Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Daddy Dolls

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Categories Dads, Emotion, Holidays, Products, Talking to Kids, Toys, Travel, Wouldn't Do Without WednesdayTags , 49 Comments

Monday was Memorial Day, the American remembrance to honour all who have given their lives in service to the USA.

Too often, we get caught up in the excitement of a day off work, family barbecues, and widely advertised sales, forgetting the Memorial part of the day altogether. My daughters’ father is a career soldier and has served 3 combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. While we’re thankful that he has never been injured, I’m very aware that not all military families are so fortunate. On this day of the year, I always remember a waitress I met near where we live. We started chatting about our families when she noticed that my girls were twins. She was pregnant with her twins, she told me, when her husband was killed on duty at the Pentagon, on September 11, 2001. She moved back to Texas so that her parents could help her raise her three children even as she grieved.

It’s easy to overlook how war, especially war that takes place far from our shores, impacts children. It does impact them, though. My daughters have known all their lives that Daddy goes away to catch bad men. They know that he carries a gun, and so do the bad men. They also know that most of the people in Iraq and Afghanistan are just mommies and daddies and kids who don’t want any fighting. They just want to be together.

These conversations with my daughters were not easy. They were at least as hard as the conversations we’ve had about divorce and that mommy and daddy don’t love each other any more. Now that M and J are 9, they can verbalize how they’re feeling. When they were younger, it was much harder, especially with Daddy away more often than he was living with us at home.

To help my daughters talk about and process their father’s absence, I turned to Daddy Dolls, a company started by two Marine wives. They turn the full-length photo of a loved one into a doll for your child to interact with. Ours came out wonderfully. They held up through 2 years of daily hugs and countless runs through the washing machine, looking just as they did they day we received them. Sadly, they’ve been left at the bottom of the toy bin since shortly after the divorce, despite my efforts to bring them out to play.

I ordered the girls’ dolls the day that my now-ex left for his 3rd combat tour. We took photos of L in front of our garage the morning he deployed to Afghanistan. The company removed the background image and printed a smiling picture on each of two camo-backed dolls.

Daddy dolls give the military child something to hold onto while a parent is deployed.

When our then 4-year-old daughters received their dolls, they were completely enamoured. You can see their reaction in this video.

A few days after we received the Daddy dolls, I walked over to J’s bed after brushing M’s hair. J had her doll in her hand, facing me.

J (age 4, as Daddy): Hi Sadia!
Me: Hi L (ex’s name)!
J: So, how are you doing?
Me: I’m fine, but I miss you. I have a hard time falling asleep.
J: I just came by to say, “You’re welcome.”
Me: I see.
J: You’re welcome for the dolls.
Me: I love you!
J: I miss you all, even Penelope (the cat).
Me: And we miss you.
J: (as J, addressing the doll) You and me only have the … What’s the hole called?
Me: A dimple.
J: You and me only have a dimple.
M (age 4): Mommy and me have moles!
J: Does Daddy have a mole?
Me: Yes.

Of course, the utility and value of these dolls isn’t limited to families with a deployed parent. Any child suffering loss might benefit. I gave a gift card to the site to a friend for her son when her husband passed away. Moving away from the morbid, when it comes time for holiday shopping, a Daddy (or Mommy or Grandma or Sister) Doll might make for a good present. We received ours in less than two weeks.

Wouldn't Do Without Wednesday at hdydi.com: This week, the gogo Kidz Travelmate.As with all Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday posts, I received no compensation for this review.

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Why So Few Daddy Blogs?

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Categories Dads, Perspective33 Comments

Thank you to Joe for this guest post! Joe is an author and blogs at Dad’s Guide to Twins.

If you’ve looked around the Internet, you’ll see that mothers dominate the parenting discussion.

Sure, there are dads out there (like me) but we don’t have the volume of our mom counterparts.

In pondering why that is the case, I came to some interesting conclusions.

Joe Rawlinson, author of Dad's Guide to Twins, with his identical daughters.

Why Moms?

For ages, mothers have gathered together to share experiences and help each other. This started back when the men would go off to work the farm or hunt. The ladies would stay back at the house and take care of the family.

The need for moms to bond with other women has remained even though our society and daily routines have changed over time. This bonding is now made that much easier via social media and blogging.

To post online, you need time to write. Moms have a few moments of time during the day. (Ha! No, not really. ) But maybe, just maybe, she blogs during nap times or those brief moments when the kids are playing independently.

What about working mothers that still find time to blog? How is that even possible? The beauty of mobile devices and an always-on society makes posting throughout the day a reality for many.

However, more often, blogging happens at night after the kids go to bed.

Dads Find Other Outlets

A working dad can chat with his coworkers around the water cooler or coffee machine at work. This opportunity to vent frustrations or ask questions of others face to face reduces the need for an online outlet.

Manly Problem Solving

Guys tend to solve the problem and move on. Get in, get out, and get on with your life. Dads may find they have just enough time to seek out an answer to a problem and not to share what is happening after the fact.

Moms tend to solve the problem and then want to share with the whole world their problem and how they solved it.

Trade-Offs and Time

Perhaps dads are so busy working all day (and early morning or evenings) that the last thing they want to do is sit down at a computer and “work” some more on a blog. Dad thinks, “I just spent all day in front of the computer. The last place I want to be at night is hunched over my laptop and typing away the evening.”

If I had to choose between blogging and spending limited free time with my family, I’d choose family.

Many men also use their free time on hobbies (aka video games, etc.) instead of participating in the online parenting discussion.

Reality and Control

Men are supposed to have everything under control, right? To share the reality of parenting online could be perceived as a sign of weakness. To be transparent and real with what is happening in your home and family life tells the world that you don’t have it all under control.

Dads may prefer to escape reality and not linger on challenges of family life. This maybe why some of us run off to our man caves or immerse ourselves in video games.

Self-Perpetuating Silence

If a dad sees no one else talking about parenting online, it creates the impression that there is nothing to be discussed. If I go online looking for a solution to a problem and find no other dads talking about it, I feel it must just be me. I’m weird. I don’t know what I’m doing.

Why do Dads Share?

Joe, author of Dad's Guide to Twins, with his identical twin daughters. He talks about why dads aren't more visible in online parenting communities.

With all this being said, there are still dads sharing their stories online. Why would they do that?

Dad wants to help others. I know that I’m in this camp. When we found out that we were having twins, I was completely overwhelmed. There just wasn’t a lot of information for fathers of twins. So I started dadsguidetotwins.com to help other twin dads that were in the same situation I was.

Other dads just want to shout from the rooftops, “Hey look at me! I’m awesome.” That’s cool. While that isn’t my style, I’ll admit that you can usually learn something for others’ experiences even if their style is different from your own.

Online is easier than real life. Let’s face it, you can be anything you want to be online and sugarcoat things or make things look harder than the reality. This disconnect between the real world and the online world makes sharing life online easier.

Stay at home dads may feel like they are lacking the social interactions they once enjoyed outside the home. Blogging and sharing their stories online help eliminate feelings of isolation. Even though the number of SAHDs is growing, it is still relatively small compared to moms.

What do you think? Why do moms seem to dominate the online parenting discussion? Let us know in the comments.

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