About

I am a married father of three young men. I spent more than 20 years as a regular writer for a Canadian magazine called Today’s Parent. I’ve written features on various aspects of parenting, specializing in fathering, sleep, children’s mental health, education and, more recently autism and self-regulation. For ten or so of those years I had  an opinion column where my mandate was to question conventional parenting and child development wisdom, when need be. That’s were I developed and honed my ability to deconstruct bad parenting advice and expose misinformation about academic research.

I also spent 8 years as a full-time stay-home father and a number of years after that as a part-time stay-home parent.  My experience looking after my kids had a huge influence on my interest in child development and parenting information. When I was younger, I was a full-time bluegrass musician and I also played music part-time during the years I was an at-home parent. These days I’m not writing for magazines so much and doing more writing for non-profit organizations. I’m much more interested in working with researchers and other professionals to help them convey information to parents in helpful and realistic ways.  And I’ve gone back to playing music (very) part-time.

So that’s the very atypical male career path that led me, in  a roundabout way to this blog.

If anyone is interested in seeing some of my previous work, some of my parenting articles are archived on the Today’s Parent website. I’ve also written 7 booklets for fathers which are archived at dadcentral.ca and 6 other parenting booklets which can be found on the website of the Psychology Foundation of Canada.

As I researched articles about parenting and child development I interviewed dozens of academics. I’d call them up and ask them what their studies really said. What they told me was often quite different from what newspapers had reported about their research. Somewhere along the way I started to stick my nose into the academic world. I did communications work for the Father Involvement Research Alliance (www.fira.ca). I wrote many of the (non-academic) articles posted on that site, and I still look after the site. I have collaborated (and co-authored one paper) on an academic study of parents’ experiences of nightwaking, done communications work for another research group and written a quasi scholarly review of research on factors affecting the roles of fathers. I have also worked with the Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative as a research associate, helping to write journal articles coming out of their major study on an autism therapy known as DIR/Floortime. I am also a co-investigator on Dr. Lynn Loutzenhiser’s (University of Regina) study about mothers’ experiences of nightwaking and sleep training. That study has generated two peer-reviewed journal articles so far. The first was published in 2011 and the second will be published in 2014.

I started this blog because I believe information is becoming a problem for parents. People think the way to get parents to parent better is to give them more information. Wrong. I’m not saying parents don’t need or want information, but if we want parents to parent well, what they really need is more and better support, not more arcane, detailed directions and guidelines.

However, the information genie is out of the bottle and  someone needs to help parents sort through it. I used to do that through my Today’s Parent column. Now I do it here.

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5 Responses to About

  1. Rose says:

    Have loved what you have to say so far, but I can’t find any info on what your background/qualifications are. Would just be interested to know and to include here maybe? Thanks for a glorious blog.

  2. Nancy says:

    I have missed your articles in Today’s Parent. So glad I found your blog. What you said in your last two paragraphs above is much how I’ve been feeling lately. There is just so much information, but there doesn’t seem to be much support for parents. As my mother always says to me when I’m dealing with an issue with one of my kids, “The problem is, dear, you know too much. Trust you instincts and stop worrying about everything you read.” My mother is a wise woman.

  3. Rose Ann Serpico says:

    Wonderful info

  4. Vicki says:

    Good John
    Will you be continuing with this blog?
    Vicki

    • uncommonjohn says:

      Hi Vicki: Thanks for your interest. But this blog is sort of an archive now. I blog in two other places now, so I don’t really have time, or inclination to blog here.
      Are you the Vicki I know?

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