Fatherhood on Friday: Building Character

dad2summitFatherhood on Friday

In one of our favorite reads this week, Molly Pascal described how discovering Calvin and Hobbes improved her son’s reading skills and inspired him to dream “galactically bigger.” If you’re a fan (and if you’re not, you should be), you can see why. For 10 years, creator Bill Watterson orchestrated a battle between a six-year-old boy’s robust imagination and the big, square world (much in the way Watterson himself fought for his vivid artistry against the constraints of big, square cartoon panels).

Somewhere between these two worlds sits Calvin’s dad, who often feels the brunt of the imagination he has helped cultivate. And one of the recurring messages Calvin’s dad has tried to instill in his child is that every type of suffering, no matter how nominal or devastating, “builds character.”

Though most of us regard “character” as a good thing to have, it’s a hard quality to define. The closest we can get–and indeed, one of the most useful things we can do–is to help our kids understand that adversity, frustration, and pain are inevitable, and our character is the quality that helps us process and overcome them. And to be “loyal and honest, and not take it out on people when you’re having a bad day.”

This is why failure is a gift, and why protecting our kids from failure is a sure way to stunt their growth as kind, resilient humans. However you define character in your family, one thing is for sure: if you have one of those odious peeing decals on display somewhere, you don’t have any.


The sixth annual Iris Awards, which will conclude the 2019 Mom 2.0 Summit, are just three weeks away. And based on all the nominations, our industry is poised to honor some very talented people. Congratulations to all the nominees, including the five dads who are up for Dad Blog of the Year:

It’s shaping up to be a great night in Austin. Who’s going to be there?


For many parents, advocacy isn’t a choice. It’s a calling.

Parents can set the tones and attitudes for kids and how they feel about their own body image by being a good example.

When it comes to gendered toys, can the complexities of pop culture bring more diversity to the market?

“As parents, we have to make sure our children know how to swim when that dam breaks.”

“Teach your kiddos empathy and kindness. Challenge them. Nurture their creativity and curiosity. Let them fail. Let them discover. Let them get dirty and ride their bike around the block without you hovering. Those pursuits will deliver.”

“Parenting is not about explaining away all the questions, or inculcating your children with dogma that placates their soul. It is about introducing and modeling what it means to be a human.”

Do your kids enjoy their chores?

It’s 2019, do you know where your kids are?

How do you define an “involved” dad?



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Illustrations by Bill Watterson.