How a Single Dad Uses Tech to Stay Emotionally Connected to His Pre-Teen Daughter

Deb Amlen
May 30, 2014


Fact: As kids enter the Sullen Teen Years, their parents become hopelessly uncool. Yes, even you. Even Jesse Lozano, and he’s a radio DJ. Back in the day, that was the coolest job you could have.

Lozano, who rocks the afternoon drive for KIIS FM in Los Angeles and Star 94.1 FM in San Diego, seems to have figured out how to stay engaged with his pre-teen daughter as she grows up and his Coolness Factor continues to plummet to basement levels. Sorry, Mr. Lozano, but it’s going to happen. Trust me.


The single dad and his 11-year-old daughter, Savannah, have posted a video of the two of them lip-dubbing rapper Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” for his Single Dad Diaries blog, and it has gone viral. Perhaps because it’s getting parents thinking about their kids’ music and online adventures in a different way. Perhaps because it shows kids that parents are perfectly capable of jamming right along with them. Maybe it’s our way of meeting them halfway between Old Fart Road and the Information Superhighway, so to speak.

Read More: Our interview with Single Dad Jesse Lozano

(Tyler-Adams Photography)

Plus, the song is catchy as hell.

During a quiet car ride, Lozano challenges Savannah to a lip dub of “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen, which it seems is not quite Savannah’s cup of tea. She insists on cranking up “Fancy” and as the bass riff wafts through the car, it’s obvious that this dad-daughter team is perfectly in sync. And the reaction from YouTube and social media commenters is unanimous:

Lozano is one of the coolest dads around.

My verdict?

Sure, it was a set-up. Sure, Savannah needed incentive to do it. My own kids have developed the remarkable ability to disapparate several time zones away the minute I get out my phone to snap a picture. According to Lozano, “She actually only gave me the opportunity to shoot our current video in under three takes. So my window was small. She also required a new pair of shorts from Tilly’s.”

But I’m betting that although Savannah will continue to think her dad is uncool, she will remember that he at least showed interest in her music. And at an age where kids are not only devoid of conversational skills but also desperate to separate from their parents, she’ll keep talking to him.

Say what?
For most parents, the realization that their kids might be slipping away from them and into the Sullen Teen Years starts with deadly silence during drives.

When kids are little, the oxygen inside a car is often eaten up with, “Are we there yet? When will we be there? Mom, guess what?! Mom, look what I can do! Mom, he’s touching me/breathing too loud/half a mile down the road where you left him …”

As soon as my own kids reached that tricky tween stage, however, car rides started to sound like this:

Tween [enters car after school]: Can you drive me to my friend’s house?

Parent: Sure. Did you have a good day?

Tween: Yes.

[Tween inserts MP3 player earbuds in ears. Music goes on, Tween’s neck starts snapping to the beat of the music in ways that would horrify my chiropractor, and all conversation ceases.]

Just like Lozano, I needed a new plan if I didn’t want to lose my kids to mobile devices and the Internet, so instead of always insisting that they operate in my world, I began to tiptoe into theirs.

When I expressed interest in what they were doing online, they were touchingly open to sharing with me. We discussed the appropriateness of some of their choices, and I was admirably restrained in my commentary. There was no, “How is that even music? You can’t even hum it!”

Most importantly, this interest was never judgmental on my part: Most of our conversations started with my saying, “Hey, that game/website/video looks cool; tell me about it …”

And they did. The conversational door stayed open.

So, what, I should become a rapper now?
Only if you want to. And only if you can drop some serious beats.

OutKast. (Wikipedia)

You never know: Interest in teens’ music can lead to interest in your music. My kids have developed a fondness for Brit rock, courtesy of their mom.

It just so happens that by entering my kids’ worlds in a respectful way, I’ve discovered some fun stuff and learned a lot about operating in a technical world from them. And my kids, who are not too old to seek parental approval, feel validated that their mom listened to what’s important in their lives with an open mind.

Read More: Our interview with Single Dad Jesse Lozano

Is there something weirdly popular on the Internet that you’d like explained? Write to Deb Amlen at and let her know. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@debamlen).