The OBHF Podcast: Ep. 4 – When Dad is Lead Parent
A broad discussion about how Paul parented our son, the importance of letting kids struggle and some of the challenges when Dad is lead parent.
In this episode you’ll find out about:
- Meeting other dads at the Dad 2.0 Summit who are lead parent
- How much things are changing as more dads are lead parent
- Letting kids fail for growth
- Why Paul would home school if he could do it over
Proudly Sponsored by:
Green Fresh Florals: www.greenfreshflorals.com
- OBHF Podcast Ep. 4 Transcript - When Dad is Lead Parent
From the Dusty Urban Ham Shack studio of WB6QWD lit by a single 60 watt Edison bulb hanging from the ceiling this is the Our Bird Has Flown podcast.
Paul M Bowers: Hello and welcome again to the Our Bird Has Flown podcast, my name is Paul M Bowers and I’m here with my wife Indra Gardiner Bowers.
Indra Bowers: Hey everybody.
Paul M Bowers: And today we are going to talk about what?
Indra Bowers: Fatherhood.
Paul M Bowers: Fatherhood.
Indra Bowers:Being a stay at home dad.
Paul M Bowers: You know I know one of those
Indra Bowers:Of course you do.
Paul M Bowers:I am one of those
Indra Bowers:Yes, you are.
Paul M Bowers:But first, let’s talk about our sponsors, who’s our sponsor today?
Indra Bowers: Our sponsor is the marketing agency I.D.E.A and you can find them online at www.theideabrand.com. This agency which is honestly my agency [chuckling] is a fully integrated marketing firm, helping our clients find solutions, courageous solutions to solve their thorny marketing problems. We focus on hospitality, destination, C.P.G. you can find more on the website and watch some fun video work that we have done at theideaband.com.
Paul M Bowers:And we thank the idea brand for our sponsorship.
Indra Bowers: Thanks gang.
Paul M Bowers: Thanks gang. So —
Indra Bowers: Wait I’m going to take this one.
Paul M Bowers:You are?
Paul M Bowers:Wow!
Indra Bowers:I’m going to interview you.
Paul M Bowers:Oh–
Indra Bowers:Yeah… So you know we have made it clear that part of what Our Bird Has Flown is about is role reversal of our family with Paul being a stay at home dad and me being a working mom and how we have been exploring more and more of this world. I happened to see that there is actually an event called; At Home Dad Con, it meets every year, it’s the national at home dad network, I don’t know how we missed that.
Paul M Bowers:Are they cons? Are they all cons?
Indra Bowers:[Laughter], they’re ex-cons. No they are dads who are raising their kids and it’s a group providing advocacy support for fathers who are the primary care givers of the children.
Paul M Bowers: I thought we could use some.
Indra Bowers:I wish we had known about that.
Paul M Bowers: Yeah, it sounds a little [nanby panby] for me.
Indra Bowers:No, well I don’t know, maybe but you were at dad 2.0 a few months ago and did you meet stay at home dads there?
Paul M Bowers: A lot of them and I say it seems a little bit [nanby panby] for me because that’s how macho boys do it. But the truth is it is really good to have company and it’s really good to have people who understand and I think that’s fairly universal and I mean you go to CEO conferences, where you meet other like minded people where you share the same pain and the same joy. At the Dad 2.0 seminar in New Orleans this year, I met a lot of really cool guys who have similar values that place families first and stepping over some of the obstacles it takes to be a stay at home dad in this whack a day world.
Indra Bowers:Well, seriously though let’s talk about, I know for you there were some feelings of isolation at times because we didn’t know this network existed, we didn’t have a lot of friends here that were following this path and you’re a little bit of an introvert any way so, I know that sometimes that can feel like there’s never really a great support network and it seems like that’s starting to change for men now.
Paul M Bowers: Yeah, I think it is changing, it’s hard for me to know where does that isolation feeling came from, am I naturally being introverted or there just wasn’t enough resources maybe, a little bit of both. The researches we have talked about the playground before the playground full of mom’s and some of who were threatened by a guy around. It was some unusual reactions some of which was fun, most of the time it was fun but sometimes the PTA’s are most times full of moms in the room that’s a little isolating.
Indra Bowers:I think what’s so interesting is that we just come at things differently right? The way that a dad might address a situation let’s say between two kids at the playground might be different from when a mom might address it and it doesn’t mean that one is better or worst it just means that people have a hard time with different.
Paul M Bowers:Yeah, I think that is true and my policy was more hands off, let these kids figure out what they need to figure out. I was not a helicopter parent, I let our child suffer, suffer! I let him struggle a bit and I would not swoop in and try to remove every impediment in his way or every difficult situation and I felt maybe this was the best thing, I felt like that was not popular among the mommy’s at the playground, mommy’s at the playground wanted to swoop in and grab. Now I think it has changed where some of the moms have multiple kids.
Paul M Bowers:Yeah, yeah, the reason I’m bleeding I’m good to go.
Paul M Bowers:But there are different ways of handling it and it’s hard for me to parse out whether that is just philosophical differences that I had and personally as a parent or is it a male or female thing.
Paul M Bowers:And I am certainly not the stereotypical guy who; “Oh, you know the kid has to kick his ass, that’s what you got to do kid get back in there kid and go do this and go do that.” That’s not my style and I tend to be a little bit more interactive, a little bit more communitive, did I mentioned I was trained in mediation?
Indra Bowers:Yes, you told us in a prior pod.
Paul M Bowers:From the Conflict Resolution Center. They’re not sponsoring this right?
Paul M Bowers:Okay,
Indra Bowers: Don’t talk about them anymore.
Paul M Bowers:[Whispering]
Indra Bowers:Okay, moving along.
Paul M Bowers:So I had personal philosophies there that also some of them are not terribly popular and I approach problems differently whether that’s just a male thing or just a me thing I don’t know.
Indra Bowers:Right, okay, one of the things I noticed over the last five years is that I see a lot more men out pushing strollers, walking their kids to the park, taking their kids to school, I am seeing, visibly seeing that shift. Do you see that happening?
Paul M Bowers: Yes, fortunately, I am seeing a lot of guys doing it more. For a long time when Jesse and I would walk to school, we walked to school almost every day through elementary and middle school and sometimes we would see the men out there but most of the time we would see mostly moms that would do it. But I’m starting to see men more with infants.
Paul M Bowers:And I think; “you go guys” because what that does is it changes the way their partner’s life, sure it changes their life too but I look at it and say there is a wife or a husband somewhere who’s not doing that right now and hopefully is relaxing or is at work.
Indra Bowers:Or is being fulfilled at their jobs.
Paul M Bowers: Right, and there’s a shared thing going on there and I like that about family.
Indra Bowers:The other thing though that is equally as important is the message it sends to the kids. If it isn’t some division of labor just because this is the way this has been, this is the way it’s supposed to be and it creates this more levelled playing field that I think is very important for future generations so that everyone can choose the path that they want.
Paul M Bowers: Yeah, and that starts at school. We’ve all read the articles that young women they were not encouraged to raise their hands in class, they’re not encouraged to question the teachers and that’s something the boys always did. I think that we are seeing a shift in that because the men are more involved in what was traditionally a female role, it ends up making an equivocation between genders and I think that is a positive thing.
Indra Bowers:I have more questions for you but I think we need to take a break right now.
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Paul M Bowers:We eloped, so we didn’t get any Green Fresh Florals from them at our wedding which was fine.
Indra Bowers: We eloped [Laughter] there was no wedding.
Paul M Bowers: That was a wedding, there were three of us there [Laughter].
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Indra Bowers:Nice, okay. So, one of the things that I am curious about is how you feel men and women parent differently and in the case of us raising a boy, how did that affect him?
Paul M Bowers:Well, it’s hard for me to know because I’ve only been in one parenting role and that’s with you of course, but I think that men allow particularly boys to struggle more and you see that more in … and I am not a sports guy, baseball, football doesn’t mean nothing to me and I’m not particular fond of the environment in which they take place and fortunately for me our son feels the same way and I had to tell everybody that I tried. I took him to soccer practice, he was a fantastic daisy picker.
Paul M Bowers: He’s out there looking at his shadow going; “wow look at my shadow, look at me I’m getting stronger,” oh what is this? “It’s a ball” what do you do with that?
Indra Bowers: [Laughter].
Paul M Bowers:He had no affinity for it whatsoever and I don’t mean that in an insulting way, he’ll be happy to tell you the same thing. But one of the roles that sports plays in raising boys and that’s an “old school” tradition is the boys go and they do little league, the boys go and they do soccer and we have good friends that do this and they’re coaches on their teams and they raise their kids and they do magnificently. So it’s not an overall critical examination of sports, but the key factor in that is, our friend Michael Katz would say the important thing about little league is that it teaches kids how to lose. It teaches them how to lose with grace and dignity and to accept that and to start again and get going again and those are traditionally male environments which our son pretty much skipped. Nevertheless that was something that—
Indra Bowers:And which lots of girls now have.
Paul M Bowers:Lots of girls now have it fortunately.
Paul M Bowers:And that’s still getting better and our son didn’t have that environment. He did have karate, he did a lot of karate and he did struggle with it but I think one of the things that I’ve noticed is that men tend to let their kids struggle more and I thing that, that’s extremely important. Only when kids overcome struggles do they learn self esteem
Paul M Bowers: And it starts, at Gymboree [laughter], it starts at Gymboree.
Indra Bowers:I love Gymboree.
Paul M Bower: You just take him there and he’s like wow! You’ve got a jungle gym and your climbing up this ramp and slide down the other side; well, the kid looked at it and the kid doesn’t know that he can climb up that ramp. And so we as parents have to say; you can climb up that ramp and they would say ok and they looked and tried climbing up the ramp and they struggled and they overcame it themselves and then they get the reward of sliding. And I think that’s what metaphorically what happens throughout life.
Your kid comes home and say I got a “D” in geometry and we have to say I know you can get yourself out of this, I’m not going to do the geometry for you, but you can and you can make this happen or for me one of the most important ones was; I don’t get along well with this geometry teacher, I have got a problem with the teacher and so I can’t do geometry.
Well guess what? You have to struggle with this teacher, I’m not going to go to this teacher and say; hey be nicer to my kid because in fact the kid might not be nice to the geometry teacher, that’s just the way that they are. So it’s important that they struggle with the relationships that they are presented with and that’s one of the good things that school does, sending your kid to school is that they have to overcome and work with the relationships.
Indra Bower:Well, let’s expand on that whole idea of school and all the other outside institutions, organizations that our kids encounter and what are the messages that they’re getting about dad being stay at home versus a mom. Do you feel like or did you felt that when Jesse was growing up?
Paul M Bowers:You know what the more interesting question is to ask Jesse and we can do that in another podcast. I don’t know exactly if he took heat because dad walked into school instead of his mom or if he took heat because I was there to pick him up every time.
Indra Bowers:I was can only remember one time and it was towards elementary school, he had a little bit of a break down with me saying; everyone else’s mom was there and for him it was the dad and why couldn’t his mom be there like all the other moms.
Paul M Bowers: Well, yeah I don’t remember that.
Indra Bowers:Well, it was a conversation I had with him and it was really surprising to me. I didn’t know he felt that way and we really had to talk through why, so he could really understand the why part of it. But he really struggled with that so there was something going on whether it was something overtly speaking to him, like whether kids said something to him, like “why is your dad always the one here” or whether he just felt that but definitely something was going on.
Paul M Bowers:Or maybe he just felt the deficit of having you in his life, you know he got pretty darn tired of seeing me, now he probably won’t admit it but it’s important. This was a kid that disliked school, he loves to learn but he dislikes school, he dislikes the environment, he hates sitting in chairs, he hated having a teacher standing up lecturing to him and he didn’t like all that and that become apparent in about the second or third grade and this is familiar stuff to me so, I wanted to make sure that every day that he goes through school that he is rewarded for it because he’s got to get through it, he’s got to have that struggle. Now one of the things that I regret about how we set our family was had I known what school was like and was going to be like, I would have home schooled him from the beginning.
Indra Bowers: Wow! That’s huge.
Paul M Bowers: Yeah, I just, sorry teachers you’re in an environment that’s very difficult for you and administrations and teachers and labor and all this make for a stew in education that doesn’t work and as far as I’m concerned it is failing and it’s consistently failing and had I known what I know now I would have home schooled him.
Indra Bowers:But I think that would have been challenging for you, you don’t love the academics yourself.
Paul M Bowers:Well, the other part of this is that there’s resources now that allow people to do it really well. Instead of having a teacher that has been doing it 50 years and is tired of it and tired of all the kids and all the stuff that teachers go through, because teachers are some sort of an angel or something, I don’t understand how they do it. But man, they get ground down constantly, if it’s not the kids, it’s the parents or the administrators so, that has to reflect in how they teach, it’s a normal human mistake. How about instead of sending your kid to one of those teachers, you send your kid to a teacher that specializes, is fired up about and has a different way.
Indra Bowers:Wow! If you could afford to do that.
Paul M Bowers: Well, but there are groups now that you can do this in, you can get together with the people in the neighbourhood. Get five to ten kids to go to this one specific teacher. There are resources, there are a lot of online resources that are available. And the big objection to home schooling as well are the…
Paul M Bowers:The socialization but guess what, there a lot of other things. Our kid loved going to Youth in Government. I think the Youth In Government program through the Y.M.C.A was one of the most powerful influences on his life so far. He threw himself in it and he dug it and he learned a lot, he learned parliamentarian procedure. That is just boring stuff.
Paul M Bowers:If he can do that in that environment he can do geometry in a different environment. And the different environment that are available now, were not available when he was in kindergarten.
Paul M Bowers: Plus, I did not know where exactly this was going to go. In kindergarten I started volunteering, I started learning more stuff
Indra Bowers: You were so busy, your studio was still cranking.
Paul M Bowers:Yeah I was still cranking in the studio so I couldn’t do it completely and I couldn’t visualize, first I couldn’t visualize that I could do it. Imagine you saying; “Oh, hell yeah you go do this” because it was just too much of a compromise you know, I got to put up the money and your saying; “no you don’t you’ve got to take over” had I had that realization and you had made that clear so this is not on you it’s on me if I had trusted that earlier on then I would have done more home schooling.
Paul M Bowers: Or some hybrid of that and that would allow us to travel and go places and learn and to have experiences rather than just sitting at a desk with a work sheet and that is the worst way to learn.
Indra Bowers: You really would have gotten sick of each other [laughter].
Paul M Bowers: [Laughter]. Well, yeah that would have been the tricky part, I would definitely have to get him involved in other things that was not just us banging heads, as you know your child has your personality.
Indra Bowers:Oh yeah.
Paul M Bowers:So, on that note that’s the music we have to wrap this up right.
Indra Bowers: That’s right it’s time.
Paul M Bowers:Are you doing the wrap up or am I doing the wrap up? And you’re pointing at me.
Paul M Bowers:Let the record show, it’s pointed in my direction.
Paul M Bowers: So that music means it’s time to wrap up today’s Our Bird Has Flown podcast from the studio of WB6QWD in the Urban Ham Shack. I’m Paul M Bowers and joined here by Indra Gardiner Bowers
Paul M Bowers:Our podcast is remotely produced by Brian Thomas at Yokai Audio in Kalamazoo Michigan. Our sponsors are greenfreshflorals.comand theideabrand.com.You can visit our website at ourbirdhasflown.com.whree we talk about our topsy turvy home life and our college bird Jesse Bowers. Thanks for clicking in we will see you soon.