On The Gay Uncle’s Guide To Parenting

18Mar08

In which The Gay Recluse breathes a sigh of relief and encourages everyone to buy a book.

Recently we read The Gay Uncle’s Guide To Parenting by Brett Berk and learned that the world is filled with these strange creatures called “children,” which — somewhat alarmingly — are the by-product and responsibility of an even stranger (and infinitely more damaged) group of people known as “parents.” Children, it seems, are like pets to the extent that they need to be taken care of all the time, but they are a lot smarter: some can even talk! Otherwise, children seem to be pretty cool: they like to play and eat and make friends and build stuff and basically have a lot of fun in their miniature but wildly imaginative minds. True: sometimes they cry, are annoying or even throw tantrums because they are overwhelmed, which is less fun.

Parents, however, are another story! It’s hard to imagine a more neurotic, stressed-out group. For starters, many of them never go out for drinks, which makes them oddly insulated; they have a tendency to buy way more things than their kids actually need; they feed their children a lot of junk; they won’t let their kids sleep; they tell the stupidest and most confusing lies to their kids; they threaten their children with outlandish scenarios that they can never follow through on; they “home-school” their children. In short, parents do all sorts of crazy, stupid shit that seems all but certain to give their children major complexes that will undoubtedly take years and years on the therapist’s couch to unravel. Reading this, we were continually left with the question: must parents be so stupid?

Fortunately, they now have help. Brett Berk — in the form of The Gay Uncle — provides an entire book’s worth of sound advice (at least as far as we can tell; remember, we didn’t even know what children were!) on how parents can escape their “bubbles” and raise children with some modicum of sanity. This is fun reading: unlike us, Brett has a lot of experience dealing with kids and parents (he ran a pre-school in the East Village!) and tells great stories to drive home his points. In what is probably our favorite chapter on making friends, he describes an improbable bond between a little girl who is a bit of a straight arrow and a boy who is a free spirit; the girl’s parents — needless to say — are not happy about this and refuse to make a “play date,” although the boy’s mother is quite amenable to the idea. Berk says: “I’ve found that when parents express reservations about their kid’s friendships, the problem is more often rooted in an internal conflict of their own rather than anything having to do directly with their child.” (Berk’s itals, not ours.)

Berk would be annoying and overbearing at times if it were not for the fact that (besides being well qualified; he even has an M.S. Ed), he is very cognizant of his annoying and overbearing tendencies, and even better — a true queen! — uses this to great comic effect: “I wanted to offer some advice. But…I went for distraction instead. ‘Hummus, anyone?'” (This as a boy in the process of toilet training lays a turd on Berk’s front porch.)

In short, this is a book you will want every parent to have; the only question — given the above — is how to get it to them. We recommend buying a few copies and surreptitiously (or even “accidentally”) leaving one behind whenever appropriate. There are a lot of parents in the world, and apparently they still need lots of help. Why not let The Gay Uncle come to the rescue?

Brett Berk is currently on a book tour. He is a very entertaining reader: if you can, go see him! For information on that and all things Gay Uncle, visit his blog (brettberk.com).

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12 Responses to “On The Gay Uncle’s Guide To Parenting”

  1. 1 Mark Hansel

    This book is too retarded… Anyone who hasn’t had kids and thinks he an expert on raising children by claiming in a book as a on how to do such, is only self deluting himself in beleiving such kookyness”…. there are no self help ways in books or anyother ways and/or that teach people how to raise kids, it a hit and miss adventure full of times of happyness”, sadness, greef and and lot of pain and hard work raising children to grow up to be decent people.

    I’ve been a parent for 24 years and the nonsense oozing from this book is so off the wall, that people who have children and raised them know, this is other scam far from exceptence just as Mr. Spook’s book back in the severties failed also to measure up to true life.

    The end result is The Gay Uncle’s Guide to Parenting: Candid Counsel from the Depths of the Daycare Trenches. While Mr. Berk, 39, is not a parent himself he really hasn’t a clue about how to raise children, and while he gleaned his techniques from years running a New York preschool and from being a so called doting uncle to 13 nieces and nephews. That at the end of the day, Mr. Berk 39 shares and home with his boyfriend of 18 years, and still no children of his own. I doubt very much he could even handle and kids day in and day out…It’s a joke!.

  2. Umm, we don’t know much about raising children — please debate amongst yourselves! — but we definitely appreciate entertaining prose and hilarious storytelling, and there’s no question that The Gay Uncle fits the bill! And! He’s a good speller. And! Someone whom we suspect wouldn’t use a word like “retarded” to describe a book knowing that it’s the “faggot” of the DS community.

  3. 3 Kathy Beckett

    I have to admit that I felt mild prickles of irritation while reading this
    otherwise funny and somewhat informative book. The author comes off as a
    know-it-all at times, especially to those of us who are real life parents.
    But that’s nothing to how I felt hearing a “hate word” from the author of
    the comment above. Yes, used in that way, “retard” is as much a hate word
    as “faggot” or “nigger”
    Would you used those words casually or as a joke? Words do hurt and insult
    and they are especially hurtful to those of us who are real life parents to
    a child with an intellectual disability. Do you not know anyone has to deal
    with some sort of physical or mental challenge every day? A family member? A
    friend or neighbor? How would you feel if that person was insulted by the
    use of that word? You speak of raising your children to be decent people. I
    hope you are using your 24 years of parenting to teach them better than
    this.

  4. 4 Mark Hansel

    Ok, it plain to see some people don’t grasp what the word retard mean’s and are bent on using another form of stupidity, by calling everything they don’t like by calling it “hate”, when it comes to not agreeing with gays.

    “Retard” means “slow” in French. When the word came into common English use in the 20th century to describe mentally retarded people, it was offered as a kinder alternative to mediOfficially, mentally retarded people have low IQs and trouble learning certain skills.

    “Retard” as an insult is a comment on someone’s intelligence–usually sparked by something small, like not getting a joke or saying something corny. The implication is that you are not just “slow” or “behind” at that moment, but in a permanent sort of way. The word “retard” also has a patronizing effect–a common complaint from mentally retarded people is that they’re treated like children–and that same inferior feeling also carries over to the insult.

    Used as a joke, on the other hand, the word “retard” has lost its sting to the point where it can mean the opposite of slow and stupid. The word is making appearances lately on a range ofsuper-sarcastic websites, cartoons and fanzines.

    Let hope this nonsense of the word hate that is used to those special people as they want to be labeled as, grow up

  5. Mark, I have to disagree with you and here’s why: while the use of the word “retarded” may have originally been devised to describe a medical condition, it’s — as you say — been picked up in certain (lame and uneducated) segments of popular culture to mean “stupid.” Thus, if you are someone who knows or cares about someone who is in fact retarded in the medical sense of the word, you may find it hurtful to hear the word being used to mean “stupid.” (I personally don’t think this is unreasonable, given that there are 1000 other words that can be used to say exactly the same thing.) I also think we can probably assume commenter Kathy falls into that boat, so let’s try to imagine her with say, a son or daughter with Down Syndrome. Do you still really want to be tossing around a work like “retarded” knowing that it hurts her feelings? Why not just say fucking stupid? Or asinine? (And just to preempt the argument, no, I’m not in favor of censorship — people can obviously say whatever the fuck they want — but I do think it demonstrates a certain amount of sensitivity to refrain in certain contexts (and commenting on a book about children — even if you think the book is stupid — is one of them.)

    Your e-mail address seems to be from Canada, so here’s a scenario for you: how would you like it if everyone started using the word “Canadian” to describe stuff that was uncool or stupid. “Man, that show is fucking Canadian! Turn the channel!” My guess is you wouldn’t be too happy about it and I could understand why. A real man is sensitive to the feelings of others, and knows when to apologize when he’s wrong. Let’s hope for commenter Kathy — who seems like a nice woman — you can rise to the occasion and show some sensitivity.

  6. 6 Mark Hansel

    Oh please, it’s nothing personal. You have every right to disagree with myself and I’m ok with that, but wanting me to be appealing to my humanity, to be sensitive is, too funny…

    I am entitled to my opinion just as you are or anyone else is for that matter, but in your case, and I’m assuming you are the author of the said book in question, stating to people, how to raise children… now if you stop for a moment and see when people who don’t have kids and express there options about raising kids to real parents, then it like, your just being an armchair quarterback.

    How can you be an expert on war, if you’ve never been in the trenches? How can you be a expert parachute instructor, if you’ve never jumped out of a plane?

    But the fact is……it is not as simple as reading a book, like a car manual, hoping it to be a quick fix to any problems that might come forth,.when raising those children.

    I just thought your book was retarded, (nothing personal) on telling how to raise children, when you have no children in the first place…..think about it…

    Oh and American’s already use the term Canadian to describe criminals’ and I’m ok with that, as in some cases here in Canada, our governments are criminals’ and terrorists.

    Well good luck with your book, I don’t think very many parents will take it very seriously anyhow!

  7. Hey Mark, that’s pretty hilarious that you think I wrote a book about how to raise children!!! Seriously: LOL! Obviously you’re not a regular reader of The Gay Recluse (which, phew). I wrote this thing called a “review” of The Gay Uncle’s Guide…, because I happened to see the author read one night at a “book store” and I thought he was funny. You responded to the review by saying that the book was “retarded,” which drew the ire of commenter Kathy. I agreed with her! And for the record, raising kids is not something I would ever pretend to know anything about, so your criticism of me for writing a book I didn’t write (and never would!) is about as off the mark as you could get. You didn’t like the book: fine, we all get that, but the real issue here — which you failed to address in your last comment — is: are you (or are you not) an asshole for using the word “retarded” when you know it bothers people whose kids have Down Syndrome and other such conditions? Oh and just to be clear, I think you ARE an asshole for doing so (particularly at your age), but I would actually be curious to know why you think it’s such a good idea, or even funny! (And I’m not completely unfamiliar with arguments on both sides in terms of words like “faggot,” etc.,) After all, we all have our missions in life, and if yours is to use the word “retarded” as much as possible, you might as well set the record straight so that others can be swayed by your brilliant rhetoric and keen insight.

  8. 8 Mark Hansel

    LOL’s, Ok so you reviewed the book, so what… I guess now you think your some kind of a genius of some sort, too funny…. Well good for you.

    As for this pathetic book, it was retarded, which I believe it was…and to set the record straight their bubba, so that others will not be forced by myself, or your scam…. This so called wonderful, down to earth review you do promoting this book, is a sham and straw man argument for the propose of promoting to those who don’t have children, to be telling those of us who do, how they should be raising their kids and note: in a book that full of flights of fantasy and reality. OK……

    But then you brain dead sheep, can’t even figure out how many people get sucked into these self help books, and learn later, it does nothing for the kids or to help parents.

    What I find so pathetic, is seeing people who claim there an expert on raising children, when it plain to see this fellow is not, and when these certain agenda’s seem quite regularly are forced in society, how many times are you all so willing to cater to these special interest groups, doing your thinking for you, as they believe they know better then, “you”.

    You can go a long to get along, but it still doesn’t change the fact, that if you and all those others wish to be willfully ignorant and shout there’s hate in these words, then your self deluding yourself big-time… but hell, then be my guest, about issues that are forced on you and the public to buy as something that is new and revolutionary and is needed to help all those poor saps, who haven’t a clue about raising children.

    As for myself being an asshole, as you want to point out, maybe I am in your eyes for having the gull by expressing my own belief, just as I do to my gay friends.
    At least they get over it and listion to my points of views just as I do their’s, and have no problem in myself expressing my beleives, which is why they are great freinds.

    Just get over it, will you and stop pretending people who express themselves, are hatemonger’s and assholes. I’m sure my gay friends’ after reading your responses got a real kick out of your trying to be the defender of gay rights, when even some of those gays think also the book was over the top, as well for us breeders.

    So good luck, on your expressing yourself and what you call hate…

  9. Mark: I’m not saying you don’t have the legal right to say whatever you want, I’m just saying you’re an inconsiderate asshole for doing so. But you seem to agree, so I guess we’re all settled here.

    Now, on a related note: to all of Mark’s “gay friends,” I’d love to hear your testimonials about what a great guy he is! He seems so kind and insightful — really, the model Dad! — and I’d like to honor him with some additional coverage here on The Gay Recluse! Seriously, either respond in the comments below or email to thegayrecluse@gmail.com.

  10. 10 Mark Hansel

    Well sir, I’m glad too see you sort of believe that I have any kind of rights to express on anything on your Blog. And it has nothing to do legal or not. You see, here in Canada the newest court case to come forth and ruled in the Supreme Court on the Government of Canada, stated: that if you believe in what you say, then it is fair comment.

    Just as you believe, that I am a “inconsiderate asshole” for expressing myself in using the term retard, which you believe is all settled here.

    Ok sir, I don’t have any problem with you calling myself an “inconsiderate asshole’, but I do have one point to make.

    I will give you an A++ and say “thank you” as you seem quite a nice friendly fellow, to not only let myself express my opinion’s and that I do appreciate your candor in how you express yourself using the term “inconsiderate asshole’, which I feel and believe is not very sensitive for you as a manly type, to use…but feel free to do so…..

    So maybe, if you like, I could then appeal to your humanity, to use some other form of expression, just as you which you did to myself by using the word “retard”.

    Now a lot of blogs do use censorship, when they get responses’ they don’t like, because of hurt feelings and having issues bite them back in the ass, so to speak.

    So again, I’ll give you A++ for pointing out that I am a great loving Dad, which I truly am and who’s children are free thinking kids that can express there thoughts, be it on any “ISM” you know, like socialism, communism, or phony man made global warmish-ism, ect…. Or government corruption, to government terrorism, or able to confront bogus school teachings, that have nothing to do with their education as freemen.

    So, I look forward to any of my gay friends or others even gay I don’t know to really express themselves, as a real man like myself, can take it….so bring it on!. :-)

  11. 11 Mark Hansel

    Oh and while you want to write about issues, I though for al the gays out there to take a serious look at this news article, as this is something you should be writing about and be very concerned about, instead of fluff and ball game nonsense.

    ……………..

    Wright Says U.S. Government Capable Of Creating AIDS Virus

    Barack Obama’s outspoken pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., defended his statements accusing the U.S. government of deliberately engineering the AIDS virus as a means of genocide during a National Press Club appearance
    yesterday by citing the documented history of the U.S. government’s involvement in biological warfare operations against innocent people.

    ……………………..

    Wright Says U.S. Government Capable Of Creating AIDS Virus
    Hecklers turn mute as pastor cites documented history of biological warfare against innocent people

    Barack Obama’s outspoken pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., defended his statements accusing the U.S. government of deliberately engineering the AIDS virus as a means of genocide during a National Press Club appearance yesterday by citing the documented history of the U.S. government’s
    involvement in biological warfare operations against innocent people.

    Asked if he stood behind previous statements about the U.S. government deliberately creating AIDS as a means of genocide against black people, Wright responded, “”Have you read Horowitz’ book – Emerging Viruses – AIDS and Ebola?”

    “Have you read Medical Apartheid,” continues Wright as he is heckled from the floor.

    But when Wright starts to list documented examples of how the U.S. government had been complicit in biological warfare operations against innocent people, the reaction was noticeably mute.

    video’s

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8674401787208020885&hl=en

    “Based on the Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything,” Wright continued.

    “In fact one of the responses to what Saddam Hussein had in terms of biological warfare was a non-question because all we had to do was check the sales record – we sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people, so any time a government can put together biological
    warfare to kill people and then get angry when those people use what we sold them, yes I believe we are capable,” Wright concluded.

    The Tuskegee experiment was a 40-year program run by the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) between 1932 and 1972 that studied the effects of syphilis on 399 poor black sharecroppers from Alabama.

    The men were simply told that they had “bad blood,” were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness, and were promised free health care and other benefits if they cooperated.

    The men were left to suffer as the ravages of the disease took hold and were prevented from obtaining any kind of remedy that would alleviate their pain. “As I see it,” one of the doctors involved explained, “we have no further interest in these patients until they die.”

    Most of the men hoodwinked into taking part in the experiment died directly of syphilis or related complications and their wives and children were also infected.

    President Bill Clinton had to publicly apologize for the Tuskegee outrage in May 1997 and he was forced to acknowledge that the program was a racist eugenics-based horror that had no scientific merit whatsoever.

    As researchers shunned by the media, people like Dr. Len Horowitz and Boyd Ed Graves, have asserted, evidence to suggest that the U.S. military-industrial complex artificially engineered the AIDS virus as a means of population control is compelling.

    Graves’ 1971 Special ‘HIV’ Virus Flow Chart (see it here) “provides absolute evidence of the United States’ intent to kill its own citizens and others,” according to Graves.

    The flowchart coordinates over 20,000 scientific papers and fifteen years of progress reports of a secret federal virus development program which dovetails almost perfectly with the spread of AIDS from 1971 onwards.

    As Jerry Mazza writes, “On July 29, 1969, only days after the Department of Defense (DOD) asked for $10 million from Congress to fund the development of a “synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally exist and for which no natural immunity could have been acquired . . .” on that day, the chairman of the Republican Task Force on Earth Resources and Population, the Honorable George H. W. Bush, U.S. Representative from Texas, 7th District (1967-71), stressed the pressing need for population control
    activities to fend off “a growing Third World crisis.”

    In the following passage taken from the Dept. of Defense request for Appropriation for 1970, HB 15090, the Pentagon’s Dr. MacArthur tells Robert L.F. Sikes of the need for a “synthetic biological agent”.

    There are two things about the biological agent field I would like to mention. One is the possibility of technological surprise. Molecular biology is a field that is advancing very rapidly and eminent biologists believe
    that within a period of 5 to 10 years it would be possible to produce a synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally exist and for which no natural immunity could have been acquired.

    Mr. Sikes. Are we doing any work in that field?
    Dr. MacArthur. We are not.
    Mr. Sikes.. Why not? Lack of money or lack of interest?
    Dr. MacArthur. Certainly not lack of interest.
    Mr. Sikes. Would you provide for our records information on what would be required, what the advantages of such a program would be. the time and the cost involved?
    Dr. MacArthur. We will be very happy to.

    The information follows:

    The dramatic progress being made in the field of molecular biology led us to investigate the relevance of this field of science to biological warfare. A small group of experts considered this matter and provided the following observations:

    All biological agents up to the present time are representatives of naturally occurring disease. and are thus known by scientists throughout the world. They are easily available to qualified scientists for research. either for offensive or defensive purposes.

    Within the next 5 to 10 years. it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism which could differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it
    might be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.

    A research program to explore the feasibility of this could be completed in approximately 5 years at the total cost of $10 million.

    The evidence for the man-made creation of AIDS is overwhelming and too lengthy to include in one article, but Graves’ website and Mazza’s article are a good start for further research. I also recommend Horowitz’ paper, A New Theory On The Origin of AIDS.

    Since Wright’s comments about AIDS and U.S. government complicity in 9/11 were picked up on by the media as an excuse to smear Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate has distanced himself from the pastor.

    “Some of the comments that Rev. Wright has made offend me, and I understand why they offend the American people,” Obama told reporters yesterday. “They don’t represent my views and they don’t represent what this campaign’s about, but he’s obviously free to make those statements.”

    RELATED VIDEO: In Lies We Trust: The CIA, Hollywood and Bioterrorism by Len Horowitz

  12. Mark: Zzzzz.


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