Good morning to all my readers out there. Thank you so much for stopping by. So happy days and talk to you later. Oh, wait. That’s right, I am actually here to answer some of your questions you put to me in the Question and Answer post I put up last week. Which means I have to be vulnerable and open or some such nonsense. What in the world was I thinking? Can I do take backs? Would I be considered an Indian giver? Ok. Ok. I promised to answer some of the very thoughtful questions that you put to me last week. And a promise is a promise.
So, last week, I invited everyone to post questions and I would try to get to the top ten questions that I found on the post. Hence, after a week of waiting, I sat down to look at all of the questions you posed to me. Originally, I thought I would dump anything beyond the tenth interesting question I found and use that for another post. And . . . if you keep writing questions to that other post, I may be able to get back there in the near future and write another post. Or you can contribute more questions to the end of this post, and I will get to them at a later date.
But as of this moment, I only had 13 different types of questions from the audience. Maybe that should make me run away and hide, or go out and seek the great upside down. But do you want to face a Demogorgon? I think not. So I figured I would face the music and respond to all of the questions you put to me. I will respond as thoughtfully as I can. Although whether or not I reveal the mysteries of the universe with my answers is another thing altogether. I guess you will just have to wait and see. As The Single Dad’s Guide to Life Presents Part 2 of Questions and Answers with David Elliott, author, and creator of The Single Dad’s Guide to Life.
Q & A With David Elliott, The Single Dad’s Guide to Life Creator and Author
Interviewer: Good afternoon, David. Thanks for stopping by to answer some questions that our audience has put before you. Evidently, they had a lot of really nice things to say about you so we figured it was important that we pass on some of those interesting questions they came up with.
David: Well shoot! Sounds like you had better ask them then or you might be fired.
Interviewer: How can I be fired? Why would you fire yourself?
David: Because I can fire whoever I want. Wait . . . Good point. Well, you better ask these questions to me anyway before our audience gets bored and decides to turn to a more interesting blog post.
Interviewer: Ok. Moving right along. Question number one, what is your favorite ice cream flavor?
David: It would be too easy just to say chocolate. (Sweating profusely) Wait. Maybe not. Ok. Chocolate is not my favorite ice cream. I have had many favorites over the years. My favorite as a child would have been rainbow sherbet and then Pistachio Cashew when the Thrifty brand used to make it. Now I would have to say it is butter pecan. Something about the flavor just calls to me. The only downside is you cannot really use it in a sundae. It’s too rich and flavorful all on its own.
Interviewer: So what happened to you liking Rainbow Sherbet? And why did you end up changing to a different flavor?
David: We don’t speak about that here. The first rule of the Guide is . . . we don’t speak about Rainbow Sherbet.
Interviewer: Fair enough. Which brings us to question two. Do you drink hot coffee in the mornings?
David: Do I drink hot coffee in the mornings? Hmmmm . . . does the sun still rise in the east? Seriously. What kind of question is that? Hahaha! Actually, I don’t drink coffee in the mornings much unless there are side issues like lack of sleep involved. And even then I might go for a heavily caffeinated tea. Although put me near a Thai Iced Coffee and watch me drool. Coffee for me is hit or miss. I can live with it or without it.
Interviewer: So what kind of coffee do you like then?
David: Is that your question or one of our fans?
David: Ok, so I would probably go with some kind of latte. Gotta have sugar and cream in my coffee. Just saying.
Interviewer: Ok. So now that we got out of the way, we have to get out your international man of mystery side of you out to the public. (The real one and not the fake one with the bad teeth.) One of our readers asked: “what was your favorite vacation?”
David: Are you referring to the one where I had a blonde on one arm and a brunette on the other?
Interviewer: (Nodding head profusely!)
David: Never happened! I don’t know what you are talking about. And no I won’t have my martini shaken and not stirred. I don’t even like martinis. Give me a Guinness any day. Be that as it may. I will have to say my favorite vacation as a child was to Walt Disney World in Florida. We had an amazing time. The weather was insane. But the trip was amazing. Hoping to go back with my daughter someday soon.
As far as since I had my daughter, my favorite trip was a large road one up and down the West Coast of the United States. I love road trips so much because it’s hard to know what will happen from one day to the next. And my favorite things about vacations are almost always the things you do not plan for. I remember those things much more than whether I made I won anything at Circus Circus in Reno.
Interviewer: Ok, so as you brought up the topic of being a father, what would be your biggest parenting tip to the other parents out there, specifically single parents out there? What would your one piece of advice be?
David: Good question. Maybe they should all go to Australia. Wait. That’s Alexander’s advice in the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. And they have bad days, even in Australia too. I know. I would say if I had one piece of advice to give, it would be to remember that you cannot control what happens in the world. Even if we desperately want to. And I know we desperately want to control our children so that they can be “safe.” Well, safe doesn’t work out there. Everyone faces hardships and heartaches. We cannot prevent bad things from happening. We can give them the tools to be able to handle life’s difficulties.
And trying to control everything does not help us with our stress levels at all. Being prepared works. Trying to prevent works more like prevent defense in American Football. It doesn’t. The other team will score. Just be adaptable and be there for them when they need you. Your kids will appreciate your being there for them more than they will some of the other things. And above all, just love on them. Love doesn’t mean making them into what you want. Love means accepting who they are and loving them despite their faults. It’s the kind of love we want. Why would our kids want anything else?
Interviewer: Good answer. We had a couple of different people curious about the answer to the next question. We all know that you consider yourself a “single parent.” But what does that mean to you? And, what are some of the perks of being a single parent?
David: Honestly, when I got to this question, I didn’t know what to think. And then when two people asked the question, I really didn’t know what to think. How do you answer this type of question? There are so many different facets to the question and angles that I could take. So after much thinking, this answer made the most sense to me. Here are five caveats to my discussion.
- Being a parent in a happy healthy relationship with my daughter’s mom would be far preferable to being a single parent.
- Not all relationships can be happy and healthy and so divorce sometimes happens.
- If you can separate the pain from the relationship and do everything for the benefit of your child, that is the second-best situation.
- Some people cannot do category 1 or category 3. All you can say after that is ugh.
- I fall in category four.
Here is the deal, I am a single parent in the sense that I am single (no longer married) and a parent. I know some women and men have even more difficult situations and they have to do everything on their own. Those people amaze me and deserve respect. I share time and custody with my ex. When I have my daughter her mother does not have responsibility for her and does not have to be around. But that doesn’t mean you do not have a second parent around constantly critiquing you, telling you what you do wrong, and trying to manipulate that information for a courtroom to take your child away from you entirely.
I have situation number four. And so said other parent wants to wrest complete control away from me for my daughter’s wellbeing. This means I have to think about every last decision that I make and the logical implications of those decisions. It also means that when things go wrong, I have to count on that being used against me instead of receiving understanding that as a parent things happening beyond our control. It also means if she disagrees with a decision, I will be blamed for everything, and not be given any credit if things go right.
The biggest perk I received from this situation, aside from not having to deal with my ex-wife hovering over me from day to day, is I get to have my own relationship with my daughter. Imagine the extreme helicopter parent who manipulates everything around her and makes it so you only get to spend time with your child in her time and on her terms. By being a single parent, I no longer have to deal directly with the other parent.
This doesn’t mean she will not try to convince my daughter that I am a bad person. And it doesn’t mean she won’t try to make her believe that I am unsafe and cannot take care of her properly. But it does mean that my daughter can experience her relationship with her dad in a direct way and observe for herself whether I am the type of parent her mother makes me out to be. My daughter and I relate to one another apart from her mother’s involvement. And for that I am grateful.
Interviewer: Whew! I was worried we would have to get to a part three in this question and answer session. We will see how the next answers go. Can you keep them short and concise? Or will you always run the risk of writing 4000-word treatises for every blog?
David: Once again I ask you the question, did someone ask that? And do you still want the job of asking the questions?
Interviewer: Noted. So how did you handle everything since having a child and then being divorced? And what were your biggest challenges?
David: I think everyone handles things differently from time to time. Honestly, I could not have dealt with everything if I didn’t have my daughter’s dog Oreo with me. He helped me with a lot of the emotional mess of everything. Things feel pretty bleak and hopeless as things fall apart, even if you know getting away from this person benefits you. I needed someone or something to hang onto. Oreo helped with that.
My biggest challenge occurred at the beginning. It’s the part where you do not know who you are outside of the relationship with the other person. Not unlike co-dependency, you derived meaning in your life from this relationship. When the relationship goes, the meaning goes. And then came the fear of this person taking my daughter away. From her threats to move out of state to her trying to get full custody of our daughter, my ex-wife weighed on my mind.
During the week, I could fill up my time with work, so I didn’t have to feel alone much. And the weekends I had my daughter, I had her to be with and to work on developing a relationship with. But then came those other weekends. The weekends where I did not have my daughter and had to discover who I was again apart from my marriage. This challenged me the most. I needed to rediscover me. Once I did, those weekends got easier.
Interviewer: And now many of those weekends are filled writing for your blog so you have things to do all the time. Go you!
David: Didn’t that feel weird writing go you to yourself? We are a strange person indeed.
Interviewer: So a couple of last questions about parenting and we will move on to other subjects. Maybe. Here is another question multiple readers wanted to know the answer to. How do you deal with sensitive “girl” issues with your daughter?
David: I rock myself to sleep at night and then wake in the middle of the night with night sweats. Or maybe, I repeat “la la la la la la la” everytime a sensitive topic comes up. Yeah. I like that. Or how about I pretend my daughter asked an entirely different question and become unresponsive. That’s good parenting for you right there I have to tell you right now.
I know that my daughter will not always feel comfortable coming to me to get advice. This means as a male I have to do two things to deal with it. One, I make sure to have plenty of women I know and respect around and hope that my daughter develops relationships with them. Because sometimes she will need to ask questions and her mom will not be around to answer them. Having other good female role models does help fill in those gaps. But it doesn’t do everything. And being her dad, I know I have to do more.
The second part of the equation is me being open. I need to be open to talking about whatever sensitive topics exist in the world. It means not passing the buck if my daughter comes to me. And it means being pre-emptive and being comfortable talking about periods, sex, boys, relationships, bras, etc. Being pre-emptive means me talking about those subjects before they become issues. She may still not come to me when these things happen. But she does know that I will take these issues seriously when they occur and does not have to worry about me not understanding and belittling how she feels about things.
Finally, it also means being able to distinguish opinion from fact. I do not have the answer to everything in the world. But I do have opinions about things. I can tell her those opinions in such a way that lets her know it may be what I believe but I know that I could be wrong. And if she thinks something else, or does something else, I will not judge her for what she does. I will always love her no matter what.
Doing those three things makes things easier. Whether or not I am the one to respond to those women issues, or whether it be someone else, my daughter and I keep the dialogue open between us. This conversation makes all the difference when those issues come up.
Interviewer: I hope that your daughter turns happy and well adjusted.
David: That is the goal, for sure.
Interviewer: So the last parenting question . . . how do you prepare for being a parent?
David: Cheetos. Lots and lots of Cheetos. And the emergency number to the sanitarium.
Interviewer: Come on now! Answer the question.
David: Do cookies and milk sound better? Ok, maybe not. How does one prepare for being a parent? I think it might be good to read a book or two about child development and maybe something on different methodologies of punishments. It should answer questions like “should you spank your children ever?” Or “does a timeout work effectively?” I think these sorts of things can give you tools to carry in your back pocket in case of a crisis.
But nothing truly prepares you for parenting for many reasons. One, every child has a different personality. And two, you cannot know what outside experiences and pressures are going to be placed upon you in any situation. So if I had one piece of advice for any parent, it would be to treat each child as a separate individual, with different needs, wants, and desires. When you try to force the way you were raised on them or deal with kids what would have worked best for you, you stop seeing your child as an individual. And in those moments, you are likely to do the most damage. When you treat each child individually and engage with them where they are at, you will learn the most, and be able to set boundaries, make punishments, and give rewards in the most appropriate and life-affirming way for your kids.
Interviewer: So it sounds like parenting is an adventure you can never fully prepare for.
Interviewer: Moving on to your blog itself, one person asked, how you started blogging.
David: A bright fire from the sky came down and told me I needed to blog or the earth would be decimated. That or maybe someone slipped something into my drink at a party one night. I am never sure. But what a journey I have taken? Right! Right?!?!
Actually, it started with my interest in writing and knowledge about blogging. Throw in some courses in Library school where they required us to blog, and I had the blogging seed planted. I tried several different blogs but never felt like I had enough to say, or wasn’t sure where I was going with it. So I quit after a while each time.
Then in November of last year, I began talking to someone on a dating website and asked her what she did. She said she used to be an ICU nurse but not she was a blogger. She floored me with that statement. Knowing she lived in a well-off area of Southern California, able to afford a condo for her and her kids, I couldn’t believe it. One could make that much money doing that???
That’s when I put my librarian hat on and went into research mode. What had she done? What steps could I take to get there? Maybe I wouldn’t be the success she turned into. Maybe I would. But I knew it could be done and so I started to research. That’s when I thought about the dearth of dad blogs out there. Yes, they exist, but none so well known. I had seen a few successful ones, but they were the exception and not the rule.
And so I began. I looked at the other dad blogs out there. I emulated what I thought worked well. And then I threw out what I didn’t. But above all, I worked on finding my own voice when I would write. I knew that step was the most important part. Ultimately, as bloggers, we sell ourselves here. When we find our most authentic voice we reach the most people in the most genuine way possible. This sets us up for real growth. And the rest, as they say, is fake blogger history.
Interviewer: So to piggyback on that question, what or who is your biggest source of inspiration for your blog?
David: Without a doubt, my daughter inspires me the most. Being able to support her in the best way possible inspires me every day to go out there and try new things and make new connections. As I said before, I know I will not be able to spare her hurt or pain. But I do want to give her the biggest and best experiences I possibly can and help her become the best human she can be. Her genuineness and heart for others move me more than I can possibly say. I may be inspired by other things, but she inspires me the most right now.
Interviewer: I was thinking you would say your greatest source of inspiration was Donald Duck. You both like blue, have tempers and don’t like to wear pants.
David: You really are wanting to test my nerves here aren’t you? I must think about who will interview me the next time I get interviewed. Hmmmm…. Let’s just get through the last three questions already.
Interviewer: I’m getting there. I am getting there. Geez! Ok so on a lighter note. What do you do for a living now and what did you want to be when you grew up?
David: Currently aside from blogging I am a library assistant at a library in Orange County. I have a Masters in Library and Information Science and am working on becoming a librarian. But I am really enjoying the blogging at present. As far as what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wanted to be a director or films. I always loved movies and wanted to work in movies behind the scenes.
interviewer: So why didn’t you end up doing that?
David: I was a little bit gunshy when I had the opportunity to get a degree in film. So I ended up with a degree in English Literature instead. And I cannot complain. I love books.
Interviewer: Books are a good thing. But following up on your love of movies and books, let’s move on to comic books. One person asked who my favorite comic superhero was and which one would you think you would be?
David: If you were to ask about what my favorite superhero was when I was a child, I would have told you, Superman. And I still do love Superman. I just watched all of Smallville with my daughter. But if you were to ask me who my favorite superhero was today, I would probably go with Spiderman. I don’t know. There is just something vulnerable about him that all of the other superheroes do not have, outside of Batman. And he has his own issues. Then again, I do love Star-Lord. Although I always wonder about his superhero status. So either Spiderman or Star-Lord works for me. And which superhero do I think I am most like? That’s a really difficult one. I would say Spiderman. Kinda innocent about stuff sometimes. At other times I am not.
Interviewer: Why did you think you were like Howard the Duck or Rocket Raccoon?
David: I suppose I could have gone with Rocket. I do love him. But Howard the Duck is just a duck. Need I say more?
Interviewer: I guess not. Which brings us to the last of our questions. What is the Upside Down in Stranger Things?
David: To be honest, I really don’t have a clue. Whether it’s some alternate dimension, some real-life version of the kid’s Dungeons and Dragons game or it exists as a dream world, I cannot say. What I do believe, from what I have seen, is that it represents hell in some form or function. Whether you believe in a hell or not, I think this represents a dark force coming and robbing the world of light. As far as any definition of hell goes, I believe that works. Writers may not refer to it as such directly, but I think when these dark worlds make themselves visible on screen, the author conveys to you their definition of hell.
Interviewer: That sounds dark to me.
Interviewer: So . . . we are running out of time. And words. Do you have anything left to tell your audience before you go?
David: Yes. I want to thank each and every one of you for participating in this and for asking questions. It was a whole lot of fun. Maybe we can do it again sometime. And if you are wondering about today’s title, check out The Good Place on NBC. It goes well with the ending of this interview and it’s just such a great show.
Interviewer: Good Bye!
David: What do you mean goodbye? This is my blog and you are the one who needs to go. So scram! And to everyone else, catch you on the flip side. Just hopefully not the upside down.
Continue The Conversation
If there was a question I didn’t get to here. Sorry about that. This post ran a little long anyway. I hope that you enjoyed it. And feel free to ask some more questions and I can possible do another Q & A session another time. I think that would be fun. What question were you most surprised by my answer? I am always curious.
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Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life