The goal of Meet a Dad: Profile a dad and let him share his fatherly wisdom with us. Some of these dads will be well-known in certain circles; others will be largely unknown outside of their immediate circles. Doesn’t matter, because I think just about every father has as much (or more) to share than I do.
Today’s dad is my friend Bryan Allain, who lives in a place called Intercourse, PA, township of too many jokes.
Tell us who you are and what you do…
My name is Bryan Allain. You kill my father, prepare to die. I’ve got a chemical engineering degree and spend my 9 to 5 working in the Quality Department of a biopharmaceutical company. I also write a humor blog (bryanallain.com) and offer blog coaching and resources to other bloggers (BlogRocket.com).
What can you tell us about your family?
My wife Erica and I live in Lancaster County, PA, with our 2 kids. Our daughter Kylie turns 10 this summer and our son Parker is 8.
What is one thing you do that qualifies you for being an above-average dad?
I don’t remember ever claiming to be an above-average dad, though hopefully I am. Regardless, one thing I’ve really tried to do to be a better dad is to apologize to my kids when the situation warrants it. I want my kids to be great at admitting when they’re wrong and asking forgiveness, so I try to model that to them when I’ve goofed up as a dad.
Sometimes it’s losing my cool and yelling, or maybe it’s not following through on something I said I would do. When those moments happen, I try to go to them immediately and ask them to forgive me for making a mistake. If they’ve done something wrong I will deal with that separately because I don’t want it to be like, “Yeah, i screwed up, but let’s talk about YOUR punishment.” I want them to know that everyone makes mistakes, and that there’s really only one right way to handle it: by owning up to it and asking for forgiveness.
What is one thing you do that results in eye rolls and/or exasperation from your kids?
Before I ever had kids I would get great joy from doing embarrassing things in public. My buddies and I would have contests walking around the mall to see who could yell the most ridiculous thing at the highest volume. It was great fun and something I like to do to this day (like every 34-year old, right?).
My son loves this kinda stuff, and routinely joins in on the fun. My daughter…not so much. I’ve actually had to promise her that I would not make embarrassing noises in the mall when I’m with her because it was so upsetting to her. So if we’re both there, then I stick to that and act normal. (But if it’s just me and Parker, break out the whale noises and random yelling.)
What is the most challenging aspect of fatherhood for you?
The most challenging thing for me is being consistent with discipline. It’s hard because it means thinking long term instead of short term. If one of my kids is having a crappy attitude and talking back, I have two choices: diffuse the situation so we can get through the next 10 minutes without conflict or confront the bad behavior and dole out discipline (grounding or loss of privileges).
You slowly begin to realize that the conflict has to happen at some point. If you don’t confront those things in the now, they will show up later and will probably just be worse. So that’s the hardest part for me, and I think for a lot of dads, because most of us just want a peaceful house. But avoiding conflict for the sake of peace now is just going to make it more difficult in the long run.
What is your absolute favorite thing to do with your kids?
I like being out with my kids. Whether it’s out at a restaurant or being on vacation in a hotel, I love it when it’s just the four of us sharing experiences together. Maybe it’s being surrounded by strangers, or maybe it’s just experiencing new things together, but there’s something special about having Erica and the kids with me that makes me feel like we come together closer as a family at those times.
What’s the best advice you ever received about fatherhood?
Probably the line that “quality time” is a myth, and that trying to make up for a lack of spending time with your kids (quantity) can be done by creating rare amazing experiences (quality).
Kids are resilient, and they’ll get through life whether you’re doing stuff with them or not. I need to constantly remind myself that even if we’re just watching TV together or playing a card game or being goofy, my presence is important.
If another father asked you for one piece of advice about being a dad, what would you tell him?
Read this interview. No seriously, I guess I would encourage dads to remember that their kids do not exist solely to be a supporting character in their story. It seems obvious, but we need to be reminded of that.
It used to freak me out when I’d tuck my daughter in at night and then close her bedroom door because I knew that closing her door didn’t make her suddenly power off like a robot. Just because she would not be a part of the rest of my night didn’t mean her little brain wasn’t going 100 mph thinking about life and her dreams and her fears and whatever else little girls think about before they fall asleep.
It’s in those moments that I realize that I’m a part of my kids’ stories that I get the best perspective on my job as a dad. To them, I am a supporting character, so what role am I going to play? Will they be in college telling their friends that their dad was pretty amazing or will they be the one saying “yeah we don’t talk much” or “my dad has a wicked bad temper” or “my dad was always busy with work.” Realizing that every day is another page in the story of their lives, and that my actions can control how that story plays out is a powerful thing.
So my advice would be to figure out a way to remind yourself of that every day and act accordingly.
Please indicate any blog or social media links if readers would like to connect with you online.
I would love for folks to check out my blog at BryanAllain.com to see if my humor is up their alley. And for the bloggers out there, they can check out BlogRocket.com for my free eBook on overcoming the top 29 frustrations bloggers face.