June 20, 2024

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Dave Ogleton Talks Dad Jokes, Youth Sports, & Parenting Every Stage From Teens To Toddlers

You’ve almost certainly seen — and laughed with — the account of content creator and dad Dave Ogleton, better known on social media as @fitdadceo. (After all, he does have 1.5 million followers on Instagram.) He cracks groan-inducing dad jokes of the highest caliber; after all, he’s often seen in a T-shirt emblazoned with the motto “It’s not a dad bod, it’s a father figure.” He regularly riffs on the everyday challenges of parenthood, like getting your kids outside during the summer without listening to one million complaints about bugs and, of course, all the apps we’re expected to stay on top of now.

I recently chatted with Ogleton over Zoom and talked about parenting today versus back in the day, the way siblings always seem to find each other so they can argue, and why, yes, they’re a youth sports family.

Scary Mommy: So tell me a little bit about your family. You have six kids; what’s the age range?

Dave Ogleton: So my oldest is 15, and my son just turned 13. Then I have my third, who is 9. Millie, who is 7. And I have to think about these numbers because it seems like they’re so close together — Ari, who’s 5, and Preston’s 3.

SM: I’m curious, what is it like parenting across that kind of an age gap? When you’re doing the teen stage and you’re doing the three-nager stage, do you just use the same strategy for the three-nager and the teenager at this point?

DO: No, it literally is like working at a job. If you’re a manager, you can’t manage every employee exactly the same. We could be in a room with our 3-year-old, and then when our daughter comes out of her lair, out of her room, our oldest, she may have an issue that has to be dealt with totally differently. Each person has their own thing. But the one thing they all have in common is they all love annoying each other, so we know how to deal with that situation very easily.

SM: What’s your best tip for when they really are egging each other on? I only have one, so I’m in awe of people who can get theirs to stop arguing, because my child just argues with me.

DO: Usually if there’s some sort of food involved, they get distracted. The younger ones do. The older ones, I’m just like, “Just go to your rooms. Just go to your separate rooms.” And that always seems to work for about 30 seconds. And then somehow they all gravitate towards each other again, like a dying star, and I don’t understand it. They all get on each other’s nerves and I’m like, “Go separate yourselves in other rooms so you don’t drive us crazy.” And then a minute later you hear them all playing again together and I’m like, “How does that work?”

SM: The sibling experience — you drive each other crazy, but you actually want to be around each other.

DO: Exactly, yes. Even the oldest ones, I’m like, “Oh my God, they’re going to get older and not want to be around each other all the time.” No; come bedtime, the younger ones are getting ready for bed around 8:00, 8:30, and the older ones are the ones that are keeping them up and rambunctious and not going to sleep because they won’t get out of their room. It makes no sense to me.

SM: What was the hardest stage for you? And what’s your favorite stage with kids?

DO: Honestly, we got very, very lucky, all of our kids have always been really good.

That two year old to three year old stage, it really is tough, because they’re in that space where they’re just feeling every emotion. They’re starting to become more aware of things, but they still don’t necessarily know how to communicate them, even though they’re talking pretty fluently. And then also that teenage stage between 13 and 16 is really tough, because those middle school and into high school years are really tough.

The most fun stage is probably I’d say kindergarten to second grade. Everything is still so new. You’re getting new friends, you’re experiencing new things and learning things and you’re coming home and telling us about it.

SM: That’s the stage I’m in. It’s like you get a little bit of a breather before you have to really do middle school, which I’m sure is a journey.

DO: I don’t know why — I never really remember my middle school and early high school years. I was like, “Oh, it was fine. It was fun.” And then I was like, “Oh, I actually it really wasn’t that much fun, honestly. I got picked on.” And that’s a lot of the same stuff that they’re going through now. They’re trying to decide who the person that they want to be at this stage, and middle school makes it really difficult for them to be like, “Okay, I want to do this.” It’s just a very, very all-over-the-place stage, basically.

SM: Is there anything that’s surprised you about that stage, about the teenage years?

DO: The one thing that actually surprises me is how much teenagers think they know everything. And I think back now, I was like, “Oh my God, is this how I was to my parents?” And I think, and I’m like, “I was exactly this way to my parents.” It’s really funny just dealing with it yourself and being like, “No, you’re 100% wrong.” And then your kid is trying to tell you that they’re right about something and you’re like, “No, that’s still not right.” I’m like, “That’s not even… You’re incorrect.” That know-it-all stage, it’s bringing back memories.

I added that “no, dummy” part in there, and I didn’t even know where it came from.

SM: You find the shoe on the other foot frequently in parenting!

DO: Yeah. That’s why I made that one video about making the kids lunches. And at the end of the video, I would pretend to call my mom, “Hey mom, I just want to apologize. I get it. I totally get it. No, no. Yep. Yeah, you were expecting my call. Thanks. Bye.”

SM: Tell me a little bit about how you got involved in dad content. It’s funny because I’ve done several of these interviews talking to content creators online, and almost everybody really got going on it during the pandemic. And that’s part of your story, right?

DO: It’s funny you say that because I was just at an event this weekend in California and I was talking to one of the other content creators. I actually didn’t even know he was a dad, and he said the same thing. I got started in 2019. I’ve had this account in my name for years before that because I was doing fitness as a business before.

I was like, “This is such a good unique name that I feel like I could use it in so many different ways.” But that wasn’t even really my mindset when I got started. It was, I think, the end of 2019 and my oldest was on, it wasn’t TikTok then it was, whatever it was called before. And she was like, “Oh, you need to make an account so you can see what I’m doing.” And I really wanted to make one, just to see what she was doing.

I think it was the very beginning of the pandemic, I started making videos of what the experience of being a parent was like during that time. Then all of a sudden I did a dad joke that took off. For some reason, I added that “no, dummy” part in there, and I didn’t even know where it came from. I just blurted it out and it took off and it went viral and I didn’t do another one for months. Because it took me time to realize — why am I not doing more of that? And that was when all of a sudden my content started taking off.

SM: People love dad jokes. Dad jokes are such magic!

DO: I’m just a sucker for a good pun, honestly. You can make a good joke with the punchline, but if you can have it a pun, where that person’s rolling their eyes on the other end of that joke, that makes it 10 times better.

SM: What’s your all-time favorite best dad joke?

DO: Honestly, it’s tough to pick. But my favorite probably is the seaweed one that I did: How does a fish get high? Sea weed, or something like that. I think my son actually was the one that said that punch line. And I was like, “What do you even know about that? Go to your room.”

SM: You’re the first dad content creator I’ve talked to, and I’m curious to hear from you what that’s like being a dad on the Internet and talking about dad stuff and having a dad audience.

DO: I think no matter how long I’m a dad for, I’m still going to feel like everything is new sometimes. So I think having this community of dads online that we can share authentically how we’re actually feeling about certain things and the mistakes that we make and things like that, I think it helps to humanize. Because sometimes we go online and we see this totally polar end of the spectrum where you have dads that are doing all these amazing things 24/7 it seems like on their pages. And you’re watching this content. I was just saying this last night, I’m like, “I don’t know how to do any of that. I don’t even know how to change my oil on my car.” I know I’m supposed to know that stuff, but I don’t.

I think it more than anything makes people feel like they have a community to feel okay about working your hardest to be your best as a dad. And sometimes you’ll still feel like you’re going to fail and every day we wake up and we think, “Okay, we’re going to do better today.” And we might still go to bed being like, “I could have done better today.” But just seeing other dads that you follow or you talk to who are doing their best as well, I think is what is making this such a positive community in my opinion.

And also one of the things that I’m getting better at just from seeing other dads, because I wasn’t really necessarily raised this way, is just communicating with the kids and talking to them more. Because even just raising them, I have to check myself as well and just say, “You don’t have to be this tough dad. It’s okay to talk to your kids and have them be emotional and let them feel their emotions.”

SM: Are you guys a youth sports family?

DO: Definitely a youth sports family. Every single one of the kids is playing sports except for Preston and Aria. Even though they do gymnastics, so technically they still are doing something. But I am a hundred percent for youth sports because I didn’t do it growing up. I grew up in a very religious family and all they wanted me to focus on was schoolwork and that was it. And I wasn’t really allowed to play sports, so I wanted them to have that opportunity to see what they enjoy from a young age. And I think for some reason, soccer is the one thing that everybody starts with. I don’t understand why. I think it’s just easy to kick a ball.

So when my two oldest were younger, they started off with soccer and then it evolved from there. They played basically every sport, baseball, football, cheer my oldest is doing, she still is doing it now. She rocks at it. And then the younger ones are playing lacrosse; that’s the newest craze in our family. I wanted to play lacrosse when I was in high school and I just never got a chance to do it. It’s a big sacrifice because the schedules can sometimes be pretty intense, but we make it work.

I just love it because it’s a way — I didn’t have many friends growing up and I always saw a lot of the kids around me were playing sports and they were making friends that way. And I just feel like it’s an awesome way to teach them teamwork, and have that camaraderie, even if they’re not going on to the NFL or NBA or anything like that.

SM: You do some parenting in the 90s versus parenting today type of stuff. I am curious, what do you think are the biggest differences between back in the day versus now?

DO: Oh, man. I didn’t think I was going to be giving a TED talk today. I could go on forever, honestly. And it’s not necessarily that I want to bring the 90s into today. I think there are definitely things that parents can learn from the way things were pre-2010. I think parents were way tougher in a good way, and also sometimes in a bad way before. And I feel like parents today are trying to more understand their kids, but then at the same time, I feel like I see certain parents that also baby their kids to a certain point where you shouldn’t be babying your kids. They have to learn discipline at some point.

And I think that’s what a lot of this world is lacking right now is discipline. So that to me is probably the biggest thing. And I don’t mean physical discipline. I’m talking about holding someone accountable for what they did, making them aware, “Yeah, you did do this and there are going to be consequences for it.”

SM: Is there anything else that you really want to say about doing dad content or anything else that you think is really important for people to know about you?

DO: I’m just a normal guy. Someone asked me, “Is it weird now because you’re not just a dad anymore, you’re a dad content creator?” And I’m like, “No, I’m still a dad at the end of the day, it doesn’t make a difference.” I love doing what I do, and if bigger opportunities come along in entertainment, I would love to do that. But my roots are always going to be I’m a dad, and I want other people to feel the pain that I feel.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Photographs by Jason Rodgers

Photo Director: Alex Pollack

Editor in Chief: Kate Auletta

SVP Fashion: Tiffany Reid

SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert

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