If you’re a dad or plan on becoming a dad down the line, you’ve probably got some principles and advice that you want to pass on to your children, so they can grow up to be well-adjusted, useful adults. Like most fathers, my guest today had accumulated such a treasury of rules on living, but he actually went a step further and put them in a book and published it. His name is Walker Lamond. I had him on the podcast back in 2009 to discuss his popular first book, Rules for My Unborn Son. His son is now eight years old, and we’re going to talk about how the implementation of those rules are going.
Walker’s also got a new book out. This time for his little girl — Rules for My Newborn Daughter.
Today on the podcast, Walker and I are going to discuss how fathering a daughter is different from fathering a son and the nature of “dadsplaining,” as well as highlight specific advice from Rules for My Newborn Daughter. It’s a fun discussion filled with lots of pop culture references (as a film and TV writer, Walker is a repository of pop culture trivia).
- How things have gone for Walker in implementing Rules for My Unborn Son with his firstborn [03:30]
- The two most controversial rules in Rules for My Unborn Son [05:00]
- Walker’s overarching goal for his daughter with Rules for My Newborn Daughter [07:00]
- How Walker’s approach to fathering has changed now that he has a daughter [10:00]
- Dads don’t “mansplain,” they “dadsplain” [16:00]
- Why Walker’s vintage vibe in his books have outraged the professionally outraged [21:00]
- Why men and women should celebrate and have fun with etiquette based on gender [24:40]
- Walker’s relationship advice for his daughter [27:30]
- Why your daughter should beware of men who cry too easily [30:00]
- How people who take everything seriously ruin the fun of Walker’s rules [32:00]
- Why your daughter (and you) need to stop apologizing for others all the time [35:00]
- Beware the ladies who lunch [36:40]
- Why if you decide to ditch a TV, you should keep it to yourself [38:30]
- Why you should never drink champagne at the ballpark [40:30]
- It’s “you’re welcome,” not “no problem” [42:30]
- Why you should bring your wife tabloid magazines when she’s in the hospital or sick [46:00]
- The female role models Walker has in mind for his daughter to look up to [47:30]
- Walker’s suggested music playlist for his daughter [52:30]
- And much more!
Resources/Studies/People Mentioned in Podcast
- Rules for My Unborn Son
- My first podcast with Walker about Rules for My Unborn Son
- Men and shorts
- Men and wheelie luggage
- The Hard Way
- The Science of Fatherhood
- My opinion in the New York Times about chivalry
- When Is It Okay for a Man to Cry?
- Famous man cries in history
- Elaine Stritch and her song “The Ladies Who Lunch”
- Wine and crab cakes at the Washington Nationals ballpark
- Sally Ride
- Mia Hamm
- Margaret Thatcher
- Nora Ephron
- Carol Burnett
- Big Momma Thornton
- Walker’s Spotify playlist for his daughter
Like Rules for My Unborn Son, Rules for My Newborn Daughter is a fun little book with a great vintage vibe packed with timeless advice from a well-meaning dad. Heck, I found some of the advice useful for my own life. This book would make for a great Father’s Day gift. You can pick it up on Amazon. Also, be sure to look for more rules at Walker’s blog, Rules for My Newborn Daughter.
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
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Read the Transcript
Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness Podcast. If you’re a dad or plan on being a dad at some point in your life, you’ve probably got some principles, some rules, some advice that you want to pass on to your children, so they can grow to be well-adjusted, useful adults. My guest today has done that, like most dads have, but he actually put them in a book and published it. His name is Walker Lamond. I had him on the podcast back in 2009 to discuss his popular books, Rules for my Unborn Son, where he lays out style advice, relationship advice, just rules on etiquette that he hopes his son will follow. His son’s now eight years old, and we’re going to talk about how those rules are going, how the implementation of those rules have gone so far in Walker’s life, and his son’s life.
Walker’s also got a new book out, called, Rules for my Newborn Daughter, where he talks about the rules that he wants his daughter to follow. Today on the podcast, we’re going to discuss some of these rules, and we’re going to discuss fatherhood. What’s it like fathering a daughter? How is it different from fathering a son? We’re going to discuss relationships advice from fathers to daughters, discuss champagne at baseball parks. This is something new I’ve heard about. Apparently, I think this an apostasy to baseball. Do not do this, and we’re going to discuss why you shouldn’t drink champagne at baseball parks. Getting a lot more fun stuff, so without further ado, Walker Lamond and Rules for my Newborn Daughter. After the show, make sure to check out the show notes at aom.is/lamond for links to resources we mention through the podcast. Walker Lamond, welcome back to the show.
Walker Lamond: Thank you, Brett. I appreciate having me. It’s great.
Brett McKay: Yeah. You were actually one of my very first podcasts guests, back in 2009.
Walker Lamond: I feel like we’re like the OG.
Brett McKay: Yeah.
Walker Lamond: I’m a little embarrassed how long it’s been since that first book came out, but no, that was great. That was the early days. We were pioneers, right?
Brett McKay: This whole man thing, right?
Walker Lamond: Yeah.
Brett McKay: Yeah, we had you on the podcast back in 2009 to talk about your book, Rules for my Unborn Son. That was a book, sort of as an online project, as a blog, where you kind of wrote these rules for your yet to be born son, and you had your son. His name’s Arthur, right?
Walker Lamond: Correct.
Brett McKay: Correct. Yeah. Arthur’s eight now, which is crazy.
Walker Lamond: Can’t believe it.
Brett McKay: How has your family changed since then, and how has fathering changed as your kids have gotten older, and you’ve added more to the family?
Walker Lamond: That’s a good question. One of the reasons that I wrote the book to begin with is because I knew that as soon as the kids started coming, it was going to be really hard to stick to all those good intentions. Part of the plan was, “Let’s get this stuff down now, because I know that it’s gonna get crazy,” and of course, it did. Arthur came along. A couple years later, we ended up having our daughter. Our family moved overseas. We’ve been overseas for a while. We now have a third child. Our family’s growing. It’s crazier by the day. It’s awesome. As predicted, things have gotten crazy. You get the mayhem of infants and toddlers, and it gets a little harder to keep your cool and stick to all those parenting rules, but I’ve had to revise my policy on shorts.
Brett McKay: Oh, yeah. That was right. One of the rules was no shorts.
Walker Lamond: Yeah. That’s also maybe a factor of living in the desert now, but once you’ve let your kid go to school in a Batman costume, you pretty much have to learn how to be a little more flexible with them, with yourself. I think before I had my first son, I was imagining my kid wearing a tie and reading a newspaper in kindergarten, and now I’m just psyched if he has on both of his shoes when we leave the house. I still have the book. The book is there on the shelf. It’s like this written proof of my good intentions. It’s like the constitution. It’s like you pull it down every once in a while when you’re completely lost. “Wait, I had a good idea in here at one point.”
Brett McKay: Yeah. You’ve had to revise some things as the rubber met the road with the rules. Yeah, I remember the no shorts thing. We talked about that. That was one of the more controversial ones. People were just up in arms.
Walker Lamond: Yeah. Once you become a dad, you don’t have as much free time to go peacocking around in your three piece suit, but I’ve tried to stick to my uniform. You try to stick to it as best you can, but you let yourself off the hook when you fall off. At the time, I really only thought I was going to have to write that one book.
Brett McKay: Right, and that would be it. It would be easy to follow.
Walker Lamond: It was just a lark. It was a fun little project. It was almost like a journaling project that I’d started online, but …
Brett McKay: Then it picked up steam.
Walker Lamond: Yeah. It picked up steam.
Brett McKay: Turned into something bigger. Yeah, I remember one of the other controversial rules was no wheelie luggage.
Walker Lamond: No wheelie luggage. You know what? I stuck to it.
Brett McKay: You stuck to it. You stuck to that one.
Walker Lamond: I have three kids, and still no wheelie luggage, and let me tell you, it’s brutal. It’s brutal, especially living overseas when we’re hauling around eight army-size duffle bags, but I’m sticking to it.
Brett McKay: I like how you’ve got ideals. You’re sticking to it.
Walker Lamond: Yeah.
Brett McKay: Rules for my Unborn Son were rules for your son, so they’re kind of geared towards boys, men. Rules for my Unborn Daughter is about advice from a father to a daughter, but before we get into specific rules, I’d like to know, what’s your overarching goal with your daughter, right? I think a lot of guys, they think about being a dad to a son, like, “I want to play catch with them, I want to teach them this cool stuff. I’m gonna help them learn all these skills, and be useful, and blah, blah, blah, blah.” I don’t think they spend too much time thinking about, “What does it mean to be a father to a daughter?” I’m curious. As you came up with these rules for your daughter, advice for your daughter, what kind of woman do you want her to grow up to be?
Walker Lamond: It is tricky for a lot of guys to think about this idea of a father raising a girl, because there’s initially that fear of, “What do I know about being a girl? What right do I have to tell her to do things?” In an ideal world, and when you think about it in theory, I want my daughter to be a good person. I want her to be independent, and intelligent, and courteous, brave, and adventurous, and all those great things, well-read and well-dressed. Just the same things I wanted out of my son. At the heart of it, you want your kid to be happy. I think being happy is rooted in being confident. I want my kids to be confident, and I don’t think that’s achieved necessarily by telling them they’re great all the time. It doesn’t mean you say, “Hey, you’re smart. You’re fast. You’re pretty.”
I think it’s about giving them specific skills, or putting them in a position to learn these skills themselves, that fosters this self-confidence. The gag of the book has always been this list of dos and don’ts, these rules, but that’s always really just been a hook. It’s just a guide to a particular approach to life, and you talk about this a lot on your blog, which is a rich life about embracing challenges, and acquiring skills, and rejecting that path of least resistance. That could mean learning to change a tire. It could mean setting a dinner table. This day and age, those things are hard. They’re easily outsourced, but I want my daughter, just like I want my son, to learn them, not because she necessarily needs to, but because it will make her happier. I think it’ll make her more confident, and more interesting.
I was reading something on your blog the other day. Am I allowed to still call it a blog? I feel like it’s bigger than that.
Brett McKay: I still call it a blog. I still call it, like, “What do I do? I’m a blogger.” That’s what I do.
Walker Lamond: Okay. It’s shorthand. You talk about how we live in this land of plenty, and kind of in recent years, this idea that we’ve devalued the goal of growing up, or just in this land of plenty, it feels like men and women both have this temptation to not do as much. I want my daughter to do more. I want her to travel, and cook, and eat, and read, and vote, and build stuff. It’s not necessarily out of a need for survival anymore, but it is about this need to have a rich life. My goals for my daughter are the same as for my son. Resist the path of least resistance.
Brett McKay: I’m curious. Has your approach to fathering changed because you have a daughter? I’ve talked to a lot of guys that said that it did. The way they approached fatherhood changed when they had a daughter compared to when they had a son, or for you, is it pretty much the same?
Walker Lamond: Before you have kids, and when you think about having a son, most guys, they kind of envision their son as going to be this new and improved version of themselves.
Brett McKay: Right. Yeah.
Walker Lamond: Like, “I’m gonna teach you everything I know, and I’m gonna correct all my own mistakes.”
Brett McKay: Right. The thing I remember, I was like, “Yeah. My kids are just gonna play with wooden blocks. They’re not gonna watch TV. They’re gonna use their imaginations.”
Walker Lamond: Yeah. Every hobby that I always meant to pick up, I’m going to teach them immediately, and that’s cool. That’s what being a dad’s all about, and then you have your kid, and you realize that they’re totally their own person. They can be so different from you, they’re like strangers sometimes. My son is my flesh and blood, but he could be a guy I just ran into at a bar, we’re so different sometimes. It’s not just now about making him a version of yourself. When you have a daughter, it only amplifies that feeling. She has these unique challenges that we can’t even begin to understand. I think having that daughter, it does teach you to take it a little easier on yourself, and your expectations about being a parent, what you’re going to teach these people.
When you’re parenting, a lot of it’s about projecting your own need for self-improvement on them. Having a daughter, it’s wonderful. Having a daughter is the best way to turn any man into a feminist, but does my approach to parenting change a little bit? It’s a good question, because I really stick to this idea that I’ve always thought all the advice I put even in the first book is all pretty gender neutral. Yes, the first book was a conversation between a father and a son, and there’s a lot of guy imagery, and there’s a lot of … It was pretty male-centric, or at least if not in tone, whatever. I always kind of thought, “You know, this is for girls, too.” My wife pointed out, she’s like, “Yeah, but then there’s this stuff about neckties, and baseball, and maybe girls need their own book.”
I started thinking about that. I was like, is that a good thing that girls need their own book, that they should have their own rules, or should I dismiss that as perpetrating some gender divide that doesn’t exist? These are all questions you can debate forever, but in reality, girls and boys are different. You realize that as soon as they’re born. They’re wonderfully different. They’re hilariously different, but not just because they’re boys and girls. Because they’re different people. My daughter is just very different from my son. Are the things I’m teaching my daughter any different than the ones I’m teaching my son? No.
When we go outside and practice putting up the tent in the backyard, she’s there, too, hammering in stakes. If we’re planting veggies in the garden, they’re both there. These aren’t girl and boy skills. Learning to sail, or play the piano, and my daughter’s super competitive, so she wants to be right there with my son. I don’t think any of these things are gender specific. I strongly feel that setting a table, or writing thank you notes, or wrenching a car. Every boy and girl should know how to do this, but that is not to say that they are the same, that boys and girls are the same, or will or ever, that they’ll have the same skill set. They’re going to have different skills because they have different interests. My son is going to be into camping. My daughter’s into sports. You do have to adapt a little bit for each kid, not because they’re a boy and a girl, but because they’re different people.
Brett McKay: Right.
Walker Lamond: Does that make any sense?
Brett McKay: Yeah. That makes perfect sense. No, that makes perfect sense. It’s the same with my kids. My daughter, she likes to do the stuff that me and Gus do. She’s right there with us, rough and tumble, roughhousing, going outside, monkeying around in my garage gym. She’s right there.
Walker Lamond: That could change.
Brett McKay: Yeah. It could change.
Walker Lamond: That could change. These kids are going to hit puberty, and they’re going to have all kinds of different things going on in their mind, and bodies, and their interests might change, and I might have to adapt what skill sets I’m teaching them, and outsource some of that stuff to their mom, or whatever. I’ll let you keep going, because it is a tricky issue, and we’ll get to it, I think.
Brett McKay: Yeah. Speaking of, a lot of the advice, like you said, in Rules for my Unborn Daughter, I was reading it and I was like, “Ah, this is a nice reminder for me. Yeah, I should write thank you notes. Or I shouldn’t apologize for people all the time,” right? That’s just good, common, how to live a good life. There is advice in there that’s geared towards girls, or women in general. I’m curious as a dude, as a guy, how did you approach some of the more gendered advice that’s maybe applicable just to girls? Did you get your wife in on to help you, like, “You know what? What do I tell my daughter? What are we gonna tell our daughter about these sorts of things?”
Walker Lamond: Yes, of course, and my wife has been a great resource. Look, I was raised by women. My life, I’ve been surrounded by all these wonderful, creative, smart, and intelligent women. I do feel like I have this body of institutional knowledge that I kind of am allowed to pass down to my daughter. It goes back to this main problem I had. One of the reasons I didn’t do this book immediately is because I did have this nagging question of whether or not, as a man, I had a right, was it even appropriate for me to be doling out advice to a woman, to a young woman?
Brett McKay: Mansplaining. You don’t want to mansplain.
Walker Lamond: Yeah. Right? That’s become this buzz word. I hesitated a long time about doing it, and then if I want my daughter to be this strong, independent, brave woman, who is unafraid to challenge power structures, and gender stereotypes, and then the first thing I do is hand her this book of rules written by a white, 40-year-old man. It doesn’t sound like the best way to start out this journey, right? I do think that daughters want to hear from their dads. We have institutional knowledge as an older person, and they don’t just want necessarily our approval, or a nice well done, or whatever. They want ideas, they want advice, like any kid does. Boys and girls are so thirsty for this institutional knowledge.
I think as dads, we can confidently say that we do have a right, and we have a duty to tell our daughters what we expect of them. I don’t think we should be ashamed to do that, or nervous to do that. I think we’re allowed to share with them what we knew about life, and how to make the best of it. That said, I had a system of checks and balances, my wife being the best one of all. My wife is a trained aerospace engineer. She’s a foreign service officer. She works harder than anyone I know. She’s graceful. She’s funny. She’s like the archetype. She’s the role model, and if I could’ve gotten her to write this book, I would have, but she’s too busy earning a living for the family. She had the veto power. She was my checks and balances.
The reality is, and you know this, Brett, because I know that you deal with a lot of these issues on your blog all the time, the gender identities, and traditional power structures, and stuff, but I really believe that if you’ve lived a life in which you’ve respected women, and you’ve kept their company, and you’ve admired their talents, then even as a man, you are qualified to pass on some of that institutional knowledge, even down to a girl. There’s plenty of stuff I’ve learned from my mom, and my grandmother, and my sister, and my own role models, many of which are women, that I want to pay forward.
Yes, it will come through the filter of a man, and whatever kind of historical baggage I carry with me, maybe not without even knowing it. It’s also just coming through the lens of being an older person, or being an American, or whatever. You can’t avoid that lens. Look, I’m not trying to maintain the male power structure, or male privilege by giving my daughter a book of rules. I have no interest as a father in making things harder for my own daughter, to put her at a disadvantage. I want to break down the walls for her, or better yet, just get out of the way and let her do it for herself, give her the skills so she can do it. Yeah. Mansplaining, perhaps, but dadsplaining.
Brett McKay: Yeah. Dadsplaining. I think it’s just a dad giving advice to your daughter.
Walker Lamond: Yeah.
Brett McKay: That’s really what it is, and I think it comes from the best of intentions, and you’re trying to do what’s best for her. I know the, some people would say “problematic,” aspect of Rules for my Unborn Son and Rules for my Unborn Daughter, and I even get this with The Art of Manliness. It’s got the whole vintage, retro, vibe to it, hearkening back to this traditional stereotypes of masculinity. You do that with your book, and I love, with both of the books, but I love it. It looks great. You have these great vintage photos of starlets, and famous women. Margaret Thatcher, and Eleanor Roosevelt, and I guess Graham who owned the newspaper, The Washington Post. It’s got this old-fashioned feel to it, but it’s not stodgy, so you’ve been able to somehow combined some traditional gender advice for gals on being a classy lady, a dame.
Walker Lamond: A classy broad. Yeah.
Brett McKay: A classy broad, but with advice on being independent, and assertive, and brave, that bucks antiquated gender stereotypes. I’m sure this has to drive people bonkers, because they either want it, “Okay, no. You gotta either do it the traditional thing all the way, or you have to go this way.”
Walker Lamond: Yeah. Look, I know you’ve dealt with this, because like you said, the whole vintage aesthetic of your site, of my book, it was very hard at the time, seven years ago, or whatever. People just assume that we’re just going to be blindly nostalgic about the past.
Brett McKay: Exactly.
Walker Lamond: With my first book, there was of course that knee jerk from men and women. Some of the bros out there just assumed that this was a book just praising everything about what was old-fashioned, and oh, that means we can … The good old days, when we can assert our male privilege, and all that stuff. There were plenty of women that looked at my blog, or looked at my book, saw maybe the title, saw one rule, and just bristled at the idea that there were going to be any rules or skills that only pertained to boys. It felt really exclusive, and I think with the last book, and with this one, I think if you just read it, hopefully just see that most of all, these rules can, most of them can be applied to boys and girls, or gay or straight, or whatever.
Mostly, look, it’s harmless fun, mostly, and I know that there’s … The outrage police will probably jump on this one just like they did the last one. “This is a man telling a woman what to do.” If you read it, it’s pretty harmless. Hopefully, it’s a little funny. I think it’s practical at times, but it’s important to remember not to get carried away. This is a very little book. It’s just a trifle, really. It’s not a manifesto. These rules are about developing skills, and becoming self-reliant, and that includes not taking shit from your brother or any other person. I know empowerment is a bit of a buzz word these days, but I would characterize a lot of the rules in this book as empowering.
Brett McKay: I think what it-
Walker Lamond: Sorry.
Brett McKay: Oh, go ahead.
Walker Lamond: I was just going to say, some of the stuff in there is going to sound old-fashioned, and because of that, just like on your blog, I think there are so many skills that are being lost, that so many skills just sound old-fashioned. Because of that, for the boys’ book, it was fine. Everything about old-fashioned was good, because it kind of played into the male need to go back to those good old days, or whatever. For a book for girls, it’s different, because old-fashioned is tainted with this memory of an era of male privilege, or when women had less opportunities. It is tricky. That doesn’t mean that these skills are necessarily invalid. If I teach my daughter to cook a pie, I’m not telling her, “You must cook pies.”
Brett McKay: Get in the kitchen and cook a pie.
Walker Lamond: Yeah. I’m just giving her a skill, and that gives her the choice to cook a pie, or not to cook a pie. If I teach her to set a proper dinner table, or hem a dress, I’m not saying that she has to play suburban hostess her whole life, or even wear a dress, more than if I teach my son to change a tire, I’m telling him he has to be a mechanic. Skills give you choice, and choice is power. I think the big takeaway is that I don’t think that there are gender-specific skills.
Brett McKay: Right. Even when you talk about gender differences, because you talk about etiquette, right? One of the advices is, if a man offers you his seat, take it. Some women would bristle at that.
Walker Lamond: They will.
Brett McKay: I think what you’re doing is, and I think we tried to do this, too, is under … It’s appreciating differences between men and women, and just having fun with it, and celebrating those differences, and not seeing these gestures as acts of subjugation, or submission, or whatever. Just sort of like, hey, we’re men and women. We’re different. We got these rituals to talk about that, and let’s celebrate that.
Walker Lamond: Yeah, and rituals is a good word, rituals and customs. Sometimes you can’t look at rituals and customs so literally. They become kind of symbolic gestures of what you just said. Recognizing our differences and celebrating those. As far as the idea of being a lady, and it’s a little like the idea of a gentleman. These words are so saddled with baggage about chivalry, or for a lady, maybe female submission, but it’s not. This is about being a kind, intelligent person. Those, some may say antiquated gestures of a gentleman or a lady, they can kind of represent whatever you want them to represent. If you’re going into it as a cynic, they may represent bad days, or whatever, but you can also look at it as, “This is a symbol or a custom that represents my effort to be kind, generous, well-mannered.”
It’s tricky. What I’m doing, I think, with you is I’m building up my argument for the inevitable onslaught of online hate.
Brett McKay: Right. It’s going to happen.
Walker Lamond: Which I’ve already gotten, which is fine. It’s great. It gives me a chance to think about this stuff. Honestly, when I wrote the first book, I never even gave a thought to being very overtly inclusive to non-binary sexualities, and things, and at first, I felt myself backpedaling about worrying about, “Oh, man, was I sounding too hetero-normative,” and all that stuff. It was good. It got me thinking about, “Well, what a second. These skills work if my kid’s gay or not. I don’t care.” There’s a good conversation to have, and I’m fine having it.
Brett McKay: Right. Right. Let’s get to more of the rules. What I thought was interesting, there’s a lot of relationship advice in there, and I thought that it was great, because I think dads need to talk to their daughters about relationships, because dads are men, and their daughters will be encountering men. I’m curious. How has being a man colored the dating advice, or relationship advice, that you’ve put in the book?
Walker Lamond: You have to fight your instinct to make every rule in the book basically like, “Don’t go out with him. Don’t go out with him.”
Brett McKay: Right. Exactly. That’s kind of the thing I was getting, as the vibe, was, I think Walker had his shotgun out, cleaning it.
Walker Lamond: Yeah. It’s funny. A dad giving relationship advice to his daughter, it has its challenges. Your instinct is to go into protective mode with all your kids, but with your daughter, I don’t know, maybe it’s evolution or whatever, but you want to just talk about, “You can’t date that guy, and they’re all after one thing. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’m a teenager.” I do think it’s important, and it was important for me to get past that. It took some help from some very smart female friends of mine, to point out that it’s time to get past that. It’s not really that charming anymore to play a-
Brett McKay: Overprotective dad.
Walker Lamond: Papa bear. Yeah. I’m all for protecting my kids’ safety. It’s not an issue of that. If parenting is about giving your kid the skills and tools to make their own smart decisions, then you have to do it, and then trust what you’ve taught them. To be too protective, it’s a little weird. It’s a little like over-sexualizing your own kid, and so you don’t want to muck around too much in her love life, saying, “Well, I don’t trust you,” and all that stuff. You give them these tools, and you give them these rules, right? You hope for the best. That doesn’t mean I might not come to the door with a fierce look in my eye one day, or if the kid doesn’t come to the door and ring the doorbell, or honks his car, I can hope that she makes the right choice.
Look, my daughter is going to be a kick-ass, intelligent, fun-loving woman, confident, great taste. She’s not going to need my help to fend off the barbarians at the gate. She’s going to do it herself, right? That’s the point.
Brett McKay: That’s the point. I thought one of the pieces of relationship advice was funny, made me chuckle, and actually kind of like, “Yeah, okay. That makes sense.” It was, beware of men who cry easily. Why should your daughter watch out for men who cry? What is it about men who cry easily that your daughter should be like, “Ah, I don’t know about that.”
Walker Lamond: I should make this clear, is that I’m a crier. I’m a crier. I’m the guy getting misty watching Folgers commercials, so way more times than I want to admit, I have blubbered, in front of my wife, in front of a bartender. I’m not proud of it. This is-
Brett McKay: Right. Winston Churchill was a crier, so you’re in good company.
Walker Lamond: This is one of those rules where it’s like, you’re hoping to correct past mistakes, but look. There’s nothing wrong with having a good cry, but I think what I mean by this rule is that be weary of people who, men in particular, who may think that showing this type of outward emotion, volunteering it really easily, is somehow a demonstration of depth, or sensitivity, or intelligence. I think, because I’ve been there, again, I’m going to give this advice to my daughter, in my experience, it’s a tactic as much as anything else, and not a very handsome one. Also, I will point out that this rule came from my wife. Yeah. It shows you what she thinks about me, obviously, since I’m the crier, but I showed it to her, and she agreed wholeheartedly.
Brett McKay: All right. Yeah. I agree with you. I think a lot of people who cry all the time at a job, yeah, it is a tactic more-
Walker Lamond: It is, or at least it’s kind of like … I don’t know. It can strike me as a little weird. You just have to be a little weary, but also remember that so many of these rules can be a little tongue in cheek.
Brett McKay: Right. Exactly. Yeah. Like we learned with Rules for my Unborn Son, sometimes people take these things way too serious.
Walker Lamond: Yeah. Actually, I posted about it the other day, and sometimes I really post things, they’re quite literal. I’m not going to give you an example right now, because it’d flare this huge conversation online, but sometimes I mean them quite literally, and then some people will read them like they’re some proverb, which is really flattering, but I’m also like, “No, I actually mean, roll the dough really flat,” or whatever. “Don’t squeeze out the juice on the burger.” I’m just like, no. That’s very literal advice. Yeah.
Brett McKay: Yeah. No, I think that was like Hemingway had a problem with that. People read too much into The Old Man and the Sea, and he’s like, “No. It’s just a … ” What was he talking? A shark, or a fish? It was just a fish.
Walker Lamond: Yeah. I just mean the bottle is green. I really just mean it’s green.
Brett McKay: Yeah. I really do.
Walker Lamond: Yeah. Good. I love hearing about it, because it’s hard to pick your own favorites.
Brett McKay: Right. One I liked, and I said earlier, if you make it a habit for apologizing for other people, it’s you who will always be sorry.
Walker Lamond: Yes.
Brett McKay: I thought that was good.
Walker Lamond: It’s going to drive you crazy your whole life, too, right? I don’t know if it’s just … I can only speak for the people alive today, right? I don’t know what it was like 100 years ago, but it does seem like we enable so many people’s bad behavior because we’re just afraid of confrontation. We don’t think it’s our place to change another person, especially people that are close to us, to tell them that they’re wrong, or tell them that they’re acting poorly. You’re acting boorishly, or whatever. We end up apologizing for our friends, or our spouses, but we all have our own problems and struggles. You don’t want to carry the burden of someone else’s, too.
Brett McKay: Right.
Walker Lamond: Obviously, this is kind of universal advice, but it can be a very specific advice for a woman, too, in a relationship, because we know that a very common problem is women that have to tolerate less than savory characters in their life, and they’re working hard to keep a relationship together, and end up apologizing for someone, when really, you might just need to pick up and haul ass.
Brett McKay: Right. Exactly. Another one in there, beware the ladies who lunch.
Walker Lamond: That is a hat tip to one of my favorite women in the world, Elaine Stritch. A great Broadway and film actress, who you may know. You probably recognize her because she did some cameos on 40 Rock late in her life. This was her signature song. It comes from Stephen Sondheim’s play, Company, and she’s really one of my idols. Back when I was living in New York, I had the chance to work with her because I was working on a documentary about her, with D.A. Pennybanker, and so I got to meet her. She’s this tough old bird, and she’s hysterical, and ruthless, but she’s also really sensitive, and she’s so talented.
Anyway, this was her signature song, and it’s so scathing. It’s all about women who make this big fuss about their lives, with the charity events, and the lunches, and the brunches, and the martini tennis lessons, and they’re always busy. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things. There’s nothing wrong with these women, but it’s about, for this song, it’s about women who fill their lives to make up for some kind of deeper emptiness. You can be busy and still bored, and boring, and it’s very tricky to avoid that group. Again, a bit tongue in cheek, but one of my favorite songs, by the way. If any of you gentlemen out there are close to Spotify, and want to download some Broadway show tunes, which I know you’re all eager to do, The Ladies Who Lunch, from Company, is a great one. It’s so funny.
Brett McKay: I’ll check that out.
Walker Lamond: All right.
Brett McKay: You got another one here. If you choose not to own a TV, keep it to yourself.
Walker Lamond: God, don’t you just hate it when people say that?
Brett McKay: That’s the funniest thing.
Walker Lamond: I don’t even own a TV.
Brett McKay: They talk about, “Oh, I get so much more done. Blah, blah, blah.” You’re just like …
Walker Lamond: Yeah. It’s a humble brag, right? It’s so much more charming and interesting to embrace your guilty pleasures, be self-deprecating. In that situation, I’d be like, “Oh. I have a TV, and I’m obsessed with it, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I stay up until four in the morning to binge watch this particular show,” or whatever. This is one of those rules where, yes, it’s about TV, but it is about something a little bigger. We need to remember that cocktail parties are not job interviews. A conversation with someone is not just you nodding your head and waiting for your turn to talk about yourself, or your story. Your job is not to constantly pitch yourself, and I think it’s a habit that’s really common these days. I don’t know if it’s because more people are out there self-employed, or trying to be an entrepreneur, but we’ve really glorified the pitch, whether it’s Silicon Valley or Hollywood. It’s like everyone’s pitching something, or themselves.
It makes for the most boring cocktail conversation in the world, when everyone is just talking about themselves. This is how great I am. They might couch it by saying, “Oh, I’m so tired and busy. Yeah, because I’m finishing this article for The New Yorker, or … ” It’s these humble brags, and I think not owning a TV is one of them. It’s like, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s going on in Breaking Bad. I only read The New York Times.” It’s like, good for you. I’m going to go talk to someone who watched the last Kardashian, because then we can have a laugh.
Brett McKay: Right. It’s the same thing with, not only that, if you’re into paleo, if you do cross fit, or you do yoga.
Walker Lamond: Yeah. I’m sure there’s a million examples. Yeah.
Brett McKay: A million examples. Just keep it to yourself, unless it comes up.
Walker Lamond: It’s like, oh, is that a GMO chicken nugget? Whatever.
Brett McKay: Right. It’s like, okay, whatever. This is the one I thought that was like … You don’t drink wine at the ballpark. First, is this a thing? Do people drink wine at the ballpark?
Walker Lamond: Have you been to one of the new, fancy parks, like Nationals Park, or they’ve been redoing a lot of parks.
Brett McKay: No.
Walker Lamond: Look, some people might think it’s great. I can get a crab cake sandwich at Nationals Park, and a white wine, and you can probably ask them to roll a Lazy Boy in there too for you, and maybe even put a TV in your pocket. Most people are watching the game on their iPhones anyway. I don’t really care what you drink, or if you drink, but there’s something about working … I just think there’s something about working within the confines of your environment, right, not always changing the environment to suit you. I’ve gone camping. We were talking about Boy Scouts earlier. I’ve gone camping with Boy Scouts, and some of these dads, every year they’re bringing out these bigger and bigger grills to the camp out. I’m like, “All right. That’s cool,” but I also, I like enjoying the simplicity, and the restrictions of a hot dog and a hobo pack over an open fire.
Yeah, you can have an awesome tailgate setup, and eat rib eyes. That’s cool, but you can also have a Lazy Boy and buffalo wings at the movie theater now, and all this stuff. I don’t need wine at the ballpark. I don’t need to bring my home to wherever I am. Sometimes it’s good to restrict yourself to what’s available. Ballparks should serve Cracker Jacks and hot dogs. That’s it. You want a crab cake sandwich, go to the restaurant across the street.
Brett McKay: Right, right, right. No. I didn’t know that was a thing. That’s interesting. The other one I liked is, it’s, “Your welcome,” not, “No problem.” I love that, because my father-in-law, that’s his … He hates that. He hates when people tell him, “No problem,” when they do something for him.
Walker Lamond: It drives me crazy. It drives my wife crazy. It’s one of my peccadillos. When you say, “No problem,” it kind of assumes that maybe it could’ve been a problem, but I’m letting you off the hook. I think people who say it, it’s supposed to sound gracious, but instead, it just makes the thanker sound like they’ve been an inconvenience. That is totally antithetical to what courtesy is all about. Courtesy is about making the other person feel more comfortable, always, so someone says, “Oh, thank you,” you don’t say, “No problem,” meaning no problem to me. This could’ve been a problem, but I’m allowing it not to be a problem. It’s the wrong approach. Yes, one of my peccadillos. We’re going to solve that one.
Brett McKay: Solve it. We’re going to get rid of it.
Walker Lamond: Yeah.
Brett McKay: Yeah. One in this is, there’s no such thing as a girls’ skateboard.
Walker Lamond: My daughter taught me that one the first time she saw my son skateboard, and hopped on it, crushed him around the park. I was like, yeah. I don’t need my Nerf gun, or my Lego set, or my skateboard to be painted pink, and called a skateboard. That’s insulting. That’s insulting to me. That’s insulting to my daughter. Look, I try to be pretty easygoing about all these gender issues and stuff, which given what I’m about to put out into the world, I’m probably going to have to be, but some of these gender barriers, we are creating them now.
Brett McKay: They didn’t exist 30, 40 years ago. There weren’t girl Legos.
Walker Lamond: Ten years ago, there was one skateboard. There was Legos. This stuff is new. This is marketing. We’ve created more gender barriers now than there need to be. Literally, I would not be surprised if there’s a woman’s car, or here, check out this female TV. What does that even mean? That is insulting to me, so yeah, specifically, there are no girls’ skateboards. Universally, she can do anything my son can do. It’s just not a boy, girl, this, that, and the other.
Brett McKay: Right. No. Yeah. Though the whole thing has gotten kind of ridiculous, with the men’s body wash, right? It’s the same thing. It’s green, and comes in a black bottle. It’s like, that’s …
Walker Lamond: Yeah.
Brett McKay: It’s even more ridiculous in the firearms world. There’s pink guns.
Walker Lamond: Pink guns. Yeah. I’ve seen them.
Brett McKay: It’s a weapon. It’s a firearm. It doesn’t have to be pink. It doesn’t have to be cute. It’s a-
Walker Lamond: You and me, we bear the responsibility for some of this. I’m telling you, ten years ago, when we both had this idea of, “Hey, let’s kind of talk about manliness, and masculinity, and old-fashioned stuff,” it wasn’t six months later that I was actually getting those calls from Dove saying, “Hey, do you want to blog about men’s products?” We created this market niche. I’m not saying you and I created this, but …
Brett McKay: We were part of it.
Walker Lamond: We were part of this thing, and we identified a market, and yeah.
Brett McKay: Yeah. I’ve-
Walker Lamond: It’s ironic.
Brett McKay: It is. It is funny. There’s one I liked, because the reason I liked it is because my wife actually does this rule. It’s visit a friend in the hospital, bring bad magazines.
Walker Lamond: Yes. I always do that. Look, we all have our guilty pleasures, right, our creature comforts, and I think a real friend knows when to let you indulge in those. That’s the reality.
Brett McKay: That’s the reality. Yeah.
Walker Lamond: As I’ve stated probably like 100 times, I would never, of course, dare to presume that there are any universal truths about the female gender, but they do love bad magazines.
Brett McKay: They love trashy magazines. Yeah.
Walker Lamond: They love bad magazines, and so do I, and so do I, but I’m telling you.
Brett McKay: Yeah. I’ll admit.
Walker Lamond: This is like my, women be shopping moment. They love bad magazines.
Brett McKay: Right. Us Weekly, OK.
Walker Lamond: Yeah.
Brett McKay: I’ve learned that, too. When my wife was in the hospital, we had to take her to the hospital during her last pregnancy. She had to be there for a few days, and I was like, “Okay, I know she likes to read bad magazines while she’s in the hospital,” so I went out, and got her some Gatorade, and Us Weekly.
Walker Lamond: Yeah, and all six magazines will have the same 35 long-lens paparazzi shots, but they all have just different captions.
Brett McKay: Yeah. Exactly. It’s funny. Here’s the thing. As a dad, who I run a site where I highlight great men from history, and I’ve got plenty of male role models that I can direct my son towards, right? Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, blah, blah, blah. I find myself sometimes coming short on women from history.
Walker Lamond: Yeah.
Brett McKay: For obvious reasons.
Walker Lamond: Of course.
Brett McKay: That could serve as female role models, so I can name a few, but I’m curious. Are there women from history that you have in mind, particularly for your daughter? They could be from politics. They could be actresses. It could be business women. Who are some role models that you have in mind for your daughter?
Walker Lamond: I do, and I include them in the book. I think it’s kind of fun to have these pictures of women that I either consider role models, potential role models for my daughter, or who have been role models to me, honestly. Whether that’s because they have a particular skill set, whether they are particularly brave, or maybe they’re just … The reality is, is you’re right. There are not as many famous women, in general, and there’s a reason for that, and that’s because basically women have been left out of the history books. They’ve been left out of the newspaper. A lot of our role models, male role models, are heroes that have achieved these adventures, or amazing feats of strength and bravery, and they got put in the newspaper. That’s how they became role models and heroes. They were put in the newspaper.
If you think about it, history really is the story of publicity. Women were just not in the spotlight. They weren’t allowed to be, so they weren’t going to land on the front page. Yeah, we don’t have a lot of female role models through history. It’s really hard to find them, unless you really are scholarly, and go back, and all this stuff. Until you get to this post-suffragette era in modern media, and then they start to pop up, but there are tons. It’s been fun looking through not just contemplating it, and trying to pick a few that I think are cool, but also realizing, oh, these are people that have been role models in my life, that I maybe didn’t even recognize.
I’ll give you a great example. Sally Ride, the astronaut, right? My wife’s hero. My wife’s an aerospace engineer, wanted to be an astronaut her whole life. She turned me on to who Sally Ride was, and this is a woman who succeeded in a field of science and engineering that even today is totally male-dominated. You add space exploration to it, the right stuff, it’s a total men’s club. She became the first female astronaut, and that’s awesome. She’s the kind of role model I want for my daughter. There are athletes like Mia Hamm, who I think is awesome. The old first professional baseball league, Annabel Lefty Lee. Here are people that are, I think they’re role models not because they could just play a sport, because they could play baseball, but because they did something that people told them that they couldn’t do. That’s cool. That’s punk. That’s rock and roll.
I don’t doubt that woman can pick up a baseball, or a sledgehammer, or a discus, or a race car, whatever, and do anything we can do, but I like the people that pick the stuff that someone says they can’t. Another great role model is Margaret Thatcher. Forget her politics. I don’t care about her politics. I’m talking about someone who was able to succeed in a male dominated profession, had such a high profile, and she did this 40 years ago. We still haven’t had a female head of state, and she’s doing it in England. That’s impressive. Those are a few, but I have others that are not just … It’s not always about breaking down gender barriers. There’s a lot of women that I really admire purely because of their talents. They’re not doing it just breaking some barrier, but maybe they’re just really witty, or really funny.
Nora Ephron. Great writer. Carol Burnett. Elaine Stritch. We talked about her. Tina Fey, or musicians, like Big Mama Thornton. She wrote Hound Dog. Have you ever heard Big Mama Thornton records? They’re as good as anything you’ll ever hear, blow Elvis and Buddy Holly away. Joni Mitchell. These are women that, they’re not just women that take on male characteristics, in doing something that only men used to do, but they’re just demonstrating a talent, a passion, commitment, or maybe they just have really good taste, and I like people with good taste.
Brett McKay: Yeah. That’s great. I love this. All right, so like you did in The Rules for my Unborn Son, at the end of the book, you give a list of recommended reading and music suggestions for your daughter. Can you just share a few of those, and explain why you picked them?
Walker Lamond: Yes. Yeah. This is really just my effort to control the stereo in the car for the next 18 years.
Brett McKay: Right, right. Again, let’s remind people, this is personal taste. Sometimes, people read this thing and they just get infuriated, because they think …
Walker Lamond: Yeah, they think that this supposed to be some kind of academic survey of the most important music of the last century, or this is the most important feminist rock of the last 50 years. That is not it at all. This is like, my kids like the music that I like, so we can go on road trips, and I don’t go crazy. This is about totally trying to strong arm my taste onto theirs, and it’s my own little personal way to do it. I did get a chance to take a bunch of music that I thought not just my daughter would like, but that were by women, women that I love, music that I love. It is cool to see. We have this luxury as men. If you ask a men, “Make your list of 50 great songs,” you don’t think about if it’s a man or a woman, because men are so used to being the default gender, if you will, which is so ridiculous, but just because of that traditional power structure.
I think it’s good for a girl to be reminded of, “You can do this. Don’t let Rolling Stone Top 50, and you see all these men guitarists up there, make you think you can’t do this.” Yeah, it was a chance to make a cool list of female artists. Some of it’s the stuff that I listened to as a kid, my mom playing Bobby Gentry for me, or Dolly Parton. I said Joni Mitchell earlier, but also there’s so many great artists from the seventies. I grew up listening to Blondie, Chrissy Heim from The Pretenders, Joan Jett. That was the soundtrack to my whole youth, and it wasn’t until now, when I was putting this list together, I was like, “As a kid, I didn’t even think about the fact that these were women, but god, that’s awesome. There are awesome women in rock.”
Even in hip hop, and R and B, which is, I probably don’t listen to it as much, but I did try to put some cool stuff in there, soul and stuff. It’s an awesome mix. You can play it at your next all-women party, or you can just play it at your next party, because it’s all good stuff.
Brett McKay: Do you have a Spotify list?
Walker Lamond: No, but I should make one. I’ll make one tomorrow.
Brett McKay: You should make one. That’d be cool. We could share it. Hey, Walker, this has been a great conversation. We got pretty heady in this one, for a book that was kind of fun, but we got some heady topics, which I liked.
Walker Lamond: I know. I read what you write all the time, and I know that it’s hard to be the torch bearer for this kind of movement, if you will, that too many people might be too quick to judge as being exclusive. In fact, it is quite the opposite, and I really appreciate some of the times that I’ve seen you write into your blog posts about, “This is not about reinvigorating some antiquated power structure.” I think it’s good for you and me to kind of be the ones to stand up, and make some of these points. Like I said at the beginning, the best way to make a man into a feminist is to give him a daughter. I want the best for her, and I don’t want her to disadvantage. That’s a lot of what writing this book was about.
Brett McKay: Awesome. Walker, where can people learn more about your book?
Walker Lamond: The best way, this is just popping into Google, “Rules for my Newborn Daughter.”
Brett McKay: Rules for my Newborn Daughter. All right.
Walker Lamond: I wrote it after she was born, so I had to be fair. I would go right to Google, which is going to take you to either my website, which is great. You can read some nice blurbs about me, and all that kind of stuff, but probably best to go right to the source, and type it into Amazon. Book’s going to be available next week. You can pre-order it now. If you pre-order it now, it hits my first week sales, which is awesome. If you have anybody out there who is a self-publisher or wants to know how you jump up on those lists, jack the pre-orders up. That’s what I’ve learned. Yeah, but that’s the best way.
Brett McKay: Cool. Walker Lamond. Thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Walker Lamond: Brett, I always love talking to you. Keep going with your doing. I’m really loving the site. It’s great, and thanks for having me.
Brett McKay: Appreciate it.
Walker Lamond: All right. Talk to you later.
Brett McKay: My guest today was Walker Lamond. His latest book is Rules for my Newborn Daughter. You can find it on amazon.com and in bookstores everywhere. You can find out more information about Walker’s work at walkerlamond.com. Also, make sure to check out the show notes for the show at aom.is/lamond. That wraps up another edition of The Art of Manliness Podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out The Art of Manliness website at artofmanliness.com, and if you enjoy this show and have got something out of it, please give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. I’d really appreciate it. As always, thank you for your continued support, and until next time, this is Brett McKay, telling you to stay manly.
Last updated: December 4, 2017