20 Completely Arbitrary Rules For Being a Good Dad

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-father-daughter-beach-little-looking-ocean-morning-image310697201.  Be a dad, as opposed to mom’s helper.

2.  Every dad needs to be able to do an impression of a completely fearsome creature, that can be defeated by a four-year-old.

3.  If you have no clue what to do at home, you’d be surprised how often ordering Chinese food for dinner solves 75% of the problem.

4.  Your kids have a need to be proud of you. That thing that makes them proud, is probably that thing you stopped doing to spend more time with the kids.

5.  Know that the best moments in your kid’s life, are typically preceded by the words, “Don’t tell your mother.”

6.  Accept that you’re probably going to screw up being a dad at some point. All you can do is your best, and hope that one day it was enough, and you’ll be forgiven.

7.  Know that when you were little, your father was totally faking it. He had no clue what he was doing with you. Yet you thought he was amazing.

8.  Small naughty children are like Klingons. Speak to them as such, and they respond so much better. Come here now. Put toys away.

9.  Go to your kids’ parent teacher nights and the other school stuff like their plays and sports events. Yes they can be painfully boring, but you being there is important to them.

10. Part of your job is to let your kids take risks and fail. Life isn’t always fair, or easy, or simple. Sometimes the best teacher is a bad outcome. It’s your job to let them get hurt, but not injured. It’s your job to let them get embarrassed, but not ashamed. It’s your job to let them get anxious, but not fearful.

11. Have a good marriage. In a world of divorce, you’d be surprised how seriously kids appreciate that you’re still together.

12. Show the kids how to do stuff. Almost anything counts.

13. You should treat the kids all the same in a general sense, but different kids have different needs, so you’re going to have to treat them differently too.

14. Play ball inside the house. The kids are more valuable than the things that can be broken.

15. You do a vastly better job at defeating under the bed monsters than mom ever will.

16. Wear the dumb crap they bought you for your birthday, if only during the party.

17. If your kid does something good, put it on display on the fridge. When you take it down, keep it all in a secret stash somewhere.

18. Realize that half the time your kids are hanging out and watching sports with you, or whatever it is you’re into, your kids aren’t really into it. They’re just not opposed to it and are here just to hang out with you.

19. Tell them the stories from when you were little, about your dad.

20. Say you love them.

Jennifer is Back on the Sauce

So we’re in the grocery store, and I’m HUNGRY. I’m doing that slightly light-headed grabbing of everything tasty and fun and tossing it into the shopping cart.

I’m in trying new things mode.

Oh wow. Smokey garlic onion sauce.

That sounds delicious. Yes please.

Jennifer: “Oh, that sounds nice.”

Athol: “It does.”

Jennifer: “What I miss though is A1 Steak Sauce.”

Athol: “Oh, I didn’t know they stopped making it.”

Then I gaze down and literally stare right at a bottle of A1 Steak Sauce. Now I’m trying to  comprehend why Jennifer misses something that is obviously still available to buy, and is also inexpensive. It’s even on sale. WTF is happening?

Athol: “It’s right here, if you want it, you can have it you know.”


Athol: “So…. why don’t you buy it anymore?”

Jennifer: “Well you hazed me about it.”

Athol: “I did?”

Jennifer: “Yeah.”

Athol: “Oh.”

And…. hmmm… I don’t recall hazing her about it. Maybe some light teasing though. Okay so let’s not quibble about a few times she may have made mistakes with condiments. That’s all He Said, She Went Bloop Bloop Bloop. We’ll never really be able to assign actual blame. I’m pretty sure any hazing she mentioned was horribly overstated based on her sensitive feminine nature.

It’s roughly at this point I recall that I haven’t seen a bottle of A1 Steak Sauce in my house for… ah… well since the old house and we moved in 2006, so according to the math, I’m an asshole.

Athol: “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you not eat something you liked. I feel terrible.”

Jennifer: “It’s okay.”

And off we went down the aisle, steak sauce gently nestled in the cart like the prodigal son back in his old bed. I really do feel bad about it.

But seriously now, I like to think Jennifer and I communicate pretty well. If we can miss these things, anyone can miss these things. Life is too short to miss out on the stuff you want. If you like things, you may as well enjoy them no matter what your partner feels about them. (Assuming it doesn’t have a direct negative affect on them of course.)

It’s not like I have to eat A1 Steak Sauce if she eats it. And in case someone thinks this post was sponsored by A1 Steak Sauce, please be assured that I think it should have a large warning label attached to it saying, “WARNING! Tastes like bovine rectum juice.”


So anyway…

what are you holding back on enjoying because of your partner?



Phase Four of the MAP is Semi-Random and Can’t be Faked

Something that has become increasingly real to me is that Phase Four is a sudden energy state switch. It’s akin to a religious conversion. There’s a moment where everything suddenly hinges and the relationship changes direction.

I know that sounds horribly woo-woo, but bear with me.

I’ve now seen hundreds to thousands of people really running their MAPs and doing well at it. Getting through the phases and generally doing well. They get fit, they get the money together, the house is cleaner, they dress better… but whatever they are doing has still not worked to create the change in their partner that they want.

There’s always some sort of blockage there and I know to break that blockage, they need at a minimum to get to a Phase Four moment and really state their intentions super firmly and directly. They may need to go beyond Phase Four of course, but you have to go through it to get there.

But no matter how you beg, plead, encourage, push, frown, or whatever… they get to what I call Phase Three Point Nine and stall out. They say they understand they need to get to Phase Four. They talk the talk. They really do get it. I know they get it, but it’s like they are scared of heights and trying to jump out a plane. Can’t do it. Want to do it, but can’t. They get right to the edge of flipping the switch and then turn into emotional rodeo clowns diving for cover.

It used to be really frustrating watching this. It’s still a little frustrating, but not overly so nowadays.

I’ve seen people sit on Phase Three Point Nine for over a year. Some two years. I could say I’m talking to their hamster the whole time, and that would be true, but I get it. It’s really hard. There’s no perfect assurance if you stand up for yourself and demand to be treated right, that your partner will do it. We can try and stack the deck in your favor running the MAP, but that only increases the odds. There’s no magic dice. There’s no “I win” button to push. It feels like upgrading to Windows 8.1, the damn install option pops up at you and in theory it’s meant to be better, but that’s what they said about Windows 8. So, hmmm…

On the other hand, there’s some people in Phase Two or just getting into Phase Three, who still have lots of work to do improving their attractiveness before I’d even suggest a Phase Four. We’re still trying to see if the earlier Phases get through to their partner. Lots more time to go yet…

…and I get the call or email and they went to Phase Four already.

“Hi Athol, well it’s been a weird week. First X happened and it was fine, and I did just what you said, and she did Y and it was okay. Then on Thursday she did [completely screwed up thing for the 23rd time] and I just flipped out at her, but it was this really strange anger where I was [really controlled angry / like I was watching myself in a movie / completely exploded], and I said [super intense statement of what exactly sucked about my partner and how they needed to fix it, or get the hell out].”

This is where I think to myself “Ahhhhh shit, we weren’t ready for this yet.”

Instead I say in my least facepalming voice possible. “So what happened then?”

Most times they say some variant on,”She started bawling her eyes out and saying she was sorry.”

Phew! Well, alright then.

Then at some random point in the future, I’ll hear back from a Phase Three Point Nine person.  About half the time their still orbiting right there where I left them, the other half it seems to be a Phase Four hit at some semi random time. After I all but gave up on them, they moved to Phase Four.

So in some ways you can’t plan for it, because it seems to hit at random, but more likely it’s triggered by something the partner does to set off the emotional cascade that is a real Phase Four moment. But like I said at the start of the post, there’s an energy switch. So you can plan for it in a sense because it seems to require baseline of a sense of positive energy and emotional strength to do it.

Going back to the Four Outcome Matrix, where a relationship in a bad place can only have four outcomes, (1) Toleration, (2) Cheating, (3) Divorce or (4) Improved Relationship. Phase Four is in very real sense, the exact moment you take Toleration off the table. Not just in an intellectual sense, but in an emotional snapping sense, where Toleration of whatever nonsense you have been tolerating, is absolutely no longer an option.

Which is also why it can’t be faked. It has to be real. It has to have that emotional snapping where Toleration is dealt a deathblow. But you can’t get into the mindset where it can happen, until you get your MAP up to speed.


Options Are Limited When Dealing With Domestic Violence

Question on Violence, Deep Emotion and Rational Talk.

Tyler:  An earlier commenter touched on this, but I want to expand it into a real question: how does a man deal with a woman using the Violence strategy? Outside Force (aka cops) isn’t as easily used by a man as by a woman:

1. As you say, female violence is more frequent/less intense, thus less likely to leave evidence. A solution to this would be in-home surveillance, but that also is a bit drastic (and perhaps costly).

2. In absence of incontrovertible evidence, it becomes he said/she said, allowing the woman to turn the Outside Force against the man, such as with a false accusation. This presumes a bias in law enforcement toward believing the female account, and I do believe such a bias exists.

Much respect for your work.

Athol: In the case of very minor incidents of violence, you have to see that as a testing the waters event. I’m talking about that first thing where they cross the line into the “that was a bit much” category. That you have to immediately call out as being unacceptable and whatever it was they wanted from that incident, you ensure they don’t get it.

So… Jennifer slaps me on the forearm in response to me saying something teasing to her… that’s not a problem. (I actually kind of enjoy it when she does that.)

But… Jennifer slaps me on the face, saying “Go get the #$%^ing groceries from the car!”… well that’s crossing the line. That I’d very firmly verbally bump back on, and the groceries would rot inside her car before I’d do anything about them. The message being a very clear “The Violence Strategy will not get you what you want” statement.

And for the record, no, there’s no hitting at the Kay Place. We do have periodic drama like every couple does, but we’re both major introverts so… huh… I guess we do self-imposed Time Outs in a double withdrawal strategy. Anyway, I digress…

Unfortunately though, most people don’t do that for the first incident of crossing the line, so it continues. In the case of continuing violence, the options are rather limited, unpleasant and somewhat depressing.

If someone is prepared to be violent in a relationship, they will continue to be violent in the relationship because it is a winning strategy to get what they want from you. Yes it’s wrong, but it does work, so they use it. It’s like the bullies as school shaking you down for your lunch money. They will keep hitting you, and you will keep handing over your lunch money until something breaks the cycle. The bully however will not one day have an epiphany that making you their personal piñata is wrong, because no one gives up a winning strategy.

So you have to accept that once someone starts being willing to use Violence against you, it will continue until something breaks the cycle.

There are four possible outcomes…

(1) You do nothing, she keeps smacking you when you’re insolent. You learn to be whatever she decides is “good” and figure out ways to apologize for things that are her fault, lose all sense of a personal identity, clean up the messes she makes and generally turn yourself into a human shield if she ever looks sideways at the children.

(2) You respond with greater Violence and hit her back harder than she hits you. Well… this might work briefly, but honestly the more predictable outcome is simply an escalation of both of you playing the Violence strategy toward the full colonoscopy of emergency services and interventions. There’s not really a winner here.

(3) You quit the relationship. Actually this may not be a bad option. If there are no kids involved and no particular reason to stay, you really may as well bail on someone who displays this level of poor judgment. I’m betting she’s not exactly a peach in the other areas of her life either.

(4) You get Outside Force involved. This is the only possible route if you want to try and address the situation and also keep the relationship intact. The trick here is that you have to make this as defensively clear that you are not the abuser as you can. Video or audio of her acting violent and/or verbally aggressive, while you are clearly not doing anything other than defensively trying to block and dodge may be helpful. If you are injured and she isn’t, head to the Emergency Room and say what happened, which will then trigger a police visit to follow up on your defensive injuries. Most likely though, the best way forward is simply making a police report by calling the non-emergency number for your local police department. I have seen a number of times that simply making a police report goes a long way to stopping violence happening.

In addition, you can also make calls to Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

My feeling is that that if you’re a man worried about being automatically framed as the abuser when you are the one being abused, you’re probably going to have to end up in some contact with the authorities at some point whether you like it or not. So you’re probably better off making an early approach to reporting, using the system of reporting that is in place and for lack of a better term… playing the role of the victim.

What is unhelpful is hedging your bets because of your fear you’ll get painted as the abuser, and letting things escalate further and further. That’s when you have the situations where things get completely out of hand, you’re forced to physically defend yourself more than blocking and dodging and when the police arrive on scene they find a confusing and complicated situation to make decisions about. That’s when defaulting to the idea that the larger male was the aggressor comes into play and statistically speaking, once the incidents are at the level requiring police invention, that’s a good bet for them to make.

So yeah. Options are limited and none of them are any fun to choose.

But once someone can hit you and get away with it, they don’t stop hitting you.

Athol Kay on the Art of Charm Podcast

Check out me on The Art of Charm podcast #239 with Jordan Harbinger.


http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-beautiful-young-caucasian-woman-portrait-image30556944What you’ll learn….

Why Alpha and Beta are different traits.

Why Beta doesn’t count unless you’re Alpha.

Why the Three Love Systems are important.

Why I worry about a great relationship dropping down into just a good relationship, rather than terribly relationship moving up to being just a bad relationship.

Why you have to stop whining.

Why you have to know the difference between a Fitness Test and a Loyalty Test.

Why you have to take “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” really, really seriously.

Why you have to lead in your relationship and how to do it so she doesn’t think you’re being a jerk about it.


Was a fun show to do. Let me know what you think about it!