Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dadditude Guest Posting by Phil Lerman

Hi everybody! I’m the author of a new book called “Dadditude,” and I’ve been invited by Shari to do a guest blog on my favorite topic: Are all dads idiots, or not?

“It drives me crazy that most bloggers only complain about their husbands,” Shari wrote to me. “If they are all such idiots, why did these women marry them?”

Good question.

Here’s the answer.

I figured this out not at home, but at work. I spent 25 years in newspapers and TV, first as national editor of USA Today, later as co-executive producer of “America’s Most Wanted.” So I had literally hundreds of managers work for me. And you know their favorite story?

“My staff are all idiots.”

I heard this from managers every day: Everyone who works for me is an idiot. They can’t do anything. But don’t worry, because I fixed everything they messed up. Good thing I’m here!

Sound familiar?

These managers were taking control and power in the office place by making themselves seem indispensable. It took a long time for them to learn that you’re not going to get fired if your staff does well. Nobody’s gonna replace you. In fact, you’ll probably get a raise for training such a good staff.

Moms take a while to learn this too. That it’s OK to lose control of the home a little, to give up some of that amazing mommy power to a mere mortal (my wife even lets me dress my son all by myself sometimes! Well, not if he’s going out of the house or anything. But still!)

Trust me. Even if you stop telling everyone what an idiot your husband is nobody’s gonna fire you. Well, you might get suspended now and then. But what the heck. Everybody needs a day off once in a while.


Julie K said...

I'll have to look for your book. Even before I was married, I never liked the comics women had at work that bashed men in general (much less Dad bashing). I have a husband who's a great Dad. He's even been able to 'handle' our son all by himself when I've had to go on the once/year business trip (usually gone for 4 days). My son was no worse for wear when I got home.

I try to appreciate the different ways my husband does things with our son. It provides our son with a different point-of-view and different experiences. For instance, we approach doing puzzles differently and have different building styles when it comes to playing blocks. Although I'm a fairly rough & tumble Mom, my husband tends to play rougher and stretch our son's limits physically (pushes higher on the swings, etc).

With regard to the managers who say their staff are all idiots, I would question how well they communicate what needs to be done (and how much they train their staff). When I was a manager of a Customer Service group a few years ago, I was focused on training them in the manufacturing processes of how our products were made. It wasn't a job I expected to be in forever, and my boss was taken back a bit when I said my goal was to work myself out of a job (my theory is you can't move up if you're indispensable), and it lined up with his vision of a more self-directed work group. I had the chance to visit the office a few weeks after I resigned (to go back to school), and received one of the greatest compliments from a peer-manager who said that the group really pulled together, had morning meetings as a group to prioritize and distribute work and had been doing great keeping things on track. Something he felt the couldn't have done two years earlier when I started. The greatest compliment was that I was dispensable!

This is the same for parents. I believe we should be working ourselves out of our ‘daily parenting job’ by raising independent, self-sufficient children who have the knowledge and resiliency to handle life. I see it as transitioning to a more advisor role as they get older. I’ve recently read how the 20-somethings, as a generation, are more tethered to their parents because of cell phones. Taken to the extreme, there are examples of these ‘hovering’ parents even inserting themselves into their kid’s school and workplace – questioning colleges on why their kid wasn’t accepted, questioning firms & managers on why their kid wasn’t hired, didn’t receive a promotion, etc. That’s downright scary to me… what are these ‘kids’ going to do when their parents pass on? When do the proverbial apron strings get cut?

Anonymous said...

Oh, you are so right about the crazy Moms. I hear them complain all the time at my son's classes. They all think I'm a witch because I won't sit and X*?>#@ about my husband all the time. He's not perfect, but who is? I know those women aren't!