Shirking Culpability:: A Dad’s Guide to Staying Out of Trouble

Father’s Day is just days away, and this week a few Houston dads have graciously contributed their thoughts on parenting. Today, Daniel D., husband of Houston Moms Blog’s own contributor Brandy, shares a humorous guide to shirking culpability and staying out of trouble with her.

The Dads Take Over | Houston Moms Blog

For all dads … please read on.

For all moms … please stop reading and forward this blog to the father of house


Dads, do you have a desire to reclaim your weekend naps on the sofa, guilt free? To tee off some mornings knowing your wife and kids are back home smiling in full support of your well deserved R&R? Do you wish to enjoy a guys night out without a dog’s night back home?

Then never, ever get in trouble.

Impossible, you say! But I’m here to say it’s not! How, you may ask? Read on for secrets to shirking culpability and enjoying the freedom all great fathers should enjoy.

First, why should you accept advice from me? Well, I’m proud to say that recently I was pronounced the “best” dad by one of my daughters, and thus I feel not only qualified, but impelled to share with you my secrets {at least the ones that work for a household of daughters}.

Steal All the Good Ideas

Not that long ago, we needed more pantry space in the house. We had a pantry full of pre-packaged snack-sized foods of everything imaginable. We wanted to give our girls variety in their lunches {provided they were full of salt and/or sugar}. As such, my wife had the idea to add shelves to the pantry and told me about it for weeks. A few months later, I awoke on a Saturday to the sound of the doorbell. I soon found myself talking to an experienced carpenter about the 3 shelves my wife had requested him to add to the pantry. When the 2 minutes of explaining what was needed was over, he looked at me and in a tone questioning my entire manhood, he asked, “Is that all?” Later that day, I had the great idea of installing three shelves! And with a quick visit {or two} to the Home Depot, I was well on my way to expanding the pantry. The wife loved “my” idea and our snacks have been {mostly} well-organized ever since.

Another time, when my wife was pregnant with kid #2, she had the idea to host a painting party for a brand new nursery. I got the invite at work. So I rushed home and was soon enjoying the now “paint and pizza” party. It ended early with a sleepy wife; however, I stole her idea to keep the party going into the wee hours of the night, and finished the room.

I have since had many opportunities to steal good ideas from my wife. These include fixing the noisy fridge, patching the leaking roof, repairing the broken garage door, catching mice in the attic, and many other issues around the house.

So, if you want to avoid getting in trouble, then act on all such great ideas even if you have to steal them from your spouse {or in-laws}.

Question the Family’s Spending Habits

Another way I have kept out of trouble is by questioning expenditures of the family and ensuring everyone follows the budget. I have asked the following with respect to staying on budget::

  • Another dress?
  • Did you really need that many lattes this month?
  • Who is this Kendra Scott person?
  • Yet another dinner at chain-de-jour?
  • Hamilton tickets? Are you crazy?
  • And etc.

This has helped the family understand that I am concerned about the budget, and they don’t question my judgement when I buy::

  • A dress, because it makes her look beautiful
  • A latte because she had a rough day
  • Jewelry because she is so special to me
  • A dinner at ‘You-need-the-foodie-experience’ chain
  • Hamilton tickets because of a lifetime memory. Wait… how much?
  • And etc., well, because I love her…

So to avoid getting in trouble, overspend on your kids while questioning why the budget doesn’t fit.

Keep All Electronics Top Notch 

I rarely have time to watch television, but when my kids do, they are watching it on a well-researched big screen. I mean, what dad {I mean, kid} shouldn’t have a great TV?

Additionally, I have worked hard to make sure all the mobile devices are working and are backed up. Occasionally I log in into their devices and clean up all the apps they keep downloading {what’s with this Minecraft?}. I also happily give a lecture about how important it is to pay attention to security and proper maintenance of their devices. They have enjoyed my lectures so much, they have let their devices get out of shape many more times, so that they can hear the lecture again.

I have also worked hard to make sure the internet is faster than the neighbors, and that the wifi mesh network reaches into all the rooms. They have valued this service so much, I regularly get notifications from my internet provider that Netflix {I mean their use of the internet for education} has exceeded the monthly quota. In fact, there once was a time that I didn’t even know the providers had a quota. I do now, because I know how to stay out of trouble!

Drink a Beer

Another way I have shirked culpability is by drinking a beer. I have opened a cool one as they say, when I grill up their favorite steak or burger, or when I do the lawn, re-organize the garage, make the house safer with new cameras, power wash the entire house, and many other necessary chores. Now, when my kids see me drinking a beer, they automatically assume I am doing another great thing around the house for the well-being of the entire family. For them, drinking a beer equates to a good thing.

Put Down the Beer

Brandy Dykes Photography

That said, when shirking culpability, you also have to know when to put down a beer and pick up a seltzer water instead. In fact, a typical early evening in my household of daughters may include talk and laughter, food and dishes, toys and teddy bears, games and pets. Then suddenly, like a hailstorm on a sunny day, a small squabble will erupt with bursts of high-volumned opinions of various sizes. It’s clear that there is some significant or insignificant issue going on. I must then step in to divine the correct opinion by making up another {aka my opinion} and calm the clan.

There is also the time where a dad is needed to listen to and through the tears {sometimes a lot of tears}. To just be there. To be their support. And when asked, to answer questions, even the life ones.

So, yes, to stay on the good side of the family, at times, put down the beer.


Another secret I have learned, is to make sure the recycling is done. This means taking the recycling out to the curb once a week, including packing down all the Amazon boxes and other packaging, and hiding my beer cans under them. It includes making sure the trash fits into the trash cans and is ready to be hauled off.

But not just this, it also includes making sure the front yard looks good and to return the weeds to compost, and to keep the yard looking fresh and to avoid having to recycle “HOA notification” mail.

I have also found it important to keep the fridge organized, and to eat all the good leftovers to make room for more. I must do my part as the dad, and to keep out of trouble.

Lock the Door

Another way to avoid blame in the family and shirking culpability is to keep them safe and secure. For example, they all love that I have installed a camera in the living room that lets you see what is going on at any time of day, even when they are not at home! In fact, I have enjoyed randomly giving a shout out to our dancing queen in the living room. And by her look of surprise, I think she enjoyed it too.

It’s also important to have a doorbell that lets you know who stopped by, and to let you tell that teenage boy who is knocking on the door, that you are not afraid to go back to jail. I have never seen a boy run so fast.

It’s also good to keep your kids in your “Find your Friends” app on your phone, so you know where they are at any time, and then to be home to greet them when they arrive to hear your lecture about being out late.

So yes, stay on the good side of your family by doing whatever you can to keep them secure.

Walk the Dog

I have also found that I stay free of the dog house by making our dog love and respect me. For example, within a few months of getting him, I decided to take over the responsibility of the daily walk from my kids. This has improved our bond immensely. He is always by my side, as we listen to the family hailstorms and he sides with my opinion. I have also taught him how to be brave and bark at all those who knock at the door, and the occasional person who walks by the back fence. Thus, he is as protective as me, the alpha male. Of course, I have also allowed him to dote on my kids by letting him sleep with them, eat their excess toys, and their not-so-good leftovers. Thus he is part of the family, but he looks to me for guidance and he never blames me. This has surely been an influence on the kids.

Play Ball

Now, with all this serious advice, I have one that is less so, but also very important. Don’t forget to be silly with the kids and enjoy games with them. For example, one of my favorite games to play with them is “Monkey in the Middle.” The premise of the game is to play catch with everyone but the one designated as the monkey. The monkey then does their best to intercept the ball. I have found that I can be quite the successful monkey. When I am the monkey, I run straight up to the one with the ball, get close as I can without touching them, hold my hands high over their heads, and then to make a funny monster face while screaming. This has often caused the ball to fall right out their hands as they run in the opposite direction. While it has been awhile that we have played, I know they enjoyed the times we played monkey in the middle together, and this has kept me shirking culpability and free from blame.

Other games are also good, such as baseball, soccer, badminton, tether ball, and kick the deflated ball around the yard.


As a father of girls, I know that they love to dance, and as a father of teenage girls, I also know that there are times that dancing in public is less fun than it used to be. To help overcome that new fear of dancing in public, I have found that a good swing or jitterbug song comes in handy. I have then publicly let them know they are my best dance partners, and worth having a mild heart attack when the song ends. We have then enjoyed many dances together and hopefully many more.

In fact, to test it out, I recently danced in the street to a beat from a car’s improved audio system in front of my teenager. Would she respond? She did! Soon she was mimicking my moves and we “impressed” many strangers. I have never been so proud. And because I dance with my girls, I can do no wrong.


I hope you have enjoyed some of my secrets on shirking culpability. In all honesty, I’ve found that a true application of them has not granted me perfect amnesty in the house, but they have helped me to love my kids even more than I knew was possible. And I know that if you apply the same, the same will happen to you. It’s not always easy to be a great dad, but it is always worth it.  

Lastly, no doubt you have some secrets of your own on shirking culpability. If you do, please share them in the comments! Then we can all become not just great dads but the best ones.

Brandy Dykes Photography


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