Charlie Capen on Fatherhood and Raising Boys

Charlie Capen

Humor, says Charlie Capen, is one of the most important tools in parenting.

But this actor/musician/writer/dad-of-two-boys isn’t afraid to get serious either. Capen is one of the founders of, which he freely admits uses humor as a way to get guys to talk and think about parenting.

A generation ago, there were few — if any — spaces for dads to discuss the challenges of parenthood. Today’s dads often grew up with career-focused fathers who spent little time on day-to-day childcare. Now, fathers are increasingly involved in their children’s lives but they’re still stymied by stereotypes. Capen is one of the many dads who are blazing a new trail.

He encourages all parents to reject stereotypical expectations and instead use their natural gifts and talents to connect with their children. “Every time I tried to be what I thought was a ‘good dad,’ I removed my creativity and my ability from parenting” Capen says. “I started to do things that we out of character and I left out whole parts of myself, and as soon as I started accepting, ‘this is my parenting style & how I choose to live,’ more power and ability arose.”

That’s not to say he has parenting figured out. He doesn’t.

“Parenting is the process of unlearning the things you absolutely thought you knew,” Capen says. But “not knowing” is a powerful agent for change. When you accept the fact that you don’t have all the answer, you’re free to explore and experiment.

Wondering why Jen has a blanket on her head? Blame California’s Pacific Gas & Electric.

We like to snap a photo with our guests, but Charlie was reluctant; he lives in CA and his power was off due to the threat of wildfire — which meant that he hadn’t been able to shower or style his hair prior to our conversation. We reassured him & told him we’ve recorded LOTS of episodes like that! (Pictorial evidence below). 

Charlie gamely pulled up his hood and Janet did too, in solidarity, and Jen didn’t have a hood, so…Silly photo brought to you by PG&E. 🙂 Remember: humor is one of the most important tools in parenting (and life)! 

In this episode, Janet, Jen & Charlie discuss:
  • Using humor to survive parenting
  • Dad stereotypes
  • How moms subsconsciously interfere with dads’ relationships with their kids
  • Breaking down gender stereotypes to empower children & adults
  • Why you should embrace your unique skills, talents & interests (& stop worrying about the “shoulds!”)
  • The benefits of striving for harmony, vs. striving for balance
  • Identifying and meeting the needs of each unique child
  • Surviving parenting challenges
  • Gaming for social good
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: — the website Charlie founded — online home of the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, by Jane McGonigal — book mentioned at 32:38


LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!):

Twitter:  Use this link

Facebook: Use this link

Linkedin: Use this link


Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group

Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report “3 Simple Tips to CONNECT with Your Boy.”  And opt-in at, too!

Follow us on Instagram:  @on.boys.podcast and @boys.alive

Twitter:  @ParentAdvisor and @BuildingBoys 

LinkedIn:  use this link for Janet and use this link for Jennifer