Parenting, Pandemics, and Closing the Social Distance

Doug French2020 Dad 2.0 Summit, Fatherhood on Friday

Happy Friday the 13th! How’s your week going?

If you’re like us, your job (if you still have one) has told you to telecommute, your kids are home from school and full of questions, your investments are in freefall, every form of live sports and entertainment has been shut down indefinitely, and your parents are wondering what the big deal is.

On top of all that, you’re busy sifting through enormous dunes of information to find out the best way to “flatten the curve” and mitigate the effect of the coronavirus on your family and community, since epidemiologists tell us it’s already too late to contain it

If there were any time that would test your mettle as a parent — to both your children and your parents — it’s now.

The best parents/leaders make the hardest, most unpopular decisions for the greater good. And we do so with the most knowledge, so we can confront a challenge head-on and be the level head in the room. Luckily, there are plenty of scientists and health-care workers who keep track of the data we don’t and will give us the straight dope, without political or financial motive. Some of what we’ll learn will be scary, but knowing is always less scary than not knowing.

There are resources on how to talk to your kids about how every facet of our lives is suddenly so different, and how to give them enough information to feel secure without overloading them with the weight of the moment. You can start by saying that a lot of people will get this virus, but 80% of the cases (including almost all that afflict kids) will be mild. And if your kids are younger, you can adopt more of a Life Is Beautiful approach while educating them about proper hygiene and social distancing.

And on that last point: Over the next weeks and maybe months, social distancing is going to seem like overkill for a culture that can already seem socially distant. We’re in the conference business, after all, so we’re always looking to foster connection, in whatever form is available. So use the amazing technology we have and check in on your people, especially if they’re in self-quarantine. Share your concerns and experiences, so we can help fend off a community threat with a communal response.

And maybe tell your folks to postpone that plane trip.


After the teacher told the son of gay dads that “homosexuality is a sin,” legislators in Utah have acted to increase vetting of temporary instructors.

Thomas Lynch became the change he wanted to see and started workshops for expectant dads because “I had very little experience, and had no friends with babies and nobody to speak to.”

Diver Tom Daley‘s YouTube channel offers a consistent and uplifting vision of himself and Lance Black as parents “when many more people need to see that.”

In Perth, the Belmont Dads Group “gives us an opportunity to put down those heavy shields we sometimes carry as men, and just be dads on a playground, in all of its glorious messiness and imperfections.”

A great piece about long-distance parent care during this health crisis: “These moments of raw care—they still kind of freak me out. They feel abnormal, but these are abnormal times.”

Fascinating study: Dads tend to underreport ADHD symptoms and be less accepting of diagnoses because “how a father views himself interferes with the way he views his struggling child.”

At Clarendon Hills Middle School outside Chicago, turnout for this year’s “Magical Unicorn Evening” was a massive 50% higher than normal.

Shout-out to Dope Black Dads, the community group that aims to widen the conversation around black fatherhood and offers a place for dads to discuss the issues they face.

Would you want to be friends with a dude who boasts to have never changed a diaper?


“So, 42 means life is what you make it. And this year, I’m hoping to make it better.” — Mike Cruse, Facebook post

“Dad 2.0 creates the space for exploration of one’s emotions about family and relationships. Each time I’ve attended, I’ve come away with a clearer vision of my purpose as a father and a husband.” — Aaron Yavelberg, Emotional Highs and Lows at Dad 2.0 Summit

Although my son is increasingly interested in trying new foods, the process of finding out whether something is acceptable, let alone desirable, takes months (the jury is still out on mashed potatoes). — David Perry, My Coronavirus Prep Includes Protecting My Disabled Child

“I do know that, as I walked out of the Mandarin Oriental Sunday morning to start my journey home, my cup wasn’t just full. It was overflowing.” — Mike Armstrong, The Pull

“It is often through blunders and wrong turns and desperate chances and tomfoolery and hairbrainage and dumbfuckery that we find ourselves in wonderful, odd and unforgettable moments.” — Bill Peebles, I Chose the “Ch****oast”


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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash