A Father with a Writing Problem



The Burb Dad

Parenting has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done (the BEST thing I've done was to marry my wife). But parenting also has been hard because I used to question (and still often do) if my actions and behaviors are correct. Over the years, I've gotten much better about the introspective hell that came to visit me at night, but it is not because I've grown more callous, it is because I've figured out that parenting, no matter how you do it, is simple if you just use love as your driving force.

I think the energy I bring to fatherhood comes mostly from the fact that my father was partially out of my life by the time I was six and by the time I was eight, he was gone completely. Did I mention I come from a long line of divorced people? Needless to say, I know what it is like to be the only kid without a dad. Do I have daddy issues? Probably, but in a good way. I try pretty hard to make sure that everyday my kids know that I love them. I think that is the key element in parenting. No matter what, they have to know that you love them. And that doesn't mean rewarding them for everything, buying them whatever they want, saying "Yes" to them all the time and caving into their every whim. Nope, parenting is about doing the right thing and teaching your kids right from wrong within the parameters of your values and sometimes that means that you will be the most unpopular person under your roof. My job is to make them good people, good adults, and in the process, teach them stupid shit like how to recite the alphabet while burping.


I worked in public relations for a good part of my life. I even wrote a book about it after retiring from the military. l went on to work for a Fortune 200 financial services company with $29 billion in assets and I managed their bank's PR and their western region communications, but I traded that for this project. There is nothing more important than family and although I had worked at the highest levels of my profession, both in and out of uniform, I felt empty when I missed a milestone with the kids due to work.


I believe that being an engaged father is more important and I think that is driven by the fact that I grew up a wild boy on the streets of Miami. All the things that boys do, I learned on my own. Much of it came from watching other boys who had dads. I learned how to fish and catch toads, lizards and snakes. From kids at the park I learned how to throw a football, shoot a jumper and hit and kick a ball. Neighborhood kids through a sort of paternal osmosis taught me how to tackle, wrestle, climb trees, swing, whistle, snap my fingers, and do armpit farts. I also got into trouble.

In the military, I had numerous fathers. All of them chinked away at the shapeless, scrawny, block of teenage angst that had joined its ranks in 1982. They all left their marks on me in positive and negative ways, tattoos on my soul if you will, and I continued the journey I started since my father's departure, Frankensteining myself together along the way. It is still a work in progress and I'm grossly imperfect, but I'm giving it my best shot.


The U.S. Census Bureau in 2017 reported that there are more than 19.7 million kids in the United States without a father in their home. Those kids are four times more likely to grow into poverty. Teenage girls without a father are seven times more likely to get pregnant as teens. Kids without dads are two times more likely to develop obesity problems, drop out of high school, and they are at higher risk for developing behavioral problems, committing crimes, going to prison, and abusing drugs and alcohol.


Do I have your attention? 


I hope this blog can be a place that you can visit and get reaffirmation that fatherhood is critical in the lives of our kids and that what you are doing, as a dad, as a parent, is probably the most important (and fun) thing you will ever do. I also hope that I can bring a smile to your face as you read about my adventures in the suburbs as I come to terms with who I am: A father with a writing problem.

--Steve Alvarez




©2020 by Steve Alvarez, Burb Dad.