Dad Music Video Has Fathers Singing “A Little Mermaid” Classic

This dad music video shows the transformative power of being a dad.  At, firefighters, Marines, cops, construction workers, scientists and other fathers belt out “Part of Your World” from the decidedly not-macho film A Little Mermaid. Technical difficulties left my multi-octave operatic part in this on the cutting-room floor, but these guys bring it home just fine.

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“Dad Jam” Marks Family Man’s Video-Writing Debut

In my ever-evolving partnership, I now present the dad video, “Dad Jam,” a tale of father ego gone wrong on the basketball court. Director/editor David Guest, producer Tom Riles, and photographer Louis De Barraicua worked with my script and a bunch of talented actors to produce this short video diversion for your entertainment. I even convinced my middle son to act the part of an alternatingly embarrassed-supportive son. It’s my video writing debut so please watch, comment, “Like” it, and share it with friends.

Posted in Blog, Family Man Recommends, Film, Humor, Video | 2 Comments

Announcing Partnership Between Family Man & Life of Dad

Life of Dad-images (1)After a dozen years of writing for print and online, it’s time for Family Man to be set in motion with video! Announcing a partnership with, the Social Network for Dads. We’re going to collaborate on short films and other Web content. The work being done by Life of Dad’s Tom Riles, David Guest, and their talented crew is what results from being great human beings, dedicated parents, and really funny guys. I am excited at the possibilities of the partnership. See “The International Dadcathlon” and look for more in the months ahead. Please tell your friends via social networks!

Posted in Family Man Recommends, Film, Humor,, Video | 1 Comment

The International Dadcathlon Arrives with Olympics

Just in time for the Summer Olympics comes the debut of’s video The International Dadcathlon. Written and directed by father-teacher-filmmaker David Guest, this is an action-packed summary of a fake — but all too absurdly real for experienced fathers — multi-event competition. If you look carefully, you can see me making a fool of myself (nothing new there) as an Eastern European dad who gets a little overprotective of his daughter. Please watch, comment here and anywhere you can, and pass it along to friends.

Posted in Family Man Recommends, Humor, Video | 2 Comments

What Dads Need to Know: The Refreshing Side of Overnight Camp

By Hollee Actman Becker


So it’s the last week of June.

Otherwise known as the time of year when parents across the country drive to various makeshift bus stops, hug their kids goodbye while hiding behind dark glasses, release them to make the climb up onto the air conditioned chartered buses that ironically advertise free wi-fi, then wave maniacally at their shadows — barely visible behind blackened windows — yelling “goodbye!” and “I love you!” and “you better freaking write!” until the very last bus has inched out onto the highway and disappeared from sight.

Only then will they be free to swipe away the stray tears, sigh at the anti-climactic-ness of it all, and then celebrate their long-awaited Summer! Of! Freedom! by running home to glue themselves to their computer screens and hit the refresh button every two seconds while guzzling glass after glass of wine.

If you have to ask why these parents are engaging in this type of behavior then you’ve clearly never sent your kid off to sleep-away camp for seven weeks.

And if your jaw just dropped at the phrase “seven weeks,” then you are clearly not from the Northeast.

Because the reason they — OK, let’s be honest here… we — attach ourselves to our iPads and our laptops and any other freaking device that will let us log onto Bunk1 or CampMinder or whatever website our camp happens to be using this summer is because we are all desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of our happy little campers — emphasis on the word happy — when each of our camps starts posting THE PICTURES.

And if there was ever a phrase worthy of utilizing the All Caps button it’s that one.

Trust me.

Because only when we see that first grainy image of our child smiling as they jump into the lake… or swing a bat… or kick a ball.. .or get a piggyback ride from some random nineteen-year-old who they may or may not have just met two minutes ago…Only then do we allow ourselves to breathe a collective sigh of relief, fork over the $1.69 to download the high-res image, and then finally just chill the eff out and relax.

At least for five seconds until we hit the refresh button again.

Anybody else here see the irony of confiscating your kids’ electronics and sending them off into a wi-fi free zone, only to spend the summer obsessed with electronics yourself?

I mean.

Do you know how many mornings last summer I woke up to find an empty wine glass on my night table and an iPad on my pillow?

All of them.

But here’s the thing.

These are our children we are talking about here. And these images we see on our computer screens are our only lifeline to them.

So — and stop me if any of this sounds familiar — we spend our entire summer waiting to see THE PICTURES.

Talking about THE PICTURES. And — full disclosure — meticulously over-analyzing every single little detail about the freaking pictures.

Wait. Why isn’t my kid smiling? Is that a smile? And why is he standing all the way over there on the end? Why isn’t he in the middle like that kid there with all the freckles? Who is that kid with all the freckles anyway? I bet he’s mean. He looks mean. How come everyone in the bunk is holding hands and my daughter is holding a freaking water bottle? Does she not have any friends? Who’s bathing suit is she wearing? She looks skinny. Is she eating? She better be eating! And is that a sunburn?


Guilty as charged.

Last summer I made myself crazy studying the pictures.

Seriously freaking crazy.

I know.

You expected more from me.

Like, way more.

Sorry to disappoint.

I know it sounds insane.

Like, really insane.

And it so is.

But while I’m far from a helicopter parent in my everyday life, it’s really freaking hard not become just a little certifiable when you’re stuck at home sending one-way emails, and the only clue you have to your child’s well-being is an image that’s left you feeling at best unsettled and at worst suicidal and why didn’t you just sneak that damn cell phone into you kid’s laundry bag when you had the chance?

Here’s the thing, though.

I learned the hard way that the pictures don’t always tell the whole story. And sometimes the story you think you are watching unfold right before your very eyes all summer is not actually the real story at all.

The girl you thought looked mean turns out to be the bunk sweetheart. The boy with the hugest grin in every picture cried for an hour every night. The counselor who was always standing off to the side with a grimace turns out to be your kid’s favorite.

You get the idea.

But the most important thing to remember — and, catch 22, the hardest thing to remember — is that your kid can be having the craziest, most amazeballs summer at camp, YOLO-ing it up every minute, even if there isn’t a shred of photographic proof.

You don’t believe me, do you?

Think back to your wedding video for a second.

Who are the people the videographer ambushed and shoved his microphone in front of? Are they your awesome BFFs who were busy shredding up the dance floor? Or are they the guests who were just sitting at the tables, hanging out on the periphery, watching the action from afar, and therefore the easiest to approach?

My guess is, it’s the latter.

And my point — because I know you must be wondering if I actually have one— is this: Just because the videographer didn’t capture your closest friends on camera wishing you their slurred-yet-heartfelt congratulations, it doesn’t mean they weren’t there having the time of their lives.

And now it’s my turn to tell you a story.

Are you ready?

Here we go.

One day last summer about 50 pics went up on the camp website of my daughter’s bunk at the waterfront.

She was not in a single one of them.

Not ONE.

So I start immediately freaking out.

Because duh.

Judge away but you know you’d do it too.

Here are all these girls smiling and laughing and jumping in the air holding hands.

And where the fuck is my kid?

So then a week later we’re up at camp for Visiting Day.

Which is a story in and of itself that you should remind me to tell you later.

So we’re at Visiting Day.

And we go on a family boat ride.

And my daughter starts to tell us a story.

About how there was this one day when her bunk went to the waterfront with another bunk in her division.

And how it was sooo cool because she got to go out in a canoe with two of the girls from the other bunk.

And omigod do you know what happened when they went out in that canoe?

They got stuck in the mud.

Like stuck stuck.

And someone from the waterfront had to come rescue them!

And it was awesome!

Like, soooo totally hilarious that the girls literally peed in their bathing suits.

I swear I’m not making this up.

So after visiting day I swallowed about a billion milligrams of Valium and then went home and pulled up that set of waterfront pics on the camp website again.

But this time I zoomed in on them on my iPad (great trick, btw… remember it).

And there she was — my kid, my heart, my home — way off in the background.

In a canoe.

Stuck in the mud.

With two other girls.

Laughing her freaking ass off.

Moral of the story?

You know what’s coming, don’t you?

Step away from the freaking computer.

Just step. The hell. Away.

At least until they upload the next batch of pictures.




Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer and blogger who explores parenting and pop culture on her blog Her writing has also been featured in publications like Self, Cosmo, The New York Post, Ocean Drive, Lucky, TheKnot and Philadelphia magazine. She lives in the Philly suburbs with her husband, two kids and their dog, Mickey Jagger. They also have a white picket fence. OK, that’s a lie. Go find her on Twitter here: @holleewoodworld.

Posted in Camp, Featured Moms & Dads, Humor, What Dads Need to Know | Leave a comment

Family Man Recommends: Barney Saltzberg and LeVar Burton

Reviewed by Gregory Keer

My children have grown up on the the books and music of Barney Saltzberg, author of nearly 40 books for kids and someone I feel is a true parenting-resource Hall of Fame for all he has done to make children laugh and help parents be sillier and more understanding of where kids are coming from. So, it’s a pleasure to recommend his latest book, Arlo Needs Glasses. The tale is about a shaggy dog, who one day discovers he can’t see too well. He ends up visiting a doctor who fits him with spectacles, which help him go back to doing all he loves to do. With pop-ups, clever words, laugh-inducing illustrations,  and a message that allays fears and speaks of the benefits of glasses, this is a marvelous book for the one of out five kids who need glasses and anyone who knows someone who wears specs.

Another kid-education advocate worthy of parenting-resource Hall of Fame status is LeVar Burton, the actor and long-time host/producer of the PBS series, Reading Rainbow. Many of the advantages of that literacy and imagination promoting TV show get new life in an iPad app that offers dozens of books and video field trips to help digital-savvy kids — ages 3-9 — enjoy all the colors of reading. The app download is free (allowing you to exlore the app and read one book for no charge) and there are subscription fees to allow access to the growing library of books and videos.

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Randy Kaplan – Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie

Reviewed by Gregory Keer

Even if I didn’t like Randy Kaplan’s music so much, I’d have to tell you about it because my kids would never forgive me. They’ve been big fans, particularly because of Randy’s sense of humor (witness songs on previous albums such as “No Nothing” – ) and “Don’t Fill Up on Chips”). I became such an admirer of the man’s work that I rated his The Kids Are All Id project the best family music of 2010.

Now, he’s gone and made me have to review another album of his, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie. An homage to those Kaplan calls “the Superheroes of American Blues,” this recording is more powerful than a locomotive in the way it drives kids through a range of blues sounds – hearkening back to the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s — while it entertains them with his trademark lyrical wit. Throughout the album, Kaplan uses a blues persona, Lightnin’ Bodkins to help teach kids about such blues legends as Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson, Bessie Smith, Blind Blake, and Muddy Waters. For the CD package, there are also 20 pages of liner notes for even more enlightening information about the influences on this collection of country blues and ragtime tunes.

Among the many blues-licious tracks on this jam-packed album is the Dixieland-style opener “They’re Red Hot,” which indeed starts things with high energy. Kaplan is as much a storyteller as he is a musician, as evidenced on the harmonica-infused “Runaway Blues” (about a childhood dalliance with leaving home) and “In a Timeout Now” (featuring child participation on some yodeling). Other “listen first” worthy songs are the rollicking “Ice Cream Rag,” the standing-up-to-a-bully tale of “You’ve Been a Good Old Wagon,” and the rootsy sound and heartfelt words of “Green Green Rocky Road.”

Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie is ambitious in its effort to educate young listeners about some of the most significant indigenous music America has produced. It’s also funny, insightful, and loving. Who would want to miss out on all of that?– $11.99 (CD)/$9.49 (Digital) – Ages 2 to 11. You can also check out videos at myKaZootv.

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Family Man is Living the Life of Dad is a fatherhood site that not only creates community for dads online but also makes us laugh out loud with its take on modern parenting. The videos created by site founder and stand-up comedian Tom Riles and filmmaker-educator David Guest are seriously funny and true, especially the popular Dad-Chelor Party. This month, Tom is doing a “30 Dads, 30 Days” tour of male parenting types for the month of Father’s Day. I’m one of those dads, so check out my interview and let me know your own thoughts as a dad by posting your comments here.

Posted in Blog, Family Man in the News, Father's Day, Humor, Video | 3 Comments

One of the Boys

By Gregory Keer

My wife complains about being the lone female in a house of four guys. She bemoans the bathrooms that have been territorially marked by boys with bad aim. She scowls at the criminal lack of fashion sense they possess. She shakes her head in futility over the pushing, punching, and head-locking the guys engage in more often than they speak to each other.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to this,” she said, following a harrowing incident in which our seven-year-old chased her with a pair of socks that could have been mistaken for a round of Stilton cheese.

“I’ll never be able to pass along my Nancy Drew mysteries or my Little House books to a girl in pigtails,” she went on.

Then she glared at me. “It’s all your fault.”

This may be genetically true, in that the father determines the gender, though I’m hardly sympathetic. Growing up, Wendy was actually as much of a tomboy as a princess. Her childhood photo albums reveal a hard-nosed little leaguer, a dog lover who wrangled the Great Danes her family raised, and a kid who liked to tinker with socket wrenches. This is not to say that my wife didn’t wear dresses or try out her mom’s perfume. It’s just that Wendy is particularly well-suited to hanging with her homeboys.

For instance, it isn’t always the kids who start the rough-housing. Wendy picks fights with the boys, playfully challenging them to wrestling matches. Our youngest, Ari (7), loves it and doesn’t even mind when she pins him on the rug. Jacob (10) thinks the whole thing is just not right.

“Mommy, you’re a girl,” he says. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

To which Wendy responds by tackling Jacob, who is quickly reduced to a giggling mess.

Our 13 year old, Benjamin, has had quite enough of wrestling Mommy. He gets plain embarrassed when she tangles with him, especially because all 5’ 2” of her is competitive enough to still toss him around some.

Speaking of competition, my wife loves to coach the boys in athletics. Over the years, she’s mentored our kids in tee ball and soccer in addition to running them ragged in backyard basketball (she sucks at that sport, but enjoys harassing them on defense).

When it comes to fixing garbage disposals and door hinges, Wendy is the handy one. Ari loves to work alongside her with his own tool set, taking apart drawers and old toys for fun, showing how his engineering aptitude clearly comes from Mom.

I admit that some of these more traditionally male contributions tread on my ego as a dad. I’ve done a share of the wrestling and coaching, but when Wendy jumps in on these things, I feel a little left out. I’ve done everything from warning my wife that she might get hurt during the wrestling to nitpicking her methods on the field. And the day I tangled endlessly with the clogged toilet, reading instructions online and going through an assortment of plungers and coat hangers before I was flushed with success, I made sure to crow proudly to my sons that, yes, Daddy is a manly man who won’t be daunted by plumbing.

Fortunately, Wendy is big enough to let me work out my insecurities and deftly move to other ways of bonding with our boys. Among other things, she’s occasionally put aside her Twilight novels and headed down the path usually reserved for characters on The Big Bang Theory as she’s delved into science-fiction books and movies. This allows her to talk about aliens, wizards, and post-apocalyptic theories with Benjamin. Even in this gender blurring era, there aren’t too many mothers who can converse about wormholes and inter-galactic war.

Eventually, though, Wendy always returns to her moments of wishing she could interact with other females around the house (the dog and hamster just don’t do the trick). Frankly, I sometimes feel the same when I think of the missed opportunity to play the protective dad to a daughter or two.

But Wendy has gotten what she has always been well-suited for – a bunch of boys with whom she can put to good use all those years growing up as a girl who fit in with the guys. It’s helped her move past the occasional sexism in the workplace and it’s made her as strong as she is sensitive in other facets of her life. As a result, our boys see their mom as an example of how role models can come from both sides of the gender line. It’s the reason why this Mother’s Day is full of as many mud pies and bruises as Bath and Body Works. Wendy wouldn’t want it any other way. I know I wouldn’t.

Posted in Columns by Family Man, Humor, Marriage, Mother's Day | 1 Comment

What Dads Need to Know: My Seven-Year Peformance Review

By Heather Kempskie

I’ve been at this Mom-thing for seven years now. I haven’t had a performance review yet. No raise either. I decided to check in with my bosses (7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter) to see where I stood. What did I discover? There’s always room to improve.

Me: What is Mommy good at?

Son: Are you going to ask me what you’re bad at?

Me: Can we start with the good?

Son: You’re good at helping me clean my room.

Me: Now for the bad.

Son: You’re bad because you don’t let me play Wii every day.

Me: If I got paid to be your Mommy, how much would I get?

Son: One. One dollar.

Me: How long have I been your mom?

Son: 36 years.

Me: Can I have a raise?

Son: No. I don’t think so.

Me: Can I have some of your money?

Son. Nope. Well, maybe a penny.

Me: Anything else to add?

Son: If you let me play Wii everyday, you would be perfect. But for now, you’re still good.

Me: How old am I?

Daughter: 64

Me: Do I work hard?

Daughter: Some days.

Me: Do I deserve a raise? Some extra money?

Daughter: What? Do you think I’m rich?

Me: Am I getting anything for Mother’s Day?

Daughter: Yes.

Me: What is it?

Daughter: Can’t tell you.

Me: Give me a hint.

I better not be getting a jar of marmalade. Or could it be a pimped-out Escalade? Thank goodness this job comes with decent benefits. I get to feel the exhilaration of a goal scored by my son at a Saturday soccer game. I get to watch my favorite Disney movies over and over again with my daughter and not feel weird about it. I have Lucky Charms in my cabinet and have an excuse to visit McDonald’s at least once a week. I get bragging rights to everything my son and daughter do right. I get to blame my husband (and the traits he passed on to the kids) for all the things they do wrong. And if I continue make some improvements on the job front, I’m looking at a pretty sweet vacation in about 11 to 13 years from now.

Have a great Mother’s Day!

Heather Kempskie is a freelance Web producer with NECN and the co-author of The Siblings Busy Book.

Posted in Featured Moms & Dads, Humor, Mother's Day | Leave a comment