Art by Erin Taj

Let’s Talk About Our Daddy Issue (Cuz We’ve All Got at Least One)

Introducing the Daddy Issue, our weeklong celebration of Father’s Day

I live in a toddler terrordome. On a nightly basis, my three-year-old daughter and my two-year-old son torment my wife and me — with repeated viewings of Bubble Guppies, eardrum-obliterating demands for cookquos (toddler for cookies) and a waterlogged bath time that’s the closest experience I’ve had to being waterboarded. Since I’m consumed by fatherhood at the moment, thinking about it with any kind of depth or perspective is almost impossible. I know my dad is probably responsible for a lot of the reasons why I’m fucked up — whose dad hasn’t fucked them up? — and I’m most likely gonna fuck up my kids (despite my best intentions to the contrary). But right now I can’t hear myself think over the sound of Nick Jr. and the goddamn Bubble Guppies.

I also know that all of my dad’s yelling has started to make some sense; I find myself regularly making phantom threats about confiscating dresses, plush Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and nightlights (yes, I’ve used my children’s fear of the dark against them) despite vowing never to raise my voice as a means of punishment (you know, like my evil, horrible, no-good father did to me). Then again, I swore I’d never feed my children McDonalds, too — until I discovered that a Happy Meal was the only thing that calmed my son during long car rides when he would either scream or projectile vomit whenever the car was moving (which, you know, was pretty much whenever we were in it).

So yeah, I’ve got a few daddy issues.

Which brings us to the MEL Daddy Issue, timed, not-so-coincidentally, to this Sunday’s Hallmark holiday for the original man in our lives — Father’s Day. It’ll run all week, starting today and ending Friday. There will be naked dads. A dad who performed brain surgery in front of his 8-year-old daughter. A dad whose greatest accomplishment (arguing before the Supreme Court) is also his greatest failure (he got his ass kicked 9–0). A dad who spent decades inventing new tiki drinks with his dad — and has spent the last decade or so doing the same with his sons. And a few sugar daddies who have a completely different type of relationship with their babies.

Thematically speaking, we’ve organized the issue by day. Today, we’ve collected a bunch of personal essays that attempt to answer the question Who’s Your Daddy? On Tuesday, we will explore the many meanings of the word daddy. On Wednesday, we will turn our gaze to the dadbod and study the Father Figure (and a little bit of daddy’s psyche as well). On Thursday, we will crack open the wallet and talk about dads and cash — whether it’s kids paying for dad, or dad paying for his kids. And on Friday, we will turn on some music, fire up the TV and go to the movies to better understand Pop Culture.

You’ll be able to find all of it below — both as it rolls out and for whenever else you have dad on the mind. So be sure to check back early and often.

— Josh Schollmeyer, Editor-in-Chief

Day 1: Who’s Your Daddy?

Trying to make sense of dad

Day 2: Daddy Redefined

The word ‘daddy’ is everywhere — why?

Day 3: Father Figure

The majesty of Dad Bod

Day 4: Daddy, Inc.

Cold, hard cash and dad

Day 5: ‘Pop’ Culture

Dad at the movies, on TV and blaring from his vintage speakers