Women I Admire Day 2: Warrior Moms Making Real Progress #WomensHistoryMonth

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 11 to 20% of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression symptoms. If we met in the middle and just called it 15%, out of the four million live births in the US each year, approximately 600,000 women get postpartum depression (or other forms of postpartum mental illness) each year in the United States alone. And that’s not even factoring in the women who miscarry or have stillborn babies. That raises the number to nearly 1 million. That is scary as hell!

There are still many people in the US, not to mention around the world, that don’t think PPD is a “real thing”. But, I’m here to tell you it’s real alright, and it deserves just as much attention and care as any other mental illness.

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Papa Does Preach Year in Review: 2014

2014

We’ve reached the end of another year my friends. It’s said, “Another year older is another year wiser.” Well, I’m not sure I’m any wiser than I was last year, but I definitely feel considerably older; a side effect of having a 35 pound ball of terror that is the Boy.

But, you know, for all the crap I give the Boy about how he’s clearly trying to ruin my life, I have to give him at least a small amount of credit, even if it kills me. Without his daily douche-baggery, there wouldn’t be any of the funniness I bring you on a regular basis. So, thanks….I guess.

I wasn’t planning on doing one of these Year in Review posts, but after talking with fellow writer friend a couple of weeks ago I had a change of heart. We were talking about where we would like to take our writing in 2015 and we could break away from the same ole same ole. I had a rare moment of being in the present and reminded that while we’re looking ahead, we shouldn’t look over or disregard all the awesome stuff that has happened this year, and take a moment to be proud of what we had accomplished in such a short time.

Then we sat there in silence for what felt like eternity because we both felt like we were in bizarro-world after my little nugget of positivity; I felt gross.

So I guess I’m going to get all positive again in this post and talk about my wins in 2014. Sorry, I know I promised you last time I wouldn’t do this again. So here is a list of my top moments (as a writer that is, because clearly my parenting list would consist of “I suck”) of 2014:

Papa Does Preach is born:

After hemming and hawing (or whining if you asked the Wife) about taking my writing more seriously for a while I decided to focus my ramblings on how awesome fatherhood can be. I was so excited to talk about how awesome my son is, and how there is nothing better than being a parent….but then I remembered my son is a toddler, and therefore is more d-bag than awesome, and as far as there being nothing better than being a parent; something about having bamboo shoots stuck under my fingernails comes to mind.  But at least I found the direction I wanted my writing to go, so that’s a win.

The Papa Gets Schooled:

In June I went to my first ever blog conference. It was a conference called BlogU in Baltimore, MD.  Seeing how that was pretty much right in my backyard, I decided that becoming murder victim #4 on The Wire was worth the risk and headed off to Maryland.

I’m really glad I went; If for no other reason I got a weekend away from having a toddler all in my face. The conference was an awesome wealth of information. I met so many talented writers, including some top-level bloggers that I have been reading and following for years. The best part of the conference was that I really was able to come out of my shell and get to know people; it didn’t hurt that I was the only guy among easily 175 women who all wanted to talk to the one dad blogger who came to the conference. My outfit for the conference prom was a hit too.

tux

The Papa Gets Published and Gets Some Air Time:

After the great experience of BlogU I set a goal to get published on the Huffington Post.  Two of the main editors spoke at BlogU and said they were excited to have so many voices in the blogosphere and were looking forward to publishing new writers. I wrote and wrote,but nothing was getting picked up.  I watched as so many of my BlogU friends were getting picked up left and right. I began to get discouraged, but I kept plugging away.  When the Ray Rice domestic abuse incident, and the victim blaming that followed, I wrote a piece confronting this kind of abuse and questioning how blaming the victims will affect our future sons and husbands. That was the piece that finally broke through. I was over the moon excited when I finally got the call that Huffington Post Parents wanted to publish my work.  The Ray Rice piece along with another blog I wrote discussing my views on spanking, also picked up by Huffington Post, led to an invitation to be an on-air guest for HuffPost Live to discuss similar topics.

The Papa Stands Up for Dads and Pisses People Off in the Process:

After being published on the Huffington Post as well as a couple of other minor publications, I started receiving a little bit of attention, and while it felt great to have my writing being read and appreciated, it did nothing to prepare me for what was about to come my way.

In Mid-October I read a blog post on ScaryMommy.com that completely degraded men/dads by portraying them as mindless/useless imbeciles when it came to the labor process of their children.  Of course they tried to hide behind the fake vail of satire.  To say I was offended would be putting it mildly.  I tried to reach out to them (one writer to another) and explain these kind of mean-spirited jokes at the expense of fathers was harmful, but I was rebuffed and pretty much told dads should get over it. So instead of just getting over it I decided the best way answer such an insult would be to write about it and share it with my small, but growing, audience.

The post I wrote answering ScaryMommy’s insults towards dads caught fire like I never expected. I received a ton of feedback on the post, some negative, but the majority of the comments were overwhelmingly positive, and mainly coming from moms saying they were tired of husbands/fathers portrayed in negative ways.  The post was shared by so many other bloggers and received so much attention my blog numbers shot through the roof.  The post continued to thrive throughout the month being republished on many other sites like Huffington Post and BLUNTmoms just to name a few, but when I received word that The Good Men Project wanted run my piece I was truly speechless. Being on The Good Men Project had been a major goal of mine when I started taking my writing more seriously prior to the BlogU conference.  I was also included in an article written by one of the editors sharing positive birth stories from dads.

The Papa Finds A Lot of Love on the Internet:

And lastly, but certainly the most important part of my 2014 is all of you. I started PapaDoesPreach.com, along with the Facebook fan page and Twitter account back in May of 2014 (just 8 short months ago) and they have all steadily grown every month.  In the early months I was so obsessed with numbers and worried constantly about competing with other pages and their number of “likes” and followers, but now I realize having a few very dedicated fans who interact and share my work is way more valuable than having large numbers and little interaction.  That’s not to say I don’t want to grow people, so keep sharing me with your friends!

A Few Quick Shout Outs:

I’ve made some really cool connections over the past few months, and many have turned into real friends.  Friends that understand my humor, my art, my need to express myself, and most of all we all share in the same struggle to get our work seen. Everyone has been super supportive and encouraging, and I suggest you read and follow all the people I’m about to list:

Jessica over at Welcome to the Bundle –  has been a huge supporter of mine from the start. For some odd reason this talented/kick-ass writer enjoys my drivel and continues to sing my praises and share my writings with her audience. And I didn’t even pay her to do it either. Trust me when I tell you, she’s so funny and talented, Tina Fey better watch out.

Ashley from Big Top Family – what’s not to love about Ashley? She’s hilarious, a talented writer, and easily one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  She even invited me to her big 40th birthday bash over back in October. This Dorito loving lady has shared my posts with her audience on multiple occasions and has been a supportive advocate of the last year. I’m so grateful to know her. If I keep working hard maybe one day I can make her list of Blogs the Ringleader Loves (wink wink).

Teri from Snarkfest – Teri is one of the funniest I’ve ever met.  When I tried to sneak into BlogU unnoticed by any of the ladies (because that was totally possible with being the only dude there) Teri spotted me and said out loud, “HEY!!  You’re the dude! You look just like your profile picture.” I owe a good deal of thanks for many of my awesome FB followers to Teri. It seems our sense humors are very compatible. Plus, look at the awesome prom photo we took together at BlogU; how could we not be besties after this?!?

tacky

 

Vicky from The Pursuit of Normal – Vicky (like me) is a native San Diegan. We met with literally only a few minutes left at BlogU. While everyone was nursing different levels of hangovers from the party the night before, and lamenting our rapidly ending kidless statuses, we shared good conversation over coffee. Vicky was the first blogger to share me with her audience and has been a huge supporter of mine.

The Dad from Dad and Buried – last but not least, this guy. Long before I decided to even start talking about my a-hole kid, I found this guy’s blog.  His rants about his son, other parents, and self-deprecating jokes helped me get through the first year with my son, which was super rough (no joke). I’ve gotten to know DaB via back and forth over social media. I’ve reached out to him with questions from time to time, or when looking for advice.  With his knowledge and experience he’s become like the blog version of Mr. Miyagi to my young Daniel, which brings me to two conclusions; #1, I watch way too many movies, and #2, I seriously need to aim higher the next time I go looking for a mentor, lol j/k. But in all seriousness, DaB has been a huge help pointing me in the right direction when navigating the crowded waters of dad blogging.

Well, this certainly turned into a much longer post than I intended. Thank you all for the awesome 2014; I’m super excited for what’s to come in 2015, and beyond.

Rediscovering Santa Claus

One of my writer-friends posed a question to me the other day asking if I was going to write a post about Christmas this year. I laughed it off saying it wasn’t really my style, plus I couldn’t really think of anything snarky to say about my son pertaining to Christmas. That of course doesn’t count the numerous jabs I’ve been taking at him in 140 characters or Treeless on Twitter and the numerous statuses on Facebook detailing his buffoonery. But other than that, I got nothing.

Then a funny thing happened last weekend. As I watched the Wife and the Boy hang decorations on our mini table-top tree, I started getting a little mushy. Seeing him so excited to hang little ornament after little ornament, it got me thinking about the holidays and all the traditions and symbols that surround the Christmas season.

I was talking with a coworker just a few days later, when the topic of Santa Claus came up. They asked me if I had taken my son to get his picture taken with the jolly fat man in the red suit, to which I replied, “Actually no. He’s almost 3 and we haven’t even tried once yet.” To be honest the Boy has just started recognizing who Santa is, but he certainly doesn’t know, or care for that matter what Santa is all about.

My coworker went on to say, “Oh, you don’t know how lucky you are. At least you won’t have to lie to him that long, plus it will make it easier when you tell him Santa’s not real.” This got me thinking; why should I feel lucky? I’m actually kind of bummed we haven’t been able to do the whole mall-picture-5th-ring-of-hell experience; I mean it’s kind of a rite of passage for parents, and a tradition. Hell, I’m more upset about the missed opportunity to appear on awkwardfamilyphotos.com someday.

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Because who doesn’t need some of this in their life, right?

I remember the exact moment from my childhood that I first heard someone say Santa wasn’t real. I was 8 years old, and the daughters of the lady who watched me after school were making fun of their little brother (probably 4 or 5) for still believing in jolly old Saint Nick. They proceeded to ridicule and tease him telling them it was mom and dad who did all the Santa-related things on Christmas Eve. I was instantly crushed, and paralyzed by disbelief. The entire time they were picking on their little brother, they had no idea the kid standing next to them was having his heart broken from the news. As their little brother cried and refused to believe what they were saying, out of nowhere all the attention turned to me. The girls said, “If you don’t believe us, just ask Mike.” Their little brother, with tears in his eyes, looked to me for some sort of back up. Hoping and praying I would scream out, “DON’T LISTEN TO THEM!! SANTA IS REAL!!”, but out of nowhere the words just came out, “Oh yeah, I totally knew that already.”

It’s that memory that left me pondering; why do I ever need to tell my son Santa isn’t real? Who am I to make that decision for him? And further more; what if I’m wrong?

Look, I know I’m a snarky dude, and I like to shoot it straight, but if there is one time I’m going to admit this, it’s now; the Boy is my ultimate weakness. I’m never going tell him Santa isn’t real. Why would I do that? Why would I want to take that from him? Much like any part of life that has to do with belief or faith, shouldn’t this be a journey for him and him alone? Isn’t it ultimately up to him if he continues to believe in the man from the North Pole?

The really cool thing about having kids (and I’m serious; this is the only time of year you’re going to catch me saying shit like this) is that you get to rediscover everything in life all over again. I know what’s it’s like to be an adult, and it ain’t that fun. But everything he’s experiencing right now is off the wall awesome. Every time he finds a pine cone on the ground when we’re out for a walk and acts like he just found the fucking Holy Grail, it’s awesome, and I can’t help but get caught up in his excitement too. Whenever he sees a fire truck roll by and he gets so happy I literally think he’s going to lose his water in his pants, it’s amazing. So when I hear him get super excited when he sees a picture of Santa in a bedtime story we’re reading, and I see his beautiful little face light up I think, “You hold on to that buddy; don’t ever stop believing because the world needs more of that joy.”
It’s funny that it’s taken almost 40 years to learn that Santa is more than just the story of some fat dude in a suit who somehow squeezes his rotund self down each and every chimney, for every boy and girl, to bring them presents on Christmas Eve (not to mention somehow fitting in all the apartments and houses without fireplaces). Santa is a tradition; a symbol of all that is awesome about the holiday season. So what if someone tells you Santa isn’t real, I say keep on keeping on with believing. Would this world really be such a worse-off place if millions of people held on to the belief that probably the nicest person they have ever heard of exists, as opposed to being resigned to knowing their exhausted and cranky parents were the ones behind all the Christmas magic? I know one person is who definitely trying to keep that magic alive.

Cara Day, the founder of Daychild (daychild.org), is that person. Daychild is an educational online resource to assist parents in offering the very best options with trying to connect with their children in positive ways, especially for the busy parent (i.e. pretty much all of us these days). Mrs. Day is an educational therapist, life coach, and mother of 4, not to mention a fellow San Diego, CA native.

Cara reached out to me last week and presented me with her latest video on how to keep kids believing in Santa Claus for as long as possible, and I think it’s a pretty cool idea.

For even more videos from daychild.org check out their YouTube channel

So I say – why not keep the idea of Santa alive for as long as possible? After watching Mrs. Day’s video, along with seeing my son’s excitement over the past 2 weeks, I really feel like I’m rediscovering the excitement for Santa all over again, and I can’t wait to cultivate that excitement in my son.

To all my awesome Preachys out there, thank you so much for reading all my stuff this year. You have made this past year an unbelievably exciting time. And don’t worry; I’ll be back in 2015 with my same old snarky stuff. Besides, the Boy is turning 3 soon after Christmas, to which the Wife and I will be entering a new ring of hell. But for now, have a Happy Holiday and a very Merry Christmas from the Preach family.

Dear ScaryMommy, Marginalizing Dads is a Scary Mistake

Since becoming a father, I, like many people, have spoken up about dads playing more of an involved role in the upbringing of their children — as well as how this increased involvement is still not only being downplayed, but even ridiculed by so many. And being the kind of person who loves to whip out my soapbox from time to time, I never have a problem when it comes to defending fellow dads.

This year has been unofficially deemed the year of the dad. We’ve seen some pretty big strides taken to help break down the stereotypes of the idiot dad, but it still feels like we have a long way to go. For every hip and cool commercial, like #HowtoDad from Cheerios and the call to celebrate dads with Real Dad Moments by Dove Body Care, we still encounter examples of dads being marginalized on a daily basis. Some men even face particularly harsh criticism; such was the case with baseball player Daniel Murphy, who took off the three days of paternity leave granted to each player by the MLB to attend the birth of his son. Because that paternity leave conflicted with opening day, Murphy was subjected to major criticism by many in the media. Even long-time family traditions like apple picking are not safe from those who would like to drum up a laugh at dad’s expense. Don’t believe me, just look at the picture below:
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The picture above was taken just this past September at a farm in Massachusetts where they offer apple picking, but only if children, and dads, are under strict supervision. The man who took this picture, Aaron Gouveia from the Daddy Files, wrote a stellar and pointed response detailing why stunts like this (that companies will claim were all done in the name of jokes and a good old-fashioned ribbing) are ultimately dangerous to our sons and daughters, who grow up with the idea of dad being less valuable than mom.

Look, I get that there are many out there who will say that people need to lighten up or not take things so seriously, and I’m all for a good joke. But if we continue to push these kinds of messages — specifically, the message that dad is less than mom — and just write them off as jokes, then we as a society are doing a major disservice to our young sons. Because one day those little boys will grow up to be men, even fathers, who think that it’s OK to put less time into raising their children because society said so. Thus, the cycle of diminished male involvement will continue to grow, and for what? A cheap laugh?

I wish I could say that this stereotyping of men and fathers was isolated to ignorant companies and media looking to drum up attention (because as we all know, even bad press can be good press), but it’s not. It’s unfortunately happening in the home as well. There are still plenty of women who think taking pot-shots at their husbands’ competency, or lack thereof, is acceptable.

I recently read a post by author/blogger Toni Hammer that, in my opinion, continues to reinforce many of the ugly stereotypes dads are still facing, hiding behind the claim of it all being done in good fun or satire. To be honest, I’m uncomfortable even linking to it, but I think it’s important for people to see that much of the struggle many men/fathers are facing begins right at home, and is being perpetuated by the very people who are supposed to be their biggest supporters: their partners.

In the post, the author tries to relate a birth story from the point of view of a husband. Not her husband, I might add — just some random dude.

While still speaking as herself, Hammer equates women telling their birth stories to veterans comparing war stories and battle scars, saying, “We’ve all been in the trenches and wanna know what happened when a fellow solider was there, too.”

As an actual veteran, I was offended by that. She even went on to pretend the man in her story told his friends the birth process was “like going to war. It was awesome.” This is objectionable on so many levels. I have not given birth myself, so would never presume to know the difficulty and pain that can be involved – and I don’t think people should make assumptions the other way around, either. I would feel the same way about an announcer at a sporting event saying players are “warriors” or are “on the field of battle”; these comments are ill advised and, frankly, ignorant. There are some things in this world that you do not use as a comparison to anything else, and being a veteran with “battle scars” is right up there. You know what else is on that list? Giving birth!

The entire post was just one men-are-morons yuk yuk joke after another. Listing every single one would literally take up my entire post, but here are a few, just so you get my point:

1 – Husband says he was too busy to pay attention to his wife going through active labor at home because he was watching an abs workout infomercial.

2- Husband stubs his toe on the way out to the hospital and contemplates asking the doctor to check out his foot after caring for his wife because “all doctors are the same, right?”

3 – Husband falls back asleep after wife tells him baby is close to arriving.

4 – Husband talks about the size of his wife’s lady parts, calling them “huge,” and then refers to his wife as his “warrior princess” and his son as his “future linebacker.”

Each poorly-told joke felt like a kick to the face, pushing dads/men rung after rung back down the ladder of progress we have been working hard to climb. As a whole the article came off as closed-minded, marginalizing, and most of all overtly sexist towards men.

Of all the examples listed above, my concerns are best summed up in example 4. Because you know, all men talk about their wives’ downtown situation to their friends, call their wives by demeaning pet names, and envision their sons as a future linebackers. Hey, you’re not a real man unless you like football.

I would suggest that the next time Hammer wants to write a piece relating how the opposite sex would react or retell something as personal as a birth story, she should perhaps, I don’t know, talk to a few men to figure out how they remember their children being born. Had she done that, I’m confident she would have found more descriptive terms like “breathtaking,” “greatest moment of my life,” “pure joy,” or “no words could explain how awesome it was” — and less war, blood, vampire references, and all things Bro.
cute3
I realize in the world of blogging and writing that being provocative, and even inflammatory at times, gets more views and clicks than actually being earnest and heartfelt. Many have even come to Hammer’s defense, saying men need to lighten up because it was simply satire. But this article was anything but satire; it was simply mean, and in my opinion, this is where Hammer and the site that hosted her article failed as a whole — because the topic of birth, and furthermore the role fathers play in the process, deserves better than to be treated as a punchline in an awful joke.

That Time My Marriage Almost Ended, And Why That’s a Good Thing

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In the fall of 2012, my 3 year marriage to the love of my life was moments away from being over. My wife and I had many heated arguments during which the dreaded word divorce was shouted with such anger that, to this day, I continue to wonder how we came out the other side.

But much like that dreaded first step into a cold swimming pool, I know it’s time I take a deep breath and step off the side of the pool if I ever want to enjoy the freedom and joy that comes from a refreshing swim. Yes, it’s going to suck at first, but in the end there is a much needed benefit. For me, right now, the benefit I’m looking for is the unblocking of my mind; a release from the baggage that continues to weigh me down and impact my well-being. Allow me to back up a bit before we move forward.

Like many first time parents, that first year of my son’s life was really hard on the Wife and me. For reasons we couldn’t pinpoint, our history of meeting in the middle and balancing out one another, was eluding us.

We dealt with a great deal of stress during October-December of 2011. My Wife sadly lost her grandmother, we had a scare at 20 weeks where we thought our son was coming early, family drama throughout the holidays, and finally a couple we associated with gave birth to their son about 5 weeks before us, and named him the same name we were going to name our son. Yes, it’s laughable NOW to think of how worked up we got over the whole naming situation, but try explaining that to an almost 8 month pregnant woman.

Having some distance, I am able to look back and recognize these were simply excuses for our troubles. The real reason we were having issues is because we weren’t communicating. Simply put, we weren’t talking, our communication was broken. At least not about the things that didn’t involve sleep training, feeding and diaper duty. We neglected to communicate about the stuff that mattered most: Us.

So fast forward almost a year later. Our son was very difficult in his first year. No, that’s not fair to him. He was typical baby, maybe a bit more cranky than others, but normal nonetheless. It was his parents that were not well.

Unresolved stress from the prior year, was now growing with the addition of new stress. It all continued to pile up – stress of a cranky baby, a very difficult bout of postpartum depression, my own person life-long struggles with depression. And thanks to the continued presence of social media, it felt as if all we saw were other couples with children the same age as our son bragging about how awesome life was, and how kick-ass they were at being new moms and dads. I swear to everything holy, if I saw one more “#Blessed,” coupled with a pictures of an angelic baby with smiling, seemingly well-rested parents, I was going to go on a homicidal rampage.

We spent more time sitting around hating the kind of parents/people we weren’t while being angry at each other, that we failed to invest even one second in our marriage and, even more importantly, ourselves.

We tried, on occasion, to be that better person and support one another, even in our supremely broken state. Most days, unfortunately it was an exercise in futility.

But, even in all our brokenness we knew we still wanted us to work. So we took steps to fix us. We sought outside help, and dedicated ourselves to being better with each other. Was it easy? No fucking way. But nothing good, nothing that matters ever is.

I bring all this up because the Wife and I were having a discussion while out to lunch recently – a discussion that floored me.

Wife: You know, I’m kind of thankful for all the crap we went through two years ago.
Me: How in the hell can you say that?!? What good can you possibly have gained from that? We threatened each other with divorce.
Wife: Yeah, but we didn’t do it. And besides, look at all the good in our life now. None of that would be here if we didn’t go through the dark times.
Me: Oh, bullshit. I just cannot agree. You don’t think we would be happy or in a good place if we didn’t almost ruin each other.
Wife: In a way, no, I don’t. Neither one of us would be on the path we’re on now without our rough time.

I left lunch in a fog of confusion and disbelief. How could she see what we went through as a good thing? Our son was almost a statistic of a broken home before he even knew what a home was. But as I sat with it for a while, I got to thinking that maybe she had a point.

Since her bought with PPD my Wife has worked very hard at changing her career/life path. She is now tirelessly working on becoming a birth educator and eventually wants to open a center for women that will focus on every need during pregnancy and post-natal; she explained that this is a path she most definitely would not have embarked on if we hadn’t experienced the rough period, especially if our experience was similar to the #Blessed people because the motivation to help others would have not been there. She also pointed out my renewed desire for writing as an example of how things have gotten better. Yes, I was writing/blogging before my son, but I had little direction. Now I have found that direction, started my own website (PapaDoesPreach.com) and have even formed relationships with other mom/dad bloggers. Many of those relationship have helped me see that parenting, as well as cultivating a marriage, is a rough and sometimes messy process, but at the end of the day both worth the effort.

From time to time friends have remarked how they think the Wife and I are the perfect couple, and how they one day hope to have what we have. They wonder how we do it, how we manage to be so great. I just hope after reading this, they now understand when I simply answer with, “it takes hard work” that I really mean it.

My Wife made the point during our lunch conversation that we should celebrate the fact that we’re better with each other. Are we perfect? Not even close. Do we still have room to be better? Of course – there is always room for growth. But all in all we are a team again. Before the pregnancy funk we made a promise to each other to always value one another the same way we did before we found out we were going to have a baby. Just as we did the day we said our vows to each other.

Because at the end of the day, “we were” before “he was”.

Parents Rejoice: Back to School is Here!

t’s time to head back to school, and I’m teaming up with Boogie Wipes to offer an awesome Back-to-School Giveaway for kids and moms!

Back-to-School giveaway from Boogie Wipes. Three winners will win a backpack and mommy clutch - full of school supplies, gift cards and Boogie Wipes. Ends August 22. Enter now!

Three lucky winners will receive a backpack stocked with school supplies (and Boogie Wipes) and a Mommy Clutch – full of everything moms needs (including gift cards!)

How to Enter

From following Boogie Wipes on social media to instagramming a picture of your favorite Boogie Wipes products, there are dozens of ways to enter – and a few ways to enter every single day.

Back-to-School giveaway from Boogie Wipes. Three winners will win a backpack and mommy clutch - full of school supplies, gift cards and Boogie Wipes. Ends August 22. Enter now!

Complete the form below to get started.

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Looking for Great Back-to-School Ideas?

Visit the Boogie Wipes blog for six back-to-school ideas for parents, plus a coupon to save on your favorite Boogie Wipes products.

Great back to school ideas for parents. Must read!

Good luck!

Giveaway is live Tuesday, August 5, 2014 until midnight on August 22, 2014. US and Canada residents only (excluding Quebec). Three winners will be randomly chosen and notified via email. PapaDoesPreach.com received no compensation for sponsoring this event, and is not responsible for the delivery of the prize. Prize delivery is the sole responsibility of Boogie Wipes.

Hitting Home: No One Has a Right to Be Violent

Domestic violence

As parents, we spend a great deal of time teaching our children the right ways to treat others. Much of those conversations involve statements about how we don’t push, kick, bite, or hit others because it is not nice and because it hurts people physically and emotionally. I know this because the wife and I are in the midst of full-on toddlerhood with our son right now, and these are constant conversations we are having with him.

Our son, like a lot of toddlers, doesn’t do well with having items taken away or being told “no” when he wants something, and sometimes his frustrations result in hitting one or both of us. Our response to such outbursts (currently) is to express our disappointment with his choice, then to walk away to another room. We try very hard not to scold him, but instead explain that he made a very bad choice, and that there are consequences to negative choices. Because life is all about choices.

During one of my moments of sitting in silence after an outburst this weekend, I was struck by an overwhelming thought: We spend so much time teaching our children that hitting other people is wrong, and how there is absolutely no excuse to hurt anyone. Yet, as I watched/read the news this past week, I found it dominated by a story of domestic violence and an overwhelming amount of justification for why it happened. So at what point exactly does all our teaching of nonviolence and care for others go by the wayside? When exactly is it that we, as parents, tell our kids that society has taken all that we taught about being kind to others, about there being no excuse to hurt anyone, about taking accountability for our actions, and thrown it right out the window? How do we explain that, if you have a certain status in life, society will overlook the harm you’ve caused to others?

Of course, I’m alluding to the story of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s violent assault of his then fiancée (now wife) in an Atlantic City hotel elevator back in February of this year. Rice is seen on video dragging his fiancée out of the elevator after (allegedly) striking her so hard in the face that it rendered her unconscious. While the public has not seen any video of the actual assault, Rice accepted a plea bargain in order to avoid trial of probation and anger management, yet he still entered a plea of not guilty. As egregious as his assault was, the NFL was right there to one-up Rice.

The NFL finally weighed in on the matter this past Thursday, and they handed down a suspension, as most fans expected. However, what was not expected was the length of the suspension: 2 games. That’s right, 2 whole games. Ray Rice was given a shorter suspension than linebacker Daryl Washington (Arizona Cardinals) and wide receiver Josh Gordon (Cleveland Browns) who have both been suspended for the entire 2014 season for multiple marijuana violations. So let me get this straight, partaking in marijuana use is somehow (by NFL math/rational) 8-times worse than violently assaulting, not just a woman, but your fiancée? Well, that message should really give a boost to that female fan base.

It’s already been said in a ton of articles, as well as on TV, but the NFL missed a major opportunity to send a strong message when it came to a growing demographic of their fan base. Look, I’m disgusted with the NFL, and not just because of the way they handled this situation, because this is par for the course for them, because I am no longer shocked by the NFL’s inability to care about anyone or anything outside of their business. Because that is what they are — a business, and it’s all about dollars to them.

What I AM in complete shock about and, frankly, appalled over is the overwhelming amount of victim-blaming that has come out over the past 4 days. It’s literally rivaling the amount of coverage from those calling for a harsher penalty.

The consensus line that is being used is, “We don’t know what happened in that elevator, but she shouldn’t have provoked him.” What?!? Are you kidding me with that kind of comment?

How did this line of thinking ever come to be, and furthermore, why are people giving it credence? News flash, people: IT’S NEVER THE VICTIM’S FAULT; THAT’S WHY THEY’RE THE VICTIM!

How the hell do we, as a society, switch rationales so quickly, from telling our children, “don’t hit, it’s not nice,” to “well, maybe they shouldn’t have provoked the person into hitting them”?

I grew up in a fairly abusive household. And not in the ways some might instantly assume. I wasn’t physically abused by an angry father, but instead by an angry single mother who routinely hit home (literally) that I had brought all of the abuse on myself.

Because of this, I have taught and will continue to teach my son (and any other children who may come along) that hurting others in never the right answer.

But it really saddens me, and frankly drives me a little mad, to see that there is a subset of our culture (especially in the media) who is actively working against me and other parents who are trying hard to instill non-violent values to our children.

Not even a day after the lackluster penalty for Ray Rice’s action was announced by the NFL, we already had our first case of foot-in-mouth disease by one such TV talking head.

ESPN analyst (and I use that term lightly) Stephen A. Smith, who is known for his brash and frequently over-the-top opinions, voiced his opinion on the topic and created a massive fire storm of backlash (click here to see a full transcript of his comments).

Smith literally lost any credibility he meant to gain within the first sentence of his diatribe when he said, “It’s not about him; it’s about you,” then went on to chastise victims (mainly women) by saying they need to do more to avoid provoking their attackers. WRONG!!

Smith issued an apology early Monday morning, attempting to clarify his bonehead statement by saying that in no way was he suggesting that women provoke violence. But in reality, that’s exactly what he did. ESPN even put him on camera with a female anchor who accepted his apology (as if she speaks for all women in the world) and had her deflect from Smith by aggressively shaming the NFL and calling for an apology on behalf of all women.

What’s worse, it’s not just men who are spreading these kinds of foolish and very dangerous ideas. Women are too.

Back in May of this year, the whole world was abuzz when video was leaked to the media of an altercation between Jay-Z and Solange Knowles in an elevator at the Met Gala.

Seriously, what is with people and elevators? Maybe take the stairs next time.

In the video, Solange is seen aggressively attacking Jay-Z, kicking and punching him, all while security attempts to restrain her and Beyonce stands by and watches. You know what you didn’t see — Jay-Z hitting Solange back. In fact, he defended himself by putting his hands up and attempting to deflect her attacks (take notes, Ray Rice).

As part of the media circus that followed this incident, the ladies of The View weighed in. One in particular, host Whoopi Goldberg, was adamant in her statement that Jay-Z had the right to hit Solange back, saying, “Where I’m from, if you hit anybody, they have the right to hit you back. If a woman hits a man, he has the right to hit her back. That’s why I don’t hit men.” Whether you agree or not, unlike Smith, Whoopi stood by her statement and even came out and defended it.

Allow me to counter using words similar to Whoopi’s: No one has the RIGHT to hit anyone, and if someone does hit you, you do NOT have the RIGHT to hit them back. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman.

Now, I’m no historian, and I was a pretty awful student, but the last time I checked, knocking someone out (male or female) was not in the Bill of Rights, or the Bible, or the Koran, or the Torah, or any other place outlining basic human rights.

Now I realize that this is easier said than done, and if I was in a situation where I or a loved one was being attacked, there is a very good chance I’m going to strike back. But you know what the difference is? I would never say my striking back was my RIGHT; rather, it was my CHOICE. Ray Rice made a CHOICE to physically assault his now wife, and thus cemented his status as a D-Bag. Jay-Z made a CHOICE to not to hit Solange back, thus showing a high level of decency.

Victims are victims because someone else made a choice to hurt them; it was not their right. Life, is all about CHOICES, remember?

Enough is enough. It’s is hard just to raise a child in today’s society. Raising boys and girls to be well-adjusted, stand-up men and women is even harder.

Topics like physical abuse, rape, and an overall shaming of women that seems to still be alive and well in our society, are going to be heart-wrenchingly difficult to explain to my son when the time comes someday. As a man trying to raise another man, I refuse to continue or cultivate a culture of, “Well, she was asking for it” or “Well, she shouldn’t have provoked me.”

I will instead raise my son to make the CHOICE to be a good man.

Happy Anniversary to my Wife. Our love is like……Wood???

2

On a rather hot July day five years ago; five years ago today in fact, my life changed forever. July 18, 2009 was a wonderful day filled with love and laughter that we shared with friends and family, alike… it was the day my Wife and I got married.

I can hardly believe it’s been five years already; we’ve actually been together for a little over eight. But truthfully, as I reflect back over the last five years, our wedding day feels like it was a life-time ago. So much has happened in our lives that has changed each one of us individually as well as a couple that I almost don’t recognize the two people in our wedding photos.

As always, I’ve spent the last month or so trying to come up with the perfect gift for my Wife, but to be honest I’m not very good at gift giving. Before you chime in with *typical guy* kinds of comments, let me tell you, I am VERY romantic. Take a look at what I did for my Wife on a not-too-long-ago birthday:

1

It’s just that when it comes to gift-giving I struggle. When it comes to being on stage or entertaining a room full of people, or even writing, my creativity knows no bounds… but when it comes to the art of coming up with unique gift ideas, I’m clueless.

When I began my hapless gift-seeking pursuit by Googling gift ideas, I found out the 5th anniversary is the “wood anniversary”.

Great, that provided me no help at all. It did, however, inspire one suggestion for the Wife, in a brief meat-head man moment (those are some of my best btw) for a gift involving *wood *, but she simply pointed at our two year old son acting all toddler as hell at the table and responded, “No thanks, I’m good.” What can I say, I tried.

But in all seriousness, as I scrolled through lame idea after lame idea of gift ideas carved out of wood, or kitchen utensils made of wood that “All Women Must Have” (SERIOUSLY Amazon, are you trying to get me fucking killed over here?!?), I started to reflect back on the symbolism of the traditional anniversary gifts from the past four years of our marriage (although I put no stock in them at the time) were actually very fitting, and how this year’s meaning, wood, might be the most appropriate of all. Follow me here…. I’ll show you what I mean.

1st Anniversary – Paper

Has it been a year already?!? You most likely missed most of that first year because of the constant bragging to all your friends and coworkers about your wedding day and eventual honeymoon, only surpassed by the amount of time having tons of new marital sex, because no matter what anyone says, the sex is totally better after the I Do’s. One thing that is often overlooked in that first year of marriage is the delicate and fragile nature of your relationship. You’re both still learning each other, because despite what many may believe; I’m here to tell you that the title of “being married” changes EVERYTHING… there’s no going back. You’re playing for keeps now.

Our 1st year was very difficult for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, I was going through a very rough time emotionally, both personally and professionally. I was in a dead-end job where I was treated poorly every day, and my personal life was a mess because I wasn’t adjusting to our new life on the East Coast well. I missed the only home I ever knew (San Diego, CA), missed all my friends (making new friends as an adult SUCKS!), and I had a multitude of family problems that just wouldn’t stop. I felt I had no safe-haven to decompress and like I had no one I could talk/relate to that could brighten my perspective. The Wife tried to comfort me as much as she knew how, but I made home life pretty difficult at times. Needless to say, I wish I could have that time back.

2nd Anniversary – Cotton

Wow, that first one was fun, we should do that again! Now in year two you’ve begun to soften into your new titles of husband and wife, but mostly you spend a great deal of time simply enjoying each other, wrapped up and cuddling, like in a nice cotton blanket.

Many of the issues improved in our 2nd year of marriage. While we had great deal of ground to make up from our rough prior year, we did a better job at supporting each other. We began wrapping each other up in that blanket of love. I was eventually let go from my horrible job and my Wife was totally supportive in that situation. This year was filled with so much uncertainty that it felt really good to be comforted in the soft, cottony warmth of love. Our second year of marriage came to a close with a couple of high points: we took a vacation home to San Diego, I got a new job, and best of all we found out we were going to have a baby!

3rd Anniversary – Leather

Year three already huh? Congratulations, your relationship has become broken in like a nice pair of leather shoes. Wear those bad boys around with pride, and treat them well, because you’re going to have them for a while.

Boy… shoes are a great symbol for our third year because the new member of our family gave us little to no time to sit down. We were always up and moving with this kid. As for year three, I think the best way to describe it is, “One step forward and two steps back.” Shoes come in helpful with that saying too. Our son was not the easiest of babies, which made life for the Wife and I…..tricky. We openly admit we struggled as new parents, but keeping up with the shoe theme, we kept going forward on the journey. Sure, we hit some bumps (actually, some really big bumps) but we never stopped moving forward. Eventually we hit our stride and learned that this whole parenting (and marriage) thing is a marathon, not a sprint.

4th Anniversary – Linen

Year four; it’s time to change those sheets, and in our case, the scenery! By the time you reach year four of marriage you feel like you’re building a life with someone; a home built on love and joy.

After we survived the first year of our son, and were able to come up for a breath of air, we took a look around and decided we needed a change. We upped and left our cramped two bedroom apartment behind and moved. We spent the next year transforming our new house into a home… complete with new sheets. I had never lived in a house growing up, only apartments, so it’s been really cool to watch our son thrive here. He gets to run around, play in the yard and wander around the house… claiming every area as his own.

5th Anniversary – Wood

Around year five many couples may feel that the shine of newness is gone, and that things have become dull, much like old wood. However, the reality is that our marriage is not some dull stick. More accurately it is like a growing tree of love with roots that are strong, and deserves much respect.

In looking over this list of anniversary year symbols, there I have to say there are some really silly representations of love, and I place wood pretty close to the top of that list.

But the more I’ve thought about it, I’ve started to see the deeper meaning of the symbolism of wood. Our marriage has grown and grown over the past five years. It started out as a small, but pretty tree. It took on major storms to begin with and lost much of its beautiful leaves and flowers, but even as the storms raged on the tree stood strong, and would not be uprooted.

After the storms, the tree took time to soak in the joy of the sun and grow strong roots. Eventually as it grew, it even sprouted a new branch; a beautiful, and sometimes trying, branch.

Happy anniversary my love. I’m glad our love was planted together; went through the storms together; created a life together (in all meanings, a home and an actual person in the Boy), and like any strong piece of wood we keep riding the waves and never sink. I love you so much.

I guess wood isn’t that bad of a symbol after all. I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do for our 9th anniversary; what can I do with pottery?!?