A new parenting guide from a Fox News contributor suggests we make American dads great again. How? Through being mean!
Father’s Day is around the corner, and dad-friendly advice books are right up there in the Father’s Day-themed gift rankings next to bacon-scented candles and grilling gear that your dad will probably never use. (Save you and your dad a lot of grief and just get him a nice bottle of whiskey already). Those advice books usually have super-inventive titles like “The Dad Survival Guide” or “Dad’s Playbook,” and include super-useful tidbits like “how to smuggle your beer into the hospital while your wife is in labor with your firstborn.”
Because 2017 is a hellfire and nothing is sacred anymore, a new Trumpian parenting guide has come along and it’s just as awful as you’d expect it to be. Tom Shillue, a FOX News contributor and standup comedian—yeah, we raised an eyebrow too—wants dads to stop being such sissies and once again become the emotionally stunted, withholding men they used to be back in the good old days. His new book, Mean Dads for a Better America, is part memoir, part advice manual, and part love-letter to 1950’s small-town America, the kind of time where life was pretty good if you were a straight white man (and pretty shitty for everyone else, but no matter!). With the aid of a 9th-grade-level writing style and flat attempts at humor, Shillue aims to give dads some lessons on how to make America great again by being a patriarchal, tyrannical dick to your entire family.
Regardless of whether you’re already a dad, about to become a dad, or a person who has a dad, Shillue thinks you could benefit from some toughening up. His book shares lessons for life and parenting that we’re sure Trump has already printed out and taken as a guide to running the country and his family in general. In order to spare you the task of reading the entire book—you’re a man, you’re meant to go out and kill a deer or something, not read like some kind of girl—we’ve gone ahead and compiled the most important parenting lessons for your convenience.
1. Make sure your children (and maybe also your wife) are terrified of you.
Shillue cannot stop praising the benefits of being a man who rules his family with an iron fist. “What passes as ‘mean’ today used to just be called ‘parenting,’” he writes. “Fearing God is obviously important, but how are you going to fear God if you don’t fear your dad? He’s not God, but for a while he’s a pretty good stand in.” So make sure you strike fear into your family’s heart to consolidate your place as the undisputed head of the household.
2. Being mindful of other people’s feelings is for girls, not REAL MEN.
Is your behavior making other people uncomfortable? Could your actions possibly be hurting someone’s feelings? Could you be the cause of someone’s exorbitant therapy bills in twenty years’ time? Well no matter, because you’re a MAN, and you have to assert yourself, and people either need to suck it up or GTFO.
Being an emotionally aware human being is such an emasculating concept for a young Shillue and his cohorts that you almost begin to feel sorry for him. Imagine being so insecure about your masculinity that you have to call your diary a journal because you “found the word diary vaguely feminine” or not being able to use a towel to dry off at the local pool because “any boy over six or seven years old who uses a towel was a real sissy.” Okay then.
3. Enforce antiquated gender roles.
Shillue waxes poetic about his stay-at-home mother who always had the roast pork shoulder in the oven and was waiting for the patriarch as he got home from work, and about the “boys will be boys” mentality that excuses so much crappy behavior. He also describes watching the Jewish girls at school, enthralled by what amounted to a certain exoticism in Irish-Catholic suburban Massachusetts, and his plans to “one day maybe follow them home without their permission, then sit on their porch and have an uncomfortable conversation. I know these days that’s called ‘stalking’ but this was a more innocent time.” Worried about boundaries and consent and personal space? Come on, don’t be such a sissy.
4. Reminisce about the values of the 1950s as often as possible
“Guilt is fantastic,” Shillue writes. “I thrived on it in high school, and it was responsible for keeping me in line. It wasn’t able to keep me from having impure thoughts, but it kept me from wallowing in them. It didn’t stop me from lusting after girls, but it kept me from pressuring them to do anything beyond making out.” Oh, boy! There is a lot to unpack there. Some 1950s sexual repression, some good old-fashioned Madonna-whore complexes, and a dash of Catholic guilt thrown in there as well. Somewhere a therapist is begging for her phone to ring.
The guilt and rigid fixations on gender and domestic life are all part of this 1950s upbringing that Shillue says contributes to him becoming a well-rounded, totally well-adjusted adult. He grew up in the ’70s, but the magical ingredient to this ruddy-cheeked, sun-kissed childhood was “the teaspoon of castor oil that was 1950s America.” Sounds delightful. “My childhood was…Freedom, Love, Peace, and Fierce Individuality, all mixed up with Parental Authority, Moral Absolutism, and Fear of God. A rich, hearty recipe for happiness if ever there was one.” You can just imagine McCarthy dabbing his moist eyes on an American flag.
5. Physical violence and verbal harassment is a good thing. Ever heard of “survival of the fittest”? If you can’t take it, man up.
If your friends are ganging up on a kid and using homophobic slurs, it’s the kid’s own fault if he gets offended! The teasing will build character, after all. Shillue remembers a neighborhood kid named Michael who was handicapped but who “bravely made up for his disabilities on the playing field.” He endured name-calling and belittling because “he wanted to play sports with us, so he was willing to deal with the requisite cruelty to do so.” Stop being so sensitive and just suck it up!
To be fair, this advice seems to apply to both yourself and others. So, for example, if your friends found your Doughboy toy that you took to camp with you because you’re a child and it’s your first time away from home and you want some comfort, and start breaking it to make fun of you, join right in on the trampling of your dignity and last vestiges of self. “It was Lord of the Flies every day back then. It was tough but if you handled it the right way, it made you more resilient.” Just make sure you stomp out all those emotions along with the remnants of your childhood.
This is Shillue’s message to dads, dads-to-be, and people-with-dads: Yell at your children until your family speaks in hushed whispers when you’re in the house, never show a single emotion, reprimand others for their displays of sniveling humanity, and restore your rightful place as absolute ruler of your household. Or, you know, you could ignore all of that and actually be a good person. Happy Father’s Day!
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