The Emotional Illiteracy Of Fathers And Sons

Long before he became one of the nation’s leading voices on the emotional lives of adolescent boys, psychologist and New York Timesbestselling author Dr. Michael G. Thompson actually focused his studies on the psychological issues of young women. “I got into schools as a consultant,” Thompson says, “and all of a sudden, all of my work was little boys.” On this episode of Paternal, Thompson discusses his acclaimed book Raising Cain, how to protect the emotional complexities of young boys, and why fathers struggle to connect with their sons.

Fathering Without A Father

When I became a father myself I didn’t have a blueprint to work from, since none of my fathers had fulfilled the exact same role that I would. There is no precedent of case law to refer to when I make adjudications. I suspect most fathers concoct their own brew of a fathering style and approach from some combination of what their own fathers did, and didn’t, do. Whether wittingly or not, you adopt what you appreciated in your own father and you ditch whatever you didn’t. Or so I imagine. 

“The Elvis Of Advertising” Wants To Soften Up

Alex Bogusky spent years atop the advertising world while running one of the hottest ad agencies in the country, Crispin Porter + Bogusky. But he left the business while at the top of his game in 2010, switching his focus to spending more time with his two young children and working with social entrepreneurs. Bogusky discusses his decision to leave the ad industry, the problems with advertising to young children and how he dealt with his father’s depression while running the family ad business.

Faith, Perseverance & Fatherhood In The NFL

Ryan Harris spent nine years as an offensive lineman in the National Football League, earning a reputation as one of the brightest and most thoughtful players in any locker room in the league. He also won a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos before retiring from the game in 2017. Harris discusses a range of topics on this episode of Paternal, including honoring his Muslim faith while playing at Notre Dame, getting cut and finding his way with another team, raising African-American kids in Denver and if he’ll let his son play football.

Surfer, Filmmaker, Responsible Gypsy Father

Despite being born and raised in an iconic beach town just north of San Diego, Taylor Steele didn’t exactly enjoy his first ride on a surfboard. Or his second. In fact, it took nearly 10 years for Steele to find his footing on a board, but after he embraced the sport - and his keen eye for making surf documentaries - his life changed forever. On this episode of Paternal, Steele discusses how he and his wife refused to let go of their dreams of travel and perfect careers after having kids, and how surfing just might be the perfect metaphor for the unpredictability of life.

Adoption In New York City, Race In America

What’s it like when a New York City social worker hands over a newborn baby on your doorstep at 9 pm on a Friday night? For longtime artist and journalist Graham Parker, that’s only a small part of the experience of being a father. Parker has focused most of his energy on helping his son – who is African-American – navigate the complexities of race in America.  On this episode of Paternal, Parker discusses the abrupt nature of adoption and all that's come in the five years since he became a father.

A Conversation In The Barbershop

Noted social commentator, actress and New York native Fran Lebowitz once said, “You’re only as good as your last haircut.” But for Chris Matthew, a fellow New Yorker and a master barber, there’s far more to walking into the barbershop than just a new look. On this episode of Paternal, Matthew discusses what the barbershop means to men, and why he began cutting hair for homeless men after his father exposed him to the diverse faces of a drug rehab clinic in New York as a kid.

The Modern Lakota Warrior

Few places in the United States can match South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation when it comes to challenges for a father to raise his kids. Poverty, soaring unemployment, alcoholism and isolation are all omnipresent for many of the Oglala Sioux men on Pine Ridge, but George Apple refuses to give in. On this episode of Paternal, Apple discusses his challenges as a father and grandfather, why he embraced the traditions of his ancestors, and why the future of his family is so closely connected with the past.

The Outlandish Idea Of A Gay Dad

How would you describe the conversations at your family dinner table? When Eric Tung was a kid, there was never much room at dinner for communication with his parents, a pair of fairly conservative Chinese immigrants. So it comes as little surprise that they were shocked when he came out of the closet as an adult or that he wanted to find a way to raise a family. “That was even more outlandish,” Tung says. “They had never seen it. The notion of a gay dad was completely foreign to them.”

Grief, Hope And A Day’s Worth Of Memories

Martin Rogers moved to the United States a decade ago to take a job in sports writing, a transplant from England with a wife and plans to one day start a family. After his marriage soured and his ex-wife returned to England he worked tirelessly to stay in constant contact with his young son, and he rarely thought about starting over. Then he met his new wife, and he unknowingly began down a path that taught him about love, grief and the possibility of changing your life story in the face of pain.

You Can’t Do Everything Those White Guys Do

When was the last time you asked a good friend about where he came from, or the influences that shaped his life? On this episode, Paternal host Nick Firchau welcomes longtime friend and noted New Jersey-based DJ Shawn Francis to discuss his father’s alcohol and drug abuse, which man gave him The Talk and what it meant to him, and what it’s like to raise two African-American kids in Donald Trump’s America. "If my kids knew everything that was going through my head every day," Francis says, "there's no way they'd make it out of elementary school."

Can Men Teach Each Other To Be Better Dads?

What if there was a place where men could go to commiserate about fatherhood and even learn how to be a better dad? This episode of Paternal goes inside the Center on Fathering in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to examine how the center and its founder work with men looking to manage and improve their relationships with their children. Center director Ken Sanders discusses how the classes work, and what motivated him to dedicate his career to helping men better shape their experience of fatherhood.

Landon Donovan On Dads And Masculinity

Landon Donovan is widely recognized as the greatest male soccer player the United States has ever produced, appearing in three FIFA World Cups and winning six titles in Major League Soccer. But Donovan says he struggled to connect at times with teammates and coaches during his career because he was unlike some of the prototypical professional athletes in the locker room. On this episode of Paternal, Donovan discusses why being raised primarily by his mother changed his life and how he intends to teach the lessons he's learned to his two young sons.

Daddy, This Is A Girl’s Penis

Raising a transgender daughter has been no easy task for Jake and his wife, Anna. The couple has spent the past five years educating themselves on how to best deal with a set of unexpected challenges that began when their second son began showing signs of her real gender identity even before she was 18 months old. Since then Jake has dealt with his own emotions and the idea that he must have done something wrong, all the while showing unflinching support and love for his daughter. "I don't think I did anything wrong," Jake says. "I just let the kid be the kid."

John Richards And A New Generation Of Dads

John Richards is one of the most recognized radio voices in Seattle, and the host of the John in the Morning show on KEXP 90.3 FM. During his lengthy career on the air, Richards has helped uncover and promote bands like Interpol, Death Cab for Cutie, Fleet Foxes, Of Monsters and Men and others. In the debut episode of Paternal, Richards discusses how he's navigated a complicated relationship with his estranged father, dealt with his own failed marriage and a custody battle for his son, and used those experiences to shape his own approach as a dad.