah, that would drive me crazy too” because you’re trying to be empathetic to your child but that’s not necessarily a good long-term strategy.
So, there were a lot of issues with bullying over the years in school that he never spoke to us about and why he never spoke to me about it, I have no particular theory on why that occurred. I wish he had spoken more because it ended up really breaking him down and by the time we hit 9th grade, we basically got to a point where he was just done, and he just wouldn’t go to school.
We really had no idea what to do, we tried an online school and he did that for a month or two and then just got bored with that and stopped. And it was just like “you’re in 9th grade, you can’t just go off on your life, you can’t start college. You’re too young.” and you don’t have the mental experience and the intellect to be a 14-year-old college kid.
So, we cast our net far and wide and we found a therapeutic boarding school up in Montana, so we ended up sending him there in order for him to be able to finish his high school experience and learn how to grow up basically. So, it was a really intensive therapeutic environment that also was a strong academic environment and it was insanely hard.
It is my lifelong regret that I have missed most of my son’s adolescence. But, having said that he graduated with a 4.0, he’s on his way to a really respected college with scholarship money and he’s really turned it around. I feel like he really has his life on track and it has adversely affected my relationship with him but, I would rather have done that and have him become a happy, healthy and successful adult than have us hold on and hang on and have us struggle and struggle through high school.
So, really hard decision, but again, I think a part of parenting is making those really hard decisions because you’re looking at the long-term picture rather than just saying “oh, this is going to be hard tomorrow, so I’m not going to do it.”
I think there’s a lot of parents that are free to do that and so they end up looking back at the experience and saying “I should have been tougher, I should have been stricter, I should have been harder, I should have said “no”‘, I should have withdrawn this, I should have taken their car away, ” whatever and we live in a world where our kids are more open to the world and they see more opportunities even if they don’t understand the consequences of the choices they make.
Paul M Bowers: I think that that’s quite a dilemma and being the parent of a son who’s about your son’s age, wow! I can really feel that. I certainly hope that I could have risen to the occasion had that presented itself to me and to Indra. I think that you are right, that you really start seeing the good part of parents when they make decisions for their kids that are difficult for themselves and there’s some certain amount of self-sacrifice there. It goes back to the Integrity with which we must conduct ourselves and hopefully our kids will see that in the future. So, this decision to send him, that ended up being a mutual decision with his mother?
Dave Taylor: Yeah, I will say that for all the antipathy, we have come together very well any time there’s been any adversity and to be clear, 10 years later, we’re actually pretty friendly, and we go out for dinner together and I will actually go out occasionally for a beer with her husband. So, that energy dissipated quite a bit, and it had to because each of our children at different moments has had challenges that we’ve had to come together and discuss and come up with a unified solution.
The worst thing in the world would be for our child to be having a really difficult time and each parent has a different solution and so then, they have no idea which one’s going to work. Which parent actually knows what they’re doing? Who do I trust? Who do I rely on? Who can I talk to?
So, I think that whether you’re married and sleeping in the same bed or whether you’re divorced and 1000 miles apart, there’s a certain level of co-parenting that I think is critical for the children to be able to be successful. Even if it’s like the classic 50’s parenting where the mom does all the parenting and the Dad comes home and supports and agrees with the decisions that she’s made. I think that can work too with either gender in the lead role.
But the worst thing in the world is to have a child having a hard time because Joey is bullying me in Spanish class and Dad’s saying, “let’s toughen you up so you can punch Joey in the nose.” It’s very, very difficult for the child and they often won’t say anything, they’ll just withdraw or get depressed.
Paul M Bowers: And I often think that part of the key to successful parenting is demonstrating that ability to resolve conflict in front of your child. Whether you’re both in the same house or not. I know Indra may have to struggle with that. To show that we’re cooperating and we’re not getting into these power struggles. And, you know my wife, normally a meek and mild kind of person. I have to say that one of the things that I admire about her the most, other than her fantastic good looks and sweet personality, is her ability to step back and allow me to do my role as the lead parent and she says “ok, we’re going to do it your way.”
For me, the first couple of times that happened, I was shocked because I did not expect it from her and her unique personality type and it has worked really well for us and it has modeled a pattern of conflict resolution for our son that I hope, in the future, he will adopt. [laughter]
Dave Taylor:Yeah, I agree, and I think the phrase I would maybe use for this would be “egoless parenting.” I think it’s hard to be completely egoless, but, you know, but if you’re having an argument either with your child or with the other parent it’s not about who wins, it’s about what’s the best actual decision, so sometimes you just need to say “ok, let’s try it your way.”
Paul M Bowers: As a movie critic, have you seen this recent documentary about the triplets?
Dave Taylor: I have not yet, but I’ve heard good things about it.
Paul M. Bowers: I cannot recommend that enough and the movie itself is fascinating because it has to do with triplets separated at birth but as you dig into it, it’s really more about nature versus nurture and not to be a spoiler of the movie, it’s all out there, you probably got the press kit for it. They talk about these triplets that were separated at birth through an adoption agency with the specific intent to follow along as they grew and went about their lives. We look back at this in a very grotesque way and say that this is something that should never have happened and was sanctioned by a prominent psychologist in New York. So, this will never happen again, hopefully.
On the other hand, there’s data there and it won’t be unsealed until 2060 or something like that but it’s all about nature versus nurture. So, I found it fascinating and I highly recommend it, but you see every movie that comes out anyway, right?
Dave Taylor: Yeah. Well definitely, it seems really interesting, you know, and I have to say that I think I come down somewhere in the middle because I have seen really gentle, warm, loving parents produce a child who’s very self-absorbed and I have seen kind-of jerk parents produce a child who is a lovely warm human being who is absolutely part of their community and given back every single day.
Paul M Bowers: In my own experience, my parents were really conventional and very straightforward, and my Dad was a military guy, so he had a very rigid set of disciplinary standards for himself and for his own conduct. So, we four kids were raised fairly even-handedly. My dad was pretty darn consistent. You couldn’t pick out any special kid or anything like that.
They went right down the line and I remember him telling me, surely before his death in 2010. He was kind of a classic philosopher kind of guy. He looks at me and he says, “I just don’t get it, you were raised all consistently” and let me tell you, my siblings and I are very different folks. To his death, he was fascinated by that, how same environment, theoretically the same nurture with obvious differences in age and where you fit in.
Dave Taylor:You know; I think a consequence of that realization is that you can’t judge the success of your parenting based on how your child turns out. Because I think all we can do as fathers, for example, is give it our best and really be present and really love our children. But they’re still on their journeys particularly once they hit adolescence and beyond, like with my 21-year-old, she’s on her journey.
If she wants to marry her boyfriend and move to Brazil, then I can’t do anything about it, I can just keep my fingers crossed that that’s going to end well but I think, for me to say ” she doesn’t have any academic honors, which she does actually, and she doesn’t have a job at Google and she’s not driving a Tesla, therefore I failed as a parent” I think that would be, again, too much ego in the mix.
Paul M Bowers:I agree with you and that’s good news for us because no matter how our kids turn out, we can always claim that we did a fantastic job, that nature takes over after a while. Right?
Dave Taylor:I think nature was there from the get-go.
Paul M Bowers:But we don’t claim that. Nurture was there first because we did a fantastic job.
Dave Taylor:That’s how it works.
Dave Taylor: Oh yeah, I forgot. Sorry. We are clearly the enlightened subset of fathers because we’re having this conversation.
Paul M Bowers: We’re doing it over the internet and over phones at the same time. So, asking Dave Taylor. You know, James Lipton had a series of questions based on Bernard Pivot and Bernard Pivot was from Le Cordon Bleu. One of my favorite questions that I like to ask people is“What is your favorite curse word?”
Dave Taylor:My favorite curse word?
Paul M Bowers: That is correct sir.
Dave Taylor:I use a lot of different curse words quite honestly. Like the ‘F’ word can be a really powerful word so hold on until it actually is of value. When you talk to people, I have a couple of friends where they just swear every single sentence and it just gets tedious and it doesn’t make them sound tough or cool. It makes them sound stupid. I don’t have ‘a’ favorite curse word, but I definitely appreciate all of them including those in Spanish and German. [laughter]
Paul M Bowers: Well Dave Taylor, thanks for joining me today on the Our Bird Has Flown podcast and being part of the series of ‘Dads who inspire me’ because you truly are and thanks for making the time.
Dave Taylor:You bet, thanks for having me on Paul
Paul M Bowers:All right! See ya. Bye, Bye.
That’s it for the Our Bird Has Flown podcast today. We’d like to thank Dave Taylor of askDaveTaylor.com. We’d like to thank our sponsors, Green Fresh Florals and ncrconline.com Be sure to subscribe. You can reach the Our Bird Has Flown podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and yes, even Spotify. I’m Paul M Bowers [Singing Paul M Bowers]. Thanks, ladies, and we’ll see you on the next episode of Our Bird Has Flown and Dads Who Inspire me.
[Sings – WB6QWD]