Category Archives: Parenting

10 Things Confident People Don’t Do

Today’s material comes courtesy of Travis Bradberry who is the author of “Emotional Intelligence.”  I hope you enjoy the read and can utilize some of these tips as we head into 2017 to become a more confident person in every aspect of your life.

In The Empire Strikes Back, when Yoda is training Luke to be a Jedi, he demonstrates the power of the Force by raising an X-wing fighter from a swamp. Luke mutters, “I don’t believe it.” Yoda replies, “That is why you fail.”

As usual, Yoda was right—and science backs him up. Numerous studies have proved that confidence is the real key to success.

Studies exploring the performance gap between men and women in math and spatial skills have found that confidence plays a huge role. Women who were asked to identify their gender before taking a spatial skills test performed more poorly than those who weren’t. Women also performed better when they were told to envision themselves as men, and both genders performed better when they were told that their gender is better at the task.

What’s even more interesting is that the gender gap practically disappeared when participants were required to answer every question. Apparently, when the women were allowed to skip questions, they did so not because of a lack of knowledge, but because of a lack of confidence.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent Van Gogh

True confidence is very different from egotistical swagger. When people believe in themselves and their abilities without bravado, there are certain things they simply don’t do.

They don’t make excuses. If there’s one trait confident people have in spades, it’s self-efficacy—the belief that they can make things Image result for making excuseshappen. It’s about having an internal locus of control rather than an external one. That’s why you won’t hear confident people blaming traffic for making them late or an unf
air boss for their failure to get a promotion. Confident people don’t make excuses, because they believe they’re in control of their own lives.

They don’t quit. Confident people don’t give up the first time something Image result for Don't quitgoes wrong. They see both problems and failures as obstacles to overcome rather than impenetrable barriers to success. That doesn’t mean, however, that they keep trying the s
ame thing over and over. One of the first things confident people do when something goes wrong is to figure out why it went wrong and how they can prevent it the next time.

They don’t wait for permission to act. Confident people don’t need somebody to tell them what to do or when to do it. They don’t waste time asking themselves questions like “Can I?” or “Should I?” If they ask themselves anything, it’s “Why wouldn’tI?” Whether it’s running a meeting when the chairperson doesn’t show up or going the extra mile to solve a customer’s problem, it doesn’t even occur to them to wait for somebody else to take care of it. They see what needs to be done, and they do it.

They don’t seek attention. People are turned off by those who are desperate for attention. Confident people know that being yourself is much more effective than trying to prove that you’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what, or how many, people you know. Image result for Seek attentionConfident people always seem to bring the right attitude. Confident people are masters of attention diffusion. When they’re receiving attention for an accomplishment, they quickly shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help get them there. They don’t crave approval or praise because they draw their self-worth from within.

They don’t need constant praise. Have you ever been around somebody who constantly needs to hear how great he or she is? Confident people don’t do that. It goes back to that internal locus of control. They don’t think that their success is dependent on other people’s approval, and they understand that no matter how well they perform, there’s always going to be somebody out there offering nothing but criticism. Confident people also know that the kind of confidence that’s dependent on praise from other people isn’t really confidence at all; it’s narcissism.

They don’t put things off. Why do people procrastinate? Sometimes it’s simply because they’re lazy. A lot of times, though, it’s because they’re afraid—that is, afraid of change, failure, or maybe even success. Confident people don’t put things off. Because they believe in themselves and expect that their actions will lead them closer to their goals, they don’t sit around waiting for the right time or the perfect circumstances. They know that today is the only time that matters. If they think it’s not the right time, they make it the right time.

They don’t pass judgment. Confident people don’t pass judgment on others because they know that everyone has something to offer, and they don’t need to take other Image result for Passing judgmentpeople down a notch in order to feel good about themselves. Comparing yourself to other people is limiting. Confident people don’t waste time sizing people up and worrying about whether or not they measure up to everyone they meet.

They don’t avoid conflict. Confident people don’t see conflict as something to be avoided at all costs; they see it as something to manage effectively. They don’t go along to get along, even when that means having uncomfortable conversations or making unpleasant decisions. They know that conflict is part of life and that they can’t avoid it without cheating themselves out of the good stuff, too.

They don’t let a lack of resources get in their way. Confident people don’t get thrown off course just because they don’t have the right title, the right staff, or the money to make things happen. Either they find a way to get what they need, or they figure out how to get by without it.

They don’t get too comfortable. Confident people understand that getting too comfortable is the mortal enemy of achieving their goals. That’s because they know that comfort leads to complacency, and complacency leads to stagnation. When they start feeling comfortable, they take that as a big red flag and start pushing their boundaries again so that they can continue to grow as both a person and a professional. They understand that a little discomfort is a good thing.

Bringing It All Together

Embracing the behaviors of confident people is a great way to increase your odds for success, which, in turn, will lead to more confidence. The science is clear; now you just have to decide to act on it.

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Why Every Parent Should Have a Will

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Editors Note: Nothing in this article is meant to be considered legal advice nor does it include legal representation.  As with all legal issues you should always consult your attorney and estate planning professional.

What is a Will, And What Can It Do For Me?

A will is a document that specifies who will inherit your bank accounts, real estate, jewelry, cars, and other property after you die. You can leave everything to one person or divvy it up in small, specific portions, such as your baseball card collection to your brother or your ’65 GTO to your best friend. But a will is much more than a means of distributing your property when you’re gone — especially if you have kids.

For parents, making a will is the single most important thing you can do to make sure your child is cared for by the people you would choose if anything should happen to you. In your will you can designate a person (guardian) to care for your children if you die before they become legal adults. And you can designate a property guardian or trustee to manage your money for your children until they reach adulthood. You can appoint one person to act as both personal and property guardian, or choose two people to carry out the separate roles.

If you’d like to help streamline the wrap-up of your affairs after you’re gone, you can name an “executor.”  An executor pays your debts and taxes and then makes sure the rest of your estate goes to the people you’ve chosen.

There are many other things you can use a will for, including these: To make charitable contributions; to donate organs; to specify funeral arrangements; and to state your preferences about life support by creating a living will, healthcare directive, or directive to physicians as a separate document.

One caution: Certain assets such as life insurance policies, 401(k)s, and IRA accounts have beneficiary forms that trump wills. That means the funds in these accounts are distributed to whomever you named as beneficiaries, no matter what you specify in your will. Be sure to check the beneficiaries on these accounts — and make any changes — to align with your will.

What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

Without a will, there’s no guarantee that when you die your money will go to the people you want or that your children will be cared for by the person you believe will do the best job.

This may come as a shock, but if you die without a valid will, state laws require that your property be divided according to a fairly inflexible formula. In most states your spouse, if you have one, would receive only about one-third to one-half of your estate. The rest would be earmarked for your children.

Sounds fine, but without a will, in some states a state-appointed administrator (who charges fees for the service) would control your children’s money until each child turned 18. That means your spouse wouldn’t be able to access the money to help raise your children without going through a very complicated legal procedure. And even if the courts decided that your spouse could hold the funds earmarked for your children in trust, he or she would have to supply the court with an accounting of how the money is used each year.

Moreover, if you and your partner both died without a will, the state courts and social services department would appoint someone to raise your children. And that person might have very different ideas about parenting than you do. Even if you think you have almost no property to leave your children, it’s worth making a will to make sure you get to choose their guardian.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will?

Technically no, you don’t.  However, do you need a doctor to perform an appendectomy?  Technically no.  Although I assume you would prefer to live through the operation.

corona-del-mar-estate-planning-attorney-orange-county-2Many people believe if they draft a will by hand that this is sufficient to pass their items and money to family members.  Most states will not recognize this kind of document and your family will be back to square one.

You can have Legal Zoom draft a will for you and they do a decent job at a reasonable price.  Just keep in mind you get what you pay for. This is one of the most important steps you can take as a parent (and as a decent human) so spend the money to have it done correctly.  If all you are doing is the Will and Living Will most attorneys do that relatively cheaply, especially since we have been losing money hand over fist to websites like Legal Zoom.  Pay to have it done correctly.  It is too important to be cheap about it.

What Makes a Will a Legal Document?

There are several requirements for making your will a legal document.

  • It usually must be typed or computer generated. Handwritten wills are legal in some states.
  • You must state somewhere in the document that it is your will.
  • You must date and sign your will.
  • You must sign your will in the presence of at least two witnesses (three in some states, such as Vermont) and your witnesses must also sign.

A legal will doesn’t have to be notarized (except in Louisiana), nor does it have to be recorded or registered with any government agency. After your will has been signed, put it in a safe and fairly obvious place, like a locked metal file cabinet, and tell your spouse, partner, or executor where it is.

Safe deposit boxes are not always a good place for wills because many banks have restrictions on who can access and remove things from them. If a family member or executor can’t open your safe deposit box, it could tie up your estate for some time. Make sure you understand your bank’s rules about withdrawals from safe deposit boxes before putting your will in one.

For many families the real hurdle of creating a will is emotional. To make things easier and maybe even  fun, make a pact with another family or two to get your wills done at the same time. Since you need at least two witnesses not named in your will, get together and sign each other’s documents over bagels and coffee or wine and cheese. This can take a lot of the intimidation out of the process.

How Can I Make Sure My Child is Taken Care of When I’m Gone?

Start by making a separate legal will for each parent: Joint wills don’t make a lot of sense, even if it seems more efficient to create just one document. A joint will binds the survivor to the provisions of the will, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for the surviving parent to change his or her mind if circumstances change radically.

Guardianship-Attorney-Lakeland-FloridaNext, make sure you name your spouse or partner as your sole beneficiary. Otherwise the court might divide your property between your spouse and kids and appoint a state administrator to oversee your children’s property until each one turns 18. Name your children as alternate beneficiaries in case you and your partner pass away at the same time.

State that your spouse or partner is to be the guardian of your children in case one of you dies. Then name someone else as an alternate guardian in case your spouse is unwilling or unable to care for your children. Spelling it out prevent someone from coming forward and disputing the custody of your children. If you don’t name a guardian, anyone who’s interested can ask for the position, leaving a judge to decide what’s best for your children.

Choosing a guardian is probably the most difficult task for parents. It’s hard to imagine anyone else parenting your children. But it’s also one of the most important things you can do to ensure your children’s future well-being.

You should also name a trustee – someone to manage whatever property you pass on to your children until they become legal adults. If you don’t name a trustee, the court will do it for you.

You can choose one person as both the guardian and trustee or choose two different people. Experts disagree on the best way to handle this. Some say it’s easier to choose the same person to care for your children and their money, while others warn that people who make good parents may not be the best at handling money. Think this one through and talk it over with your partner.

What’s the Best Way to Leave Property to My Child?

There are many ways to leave property to young children. According to Steve Elias, editor of The Quick and Legal Will Book by Nolo, the following are some of the most common. In each case, you need to choose someone to oversee the transfer of your assets.

Property guardianship
You can name a property guardian to handle your finances on behalf of your growing children. A property guardian is appointed by the court, according to the instructions in your will, and the court closely monitors his actions.

A property guardian is required to file a beginning and ending inventory of your estate as well as annual paperwork on how he’s managing the money. Any decisions he makes are subject to court approval. A property guardianship ends when each child turns 18. When that time comes, your child can spend the money on whatever he likes with no restrictions.

Although this is the least complicated way to pass property to your children, it can be very burdensome for the person you name as property guardian. However, if you’re not completely confident that the personal guardian you choose will make solid financial decisions, you may welcome the court’s oversight. Otherwise, you might prefer one of the options listed below.

Custodial account (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act)
If the person you plan to name as your children’s financial trustee or property manager has a history of making solid financial decisions, consider leaving money to your children in custodial accounts. The courts have no oversight over these accounts, which are governed by the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA).

UTMA is the same across nearly all states, so the property manager (also known as a custodian in this case) will be recognized by most financial institutions immediately. That recognition makes the job smoother and easier. Any bank or stockbroker can set up a custodial account for you in minutes.

Trust fund
A trust fund is most useful if you have complex assets that you’d like to pass on to your children, such as a family business or significant amounts of money or property.

A trust fund gives you much more control over your money. It allows you to name the age at which distributions are made to your children, parcel out a little money at a time, and restrict how the funds are used. You can create the trust and appoint a trustee in your will. That person will then need to open a trust account at a bank or brokerage firm and file a tax return for the trust each year.

One downside: Because trust funds are individually tailored to meet each family’s particular circumstances, the financial trustee you name for your children has to provide more paperwork to banks or stockbrokers to document his decisions.

Do I Need to Worry About Taxes Eating Up My Child’s Inheritance?

For 2011 and 2012, the lifetime gift tax exemption increased to $5 million – the same as the federal estate tax exemption – meaning you can leave up to $5 million to your children without worrying about estate taxes. Couples can together leave up to $10 million.

Keep in mind that life insurance policies, pension benefits, and real estate all count toward your total assets. (This is the different from the annual gift tax exclusion, which is $13,000.)

If you know or suspect that your estate will be worth more than the exemption amount, talk to an estate attorney about how to minimize the tax burden on your children.

I hope you found this helpful!  I cannot stress enough how important this step is.  Don’t delay!

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I Hope My Daughter Will Be Brave

 

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Being a father to a little girl, who will one day be a smart and beautiful woman, causes my mind to race a million miles an hour at times.  I didn’t grow up with sisters (or brothers) and feel I have a greater obligation to my daughter than I might if I had a son.  I am not saying that is right or wrong just how it feels in my heart.  At the very foundation of those feelings of course is a desire to protect her from all the evil and bad things out there in the world.  It isn’t possible to do so, but any father worth his salt is going to try his damnedest.

Despite all the progress we have made in the world I recognize that Samara is likely to face a number of battles she shouldn’t have to. Some of those will be due to her sex and some because of her ethnicity.  Many of those battles are things I have not had to face personally growing up, nor have I had to face them as an adult.  I am not sure how well equipped I am to help her with some of those potential challenges.

As a father I pray that she is both book smart and street smart, beautiful, compassionate and loving to others.  I hope as she gets older she finds more happiness in the day-to-day of life than I have been able to.  Even now when we are together I tell her to never stop dreaming, never give up on what you want and to always be kind to others.  I tell her to be fearless and brave.

It’s the last one I want to emphasize here..  Whether you are a man or a woman there will be fearful times, moments when you doubt everything you have ever believed, opportunities to shrink back and live less of a life than you deserve.  I want Samara to be brave and courageous in the face of fear and doubt.  I want her to trust in her abilities rather than the words of others.  It doesn’t matter to me if she wants to be an astronaut, doctor, lawyer, professional soccer player, teacher or magician.  All I want is for her to do whatever she wants, to the best of her ability and to do so fearlessly.

Bravery comes in many forms and has many uses.  Whether it is the confidence to go in to her bosses office and negotiate a raise or to stand-up to a significant other who isn’t treating her properly, she will need to be brave.  Perhaps it will be bravery to enter a field that is under represented by women or ethnic minorities.  It could be the courage to try out for the varsity hockey team (or any team.)  It doesn’t matter what the situation.  I hope that Sharlay and I are able to teach her to seize those  opportunities and to move forward even in the face of fear.

If I am being honest I have no idea how to do that.  I fear that in the complacency of each day teachable moments to show her courage and to instruct her on being brave will go by unnoticed.  I worry that in my own life I won’t be a good example of bravery or courage to her.  Worse than that I am afraid I won’t even realize the example I am setting until it is too late.  As a young person it took me a long time to take risks and be brave because that wasn’t something I was encouraged to do.  In fact it was often the exact opposite.  It certainly saved me broken bones (I still haven’t broken any bones in my body…yet) but it also made me afraid to play football in school which is something I still regret to this day.

I came across this Ted Talk recently and as part of this post I wanted to share.  It touches on a few of the issues I mentioned above and who doesn’t love a 12 minute Ted Talk?  Click here to watch the video or play it in the background and just listen.  Many years from now I hope that Samara will say to those who are listening that her father taught her many thing but above all of them he taught me courage and how to be a brave woman.  I love you more than anything in this world Samara.

Until tomorrow, make it a better day!

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Better Men Parenting – Day Care Day 1

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Me and my angel.

I don’t often write about being a father.

I try to stay away from it because I prefer to write honestly about my feelings and observations about being a parent (among other things) and I have learned that most people don’t want to hear or read that kind of thing.

Personally, I believe if more parents spoke openly and honestly about being a parent it would only benefit those people who are yet to become parents.  Non-parents, if you are like me and my wife, have a whole lot of misconceptions about what it was like to be first time parents. Many of these misconceptions came from listening to our friends talk about their experience with children.  Now that we are parents, I am amazed at how many details our friends left out about what it is really like. Even the books I read in preparation for parenting don’t truly paint an accurate picture of what it is like as a first time parent.

Today, however, I write.

Today is Samara’s first day in day care. My wife has spent pretty much everyday for the last 12 months at home with Samara.  There was a two-and-a-half day stay in the hospital in April without Samara by her side but otherwise it has been those two together like white on rice.  It doesn’t take a magician to realize a day like today would be very hard on my wife and understandably so.  I could see this day weighing on her soul for the last four days and each day it got closer, her despair deepened.   Today was the worst (obviously) and I am sure it will feel like an eon has passed by the time she gets home to see Samara tonight.

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As for me?  Please, this was not going to be an issue.  First of all, our family really needs Samara in daycare.  It is good for her development  socially and generally (she doesn’t have much opportunity to socialize with other kids.)  It is good for my wife to get back in the workforce so she can have adult conversations outside of our wonderfully exciting discussions of poop, farts and a what we are eating for dinner tomorrow night.  It is also good for our marriage for a number of reasons I won’t get into here.  Outside of having to figure out a way to pay for daycare (Lord have mercy!) I didn’t have any misgivings about it.  It was because of those reasons, and a few others, that I was looking forward to today. I love my child, more than anything in the world, but I knew today was a positive day no matter how either my wife or I felt.

Everything was going so well this morning.  Samara managed to sleep relatively well even if Sharlay didn’t (there were vicious, unsubstantiated rumors of someone snoring all morning.) We woke up on time and managed to get out the door by 7:50am.  The drive to the day care center was easy, Samara was actually good in the car and traffic was light.

Then two things happened.  First, we arrived and the room was lousy with only male children.  Six of them to be precise – another dropped in as we were leaving to make seven.  My little girl and seven boys. Yikes.  Samara is already a flirt so I have reasons to be concerned even if the boys in the room were all homely.

Second, we were there in time for breakfast so they started to set up my daughter with a plate of food.  On her plate were generic Cheerios, a few pieces of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (or whatever the poor man’s version of that is) and some really small, marble sized grapes, perfect for choking on!  Apparently, waffles were to be offered later.

I love my kid.  She makes me laugh.  We don’t use plates with Samara at home.  Everything goes on her tray so she can feed herself by the hand or if her parents are feeling adventurous with a spoon.  There is nothing my kid likes to do more when she eats, then to put whatever is in front of her on her head.  Avocado?  Goes in the hair.  French fries? In the hair. Chicken? Not in the hair she loves chicken (my kid is bi-racial after all).  Oatmeal?  That HAS to go in the hair.

Thus, the minute I see the plate I run over to where she is sitting (keep in mind I am trying to get us out of there before Samara or my wife, or both, have a total melt down) to prevent what is clearly about to happen.  I make it just in time to prevent her from lifting up the plate and dumping it on her head.  How can you not laugh? None of the workers there were going to stop that from happening and all looked very confused why I was even trying to help her.  Maybe they love cleaning up kids who dump crap on their heads all day?  Who knows?  Either way not an impressive start for the workers.

Did I mention they were going to give her marble sized grap2014094226jes to eat? Marbles.  I am pretty sure there is a reason you don’t give marbles to children.  Now granted grapes can be chewed and marbles generally cannot unless you are Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me.  My daughter has never really eaten grapes.  There have been a few times we pulled grapes apart so she could try them (she wasn’t a fan) but we have never allowed her to eat grapes on her own.  Why you may ask?  She has three teeth.  Also, she is adverse to chewing.  All not helpful tools if you are going to eat a grape.

I told one of the women working there she shouldn’t be eating those because they were so small and she was likely to choke.  She was surprised by my request and then clearly realized what I bad idea it would be to give her grapes.  It was all I could do to not scoop up Samara and flee out the door leaving my wife in the dust.

Did I mention she had to sit alone at her table?  The six boys at the other table didn’t have room and it made me so sad to see her sitting alone (flashbacks no doubt from my own childhood.)  Thankfully my little girl is amazing and sitting there alone she appeared unfazed. Having all of the boys staring at her certainly helped! She was no doubt plotting on which little boys ass she was going to kick later in the afternoon.  It wouldn’t be the first time.  She looks sweet but that girl is tough, just like her momma.

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Samara’s first bath at home. Ever since she hasn’t stopped giving people that look.

I soon realized I was about to lose it and there was no way I was going to start crying at the daycare center before my wife did! No sir!  I gave my sweet princess a kiss on the cheek and told Sharlay it was time to go.  We started walking to the door and of course looked back to say goodbye to Samara, confident she would see us leaving and have a meltdown (history was on our side with that one.) Instead she looked up, smiled to us and waived back like a big girl.  She was happy as could be.  That was it I had to leave.  It was that very moment I realized things had changed quite a bit from the day we brought the little nugget home from the hospital.

However, we still had to drive home to drop off Sharlay before I headed to work.  Thus, I had to remain strong for my wife who I knew would be hurting quite a bit by the time we climbed into the car.  It was a quiet 10 minute ride back home and even quieter when we were back inside our apartment.  I knew Sharlay probably needed to be alone to deal with her emotions so I didn’t linger long. Somehow I managed to make it to work without crying, although there were plenty of emotions going on in my head during the short ride to work and then again as I tried to re-engage with my occupation.

However, it wasn’t until I thought about how happy she looked as we were leaving (without having a meltdown) that I started to cry. In my office.  In the middle of the day.  My coworkers probably think I am nuttier than a Baby Ruth.  Oh well.  That is what life is like as a parent.  I am now counting down the minutes until I can go pick her up and bring her home.  The rest of the afternoon is going to crawl by.  I just hope I don’t get into an accident speeding out of the parking ramp on my way.

Until tomorrow, make it a better day.

Andrew

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