Chris Kornelis, former music editor for Seattle Weekly, made quite a splash when he cannonballed into the writhing pool that is online parenting journalism.
In The Atlantic in 2012, Kornelis wrote a hearty defense of his and his wife’s decision to feed their first son formula after attempts at breastfeeding left the baby undernourished and everyone miserable. He noted how everyone from New York politicians to food-package designers seemed intent on making new mothers feel guilty if they chose not to breastfeed. “Why is it that when it comes to being pregnant and raising babies, there’s no middle ground between ‘ideal’ and Shaken Baby Syndrome?” he asked.
The essay in many ways set the table for Kornelis’ new book, which, just in time for Father’s Day on Sunday, dispenses advice to new and expecting fathers on what it takes to be a great dad. The big takeaway: Don’t listen to anyone who’s telling you you’re doing it wrong.
“This is a book about the fact that you don’t need a book to have a baby,” Kornelis says about Rocking Fatherhood: The Dad-to-Be’s Guide to Staying Cool. “Whatever you want to do as a family is going to be just fine. As long as your baby is loved and listened to, you’re going to be just fine.”
Kornelis, a freelance writer whose work appears regularly in The Wall Street Journal and The Seattle Times, brings his reporting chops to the project, interviewing obstetricians and other baby experts to inform his laid-back outlook. Obs, he says, have noted the way pregnancy blogs can convince women that things are wrong when they really aren’t; there’s also a lot of mom-on-mom guilt-tripping that’s ultimately unproductive.
“Most of the pressure here is put on women, and it’s horrible. People who go blue in the face saying a woman has the right to choose won’t say they have a choice in how to feed the baby,” he says. It’s the dad’s job to “run interference, everything from telling people it’s none of their business to helping them find information to supporting their decisions.”
And, just to put a fine point on it, Kornelis wants dads to know it’s going to be OK: “Dude, you definitely care and you guys are going be fine. The important thing is that you love your children. Differentiate the things that matter and the things that don’t.”