BRYAN THOMSON-DIPALMA Daddypapa.

AGE   53

HOMETOWN(S)   Brisbane, Australia / Maplewood, NJ

NUMBER OF CHILDREN   One

DAY JOB   Hair colorist

RELATIONSHIP STATUS   Fully committed….

HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?

We’ve always been a team!

When our son was a newborn we both worked three days a week —since we are both men it meant we could alternate in the feeding schedule.  We are in the fortunate position of being self-employed so we could organize our work schedule around caring for our son.

We really did partner in parenting and so as our son grew we noticed we were completely interchangeable to him. Discussing my son with a co-worker one day (a straight Dad) he asked whom my son preferred when he was really upset about something. I hadn’t ever thought about that, but he told me his child always wanted “Mommy”, whereas our son would call out for “Daddypapa”.

He never had a preference and I wondered if that was a result of us always being able to share in our parenting. We’ve really continued in our “tag team parenting”, which can initially be confusing for teachers when they see us alternating in our “drop off/pick up” schedule at school. It has worked superbly for us and we both feel so connected to our son as a result of having chosen to parent this way.

There is our annual review of the economic cost of our parenting choices, agonizing over being able to pick him up after school and be home to help with homework versus increasing income, but ultimately we choose the former.

HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?

My choices definitely are more considered. The simple daily activities where I feel that I need to be setting the example for him – driving the car without negative commentary on other drivers! I’ve become a better person since becoming a parent, I realize I’m setting an example so I’d better make better choices in most situations or he’ll be quick to point it out to me.

HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

I think parenting has made us better people. We both really want so much to be the best we can be for our son and give him a strong foundation in his life. Becoming parents was such a gift for us, I never feel that we are sacrificing anything. We both had really fulfilling lives before we met so there is never the feeling that we’re “missing out” on anything. I’ve definitely come to appreciate the value of a good night’s sleep — so I might choose sleep over sex!

WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?

I follow some of my mother’s principles of parenting – a stay-at-home mother, she raised six children to become happy, successful adults. I think some of her time tested methods of parenting made for a good foundation for all of us as happy individuals. She was tough and taught me that you aren’t always “liked” by your children but ultimately “loved”.

My weakness is that I can be inflexible and need to know when to compromise, which I have come to learn from my son. He really teaches me so much about myself, even though it can be challenging to accept at times.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?

We were out of town for a long weekend in the snow and I had failed to notice my son’s escalating fever. He was bundled up for the cold when his fever spiked resulting in his having a febrile seizure while he was in my arms. In that moment I felt so afraid and vulnerable since I had no idea what was happening. There was a nurse nearby who immediately knew what was happening and explained it to me. I’d never felt so afraid or helpless as I did in that moment.

WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?

The amazing experience of our son reading completely independently was really a powerful one. We’re a family of readers, so seeing him become a reader and share our love for it was important.

I felt we’d really done something right.

Lisa D

Lisa Duggan is the founder of The Modern Village, and publisher of TheParentduJour.com and TheMotherHoodBlog.com.

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