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Author of Father Figure: How to Be a Feminist Dad ( Twitter: @jordosh

Competing against your kids can be another way of dominating them

Photo by John Money on Unsplash

It’s so easy for every day, run-of-the-mill parenting practices to pile up — one small misstep stacks atop the others — reinforcing problematic cultural conventions. Fatherly intentions are often pure, but we inadvertently teach our kids to conform with a sexist status quo. Especially when it comes to the familiar tropes of masculinity, problematic habits of mind are hard to recognize. Sometimes, we even avoid looking altogether because self-reflection can lead to cognitive dissonance; we might discover that our well-meaning actions betray our social values.

For me, it started last December. My partner Amanda and I bought our kids a…

It’s never easy to acknowledge one’s own problematic behaviors, especially when it comes to courtship, romance, and sex. We’ll gaslight ourselves right out of self-reflection.

Photo by Parker Gibbons on Unsplash

I told a former lover that I wrote a book about being a feminist dad. “I’ll read it,” they said. “But I don’t know if I can take it seriously. I remember what you were like when you were younger.”

It’s true, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. I can’t deny it. Looking back now, I’m ashamed of the inappropriate ways I’ve behaved. I don’t claim to be perfect — not even to have achieved peak-feminist consciousness. Instead, I’m just working to recognize how a patriarchal culture socialized me in problematic ways. I’m doing my best to…

Photo by Jyrki Nieminen on Unsplash

The surprising way testosterone actually relates to “masculinity”

You were probably taught that testosterone is responsible for characteristics commonly associated with masculinity. Supposedly, testosterone makes men assertive and competitive. It’s why they seek out social status and pursue multiple sexual partners. It’s the reason men prioritize acquiring material wealth. And it’s why they’re driven to defend their homesteads.

Yes, testosterone often gets the credit for a father’s inclination to protect his spouse and offspring. But the custodial instinct has nothing to do with nurturing or caring, since those qualities are usually imagined to be the exclusive domain of feminine estrogen. Instead, testosterone makes Dad the family’s guardian because…

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It’s time to teach children about power dynamics, not gendered views of what it means to be a man

It seems like a lot of men have the maturity of middle schoolers. I don’t have any empirical evidence to prove so, but when I listen to the young teenagers who live in my house, the things they say sound a heck of a lot like the rhetoric I hear from some of the grown men on cable news.

That means either my kids are gifted, or many adults are stunted. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. My children still exhibit a developmentally appropriate lack of basic executive function skills — they can’t remember to put their dirty dishes in…

People in positions of power, such as authors and publishers, must be willing to make inconvenient choices

For me, writing happens alone. It’s an isolated and independent process. My ideas are transmitted through my fingers to my keyboard — a cold, lifeless companion that I adore. My teenaged gamer-children taught me about mechanical Kaihua Speed Bronze switches, loud and clicky with a tactile bump. Switches are what register the keystroke. Mine sit underneath specially curved ABS plastic keycaps, perfectly designed for dorky authors. The keyboard is a nostalgic, 21st century remake of the iconic seafoam green Hermes typewriter that so many famous authors used (Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Patti Smith, and more). …

Available May 11. To preorder visit

My new book, Father Figure: How to Be a Feminist Dad, will be published on May 11 — many months from now. But I’ve already started promoting it. Almost every day, I’m recording podcast interviews, or responding to emails and calls from journalists. The other night, I participated in my first ever event on the trendy new Clubhouse app.

The transition from writing to promoting is the weirdest part of being an author. If you think Facebook creates an echo chamber, try living with only your own ideas long enough to finish a book. …

Real questions submitted by parents and caretakers who are trying to navigate their children’s education, entertainment, and emotional well-being during COVID-19.

Answers from Jordan Shapiro PhD., author of The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World (Little Brown Spark, 2019).

How much do you tell your kids about what’s happening during the coronavirus crisis?

Unless you’re going to turn off the news and never talk about it on the phone or during a video conference, you can’t hide what’s happening from your children. They overhear everything and they jump to their own conclusions. They’re also experiencing the coronavirus crisis in their own very real way. With school, extracurriculars, and play-dates disrupted…

Their habits simply mirror ours

Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

Doors slam quickly when I return home after picking up my 11- and 14-year-old sons from school. They’re not angry or depressed, but they seem to crave some time alone on weekday afternoons. I guess they need opportunities to be liberated from the social stress of the everyday school routine. And their preferred way to do that is online. I sympathize, but I also can’t help but be annoyed.

Within minutes, I can hear the muffled sound of YouTube videos blasting from my sons’ smartphones. After a while, they transition out of the spectator role, and I cringe hearing them…

So-called dopamine hacking is more sales pitch than science. What matters isn’t how our attention is captured, but what we pay attention to.

Illustration: Rebekka Dunlap

Earlier this month, during a visit to a YMCA in London, Prince Harry argued that Fortnite should be banned, complaining that the video game is “created to addict, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible.” The prince is just the most recent in a long line of folks who worry about what digital technology is doing to our brains. …

Reasonable Doubt

I don’t believe my son about his Xbox Live suspension. He doesn’t believe me about his early years.

Credit: Malte Mueller/Getty Images

“Please don’t talk about this in some interview,” my 11-year-old pleaded with me.

We were wrapping up a long text message exchange about his online behavior. And I’d bet, if you asked him, it felt more like a lecture than a discussion.

Earlier in the day, I found a “notice of Xbox Live enforcement action” in my email inbox. My son’s communication privileges had been suspended for 28 hours because another player reported “abusive or offensive language.” The notice provided very few facts for me to consider, so I immediately sent a message to him at his mom’s house (we…

Jordan Shapiro

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