Bruce Sallan thought he had seen and heard it all. However, a 25-year career navigating the often-turbulent waters of television producing did little to prepare him for the stereotypes, stares and subtle innuendos he would get when he decided to become a stay-at-home dad (SAHD).
“I can’t tell you how many times I got asked what I did all day or when I was going back to work,” said the father of two and author of the newly released book, A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation.
SAHD But Not Sad
His career was on the upswing, having produced his first TV movie at the age of 24. Five years later, he was a VP at ABC, hobnobbing with the likes of Mickey Rourke, Don Johnson, Ron Howard, Barbara Hershey and Ingrid Bergman.
A short marriage produced two sons, now 17 and 14. Fatherhood and the realization that his parents were ailing prompted the Los Angeles native to turn his back on TV and become a SAHD.
“I was part of the classic sandwich generation–in between young kids and infirm parents,” said Sallan, originally from Agoura.
After his wife left him with the two boys, Sallan turned to writing, after experiencing some “subtle prejudice” while volunteering at his sons’ school. “I tried to join the parent-teacher organization but there were no men,” he said.
For Dads, By a Dad
His attempt at humor in addressing his day-to-day struggles as a single dad and his stabs at the then-uncharted world of Internet dating gave birth to volumes of written material and a now-syndicated column.
Sallan wrote his book sometime after his 100th column. “After two years, I suddenly found myself reflecting on the first 99 columns I’ve written,” he said.
A combination of past columns, other writings and some original material, Sallan’s recently released book is not your traditional narrative. “You can open it to any section,” Sallan said of his “perfect-for-the-bathroom book.”
Inspired by his “miserable divorce,” the book interestingly has no chapter on divorce. “I didn’t want to be perceived as a whiner,” said the 50-something-year-old who now considers himself happily remarried.
Also absent from his book are sections on “raising daughters” (he has none) and politics (he has his own but would rather stay mum). What the book has a lot of is a common sense, layman’s approach to parenting, dating, marriage and everything-in-between.
For every 15 books written by or geared towards women, there was one book for men, claimed Sallan.
“I am no Dr. Laura,” said Sallan, who claims he is not a trained therapist.
Sallan’s columns are syndicated in over 100 newspapers and web sites. He also has his own radio show on three AM stations.
His following on social media sites has grown by leaps and bounds. On Twitter, he recently surpassed 20,000 tweets and 5,000 followers. On his fairly new Facebook page, he is nearing 4,000 “likes” with followers from as far as India and Australia.
No Trauma, Just Lessons
Currently, one son attends Agoura High School; the other will start Oak Park High School in the fall.
He no longer volunteers at his sons’ schools but not because of his earlier “trauma.” He is currently a big brother to a 24-year-old man who has a rare genetic disease that’s fatal and has severe autism-like symptoms.
“We go to the movies and we browse in bookstores,” said Sallan, whose older son also volunteers at a seniors ‘ home.
“Children see everything you do and they will emulate that,” he said.
Lessons Learned Along The Way
Sallan shares his philosophies on life.
As a husband:
- The older you get, the harder marriage gets.
- Beyond looks, you need common interest and values.
- Enlist the help of a therapist if you need to.
As a dad:
- There is no such thing as quality time, only quantity time.
- A parent’s job is not to be a best friend, but a best parent. Don’t be their buddy.
- Don’t expect your children to be your clones. Your job is to give them opportunities and support them, not force your interests or unfulfilled desires on them.
As a former professional Internet dater:
- Be patient and don’t give up quickly.
- Set realistic expectations.
- Don’t get distracted by looks. (See husband lesson #2)
As a work-from-home columnist:
- Develop a routine so your family knows whether you are available or not.
- Buy those “Open”, “Closed” and “Will Return at (insert time)” signs that you find hanging on doors. “I’m serious,” said Sallan, who is currently experimenting with the signs.
Patch will begin running Sallan's columns next week. Stay tuned.