HONY dad sparks controversy, says parenting for him is 'playing a character'


Parents often need to do things that go against their true natures in order to guide children the best way they see fit. Sticking to daily routines that otherwise wouldn't exist - or would be more flexible if children weren't a factor - are common to most families.

But how many parents actually admit that 'playing a character' is part of their parenting roles?

A dad has admitted to Humans of New York's Brandon Stanton that his "... kids are going to be shocked," when they realise he's a different man to the dad who tells them to 'make their beds' and says he 'hates video games' - one who has "...basically been playing a character for their entire lives."

He says, "All day long I have to pretend like I care about everything. I'm a laid back guy. I could actually care less if they make their beds. Or if they scratch the walls. But my character has expectations. He says what he means and he does what he says."

He illustrates his point saying, "My character hates video games. He barely allows them in the house. And he'll banish them immediately when rules are broken. But I actually play Mario Kart all the time when they're at school."

He then tells a story about having to follow through on a promise his character had made, to take away the kids' most treasured Halloween chocolates after they failed to listen to him. He of course fished them out secretly and ate them.

They're sentiments that many commenters say they identify with, but his words have also sparked controversy among some who say he is not being authentic, and a "stranger" to his kids.
"What's wrong with just being true to yourself and honest with your kids?" writes one HONY fan. "The last thing in the world I'd ever want to do is to lie to myself and my kids for their entire lives. That sounds exhausting and a miserable way to live. This is a really strange approach to parenting and I'm shocked at all of the parents here cheering him on. I had no idea everyone was so into lying to their kids. Strange."
Others concur.
"Not liking this guy too much... parenting by deception? What's he gonna do when his kids lie to him?"
"I want to be amused somehow but the lack of authenticity is troubling."
Plenty of HONY fans understood, however, and found the perspective completely relatable, both as parents and as the now grown up children of dads like him.
Here are are just a few of the commenters who support his view, of the 6,700 the post has attracted in just four hours. It has also been shared nearly 9,000 times.
"I learned the very same about my dad as I became an adult. Now my dad and I are friends but I look back and appreciate the rules and discipline"
"Parenting includes a hefty amount of performance art."
"He's just saying that as parents we have to set a standard, - make your bed every day, limit playing games, have real consequences to not listening - even though we may not care deeply about the bed or feel pretty bummed to take the candy away. He's not being deceptive. He's just saying adults like games and candy. It's not that deep. He's not literally saying he's playing a "character". It's tongue in cheek."
"I get it, You're playing at being a parent when you really wanna be their friend, but they need a parent not a friend. Takes a strong person to follow it through. Plus you're consistent. Kudos. You're doing a great job."
"Our children secretly demand for us to play this character. And we all play the same character (the one described above). If we don't, they have no template on which to base their future character. I love how you described SUCCESSFUL parenting."