Why This Dad is Offering Free Private Advice Via Email

December 22, 2011 at 7:23 pm , by 

Let me be your non-licensed, unprofessional 2nd opinion for all things dad-like.

No matter how close of a friend you have, I still believe there are certain things you just can’t ask them because A) you know them too well and B) they know your family and friends.

I remember when I got married back in 2008 how I wished there was some random, yet relevant and normal guy who understood what I was going through, who I could easily get free advice from.

Back then, I was so clueless as to how to be a husband; knowing what to say and how to react to my wife, and more importantly, what not to say and how not to react. I just wanted an anonymous advice source.

By now, I’m much more comfortable being a husband; as I had to learn simply through trial and error, and reading clever books like Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat? and For Men Only.

I was that much more overwhelmed when I become a dad 13 months ago. I was frustrated on so many levels and wanted some invisible person who didn’t know me by name to tell me exactly what to do.

Gandhi said, “We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.” So I’m taking his advice.

Starting now, I am volunteering myself as this anonymous advice giver. In particular, my free service is for dads and moms who don’t want their problems aired publicly before critics, but who just want simple, straight-forward advice for their stressful and/or delicate situations regarding parenting.

Dads, are you annoyed by the fact that your child is so clingy to your wife all the time; causing your wife to become stressed out because she can’t get anything done? And are you beyond frustrated that you want to help your wife but know that if you try, your child will do nothing but cry for your wife? I want to help you with deal with this, but not in front of a female audience.

Moms, is your husband just all of the sudden getting angry for no reason and not telling you why? Is he not helping out enough with the baby and with cooking and cleaning? I’ll be glad to tell you how to motivate him, but not here, knowing that at least a quarter of my readers are male.

In this “online hotline” of mine, I am very serious about staying committed to it being anonymous. I truly don’t want to know you who are; not even a hint. I simply want to help people I don’t know.

If you’re interested and/or curious and in need of some “dadvice,” simply send me an email to nickshell1983@hotmail.com. Just so I don’t overlook it in my inbox, be sure to include the codeword “dadvice” in the subject line.

Image: Free Advice Via Shutterstock.

For Aspiring and Beginning Bloggers: Six Tips on How to Have a Successful Blog Site on WordPress (My First 200,000 Hits)

Today as my WordPress site reached 200,000 hits, I received another email from a fellow blogger asking me advice on how to improve their site.  I am now briefly sharing the secrets of my success which I have learned through trial and error since September 2009 when I started Scenic Route Snapshots.

Use WordPress, not BlogSpot: I have never used BlogSpot, but I’ve noticed the more successful bloggers use WordPress, like Stuff White People Like and 1,000 Awesome Things; the authors of both of those sites received book deals based on their blogs and the books have gone on to be top sellers.  I believe that WordPress offers the best layouts and the best tools.  I love how I can easily see my top posts each day along with my top searched items through Google; that way I can capitalize on the things I write about the best.

Write nearly daily: Now that I have written just under 500 posts here on my site and have covered so many different subjects, the chances of anyone typing in any noun into Google and stumbling upon my site are pretty good.  Right now if you type in “banana” or “red panda”, you’ll find me easily.  Not only does writing daily increase the quality of my own writing, but it also increases readership, in the likeness of paying to have your name in the drawing 20 times as opposed to all the others who just paid for one time.

Use too many pictures: Yes, I meant to say that. Use too many pictures.  At first I wanted the satisfaction of knowing that readers who stumbled upon my site were doing so simply because of the quality of my writing.  But I was really being unfair to myself, because who would buy a magazine if it didn’t have an attention grabbing picture on the cover and constant pictures throughout its content? Pictures are the #1 way to market your blog.  Even more so than facebook and Twitter, I have found.  Out of my 800 facebook friends, when I publish a new post and it shows up on my facebook wall (I have linked WordPress to facebook and Twitter), at best I may get 40 hits just from facebook.   However, a good picture in a post can easily bring me 100 hits daily for months.  My rule for pictures is roughly “one large picture per every 12 lines of typing”.

Use too many words in your titles: For the most part, my more popular posts contain more than six words and consist of at least two nouns. In 2010, my most popular post was What Wile E. Coyote, Red Pandas, and U2 All Have in Common: They Still Haven’t Found What They’re Looking For.  While the content of that post was a bit abstract and even spiritual, the title was as cut and dry as I could make it.  Interestingly, that post was published in July 2010 (halfway through the year) and still managed to garner over 10,000 views by January 1, 2011 when I posted my Best of 2010 blog featuring it as my #1 most popular post of the year.

Write different series: As you find yourself writing about the same topics, turn them into a collection, then into their own page where readers can easily access them at the top of your page.  Take my dad from day one series, for example.  I literally have dozens of different posts in that one series.  Typically, if a person is going to read one of those posts, they are likely to read at least several more. That way, I’m turning one hit into seven.

Write about interesting stuff from an interesting perspective: Easier said than done, right?  Either you have the talent or you don’t. However, the fact that you are aspiring or beginning to write a blog says this about you: Like me, you find enough time in the day to write; meaning you probably have enough going through your head to write about; meaning you probably have writing talent.  To help you further, I’ve been documenting my viewership milestones into a series. I recommend you take the time to read it, as it includes other details to help you have a popular blog:

Nick Shell’s “10,000 Hits” series:

Being Down to Earth, Yet Never Really Touching the Ground: My First 10,000 Hits on WordPress

Being Original, Yet Never Really Breaking New Ground: My First 20,000 Hits on WordPress

Being Engaging, Yet Never Really Standing on Dangerous Ground: My First 30,000 Hits on WordPress

Being Excessive and Eventually Finding Coming Ground: My First 40,000 Hits on WordPress

Being Active in the Blogging World Yet Hanging Out in the Background: My First 50,000 Hits on WordPress

Being Offbeat Enough to Gain Steady Ground: My First 100,000 Hits on WordPress

If you have any other questions or want my advice on writing a WordPress blog, feel free to ask and I will be glad to help you.


dad from day one: Parenting a Tongue Tied Baby

Week 5.

I chose not to go public about Jack being tongue tied, maybe in a subconscious attempt to avoid being overwhelmed with polarizing schools of advice before my wife and I had time to assess the situation ourselves and learn what would truly be best for him.  We realized after just the first couple of days after Jack was born that he wasn’t able to feed like other babies.  He could never get a good latch nor could he take more than a few sips of milk before crying and making a gurgling sound.  Actually, I never knew that being tongue tied was a real thing.  I just thought it was a phrase people used to describe momentarily not being able to successfully speak.  In case you haven’t already clicked on the Wikipedia link in the first sentence or already know this, some babies are born with that “skin bridge” attached too closely for them to stick out their tongues very far.

In Jack’s case, it meant extreme difficulty in feeding.  For more extreme cases, a tongue tied baby may grow up to become a child or adult with a speech impediment.  So last Thursday, we drove back to Vanderbilt in Nashville and had Jack’s tongue clipped.  I consider it a 2nd circumcision of sorts.  In fact, I was offered the chance to watch the procedure, so I did.  It was everything you would imagine. Just a few quick cuts.  I highly recommend it if your infant or child is tongue tied.

Since Thursday, the silver coating the doctor sprayed on the lacerations has been slowly peeling off.  So in a few more days, he should be out of pain and be able to begin learning to feed normally, with a tongue that can reach past his lips.  So if you have a tongue tied baby, and you’re asking for my opinion, just get it clipped. It’s no big deal and it sure beats having to wonder how much easier feeding could have been and whether your child will have difficulty speaking.

iContact: Behind the Thought Process of Keeping Eye Contact with Another Person

Standing up straight. Having a firm handshake.  Maintaining eye contact. And the greatest of these is maintaining eye contact.

Throughout my life those three tips of advice have been constantly bouncing around in my head, though ultimately they end up like the failed attempts of a person who makes the same New Year’s Revolution every year and never keeps it. Maybe I could be a stronger leader, influence more people, and have more friends if I could simply act on these commonly heard instructions on being a successful man. Perhaps then I could be a successful motivational speaker (one that doesn’t live in a van down by the river). Or the next Billy Mays.

Looking another human straight into the eyes is like staring into the person’s soul. If I’m not thinking about it, I can look a person in the eyes for a long time while I am talking to them. But then I tend to think about the fact that I am looking at them in the eyes.

Then it’s all I can do to just look in one of their eyes because it’s too intense to look in both. Then I wonder if they can tell I’m just looking in one eye. Then I think about what I’m thinking about, but start to laugh because I realized I shouldn’t be thinking this much about it. Then I realize I don’t even know what the person is saying at this point, but conveniently they were saying something that was at kinda funny so my smirk has a purpose.

Eye contact is a learned skill. But sometimes I feel like it’s a natural born talent.

Wearing sunglasses is cheating. If I wear sunglasses, the other person tends to assume I am actually looking them in the eyes. It’s also an advantage to me because they don’t know exactly where to look since they can’t see my pupils so they get distracted. That causes them to agree with everything I say, and laugh sometimes, hoping I was telling a funny story. The secret to being a strong leader, having more friends, and influencing people is to wear sunglasses.

And to stand up straight and shake peoples’ hands firmly, like an Alpha Male boyfriend does when he meets a guy friend of his girlfriend who may pose a possible threat because the guy friend is artistic and funny. When the truth is, the boyfriend’s real threat is that the guy friend is a better listener and more sensitive. Seen it happen more than once in college.

Unsolicited Advice is Like Fruitcake

Like fruitcake, it’s a popular gift.  And like fruitcake, it’s usually not received with sincere grattitude.

Yesterday I read someone’s facebook status update saying they are “sick and tired of getting unsolicited advice about how to raise my kids”.  A flood of comments followed from people who agreed, along with several “likes this”.  Good call.

Because there is actually a difference between constructive criticism and unsolicited advice- the “unsolicited” part.  And of course I’m not referring to family or close friends- it’s their job to give you unsolicited advice, because they’re more apt to “get through” to you in their approach, as well as knowing you well enough to give relevant advice.

And “relevant” is an important word.  Because part of the reason unsolicited advice is so obnoxious is that it’s often irrelevant to to us.

There are many times in my life where I really want someone’s advice.  So I ask for it, specifically from the people who I believe have the most intuition and wisdom on the subject.  The irony of receiving unsolicited advice is that the people most likely and eager to give it are often the ones who I would never ask anyway.

Which means sometimes I have to stay strong to resist from giving others advice when they haven’t asked for it, lest I be “that guy”.

It all comes down to a social cue that many people feel is disregarded- like their personal life is being intruded upon when someone gives me advice they didn’t ask for.  Because giving advice (warranted or not) is a form of giving criticism.  And when it comes to receiving criticism, most people aren’t truly that open to it- unless they are directly asking a specific trusted individual for it.

Granted, there are times when people put themselves in a situation that invites advice, indirectly.  Any kind of public facebook message will do the trick.  Anything I write about on my site is always open to criticism and advice; that’s why I allow comments.  I like hearing others’ perspectives on raising a kid and I welcome comments on my “dad from day one series”.  That’s intended as a shared experience.

But it’s those people in our “outer circles” that tend to be the key offenders.  The ones most likely to bring to your attention that you’ve gained some weight, got a big zit on your forehead, are starting to lose your hair,  or announce in front of everyone that you appear to be in a bad mood.  These people obviously don’t intend to offend us; they honestly mean well.

It’s just that no one taught them basic social behavior lessons.  And the thing is, they’ll probably never get a clue.  So what do I do when I get unsolicited advice from a person who isn’t too keen on social clues?  Give ‘em a half-sincere smile, shake my head “yes”, and change the subject.

And I’ve also noticed that these same people so eager to help us are often the most likely to go into details about their personal life, telling everyone stories that no one asked to hear.  They are eager to “help” us because they need help themselves.

I guess ultimately, being given uninvited advice is in a way like someone telling you who to be.  And for those of us who definitely know who we are, it’s if nothing else, plain annoying, to be told we are going to become like someone else who lives their own life by a different code.

There’s something that keeps us from wanting someone else to be able to figure us out.  It’s accurate to say that there’s nothing truly new under the sun.  But still we thrive on the freedom to live life as an individual, not based on both the idiots and geniuses who have done this thing before us.

P.S.  By the way, in my opening I had to use fruitcake as a universal example that most people would relate to- when in fact, I am actually a big fan of fruitcake.

dad from day one: What Does a Real Baby Do?

Fifteen weeks.

My expectations of what it will be like for my wife and I to have a real baby are pretty limited.  When I try to imagine it, I can only think about a few things: the baby crying, the baby being hungry, feeding the baby, the baby wanting to be held, holding the baby, the baby pooping, changing the baby’s diapers, the baby sleeping, us wishing we could sleep.

And aside from the 80’s sitcom stereotypes, I of course am well aware, thanks to everyone who has ever been a parent and given me any advice: There’s nothing in the world more rewarding than being a parent.

In November I will begin to feel like a real parent (once the kid is born).  Until then I won’t really truly be able to understand or fathom this most rewarding thing in the world.

It’s funny to think that eventually we won’t be comparing our baby to the size of a certain fruit.  (This week our baby is the size of a naval orange.) Eventually, our baby will be the size of a baby.  Interesting thought.

Excerpt from “the bump.com”, regarding week 15:

“Continuing the march towards normal proportions, baby’s legs now outmeasure the arms. And, finally, all four limbs have functional joints. Your fetus is squirming and wiggling like crazy down in the womb, though you probably still can’t feel the movements.”

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

http://community.thebump.com/cs/ks/blogs/nb_checklists/pages/how-big-is-baby.aspx?r=0&MsdVisit=1