HONG KONG - Pauline Friedman Phillips, better known by her pen name Abigail Van Buren of “Dear Abby” fame, passed away last January 16 in Minneapolis, USA at the age of 94.
According to the advice columnist’s official website, the 56-year-old newspaper column is the most widely syndicated in the world, appearing in 1,400 newspapers worldwide with a daily readership of over 110 million people.
Wow, 110 million. Let’s put that number into perspective:
A group of that size would rank number 12 among the most populated countries in the world. That is more than the population of the entire Philippines (95 million), more than the total amount of “maintenance and other operating expenses” Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile provided to all the senators (Php 37 million), but still significantly less than Senator Enrile’s years in public service (about a gazillion).
But still, that’s a lot of people.
If someone like Phillips can dispense advice for more than 50 years, it makes me wonder how easy it is to provide good advice to others. But as a dad, the odds of me giving practical childcare advice are about as good as my chances of going on a hot date with Kate Upton (It's a figure of speech, dear! I don't really want to date Kate Upton. You are every bit as hot as she is. But it would be nice if I get to meet her maybe just once, and then who knows... No, no, I just wanted to make a point regarding the improbability of... OK, I know the drill. I’ll prepare the sofa bed again tonight…).
You can see why dads are probably not the best sources of information about parenting. Sometimes, we just don't know where to draw the line.
Here's how a typical dad would probably answer common questions about raising children:
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My husband refuses to help in caring for our 5-month-old child. All he ever thinks about is basketball, basketball, basketball. Whenever I need him, he's “busy” watching college basketball, the PBA, fiddling with his NBA Fantasy League roster, or cheering himself hoarse for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. I really need him to be involved so that our baby will feel loved by both her parents. What do you suggest? - Left Alone Mom
Dear Left Alone Mom:
Your husband’s behavior is unforgivable. I strongly advise him to shut the TV and get his butt off the couch right this instant. How dare he? Any self-respecting NBA fan should know by now that the Lakers are going nowhere this season and that Oklahoma City is going all the way, baaaaaaaby!!!
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What do I do about my 9-year-old son? He has picked up the most annoying habit at school. Out of the blue, he will run right in front of me, turn around, let out the most disgusting fart you can imagine, and then laugh uncontrollably. It is so irritating! - Gas Pains
Dear Gas Pains:
And your point is…? Haha, just kidding! I know what you want me to say, and you’re right. How unacceptable! How unprofessional! He totally loses the element of surprise once he turns his back to you. Bring him to me and I’ll show him how it’s done. And by the way, pull my finger.
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It is very difficult to feed our 10-month-old son. He reacts violently when we put him in his high chair and turns his head away when we try to feed him the organic vegetables and whole grains that we puree for him. We try to give him the healthiest foods possible, but since he isn't eating, we are afraid that he will not develop and grow properly. What do we do? - Confused Baby Chef
Dear Confused Baby Chef:
Honestly, if I were in your baby's shoes, I wouldn't eat what you're feeding him, either. Organic vegetables? Whole grains? Try blending a slice of Meat Lover’s pizza with extra garlic and cheese. I guarantee his appetite will improve in a second and he will start eating with gusto! If that works, we wouldn’t want the rest of the pizza to go to waste, so please send it over.
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I feel so bad for all the women writing to you about problematic husbands. My hubby is the perfect sweetie! He is caring, thoughtful, we never fight, and he always has time for the family even if he travels often for work. Call me lucky, but I'm in heaven! - Lovestruck Honeymooner
Dear Lovestruck Honeymooner:
Sorry to burst your bubble, but I have two words for you: "Cesar Montano". I suggest you check your husband's Instagram photos.
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I have seen research which proves that children who watch too much television at an early age develop stunted mental capacity, passivity, and short attention spans. But at the same time, I do not want my children to feel left out when their classmates begin talking about Bob the Builder, SpongeBob Squarepants, and Ben 10. Do you think it's okay if I allow them to watch 30 minutes of Nickelodeon every other day or will this have a negative effect on them? - Concerned TV Parent
Dear Concerned TV Parent:
What was your question again? Sorry, "American Idol" just started…
(There is the helicopter parent, the negligent parent, and then there’s Michael Gohu Yu. A doting father one minute who transforms into Homer Simpson the next, his writing on parenting reflects themes ranging from the hilarious to the heartwarming. Whichever the case, though, he always aims to entertain parents of all ages.)