The day this whole thing nearly fell apart
BillyK to the rescue!
The New Fatherhood explores the existential questions facing modern fathers, bringing together the diverse community of forward-thinking dads who are asking them. My aim is to make this the best email you get every week (or a few times this week.) If you value it, consider subscribing. You'll also be invited to join a private community of like-minded dads. And it’s $10 off, this week only!
Yesterday was a good day! Well, apart from when it almost wasn’t.
I peeled back the wrapping on The "New" New Fatherhood and asked if you'd consider subscribing. Some of you did so—thank you so much. Others got in touch and asked if they could gift them to other new dads—great idea, why didn't I think of that? You can now do that here.
Then a few of you tried to pay, and then asked me why I wouldn't take their cash.
Honestly. Paul from Dadditude hit me up: "I'm trying to buy a subscription but keep getting this error: This account cannot currently make live charges."
Time to panic. I was sure I'd set everything up correctly. Triple checked. I'd tested absolutely everything. Apart from … actually paying for a subscription. It turns out there was an issue with Stripe. So I hopped onto their customer support. It was BillyK, to save the day. “Go find a utility bill in your apartment, stat. Hold it up the camera. Let me take a picture of it.” And now we’re good. (Didn't cross my mind at the time, but as I'm writing this story down, I’m realising it has a very "Nigerian Prince wants to give you lots of money" vibe to it.)
I ended the day on a high. Paid to write. Feels like a real achievement. All my life I’ve been paid to think, not make. The curse of the white collar worker isn’t the worst problem in the world, making money with your brain and not your hands. But last night I realised it was the first time I’d ever been paid for something I’ve made—unless pulling a pint counts? I’ve always been in this strange world of technology / advertising where you’re valued more for how you think than what you actually do. So I woke up thinking about those of you who are willing to pay me to write. It’s something I never would have imagined would happen. And it feels great.
I was showing my wife the email notifications last night. “People are paying!” I told her. She looked at me with a “of course they did” look. She knew. Because before you actually did, I had no idea that any of you would.
Anyway. Thank you. Again. If you enjoy The New Fatherhood (and want to join what’s already feeling like a great place to hang out in the private community) please consider subscribing—it's the equivalent of buying me a beer a month, and will go towards funding all the exciting stuff I've got planned for us.
3 things to read this week
"Workism" is a term for the rising importance we're placing on work as a source of meaning. And it's making us terrible parents: "Should we really be surprised that job-friendly families have fewer children? Don't make the mistake of thinking only about women in the workforce: We found that while women who valued work more had fewer children, the effect was even larger among men who valued their career very highly. When work becomes the centerpiece of life, the most valuable things in life suffer."
Wondering how you'll be when all this is over? You can be whoever you want: "Researchers have found that adults can change the five traits that make up personality — extroversion, openness to experience, emotional stability, agreeableness and conscientiousness — within just a few months. The traits are connected, so changing one might lead to changes in another ... Remember that your personality is more like a sand dune than a stone."
The Mandate Letter is a Substack from Jason Rogers on the evolving state of masculinity. Lots to love over there, I devoured this post on how Impossible Meat and Beyond Meat are battling to overcome a common enemy: the red-meat powered male ego.
That last one took a while, but we're reading Greek myths at bedtime so I got there eventually.
One thing to watch with the kids this week
I've always loved playing instruments, but haven't pushed them too heavily on my own kids—I don’t want to become the clichéd parent, living my unfulfilled dreams through my kids. But this video makes a good argument to get your little ones to pick up some kind of instrument: musicians are scientifically proven to have better memory, executive function skills and problem solving abilities.
Hey! Listen to this!
I've been diving deep into the On Being archives over the last few weeks, and can highly recommend this discussion on love and relationships with Alain de Botton.
"So in other words, it’s when we are in love with people and they’re in love with us that we take particular offense when they get things wrong. Because the kind of the governing assumption of the relationship is, this person should know what’s in my mind, ideally without me needing to tell them. If I need to spell this out to you, you don’t love me. The reason is that they should be able to read through the bathroom panel into your soul and know what’s wrong. And that’s such an extraordinary demand."
He did another on the things he loves about religion (as an atheist) that’s worth your time too.
Finding the best parenting stuff on TikTok so you don't have to.
Remember how it felt to make friends at the office? Now husbands just stay at home and choose death. A warning to stop watching TikTok in front of the kids. And another reminder why your kids shouldn’t watch YouTube alone. The dangers of sharing your feelings with your kids. Then getting all up in mine about my daughter growing up. Here's what I'll be like picking her up from a rave. Errrr … is anyone else's wife thirsty? For water, not the other thing. Wash your brain out. Then fill it back up with the vibiest ABC you’ve ever heard. That escalated quickly. So did this. And washing it all down with a nice glass of juice.
Previously on The New Fatherhood
Last Friday (which already feels like it was a month ago) I asked "did having kids change how you feel about work?” A fascinating conversation, as always.
"For me it’s actually made me focus more on work. I’ve been slack (for want of a better term) about pursuing my goals in work and have settled for slightly crappier jobs than I might have done. Having a kid has made me consider who I want to be as a dad which has included wanting to have more integrity about what I do for work (and therefore have the courage to take some risks to work how I want to work)." Andrew
"My priorities shifted almost overnight and my acceptance of and appetite for extended hours and late evenings decreased almost as quickly. I don't feel like my employers have had a similar change in perspective though, and while there is a lot of supportive policy language around flexibility, this does not appear to translate to real-world impact. There is still an expectation that I will be able to deliver in the same way I could before having children." Jellson
"I’m a doctor in training and had dedicated my life to my career and progression. I always thought I would put my family first but didn’t really know what that meant. When my son was born, my wife was very sick. (Everyone is okay now). It was a really scary time. I think having that sudden and stark realisation of what is important really accelerated my change in perspective. Now, work is work. I think before my son was born I was worried that putting my family first and work second would change my ‘purpose’ or ‘role’. I guess it has - but in the right way. For me, the career is meaningless, my job is my family now. And actually, this realisation will make me a better doctor." Hamish
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