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.

Education – where do I begin?

There are so many differing opinions in regards to how we should educate our kids. As parents – it falls on us to decide what’s best for our little whippersnappers. I grew up in Northern Ireland and went to good old public schools and Lisa did the same in Canada. We feel like we got a pretty rounded education and don’t have a feeling that we got short changed academically. However, we work at a private school here in New Zealand so we get to see it from a whole new perspective. I feel that private schools have much better resources. Yes the teachers were trained the same as the public school teachers, but the resources seem to make the difference. 

Now .. we are told so many different things on what we should do with Finn. “Put him in private school education once he reaches high school as it’s a waste of money in primary school.” “It’s all about what school you went to in Christchurch, so pick carefully.” “Put him in private school for primary school and not high school as it instills good habits and academic skills from an earlier stage before they become teens.” 

The list goes on. But to be honest – there are so many factors we have to consider. Firstly of course is the financial commitment – private school is a little more expensive than a public school, actually a lot more. But can you really put a price on excellent education for your child? Next there’s the Finn factor. Where does he want to go to school? That has to be a huge deciding factor on where we enrol him. For primary he won’t have much inkling as to where he will want to go but for high school he will feel much more strongly about where he sees himself fitting in. We absolutely love the school we work at and think that Finn would LOVE it but I guess at the end of the day it will be up to him and what he wants for his life. 

The Happiest Kids in the World book reminds me that I shouldn’t put pressure on Finn to be successful at everything he does – it’s ok to not be the best at everything. And honestly, I see first hand, some students whose parents openly put pressure on them to be the best at everything they do. All too often these are the same kids who, in their teens, suffer from mental health issues, anxiety and some even rebel against their families. I’m a rookie at this Dad business, but I feel that teaching kids for 11 years has given me plenty of knowledge in terms of what not to do as a parent. The pushy, helicopter parent is not what I want to be. Don’t get me wrong, I want Finn to live a full life with lots of rich experiences but not at the cost of his happiness or our relationship. 

I’d be keen to hear from you parents and educators out there!

James

An about turn perhaps?

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetSo, if you’ve been a ModernDad follower you might just remember my blog on posting images of your children online. I have a pretty strong stance on it. To date – there have been no photos of my little son Finn posted online showing his face. However, I’m on the fence right now.

Yep, you heard me. I might have to eat my words. But, I’ll own it like a pro. Give me shit, wind me up – do whatever tickles your pickle. But I’m starting to see a different side of things. Now, just pump the breaks a bit Tonto, I’m not swinging right to the other side of the scale. I’m not contemplating being one of those parents who posts every moment in their child’s life. I’m just willing to consider posting the very odd photo of the Finnster at special occasions or when he’s with his sidekicks.

Here’s what has triggered my “about-turn”… Rewind 15 months – Lisa and I rocked up to our first antenatal baby class. And yes, it was awkward as hell for the first 20 minutes. We had to tell 30 other adults what made us gush about our partners. For those who know me, I didn’t struggle to show my soft and loving side (some of my mates might prefer to call it my feminine side – but they are just muppets) but it was hilarious to watch the macho males shrink back into their little mancaves. Anyways, I digress! The antenatal class has been the most amazing resource for us as it connected us with other great people who were going through the same thing as we were. We have made really great friendships and continue to spend time with the fellow parents.

This past weekend was the joint 1st birthday celebration for the entire group. We all converged, dressed in family colours and had a grand old time. Of course my little Finn was a little boisterous and caused havoc – but hey, who wants a boring child!? Haha. They ate relentlessly, smashed cupcakes, shat now and then, pee’d and tore around the house like little terrors. It was just awesome. There also happened to be a photographer present to ensure that we got a record of that special moment. I started to panic a little as I realised that I didn’t want any photos of Finn online. I then scanned the room, terrified! All the parents at one time or another snapped shots of their little cherubs running amok – and of course they are going to potentially want to post these photos online.

I said nothing at the time. But I went home thinking about the whole situation. I spoke to ModernMama (aka Lisa or AKA The Boss) about the whole thing and we both agreed that Finn might be left out of certain moments and special occasions if parents had to exclude them from their photos. The last thing we want is for our little ninja to be left out of things, or be missing from every antenatal birthday celebration photo.

So … long story short (actually I’m talking bullshit, as you and I both know I can never tell a short story!) … Lisa and I have decided to post a photo of the little guy at his Antenatal Party!

A pretty huge deal for us, and a moment where I’m most certainly backtracking!! I shall await the bombardment of “I told you, you wouldn’t keep it up!”. But hey, I have thick skin so fire away and be prepared for a rebuttal.

Cheers,

James

IG – the_moderndad

You the Daddy!

12I have thought about Dad-blogging for the last 9 months… but I just haven’t managed to take the step. Well, I figured it was time to man-up and get it out there. Actually, the wife gave me a swift kick up the proverbial to get my ass in gear. My son Finn is almost 9 months old and is keeping me on my toes! My wife Lisa is an amazing mum and has so many great resources online that cover everything about being a new mum. Forums, FB groups, FB chat groups, blogs, Vlogs. And the list goes on. It makes us Dad’s look useless, when I started looking at the same resources for Dads, I was utterly disappointed. There are a few options out there – but they are few and far between. And to be honest, I’d rather watch paint dry than read the majority of boring blogs.

Today’s world is so different than it was a few decades ago. The role of “dad” has also evolved and the expectations placed on Dads is ever-changing. I want to do my bit to share my dad-experience with any new dads by blogging, in the hope that I can establish a fun and engaging online community for Dads to unite, share, impart and most of all have fun. And I have to be honest, I stuff up often – so bear with me. I’m Irish too – so I’m not sure if that means I have another slight disadvantage lol.

I never imagined just how amazing it was going to feel to become a Dad. It’s seriously an awesome experience. That very first moment that I met my son was simply divine. My world changed forever, and no one could ever have prepared me for that. Now I have to be honest, it’s not all plain sailing. There are tough times, tired times, shitty times (literally!) and everything in between. But all of the trying times are far outweighed by the joyful experiences. Watching my baby grow into a little character is hilarious and exhilarating. And I am learning every single day! ModernDad.guru is my way of doing my little bit for those dads out there who care to go the extra mile for their baby and their partner. Otherwise, for those men who actually give a damn.

 

Please help me, help other dads, by sharing your experiences and getting other dads to join the FB group and subscribe to the blog. Being a dad is simply thee most important role a man has in his life. You get one shot. Make it count.

James

Founder of ModernDad.guru