AMBER LOVE 10-JUNE-2013 This special edition of VODKA O’CLOCK features one of my best friends, ANDE PARKS who is here to talk about fatherhood and the family life of a writer/artist. Ande considers his life in Kansas City where he raises a son (Henry, 10) and a daughter (Hannah, 14) with his wife to be extraordinarily fortunate. There’s a great deal of openness by me and Ande in this episode. Perhaps, it’s more personal than the Vodkateers are expecting.
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Ande has openly discussed some of the moments in his daughter’s adolescence where they were concerned about her anxiety, self confidence, and perspective. Whatever he and Cynthia have done raising Hannah, so far she is comfortable talking to them about her life. This differs from Ande’s own upbringing in a household with divorced parents that focused on their problems as a couple rather than addressing the growth and evolution of a teenage boy.
We talk about raising a child to respect their needs for personal expression in fashion and activities. Ande’s daughter Hannah lived with a challenge where her tactile senses were more sensitive than average and this impacted what she could wear. She has since soldiered through the challenges and is now an avid cosplayer with her friends.
“I could be an idiot, but I just feel like I can trust her.” ~Ande says about his daughter
Ande and Cynthia believe they are raising Henry to be a proper man that respects everyone especially women and understanding the gender perspectives and expectations from others.
There are also surrogate style parenting influences. If there’s a kid who can’t have a close relationship with their actual parent(s) there is hopefully someone else out there for support like an aunt/uncle/grandparent, teacher, friend’s parent, or other trusted adult. No matter what, outsiders seem to think they can judge other’s people’s family situations whether they ever make an effort to understand what other people go through.
“Ya know some people never pick up on that that your family may be fucked up but they’re still your family and you don’t need that input from them.” ~AP
My own adolescence was challenged by mental illness among more than one of us plus my father’s schedule of a night job. I’d still rather have a mother with problems that loved me than one that was absent and leaves kids to raise themselves.
The Parks household had a no-Barbie/no-Bratz dolls rule in the house but didn’t enforce a strict gender neutral toy policy. Ande’s kids found common ground in things like Pokemon. As a little boy, Ande’s Holy Grail toy was a noisy vacuum cleaner that quickly grated on his father’s nerves. Whether or not the vacuum was annoying because it was a “girl’s toy” or simply due to the noise, he isn’t sure.
Ande does his own version of “boy scouting” with Henry out of the comforts of their own home for a couple of reasons. Besides not being the outdoors type, Ande disagrees with the politics of the BSA. He and Henry have projects that they do together and coming up, they will take a painting Henry made for Mother’s Day and build a frame for it.
“[And] I think between the two of us, we do a pretty good job, I just.. I always want to be better. And I think that they make me better which is the coolest thing you can say about it that you want to be better because they’re that important to you.” ~AP
* Ande on Twitter
* Wired’s Geek Dad section