Identity theft is real. Share this with your loved ones.

If you care for your privacy or your families identity then you’re going to want to take a few moments to learn of my personal battle with Instagram. Whether you are a parent or not, this equally applies. If you know what catfish is, then you’ll have an inkling about how this story is going to unfold…

Becoming a dad was an unbelievably exciting moment for me (almost 2 1/2 years ago now) and it triggered my dad-brain. For those of you unaware of a dad-brain – it’s a clinically-real phenomenon that involves a hormonal change in a man’s brain when he actively engages as a hands-on dad. It involves an increased release of oestrogen – you can read the full details in The Boy Crisis book.

Anyways, I pondered for many months about sharing photos of my son online and in fact refrained from sharing any photos of Finn until after his first birthday. A large part of my motivation was to protect him from identity theft and online creeps but after reading The Happiest kids in the World I decided that parenting was more about risk assessment rather than risk avoidance. After all, what are the chances of someone actually cyber stalking me and my family?

And so – the Modern Dad IG account became a place where I shared my dad-journey with my followers. Within six months I had over 10,000 followers and wanted to use my channel as a place to connect with other parents, empower men to be hands-on dads and raise awareness of issues that were important to me. It all appeared to go great and I enjoyed the online parent community. However, I haven’t posted much in the last few weeks and I’ve started the process of removing all photos of Finn’s face. Why!? You might ask. Well, I was contacted by a woman around six weeks ago via Instagram direct message – she wasn’t a follower and so the message went into Instagram‘s version of Junkmail. She said we needed to talk as someone was impersonating me and blackmailing people. After a few more messages from her by email and Facebook I wrote back but was vigilant as I couldn’t be sure of her motives or if she was legitimate.

After several messages back and forth it appears that this lady and other women have been contacted via Instagram by a man using my images of Finn and I. These women subsequently fell in love with this “person” and this then lead to a digital relationship involving written exchanges of affection and nude photos.

The guy, known as Barry Woods, from Toronto would claim that his wife left him and the toddler, and took all of their money. He then sought financial support. If the woman refused to send money he would then blackmail her and in some cases he actually sent the woman’s naked photos to her friends or family via social media. This whole situation left me feeling sick. I just couldn’t imagine someone stealing photos of my son and using them to blackmail people. I started investigating and discovered a number of accounts using Finn and I as a guise. I reported them to Instagram and they shut the accounts down. I also contacted NetSafe, which is New Zealand’s place to go for online safety. Other concerns started to arise as this lady who claimed to be a lawyer from London spoke of the mans ties to Turkey, and his his possible sympathising with particular ideologies. It is now very clear to me that there are gangs or groups of people who earn millions of dollars through identity theft and fraud. They do not care who gets hurt along the way and they operate from behind a computer screen.

A lot of my recent reading has revolved around father-involvement in a child’s life and how critical a male role model can be in a child’s upbringing – particularly for boys. Boys who are unfortunate enough to lack a positive hands-on dad every single day (or at least 50-50 shared custody with mum) are far more likely to be delinquent, end up in prison, struggle at school, suffer emotionally and struggle in relationships. In fact, boys are six times more likely than girls to commit suicide from adolescence onwards. Read more on this in Warren Farrell’s amazing book.

Initially I felt angry that a man or a group of men (although some women obviously do this too) would steal my identity and use my sons face as a method to blackmail others. But as time has passed it has led me to transform my thinking. I am grateful for the incredible community around my family, genuine love and support from real, caring people. Community, is an essential element of well-being, a key ingredient to a purposeful and meaningful life here on earth. I feel sadness and pity for the individuals who sit behind screens and steal peoples identities. These people have not experienced the love of a father that I have. These people have no experience of boundary enforcement from their fathers like I did. They did not experience honest criticism and feedback from their father when they messed up like I did. I am imperfect and I strive to learn more, improve my contribution to society and admit my inadequacies. These keyboard warriors and criminals are drawn to gangs and crime because they are so desperate for a father figure, someone to lead them. Sadly they perceive their membership in a gang as worthy, giving them meaning. But as you and I know, nothing replaces being genuine and living in an ethical way. When you are wrong, admit it. When you make a mistake, learn from it. We all make mistakes. But these followers will never become leaders to their families or communities. Instead they will continue the negative spiral of fatherhood and pass down their moral compass to their sons and grandson‘s.

I have learned from this incident and I still don’t know what shape Modern Dad is going to take moving forward. I just know that my responsibility is to take care of my family. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Here’s to showing gratitude to our communities. Be thankful for those whom you spend real in-person time with. Stay safe online. Stay vigilant. And applaud those dads whom you see doing a great job. For it is the greatest and most rewarding part of a man’s life.

James

Check out this article on staying safe online.

Parents need a little bit of the green stuff.

So, being a parent can be an absolute rollercoaster. Lots of highs, and some lows, and most certainly lots of sleepless nights. It can be draining on the body – so wouldn’t it be only fair if we dabbled in a bit of the green stuff to keep us on track?

Now, you hippie – parents, I’m not talking about the Jamaican green – I’m talking about ultimate nutrition. We need to try and ensure we get the essential nutrients in our bodies so that we can function in a healthy state. How many of you feel knackered at 6 PM and struggle to whip up a healthy, nutritious meal? How many of you know what basic vitamins and minerals you are missing? Well please don’t reach for your vitamin capsules, they really don’t offer you what you need. Yes, they are convenient but so is McDonald’s. Recently, I discovered Nutrient Rescue. It really piqued my interest.

1) It’s New Zealand made/grown

2) It’s a whole food

3) It’s largely organic

4) The science behind it passed my test

I decided to buy a one month starter Pack of the green and red shots. It arrived the next day, along with a shot glass and a mixing container. Some of you may think you’ve ordered a margarita park when it arrives – but trust me – this is way more exciting. Lisa and I are taking one green and one red shot every morning. The ‘shot’ – it’s plain and simple. You take 1 teaspoon of powder and a shot of water – shake it up, gulp it down and away you go. The ‘powder’ is golden – full of wholefood plant and fruit product – the taste is honest. No artificial sweetness. So the green one tastes like veggies and the red one like tangy currants. No bullshit – just honest, raw goodness.

After a week of consuming the Nutrient Rescue shots – I’m actually feeling a difference. It’s just a small shift, but noticeable – and Lisa has reported similar feelings. I’m feeling more energetic – instead of feeling drained at 8:30 PM and reaching for a cuppa, I’m motivated to read, write and be more productive. Instead – reaching for water and thus having a better sleep. I totally forgot to take my shot yesterday morning, and at 2 PM started to feel absolutely drained. I then recalled that I had forgot my nutrient rescue, so instead of reaching for a coffee, I grabbed my shot glass and it kept me going throughout the day. I have chatted to people here in my local community and several have spoken of their teenage children clearing up acne simply by implementing the green shot into their daily routine. No antibiotics, or expensive creams – just raw, natural, whole foods. Groundbreaking and positive for our bodies.

I’m excited to continue on the journey and share my experiences with you. In the meantime – please check out the science – and jump over to the nutrient rescue site. (please note – this link is not an affiliate link where I make a cut if you buy – it’s a plain old simple URL. I’m sharing this information about nutrient rescue because I think nutrition is important and it is what humanity needs and deserves. This is not a promotional advert, I have bought the product myself and enjoy it immensely).

Enjoy your green stuff!

Don’t read this if you’re a helicopter parent.

So if you’re a helicopter, hyper-politically-correct, perfect parent – don’t read this. This is for all you normal folks out there

I love my son to the moon and back, 20 times over. He is just amazing. My wife and I are totally in love with him. But we also realise that for this to work for Finn – we need to first and foremost have a healthy, loving relationship. And just to be clear, I am not suggesting we are the perfect couple, because I don’t believe anyone is. If we end up spending every waking moment committed to Finn then we won’t have the time needed to devote to each other. ‘Couple time’ is a real thing, and an essential ingredient for a functional relationship. Divorce is ugly, trust me, no kid wants to experience that. And yes, some couples are better not together, but I think every relationship needs work. It needs input. It requires good old-fashioned time and effort.

From about five or six months old, Lisa and I decided to take the leap of faith and let Finn have a sleep over with auntie Donna and uncle Jason – and it was the best decision for Finn, but also for us. Now, hand on heart, I will be honest – the first time he was sleeping over I cried. Yep, you heard me right. I missed the little dude! But I saw him the next day and he wasn’t phased – he had an amazing night and didn’t miss us one bit. He also developed a wonderful bond with people other than us. We feel this is such a valuable part of Finns upbringing. The world is populated by humans. A vital part of living a happy life is being able to love other humans, interact with others and respect others. We know some parents who have 12-year-olds who have not had a night away from them. And yes, a small percentage of these people might not have an option – but a large percentage of these people just don’t want to let go. They want their little darlings to stay in the nest for the first 30 years of their lives. But let’s get real – giving your child the opportunity to be independent of you from the earliest possible time is a positive thing. Don’t you want to give them the opportunity sooner rather than later? Some studies show children who don’t have parent-free time with family/friends on a regular basis before the age of 10 show higher signs of anxiety, dependence and are more likely to struggle with forming long-term friendships or relationships. Interesting, right?! You can come to your own conclusion, but for me – Finn deserves to have his independence from us.

Now, to look at it from a parent angle. We need our independence from our kids too. I see too many parents who are dependent on their kids. Yep, for real. Give your head a good shake if you’re one of these parents.

Lisa and I decided to go to the next level… For her birthday last December we booked a romantic trip to the South Pacific island of Vanuatu. Just the two of us. Little Finn – he had a grand old time with auntie Donna and uncle Jason. We FaceTimed every day, and the little dude was having so much fun he couldn’t care less that we were not there. We had the greatest time at the beautiful Coco Beach resort (thanks to Brenda Ogilvie at Mondo travel for arranging it all) – sipping cocktails, reading books, watching sunsets and generally reconnecting. It was pure magic. Variety is the spice of life – and as couples – we need to keep our relationships the number one priority. If we have a solid foundation, our kids will have a much better platform upon which to build positive relationships with others. How often do you hear of a girl marrying or dating a guy who is chauvinist, aggressive and selfish only to find out that her dad was the same type of guy. Whether you like it or not – the relationship you have with your partner will be a model for your children and their future relationships. Being that clingy, smothering, overprotective helicopter parent will not give your child an opportunity to build resilience and character. Balance is the key – make sure you find that balance. We are all different, and that’s what keeps our world interesting. Please let our world continue to be diverse – start by letting your children use their noses to sniff out the exciting things in life. Encourage them to take risks. Be their parent – not their master. Now, go pour yourself a brewski and catch up with your partner.

Dad’s don’t need to make New Year’s resolutions.

Do Dads really have to commit to resolutions each January like millions of others? Hell no. We really don’t want to do something silly like that. We all know the facts – reality kicks in, on or before, the second week in February and the new diet, attitude, idea, gym plan goes right out the window. Unless you are a one percenter, and if you are, you won’t need resolutions you will be one high achiever, wealthy, fit, billionaire. Now, before you get your keyboard-warrior pants on, and start firing at me with your life lessons and passionate diatribe, hear me out.

As a dad, what is our role? Think about it. For each of us it’s probably slightly different. For me, it’s being present. I am highly focused on being present as much as I can – all of the time. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect – far from it. Just ask the wife! But for me, there are no quick fixes as a dad. Or as a mum for that matter. I believe for me to be better, I need to know and understand what my principles are as a Dad. What are my core beliefs? What will leave a positive lasting impact on my child and my family? These things cost very little money, none in fact. Time is thee most valuable commodity on the planet. If we could buy more time, would we not? I certainly would. Finn is growing up at a ridiculous rate – too fast! But each day I try to be present – savouring tiny precious little moments and relishing in them. My biggest pain-in-the-arseism is my phone. It’s like a nagging little leprechaun on my shoulder begging me to play with it. Since Finn joined us in 2016, one of my biggest focuses has been phone-use reduction. I want more time with Finn and less time with social media. I made some rules for myself. Like only checking email twice each day for a maximum of 15 minutes, letting more calls go to voicemail and bulk deleting them and returning calls 1st to family and friends, second to customers and everyone else after that.

This kind of shift is gradual but it ends up showing your child that you are present with them, they shouldn’t be fighting for attention with your phone for goodness sake! My wife’s cousin was at a game watching her child play. She decided to put her phone down, savour the game and count how many times her child looked up to see her. Her kid looked up 20 times to see if her mum was watching her. What if she had been glued to her phone instead? What kind of message would that have sent her child?

What do our kids need from us? New years resolutions? Lots of Christmas presents? No no and 20 more No’s!!

They need consistent love and attention. Be that Dad. Don’t be the deadbeat, self centred, ego-driven maniac dad. There is already about 3 billion of those guys. Why shoot for mediocrity? Aim higher. Our kids need that.

Finn’s New Abode

It’s been a day or two since I put pen to paper (or whatever the digital equivalent is!), but for good reason. We’ve uplifted our lives and shifted them over the last few weeks. And yes, my Instagram account has suffered … but I’m committed to reaching 7K followers within the next 7 days. Lol. I can’t have my followers thinking I’ve checked out. 

It’s been an epic few weeks, moving from our family home into our school boarding house. Lisa is loving her new position as Assistant House Manager. It happens to be at the same school where I’m teaching drums – major bonus for my commute! I was wondering how Finn would handle the transition. The first week was rough, really rough. We had a trip to the after hours, 5 trips to the GP and a bazillion millilitres of babymeds. It was torturous and Finn was not his usual self. But this past week has been epic. He’s back to his usual cheeky self. 

Reflecting on the past few weeks has forced me to consider what impact this new life might have on Finn in his early years. I have to highlight that Lisa nor I have any blood-family here in New Zealand. We are so lucky to have a few amazing friends though, and they have adopted Finn as one of their own. But thinking about the boarding scenario … it’s awesome. I’m struggling to pinpoint any negatives. Finn is now surrounded by a huge amount of older brothers and sisters. His new living room is the Common Room and his new backyard is several acres of playing fields and sports grounds. He’s already made a few BFFs at the dining room. Dinner for Finn is one huge social occasion. His most favourite people are Aunty Alice, Didi and Molly. I blogged a few months back about the old one-liner “It takes a village to raise a child”. And I’m truly seeing the truth in that right now. These new people in Finn’s life are going to have a profound impact on his childhood. I’m so grateful that Finn gets this amazing opportunity. 

I have no doubt that there will be many hilarious stories to be told of Finn’s upbringing at the Boarding House. Stay posted!

James

Dom Perignon and Runny Nappies.

Well, she’s been one big old week. If life was a roller coaster – I’ve just experienced it first hand. All in all though it’s been a cracker. 

Rewinding to last Saturday : Lisa and I were celebrating some epic news. Hold your horses folks … no baby news … we aren’t planning or hoping for anything on that front! We cracked the Dom Perignon to mark a very special day – the day that we found out Lisa got an amazing job offer. It’s an absolutely amazing job and the whole experience for Lisa (and for us two lads) will be so cool. I’ll be sure to blog about it as our lifestyle is about to change substantially. We’ll be well and truly surrounded by culture, community and awesomeness. More on that front soon. 

But the next day wasn’t so flash. Don’t be running to conclusions though – it wasn’t a hangover or anything silly like that. Lisa started puking (and the rest that accompanies the stomach flu) Sunday afternoon. Then our friends got the bug and Finny had the runs too. Ever had a Thai Laksa? Well that perfectly matched his nappies. I was the only one feeling chipper. I couldn’t figure out why it had skipped me but I was counting my lucky stars. Must be the luck of the Irish?!

Lisa started to pick up a few days later. Then suddenly I felt a strange wave rush over me after dinner Tuesday night. And the fun began. Irish luck turned to Murphy’s Law. It was shocking. I can’t go in to detail – you might never return to my blog! But I have to say, we were bloody lucky that we didn’t both get sick at the same time. I honestly don’t know how we would have coped with the little guy that night. We would have had to call in the troops. But then you feel like you don’t want to ask anyone for help because you don’t want them to get sick … it’s a dilemma. What would you do??!!

Anyways – the week is coming to a close and I’m managing to keep down my Green Tea and crumpets so that’s just marvellous. 
Finn is still delivering vindaloo a little too often in those nappies of his but the Doctor assures me it will pass. For now, he’s been banned from Daycare. But for all the right reasons! It’s important as parents we don’t spread this sh$t around (literally) – so make sure you respect your daycare’s policies and also invest in some hand sanitiser and a gas mask!

Till next time.

James
Instagram Mayhem

Sorry Ladies.

It’s a well known fact that women are much more organised, much cleaner and more hygienic than us blokes. Now that’s a generalisation but it’s mostly true. Why on earth is that? Do blokes just push these essentials down the priority list? It’s a little disgusting when you start to look at the details. 

A tip for you ladies out there – don’t ever shake a mans hand. Ever. Do what the Japanese do and offer a little bow, or do as the cool kids do and offer a fist pump. Why am I telling you this? Well – I’m a slightly OCD hygiene freak. I hate germs and I hate smells. The thought of BO has me running for the deodorant. Chewing gum is an essential part of my daily kit. Dettol wipes are everywhere. And I wash my hands 20+ times a day.

You ladies must wonder what goes on in the male toilets. Well maybe not, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Blokes will do their essential toilet ablutions, and then proceed to head on out the door without any form of hand washing. Lads will do number twos and forget to wash their hands. I sh#t you not! Not every male does this, but from experience I would say I witness 8/10 males not washing their hands after they go to the toilet. It is absolutely rotten. They are the same blokes that hand over a $20 note to the oblivious cashier for their lunch. The same blokes who shake your hand in the boardroom only a few minutes after walking out of the toilet. Sorry for painting this terrible picture! But it’s time that things change. 

Ladies – I ask you to chat to your bloke about this post. He will likely tell you he always washes his hands but the numbers don’t lie – 8/10 DO not wash their hands. 
I for certain don’t want to be shaking the sweaty, grimey hands of these blokes and then carrying their germs home to my family. 

Sort it out lads. It’s time to be a modern bloke. Use the handwash, and start your sons young with this habit. Change starts at home.

James
Check out the epic Modern Dad Instagram Feed.

The Terrible Twos… a year too early!?

Who hasn’t heard of the “terrible twos”!? We’ve all heard of those tantrum-fuelled horror stories. Those supermarket moments where the little rascal lays down across the shopping aisle screaming bloody murder. I’ve even witnessed scenes like this unfolding and I’ve always thought that the parents need a wake up call and ought to learn to discipline their child. However, times have changed. I am now THAT parent being glared at by the mid-20s non-parent. Yup, role reversal is legit. 
For those of you who know me, you will know that I am merely twelve months into this parenting malarkey. A few months back I was told that Finn was “advanced”. It’s the old one-liner that every parent just loves to hear. But honestly, I think he is just downright outsmarting me. He is very switched on and knows exactly how to get what he wants. 
The Sky TV remote is like Finn’s little fix. It’s his mission to successfully pilfer the remote, and proceed to change the channel. If he notices that the TV channel has changed he will start scanning the room like a hungry Eagle spotting dinner, just so he can see who has his favourite toy. I often think I’m outsmarting him and try to change the channel then attempt to hide the remote under a pillow. But I swear he has eyes on the back of his head. Within 30 seconds he has tracked down his prey!
As of late, I have noticed Finn belting out his hideous scream. It’s frightfully unbearable. It’s usually when he’s munching on a cracker and he spots a Chicken Curry on my plate. Once he realises that I am on superior fodder it’s game over. Once he gets what he wants he instantly cuts out the screaming and seamlessly breaks into a little chuckle. 
How on earth do we sort this little rascal out? Honestly – it is so funny at times. But I don’t want to be that parent who constantly appeases their child. The last thing I wish for is a gaming-addicted, self righteous teenager. And I’m told 10 years goes by in a flash. 
If you have any genius parenting discipline tips for Hurricane Finn, please feel free to share!
James 
Modern Dad

The Smoking Preggers

Bogan MumLet’s rewind fifty years when it was more “OK” to smoke while pregnant. What a time to be alive. Well not really. The education back then regarding the affects of smoking may not have been quite as extensive as it is today. I laugh when I hear people say “My mum smoked every day when she was pregnant with me, and look how I turned out!”.  But it comes down to risk. Perhaps not every smoking pregnant woman will end up with a baby that experiences side affects. But let’s face it, would you be willing to take a risk like that?

Here’s a short list of potential problems that your baby may run into if your wife smokes, or if you smoke and your wife inhales the second hand smoke.

  • Lower the amount of oxygen available to you and your growing baby
  • Increase your baby’s heart rate
  • Increase the chances of miscarriage and stillbirth
  • Increase the risk that your baby is born prematurely and/or born with low birth weight
  • Increase your baby’s risk of developing respiratory (lung) problems
  • Increases risks of birth defects
  • Increases risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

This information is widely available and widely known, but why do we see people continue to ignore it?! It baffles me, it really does. Just last week I noticed a woman here in Christchurch who would have been more than 8 months pregnant, and she was smoking blatantly. I was shocked, what an unfortunate little baby – the poor little thing doesn’t have much of a chance to start off on a healthy footing.

Dad’s – this is where you can help. If you smoke, then perhaps it might be a good idea to quit as soon as you find out your partner is pregnant. If you continue to smoke then it will make it so much harder on your partner to quit because you will be smoking around her more often than not. You could also get some pamphlets from your GP or midwife and chat to your wife about it. It might be a delicate subject, but it’s not one of those conversations you want to put off until tomorrow. If the conversation and the pamphlets don’t do the trick then perhaps you need to go to the midwife and tell her that your wife is continuing to smoke. The midwife or GP might have some good advice or know of a different way to approach it.

I recall living in the city when Lisa was pregnant with Finn. We lived in a modern townhouse which was pretty convenient for our social life! However, our neighbours lived in very close proximity. Our next door neighbours chain smoked – like a cigarette every 20/30 minutes. We couldn’t open any windows or patio doors as the house would get flooded with their second hand smoke. I had a friendly chat, which was met with a one-fingered salute from them. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t realise I’m like a dog with a bone when someone ruffles my feathers. So in the end, I rallied the other owners in the Townhouse complex and have passed a Body Corporate rule that forbids anyone from smoking in the complex.  Modern Dad : 1. Numpty Smokers : 0.

I hope at the very least, I have got you thinking about this topic. If you are a woman who smokes whilst pregnant and you have a rebuttal – please do comment and Im happy to hear your side of the story. You will undoubtedly be wired to the moon though.

Keep it healthy folks!

James

Modern Dad Vs Baby Gorilla

Silverback GorillaIt only took Finn eleven months to decide he was the Alpha male of the house. It was the single most hilarious moment of my week. I shit you not, he was deadset serious that he was the man of the house and not I! You may ask, what on earth was this all about? Well … it was over a cup of hot tea. Again, I shit you not.

Finn decided that he would toddle on over to his mum and try to grab her hot cup of tea. He was infuriated to discover that this was not a happening thing. The first “no” was met with a naughty look. The second “no” was met with a swift swipe of the hand. I must point out that the swiping was being done by Finn. He grabbed his mums hand and with all his might (believe you me, he’s bloody strong) he through it to the side to give him easier access to the tea.

At this point I had to step in. Yep, it was time for the silverback to let his baby Gorilla know that he was overstepping the mark and that he had to back down. But much to my surprise (and slightly to my delight), the little whippersnapper yelled at me. I tried with all my strength not to laugh, and then I gave him a loud “no”. At which point he flung both arms above him and proceeded to yell and flail at me. I gave it back to him, and Lisa was in wrinkles at this point.

In the end – Finn won. I just broke down in laughter. He was the Alpha male of the living room for the next 5 minutes. I’m seriously going to need to improve on this discipline thing. The last thing I want is a spolied brat.

Any tips are greatly welcomed.

James

(Former “Alphamale” of the Laughlin Family)