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Inspiring families with fresh thinking on parenting

Yano — Inspiring families with fresh thinking on parenting

The rise of the dad bloggers

Posted on 28th March, 2013 | filed under Featured, Yano Life

Toddler boy using laptop computer with father

Mums used to have the monopoly when it came to writing about being a parent, but now dads are on the march. Michael Donlevy looks at the rise of the dad bloggers

For B’s Dad, writing his weekly blog helped him deal with learning that his child was different. ‘I’d never felt the urge to write before finding out my son was autistic,’ he says. ‘That’s a pretty life-changing event – it’s confusing and upsetting and leaves you with a feeling of helplessness. If I’m honest, blogging was a way of saying things I couldn’t say to anyone, my wife included.’

What started as something therapeutic has turned out to be a massive help to other parents. ‘The feeling of uselessness that being an autism parent creates has been turned into something worthwhile,’ he says. ‘Unintentionally, I’ve become an advocate for autism awareness, which feels worthwhile.’

This is not an ego trip or an attempt to turn himself into some sort of celebrity. ‘The anonymity of my blog means I’ll never get friends, family or colleagues commenting,’ says B’s Dad. ‘But I get a lot of people telling me my blog has helped them. Sometimes this is practical – medical, educational – but more often, it’s the fact that my story resonates with their experience. Being a “special needs family” can be isolating and it can be difficult to find people who understand. I think my blog helps in this way. I also think there are very few dads writing about my particular issue. The best piece of praise I’ve ever received was from someone who said, “Your blog is a lifeline.”’

It’s not just special needs families who benefit from advice. ‘I know for sure that some of my posts have helped give other dads ideas about how to manage a situation,’ says Benjamin Tipping, author of Mutteringsofafool.com. ‘I wrote a lot about breastfeeding and tongue tie as we went through those issues with our son. Sharing that male perspective and how to support your wife is really useful. It’s definitely a virtual support group, where people also write a post asking for advice. There will be lots of comments giving opinions or suggestions.’

Not all blogs serve such a useful purpose. Some people do it for the sheer hell of it. ‘I wanted to make a permanent record of those funny and sad moments all parents have with their children so I wouldn’t be relying on my increasingly fallible memory,’ says Shouty Dad Bill Fathers.

So what’s in it for the daddy bloggers? ‘This will sound horribly wet, but I only really do this for the people around me,’ says Fathers. ‘When I’ve written something, I’ll give my wife the iPad and leave the room, but I stand outside and if I hear her giggling that’s enough for me. I write this blog not only about my children but for them, too. They’re not just fodder for my blog; I hope they’ll read these posts when they’re adults and feel that these are little love letters from their dad.’

The feedback isn’t always positive. ‘I wrote about my dismal sex life, which my wife understandably asked me to remove,’ says Fathers. ‘And I wrote an unflattering post about my local pub landlord and Lisa Marie Presley, who lives in the same village as me, which all got a bit nasty for a while.’

B’s Dad had an even worse experience. ‘An American anti-child website – seriously – once took one of my posts and, line by line, deconstructed it and wrote a scathing critique of it. It lost any potential credibility by being so obviously bonkers. It was hateful and extreme. It used offensive terms for disability and suggested that, through my writing, I was encouraging my son’s future suicide.’

Fathers remains convinced that dads have something different to offer. ‘There are so many mum bloggers writing in so many different styles that the field is saturated,’ he says. ‘By comparison, dad bloggers are still finding their feet. A lot of the blogs are quite weak as young, first-time dads try to write about something that’s life changing for them but fairly banal for others. Overall, though, dads seem to be growing in confidence and establishing a voice that’s distinct from the mother’s, which is resulting in a more varied and thoughtful range of blogs.’

There’s a simple reason why blogging is becoming more popular, regardless of how many people read it. ‘I love writing,’ says B’s Dad, simply. ‘It gives me a sense of achievement and being in the moment of the creative process is a great feeling. I lose track of time. A career in writing doesn’t seem quite the open door it once was, so perhaps good writers are finding different outlets.’

And there’s a simple reason why reading them is becoming more popular, too. ‘Part of it is the changing role of dads, with my generation definitely more interested in being a real dad who does things and doesn’t just go to work,’ says Tipping. ‘There are also many dads now who stay at home while their wives work. I think this has led to them seeking out communities and support networks. So many of the baby groups are mum-focused that it’s natural for dads to look for other ways to talk about what they’re going through. Dads are getting more confident to talk about feelings, which may have been laughed at in the past.’

10 of our favourite dad blogs

Life With An Autistic Son
Mutterings Of A Fool
Shouty Dad
Single Parent Dad
Babber Blog
Diary Of The Dad
Dad Down Under
National Fatherhood Initiative
How To Be A Dad
Canadian Dad

The rise of the dad bloggers was posted on 28th March, 2013 by Michael Donlevy under Featured, Yano Life

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Michael Donlevy

About the author: Michael Donlevy

Writing was in my blood from as early as I can remember; parenting took longer to come to me. I come from a creative family – my grandad was an opera singer, for example, although that particular gene skipped my generation – and I always loved writing and drawing, so a career in the creative industries was all I ever wanted. And I have been lucky. I have worked on men’s and women’s lifestyle magazines, with a particular slant on sport, health and fitness… genuine lifestyle stuff. I had two stints on men’s magazine Maxim, latterly as Editor, but probably the most fun I had in a full-time job was as Deputy Editor of Men’s Fitness for four years, interviewing sports stars and writing contentious features about things like government health policy, dodgy food labelling and fast food companies sponsoring sport (it’s a good thing, so long as you don’t eat the stuff). More recently I have worked in a freelance capacity, particularly for Flipside, a science and tech-based magazine for teenagers. As well as writing a lot about sport, I also indulge my other great passion – entertainment – as Flipside’s Reviews Editor. So what do I know about parenting? Good question, and one that maybe you should ask my ten-year-old son! He is, of course, my big work in progress. It’s important to me that I try to be the best dad I can and teach him the right things, but also that I learn from him too. I love the fact that parenting is a two-way process. Oh, I also manage a website called realbirthcompany.co.uk – which runs antenatal classes for mums and dads-to-be. The fact that my wife is a midwife probably explains why I know more than most men would ever wish to about pregnancy, birth and caring for a newborn. It hasn’t put me off, and I haven’t passed out either. Yet…
  • http://twitter.com/TomBriggs79 Tom Briggs

    Thanks very much for including Diary of the Dad in your list; much appreciated!

  • daddownunder

    Thanks Michael, nice to be mentioned in such esteemed company.

  • http://www.shoutydad.com/ Bill Fathers

    Great post, Michael, and some really interesting observations from other dads.

  • http://www.espectacularkids.com/ eSpectacularKids

    Hi Michael, we definitely agree with your views and already follow many dad bloggers. And you will be pleased to hear that, as we are based in Madrid, last Saturday there was the first mothers bloggers meeting in Madrid and lots of dad participated too! Thanks for your interesting posts and keep in touch! Mariella