The Glorious Return of Beer Fire!

Setting up for Beer Fire!
Setting up for Beer Fire!

A few years ago, my friend and neighbor, Francesco, started inviting dads from our neighborhood to small social gatherings at his backyard fire pit to talk and have a few beers. We now call these meet-ups “Beer Fire.”

I love Beer Fire, and see it as a possible solution for the persistent problem that we busy working dads don’t often develop networks of friends to share their experiences with. As such, my second-ever blog post extolled the virtues of Beer Fire, and a good chunk of Chapter 12 of my book, The Working Dad’s Survival Guide, describes the benefits of informal dad networks and fun social time that Beer Fire and similar gatherings can foster. From my book:

Beer Fire is awesome– it’s relaxing; it’s fun, and I always learn a little something from everyone I talk to. For example, a neighbor and I discussed how much allowance is appropriate for our kids and how many chores our kids needed to do to earn it. In another conversation, I learned about local swimming and fencing programs. I even helped a dad develop a strategy for asking his boss for more work flexibility. The beer was pretty good, too….

Part of the success of Beer Fire is that it is not a formal group. No one distributes an agenda ahead of time, and the conversations flow organically. Yes, we talk about cars, sports and women. But, because the attendees are mostly of the same age group, live locally, and have kids of around the same age, the conversation naturally gravitates to what we all share in common – our careers, our kids, and how we try to juggle it all.

Another part of Beer Fire’s success is that it is represents a “guys’ night out.” We’re not a John Birch Society, the Little Rascals’ “He-Man Woman Hater’s Club” or Al Bundy’s “No Ma’am” group (from “Married with Children”). No drum circles or hazing rituals for us. However, I think it is important that Beer Fire is a comfortable place just for guys. This allows folks to open up a little more, and to discuss family issues more readily. I think that because even today’s modern dad sometimes sees “family issues” as a primarily women’s concern, we self-censor our discussion when moms are around. “After all”, we may think to ourselves, “my wife has an even tougher juggle than me. What right to I have to complain?”

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Advice From My Wife: An Excerpt From The Working Dad’s Survival Guide

We are officially 49 days away from the launch of The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home! The book is on the presses as we speak, and the wheels of promotion and commerce have begun to spin. I am incredibly excited!

book cover 3Chapter 12 of the book is entitled, “Building Your Fatherhood Network.” In it, I discuss the importance of building and maintaining friendships with fellow dads. The fact is that too many dads feel alone, and it gets harder to make friends as we get older and busier. Regular informal fun time with fellow dads provides a needed social outlet and the opportunity to share advice and support. Great stuff, if I do say so myself. 😉

Not long ago, I was reading a draft of Chapter 12 to Amy, when she made the following comment. It was so insightful that I typed it down, and now it is included in the book. Here goes:

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Beer Fire! Networking for Fatherhood (from the FWF vault)

Too many dads feel alone in their work-family struggles. If we spent the time on building informal support networks with fellow dads, we’d be better able to help each other. Here’s one way we do this in my neighborhood, and suggestions on how you can network for fatherhood.

Beer Fire! A fun a useful way to network with other dads
Beer Fire! A fun a useful way to network with other dads

(While I am away on a short family vacation, I thought it would be nice to post a favorite FWF article of mine from the very first week of the blog. Enjoy!)

My friend and neighbor, Francesco, who is a terrific dad, (and, more importantly, a loyal blog reader!), has a semi-regular tradition of inviting his local guy friends to hang out by the fire pit in his backyard with a cooler full of beer. We’ve come to calling this brilliant innovation BEER FIRE!

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How to Survive a Snow Day

When you have two working parents, unexpected days without school can really put you out. Snow days are awesome for kids. Not so for parents. By planning ahead, we can make them easier for us to handle.

Snow days are great for kids, but not so much for working parents!
Snow days are great for kids, but not so much for working parents!
(Disclaimer: I am recycling this article from the first snow day of last yea- it seems appropriate, given the weather across the Northeast. Stay safe and bundle up!)

Dear God, Don’t Let Them Cancel School!

Not long ago, I was awoken at 5am by the home telephone. Considering the time, and since no one (except my mom or telemerketers) calls me on the home phone, my disorientation turned to dread as I saw that it had begun to snow overnight. Before I could reach the phone, the answering machine picked up and I heard:

“This is an important message from the Nyack school district. Classes are cancelled for the day”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Amy has an audition in the city. I have class and some meetings at work. It’s not snowing so much that our work will be closed. Grrr. What are we going to do?

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Expert Perspectives: Five Reasons Why It’s A Great Time to be a Dad!

Hey, busy involved dad, are you feeling burned out? You are not alone- most dads are struggling to juggle work and family. But that’s a sign of progress. And in many ways this is the best of times to be a father. Guest author Jeremy Adam Smith explains five reasons why.

Guest author Jeremy Adam Smith
Guest author Jeremy Adam Smith

Jeremy Adam Smith writes on a variety of topics related to positive psychology and fatherhood and is the author of several books, including The Daddy Shift. You should really check out his work. In June, he wrote a great article “Five Reasons Why It’s a Good Time to be a Dad” which appeared at the Greater Good Science Center website. He was nice enough to allow me to excerpt it here at FWF. (Here’s a link to the full-length article.)

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Fantasy Football: “Time-Suck” to Avoid #2 (or, Cam Newton shouldn’t be ruining your life)

Time Suck– (n) Something that’s engrossing and addictive, but that keeps you from doing things that are actually important, like earning a living, or eating meals, or caring for your children. (from UrbanDictionary.com)

Don’t let this take over your weekend!

Perhaps the greatest challenge we all face in being both a good provider an a present father is that there never seems to be enough time in a day.  Our jobs and careers demand our time; our kids need a lot of us, too.  It is really hard to find the time.

It is also hard to find the energy necessary to be a great dad.  Stress, time demands, etc all seem to rob us of energy, and prevent us from being relaxed and present.

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We’re still digging out from Hurricane Sandy, so just a few quick thoughts today

First, please send prayers and any tangible help you can to coastal NYC- my hometown of Staten Island, as well as the Jersey Shore, Southern Long Island, and low-lying areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan are in really bad shape.  People lost their lives and homes, and many are without basic necessities.

All in all, my four days without power and heat is nothing to get worked up about. Everyone’s safe and unharmed and really that’s all that matters.

Luckily, my town had some big Halloween events, including our FANTASTIC PARADE last weekend, so we got to do great stuff like this ahead of the storm, even if trick-or-treating was a no-go.

The storm and my local community’s response to it illustrates a few Fatherhood, Work and Family issues I’d like to highlight.

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Golf: “Time-Suck” to Avoid #1 (or, the post in which I piss off half my readership)

This article was republished at the Good Men Project online men’s magazine.  Follow this link to the article.   Time Suck– (n) Something that’s engrossing and addictive, but that keeps you from doing things that are actually important, like earning a living, or eating meals, or caring for your children. (from UrbanDictionary.com) Perhaps the greatest … Read more

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