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The Dad Vibe

A stranger touched my child...

The Bad Touch:

When a stranger Touched my little girl

I tickle and wrestle with my little girl and my little boys too, when they initiate.

They have granted me that privilege as a caring, loving father.

I will not tickle and wrestle with your children. Aside from being wildly inappropriate and crossing boundaries, they do not know me.

As a family, we have been living through a massive house renovation. Our little house has been a bee hive of activity, activity done by strangers; electricians, drywallers, plumbers, and carpenters.

The kids have watched all improvements with excitement, until Monday of this week. First it started as a tickle of my daughter, then a quick wrestle with my son.

Why was this complete stranger touching my children?

The most respectful interpretation is that this man, a father himself, was innocently reliving his rough housing past or perhaps didn’t know how else to interact with young kids. The least respectful interpretation is terrifying to me and I shake with anger.

I believe what was most upsetting to us, as parents, was that the kids felt weird about it too, knew something was wrong, but didn’t have the skills to do anything. We have spoken about this kind of scenario many times with hypothetical situations and role play. They have also received instruction on strangers and safe touch at school.

How do you teach your children about strangers so they will recognize an unsafe situation for what it is and apply their skills?

Without sending mixed messages, how do we teach that not everyone is nice and there are bad apples out there that need to be feared?

We focused on 4 areas: Talking to strangers, the Tickle List, Trusting instincts (and no secrets) and Safe touch areas.

While “Never talk to strangers” is an old cliché with some merit, we do want our kids to talk and interact with strangers when mom and I are present. We want them to be friendly and respectful and these skills need to be practiced and developed.

I don’t want my children to fear all strangers or the world in general. If they need help, they may need to find a stranger – ideally one with a uniform on, a name tag on, or one with children. If 99 people out of 100 are safe and kind, that one creepy bastard terrifies me and I need it to alarm my children.

As an exercise, we went through a list of people we knew, and “if they were allowed to tickle or wrestle with you”. Most of our family and good friends were on the “YES Tickle” side while the mail man, workmen, some family, bus drivers, and even teachers were on the other side.

The stranger talk led to an interesting age appropriate discussion on “safe” touches and “not-safe” touches. We have declared the parts of your body that are covered by a bathing suit are never to be touched by anyone except mom, dad, or the doctor (“because they are in the body business”).

As parents, we need to be constantly vigilant to keep our children safe. While we can fear total strangers, statistics might suggest bigger threats to our children’s innocence might be closer to home.

I want our children to trust their instincts; to develop and hone these instincts – to “listen to that little voice that says this doesn’t feel good” (my son’s explanation). Kids need to judge people by their actions, not by who they are in relation to the child. Many family trees have crooked limbs full of creepy uncles.

We talked about how strangers should NOT be interacting with them if we are not present. They need to fear the man who needs help looking for his little dog or the stereotypical stranger with candy or an Xbox that needs testing. We have no secrets in our house. That is our best defence against a creepy stranger that might insist on secrecy…

This is a continuing conversation in our house on the topic of strangers. Every future conversation touches on these points, but I want to know from you…

How have you dealt with strangers who have touched your children and/or the talk and tips you have used to help prevent and minimize stranger danger?? Do you disagree with our approach?

Please help continue the conversation so all of our children can remain safe!


Post your thoughts to or email [email protected]


Bottles, breasts and erections

4 Things NOT to say to a Bottle Feeding Dad…

I love breasts. Always have.

Breasts feed babies. Sometimes...

We have all heard the slogan “Breast is Best”. Heck, I lived that motto at every high school party in my awkward teenage years.

But if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for new parents, if breast really isn’t best, then bottle/formula feeding becomes a wonderful reality.

Popular culture makes it nearly impossible for new parents to feel like whatever they are doing is enough. “Are you using organic hemp-infused environmentally safe bamboo diapers like Angelina Jolie uses??” Any new parent knows there is already enough stress and worry when looking after a brand new baby.

When it comes to feeding, if breast feeding is working out, then great! Lucky you! If it isn’t working out, then bottle feeding is great! Lucky you!

We need to stop all the added “Breast is Best” pressure. I think it was Tina Fey that declared, “if you choose to not love your baby enough to breastfeed, you can pump your milk using a breast pump…” For some couples, breastfeeding is not a choice or even an option. When it comes to feeding, all that matters is that your baby gets what he needs to grow up strong and healthy.

As a dad, co-captain of the parenting team, I wish I had breasts… but alas, I do not. So in the early days with a new baby, all I can do is support mom. If breastfeeding doesn’t work out, for some new moms the ‘LETDOWN’ can be devastating and soul destroying. Some women I talked to felt that their failure to breast feed was worse than any fertility challenges they ever faced.

Mom can feel like she is failing at something that should come naturally, like it did for the African tribeswoman on the cover of every National Geographic magazine I remember from the 1970s. It can be an incredibly sad time for a new mom if her body is not doing something that everyone tells her it should be doing. I find it incredibly painful to see and hear the judgment from others on the “failure” of breastfeeding. “It’s easy! You have big boobs, you just need to relax!”

Here are 4 other things to NEVER about say to a bottle feeding Dad…

1. "Your wife should try harder! It is natural and normal and what is best for baby!” - Hmmm… erections are natural and normal too, if (and when) I have erectile ‘challenges’, I sure as hell don’t want to be told to TRY HARDER (pun intended) – believe me, I will want that erection bad enough!”

2. “Did you wife just give up?” – Hmmm, no, but our “really hungry” baby and her bleeding swollen nipples forced her to tap out and submit after medication, nipple shields, being attached to a giant rental pump 24/7, cold compresses, hot compresses, voodoo… You are right, she is a quitter!

3. “Your wife should talk to my breastfeeding consultant! She can straighten this out and get your baby ‘back’ on the right path!” Do you know what is in formula?”

Holy smokes, what a douche thing to say. No, neither one of us needs to meet your Nipple Teat Nazi, we have met many. We trust our doctor to know what is best for us. Formula is not cigarettes. Although unfortunately many a husband has had to hold a precious, screaming newborn while he watches a teary, devastated, self-loathing wife read the notice on the formula that “breast milk is best for babies” before she prepares that first desperate bottle of formula ever at 3:00 AM.

4. “I am sorry breast-feeding didn’t work out for you!” Why? Why tell a happy bottle feeding couple that you are so sorry?

Why do you pity her? Does she have something to be ashamed of? And to use another Tina Feyism, “my bottle fed baby will kick your breast fed babies ass any day”.

In researching for this article, I asked my own mother how breast feeding went with me. Her answer shocked me. It didn’t. It never happened. EVER. I was bottle fed from day 1. I was dumbfounded. I figured my love of breasts must have started early, but alas, it did not. But I think I turned out okay.

Can you look at a grade 9 class and pinpoint who was bottle fed and who was breastfed? No. It’s not like the bottle fed kids have hunched backs on top of bowlegs that stare at you under a unibrow with a pair of lazy eyes.

There can be hundreds of different reasons why a new baby isn’t breastfed. Maybe the child is adopted, maybe mom had breast cancer, maybe she had breast augmentation, who knows --- it’s personal and none of our damn business!

Personally, I love bottle feeding!! As a dad, I have been involved since Day 1 in the feeding of our beautiful boy! We both get to bond with our new boy! Looking into those eyes over the bottle is absolutely magical!

Bottle feeding is not the selfish choice --- for some families, it’s the best choice. Do what is best for your baby! As long as a baby is healthy, that is all that matters. Feeding is just one part of being a new parent, so come on people, stop judging and start supporting!

Please post your thoughts! Let’s start the discussion…


*For the record, we are breast feeding and topping up with a lot of formula and fortunately Eli is thriving in his bamboo-hemp-hybrid diapers.

What Dads really want on Father's Day...

Forget Christmas, my birthday, or even Halloween - Father’s Day is my favourite day of the year. Not for the commercialism or gifts I may receive, but for this amazing opportunity I have been given: to be a father.

Happy Father’s Day to all those men playing a significant role in the life of a young person! With the arrival of our new little boy, Eli John on May 20th, I am now a proud, exhausted father of four.

During one of the quieter moments in the hospital, Eli’s mom asked me what I wanted for Father’s Day. I held up our new son and said, "this is the best gift ever.” She pushed on, “No really, what is the best Father’s day gift we could give you?”

Forget the mugs, ties, and Speedos.

Aside from art and killer cute cards from your children, I’ll tell you what every dad REALLY wants on Sunday…

Sex, Respect, and Appreciation. That’s it. PERIOD. (Maybe even in that order)


SEX: Let’s not ‘beat around the bush’, the best gift from your loving partner isn’t a high tech gadget, it’s sex and physical intimacy. We don’t want sex out of obligation or as a favour. All men yearn to be desired. We have a need to be “needed”. Physical intimacy is a vital piece of a loving relationship – the glue that can hold the relationship together.

Yes, love, honour, mutual respect are other cornerstones, but hey, sex is in the “cornerstone dialogue” and anyone that thinks it isn’t important is a big fat liar and/or a terrible lover.

Involved dads are much like NBA players: genetically superior. There are thousands of women out there clamouring for our attention and consideration, but we have chosen only one person to spend the rest of our life with, and baby it’s you. Congrats! But with this exclusivity comes an understanding and mutual benefits.


RESPECT: What father doesn’t want respect from his partner and his kids? But I agree with Tiger Woods' father Earl: respect must be earned. If you are consistently the role model for what a ‘good man’ looks like, then respect from your partner and kids should naturally flow.


APPRECIATION: Society is beginning to truly appreciate this “involved dad” epidemic. From suddenly proud stay-at-home dads to the increased acceptance of working dads juggling work and family life, great dads are no longer “babysitting our kids to give mom a break…” We are being parents to our kids, just like mom. We are equally skilled and possess the same intention as mom, to love our kids with all our hearts.


While some big corporations still peg dad as a bumbling idiot, or strangely absent (did everyone else enjoy the “Thanks Mom” Olympic ads that Proctor and Gamble ran?), mass media and most companies now seem to “get it” and are now showcasing caring “parents” not just a caring mom.

For Father’s Day, I don’t need anything purchased from a store; I have everything one man could ever want.

When we walk to school and my daughter takes my hand or when our entire family cuddles in on one couch, I embrace the magic and hold tight with both hands.

I know I am a very lucky man.

I know these are the good old days.

I know these days are fleeting and I need to lean into my role of dad everyday. To me, everyday is Father’s day.

So I really don’t need anything this Sunday, but… hold on, wait a second,” {cue 70s porn music}, “Who looks like he needs a massage?” Me? Well… yes honey, maybe we…” Bow chicka wah wah

What do YOU want for Father’s Day?

Until next time…


Meet our baby boy Clarence...

"Some gal would giggle and I'd get red,
And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head,
I tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named "Sue!”

In the classic Johnny Cash song, “A Boy named Sue”, a father that wasn’t going to be around to raise his son, names him Sue so the boy will have to grow up to be tough… clever or cruel?

Our baby boy is scheduled to arrive in two weeks (*yes, we found out the gender) and the search for the perfect name is killing me. This may be the single most important life decision we will ever make for another human being!

The rest of his life will always involve that name…

“Next for Show and Share is…”

“The Most Valuable Player of the Year is …”

“The Oscar goes to…”

“Up on related charges…”

The choice may be ours, but we are making it for someone else. We are just trustees in this matter, assigned to handle the affairs of another person who is unable to act yet because he will still be passing green poop.

Frequent readers of my articles may remember that my son and stepson share the same first name, “William”. So when we discovered that we were pregnant with our first child together, we told the boys that if we have a boy, then “naturally he would have to be William!” to which my son responded “That’s the stupidest thing ever Dad!”

Where I live in Canada, we have 30 days to name this boy before we start incurring fines, so the pressure is on with a deadline looming. Only the province of Quebec has specific laws to ‘protect children from names that invite ridicule or discredit the child’; a law that was challenged in 1996 when two chefs wanted to name their child “Spatula”.

We can name this child ANYTHING!!! The options are overwhelming!

Neither one of us want to use a super popular name. I don’t need to delight in the search for the tiny license plate souvenir in a foul smelling gas station. We do want a name that has only ONE spelling. We don’t want a weird or trendy name as I agree with the experts that believe “eccentric names breed eccentric children…”

I asked my own parents how they decided my name. I wanted to hear the elaborate, beautiful story. “We were sure you were gonna be a girl, gonna call you ‘Jennifer’. When you came out a boy, we were screwed. We had no boy names. The male nurse working that night was Jeffrey. Bingo!” That’s it. Heartwarming.

So I turned to Google. I researched hundreds of very interesting studies written on the power of names, articles with magically confusing categories of names like strong, wimpy, upwardly mobile, attractive, emasculated names etc…

Consider this study; identical resumes with different names were given to HR directors. Not surprisingly, the Mortimers, Ednas and Barnabys did not do well against the Ethans, Noahs, and Olivias. In another study, teachers were given identical essays with different names and gave similar results; a lower grade for ‘weaker’ names!

Add 20 points to the “perceived IQ” of your child if they have certain “intellectually powerful” names like Catherine or Elliot.

And finally, a cool study at Tulane University supported the notion that names have an energy and an aura. In the famous “bogus beauty contest”, researchers used 6 head shots of women all judged to be equally attractive; 3 of the pictures were given the “desirable” names - Julia, Madison, and Danielle. The other pictures were given so-called “undesirable” names such as Ethel, Harriet, and Gertrude. Students, both male and female, judged the women with desirable names almost 4 times as attractive!! 4 times!!

I believe a name does send out energy about the person. From just a name, in the blink of an eye, strangers make assumptions and judgments about your child, and this continues into their adult life.

Would you go on a blind date with an “Elmer” or “Candy”?

How many “Barbies” feel compelled to carry along their MBAs and staple them to their purses so that they will be taken seriously?

My partner has been a teacher for 17 years, and I used to run a childcare centre, so between the two of us, almost every name has many memory files attached. The same name can trigger very different reactions based on experience and exposure…

The argument can be made that YOU make your name what it is. Your personality, self-esteem, and energy will surely define YOU in the world – much more than just your name. But can certain names start you behind the 8 ball??

After you weed out all the names that don’t work, you then take your short list and try to discover all bastardizing nicknames that cruel school punks could develop, (how many school yard fights do Richard and Percival need to endure?), you are left with a list of possible names for your baby.

Friends say, “Take those names to the hospital and get a look at him and decide which one fits!” How the hell can you do that? He will have misshapen head, full of ooze, snot, and slime, and be crying and screaming! “Oh, yes, he is definitely a Charles!” (or Chucky!)

I want to give this boy the best birthday present ever, one that will last a lifetime. So in our search for the perfect name, we must tiptoe through the landmines of powerful, wimpy, and attractive names.

I am driving a very pregnant partner closer and closer to the edge. She is frustrated with me repeatedly changing my mind and says soon I will lose my naming privileges, but no one said it would be easy -- life ain't easy for a boy named "Sue."

If you were starting life today, knowing everything you know about the world, is your name the best one to represent you? Would you change it?

Please share your thoughts on your own name and possible names for my boy… time is ticking!!

Until next time!


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About the Author

Jeff Hay… is a Kelowna based writer, motivational speaker, parenting coach, and father of three. Along with writing for Castanet, Jeff also writes for the Huffington Post, the Good Men Project, and the National Fatherhood Initiative in the United States.  When he is not playing his favourite role of “DAD”, Jeff is speaking throughout Canada as a popular parenting educator and working on his website – and his parenting book for Dads, “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home!” Jeff dedicates his life’s work to improving the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.

E-mail Jeff your thoughts or questions anytime at [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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