Tips and Tricks

6 Tips To Surviving A Road Trip With Your Children

Road trips with your kids are unavoidable. Sometimes you can make it across the country to see family with all of the kid’s stomachs feeling fine. Other times, you can’t make it to Ikea without an “incident”.  In either case, the key to any successful road trip is planning ahead. 

  1. The next time you are at a grocery store or Walmart, go to the self-serve donut case. Typically, they’ll have small, wax-lined bags to put your donuts in. Grab a dozen or so bags. Keep them in the pockets on the back of the seats. Your car’s upholstery will thank you later.
  2. One word: Dramamine
  3. Pack light. Once on a weekend trip our girls were arguing about sharing one suitcase, and then filled two big suitcases with just their clothes, makeup and hair things.  There was very little room left in the car.   For a brief moment I considered tying one of them to the cargo rack on the roof. Mostly because they wouldn’t stop bickering with each other, though. 
  4. Count your children before you drive away.  Every time.  Nothing sucks worse than driving 25 miles from your previous stop and wondering if you are missing a kid because nobody has argued, punched, kicked, bit or called each other stupid in the last half hour. 
  5. Never entrust your children to lock the doors or check that the oven is not on.  They won’t do it, won’t remember being asked to do it, and as soon as you hit the highway your wife will make you turn around to double check anyway.  Do everyone a favor and check them all yourself before you leave. Bonus points if you check the bathrooms for any curling irons still plugged in. 
  6. Have assigned seating. Ideally, I like to assign one kid to the seat furthest back in the minivan, one kid to a train and the other to a bus.

Why I Am A Horrible Father – Reason # 414 (AKA: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree)

My daughter Jordan had her heart broken a little, and was moping around the house for a couple of days.   I never met this kid, and he didn’t really wrong her from my perspective, he just decided to direct his interests at another girl. 

I like to think that my reputation has preceded me and he ran for the hills instead of taking a chance in trying to ask out my little girl. 

Normally, I would try to at least fake support the best I could while playing Call of Duty, secretly chalking that up as another win for Team Father and move on with the rest of my day.  But this was different.  This would have been Jordan’s first “real” boyfriend, if my reputation didn’t scare the kid away.  She was hurting and I wanted to make her feel better. 

So, she was sitting at the kitchen counter and we started to talk.  It’s funny how different Brianna and Jordan are.  Brianna is notoriously tight lipped.  Jordan isn’t. We had a good talk, and she told me all about it. 

“Well Jordan, do you want me to grab my sword and a shovel?”

“No dad, I’ve got this handled. Sassy Jordan has come out and when I’m done he’ll wish that he was dealing with you”

That’s my girl. 

The Horrible Father Presents: 7 tips for Children who try to disagree with their Horrible Father. 

Typical response when mom says “Listen to your father”

Sometimes, you and your precious children will disagree on the way you parent them.  Usually, that happens because you are telling them no. So, I decided that I would give some pointers to our kids to help them realize why Dads say no, and ultimately why we are always right.

  1. Calmly express your points. If you can’t do that, expect dads to say no.
  2. If any of your points include the phrase “but I’m almost N years old”, you’re not old enough.  It’s about maturity, not age.
  3. We don’t care if you say all of your friends are going.  Have one of them live stream it on Omegle. It’ll be like you are there.  And yes, we know all about Omegle. So get rid of it.
  4. We don’t care how long you have been looking forward to something, if we are not comfortable with you going, you are not going.
  5. Sometimes, the reason we say no has nothing to do with you, your company, or the activity. Sometimes it’s the location. See rule #4.
  6. When you break rule #1, come back and sincerely apologize, but do not expect us to change our mind.
  7. Dads can tell the difference between sincere apologies and apologies you make to get you closer to what you want.  We didn’t invent the bullshit detector, we perfected it.

The Horrible Father Presents: Advice For a 14 Year Old Daughter Entering High School

Entering high school is a time filled with trepidation for both daughters and parents.  It can be scary, especially for the parents.  Will your daughter make good decisions?  Learn from and admit her mistakes?  As a parent, you want to see your child succeed. Below are some tips to help your daughter entering high school. 

  1. Don’t fall for the bad boy. Sure, he may have cool sunglasses and looks good shirtless riding a horse, but he does not care about you, or your friends. He will just use you to get what he wants, then drop you once he gets it. A relationship like that is toxic, and would not end well.
  2. Do your homework. You can’t expect to succeed if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Sure, you arguably may be doing well in your Business class, but you have a lot of homework to do to catch up in Government, History, and Cosmetology.  Find a good study group to help you get up to speed. 
  3. Ignore what other people are saying. There’s no point in staying up late arguing with anyone on the Internet. It makes you look silly, and very petty.   Besides, you have tons of homework to do, so get to it.  
  4. Listen to people who have more experience and knowledge than you. Find the best people who are willing to mentor you and give you honest opinions instead of what they think you want to hear. Seek out and listen to the best advisors, even if their viewpoints may not be your own. 
  5. The next 4 years of your life will have more impact that you can possibly imagine for decades to come.  Make sure that impact is something to be proud of. 

If your daughter follows these basic, common sense suggestions it will help her be successful in high school.  

The most unsettling thing, however, is that a certain President-Elect also needs to be reminded of them to succeed in his freshman year.  And for God’s sake, Mr. President-Elect, please stay away from the bad boy. 

Why I Am A Horrible Father – Reason # 98 (AKA – always dress to impress)

When meeting your daughters new boyfriend for the first time, do like the Horrible Father and dress to impress.  This is a picture of me and what I wore to meet the boyfriend.  I used to wait until after the first meeting to dial up the crazy. This time, I decided to try something new, and just “turn it up to 11” right off the bat.  I was determined to bust out of the gate looking like a complete madman. 

Prior to meeting, I researched everything about the guy.  Vehicle type. Addresses.  The works.  I knew more about him than my daughter did. Hell, I knew more about him than his own mama!  

My Plan A was to find some bombshell and drop it on him during dinner to see how he responds.  To my surprise, I didn’t find anything too worrisome.  If he recognizes me from the picture and reads this (there probably aren’t a whole lot of short, fat dads walking around in public with a Deadpool t-shirt carrying a katana these days), remember son, I’m watching…always watching. And I’ll keep digging. 

So, I had to move on to Plan B – Intimidation!  At home, I brought up the subject of meeting him on the weekend, where we should go to meet, and asked how he felt about it.  My wife suggested we meet on neutral ground to give me less advantage and the poor guy a chance. My daughter said he was nervous because he really wanted us to like him.

“Excellent, my plan is coming together nicely”, I thought to myself, twirling an imaginary sinister moustache.  

I asked her some questions like when his birthday was, if he has any siblings, where he lives. She couldn’t answer them. I figured I’d let her know the answers. So, I calmly explained to both of my daughters and my wife everything I found out about him.  Why both daughters?  Well, I want my younger daughter to see exactly how, uh, let’s just say…thorough, I can be. 

My wife and children just stared at each other for a moment, looking astonished at the amount of intel I acquired.  For the first time ever, all three were speechless. 

“How do you know all this?” 

“Maybe I’m making it all up.  Or maybe I’m just that good. You’ll have to ask him to find out.”  Now, I gotta say, that answer was so badass that I instantaneously grew a full-on sinister moustache, and started twirling it. 

They took the bait, and asked him if I was right. Mission accomplished!  He confirmed everything I said.  Just as I’d planned, his nervousness to meet us grew exponentially.  Surely, he’d run for the hills.  

Much to my chagrin he didn’t.  They picked a time and place to meet, and then my glorious sinister moustache fell off. 

So, a few days later we arrived at a little sandwich place to meet him for the first time. The meeting went well enough.  I tried my old schtick of responding with grunts and glaring at the boy, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  “This kid seems ok, maybe I should actually give him a shot”, I thought to myself. So I did. 

But that didn’t stop me from sneaking out during dinner to put a copy of this on his car:


Because I am watching.  Always watching…

The Horrible Father Presents: 6 Tips to Surviving Your Child’s First Musical Instrument

Ahhh, school is back in session, the first payment is made on the home equity loan you took out for school supplies and you’ve met most of the teachers at your school’s open house. Now it’s time for the kids to pick out instruments they wish to learn to play. Here’s some tips to help make the entire process bearable for you. 

  1. Buy decent, sound cancelling headphones.  When your child is first learning to play their instrument you won’t be able to determine if the sounds they are making is supposed to be music or if it’s the sound of the 66th seal of Hell being broken.  Plug yourself into your device and listen to your Spotify playlist.
  2. Buy, don’t rent,the instrument.  This goes against my World Class level of Cheapness…but hear me out. First, do you really want your little princess blowing in a clarinet that probably got peed on by the previous owner’s cat? Of course not. Besides, you’re just going to have to purchase a instrument outright when she forgets about it while getting on the bus and the bus runs it over. 
  3. If your child has a friend who is also learning an instrument, encourage her to practice with her friend – at the friends house. This will undoubtedly not go over well with the other parents, but this is more about your sanity than making new friends. 
  4. Go to their recitals, even if it is a combined recital for every school in the district.  You will be bored. You will get tired.  You may fall asleep.  Pro Tip: do not drink tons of coffee in an attempt to stay awake throughout the recital. Your coffee farts may be more musically entertaining than your child right now, but nobody came to hear you toot your own horn. 
  5. When you are at their recitals and your child walks on stage, make sure to stand up and very obviously wave to them. Don’t stop waving until they wave back. Trust me, kids love this, especially when they are in middle school. 
  6. At some point you will have to bite the bullet and actually listen to them play. They will sound like Lil’ Wayne playing the guitar, but the the point is they’ve improved. You know it. They know it. Tell them.  Playing an instrument is rewarding, and should always be encouraged when your child is interested.  Don’t be afraid to tell them how proud you are. 

A tribute to my father in law

Earlier today, we laid my father in law to rest. 

Jim was a kind person and the total opposite of a horrible father. He loved his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. 

While Jenny and I were dating, he was always nice to me. Thankfully, he didn’t share the same ideas about dealing with your daughter’s boyfriends that I have.  When his grandchildren were born, there was a light inside him that was undeniable…he loved his grandkids and loved being “Grampy”, “Grumpy”, “Bumpa” and most of all “Grandpa”. 

A few days ago, as we arrived in Jim’s birth town in Northern Wisconsin, there was an amazing rainbow over the town. I’ve never seen one like this before, and it looked like you could actually see the end of the rainbow in a field across the street from our hotel.  We’ve never seen anything like that before.  It reminded my girls of the time Grandpa took them on a walk after a rainstorm to get to the end of a rainbow.  They got as far as the end of the block, and he said it was time to come back home. They laughed at how little distance they travelled, but I remember the storms weren’t over that day so I’m sure that’s why Jim brought them back home. 

He didn’t get the kids to the end of the rainbow when they were young, but I like to think that as we arrived into town he brought the end of the rainbow to them. Because that is the kind of man he was. 

Rest in peace, Jim.  You are loved and will be missed. 

Why I Am A Horrible Father – Reason # 18 (AKA: Makin’ it Rain)

  One day we were heading to the airport to drop off the girls. Logan was in the back seat playing Pokémon Go. “Wow, that pokestop looks cool, dad!  Can we stop there?”

“Sure thing, buddy. After we drop off your sisters we can stop, just show me where it is on the way back” I said, feeling like the greatest dad in the world. I glanced over and Jenny was giving me the evil eye. 

“Brian, the pokestop he wants to go to is a strip club!”

“Logan, if this game is still around in 10 years I’ll take you….just don’t tell mom!”

The Horrible Father Presents: 8 Tips to Surviving The First Day Back To School

The first day back to school can be stressful for a child and – most importantly – the Horrible Father. Here are some sure-fire tips to help you get through your kids first few days back.

  1. Always leave time in the morning for the “I can’t find my stuff” debacle.  Children have a raw talent for losing things…including a brand new pair of shoes that never left the shoe box or a fully packed backpack that was placed on the kitchen table the night before.
  2. Remember: it’s the second day back that kills you. Kids never sleep the night before school starts, but they still wake up early and power through their first day of school fueled by Lucky Charms and pure adrenaline.  Don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. On Day Two they will be beasts.
  3. Never trust the school supply lists.  You will spend $600 on paper, folders, dry erase markers (odorless, of course) and Kleenex for them to bring to school, and when your kid gets home she’ll bring home ANOTHER list of essential school supplies.   Seriously, how the hell can one class go through so many glue sticks!?!  On the morning of Day Two, show that teacher who the boss is by putting extra marshmallows in your kid’s Lucky Charms.  Ahhh…Passive-Aggressive sugary goodness.
  4. This is one for The X-Files. Children’s alarm clocks all across the country will mysteriously fail on the morning of the second day of school.  The truth is out there…and you’ll find it still drooling in bed 10 minutes before it has to leave for school.
  5. Expect the unexpected. The cat will always wait until you have one foot out the door to puke. Trick that bastard by leaving 5 minutes early.
  6. After School Clubs. Your kid will want to be in most of them, and expect you to pay for all of it.  Horrible Father Tip: you have all summer to sell plasma and kidneys to pay for the camera that your child “needs” for a photography club that she will never attend. Plan ahead.
  7. Kiss your lunch boxes goodbye.  You know that if you buy a lunchbox your dog will just find it and eat it.  Convince your kids that lunch boxes are too mainstream, and only the coolest of the cool kids bring their lunches in plastic grocery bags.
  8. Congratulations! You’ve Survived back to school! Now take a couple days off of work and play Call of Duty all day in peace. You’ve earned it!