By Russell W. Peterson |

Some dude blogger and stay at home dad at DadNCharge wants to "Banish The Playdate". He argues it is hampering spontaneous, imagination-filled free play. Hogwash. It is about returning to traditional childhood values where barefoot women stayed at home and never really watched the kids. Men were men, protected the family and went to work. As it should be. Children played unsupervised most of the day. We all had a star spangled youth and grew up just fine.

My dad went to work in the dawn's early light before most of us were up. We didn't usually see him until dinner. Sometimes not even then if there was an emergency incident. Occasionally he would show up on the weekend and pull us around on the lawn tractor perusing his land or take us out for gun shooting practice. The protector/soldier role is best for dads.

I remember my mom's perilous fight with the laundry and mixing up frozen slushies by the gallons for her girlfriends. They never planned anything. They'd just show up, open the freezer and go to town with those cool beverages from the ice cream pail. No need to schedule a play date and select some fancy schmancy wine with the correct stemware. Who needs lunch anyway?

All the while, my friends and I played gallantly. We had a red, white and blue rusty metal swing set that bounced off the ground every time we swung very high catching and cutting our hands on the unprotected metal chains. No protective covering. No bandaids needed. We flew off those swings and landed on the hard dirt ground not that soft rubbery stuff the pansy kids play on nowadays. We scuffed our knees and broke arms. No urgent care. A sturdy, straight stick and some gauze did the trick. That metal slide was brutal on hot days scorching our hands and our behinds. I hit my head on that monkey bar so many times, I’m sure I had more concussions than an NFL player. It is what made us men and why we are supposed to be working and not playing house with the kids.

Once in a while we "had" to play with the girls. They were obsessed with dolls and playing house. We reluctantly assumed the role of father, went off to work and never returned. The tree house fort we escaped to was way too much fun anyway with our bottle rockets and swords. The dozen or so boards we had swiped from the dump across the street made great floors and walls. I'm sure there was no chemical contamination. A few rusty nails pounded into the flimsy tree branches and every building code was properly met. We inspected it ourselves. Eating our white bread salami sandwiches filled with fat and salt on those floor boards built up our immunity. I'm sure of it! The candy cigarettes with real smoke were a plus.

What I'm saying through these illustrations, is that I agree with DadNCharge dude on some level. Banishing the playdate would help us return to these free form, imaginative play times and restore America to her rightful heritage waving the banner of traditional roles. The cry across our parentingdom should be "Land of the play date free and home of the childhood brave!"

*PLEASE NOTE: This post is entirely nonfiction and contains absolutely no sarcasm.

As the dad of two daughters, I've never understood the fathers who rarely show up or don't attend their daughters activities: not one soccer game, dance recital, or swim practice. Why have a child? It might not be your interest, but it is theirs which makes it yours. Just because you are male and she is female, doesn't mean you should use historical social norms to excuse your participation in the raising of your child. Three years ago I had a heart attack. I missed my daughters' dance show. Even though I had attended 90% of their activities, I decided I was never going to miss another performance or game. After all, I didn't know how much time I had left. None of us really do. Upon further reflection, I decided it was more than that. So, I came up with a list of positive things a dad should do with his daughter before she leaves the nest or in my case goes to college.

  1. Hug your daughter and tell her you love her. Multiple times. Daily.
  2. Attend every open observation, practice, game, recital, etc. Give her flowers. When appropriate.
  3. Let your daughter paint her bedroom when she is older. Buy her good brushes. Throw them away. Don't cry.
  4. Ride with her while she drives the car. Don't criticize her driving. Compliment her at least once.
  5. Create a painting together. Hang it in the living room. No matter what it looks like.
  6. Find a sport to do together once in a while such as fishing, soccer, hiking, etc. Give her some tips. Then just be.
  7. Buy her a cell phone. Program your number in it. Title it "24/7 Availability".
  8. Bake her a birthday cake. Frost it. Looks don't matter.
  9. Buy her a puppy or a kitty. You won't regret it.
  10. Have a tea party with the dolls or the stuffed animals. At the small table. In costume.
  11. Go swimming with her. No matter your body image.
  12. Paint your toenails with her. At least once. When she is young.
  13. Go to a double feature. Romance movie followed by a science fiction flick. Cry at one of them.
  14. Share hot cocoa and toast with her late at night. Dunk the buttered toast. Listen.
  15. Take pictures of her doing things. Before she is too old to say no.
  16. Go shopping with your daughter and buy her a dress. Don't look bored. Treat her to lunch.
  17. Take her to the daddy daughter dance. Get a corsage. Buy the campy photo.
  18. Tell her you are proud of her. Be specific. Several times a week.

I'm sure there are others, but this list works for me. It covers art, sports, shopping, creativity, conversation, love, food, admiration, security and empowerment. We have so little time on this planet that dads shouldn't let history, established social behavior or society dictate what they can or cannot do with their daughters. Live a little. You may want them to fly home to the nest some day.

Copyright BartzPeterson LLC
Shared painting with my daughter. Yes it is in my living room. Copyright 2014 BartzPeterson LLC

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