Craigslist Rent-A-Dad

June 11th, 2017 by | Print

Check out the fascinating advertisement that popped up on Craigslist recently from a group of guys searching for a “BBQ Dad” to handle the grill at their outdoor party. My sixteen year old son shared it with me and thought it was hilarious. While it’s written in a sarcastic and even mocking tone, it speaks volumes about the yearnings of young men in our society and their desire to be mentored by older men.

To interested individuals,
We will be throwing a backyard BBQ on June 17th to celebrate beer and each other. We range in age from 21-26, and while most of us know how to operate a grill, none of us are prepared to fill the role of “BBQ Dad”. That being said, we are in need of a generic father figure from 4-8PM (though you may stay the full duration of the party). Duties include:

-Grilling hamburgers and hot dogs (whilst drinking beer)

-Refer to all attendees as “Big Guy”, “Chief”, “Sport”, “Champ” (whilst drinking beer)

-Talk about dad things, like lawnmowers, building your own deck, Jimmy Buffett, etc. Funny anecdotes are highly encouraged. All whilst drinking beer.

We can’t pay you in money, but we can give you all the food and cold beer your heart desires. Grill for a few hours, then sit back and crack open a few cold one with the boys.

This is a real ad. Do not hesitate to call if you are interested. Preference will be given to applicants named Bill, Randy or Dave.

This ad is obviously written to be tongue and cheek with some not so subtle millennial mockery going on as they are poking fun at Baby Boomer Dads whose traditional lifestyle they are most likely trying to avoid at all costs. They sound like a group of pampered new college grads who have limited life skills and are looking for somebody to serve them (for free). But if we delve a little deeper and look beyond the sardonic tone of the ad – there’s something else going on here.

These young men are clearly crying out for an older man to come alongside them, to mentor them and show them the way. It’s easy to read between the lines and see they feel ill-equipped to handle the responsibilities of manhood and are seeking some guidance from a wise sage. In their own words they reveal that “none of us are prepared” to handle the responsibility of grilling. What they’re really saying is that none of us are ready to make the transition into manhood and we need some help. In today’s world, it’s not uncommon for young men to get stuck in life while moving toward adulthood. The number of 20-something year old males living in their parents basement, playing video games all day and unable to move forward in life is a pretty alarming trend in our society.

This ad has nothing to do with needing a grillmeister for their Beerfest. C’mon, they’re just cooking up some hamburgers and hot dogs – what’s the big deal. I can see them possibly needing some grill guidance if they were throwing on some steaks or something a little more ambitious, but burgers and dogs? No, they are begging for an older man to come to their party and show them what a man is supposed to say and do in this world – because they’re feeling lost and rudderless. What they’re saying is “man, living in the real world is pretty dang hard and there’s got to be more to this man thing than drinking a few beers with the boys. We don’t know how to express our needs fully so please look beyond our childish ad and come point us in the right direction”.

It’s interesting that they want the “BBQ Dad” to be there from 4-8 PM. If it was just the grilling they were after it could all be accomplished in 30 minutes. Why do they want the grill man to hang around for an extra 200 minutes after the grilling is completed? Because what they’re really after is the companionship and mentoring of an older man. They want him to hang around “and crack open a couple of cold ones” because they need some true masculine energy and wisdom. We can see right through their smoke screen of requesting a “generic dad” who will spawn cheesy nicknames and talk about mundane topics. They are craving some sage advice from somebody who’s already made the journey they are uncertain they can make. They need somebody to show them the way. And it’s not a coincidence that their party is taking place on Father’s Day Weekend.

The simple but hard truth is that males in our society are underfathered. Today’s father is probably a pretty good role model. He may take his son to a ballgame once in a while and drive him to his sports or activities, but that’s only a fraction of what boys really need from their dads. Rarely do we ever use our words to teach them, instruct them and proactively guide them toward manhood. As dads, we might do a lot of the “right” things but still not equip our boys appropriately for the journey to manhood.

It’s hard to believe but you can be a “superdad” or the most engaged dad in the world, but if your young man doesn’t have a clear-cut construct of manhood by the time he enters high school, he will be ill-equipped for the manhood journey that lies ahead. There’s an incredible window of opportunity to teach our sons about manhood during the middle school years that most dads miss altogether. Surprisingly, a steel curtain drops down when they hit high school and their concept of manhood and masculinity is pretty much locked in until their 30s, 40s, 50s or even for a lifetime. That’s why it’s so crucial to engage middle school boys in conversations, give them the roadmap to manhood and take them on a ManQuest journey before they get distracted by a driver’s license, girls, partying and puberty.

Every middle school boy is asking three fundamental questions about manhood:
How do I become a man?
What are the actions of a man?
Do I have what it takes to become a man?

If these questions don’t get answered during those crucial middle school years, they will linger in the recesses of his psyche for years to come. And if he’s never equipped with the manhood tools he needs, in future years, he will sit around at backyard BBQs, drinking beer with his friends, trying to do “manstuff” with a gnawing suspicion that a key part of his masculinity is somehow missing.

It’s up to us as fathers, grandpas, uncles, coaches, teachers, mentors to raise up the next generation of young men in our community. It’s our responsibility to make sure that the young men in our lives won’t ever need to hire a “stand-in” dad to help him figure out something he should have already been told long ago.

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