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Daddy Drama isn’t the best thing, but it isn’t a bad thing

You may have noticed something of a kerfuffle among the dad bloggerati lately. Some might go as far as to call it an imbroglio. Or–eGAD–a donnybrook. A couple of dads wrote some stuff that a lot of others (including me) didn’t agree with, and the result was a resounding clash of dad antlers echoing throughout parent bloghood.

Cody Mullins recently wrote a piece called “10 Things Mothers Do Better Than Fathers” and was pilloried for extrapolating his own experience into a broad generalization. And even though he apologized in his follow-up, his tone rubbed some people the wrong way because he wasn’t humbled with abject contrition. Which is fine, since he had every right to stand by what he said, however much I disagreed with it.

(I posted a tweet proclaiming the “top one things all dads do better than moms.” And even that wasn’t taken at face value (HA.), since my friend Robert seems to think his mother-in-law could take me.)

The main thing I saw throughout the comments (apart from the unnecessarily nasty tone some of them took) was women telling the men not to take this so seriously, that it was just a joke. (Or better, a tribute to his wife.) Which might be true, but those women can forgive us for discounting their opinion as unaligned with our experience. Unless they weren’t miffed by all the womb-free birth-control “experts” that testified before Congress.

Later, Dan Pearce enjoined his critics in this post, which doesn’t appear as part of his main page. In it, he asserts that he’s the most heavily trafficked dad blog on the internet, even though when he started only two years ago, “Heck, I didn’t know blogs could bring in money at all.” Which also might be true, but it can’t help but make us feel like rank amateurs, Salieris to his Mozart. I would have told him all this, but the post also doesn’t welcome comments. Which I also thought was bad form.

How is this possible? We’re all dads! We all write for the same website! We must all be united in the noble, evergreen cause of making fatherhood synonymous with nurturing and strong role models!

We might be, but you know what? I’m not opposed to drama when it comes to dadblogging. Drama stems from passion, from higher stakes. From people stepping up and giving a hot damn about how dads are represented online. It also stresses that we dads are not all of one voice. Our numbers are increasing, and with that come more experiences and differences of opinion. Which everyone has the right to voice and take responsibility for, because that’s why blogging came about in the first place.

As different as these two men may be, they share one very important characteristic: I haven’t met them yet. I feel weird talking about Cody this way, for example, since I’ve known his wife Casey for years, his daughters are lovely, and I’m supposed to go out with his mother-in-law at some point. (Long story.) I have every confidence that if he were to come to Dad 2.013 and meet some of the other guys in our community, we’d all get along great. And no one would call him “Diablo Cody” to his face.

One of the great benefits of Dad 2.0 has been the friendships that have grown from all those initial handshakes in Austin. Our Facebook pages are alive with commentary and shared ideas, and I hope one day Cody and Dan will be a part of it. Because even though dads are at a weird time, when we’re working earnestly to be taken seriously as parents and sometimes can’t afford senses of humor about it, we still have to tolerate differences and encourage healthy debate. Otherwise, we’re all just a bunch of hectoring parrots.

Trolls fire invective from the safety of long distance, and sometimes anonymity. But all that goes away when people with differing opinions meet at a conference. Face-to-face contact brings back the adult in all of us. And if it doesn’t, what kind of role model does that make us?

Read more from Doug on his personal blog, Laid-Off Dad.

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