Q & A With Nick Shell of The Dadabase on Parents.com


Not long ago, Parents.com’s daddy blog, The Dadabase, wrote a story on 100 Things to Teach My Son, featuring the Facebook page in the process. Nick Shell is the author of The Dadabase, and he agreed to answer some of my questions about how he got started blogging and his thoughts on parenting. Check out the Q & A below…

L&L: How did you get into this role as writer of The Dadabase for Parents.com? Is it your full-time job?

NS: Three years ago when my wife and I found out we were going to be having a baby, I decided I wanted to be the first man in the history of the world to write a weekly blog for my child, starting from the day we went public about the pregnancy. Less than a year later, Parents magazine was looking for an official daddy blogger. Maybe my “first man in the history of the world to write a weekly blog for my child from pregnancy” shtick worked. I was on their radar because a few months earlier my wife had emailed American Baby magazine, their sister magazine, and they decided to feature me a month before our son was born.

My full-time job is in the customer service/human resources field for a transportation company. I’m like a scientist/stats guy that helps truck drivers make more money while they’re out on the road. Very random, I know.

L&L: Random, yes, but it’s also probably a nice break from blogging and vice-versa. What do you like best about your blogging job? What do you like least?

NS: Not always knowing what I’m going to write about that day. That’s my answer for both. I write 25 posts a month, about 400 words each, which is basically daily. I like the challenge and thrill of constantly winging it. My motivation is to not be boring. I admit- there are days I get tired of hearing myself talk… or blog, I should say.

L&L: That’s a lot of writing about one topic. Why write about your life as a parent and not something else? What makes this topic special and interesting to you?

NS: It’s the only topic I can think of that gives me complete freedom to splice in my own personality and personal agenda on a daily basis. It all relates back to parenthood; from my family’s extreme vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, to my Libertarian political perspective, to nostalgic references from my own childhood, to identifying as a Generation Y parent, to buzzing headline news… There’s always a way to relate it back to being a parent.

L&L: I originally was going to ask how many kids you had and if you wanted more, but a recent post of yours has answered that question. Don’t you like the idea that continuing to have children will continue to give you fresh writing material?

Q & A with Nick Shell on LessonsAndLove.com

Nick and his son, Jack

NS: Good point; I think about how, in the likeness of season 5 of any token 1980’s sitcom, a new baby adds fresh story lines and new annoying catch phrases. As for now, I’m capitalizing on the “only child” perspective.

L&L: Right, but in those sitcoms they can try the baby out for a season and then write them off the show if it’s not working. We don’t have that “luxury.” Why do you enjoy being a dad?

Becoming a dad was like pressing “REC” on my life. Never more have I understood the meaning of life after my son was born; especially here lately where I am actually teaching him life lessons.

L&L: What is your typical day like?

NS: Honestly, the only thing different about my day compared to the average dad is that maybe instead of watching or reading about sports, I am writing my daily post.

L&L: What is the single most important thing you’ve learned about parenting?

NS: That “attachment parenting” isn’t for me. I thought it would be when my wife was pregnant. I wrote about it a lot in those days. Then my son got here and I was quick to adopt the “cry it out” method. So much for my son sleeping in the bed with us. I totally went the other way on that one.

L&L: What are your thoughts about privacy, especially regarding your son? I often think about this with my own blog and Facebook page. How will it affect them down the road? Am I putting them in danger?

NS: I actually don’t think about it all; as odd as that sounds. Maybe I should?

L&L: How does your wife, Jill, feel about what you do?

NS: This is all she’s ever known. I’ve been blogging weekly since August 2005; a year before we met. She’s supportive and definitely trusts me with my creative outlet; so much so, she often doesn’t know what I published until the next day. If it’s something special, like the two posts I just did on having a gun in the house, I read it to her first to make sure how she feels about it. From there, she helps me “tone it down a bit.”

Teaching the ways of the world

Learning happens even when we’re not teaching.

L&L: I like to think that the readers of this blog come because we focus on the process of teaching our children the ways of the world and giving them solid advice for living a happy life. If you had to summarize your most important lesson to Jack, what would it be?

NS: “To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Therefore, love your neighbor as yourself.”

L&L: What is next for you and The Dadabase? What are the long-term goals of the project?

NS: I know this may sound like a cheese ball goal, but I would love to make it on a morning talk show to represent fatherhood in a positive light. I’ve been invited a few times by couple of the major networks, but they always change their mind after realizing I’m not going to be polarizing and dramatic for them. Normal doesn’t sell, I guess.

As far as long term, it’s hard to imagine there ever being a point where I didn’t write a letter to my son every day or at least every week. The future of The Dadabase is as unpredictable as parenting is.

So I just try to keep it as fresh, and interesting, and weird as I can in hopes that readers can relate to my version of parenthood.

L&L: Thanks to Nick Shell and Parents.com for agreeing to participate in this Q&A. Be sure to go check out Nick’s blog, The Dadabase. He provides a very real look at parenting, and Nick does a great job of talking about his hopes, dreams and fears for his son, Jack. It’s definitely material all parents can relate to.

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