Whisker Burn is the Lipstick of Dads

  by Dan Wolgemuth

A five o’clock shadow is good for more than just a hip look. It’s also a lethal weapon for a roughhousing dadcraft dad.

The secret of the stubble is proximity. As intimidating as the whiskers might be, they’re completely useless at a distance.

Proximity changes things. It did for me. And it did for my kids.

Rewind to a place in my professional career where I was a part of a startup. I had operational oversight of the organization and there were days when the weight of the decisions and the lack of cash were overwhelming. I felt like I was barely hanging on.

When work ended for the day I had a fifteen-minute drive to the house, followed by a welcome home kiss from Mary, and then it was time for dadcraft therapy. Andrew, Erik and Alli didn’t realize it, but putting my whiskers to use at the end of a work day was like pouring pure oxygen into the lungs of my soul. I needed to roughhouse. I needed perspective. I needed balance. I needed proximity. I got all of that on the family room floor in Franklin, Tennessee.

Whisker burn is the lipstick of dads. It screams closeness. It invites retaliation. It prioritizes the investment of time, the condescension of position, and the importance of physical touch… all in one wonderful activity.

The fact is, dadcraft dads need roughhousing as much as their kiddos do. You’re not compelled to reveal this truth, but it’s a very important perspective for you to carry into the conflict.

Roughhousing extinguishes the over-importance of marketplace fires. It defuses the bombs that confront dads every day. It nourishes the dadcraft soul. It suffocates an overinflated ego, even as it substantiates your claim as the finest dad-Ninja in the world.

I vividly remember sitting at the dinner table after an appetizer of roughhousing and looking at the blotchy patches of whisker burn on the necks of my kids. Embarrassment gave way to gratitude, and soon there was flagrant talk of a rematch.

But only when the whiskers are right.

Proximity. Priority. Pure joy.


We gathered additional thoughts on roughhousing from five dadcraftsmen. And we’re also reminded that being present is more than simply being there.

Picture by Jonathan Musser; Used via Creative Commons license.