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BOOK REVIEW: "Rad Dad"

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"Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood"
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BOOK
REVIEW

RAD
DAD: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood
 edited by Tomas Moniz and Jeremy Adam Smith (PM
Press) 2011

As a new father of two adopted boys, both under the
age of 5, I knew that I was going to have my hands full, in addition to running
this news-n-views website. Yes, I’m a pretty political guy, for anyone who is
familiar with Red Dirt Report. I don’t hesitate to share my views and sometimes
I piss people off. But as a reporter and analyst, I feel that is my duty.

And now with the duty of raising two boys, I wanted
to find that balance. That’s where the book Rad
Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood
comes in. Until just
recently I was unfamiliar with the award-winning ‘zine Rad Dad or the rad blog Daddy
Dialectic
. However, I was familiar with Washington D.C. activists Mark
Andersen (of Positive Force and author of Dance
of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capital
) and of course
punk-rock icon Ian MacKaye of the bands Fugazi and Minor Threat. These were
guys – now fathers - I respected and admired and when I came across info on
this book Rad Dad I knew I had to get
it.

And while it was a little meandering in parts, the overall
book is a gem and well-worth picking up. Split up into sections – “Birth,
Babies and Toddlers,” “Childhood,” “Tweens and Teens,” “Politics of Parenting:
Gender, Race, Allies, Visions,” “and “Interviews with Rad Dads” – the editors –
blogger Jeremy Adam Smith and Rad Dad
‘zine creator Tomas Moniz – take us on a journey through the various stages of
a child’s development and the different way radical fathers raise their
children.

For instance, the aforementioned Mark Andersen, an
adoptive father, talks about his son Soren and says, “I accept the overriding
imperative to provide Soren with love, respect and security he needs and
deserves every day, as a new person, learning as he goes along, dealing daily
with the newest challenge … For example, I regularly expose my son t anthews of
my would-be-revolution, including the Clash, Fugazi, Chumbawamba, Bikini Kill,
and more. But if the first song Soren ever heard was “Destroy Babylon” by Bad Brains,
other tunes now rule our house and my own subconscious.” Andersen explains that
while children’s songs like “Pop Goes the Weasel” can run on an “endless loop,”
if allowed, but what makes it fun for father and son is changing lyrics –
making them meaningful, even if it’s personalizing classics like “Old McDonald.”

Another contributor, Jason Sperber, talks about “Seeing
Pink” and how he wanted to raise his daughter – his “babygrrl” – to be a “fierce,
strong woman of color.” But then he laments how gender norms – girls like pink
and boys like blue – bombard children at an early age and how its silly and
pointless. “I’m tired of seeing pink,” writes Sperber. “I’m rired I’m seeing
blue. And I’m both pissed off and saddened deeply that at age three, my
daughter and her friends, both girls and boys, have already learned to see
those colors, and what they are supposed to mean, so well.”

Chip Gagnon, another “rad dad,” addresses “boys and
militarism” and how he had to explain to his son that playing war and real war
are not the same thing, writing, “he understands that the reality of war is not
a game.”

And this is just some of what we hear from these politically-charged,
progressive fathers who want to make a difference for their children. And these
fathers are straight, gay, transgendered, divorced and more.

For instance, editor Moniz, a self-described “feminist
father, a rad dad, a militant antiracist,” says that while you may “lose the
battle” in raising your children to be loving and accepting of all people, you
end up “winning the war” by living out your values in their presence and not
changing who you are. After all, Moniz notes that kids spend only a fraction of
time under the influence of their parents, compared to the influence they
experience from media and society.

Writes Moniz: “I realize that all I can do is be the
example of leading a life the way I think I should.” All the while giving your
kids the “tools” to fight on for themselves in an ever-changing world.

Later in the book, Moniz interviews Ian MacKaye and
one of his questions to MacKaye is “any advice to new parents?” (I read his
answer with great interest – having never forgotten seeing Fugazi live in
Lawrence, Kansas in 1991 – a show that blew my mind)

Responds MacKaye: “Trust yourself. It’s natural. You
just figure thinkgs out as you and the child develop; if the kid’s crying, you
hold him, if he’s hungry, you feed him. And take the kid for a walk!”

Ian MacKaye never bullshits and is always about
getting straight to the point. And he’s absolutely right. It’s pretty simple
and even in this society – with the crass advertising aimed at kids and the
lousy movies and TV shows and corporate junk, it’s good to know that there are
ways to raise your kids while staying true to your values and beliefs. Rad Dad is a great guide and one I hope
all new fathers will take the time to read.

To check out the Rad
Dad
blog, go to www.raddadzine.blogspot.com.

Copyright
2013 Red Dirt Report

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About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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