Don’t yell. Do big projects with the family. Take time for yourself. Match the punishment to the transgression. Reward good behavior. Enable community service. Don’t worry about succinct book titles. Chestnuts that while time worn, were well organized, easy to follow and are still helpful to be reminded of on those difficult days.
Parker is, if anything can be inferred from his writing, generally a kind and well-meaning person. He is also a person writing from and for a certain ancient, archetypal, self-help … you know what? Let me just show you.
In honor of the 10 “power principles” (we find out in Power Dads that the principles from the title are far more than basic), here are 10 examples of why this book belongs to the genre of “It Came From The 1970s”:
1. Parker spends a lot of time referencing other self-help authors in his self-help book. Mentions of any sort of non-anecdote based and footnoted research are at a minimum. The author quotes one such guru, Dr. Stephen Covey, so many times I’ve retitled the book Power Dr. Coveys: The 10 Basic Dr. Coveys Successful Dr. Coveys Use to Dr. Covey Happy and Responsible Dr. Coveys.
2. On “Managing Stress at Home” in the subsection titled “Make time for you” (absolutely, absolutely essential) Parker writes, “Participate in a favorite hobby that makes you a better man, husband, and father. Getting high or just aimlessly surfing the Internet are not as good as a little golf, hiking, reading, or working in the yard.”
Are those my only choices? Because getting high or aimlessly surfing the internet I’ll take over doing yard work any day. Or a little golf for that matter. Like wearing those pants could ever make you a better father.
3. On “Patriotism,” he writes in Power Dads that a Fourth of July parade his “ten or eleven year-old daughter stood up and tugged on my shirt. ‘Dad, we have to stand up and take off our hats. The flag is coming.’” He then writes, “Somehow, she learned something about flags, respect, and patriotism” then she “knew instinctively what was appropriate.”
Was it a learned response or an instinctual one doesn’t even matter yet because first we have to deal with the lousy job being done paying attention to his daughter’s age and her patriotism. I wonder if he watches The Americans. I’m not saying Parker may be a Russian spy from 1982. I’m implying it.
4. On “Teen Sexuality,” Parker offers abstinence. Abstinence is a great idea for teenagers. I know it is because when I was a kid I abstained way longer than most, I’m pretty sure. A long time. It was easy, really, because for me getting laid was near impossible so I just decided I wouldn’t do it. Statistics will back me up on two things: 1) I did not get laid a lot as a teenager and 2) a lot of kids do, even the abstinent ones.
5. On talking to your preschooler about sex, he writes in Power Dads you can help them “Name body parts.” Good advice. My 6-year-old calls his balls SamnEric. He’s pretty good with names. Parker also emphasizes “Teaching Privacy and Respect.” Can’t argue with that. He also mentions “Healthy Touch.” In this paragraph, he names healthy kinds of touch –”hugging and cuddling” — and bad kinds of touching, “touching their own or others genitals.”
I was never ever a proponent of my pre-schoolers touching other people’s genitals. Totally anti-that. I’m still against it even though they’re now in elementary school. But touching their own? Telling your toddler they can’t touch their own bodies is crazy. Have at it, guys. As long as it’s private, you go to it. Go nuts. If you’re planning on your kids being the rare — very, very rare — iron-willed abstinence teen, they’d better have free reign down there when puberty hits.
6. On how to “Respect Diversity,” Parker writes that when his kids were growing up a family who “emigrated from Spain” moved in next door so “we invited this family over to teach us about their country and customs.”
That is one condescending and awkward invitation. If I had been the dad in that family, I would’ve half-turned and hissed, “Run! It’s a trap!”
7. One of my favorites in Power Dads. On “Teaching Our Sons to Respect Women,” in subsection “Use respectful terms when referring to women,” Parker says we should “avoid calling a woman a ‘skank’ or a ‘bimbo’ even if she dresses or acts provocatively. Talk about the behavior and why it is inappropriate rather than using a shorthand derogatory term to describe the behavior.”
Yeah, you know even if a chick is acting like a real bimbo (because it’s 1952) don’t call her one. Just explain to her in a roundabout way what a complete bag of amoral bimbosity she is, and how you’re judging her for it, and so is God, so she should probably stop being such a skank. Especially because it’s making it really hard for you to stick with the whole abstinence thing.
8. Parker is a big fan of “traditional values.” It doesn’t matter what you think of as traditional values, whenever you read or hear someone espousing them, you know it’s trouble, because the phrase “traditional values” means “if your values are different from mine, you’re a weirdo. Probably from Spain.”
9. “The Power of the Golden Sword.” This one is a doozy. Parker tells some parable –again written by a different self-help expert — about how men have two penises (I mean swords), one silver and one gold. The silver one is for work and climbing the ladder and the golden penis is the one you “strap on” when you “[come] in the door.” I swear to God he wrote that. And, of course, that’s only if your spouse is really, really lucky.
Once all 10 power dad principles have been established, the Power of the Golden Penis shows up in every single chapter of the book as a primary power principle to put in play. Penis.
10. Perseverance. Parker’s daughter Parker* plays piano. Apparently little Parker Parker is very good at the piano. So Mr. Wayne Parker uses her as an example of perseverance. She is able to continue to be really good at playing the piano even when the music she’s playing gets more challenging. It’s very inspiring. To be good at something and then still be good at it? Amazing and relevant to every parent who has a child who is really good at something and who aspires to stay that way.
*All children’s names are approximations.