I was born in 1970 in Tel Aviv, Israel and moved to Pittsburgh in 1996 to pursue my master’s degree. Shortly after my arrival, I met a beautiful French woman named Michelle and fell in love. A year later, during a routine physical, I learned I had an irreversible and life-threatening kidney disease. I was 26 years old, and the doctor doubted that I’d see 30. In the face of this news, I refused to give up my dream of marrying Michelle and raising a multi-national family in the US.
Living on borrowed time, and despite everyone I knew telling me I was crazy, I decided to become a stay/work-at-home dad and shoulder most of the responsibility of caring for my son for his first year of life (and, potentially, the last 12 months of mine). I wanted to offer him proper guidance, using some very unconventional methods, through the first steps of his journey to becoming a fantastic kid and a great man—a journey I feared I might not be around to witness much of. I decided to write my book, The Diaper Chronicles – A stay at home dad’s quest for raising great kids, after I saw that many parents deal with situations that I found easily solvable.
What prompted you to become a stay-at-home dad?
After my diagnosis, my view of the world changed. Matters that once seemed so important to me became irrelevant—things like jewelry, designer clothes, sports cars, or the latest gadgets all seemed so useless and unnecessary when I knew that one morning, I might not wake up. Ego, envy, jealousy, showing off—why waste time on such trivialities? I made a complete mental change, realizing that the important things in life are family, good friends, good times, free time, telling my wife I love her every day, and tightening the relationship I have with my parents and siblings.
Now that I have two kids, I feel twice as strongly about my decision to become a stay-at-home dad. It gives me the opportunity to spend as much time with them as possible. I want to be a perfect dad. I want to give them so much. I want to love, hug, and enjoy them as much as I can.
It has been more than five years since my doctors first told me about my “best case” scenario, and I don’t feel like I’m in imminent danger of complete kidney failure. My doctor calls me the “miracle patient.” It has now been almost 15 years since I contracted this disease, and thankfully, there has been very little further deterioration, and I am still going strong.
What are some common misconceptions about stay-at-home dads?
I think that the biggest misconception about stay-at-home dads is that we could not possibly have that so called “maternal instincts”. Personally, I think that without those instincts, stay-at-home dads would not be able to care for the babies. However, society does not see us this way. To most people, a father with a baby screams VIP treatment—discrimination in a good way.
Luckily for us dads, society believes that a man handling a baby is probably distressed (as opposed to a mom who is expected to magically know everything about babies). People, especially women, will approach you with offers to help, talk or just chat. A dad with a baby in a stroller is a great way to receive offers to cut into lines and get faster to the cashier at a grocery store. If you are flying alone with the baby, you will be treated like royalty! Take advantage of it. Discrimination—being singled out and distinguished in a crowd—has never felt this good!
What are some of the baby topics you cover in your book?
The book describes a new philosophy for raising kids. I call this new philosophy: “Stop Treating Your Kids Like BABIES!” The book comes from a point of view that a baby is a living breathing human being just like the rest of us adults. But more importantly, a baby is a thinker as well. He can analyze situations and make proper decisions if only given the tools to do so. My philosophy entails that if you treat a baby like a little adult, you will be able to raise great, independent, self confident kids.
In this era, where parents do everything to overprotect their kids and shower them with useless toys, computer games and TV shows, I present an alternative way to raise a kid. My book covers issues such how to raise a child without “child proofing” the house, how to make kids love fruits and vegetables, how to give placebos to kids and not drug them with chemicals, how to take a baby on an international flight, how to potty train at 11 months and more. The book as a whole challenges many conventionalities that we believe are truths by showing that there is another, better way to raise happy kids.
What are some tips and advice you’d like to offer our readers?
The best tip I can offer the readers is to become a role model for their kids. Kids learn a lot from adults. They learn our speech patterns; they use our vocabulary; they mimic our gestures, absorb our fears and more. And so, if we pass them our traits unconsciously, why not take the obvious next step and start influencing them consciously? It is actually very simple and a proven method.
Eating habits-You want your kids to love eating vegetables, make sure that every meal served to the table contains a variety of vegetables. Make sure you eat them and lead by example.
Independence-You want your kids to become independent, show them how it is done. Let them help you around the house, teach them some basic skills, teach them how to talk to adults.
Responsibility-You want your kids to be responsible, start at an early age. Get them their own bag to carry to school and back. When you go shopping take them with you and make an event out of it. Ask them to help with the grocery list, finding items in the store, placing them in the cart and paying at the register.
Those are all simple things that we all do on a daily basis that our kids would just love to help us with and by doing so they learn more than you can imagine.