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

By Jill Martin Wrenn, CNN
updated 11:21 AM EST, Thu March 6, 2014
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
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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.

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