Drew Magary is an angry guy -- or at least he plays one on the Internet. The Deadspin, Gawker and GQ contributor and sci-fi author has amassed a large, rabid fan base for his sharp, smart, acidic rants on subjects ranging from the coaching abilities of Bill Belichick and the uselessness of scab referees to his hatred of scarves and the punchability of Justin Bieber's face. He's got opinions.
But all that ire and energy were of little use as Magary and his wife watched their prematurely born child cling to life in a neonatal intensive care unit as a result of a condition known as intestinal malrotation. Luckily, the youngest Magary survived, and the ordeal inspired the father of three to share his parenting experiences in a new memoir, "Someone Could Get Hurt."
CNN spoke with Magary about the peaks and pitfalls of being a dad in an often dangerous world. An edited transcript is below:
CNN: There are a lot of dad stereotypes out there, from doofus to "Father Knows Best." Do they have any impact on you?
Drew Magary: They suck. Dad is clueless, bumbling and useless, or he's a hippie who's trying to breast-feed his kid. That can dictate behavior that you think you're expected to live up to.
CNN: Fear is a prevalent theme in the book. What's the difference in the fear you felt before and after you had your kids?
Magary: Every guy thinks, "The kid is here, life's not going to be fun anymore." There's a dread of not having the world revolve around you. I'm over that, and I'm more than happy to be a lameass who goes to bed by 9 every night.
Once you have kids, you have all kinds of other fears: the kid getting hurt, or worse. You fear that everyone is watching you fail -- that there will not be another human being at the playground who is a worse parent than you are. It's all very self-inflicted and self-involved.
I get too concerned with looking like I'm doing a good job rather than parenting well. You have to get past that layer of self-analysis, and that's very hard in this day and age.
CNN: How do you think the Internet has affected how people parent?
Magary: Your mistakes, admissions and fears are much more public. In that way, it's very good because there's more information for you to draw on and parents to commiserate with. It's really important for parents to have an outlet.
Every time I've gotten advice on parenting, it might not have worked, but at least I felt more secure, not completely helpless.
The downside is that people are d****. On certain mom forums, people are very supportive -- you present a problem and people will rush in with answers. But then there's a news story about a mom giving her kid a vegan diet, and it's 300 comments about "You're a horrible person." It's all amplified: The judgment and the support are more out in the open.
CNN: What did your own dad teach you about fatherhood?
Magary: He's a good dad, but he's a different kind of dad. I always expect things to work out for me the same way they worked out for him. When I'm not as effective as he was, I get really pissed off and frustrated, and I feel like I'm failing him.
CNN: Are you having parenting discussions with your friends who are fathers?
Magary: No. When moms get together, they'll talk shop a lot. Guys just would rather talk about anything else -- sports or something. There really isn't as much help or sounding boards for dads. There's no one who is like, "Hey, come here, I'll help out."
Guys won't sit down and open a handbook; you get it all from the mom. She'll read something or make you read it (and you read half of it). The other useful person is the pediatrician. Still, you can ask if your kid is barfing too much, but you can't really ask, "How do I get my kid to listen?"
CNN: In the book, you shared a story of getting so frustrated with your daughter, you worried about what you might do. What did you take away from that?
Magary: I reacted poorly. You feel so awful for being angry at your kid, and you can see the precipice that you're on. Down one avenue there's a nice relationship where you're mutually respectful of each other, and down the other is abuse or just antagonism all day long. It's terrifying to see that and visualize a future where the fighting never ends. I'm getting better at it.
CNN: Is it hard to let your kids have free rein to screw up?
Magary: I was allowed to go outside unsupervised when I was 8 or 9 and explore the way you're supposed (to). It's good parenting to let kids figure out things on their own.
But it's more difficult now because the world is more dangerous. The Internet has lots of terrible s*** on it. My neighborhood doesn't have sidewalks, so it's not amenable to walking. There's Lyme disease in the backyard. It's not the safe meadow it used to be, so that makes it a little bit of push and pull.
CNN: You're known in your writing for having very strong opinions about how things should be. Do you set that perfectionism aside at home?
Magary: I do a pretty good job in real life about not having huge expectations of my kids going to X school, having X job or making X amount of money. That's very old-fashioned, and it's going away.