Friday, December 27, 2013

Sharing a Great Blog About the Benefits of Taekwondo

The Second Beautiful Daughter, A Moment After Receiving Her Black Belt in 2009

Sometimes, it's okay to let someone else do the heavy lifting.

First Beautiful Daughter: Speed Break
Beautiful Black Belts & Awesome Orange Belt (Courtesy of M. Fournier)
Last August, I blogged about the reasons I believed practicing Tae Kwon Do has helped me and my single father family during the past ten years or so. The blog was entitled Tae Kwon Do and The Single Father. Blogger Ken Meyers does a nice job reinforcing many of the ways martial arts helps kids mature and develop. Check out Ken's blog about the benefits of martial arts training for children.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Casting Call - Looking for Lost Love? REUNITED

My friend, Carissa Antine, contacted me this week to tell me about a
television show that she's casting for a major cable network. I know the network, but I promised not to tell! The show, Reunited, will help participants/cast members find long lost loves!

Here's what Carissa is looking for:


For a major cable network comes an inspiring new series.

We are casting real, dynamic and outgoing people who want to reconnect with lost loves!

There are lots of stories where past loves have rekindled their romance and lived happily ever after - could this be you? Take this opportunity of a lifetime to see how “what if” pans out. Take a leap of faith!

Are you ready for a second chance at love? We are searching nationwide for single men and women who would love to reconnect with the ones they never got over for this new, inspirational series.

To be considered to to nominate someone, please write us at with the following information:

·      Name
·      Age
·      Occupation
·      City/state
·      A short bio
·      A brief story about you and your lost love
·      Also, please send us 2 non professional pics of yourself and two of you and your lost love

If you want to find a long lost love, or know someone else who does, please email Carissa at the address above or call her at 516-353-1166.

Good luck!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Single Father's Book Club: I GREW UP ON A FARM

Like a lot of people, I did not grow up on a farm. I grew up on a planned suburban development to accommodate Baby-Boomers' ever growing demand for affordable housing. Located about 20 miles outside a larger metropolitan area, there were 1,500 three-bedroom and two-bathroom ranch homes in our 1960's era subdivision, which required the clearing of hundreds of acres of farmland. At my house, there were no chickens, no cows, and no hogs.

I did not grow up on a farm, but Alan K. Lewis did.

2008 Charlotte Award Nominee book, I Grew Up On A Farm is a nostalgic journey through Mr. Lewis' real childhood experiences on the family farm near Middletown, New York where he and his brother were born and raised. The story is non-fiction and the reader will find no cute rhymes and no simple or entertaining plots. Rather, the young audience will find a simple and true account of life on a farm in rural America during the 1950's and 1960's. For example, on page 13, Lewis describes a typical summer night, "At night, we slept in tents under the stars. Our favorite nighttime games were playing flashlight tag and catching fireflies in jars to watch them light up." Lewis writes about his special pet on page 18, "I had a pet squirrel named Nutsy. My cousins would laugh when he climbed on my head."

Perhaps the most unique aspect of I Grew Up On A Farm is the illustration technique, which I do not know whether Lewis and illustrator Bob Fletcher created. However, the used of Lewis' real family photos which are expanded by Fletcher using colored pencils (I think) to include the images that may have been outside the view of the camera lens create a interesting and attractive effect. One image is that of the family's Parmall tractor, standing vertical on its rear wheel towing a farm implement. The picture is black and white and only a part of the grading tool in-tow and some trees in the background are visible. The photo is then used as the illustration's centerpiece and the remainder of the implement is sketched to the right, the trees fill-out the horizon, and Lewis's father and brother are included in the foreground and to the left to complete the illustrations. Several other similar illustrations, some lone photographs, and even a few newspaper clippings help Alan K. Lewis convey the farm experience. Very creative.

As much as anything else, it apparent that Lewis wants to teach. (Lewis had been a teacher in the area and is currently the assistant principal at a local elementary school.) And, teach he does. I Grew Up On A Farm includes both a brief glossary of farm terms like "coop," "poultry," and "slop," which for you city folk is defined as "a pig food made from grain, water, and pieces of vegetables." Finally, Lewis includes a number of active websites where inquisitive future farmers, or even future investment bankers who want to know a little about commodity pricing, can go to learn more.

In all, this a very nice book and a fun way for children take a step back in time to see what it was like to grow up on a farm.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Super Secret Cheats: Freshpet Select Cat Food

I'm a real a dog lover.

Since I've been a real single parent for nearly the past nine years for three young children, however, the time and responsibilities of dog ownership would have been just too much for me. So, in order to enjoy a pet experience with the kids, I've had cats.

I've learned quite a bit about cats. Probably, the most important lesson relates to cat nutrition.

For a long time, cats we owned had difficulty digesting the typical grocery store food, even popular brands like Purina, Iams, and the like. I discovered that most cat foods seem to use corn meal as a filler, and corn meal irritates cats' delicate digestive systems.


How did I know corn meal irritates cats' digestive system? Well, I got sort of tired of cleaning cat vomit and smelling foul odors from the litter box.

So, I started to buy a cat food with no corn meal. Taste of the Wild seemed to have been the best for our cats. The instances of upset stomach decreased precipitously and there even seemed to be fewer hairballs. Odor at the cat box decreased, but the frequency of visits and volume production didn't.

Recently, after we'd run out of Taste of the Wild and I wasn't able to stop at my favorite pet store, I checked the ingredients in a refrigerated cat food, Freshpet Select Cat Food: no corn meal filler.

Our cat, Fiver, didn't take to the food immediately. Like Morris, Fiver is finicky. However, after a few days, he was eating. What I discovered was a pleasant surprise.

First, Fiver ate less because, I assume, Freshpet Select better satisfies Fiver's nutritional needs with less food. Next, similar to to our/his Taste of the Wild, he had no problems with indigestion or hairballs. Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the odor and frequency at the litter box decrease significantly, which made the management scientist in me very happy. Smaller volumes at the cat box both means perhaps fewer cat box cleanings and makes the litter last longer. That saves money.

Anything that saves time and money makes me happy.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Favorite Son Saga: "Popular Bobby"

To protect the popular, the names have been changed in this serial of "The Favorite Son Saga."

THE FAVORITE SON: Bobby is such a brat.
ME: The "Bobby" in your class?

THE FAVORITE SON: Yeah. He thinks he's the best at everything. He thinks he's the most popular boy in the class.

ME: Really?


ME: Well, who is the most popular boy in the class?


Friday, November 22, 2013

BloombergTV: Women "Catching Up" with Men

Courtesy of

I wouldn't consider it good news that women are catching up with men in terms of spousal infidelity. For many readers of The Single Father's Guide Blog, however, this probably isn't news to you:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Movie Review: SKY HIGH

It is always a struggle to find a movie on Pay Per View or a Red Box for "family movie night" that The Favorite Son, my teen daughters will enjoy, and I will, if not enjoy, be able to tolerate. I have certainly appreciated the effort that many studios have made to make kids' films more enjoyable for parents. When my younger daughter chose Sky High, I was not terribly optimistic, but Disney actually did a pretty good job making it sort of fun for this GenXer. More importantly, the younger crowd LOVED it.

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), the son of two superheroes, Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), is about to start high school. Will is not going to just any high school. As the son of superheroes, he will go to Sky High School, where he will follow in is parent's footsteps. However, Will has a secret. He does not have any super powers, so he is relegated to classes for "Sidekick's," and that is obviously a disappointment to his famous father. At Sky High, Will must deal with everything a normal kid must face while growing up, but, through a series of typically teen-age blunders, discovers he must also face his parents' greatest nemesis, Royal Pain (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The future of Sky High and of the entire world depends on Will.

Disney used a lot of great tricks to transcend the generational gap in Sky High. For GenY, some of the costumes, acting, and special effects were very much reminiscent of the wildly popular, live-action, Saturday morning television show, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. What boy born after 1978 was not secretly in love with the Pink Power Ranger portrayed by Amy Jo Johnson? (Confession: When my little sister watched Power Rangers a couple of decades ago, I was sort of into the Pink Power Ranger myself!) Royal Pain's costume, body movements, secret hideout, and general evil demeanor are a dead-ringer for "Power Rangers" genre. For Gen X, a wonderful little trick that I had not seen before, although I have to imagine it has already been employed, is the use of classic, coming-of-age anthems, like, among others, "I Melt The World," "Save It For Later," "Voices Carry," "Everybody Wants To Rule The World," "And She Was," but had them recorded by contemporary artists. Heck, I think the entire soundtrack is comprised of `80's remakes. (I still think The Talking Heads' version of "And She Was" is superior to that of Keaton Simons, but what would a nine year old care?) For both Baby Boomers and some early GenXers, the casting of Kurt Russell is sort of an interesting bookend to Russell's Disney career. I remember going with my parents to local single screen cinema to see Disney's The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes and The World's Strongest Man with Kurt Russell playing the teen-age lead. Appearances by the original television "Superwoman," Linda Carter, as well as Kids in the Hall, Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald go a long way to make Sky High ironically humorous for the adult audience. Nicely done.

A film completely appropriate for the younger crowd with just a little cartoonish violence, Sky High is a thumb's up for both kids and parents. This is the kind of movie that made Disney what Disney was. If we see more Sky High's, Disney will be that wholesome, fun, entertainment juggernaut again.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Celebrating 100,000 Page Views: Win a FREE Copy of The Single Father's Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball!

I'm very happy to announce The Single Father's Guide Blog will have its 100,000th page view in November!

Thank you!

This little blog has come a long way since its first post on May, 25, 2012. To celebrate, I'll give away a copy of my book, The Single Father's Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball to a reader of The Single Father's Guide Blog. To "enter," you just have to do two, very easy things between November 1, 2013 at 12:01 a.m. EST and November 30, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. EST:

1) Click on any one of the banner ads on any one of The Single Father's Guide Blog pages. (You DO NOT have to buy anything! Just click to the ad!)


2) Write a (constructive) comment under any blog post.

That's it!

I'll notify the winner via the email corresponding to the blog comment and I'll announce the winner on the Blog in early December.

Most of all, thanks again for reading The Single Father's Guide Blog! I hope it has helped at least a little, single dads (and moms), to make life as a single parent just a little easier and more rewarding.

"Contest" Rules
Purchase is not necessary to enter. Contact Matting Leah Publishing Company, P.O. Box 265, Warwick, NY 10990 for more information. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries. Entries (blog post comments) must be made between November 1, 2013 at 12:01 a.m. EST and November 30, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. EST. One (1) winner will receive one (1) copy of The Single Father's Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball by Matthew S. Field in its first edition paperback form. The listed retail value is $17.95 USD. Winner will be notified by email using the email address corresponding to his or her written blog comment and announced as a blog post at The Single Father's Guide Blog. The one (1) copy of The Single Father's Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball by Matthew S. Field in its first edition paperback form will be sent to the contest winner via U.S.P.S. Media Mail to the winner an postmarked on or before December 31, 2013. Matting Leah Publishing Company will not be held responsible for the prize delivery if the winner fails to provide a valid U.S. mailing address.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Favorite Son Saga: It's Just a Preschool Thing

After a Monday school night dinner, The Favorite Son asked, "Do you remember Erin from preschool?"

I answered, "Yes, I do."

"There's an Erin on my bus and it might be her, but this Erin 
has glasses," he continued.

"Oh, really?"

"Yeah. You knew I was in love with Erin, right?" my fourth grader asked hopefully.

"I remember."

"You know," he said, "That was just a preschool thing."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Parenting, Breast Cancer, & Pregnancy: Advice From This Side - Part II

Last week, I posted a letter a platonic female friend (PFF), Anna, had written to me about someone she knows who is pregnant and has breast cancer. Anna asked if I could meet and talk with a man, Kevin, and his pregnant wife, Kelly. The couple, who also has a four year old, just learned that Kelly is Stage 2.

Here was my answer to Anna’s request.
Hi, Anna.
Thanks for your note. I’m flattered that you recalled those memories of our family during that time with such regard. I guess it’s really true that the way we portray ourselves, in good times and in bad, really does influence others.
Since I know you’ve read The Single Father’s Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball, I also know that you’re familiar with PFF’s who’ve asked me if I’d be inclined to advise their friends or relatives who are divorced or widower single fathers. In every case, I’ve said, “Yes.” To date not one of those single fathers have ever called.
Well, my theory is simple; men don’t ask for directions. Instead, I wrote the book and I write a blog because I believed guys would be more likely to read a manual written specifically for them.
As you can imagine, I am more than sympathetic to Kelly’s and Kevin’s circumstances. Of course, I would be willing talk with them and help in any way I can. Still, I’m not sure they’d want to talk with a stranger whose fairytale, frankly, fell somewhat short of a happy ending. That’s not to say, however, that I don’t’ think I can help.
I probably will not write a book about it, but, as a man who has an intimate knowledge a world in which his pregnant wife can have breast cancer, I think can still offer some advice. If I get the chance to talk with Kevin and Kelly, this is what I’d tell them.

Make love every day. Physical intimacy obviously won’t solve every problem, but it does make dealing with some problems a whole lot easier. A loving couple who takes the time so express their love physically to each other will not only relieve stress, which will be ample during this time, but will also serve to strengthen the bond between the two of you. The strength of that bond will be important as you deal with doctors, nurses, insurance companies, successes, disappointments, meddling relatives, and more. Both of you need that love for different reasons, but I recommend that you, husband, make it (almost) all about her.
Talk with your kids. Don’t hide the fact that mommy has cancer. A young child will not understand the gravity of a cancer diagnosis, but he or she will understand that “Mommy is sick,” or “Mommy is going to the hospital.” I recommend neither an optimistic spin nor pessimistic one. Too much optimism may create unrealistic expectations in a child’s mind. Too much pessimism may create unnecessary anxiety. As the child matures, his or her understanding of the world and the illness will grow and he or she will ask more questions. Answer with similarly age appropriate honest and direct answers.
Make the hard decisions together. It’s perfectly fine to hope for the best, but it’s also wise plan for the worst. If you don’t already have a healthcare proxy, a living will, and a last will and testament, do them immediately. Making those decisions together will give both of you the peace of mind that you’re making the right decisions for each other and for your children, regardless of current circumstances.
Surround yourselves with beauty. Make your world beautiful with fresh flowers, beautiful music, art, literature, and more. Read to each other. Listen to your favorite band or symphony. Visit the ocean. Take a walk or a drive and enjoy beautiful views or autumn colors. Do all the things that make your hearts happy. As previously mentioned, make love.
Don’t become too excited about good news or too disheartened by the bad. When it comes to cancer treatment, you’ll hear some disappointing news. That doesn’t mean you’ve lost. Other times, you’ll be elated by other news. That doesn’t mean you’ve won. It’s a long battle. If you let your emotions get the better of you, you’ll become exhausted an unable to fight when you need to. Believe you’ll win, but don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve. Be consistently optimistic.
Remove the “Net Consumers of Resources” from your lives. While you’re in the throes of your fight, the world will continue to turn. Bills will need to be paid. Meals will need to be prepared. Kids will need to go to gymnastics or football practice or whatever. As you forge ahead, you will encounter people who will be indispensable assets. Those people love you and, almost just by their presence, will magically create time and resources for you. Those people, I refer to as “Net Creators of Resources.” Others, either through ignorance or selfishness, seem to draw all the energy from the room. I call these people, “Net Consumers of Resources,” and there’s nothing like a crisis for a person to show his or her true colors. Embrace the Net Creators. Remove the Net Consumers. You’ll need all the resources you can muster.
Now, I have one more suggestion for you, and this is very important. Once you’ve put that nasty cancer into remission where it belongs, live every day of the rest of your lives together the exact same way: with love, honesty, courage, beauty, strength, and good friends.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Parenting, Breast Cancer, & Pregnancy: Advice From This Side - Part I

Well, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The fact this topic came up seems something more than ironic.

As I’ve written both here and in my book, The Single Father’s Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball, women to whom I refer as “platonic female friends,” or PFF’s, have occasionally asked me if I’d be willing to talk with their divorced or widower friend about single father parenting. In fact, those requests were my inspiration writing the book and this blog. This is the first time, however, a PFF has asked me if I’d counsel a husband and his pregnant wife who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I’ve lightly edited the note and changed the names to protect the privacy of the people involved.

Good afternoon, Matt.
I hope this finds you well and your book sales healthy!
I realize that this message may come as a bit of a surprise to you, given that you do not know me well. It may even be a bit presumptuous. But it was a risk I was willing to take, if it meant that the wisdom of Father Like a Tree might be able to help another family whom I care deeply about through a difficult time...
A colleague and dear friend, Jane, is facing a difficult challenge. Jane's sister, Kelly was just diagnosed last week with a rather aggressive form of Breast Cancer, Stage 2. She is married with a beautiful little daughter, Belle, and is also currently 4 months pregnant. Kelly will be undergoing surgery and chemo in the upcoming weeks, and is, of course, concerned about how the treatments might affect her unborn child.
When Jane was sharing this news with me, and remarking at how rare it is to see pregnant women with cancer, I immediately thought of you and support you showed your wife. I recall my Mom talking about you and your family with such admiration, about how you were such an inspiration. Though I didn't know you well at the time, I recognized how powerful your strength and love were and the memory stayed with me, which is why I am writing to you today.
My hope is that you might be willing to speak with Kelly and her husband, Kevin, to share your wisdom and insights given your own experience. If you would be willing to do so, I would love to put you in touch with this family. If you feel uncomfortable, please know that I fully understand.
Thank you for your consideration, and please do let me know if you would be willing to speak with Kelly and Kevin.

Check back for my answer on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 for a special edition of The Single Father’s Guide Blog.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bitterly Funny Divorce Quotes

"By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher." -Socrates
Courtesy of Mark Anderson (

"Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse." -Groucho Marx

"Ah, yes, divorce . . . from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet." -Robin Williams

"Divorce is a declaration of independence with only two signers." -Gerald F. Lieberman

"There's only one way to have a happy marriage and as soon as I learn what it is I'll get married again." -Clint Eastwood

"Well, after the divorce, I went home and turned all the lights on." -Larry David

Courtesy of Stu Rees (
"There are four stages in a marriage. First, there's the affair, then the marriage, then children, and finally the fourth stage, without which you cannot know a woman, the divorce." -Norman Mailer

"A lot of people ask me how short I am. Since my last divorce, I think I'm about $100,000 short." -Mickey Rooney

"A divorce lawyer is a chameleon with a law book." -Marvin Mitchelson

"Alimony - the ransom that the happy pay to the devil." -H.L. Mencken

"The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret." -Henny Youngman

Friday, October 4, 2013

Single Father's Book Club: DADS: JUST FOR YOU

A very lovely and inspiring coffee table/night stand/bathroom book about fatherhood composed exclusively of quotations from a cross-section of people, from Euripides to Dr. Seuss to Mozart to William Shakespeare to Walt Whitman, and Life Magazine-quality images, Dads: Just for You is a very nice gift for Father's Day, Dad's birthday, or any other occasion. Some of my favorites quotes from Dads: Just for You include:

"Dads are great about showing us how to do stuff. Even if he doesn't really know what he's doing, he passes that knowledge on to us." - David Butler

"Confident men have patient fathers." - Rose O'Kelly

"There are three stages of a man: He believes in Santa Clause; he does not believe in Santa Claus; he is Santa Claus." - Bob Phillips

"Do dads talk about calories, or cavities, or spoiling your appetite? No! Dads grab themselves a spoon and dig right in with you." - Anna Carr

"My father was an amazing man. The older I got, the smarter he got." - Mark Twain

Compiled by Rose O'Kelly as a gift book for Ronnie Sellers Productions and Hallmark, the photographs in Dads: Just for You are often as humorous as they are appropriate for the corresponding quotation. Like, ahem, my 2005 illustrated children's book, Father Like a Tree, Rose O'Kelly's Dads: Just for You is a nice, if only a simple addition to any father's library.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Favorite Son Saga: Teeth Plaster

After a recent visit to our family dentist, The Favorite Son returned to the waiting room when the hygienist finished cleaning his teeth.

DAD: So, how did it go?

TFS: Good. No cavities, but my teeth have a lot of plaster.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Interview with Catholic Blogger Denise Y. Montgomery

Recently, Catholic blogger Denise Montgomery contacted me for an interview. I'd met Denise a couple of years ago at a book signing for The Dream Seeker at Main Street Books in St. Charles, Missouri.

Blogger Denise Y. Montgomery

In July 2013, Denise published the interview, which I think is the most in depth and personal I've given. Enjoy.

* * * * *

Looking for a great, unique book to read during the Labor Day Weekend? The Dream Seeker is a great choice.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Mom’s Choice Awards Names Six Year Old Author’s 'Sometimes, My Dad and I' Among Best In Family-Friendly Products

Chesapeake, VA – The Mom's Choice Awards® has named Sometimes, My Dad and I, written by six year old author Wade A. Mattingly, among the best in family-friendly media, products and services.

The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) is an international awards program that recognizes authors, inventors, companies, parents and others for their efforts in creating quality family-friendly media, products and services.

When he was still in first grade at Sanfordville Elementary School in Warwick, New York, Wade Mattingly brought home a story he’d written for his dad at school one afternoon. Wade’s author and publisher father, Tom Mattingly, who writes using the pen name Matthew S. Field, helped Wade edit the manuscript and even add a few pages. About two years, later, Matting Leah Publishing Company released Sometimes,My Dad and I in time for Father’s Day.

Parents, educators, librarians and retailers look for the Mom’s Choice Awards Honoring Excellence seal of approval when selecting quality materials for children and families. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS’s Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling author, Priscilla Dunstan, creator of the Dunstan Baby Language; Patricia Rossi, host of NBC’s Manners Minute; Dr. Letitia S. Wright, D.C., host of the Wright Place™ TV Show; and Catherine Witcher, M.Ed., special needs expert and founder of Precision Education, Inc.

MCA judges are bound by a strict code of ethics which ensures expert and objective analysis free from any manufacturer association. The evaluation process uses a propriety methodology in which entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost. To be considered for an award, each entrant submits five identical samples of a product. Entries are matched to judges in the MCA database. Judges perform a thorough analysis and submit a detailed assessment. Results are compiled and submitted to the MCA Executive Committee for final approval. The end result is a list of the best in family-friendly media, products and services that parents and educators can feel confident in using.

For more information on the awards program and the honorees, visit Mom's Choice Awards.

For more information about Sometimes, My Dad and I, visit Matting Leah Publishing Company.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dealing with a Peanut Responsible Classroom

Courtesy of University of Minnesota
Recently, I helped a friend draft a letter to her child's elementary school principal about food restrictions relating to the "peanut responsible" classroom to which her child had been assigned. In short, my friend believed, among other things, it was unfair that her child, if he brought a snack containing nuts to school, would have to sit in the hall during snack time.

I agreed.

Of course, I have compassion for the children and the families of the children who suffer from severe allergies. The son of a very close friend/fraternity brother has a peanut allergy and it’s a colossal burden for my friend and his wife. I’ve seen the lengths they’ve gone to insure their son doesn’t eat foods that he isn’t certain are peanut free. But, they have taken personal responsibility for their child, as I believe should we for ours.

Feel free to use this slightly edited version of the letter should you find yourself and your child, contrary to your wishes, in a peanut responsible/free classroom. Adapt it to your own needs and circumstances.

Dear School Principal:
While I am empathetic to the plight of children afflicted with peanut and other food allergies, I am concerned about my children participating in a “peanut responsible/free” class for a number of reasons.
First, part of my children’s responsibilities is making the lunches for school. This is not only a learning opportunity for my children, but it is also a time saver for me, a single father. Considering all of my other parenting responsibilities and knowing my children are well able to handle making lunches, I will almost certainly not be able to check my children’s lunches each day for nuts before they get on the bus.
Second, nut based snacks are extremely healthy, and contain protein and minerals not commonly found in other foods. Granola bars and other snacks containing nuts are a healthy part of my family’s diet and I’m not willing to eliminate those snacks from my children’s lunches.
Finally, granola bars and other snacks that do not contain nuts are often significantly more expensive. Even if those other snacks did provide the nutritional benefits that peanuts and other nuts do, the additional cost for those snacks would place an unnecessary and unacceptable burden on my family’s budget.
Please note, it is not acceptable for my child to sit in the hallway, segregated from the rest of the class, during snack time. I believe that snack time, like (hopefully) every other minute of the school day, is an opportunity for learning. No child should be subject to that ostracism.
Concluding, I want to reiterate my empathy for children and the families of children who have food allergies. Still, the responsibility for managing those allergies is, frankly, that of the family of the child who has the allergies. It is unfair to burden the other 23 families in the class. As such, please either move my out of the peanut free class or move the child who has the allergy. Thank you.

A Concerned Single Dad

For more information about the peanut responsible/free classroom issue, check out this great blog post from the Ridgewood-GlenRock Patch Blog, "Glen Rock Parents Nuts Over Proposed Peanut Ban" and the Huff Parents Blog, "Food Allergies: Doctors Disagree on Peanut-Free Schools/Classrooms Plus Talk on Bullying."

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Favorite Son Saga: I Burp Too Much

An oldie, but a goodie .  .  .

When The Favorite Son was in kindergarten, I stopped into the lunchroom at school one day and I found my son sitting with a very cute little girl, Alison, at an otherwise all boys table.

A few days later when The Favorite Son came home from school I asked him, "Did Alison sit with you again at lunch?" He replied, "No, she doesn't sit with me very much because I burp too much."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Single Father's Book Club: 'Men on Strike' by Helen Smith PhD

As I sat at a table for two at Fetch Bar & Grill in Warwick during a recent date night with the lovely Kathie Austin, I had a bird’s eye view of three charming young women who enjoyed cocktails and appetizers at the bar. I estimated the womens’ ages to be mid-20’s, each was attractively dressed and their mannerisms suggested education and grace. If I’d had to guess, the three were sorority sisters a couple years out of college reuniting to catch up and have some fun.

After a few minutes, some young men joined the group and were enthusiastically welcomed. In contrast to the ladies, however, the men hadn’t shaved, had unkempt hair, wore shabby jeans half of the way down their posteriors, and, for all intents and purposes, were rungs below the social ladder from the women who seemed to be more than happy to see them.

“Where have all the good men gone?”

This isn’t the first time I’d observed this phenomenon. This time, perhaps because I’ve seen similar qualities in the boys with whom my teenage daughters count as friends, I decided I’d better look a little closer.

According to Helen Smith, PhD in her book Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters, men

. . . are dropping out of college, leaving the workforce, and avoiding marriage and fatherhood at alarming rates. The trend is so pronounced that a number of books have been written about the “man-child” phenomenon, concluding that men have taken a vacation from responsibility simply because they can.

According to Dr. Smith’s research, however, men aren’t withdrawing as a result of easier access to sexual partners, Internet pornography, or “simply because they can.” While these factors may be moderators, the real reason is a reality in which men are simply

. . . acting rationally in response to the lack of incentives today’s society offers them to be responsible fathers, husbands, and providers. In addition, either consciously or unconsciously, because they do not want to be harmed by the myriad of laws, attitudes, and backlash against them for the simple crime of happening to be male.

Smith contrasts the culture’s attitude toward infidelity as an example:

. . . cheating women are celebrated and encouraged by the culture . . . Whoopie Goldberg nonchalantly talked about how she cheated on her husband with little judgment or repercussions by society. In an interview, she stated, “Is screwing around five or six times while married and with different men for that matter something you can say casually? In the celebrity world perhaps.” But if you are Tiger Woods, you can be hit in the head with a golf club if you cheat and society cheers your wife for being empowered.

It’s not just young adult men who have "Gone Galt," a reference to Ayn Rand's character John Galt in her novel Atlas Shrugged, and withdrawn to their man caves and away from commitment. According to men’s rights activists Glenn Sacks and Dianna Thompson who Smith references, “The US marriage rate has dipped 40% over the past four decades, to its lowest point ever . . . in the face of a family court system which is hopelessly stacked against them, have subconsciously launched a 'marriage strike.’” Many adult men who have married, divorced, and subsequently been abused by a legal system biased toward women’s reproductive rights and financial support of the children for whom a man may or may not have contributed his genetic material believe that there is little incentive to marriage.

Dr. Helen Smith PhD
In the chapter entitled “Marriage Strike,” the author summarizes, “Our society tells men they are worthless perverts who reek of male privilege while simultaneously castrating them should they act in a manly manner, and now women are upset because men are being feminized? You reap what you sow.” Concluding, Smith queries, “Our society has become the angry leered-at woman who doesn’t care that men can build buildings or do amazing things like be good dads, husbands, and sons. She focuses instead on the small flaws and extrapolates to all men; they are all dogs, rapists, perverts, deadbeats, and worthless. Who needs them?"

Well, for one, many women who aren’t angry, who appreciate creative, complex masculinity, and who want to have a healthy, loving, and committed relationship with a man, have discovered there are fewer good men who haven’t gone Galt. While this may be great news for the confident, considerate, masculine alpha males because there is less competition for attractive quality women, sadly, these new cultural realities have created a world in which my two Beautiful Daughters will have fewer choices for a partner when they're ready. I’m at least as concerned for my son, however, who will have to navigate these influences as he attempts to mature and actualize into manhood.

Dr. Helen Smith’s Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters is one of the most relevant, informative, and prescient non-fiction I’ve read during the past 20 years. In short, it's a great book. You can learn more about Dr. Smith at her blog:

And finally, guys, you can get your own copy of Men on Strike yourself and read it. You can thank me later.