Here at The Father Life we embrace the idea that “becoming a dad doesn’t mean that you stop being a guy.” Chris Mancini’s new book, Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad, captures that idea to the letter. As a relatively experienced dad (my sons are 11 and almost 4), I wasn’t sure how much I would get out of reading the book. Though there wasn’t any information in the book that I wasn’t aware of, Mancini captures the essence of what fatherhood is all about from the time your wife says “let’s have a baby,” until the trauma of infancy and toddlerhood is through.
Chris Mancini is a comic and filmmaker who has screened and spoken at various prestigious festivals including Slamdance, HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, and Comic-Con in San Diego. In the beginning of Pacify Me, Mancini identifies the glaring problem that there are no good resources available for dads. Some women would suggest that men simply aren’t interested in reading books about being a parent. Not true says Mancini. Most of the plethora of books available on parenting are written by women for women. The ones that try to address the dad “border on the absurd and read like ‘what men are thinking if they were women.’” The author struck a chord with me on that one.
Chris’s comic background and straight forward style allow him to approach being a dad with the type of candor and authenticity that any guy can appreciate. Most men have some sort of anxiety about becoming dads. Whether it’s lamenting the loss of time with the guys, or wondering if your Grand Theft Auto and Halo days are over, Mancini covers it all. To make matters even better, he does it fresh with all of the Star Wars, Star Trek, beer, and video game references any guy could ask for. Want to know all the things that Dr. Spock and Spock the Vulcan have in common? Check. Need a packing list for your first long road trip with baby? Don’t forget the valium, fake passports, and psychiatrist’s phone number. Think it’s ok to agree with your partner when she says she misses the body that she had before the baby? Think again.
All the comedy aside, Chris also tackles serious, practical issues of becoming a dad. He approaches subjects like watching for post partum depression, dealing with your partner’s decreased sex drive, and accepting that everyone from your parents to the milkman is going to say that they know more than you about parenting. More than anything, Mancini addresses every new dad’s biggest fear. “How am I gonna screw this thing up?” And time after time he gives us dads a sort of pat on the back with the reassurance that everything is going to be ok.
I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Pacify Me has something to offer every guy no matter what stage you are at. Whether you are just thinking that now is the time to take the plunge into parenthood or you just found out and it wasn’t planned or if you are a semi-pro like me, pick up the book. Have a good laugh and then pass it along to one of your buddies that could use one shining star in a sea full of parenting books written by the opposite sex.
Check out our recent article by Chris Mancini: “Don’t Be Extreme Dad.”
Dave Baldwin is a businessman, musician, and divorced father of two boys. They live together in El Paso, TX.