Parenting

This Dad and Stand-Up Comic Wants to Change the Way Single Dads Are Viewed

 

Editor’s Note: As our parenting section continues to expand its content, we want to give you a chance to get to know our writers on a more personal level as they share their insights on parenting, their lives before parenthood and much more. Our previous interviews were with Julie PrinceFaith Moore, and Lauren Spagnoletti

How did you get into writing?

I’m a stand up comic by trade, but I’ve always been a writer too. I was on tour and talking to my mom one day and she said, “you know, you always used to write. Why haven’t you in a while?” She was right and it pushed me to pick up the pen again. I got into blog form writing in 2000 and then expanded to political commentary. I eventually had a show of my own on PJ Media TV. For the last few years I’ve been able to write more and stay at home with my daughter before she heads off to college. I’ll go back on the road again in the fall when she leaves for Fordham.

How would you describe your parenting style?

I’m fun, but it’s always apparent I’m the parent, not the friend. I’ve been talking to my daughter as if she’s understood full, complete sentences since she was toddler. I think it’s important to be communicative and create an ongoing dialogue. If you don’t early on, it’s a lost cause. And although her mother and I have been divorced since she was four, we’ve always stayed on the same page with parenting, which is not an easy thing to do.

Can you share a moment you realized you were getting something right with this parenting thing?

As a father to a daughter, when she started to grow up and become a young woman I said, “get use to hearing this from me: that dress is too short, that top too low-cut, and those pants too tight.” One day I had taken her shopping and when she emerged from the dressing room with an armful of clothes, I asked if she found anything. Her response was “yes, but you’re not going to like any of it. This one is too short, this one is too tight, and this one is too low cut.” Related, when I picked her up from school the other day I took a look at the girls her age and I said “I’m really glad I never have to tell you to not dress like a hooker.”

In honor of Father’s Day, what have you learned from your dad that you want to pass along to your daughter?

I admired my father for following his passions. He was extremely conservative but also artsy. There were wildly different things he was interested in and was constantly teaching himself. He was the president of a ballet company and a self-taught paleontologist and fossil hunter. In fact, he found a massive bone bead in northern Arizona and they named a dinosaur after him. I encourage my daughter to follow in his footsteps, don’t limit herself to what you learn in school. There’s a whole big world out there that’s fun to see.

What other things do you wish for your daughter and her future?

I want her to do the things she truly loves. You should never be mired in work you hate. You can make yourself what you want to be. I myself left college to do stand-up. I figured if I hated it, I’d go back to college. That decision has taken me all over the world. It’s how I met her mother and ended up becoming the father to a wonderful child. I want her to be happy. I hope she doesn’t fall into a trap of getting a job because it’s a good job. Life is too short and opportunities too great. I also want to do my part in writing more about competent single fathers. We’re largely portrayed as incompetent buffoons and idiots in the kitchen. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

What are the go-to blogs you follow regularly that are a must for other parents?

I use Flipboard and follow the “Parenting” section. That way I’m getting a great variety of information.

Get to Know Stephen Better:

  1. I can’t live without: Cheese. Any kind.
  1. If I had one week and an endless budget, I’d escape with my family to: The South Pacific. Traveled it extensively doing shows for our troops and was hooked immediately.
  1. The book I can’t put down right now is: Currently working my way through William Manchester’s three-volume biography of Winston Churchill. It’s long, but I’m fascinated by it.
  1. One piece of advice I’d give my teenage self would be: Start putting money away from every paycheck, no matter how much.
  1. Parenting is: One of the only things I’m good at.