Getting Real with David T. Bruce
Steve Schirripa, star of The Sopranos and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, is a father of two daughters. Somewhere and somewhen, someone must have asked Schirripa’s opinion about being a dad. In Big Daddy’s Rules, Schirripa gives his opinion, without reservation or apology, and he shatters the stereotype that suggests dads are gripless wonders when it comes to raising children. As a parent, he has relied on common-sense values and his gut instincts to teach his children right from wrong. He has not tried to adopt the parenting styles of Bill Cosby or Paul Reiser or anyone else; “If you’re gonna be a dad, you still gotta be yourself,” says Schirripa.
Big Daddy’s Rules doesn’t read like a reference book for dads. This book often comes across as Schirripa’s nostalgic reflections on raising his daughters, as well as a rant regarding the relationships that parents have with their children today. He is quick to apply old-school discipline when necessary – “‘Do it because I said so’ is the best tool in a dad’s toolbox” – and progressive in terms of the importance he sees in being “Enormously Present” in his kids’ lives.
Schirripa is brutally honest about his stance on sex, drugs and reality television (he left rock ‘n’ roll alone). He uses a common-sense approach in his disciplinary style and demands common courtesy from his children and those his family comes in contact with. When it comes to loving and raising his daughters, he can be loud, uncompromising and in your face. You can expect exactly that when you read his book, and you can’t imagine how refreshing that is.
Everyone has different ideas of what it means to be a dad. Some of us are hands-on, some of us are hands-off and some of us are somewhere in between. Your style is likely different from mine, and I am certain that your style and my style are both a far cry from Schirripa’s style of parenting. I suspect that there are some of us who wish that he could pinch hit for us in those situations where we can’t quite find the words (or the nerve) to speak our minds. There is little room to argue that regardless of how we might react to a given situation, Schirripa says what we secretly want to say and handles situations in a way that we only wish we could.
But we are not Steve Schirripa; we are who we are. And we don’t have to raise our children as Schirripa would, but we can follow at least one piece of advice. Regardless of how each of us chooses to raise our children, the one thing – and the best thing – we can do for our children is to just “Be There.” The best thing you can do for yourself is to read Big Daddy’s Rules. As a parent and a teacher, I can tell you that we need more Big Daddies today. And if nothing else, we need to sit back and laugh a bit more. Schirripa is good for the soul – way better than chicken soup.