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On Perfecting the Dad Joke With Dan Singley
Dadditude Newsletter #30
Dadditude interviews dads (and mums) from different backgrounds, professional fields, and ethnicities to get their insights on what it means to be a parent in the current moment.
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Have You Checked-In With Your ‘Dad Self’ This Week?
We couldn’t resist a good Dad Joke in this issue - but #realtalk, it’s important to check-in with yourself on a regular basis. Which is why we created the www.dadcheck.in to help Dads like you reflect on #Dadlife.
Say Hi to Dan Singley
Dan is a licensed psychologist and native Texan, who now lives in San Diego, CA with his wife and two teenage boys, aged 15 and 17 years old.
We met Dan in the early days of Dadditude, and have serious respect for his focus on the psychology of fatherhood, which he’s explored for over 20 years.
We spoke with Dan recently about some of his learnings as both a therapist to men and the father of two teenage boys.
Tell us about life as a Dad and Therapist.
On the professional front, I run a group practice, Men Excel, here in San Diego that specializes in the psychology of men. We provide individual, couples, and men's group psychotherapy, as well as classes for new and expectant fathers. Join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
While I've loved engaging in practice and research in psychology, it has set me up for many ‘dad fails’ where one of my teenagers rolls his eyes at me and walks away muttering something snide like “yeah right, a real fatherhood expert huh?”
How old are your kids? How would you describe each of them?
My oldest is 17 years old and the younger boy is 15, and for extra fun I've raised them bilingually by only speaking Spanish with them for most of their lives. They're both very bright and funny and inherited
my their mother’s ADHD :-). My older son Jackson is super quirky and a real sweetheart. He's got a major passion for technology, immersive virtual reality, and is planning to study computer science when he goes to college next year. Huntito is passionate about hockey, building computers, and, unfortunately, first person shooter video games. I guess that's what happens when you name a kid Hunter. They're both exceptional young men and I owe a serious debt of gratitude to my wife for making up for some of my significant genetic and interpersonal shortcomings!
What kind of work do you do at The Center for Men's Excellence, and what led you to found the Center?
I founded The Center of Men's Excellence because I think it's very important for men and boys to be able to access Mental Health Resources and professionals that are focused on the nuances of what it's like to try to navigate life in their shoes these days. We offer individual, couples, and men's group psychotherapy, and we do in fact have female patients as well. A key aspect of why I've gone this direction with my career is that very few mental health professionals actually get focused training in supporting men's issues and masculinity. In the same way, most men and boys rarely stop to reflect on what their gender means to them outside of Hollywood tropes. It's been very rewarding to train other mental health professionals and to work with motivated and vulnerable men and boys to help them get the most they can out of life.
How does being a father influence your current job/activities, and vice versa?
Being a father is a very central aspect of my identity. It's not an accident that my research is focused on early Fatherhood, and my life is very much focused around being with my wife and my sons. It's interesting because I think I'm pretty good at leaving my shrink hat at the office and working to be present and genuine with my kids when I'm at home. At the same time, some of the experiences and wisdom that I've gained on my fatherhood Journey has absolutely informed how I show up with patients, in particular fathers!
What do you think is your biggest strength as a parent?
It's a toss-up between empathy and humor. It's very important to me that even when I'm wrong, my boys know that I am working hard to understand them and where they're coming from. Still, some of the most connected experiences I've had with them are when we’re riffing on something and sharing laughs.
What stresses you out the most as a parent these days?
Screens. Seriously. They're like crack for these kids and by far the biggest source of stress and anguish I experienced as a dad.
What side of parenthood do you wish you had invested more time and energy into the past?
So, I self-identify as a Caucasian ‘tiger dad’ and the reality is that I have high standards for myself and my boys. I don't regret that per se, but I do wish that I'd learned earlier on as a father how to encourage the boys to pursue their interests and grow, without inadvertently expressing disappointment. We're actually doing family therapy with the four of us right now and while it's been very tough, it's one of the best steps we've taken to help us to feel even more connected and able to talk through the hard stuff.
Can you tell us about an especially favorite/special moment with your kids recently?
A couple of weeks ago I was driving my younger son out to Vegas for a weekend hockey tournament. On the way, I called my mom, who was right in the middle of struggling with a crisis that was pretty overwhelming to her. I was of course talking with her to try to be helpful and I was filled with pride and admiration when Hunter jumped into the conversation and started offering the help that his grandmother really needed. That's the kind of good human being that I'm happy to know our family is producing.
Thank you Dan!
We’ve enjoyed reading:
And you can find more articles on fatherhood in the Dadditude app.
Long Working Hours and Commutes Contribute to Japanese Fathers Spending Little Time on Housework A study by Japan’s National Center for Child Health and Development found that 36% of fathers of preschoolers spend 12 hours or more on work and commuting, and only 10 minutes each day on housework.
As my son navigates the new independence of being a young adult, I enter another chapter of parenthood I knew about empty nest syndrome, but my child’s departure hit me for a six. Now I watch him lurch from day to day, from child to adult.
The Stay-At-Home Dads Who Don’t Stay Home “There’s no rule that says you have to do kid-centric things when you’re parenting your child.”
Throwback: Dadditude Newsletter #14: On Illustrations and Dad Time, With Luis Mendo
Join us and other Dad Friends at the Mother Honestly Digital Summit
We’re excited to partner up with Fathering Together, and host a panel of Dad Pros at the Mother Honestly Caregiving and Work Digital Summit.
Check it out on Friday, March 25th from 2:45pm EST - 3:30pm EST.
Thanks for reading!
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