January 23, 2007, - 10:27 am

Declining America: Meet the “Hipster Dad”

By Debbie Schlussel
Yet another manifestation of America’s decline: Slacker Nation is taking hold.
Think the metrosexual man is bad. Meet the Hipster Dad a/k/a “Alternadad.” Oy.
Today’s USA Today profiles the “urban parent” coming of age. And when they say “urban parent,” they don’t mean a hip-hop dad (not that that is any better). They mean slacker, casual Dad, who is more of a cool buddy than a father.
There’s unfortunately even a new book, “Alternadad,” celebrating this new decline in fatherhood in America.
These excerpts from USA Today, say it all, as does the title of the article, “‘Hipster Dads’ Trying Hard to Keep Their Cool.” Yup, staying “cool” and “with it” are more important than being a good father. Think Mr. Angie Voight a/k/a Brad Pitt, or Travis Barker. Thank G-d my Dad wasn’t–and isn’t–like these:


Travis Barker, Hipster Dad Case Study

Hipster dad, aka alternadad, the guy who hasn’t worn a suit since his wedding and listens to the same music as the college kid who babysits his tots.
If metrosexual man exhibited a penchant for pressed Prada, hipster dad – and Junior – wear their rumpled, spit-up-stained Black Sabbath T-shirts with pride.
Hipster dad made his mainstream debut last April in a New York cover story. (The magazine’s term of choice: “grup,” taken from a Star Trek episode about a planet ruled by children.) . . .
[Hipster Dads] aren’t “vain or adolescent just because they have an iPod,” says editor in chief Ada Calhoun, 30. They want to hold onto the culturally rich life they had as childless adults, “and they want to be good parents.”

Memo to Hipster Dads: a “rumpled, spit-up-stained Black Sabbath T-shirt” does NOT make your life “culturally rich.”

“If you’re resting your kid on a pool table so you can hang out at the bar, maybe it’s not cool,” he [The Hipster Handbook author, Robert Lanham] says. “But maybe a pool table is a good place to change a diaper.”

Oy Gevalt. A baby in a bar on a pool table. Can it get any trashier than that? That’s a dad?
G-d help our declining, dumbed-down nation.

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21 Responses

What you said is so crucial Debbie! I work as a psychotherapist (LMHC, M,Div) and encounter this unfortunate phenomenon. These dads value their childs acceptance of them over their child’s maturation. This is dangerous, damaging and detrimental to healthy development. Children need security, direction, authority and nuturance. By choosing friendship over parentship the child’s growth is disordered. That is not say that there is not a time for parent-child freindship, but it is to take the back seat until the child is a healthy stable adult.
Doug T

Doug T on January 23, 2007 at 10:59 am

These kids don’t have a chance. Kids grow up thinking their upbringing is normal. A person brought up in poverty thinks poverty is the norm. A person brought up with abuse thinks abuse is the norm. Messed up upbringings spawn more messed up people who will spawn more messed up people. It’s too bad you don’t have to pass a test before you’re allowed to raise children.

Stealthkix on January 23, 2007 at 11:16 am

The fun part comes when the children become rebellious teenagers. Just what can they do to shock their parents? Tattoos, piercings, casual sex, etc. are all out of the question because that is what mom and dad did/do. I guess that only leaves joining the young Republicans 😉

rbb on January 23, 2007 at 11:23 am

These dip-$#!+s are everywhere here in San Diego. I see them at the beach, at the gym, at the stores, and they’re all a bunch of poseurs as far as i’m concerned. You want to be cool? Be a parent; A REAL, RESPONSIBLE, NO-Bull$#!+ PARENT! It’s a responsibility, not a fashion statement.
BTW… Travis Barker and his 70 IQ just built a house on the beach here in Encinitas, and Blink-182 is finished. He’s headed for the 15th minute of fame, so personal bankruptcy should be coming in the next 2 years. Look for this nit-wit on VH1’s “Where Are They Now?!” in 5 years along with a cadre of other Slacker Asses of his generation.

Yiddish Steel on January 23, 2007 at 12:06 pm

I might be naive about this, since I’m not a parent, and I haven’t really tried it out, but here’s my take.
A parent (usually fathers moreso for sons) should first and always be a role model.
While kids are young you have to be more authoritarian and use a lot of discipline (and that might have to include a spanking or two). As they get older you have more opportunities to reason with them, especially during teenage years. Finally, when they’re getting to late teens, you might be able to become their friends, and have conversations with them as such…but most of the time you have to wait till they’ve matured a lot more.
All that being said, I don’t really know what fashion has to do with any of this. Should people that look like Travis Barker not allowed to be parents? I’ve known some guys that have totally turned their lives around because they’ve had kids (unplanned, of course). But that has very little to do with how they look or whether or not they have an iPod, but more having to do with realizing that they are responsible for— and needed by— someone important.

Sunny K on January 23, 2007 at 12:35 pm

True, being a dumbass in your youth doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a dumbass adult, but the odds are not in your favor. For most people, learned behavior is what they stick with. It’s refreshing when boneheaded kid grows up to be responsible, but I don’t think it’s what usually happens.

Stealthkix on January 23, 2007 at 1:51 pm

In my opinion (it’s only my opinion!), I find your response to be half-right. You shall get that full understanding when that day comes when you become a parent. You do seem to understand that a mother and a father need to be a PARENT and not a friend to their child. The parent as a friend can come later after the child is an adult. As for Travis Barker being allowed to be a parent, yeah, sure, it’s probably inevitable anyway. But, understand, society is assuming that a person with the IQ of a cro-mangnon has a chance at being a responsible parent. This dude is as dumb as a box of hammers and no TV show can script it otherwise. He’s there for his audience to witness his pale shade of grey matter. There is an epidemic in this society of dumb people breeding with other dumb people to spawn an even dumber species. These people are the ones we’re all going to be turning the keys over to. Makes you feel all confident and warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it?!

Yiddish Steel on January 23, 2007 at 2:41 pm

I don’t know how bright Barker is. Never had a conversation with the guy, or watched any of his shows, or anything like that. All I know is that he’s a decent drummer in a crappy band. I see no reason to pay attention to how he raises his kid. I also can’t understand hating someone so inconsequential. It’s bad for your blood pressure 😉
But I can’t understand getting angry about dumb people breeding a lot without at least thinking about solutions. One solution is to sterilize them, but I’m pretty sure that offends most peoples’ sensibilities (as well has the potential for abuse). Another is to improve the quality of our education— not just by throwing tons of funding at it, but figuring out a way to improve the system itself, or encourage early, mandatory career counseling. Education will never be able to do the job of a parent, but I think it at least has the possibility to do some damage control.

Sunny K on January 23, 2007 at 3:02 pm

As much as it pains me to admit — I mean deep, existential pain — the truth is that our great country is on a downward slide that will not be stopped.
Third World immigration already has transformed the country I knew as a kid in the 1970s and 1980s. Political correctness already has infected the minds of most Americans, undermining their ability to perceive reality, to recognize right from wrong, and to fight against the forces that are bringing us down. A childish, “anything goes” mentality is pervasive in our culture. We lack the moral certainty and physical courage to destroy our worst enemies, internationally and at home. Full-blown socialism is just around the corner, waiting for a Democrat to be elected president in 2008. (It will start with “universal” health insurance.) Etc., etc., etc.
All “leading cultural indicators” are pointing squarely in the wrong direction.
The decline and fall of the glorious American Republican is happening all around us, and it won’t be stopped. It’s a tragedy, a shame, a pity — absolutely heartbreaking to contemplate.

RepublicanPatriot on January 24, 2007 at 11:38 am

Is it not this man’s right to dress how he wishes, listen to whatever music he wishes, and raises his child whatever way he deems responsible?
I’m sure if you were looked at as ‘weird’ but you felt you were acting responsibly, though not the cultural norm, you would hope society would recognize that and leave you alone.
But no, we have people writing judgemental articles about a lifestyle most of probably don’t understand, which leads to our fear of it.

kerouac906 on January 25, 2007 at 7:58 am

I, 100% agree with the above statement. The idea that a couple of tattoos means you are the decline of our society is utterly ridiculous. I can honestly say that Travis Barker is about as terrible of an example of an “alternative parent” as you can get. He is about as intelligent as a pile of rocks. So while you are grasping at celebrity straws, why don’t you throw Britney Spears in there and talk about her parenting habits? Or speculate on the parenting abilities in one, Paris Hilton? I seldom EVER find good examples of what a decent person SHOULD be while flipping through the celeb gossip channels. These are horrific examples of alternative parents, and you are an even worse example of an educated writer. Why don’t you go out and DO some cultural research before swiftly commenting on something you clearly know absolutely nothing about? Pigeon-holing someone into the category of a “Hipster” dad is ignorant and offensive. Why don’t you make your next article about how “All Black People are Lazy”? Saying that, because you still like the same music as a college kid makes you an inept parent, is a ridiculous judgment. Having piercings or ink does not decrease your ability to act responsibly. I am pretty sure the defining factors for what makes one a “good” parent should and do fall more along the lines of how much they care about their child and its well-being. Or, how much they communicate moral values and common decency. OR how they educate their child to the evils of this world and make sure they are one day able to think for themselves…which is obviously MUCH more than your parents taught you to do…

Alice on July 5, 2007 at 2:12 pm

Ok, first of all, who are you to judge how a man raises his children, after all, have you witnessed Travis’ parenting firsthand? Everybody has different methods for parenting, and if it works, than you have no right to verbally attack his methods. Secondly, how a person acts in public is his own choice, and his choice is his business, so again you have no right to say how he should live. And to all those that agree with her, just because he isn’t as smart as you or me does not mean he can’t provide for his family, and he is doing exactly that, so back off.

kwinny06 on August 5, 2007 at 4:31 pm

I find what was written here using Travis Barker as an example of failed fatherhood offensive and extremely unfair. Not only is this man not here to defend himself, he is probably completely unaware that he has been held up here on this blog as a mentally handicapped person (IQ of 70, dumb as a rock, etc), a narcissistic parent, a contributor to the decline of society and a general bad seed.
I applaud those who gave him justice by not judging him. I say,”Bad On You” to those who insinuated negativity toward him.
Unless you have done a neuropsychological evaluation on an individual you cannot conclusively judge their intelligence or personality traits.
He dresses in accordance to his profession as a musician. His drumming style and his tatoos are his trademark. The tatoos are part of his artistic expression. He runs in circles with rock stars, so they are his friends. That is his life’s work which he is wholly dedicated to.
What doesn’t need to be diagnosed is the fact that this man is an extremely talented and driven artist who works hard at his craft every day – and that speaks volumes of his personality right there. He has been drumming since he was four years old.
When he went on tour recently with a broken arm, he forced himself to learn to play his songs with one hand. That is extremely hard and probably a bit dangerous for the stress it put on his good arm. He could have opted out of the tour, but instead he made up for the loss. That means he has fortitude and courage. I don’t know if he uses drugs. My guess is no, or very little because he is always sharp and mastering his talents even more. You can’t do that with an addled mind.
He is smart enough to own his own clothing company, his own record company and his own restaurant. Zildjian cymbals – the best in the world by the way – have codesigned products in his name. That’s not a small accomplishment.
Look at how he does business. He is compassionate and has emotional intelligence enough to offer anyone who wants to send him a demo of their music a guarantee it will be heard, and maybe offer them a fair shot at a career. That’s far more than mainstream record labels will offer.
To the person who said he is a great drummer playing with bad bands, that’s not true. He backs up new musicians to give them a chance. And I think he is a creative genius the way he puts it all together.
Finally, I did see a video of him on YouTube where he is with his father and one child on the occasion of purchasing a car for his dad. You can tell there is respect between father and son. The narcissism alluded to about him here means the parent uses the child as an object to fulfill their needs. I didn’t see that in his dad at all or him. I saw a father who loves his son and is proud of his son’s accomplishments – a father for whom the gift of the car meant something mostly because it represented his son being happy and secure in his success.
Travis’s mother died the day before he started his freshman year in high school. She told him to keep playing the drums because that was what he was good at.That is not a narcissistic parent. That is a mother who cares deeply about her child on a human level. And Travis is proud of his children. You can see it in that video.
So, lady. Go pick on someone else the next time you need to fill in a little copy on your blog. Travis Barker is not the metrosexual addle brained, self indulgent, insufficent father you tried to portray.
And, in case anyone is wondering, I only know him through watching him on YouTube. I stumbled across his videos a week ago and was mightily impressed by this talented young man. I have been painting for 35 years. I understand artists. I am 51 years old. Old enough to be his mom, old enough to know this young man is being unfairly treated on this blog. It makes me wonder who the real narcissist here are.

Pinky on October 6, 2007 at 3:39 pm

I can’t believe someone could write an article like this. This guy is AN ARTIST. A MUSIC ARTIST. He was VERY close with his father growing up, and I believe his mother died when he was young. Don’t you think he wants to be a good father because he knows how important it is to have one?
Yet another manifestation of America’s decline is it’s superficiality, and the fact that instead of reporting about the Iraq war or about REAL ISSUES, like the fact that housing prices are going up, gas is going up, food is going up, your picking apart this poor guy because of his fashion sense? Give me a break? What because he doesn’t wear Gucci? Look at Britney Spears…she used to be america’s sweetheart…every young teen girls role model…now look at her, and her kids..enough said.
I can’t believe that people can be so close minded, superficial, and downright mean. It makes me want to vomit.
So what I’m getting from all of this is tattoos, band tee shirts, and occupation in music/art = slacker, slob, dumb, bad father? COME ON. I’m sure the tattoos on his body have a meaning.
Cave men had tattoos. IT’S A WAY FOR PEOPLE TO EXPRESS themselves, and alot of people that have tattoos will tell you they have a story for pretty much all of them. It’s been around for thousands of years, so get over it. This country still has it’s puritan values, I see. Uptight much? You exploit and look down on anything that isn’t the “social norm”.
I wish my parents were more artistic and expressive. I want to be an artist and I have no one in my family to teach me things. My parents were slackers, my parents were drug users. Most of the things I learned were from other people I looked up to. My parents appear normal and in their teens were heavy drug users.
I have tattoos 15+piercings, I wear band tee shirts, I’m an artist and I don’t DO ANY DRUGS, I’m NOT A SLACKER, I graduated high school with honors and I plan on going to college, and someday being this best parent I can be. So that just proves that your article is just your opinion and NOT FACT.
His children are way too young to even know what style is, or what is “cool”. I’m pretty sure the last thing on Mr. Barker’s mind is whether or not his TODDLER kids think he’s cool. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.
I bet you couldn’t play a piano, or paint a picture, or sew a dress to save your life. You obviously didn’t grow up in a big city or in poverty. I bet Daddy paid for your college.

nicki on January 12, 2008 at 12:45 pm

This article is the dumbest thing i’ve ever seen. I love how all of you fucking uptight assholes think you’re better than people like Travis Barker just because he has tattoos and a mohawk. If you’ve ever actually seen his show his look doesn’t reflect the kind of person he is. I agree with nicki, i have a tattoo (that’s actually a memorial for my grandfather) and i have 3 piercings, but i’m still a responsible kid. I’m actually attending college as we speak (and paying for it myself) to become an engineer. This is why i love Matt Stone and Trey Parker (the creators of South Park), and people like Marilyn Manson. Because they just like to fuck with people like you to get a reaction. And as far as hip hop artists being bad parents too why don’t you take a look at Rev Run from Run DMC and then tell me hip hop artists make bad parents. Most rap artists make songs about things that don’t even effect them or relate to them to perpetuate a certain image. And how does Brad Pitt fit into this? He’s a good actor in a lot of good movies, and he’s just a good looking guy with a sense of style. I’m sorry he’s not like you and attending every PTA meeting and wearing a suit everywhere he goes to hide the stick up his ass. Fucking loosen up a little bit and just start not giving a shit what other people do so much. Worry about yourselves. I’m sick of you dumb fucks who because they don’t want their own kid to watch TV shows like South Park try to get it taken off the air. Try not ruining it for the people who enjoy it and think it’s funny and shelter your own children since you’re all such amazing parents. You’re all a bunch of prudes who need to just leave other people’s business out of your own. Don’t worry about whether or not Travis Barker is a good parent, the world is full of diversity… get used to it. So here’s something I’m sure you’ll all love… fuck, bitch, shit, ass, cock, balls, sex sex sex, and don’t forget the violence. Go fuck yourselves.

suck_my_nuts on January 13, 2008 at 8:08 am

SO assuming i read the OP’s ( Original Poster = Debbie Schlussel ) take on things correctly, parents should be parents, making their children listen, providing discipline and whatnot. Im a teen so i’m gonna give you my perspective on things, and as such i wish for you to take into account that i have a very unaltered and vivid mind, being young and all.
I grew up with a father and a mother, we lived in newark, NJ one of the scummiest places in Jersey according to most, we had pretty much close to nothing at all, so i guess we were the poverty people, but anyway. My father was young when he had me so he was and still is as you say the “Alternadad” Smoked pot around me and drank, always had his friends over and partied at the house. But the thing is in your minds that seems to be the wrong thing to do, where as i believe its what makes you into the person you are today, which in my case is not a fuck up. I graduated high school and am moving on to college. The only thing that i think my father accomplished by how he raised me, in what you consider being the wrong way, was to make me mature quicker. I hung out with his friends when they were over and such and we all talked and they talked about girls and everything in life and as a youngling that opened my mind up pretty quickly. Thats just my honest opinion. But then again, lets look at things in another light, my father recently remarried and along with the new wife came a step brother! Yay! He had all the things that you speak of in a father, rules discipline and all that goodness. And as it turns out hes the same age as me, and is if nothing else, way more rebellious then me. He wants nothing to do with the family anymore, doesn’t want to be with them, go to family outings or anything. However its the opposite for me, my father and mother came off as friends and they have been there all my life for me, and i love when the family gets togeather and hangs out, but i guess family events shouldn’t be hang outs, cause you know thats just wrong! I guess what im trying to say is, if when i grew up, my parents were more strict on me, i probably wouldnt know all the things i do today, and would probably just be another one of those kids in school who get perfect grades that goes unnoticed by his piers. Please do debate on what i have posted cause i am very interested in hearing your opinions on how this way of life has fucked me. And i will be happy to answer any questions you have, or debate any arguments you may have. On a final note, if your a father, or are thinking about becoming one, when raising your kid, try not to make your child into a clone of yourself, help them mature, give them the tools to choose their own identity, and help them when they ask, don’t ask to help them.

Outtta on January 15, 2008 at 8:39 am

Let’s spin this around right quick, Debbie.
“Frailty, thy name is Woman.”

xStayfonx on January 27, 2008 at 5:16 pm

Everything said in the article is true!
We live in a society of worthless hedonistic degenerates who should be sterilized for the good of mankind.

Kids need a mature responsible adult raising them,not a 36 year old tatooed piece of crap who lays around playing video games and watching porn all day.

How a person speaks,and dresses tells a great deal about that persons mindset and maturity level.
This liberal “who are you to judge me because I practice beastiality” tolerance bullshit it destorying americas very fabric.
Have you ever noticed too how all the “free thinkers” who push all this degenerate do you own thing crap are actually the most intolerant and judgement al people of all I you have any thoughts that conflict with theirs??

What we are witnessing is Americas death knell.

I feel sorry for the greatest generation,the men and women of the 40’s and 50’s who fought for this country and it’s way of life that the hippies have been constantly perverting since the late ’60’s.

When college kids are listening to liberal communist bullshit and being told “there is no right or wrong” only “different” lifestyle choices you know we’ve lost the battle.

Ward Cleaver kicks ass! on September 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm

You are incredibly ignorant. How can you possibly say any one thing is “destroying America”. I, for one, know that my father can be considered one of these “hipster dads” and I don’t think I could have asked for a more supporting, loving and caring father who actually did his job of teaching me moral values and whatnot. Recently I just got accepted into 2 ivy league schools. Am I supposed to be a “failed product” of not having a supposed real father? Fuck you. And for the record, Travis Barker is a damn good father.

Erik on February 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Debbie, you should be ashamed of yourself for publishing this vitriolic nonsense. I sincerely hope that you either grow as an individual and learn that hurling inflamed opinions at target demographics different than yours is abhorrent, or that your career as a Blogger, writer, pundit, correspondent or whatever it is you cliam to be is swiftly swept into the trashbin where it belongs. With that said, I want you to know that I am most certainly what you would consider a “hipster” ( read: unworthy) dad. I am youngish, I am tattooed, I am a musician, Hell, I even ride a fixed gear bicycle. Oh, and today, while I was busting my ass building a house I was wearing a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. More importantly though, I am the proud father of a beautiful, happy, intelligent, caring, outgoing, healthy six year old little boy. And you know what Debbie? I delivered him with my own two hands. In my home. That I payed for with with a lot of hard work. So, fuck you. And fuck all the narrow minded assholes who agree with you. As it is said; “variety is the spice of life” and I fully intend to raise my son varied, and very, very spicy. And should your offspring ever have the misfortune of meeting him, he will fully eat their lunch. Have a nice life…

colin on April 24, 2012 at 1:20 am

This bit of writing seems to be only a description of the opinions of someone who who might place a lot of value on appearances – the same value that these fathers are being condemned for. There is no more value in a rigid authoritarian parent than there is in a relaxed go-with-the-flow parent. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to cram the entire human population into one tiny little box of acceptable behavior. Is the child loved and provided with resources to keep them alive? Basic parenting done. Anything you do beyond this is great, and personal, and so unique – t-shirts, pool tables, microbrews, and tattoos being thoroughly irrelevant.

Stephanie on March 23, 2014 at 8:38 pm

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