On Fatherhood Failures, With Clint Edwards
Dadditude Newsletter #21
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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On Fatherhood Failures, With Clint Edwards
Clint Edwards is dad of 3, author and educator living in Oregon. He works at a university in the athletics department. He is a staff writer for Scary Mommy and a parenting contributor to the New York Times and the Washington Post. You might know him from his great Instagram No Idea Daddy Blog. He’s also the author of a number of funny books about parenting, the most recent being Fatherish.
We spoke with Clint recently about how his writing helps him become a better dad, how his latest book came to be, and the importance of spending as much time as possible with his kids.
Tell us about your kids.
I have three goober kids. My oldest is 14. He is precocious, and funny, but also a full blown teenager. The middle child is 12. She’s the quiet type, but also incredibly thoughtful and happy to help her younger sister. My youngest child is 7. She's more or less like living with a honey badger. All of them are amazing and exhausting in the most wonderful ways.
How do you manage to mix work and family?
Everything is about being a dad. From my job, to my writing, to my life. My kids, and my wife: all of it… they are the most important people in my life right now. And I must say, one of the best things I’ve ever done is write about being a dad. I’m kind of surprised by how often I will be writing about a moment. I can’t decide why it was sticking out in my mind, and then, as I write about it, I realize I was being a jerk, or maybe I didn’t give it my all, and I need to try again with my child, or possibly apologize. So I approach my child, and try again. Writing about being a dad has really helped me reflect on my actions, and try to make every interaction count with my children.
Please tell us how your latest book Father-ish came to be?
It’s kind of boring, actually. I sent some ideas to my publisher. I can’t remember them now. What I wanted this to be was a holiday book. Mostly about Christmas. And somehow after going back and forth for a number of months, we finally settled on a book of fails. The first section in the book is all about my holiday fails, and I honestly think it’s the funniest section. But hey, the whole book is brilliant. But I might be biased. I did write the sucker.
What do you think is your biggest strength as a parent?
I pretty much feel like a failure every single day as a dad. I suppose it keeps me humble.
What stresses you out the most these days as a parent?
Right now? Screen time. I’m pretty over it. I’m tired of managing it, and I’m tired of my kids asking me to have more of it. But this, I suspect, is a pretty common problem for parents nowadays.
What side of parenthood do you wish you had invested more time and energy in the past?
I had a pretty interesting conversation with a coworker the other day. We were talking about using vacation time, and how we are both bad at using it. She mentioned chatting with her father, and how one of his biggest regrets is not maximizing his time away from work, particularly vacation. He said it was his biggest regret. I have a feeling I will feel the same in the long run, and I really need to be fighting to spend as much time as I can with my kiddos.
Can you tell us about an especially favorite/special moment with your kid recently?
My son is 14 and he’s going full blown teenager right now. I felt like I was totally failing as a dad 90% of the time as I interacted with him. But then, out of nowhere, he found a job at a local farm. He applied, interviewed, and was hired without much input from me, or his mother. And now he’s working most mornings at the crack of dawn, and it really caused me to step back and say, “This kiddo might just be turning out okay.” It was a pretty awesome feeling.
Thank you Clint!
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