When a father-to-be is looking for advice on how to prepare for parenthood, well-meaning friends and mentors usually sugar-coat the grating realities. Where can an expectant father turn to get an education? In their new, first book, Dads Know Best, co-authors John Luzzi and Don Miggs deliver the facts in a no-holds-barred manner that may scare the squeamish . . . and entertain the rest of us.
Luzzi and Miggs talked to The Good Men Project about their parenting experiences, the book, and more.
Good Men Project: You two have made fun of the daunting realities of new parenthood. Your book’s intended audience is expectant fathers, and I’m sure they will find it super helpful once they get beyond the uncomfortable reality slap. On the other hand, grandparents and others who are experienced with pregnancy and childbirth—and with the relationship of the pregnant woman and her partner—are going to get a big kick out of this book! You had me laughing out loud in every chapter, and snickering on almost every page! Who were the people in your life who gave you the reality slaps, and how did you learn the truth from them? Did you believe them when they shared their experiences with you?
John Luzzi: No one really gave me a reality slap. Well, not in regard to parenting or fatherhood. I’ve had plenty of reality slaps due to other stupid choices I’ve made though! As far as becoming a father, before I had my son there, were certain things I saw Don go through that opened my eyes and had me questioning things. But the lack of reality slapping advice for fathers is actually what spurred the idea for Dads Know Best! Guys need a blunt slap in the face every once in a while, especially when it comes to important things like raising a freaking child.
Don Miggs: That’s right. This book says “Dads Know Best” but it’s for anyone who finds out an alien is about to invade!! And for grandparents or second-time parents, it’s a reminder of what they signed up for because time tends to erase some of the details of the first couple of years when sleep is as much of an enemy as this being that doesn’t speak but doesn’t shut the hell up either!!
You only learn the truth for real when the kid pops out. Otherwise, it’s like watching an NBA miss a crucial layup that “seemed” easy. You have ZERO idea how hard it is until you are trying to make that same shot in your backyard in a game of P.I.G. and can’t even hit the rim.
GMP: How did you two meet and decide to write this book together?
JL: We played in the band MIGGS together. Don and I like to take on seemingly impossible projects—recording albums, writing books—that take a ton of work and heart with zero guarantee that anyone will care, or that they will even do well. Don warned me over and over to not have children. I didn’t listen. I quickly realized I hated the pile of books people had given me on becoming a father. I wanted the real terrifying scoop on it so I could be prepared and be the best father I could. Fast forward 3 years of fatherhood and we wanted to put everything we’d learned, mistakes and all, into a book for guys that don’t want to read books on becoming a father. A straight, no bullshit look at what’s to come.
DM: We played in a band, MIGGS, for a long time and these loveable idiots didn’t learn enough from watching me try to be an engaged father, husband and musician and the struggles of doing all three with any competency at all. I warned and warned, and John decided he was jumping in the swamp with me. Glad to have him. It’s the best and worst thing ever!
Then he asked me questions and I rattled off what my truths were (we each have our own) and he asked other friends, and it seemed like we could actually write a book. Much like becoming a dad, no one can tell you just how hard writing a real book would be.
GMP: I was a little surprised that you didn’t touch cloth diapers—pun intended. Based on the expense and waste of disposable diapers and the potential for raw humor cloth diapers would have brought, why did you choose to avoid the subject?
JL: What’s a cloth diaper? Just kidding. But in all honesty, that wasn’t even an option in my mind. That may sound like I don’t care about the fact that disposable diapers are a huge waste and expensive…but I had a hard enough time not gagging and throwing up on my child changing disposable diapers. I can’t imagine having to save them and clean them. And what happens when we’re not home? It just sounds like a really bad idea from the get-go. Not to mention we just got through potty training. Nothing sounds less exciting (or unfair!) than if my son had graduated from disposable diapers to underwear, but dad was STILL stuck scrubbing poop out of clothes.
DM: Damn!!! I did for a short while!! How did I forget this?!?!? It was a freaking NIGHTMARE. My wife and I hated every part of it. With the disposable basket-thing they disappear! Now, they ruin the environment and create more problems but give me some slack, my hands were full (pun intended) and I do my part elsewhere. So back off.
GMP: Despite my experience as a parent, grandparent, and long-time babysitter, I learned a few things from your book. What did you two learn from each other about parenting in writing this book?
JL: Don is a great example of living out what he says. He LOVES his family, but he puts his wife first, which is so very important if you are in a relationship with your child’s mom. When his kids ask who he loves most, he says mom. That’s so clutch. He also lets his two kids be whoever they want to be, as long as they’re being good people. He doesn’t try to mold them into what he or anyone else wants. I love that. That Don guy can be a smart dude sometimes.
DM: Well I had 2 kids and I don’t shut up, so John learned more initially. Lol, but when he and Trish had Cruz I learned that love truly conquers all. They doubled down on their commitment to each other and to this boy and it was amazing to witness. They were faced with extra real-life issues and handled them perfectly.
GMP: An experience I had with my son’s father in the birthing room while I was in labor made me appreciate some of the guidance you give fathers-to-be on how to treat the mother and what not to say. In your book, you are careful to tell the reader to take great care of the mother and the personal relationship between the two parents-partners. It sounds like you may have happened on some of that advice by way of personal experience. Did you receive any guidance on how to treat your child’s mother before so that you didn’t say anything you’d regret later? If not, how did you pull your foot out of your mouth and heal the sore feelings from the situation?
JL: No. I thought it common sense to shut the hell up because I could see in my wife’s face that what she was going through was the hardest thing she’d ever been through. Sure, there were points I wanted to look her in the eyes and tell her she was crazy…but that doesn’t end well for anyone. Unfortunately, that concept is foreign to a lot of guys so we figured we may as well share our secret. Haha
DM: I just observe. A lot. The parenting I saw that most worked seemed to be where the parent relationship had fun, respect and teamwork on display. Seemed like a strong idea to me! Thankfully I didn’t jam my foot in my mouth. Look, a mother is the queen, treat her like it and when your child can see how you act towards her, they will see how your treat (a) another human being and (b) how they should be treated.
GMP: One of the several more serious topics you cover is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Was this something that occupied your mind and had you checking the baby often?
JL: It would have if we didn’t listen to Don and Lisa. One of the first things they had told us was to get the SIDS monitors for the crib. Smart people invented those things, so my worries were slim to none. I can’t speak for my wife though; she may still be worried about it and he’s three.
DM: Occupied my mind!?! It was all I could do not to have a mirror under his nose all night to be sure he was breathing or waking him up every thirty-eight seconds!! And when you’re sleep-deprived, you can be a bit deranged so set your plan before the kid comes when your decision-making isn’t impaired.
GMP: I like that you tell the reader not to wish away the negatives of parenting a young child, such as the pain and aggravation of teething. Are there any parts of your parenting experiences to which you wish you would have paid more attention or otherwise not wished the time to pass a phase?
JL: The very last words in Dads Know Best are, “Blink and you’ll miss it” (thanks, Don). I’ve lived by those words for 3 years and I’ve had the time of my life. Of course, there are phases that have me on my hands and knees begging God to just take my life, but I cherish even those moments because the alternative is not having my son and the worst moment with him kicks the shit out of the best moment without him.
DM: We are in the age of helicopter parenting, so I’ve seen it all thoroughly! But the day-to-day routines begin to become a blur. And one day they are old enough to not think you walk on water so just try your best to be there until that inevitability happens.
GMP: In addition to having them read your book, what do you think our society needs more of to help men prepare to be fathers?
JL: We need to slow down. Look up for a second from the busy life (that we created), take a deep breath, and enjoy our family and the people around us. It’s too easy to get distracted and lose sight of what truly matters.
DM: Better role models. Period. Compassion, commitment – let’s start there. Being a dad is about the little things. Make their lunch for school. Learn their favorite games, teach them yours. Be present. Life is a bitch and demands your time. You need to fight against it and give away some of it for the greater good.
GMP: What do you believe our society needs more of to support new fathers be the best they can be? Toward the same goal, what do we need less of?
JL: I would say the same as the last question. We need less pointless distractions and more genuine interaction with people. I’m not saying dudes need to start going on stroller strides together to share their feelings. But knowing you’re not the only Dad out there going through something is a powerful thing.
DM: Read above as a starter. It’s a lifetime commitment, to raise good people. It does take a village and it isn’t simple. But you need to revise any fear of “FOMO” or whatever. There is nothing out there more important than what’s in your house.
GMP: What is next for you two and Dads Know Best?
JL: We have several titles ready for the future of the “Know Best” book series, which will be comedic self-help books similar to Dads Know Best but for other demographics, including “Women Know Best,” “Kids Know Best,” “Chefs Know Best,” even “Dogs Know Best,” to name a few.
DM: Think “Chicken Soup For The Soul” meets “For Dummies” and the possibilities are endless. Or until we suck so badly no one buys our work.
Dads Know Best–the first book in The Know Best Books series–is a real-talk book about parenting from unlikely experts John Luzzi and Don Miggs. Dads Know Best pulls back the curtain on the first few years of parenthood, tells new dads all the things their friends and mentors didn’t have the heart to tell them, and reminds grandparents or second-time parents what they signed up for. There’s no sugar-coating. No pandering. No clichés. Just honest advice from two fathers who did everything wrong but ended up getting it right. From navigating epic diaper blowouts, to managing pregnancy cravings, to learning about the wonderful world of nipples, Don Miggs and John Luzzi have you covered. They’ll teach you how to be there for your baby mama and take care of your kid without losing your mind in the process. After all, they know best.
Don and John are veteran songwriters, performers, and producers. Don is also a radio host of the weekly FM show Miggs & Swig. Fueled by the love of his wife and their two boys, Don believes he can do most anything he tries, and they’ll be there when he falls flat on his face. John lives in Seattle with his wife and young son, and has spent most of his years pursuing his passion for music as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Not being able to get through a single book on parenting but still wanting to be a better dad than everyone he knew, he was driven to seek out brutally honest advice on fatherhood. On reflection, he probably should have kept some of this to himself.
This content is sponsored by John Luzzi and Don Miggs, co-authors of Dads Know Best.
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