Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Dave Barry on parenting, Bieber and why boys are 'scum'

By Jill Martin Wrenn, CNN
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Dave Barry, author of a new book on
Dave Barry, author of a new book on "parenting and other topics," has some choice words for Justin Bieber.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dave Barry: "Just stay away from my daughter, Justin Bieber"
  • Barry, author of more than 30 books, has a new book on parenting
  • Barry: "I'm a male, and I know we're scum. We're all scum"

(CNN) -- Humorist Dave Barry is back with a new book. The prolific writer shares parenting stories in "You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About." He has written more than 30 books, but this is the first that headlines his role as a parent.

Despite the title, Barry explains, it's not purely a parenting book.

"I wouldn't want anybody to think that this is a book where they're going to learn useful information about parenting," he said. "Or, really, anything else."

Like many of his books, this is a collection of essays sharing his opinions on a wide range of issues and experiences. Readers will learn about his impressions of "Fifty Shades of Grey," his tips on how to cook a steak and his hatred of his mail.

Author Dave Barry
Author Dave Barry

The 66-year-old also shares personal stories about his kids, Rob, 33, and Sophie, 14. He reveals that he "made the ultimate sacrifice" for his daughter: He took her to a Justin Bieber concert.

Barry received a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his nationally syndicated humor column. For nearly 30 years, he has lived in Miami, which has provided plenty of fodder for his fiction and nonfiction books.

"If you want to write humor, just come here," he said. "You don't really need a sense of humor at all. You just write down what people actually do here, and it strikes everyone else as outrageously funny."

Barry spoke to CNN about his new book, his daughter's changing musical tastes and his plans for his next project. Below is an edited transcript.

CNN: What parenting advice would you offer?

Dave Barry: I'd say lighten up. I think a lot of parents get pretty intense. As far I can tell, more it's the moms than the dads, partly because the dads, let's face it, are irresponsible scum and don't even necessarily know how old their children are or what their names are. It's the moms who are doing everything. But they sometimes get a little hovery. A little intense. And a little too determined to actually control the outcome of their child's lives, which you really can't do. But there seem to be parents who believe they can.

Dave Barry: Some readers are just jerks
Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

CNN: Have you modified your parenting style having a daughter versus a son?

Barry: Absolutely. Girls turn into women, and they do it really fast and dramatically and terrifyingly. Suddenly -- boom! -- they are women. And then, boys come around. I didn't worry about sex or social life or anything like that. With Sophie, I'm really aware of boys, because I happen to be one, or I was one. I'm a male, and I know we're scum. We're all scum. We know it. When they show up, they're nice to me, because I'm the dad. But they're not fooling me. I know they're scum, deep inside. I want them to go away. It would be nice if I could get a humane trap, a boy trap, that I would put on the lawn. It would be baited with something that boys like, like fireworks, something insane. When I hear it clang shut, I would go out and take the boy and release him humanely in the Everglades.

CNN: How does Sophie feel? Is she OK with waiting until she's 40 to date?

Barry: No. She would completely disregard anything I would tell her about boys. She is so entrenched. She is in this world. They are so connected, these kids. She is close, personal best friends with basically every young teenage girl in North America. They are all connected on Twitter or Instagram or whatever it is they're on now. She is constantly communicating with at least 17,000 people at once. She is part of this matrix of girls. So she has no interest at all in what I have to say. She doesn't have time, really, to communicate with me, other than, "Would you prefer waffles this morning or Fruity Pebbles?" That's my main communication. I make her breakfast. Her interest in my opinion about boys is, I would say, close to zero.

CNN: Aside from the Bieber concert, what other sacrifices have you made as a parent?

Dave Barry: The bad news is, (Sophie) is on a travel soccer team. Instead of watching her dance, now I watch her play soccer. I like it, but it's the travel part that I don't get. We'll drive 400 miles to watch our team lose. I'm thinking, why couldn't we just stay home and play somebody that can beat us? Why do we have to go to all that effort to lose? I like being a parent, but there are sacrifices.

CNN: Do you have any advice for Justin Bieber, who has been in the news lately for the wrong reasons?

Barry: He should listen to somebody beside whoever he's listening to now. I don't think he's getting a ton of guidance. My main advice is to him is, "Just stay away from my daughter, Justin Bieber. She doesn't like you any more anyway." She likes One Direction. I think. As of this morning, anyway.

CNN: What is your next project?

Barry: I wrote a book called "The Worst Class Trip Ever." It's about an eighth-grade class trip that goes really wrong. I was a chaperone on a class trip with my daughter. Nothing went particularly wrong; it's just, I thought, "Man. This would be a good opportunity for a book. Things could go really wrong." You have a bunch of kids and a bunch of parents who are basically rank amateurs, wrangling children in a strange place. Things could go really wrong. That was my idea.

It's a class from Miami, based on my daughter's middle school really, that goes on a class trip to Washington. Five kids get involved in a seriously bad situation. High jinks ensue.

Dave Barry's latest book of essays, "You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About," published March 4.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2220 GMT (0620 HKT)
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. CNN's Michaela Pereira grew up in a family of five adopted girls in Canada and eventually reunited with her biological half-sister.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
It began for Nickolay Lamm as a question: What would Barbie look like if she had the dimensions of an average woman?
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 0216 GMT (1016 HKT)
Bill Cosby was thought of as a perceptive comedian and genial father figure. Now, that persona pairs with another, much darker image.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1735 GMT (0135 HKT)
If you think 'my teen would never sext,' you might be mistaken. Recent studies suggest it's more common than many parents might want to admit.
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
I pictured myself graduating from college, getting a cool job and even having a cute place of my own. Instead, I wake to the early-morning sounds of my family dog barking and my parents making coffee downstairs.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
Samantha Futerman and Anais Bordier tease, poke and prod each other like they've grown up together, but they didn't. Neither woman knew she had an identical twin sister until less than two years ago.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
A school district in Maryland has decided to remove all references to religious holidays from its school calendar, leaving some in the community frustrated.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Female veterans often have a harder time finding employment than their male counterparts. But why?
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 2019 GMT (0419 HKT)
I simply couldn't believe my eyes. At a children's party this year, I witnessed full-on "mean girl" behavior.
November 10, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Several children were sent to the hospital after being sickened by ingesting detergent pods.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1446 GMT (2246 HKT)
There are plenty of times when I literally wish I could take a hammer to the portrayal of girls and women in the media. In a new ad, a little girl gets to do just that.
November 8, 2014 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
"Playing doctor" and "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" are common rites of passage in childhood sexual behavior, according to the experts.
November 6, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
A tech startup claims credit for making Alex from Target go viral, but there's skepticism about how involved it was, if at all.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
A soft toy for cribs lets babies post pictures of themselves to social media.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)
Schools are increasingly confronting a controversial question: Should they do more to monitor students' online interactions off-campus to keep them safe?
November 6, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
The National Toy Hall of Fame recently inducted three new favorites into its hallowed halls. What's your favorite?
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
We don't know, and may never know, what led to the Washington school shooting, but we have to ask ourselves, following this tragedy, if we are doing enough to help our boys deal with difficult emotions without resorting to violence.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
The viral video of a New York woman being catcalled on the street has men asking, "So, what should I do?" The answer starts with respect.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1840 GMT (0240 HKT)
Trick-or-treating and dressing in costume have been Halloween traditions for a good long time now, but it seems we're still struggling to get it right.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 2038 GMT (0438 HKT)
Yes, there's actually corn in it. Corn syrup, if that counts.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Walmart found itself sending apology tweet after apology tweet after the Twitterverse raked it over the coals for a major goof on its website.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
There aren't too many times when I'm speechless about what I consider an outrageous example of parenting. This is one of those times.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Holy crap, LeVar Burton.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 2138 GMT (0538 HKT)
Critics pounced on supermodel Gisele Bundchen for advocating a little mommy "me time" recently. When did it become a crime to admit that you -- as a parent -- put yourself first?
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Not again.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
"Breaking Bad's" drug-dealing chemistry teacher Walter White will have to stop making the sale at Toys R Us.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
I happen to agree with Renee Zellweger that all the chatter about her face is "silly." But I, and many other women I talked with via email Wednesday, would add some other choice words to the mix to describe the non-stop attention about her appearance: nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2206 GMT (0606 HKT)
I have long thought millennials, who expect flexibility in the workplace, would be the group that would bring an end to the stigma that is too often associated with flex time -- the belief that wanting a flexible work arrangement means you aren't willing to work as hard. But now I'm thinking it's going to be men who will get us there.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
Say it with us: Kids today have it sooooo easy.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1829 GMT (0229 HKT)
An Atlanta judge reportedly reprimanded an immigration attorney for bringing her 4-week-old to court for a hearing -- a hearing she asked the judge to reschedule because she was on her six-week maternity leave.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
Monica Lewinsky tweeted for the first time. She called herself "patient zero" of cyber-bullying.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1943 GMT (0343 HKT)
Meet Shyanne Roberts, a 10-year-old competitive shooter with something to prove: "Kids and guns don't always mean bad things happen."
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
strawberry ghosts
We love Halloween season. Sweets. Sweaters. Sipping hot cider (maybe spiked). Halloween can certainly get you in the spirit, and nothing warms our hearts like these healthy Halloween treats that help you stay energized instead of stuck in a sugar coma.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1923 GMT (0323 HKT)
Does your baby cry during long flights, causing you to want to disappear from the glares of fellow passengers?
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
Ask any teen if they suffer from social media anxiety and they would probably tell you no. But the truth is getting "likes" and the fear of missing out are adding stress to teens' lives.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1313 GMT (2113 HKT)
Many photographers have taken it upon themselves to document stillborn and terminal babies' precious moments after birth.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1946 GMT (0346 HKT)
As part of the insurance coverage offered to its female employees, Facebook is paying to freeze their eggs.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT)
Amal Alamuddin was well-known in many important circles long before she snagged the world's most eligible bachelor. But Amal Alamuddin is now Amal Clooney, according to her law firm's website.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Trends in young adult fiction have shifted from wizards to glittering vampires to bloodthirsty "Hunger Games" and now, to teens coping with illnesses and realistic issues.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0056 GMT (0856 HKT)
Before he died this year, 14-year-old Martin Romero wanted to do something for his community.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2233 GMT (0633 HKT)
A 12-year-old girl called Dick's Sporting Goods out on its lack of female athletes in the Basketball 2014 catalog.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1636 GMT (0036 HKT)
Before he was even born, Shane Michael Haley had already met the Philadelphia Phillies, been to the top of the Empire State Building and shared a cheesesteak with his parents.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I read the initial comments from Microsoft's CEO on how women who don't ask for raises will receive "good karma."
cnn, parents, parenting, logo
Get the latest kid-related buzz, confessions from imperfect parents and the download on the digital life of families here at CNN Parents.
ADVERTISEMENT