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The Normal Male Blog

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Greetings From Normal Headquarters!

We are all busy with the “moving” company…so for those subscribers and readers who support my endeavors please, from now on, visit my blog at and re-subscribe! I look forward to bringing you the blog you expect and much much more to include podcasts and videos. Please send comments/questions to as I am dusting off and cleaning up the ole’ email. Thank you again for making this work fun!

All the Best!

Dr. Rod


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NBC’s Parenthood: Max-imum Effort?

Normal Scenarios?

The much anticipated new drama from NBC launched last night. No, not the rebirth of Jay Leno and his baby “The Tonight Show”–the Ron Howard reclamation project “Parenthood.” The popular movie starring Steve Martin is back and more dramatic than ever. Sadly Martin’s participation with the show will have to be from a couch, just like you and I, as he prepares for the Oscars. No this time we have a whole new cast of characters to enjoy.

And, just to remind us of the times we are in…Nissan was the proud sponsor who showed all of us, tongue-n-cheek, that they support American families unlike some other car company who is spending more time on Capitol Hill these days than a fox in a hen house or should I say Jake The Bachelor in an ABC green room or….you get the point. With all of the pub around this show and the countless previews I almost felt like I was preparing to watch the last episode of M.A.S.H.all over again.

So with all of the pre-party festivities in place the show began…and boy did it ever! The frenetic exchanges between father and son, mother and daughter, sister and brother and back again to the kids was a bit like the start of the ole Teacup ride at the amusement park.

How many storylines can we have?

I was amazed that they could actually fit so many topics that I just had to jot down a few in no particular order:

  1. Adult moving back in with parents
  2. Clogged pipes at Grandpa’s house
  3. Artificial Insemination/”If you won’t have a baby with me!”
  4. Aspergers symptoms from child with perfect parents
  5. Possible affair
  6. Finding out your a father from a fling years ago…and oh from another race
  7. Men yelling at umpires
  8. Female cousins-One Good/One Bad-Rocker
  9. Gender role reversal storylines where daughters want their dad to tuck them in and….
  10. Arrests, board meetings that take away your little league coaching duties, deadbeat dads, hot guys who are now bald-fat-baristas, sex after divorce, and finally too many family dinners with EVERY member under the romantic glow of landscaping lights and laughter…

Yes…this show had it all! You might think that I am slanting in a negative direction, but not so fast. There were a number of elements that were fresh and based on the reality of today’s American family. For starters, the show actually portrayed the majority of men as fairly Normal, upstanding individuals who communicated far better than most. Whether or not this is based in reality or fantasy is for each of us to consider. The men in this show are, collectively, shown as family oriented, supportive, and compassionate.

Of course NBC made sure to drop in a few stereotypes like the deadbeat musician whose only line of substance was, “Maybe we can catch a game sometime” to his son. I want so bad for that image to be false, but you and I know better. The flip side was that the portrayal of a son in conflict was right on! I commend the writers for the Normal display of emotion from this teenage boy who desperately wants his father in his life–quite refreshing.

The one area, though, that I have qualms about is the manner with which a serious matter was portrayed. The perfect family, at least from the looks of it, has an 8 year-old son who visibly struggles to enjoy the world around him. The parents find out that the educational therapist has diagnosed Max with Aspergers Syndrome. Just as the story sucks us in on the grieving process this family is going through…poof…the young boy is born again, social, and a promising little leaguer. The message sent was that everything was going to be o.k. and maybe even normal. “Parenthood” let a number of parents down. Whether or not this little guy would actually be diagnosed with Aspergers or not is debatable at best. What is not is the pain most parents go through to understand their child’s challenges, access the system, and see tangible results. No one hour drama can do that and if the show wants to be taken seriously then they need to be o.k. with endings that are real and not make-believe.

Focus on what's Real

Despite all of my reservations…it still remains a show worth watching…kinda like getting a stock tip from your ole Uncle Al who just had a feeling. I, too, have a feeling that if this show focuses on a few storylines at a time, we might actually have something to talk about with our spouses, kids, and parents.

Remember this…television will never be a substitute for family planning, therapy, or even reconciliation…well written television elicits thoughtful reflection and communication. Don’t be like this family and wait for the game to begin to figure out that authentic parenting takes place on the practice field…so that during the game our spouses and kids get the honest version of ourselves. We’re not perfect…but we can think about others, place our egos and past grievances aside, and parent with our best foot forward. Your kids will learn to be themselves and you will learn that life is more than righting the wrongs brought forth by your parents.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Why Marriage and Football Don’t Mix…or do they?

Well, we made it! Whew! Another gauntlet of a regular season in the NFL, 3 playoff rounds, and a meaningless Pro Bowl and the Grand-Daddy of them all…The Super Bowl…in two weeks that is :)! The question is can we hang on? Can we come up with enough collateral from the “Love Bucket” to stave off spousal elimination?

It won’t be easy. It will be draining…and before it is all said and done, Normal Males around the country will be making sure the walkway is clear of snow/mud/Christmas tree remnants, the trash and its’ receptacle are spotless, the pets cared for and the children happy. There will be many joint ventures to the grocery store and possibly the mall if some can handle it.

You see for most men and Normal Males the dawn of the Super Bowl can be the scariest time of year for themselves and their relationships. And, before I get back-channel emails with upset readers who say I am embodying the very same stereotypes I refute daily…back off…take another sip of your Earl Grey because even Normal Males can and do like sports…and well they should…more on this below)

Scary because so many males have been jockeying since late August to watch their favorite teams and so many of our lovely spouses are tired of our dog-and-pony-act. And, really who can blame them?

We turn into public defenders fresh from law school…passionately stating our case and our need to just be as we watch grown men hurled at each other like a Consumer Reports crash test on fender durability. Watching football is a release…a journey back to the days where we could bound around the playground for 3rd grade supremacy and the twinkle of endorsement from the cutest girl this side of Topeka.

So…I have stated the challenge before Normal Males…the reasons, subtly I might add, for our female partners to, potentially, cut us some slack and let us relish in the two week tease to the most watched sporting event in our country.

But, you wouldn’t be reading my blog if you didn’t expect to hear the other side…now would you? Guys, we play a pivotal role in the support of our wants and needs, and selfish and childish responses to the one we love only strengthens their association with football AND stupidity.

As Normal Males we cannot treat our motives as so many do when birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentines Day role around. We cannot role a year or a months worth of family responsibilities into one day prior to the big game. Women are extremely smart and they will notice if your efforts have been sub-par throughout the year. So, the next time you think that you have “gotten” her by helping out around the house or going to the grocery store or mall once in the last month…think again!

I would propose that if we were smarter we would increase our overall participation in our families ten-fold because we might find our spouses a heck of a lot more agreeable to our weekly need to take sides and grunt over a bowl of chips. But, too often we don’t and we “cry” and moan when asked to participate in activities our spouses enjoy which is why when we “spring” it to them that this Sunday’s game is the most important they give us a look that could kill.

Both sides would benefit greatly from increasing our participation in the activities and enjoyments of our loved ones because…just like sex and football “privileges” come with a more participatory husband and father who goes on more trips to the mall, spur of the moment grocery stops, and spontaneous back rubs when our wives and girlfriends want them the most…so do “team” trips to the mall, visits to your favorite Aunt and the like when the females in our lives increase their understanding for the needs and wants of our more participatory husbands and fathers.

We each hold the key and holding one activity hostage for another slashes gratitude and build up bitterness. Sometimes we have to understand that it isn’t ALL about us and if we understand dosage rates and extended-release euphoria for events born out of spontaneity…we might all get to enjoy those bits of life that make us uniquely human and desired spouses.

And, if we need inspiration we can look all around us. We all have a buddy whose spouse is so supportive of their activities that we often wonder, “what is his secret?” Ask!

Or…you could look under your very own roof. Every morning I “Open” our house. I walk downstairs…turn the alarm off, turn the radio on, get the coffee going, turn on necessary lights and open the blinds to the sunshine just waiting to pierce through the window pane.

The last on the list is the most enjoyable and telling of them all. You see, we have two kittens that are growing like “weeds” and the routines that the get into are both enjoyable and illustrative of sharing and giving back. Gracie is our little Dennis the Menace…always getting into something and always wanting to be a part of the action whereas Lilly is the strong silent type…will love you on her terms and will often be the follower to the kitty hi-jinks that ensue on a daily basis….

…that is until I go into the dining room to roll up the shades. This is when Lilly takes charge, assumes her position directly below the long chord and behind the curtain and waits…waits patiently for the chord to come within “hunting” range…and then she jumps and bounds about trying to bat the chord like a Kardashian in the boxing ring.

You want to know what…Gracie/Dennis the Menace sits, perched up beside Lilly and watches her in her daily ritual. Never interfering or stealing the one daily pleasure Lilly gets besides sleeping 18 of 24 hours.

We can all learn a lesson from the Lilly’s and Gracie’s of the world. Know when our partners want our attendance and participation and how we can support their “loves.” It always takes two to tango, as someone once said, and being able to sit and watch a football game without worrying about retribution or a building chores list as payment goes a long way in enjoying something that ought to be enjoyed.

Men and Women of the world…da dada da!!! Support each other not just on the days or times when YOU want something, but also on those days and during those times when least expected. We will all come out better in the end.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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“Pants on the Ground” Celebrating Young Men who Make us ALL Proud!

Over the past week we have seen the reemergence of William Hung….I mean General Larry Platt as he is now the owner of the new anthem for American Idol. “Pants on the Ground” has become a hit in the most basic sense of the word. The song has captured the soul of one generation observing another and it comes with an interesting development…

Last night, as I put a close on a long day, I did what I routinely do and I turned on the local news. Aside from all of the recycled stories that we all read on Twitter and the like, and the countless stories about John Edwards, I came across a bit of news that could have easily been the “Top Story.”

One of the local beat reporters did a brief story on a group of African-American high school students who have recently started a group that answers General Platt’s call… “The Gentleman’s Council” has over 50 members who dress professionally for school on a daily basis. The founders stated that they wanted to be taken seriously and have noticed a significant difference from the fellow peers and teachers.

What a wonderful way to end the day and reflect. As we all partake on this journey to redefine Normal Males it sure is nice to see opposing generations speak up and act “out” in positive and productive ways.

And, if you think that Caucasians can rest on a history of affluence, resource, and culture because this story pertains to young African-American students then you better sit down and take heed. …because the “Jello” man and our favorite T.V. dad has indicted us all in the war on boys being boys….

…and though Bill Cosby has spoken with great conviction, and controversy for some, on the state of the African-American male, he has provided ALL males with valuable leadership. The telling aspect of this video made years ago is that it depicts the dangers of letting our boys feel less than they are, the shadow to life, and the role both races play in the success of the other. For every publicized story about a young African-American male who doesn’t know how to dress, use the English language effectively, or actively and positively participate in society…I will give you the Caucasian boy from rural America who probably talks a bit off kilter, to say the least, focuses on hunting rather than studies, and thinks women belong in the kitchen.

Young boys and males of all races, ethnicity’s, and cultures struggle to feel a part of daily society and just because one race is portrayed as daily irritants…never forget the perpetrators of mass school violence and the race they would be identified with.

The issues young males face are deep and unrelenting and it sure is nice when we have young people that take a stand without Commissioner Stern of the NBA or General Platt having to state the obvious…you will be taken seriously when you take your personal significance seriously. Here is to the Gentleman’s Council at McGavock High School and to their commitment to themselves and the young boys staring up at them. Job well done!

The rehabilitation of what being a Normal Male is and represents to the rest of the world takes the courage of all males to stand up and challenge popular opinion for the betterment of the coming generations. We want to be proud of our gender…we want our families to be proud…and we want our children to be proud of the men they call daddy.

General Platt…Dr. Rod reporting for duty!

Dr. Rod The Normal Male
Rod Berger, PsyD

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Who’s Your Daddy? Women and Children Struggle to Understand Men’s Absentee Ballot

Another day…another daddy crawls out of his shadow signifying 6 more weeks of, “I told you all men are shameless pigs!” Yes, former political giant John Edwards has finally come clean or downright filthy…not in the fact that he has fathered an adorable little girl, but that he has done so in a not so Normal or acceptable fashion.

Mr. Edwards has found it in his heart to issue a publicist 101 press release stating that he is the father of 2 year-old Frances Quinn Hunter from his extra-marital affair with Rielle Hunter

What has he done you might ask? Has this changed anything since Edwards political life is already in shambles? Are we even asking the right questions?

Let us peel the onion…knowing that tears may be shed…not for John and his life, but for the result of his infidelity. Does anyone else find it a bit curious that his admittance came from a press release? Why not on television or on YouTube? I find it quite sad that when Quinn grows up she will be able to, at the touch of a button or screen, scroll through the archives finding not public admission and emotion about his defenseless little girl, but rather slick political maneuvering that discounts any connection to her as a real, breathing human being (Bob Woodruff interview August 8, 2008).

I feel for the Edwards family, minus John, Quinn, and even her mother Rielle. It is sad commentary on the American male when men propagating Southern values and family, while his wife and mother of his children battles terminal cancer, are out classed by an American icon if not favorite t.v. father of all-time.

Why you might ask would I even dare compare John Edwards to Homer Simpson? Well, let’s see…Mr. Simpson, if I may, has spent north of 450 episodes showing us how faulty his faculties might be, but one thing he hasn’t done is ever send the notion that he isn’t around, a part of his family, and/or interacting with them.

John Edwards and the countless, unaccounted for fathers littered outside the American family send mixed and often sad, lifeless signals that they are even breathing. We have a crisis on our hands of immeasurable proportions, though we have tried valiantly, and we have not yet figured out the solution to this campaign to get men to care about acknowledging and participating in the lives of their offspring.

According the the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 85% of children with behavioral issues come from fatherless homes, 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes, 85% of all youth in prison come from fatherless homes, and 75% of all youth in chemical abuse centers come from these homes as well.

Startling to say the least and, to this point, we have little to no direction for even a sliver of hope. It has me thinking about some work I did last year for a book on counseling fathers. My contribution, chapter, focused on new fathers and what we found is that so many of them feel left out from the pregnancy and birthing processes by all involved and interested parties (i.e. doctors, classes, hospitals, family) that the detachment begins very early in the budding of a new life.

This does not imply that there are good men just waiting and wondering if someone will call their “number.” It simply means that there is growing research that depicts a different story then the one we all have known and been told by the media to this point.

Because whether or not it is a “John Edwards” or a young man with no education or connection to society, men of all backgrounds are finding themselves as observers when they should feel and act like participants.

My hope for the “Quinn Hunters” of the world is that they come in contact with good people and Normal Males who are proud to be in their presence and communicative on multiple levels.

John Edwards might think that he can right a wrong through a press release, but what he has done is put generations at risk within his own family tree. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and it only takes one splintered branch to deaden a tree over time.

More and more women and their girls are having to battle centuries of folklore and fact about the men they are “supposed” to love in an effort to love the ones they want as partners. Mrs. Edwards, Rielle and Quinn Hunter my thoughts and best wishes are for you all as you share sadness even if on opposite sides of the coin.

Normal Males please speak out against those shirking their parental responsibilities, communicate your experiences with young and new fathers to normalize their emotions and experiences, and look out for the boys in our communities who treat girls and women as commodities to be bought and sold through a press release or text message.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD
The Normal Male

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Normal Males are Marrying Up?

Well…we knew it was coming! Like the waft of garlic at an Italian eatery coating us with cultural adornment and fantastic memories…we have seen the financial and educational shift and its’ impact on marriage…leaving men wondering about the aftertaste and just when will it go away and if not…then when and what do we do about our change in position at home and at work?

Stories abound in the NYT and morning talk shows with research just released from the Pew Research Center that reveal a startling analysis of census data for men and women aged 30 to 44 years old.

The report finds that this generation of women out number their gender counterpart in college attendance and degrees and where their earnings have been increasing since 1970. How could we have not seen this coming? We all watch Jake Pavelka, The Bachelor, right? Well, if he is actually going to propose at the end of ABC’s commercial scam then that lucky lady will have to be “ok” with Jake only being a pilot…and we have all seen the stories of how little money pilots actually make.

The research discusses the challenge for African-American women who are struggling to find adequate mates who hold degrees and stable jobs and who will emotionally support a change in breadwinner status. That will be a component for another day and another post. One that remains of monumental concern for the long term development of African-American boys…but let’s stick with the “simple” implications for the genders shall we…

Ok, let’s “Do It” as Nike might say even though they might want a revision to that tag line given Tiger Wood’s recent activity and rumored therapeutic interventions.

Are we talking about women or are we talking about men and their underlying fears and fragile egos? Are we talking about saving the next generation of young women from same-aged males who are feeling the effects of a splintered and cracked windshield to the world?

These findings are another example of the absolute need for Change, if I may borrow from President Obama, within the Normal Male community. Not only are we, as a country, losing steam in the “Race-to-the-Top” for educational prowess in the world, but males are the ones dragging us down.

Women and girls have, frankly, been kicking our tails in every descriptive statistic available while we have been on the couch relieving our youth or at least hoping to as if we could do a “Brett Favre” and show the world who is still the “best.”

Perception can in-fact be reality and Normal Males need to respond to such findings and support the women in our lives that are providing and modeling responsible commitment levels to family and work.

Redefining Normal Males is imperative for our economy, our communities, our families, and our own personal development and growth. If we, as men, continue to sit on the sidelines waiting to be called into an intramural basketball game for rickety ole’ former “has-beens” we will end up just like they do after a sad Saturday game at the Y…sweating, discombobulated, and wondering where the years went.

We cannot afford apathy of any degree…we need to understand the world we currently inhabit…not the one we came from…and understand the demands and requirements of this world so that we can be better to ourselves and those in our lives. If we refuse and treat these findings as a threat, then we run the risk of sacrificing another generation of boys who are starving for direction, support, and social-emotional development.

Luckily Darwin has long sense passed, otherwise our entire gender might succumb to Natural Selection and be booted off this rock for failing to provide anything of substance to our species. Maybe we need a natural preserve where we can be studied…where we are provided food, water, and shelter for the scientists to better understand our natural patterns of behavior and communication. Shoot, 60 Minutes did a story recently where researchers are doing that very thing for Forrest Elephants in an effort to develop an Elephant dictionary.

With today’s news let us celebrate the unbelievable accomplishments of the females in our lives, minus the Heidi Montag’s of the world, and look for solutions and support measures that speak the truth to all generations of males and work towards a positive evolution of Normal Males…one that we can all be proud of.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD
The Normal Male

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Do Normal Males Really Desire the Heidi Montag’s of the World?

If you haven’t read about the “Hills” star Heidi Montag than you have missed a golden opportunity to see how young girls and women are impacted by media and men (click here to watch GMA interview with Heidi). Ms Montag is showing off her new look after completing 10 plastic surgery procedures in one day.

As I watched the story this morning on the news I was struck by my flat affect…does this really surprise me? Should I be shocked that this reality “star” turned singer had so many procedures? And…my answer came only when I heard that she is a mere 23 years-old.

To think that a 23 year-old young woman who states that she is promoting inner beauty stinks of arrogance and ignorance for the role she plays in the very people who will probably buy her new album. “Superficial” is the name of her new album and titled quite appropriately if you ask a Normal Males opinion.

My hope is that young girls and women call out Heidi Montag for her approach to beauty and ridiculous statements that…”tripple D’s aren’t big enough”…and support those in the spotlight that provide healthy examples. Actress Emmy Rossum did just that blasting Heidi for her poor example during a time of global heartache and need.

The question to ponder is this…What role do men play in young women’s approach and possible addiction to perfecting their outward appearance? Is this a matter of “natural selection”…that we males will only select females based on perfected body features for marriage and procreation?

Normal Males know, even if they don’t want to admit it to their buddies during football and beer, that though they may desire or dream about “fake” women for short-term sexual prowess…they all know that long term love and companionship are nearly impossible with someone so consumed by themselves. Let’s think practically…if a man or woman is so focused on the perfection of their bodies what time do they have to share with you.

Men play a significant role in the responding to the “Heidi’s” of the world…we need to let all females know that we fear being accepted, looking “buff” enough, tall enough, and we sure won’t survive being with a woman who perpetuates that fear of never falling “below” the line of perfection.

On the Bachelor last night, Jake Pavelka made two decisions that could make Normal Males proud. Faced with a majority of female contestants that appear to have gone “under-the-knife”, Jake sent two packing because of their in-authenticity. .

Young girls and women hear this…(trumpets bellowing in the background)…Normal Males want to find someone to love, to be loved by, to share with, to feel safe when scared, someone who is comfortable nurturing our fragile ego (See Jake last night ask for that of Vienna after bungee jump), someone who understands being lazy on a Saturday, and one who challenges us.

None of the above hopes require looks that resemble packaging and plastic…they require comfort in ones’ skin. We, Normal Males, will work hard to support you and hope that adult women will support Normal Females as well.

Looking perfect only masks the imperfections on the inside. We’ll work hard on our end to treat you better and communicate those things we love and would never trade for physical alterations.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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