Tag Archives: dad

Toughest Decision I Have Ever Made

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I have been kicking around this earth for 42 1/2 years and during that time I have made my fair share of difficult decisions.  I am sure you have as well.  Facing difficult choices and having to choose one path or the other is a constant in life, especially once you leave adolescence and venture into full blow adulthood.

Typically the older you get, the tougher the decisions.  This is true for one simple truth: there is more to lose as you get older.  If you are married you have to consider your spouse.  If you have kids you have to consider them as well.  Even if you aren’t married and don’t have kids, decisions still get more difficult because the margin of error is reduced as we get older.  If you don’t believe me, tell me how you feel after a night of drinking in your 30’s compared to your 20’s (Just wait until you are in your 40’s!)

For those of you reading this who don’t know, I was laid off from my job in April 2016 and as of today I am still unemployed.  Well, I have a job but it is a contract job.  It has been a long and difficult journey with some ups but a much larger population of downs.  It has been trying on my wife and I and of course on our marriage (as most situations like this tend to be.)

A few weeks ago I was presented with this opportunity to accept a long term contract position with a company in Minnesota (we live in Tennessee.)  Being completely unable to find a job in Tennessee and with our money running out the job is a total blessing from God.  It will make it possible to make our mortgage payments every month and help out a bit with other bills.  We are grateful to God for the opportunity, even while we struggle to not understand why I can’t find something permanent to support my family.

My wife and I made the extremely difficult decision to take the job.  However, it means that I get to see my family two days every two weeks.  If the contract goes the full six or seven months without me finding a permanent gig, it is likely I will see my wife and daughter less than 20 days between now and the end of the year. TWENTY DAYS!

Tomorrow I am so excited to be going home so I can squeeze my little girl and kiss my wife.  Yet I know how quickly these two days will go by followed by another two weeks before I get to see them again.  It is rough.  I don’t like it and I really struggle with being away.  I need to be earning money for my family but at the same time I feel like I am completely abandoning them.  It is a strange dynamic in my my head.

Anyway, that is where we are at here in Tennessee.  Believing that God has our blessing around the next corner and that the corner is coming up quickly.  Stay tuned and if you are of the mind to send up a prayer for us we appreciate it.

See you on the flippity flop!

Take Ownership

 

ownership

As I have grown to be a man I have been shocked by a transition that seems to occur with men once they get married and especially once they have children.  Highly responsible, well organized men, who have their shit together become the polar opposite after marriage and kids come along.  If I had a dollar for every time I spoke to a married man and he admitted he had no idea what was going on with his kids in school, what their schedule was or what he and his wives plans were for the next week (or more) I would be a rich man.

Why do we as men abdicate so much responsibility after we are married and/or have kids?  When I have asked men this question I usually get the same B.S. response about how they are too busy to keep track of those things and still have a job.  Really?  That is your response?  As if your wife sits around on her ass all day doing nothing and has time to organize and remember all these details?  Let’s be honest, the truth is we are lazy and don’t want to put in the effort.

Sometimes I hear the excuse, “Well it’s my wife’s responsibility for raising the kids and managing school activities etc.”  Again, really?  I am sure she probably has taken on that responsibility but most likely it is because someone had to and you were too lazy to take it on yourself.  The idea that rearing children (and family organization as a whole) is woman’s work is clearly prevalent in our society even today.  Yet there are way too many young men and women with “Daddy issues” running around for this to be truth.

Men – your kids (and your wife) need you to be present in all family matters.  Just because your wife might run the household, sign permissions slips for the kiddos and helps organize the soccer team doesn’t mean she WANTS to be doing it alone.  She WILL do it alone because you are married to an amazing, gifted and talented woman, but it doesn’t mean she prefers to do it without you.  It has to get done by someone and since no one else is willing to help she feels she must take it on.

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As a married couple you are designed to work as a team in all areas, including raising your family and being involved enough in your family’s life to have a clue as to what is going on.  Don’t abdicate your role as Father, Husband and King unless you want to hear your Queen tell you she is too tired for sex tonight…

Letter From a Disrespected Father

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Only one more day until the weekend is finally here and with summer just around the corner (and baseball already here) it is one of the best times of the year! I hope you are able to get out this weekend and enjoy yourself.  Be sure to make a point to do something that makes you happy, as life is too short not to.

Last night my wife asked me if I would run to the store to purchase a bottle warmer for our 2 month old.  Even I have to admit I was getting tired of nuking water for 2 minutes and then placing the bottle in the coffee cup of scalding water for another 2 -3 minutes. Doing so at 6pm is one thing, doing it at 4am is totally different. Anyway, call us lazy but I agreed that said purchase would be worth the money, although not worth $160 as one model was going for.

As I was looking at the various kinds of bottle warmers, I picked up one made by Nutto, which is a company based out of Chicago.  As I was reading the back of the packaging I got really pissed off when I read the following statement: “Resume watching your husband in awe as he tries to figure out how the onesie works…again.”  Do all women believe men are this moronic?  I found this attempt at humor to be very disrespectful towards fathers.  I realize I am probably one of the few dads (or maybe the only one) that cares about shit like this, but so what?  It is just how I am made!

The picture is terrible but this is the back of the packaging I am referencing.
The picture is terrible but this is the back of the packaging I am referencing.

My wife is an amazing mother.  I know plenty of friends (especially single mothers) who are also amazing mothers to their kids. Childbirth and breastfeeding?  No thanks.  I don’t want those jobs and for good reasons.  However, I have all the respect in the world for moms and my wife especially for all she has endured in that last two months.  I would never intentionally disrespect motherhood, for any reason.  Being a parent is tough, even more so if you are trying to be a good at your job; this applies to fathers and mothers alike.

Granted I know there are plenty of guys who take the first few years (or more) “off” from parenting which I think is truly sad.  While they might be happy to pass on the stressful, frustrating and other challenging aspects of the first few months/years they also miss out on so many great things too (such as seeing your child smile, laugh or fart for the first time.)

What I get tired of are moms who think if you have two testicles and a penis, you are horseshit when it comes parenting.  They assume because you are a man you can’t be trusted to be alone with a newborn for fear of a) the house burning down; b) your child having a life threatening accident and/or c) the end of the world.

I love when Sharlay and I can be out of the house so we can show off our daughter to the world.  I mean she is one of the most beautiful kids to ever drool and fart in this world.  What annoys me is how many strangers come up to me and say “Oh you are being such a great dad.” Or, “Your daughter is lucky to have such a responsible father.”  I am a great dad (thank you!) but it turns out I am just doing the best I can with no experience.  I have been wanting to be father my whole life and especially the father of a daughter.  So yeah, I am working as hard as I can to be a good dad, but that is no guarantee of positive results. The assumption that mothers make better parents has always pissed me off.  It is a double standard that drives me crazy.

Now before I get a bunch of angry tweets, emails and comments from mom’s, please understand that I do know you have to deal with similar things.  This website isn’t about motherhood so please lay off.

In the meantime here is the email I sent the company.  I will keep you posted should I ever receive a response.

Hi –

I have to say that I was very disappointed last night when I was shopping for a bottle warmer for our new baby girl (my wife and I are first time parents) when I came across one of your products. While reading the back of the packaging I was shocked to find the following statement “Resume watching your husband in awe as he tries to figure out how the onesie works…again.”

I couldn’t believe a company would put something so disrespectful to fathers on a product. While I certainly understand there are plenty of dad’s who struggle with being a dad (especially first time dads) that doesn’t mean we are morons. Furthermore, there are a lot of men like me who are dedicated fathers who love their children and put in just as much work (and sometimes more) at raising our children as our wives/partners.

Needless to say we did not purchase your product. While I understand the importance of celebrating motherhood and helping moms be better at raising kids by offering easy tools for the job, it doesn’t mean you should take cheap shots at the dad’s out there to accomplish this mission.

It is hard enough getting credit for being a good parent as a man. Stupid things like this only make it more difficult. While I doubt any of the above will change what you put on your packaging, I wanted to be sure at least one dad’s voice was heard. Thanks.

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Until tomorrow, make it a better day.

Tell us if you agree or not!

10 Ways for Single and Divorced Dads to Stay Connected to Their Children

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By now you know the deal here at Be a Better Man.  I am married but still not a father.  However, as part of my mission I always want to be sure I am providing as much man related advice as possible; this includes advice on fatherhood.  While I certainly have my own personal parenting philosophy I have yet to be able to put it into practice.  In other words, I generally lack credibility in the eyes of most parents to have any meaningful input regarding how to be a parent or a father to kids.  I don’t agree with this sentiment but if it is all the same to you guys I will allow other men to address issues related to being a dad.

My go to for this advice is All-Pro Dads.  You can catch the blog here.  Today I am sharing a blog they wrote a while back about how single and divorced dad’s can stay connected with their children.  Just because things didn’t work out with their mother doesn’t mean you don’t still have a responsibility as a father, even if your ex-remarries or finds another man.  YOU are still THE father and you should step up and act accordingly.  The world is full with too many knucklehead fathers already, no reason to add to those ranks.  Get your act together and be a great dad!

Here are the top 10 tips for staying connected to your kids.  I hope you enjoy!

  1. Honor and respect their mother:

    Kids know what’s going on. They can read between the lines. They observe and they tend not to forget. Be kind to their mother, be cooperative, be positive, and never talk bad about her in their presence.

  2. Step up and parent:

    Base the relationship on the fact of parenthood and reinforce the built-in expectation that comes with the role. Don’t act like you’re trying to win your kids’ friendship. You are the dad, end of story. Be one.

  3. Refrain from competition with their mother:

    Our children don’t need you to be their friend, the “fun” parent, or the amusement park away from home. Your children need – and want – a home-away-from-home that feels like home. Kids connect to real life and being with dad needs to feel normal above anything else.

  4. Maintain a lifestyle the kids can easily interface with:

    Part of being a parent is having a life the children can enter comfortably. Is your house or apartment child friendly? Do you maintain a clean and hospitable environment? Is your place a safe place for the kids? Being a divorced dad cannot be a return to your “bachelor pad” days.

  5. Game night:

    Make being with dad special – but not in an extravagant way. Set up a regular “game night” routine and be consistent. Interaction by design leads to more natural interaction across the board.

  6. Read books “together:”

    So you miss them when they’re with their mom. Fair enough. How about getting two copies of the same book, reading at the same pace, and then talking about it when you are together?

  7. Keep in the education loop:

    Patent-teacher conferences, field trips, class parties, school plays. Be there. Make sure your children know that they are your priority. Not “fairly high on the list” but THE number one priority for dad.

  8. Be conspicuously accessible:

    Conspicuously accessible means you answer their calls, return emails promptly, ask them about their important stuff and listen with attentiveness. Learn about and practice “active listening” skills.

  9. Be their friend on Facebook:

    Be a consistent part of your children’s online community if they are on one. Don’t embarrass them, don’t comment on everything they ever post, and don’t try to “friend” all their contacts. But do maintain a visible presence. This is part of being in their neighborhood.

  10. Consistency:

    We’ve mentioned this in more than one of these 10 suggestions. But it deserves a category all of its own. Kids are creatures of routine. Routine is how they learn security and where they belong. Make sure you are part of that definition of security. Make sure you are where they belong. You can’t do this any other way than one step at a time, predictably, and over the long haul.

10 Ways to Show Your Kids You Love Them

As always, since I do not have children I give deference to others who do when I want to post something about fatherhood.  Once again our friends from All-Pro Dad are on deck to help us out!  I hope you have a wonderful Friday!  Until Monday, make it a better day!

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Unconditionally

Your son’s room is a complete mess. Your daughter just got her 3rd speeding ticket and she is still 16. One brought home a poor grade in science. One snuck out of the house and didn’t get home until 2 am. Safe to say, all these things are going to make for interesting parenting. Through it all, never let your child feel as if your love for them has limits. These are the moments you let it shine the brightest. Unconditional love is the greatest gift in life.

Tick-Tock

Time slips away so fast doesn’t it? One minute you are teaching your daughter to ride a bike. The next minute she’s backing down the driveway in your car. Were you there enough for all the time in between? Your child wants your attention more than any other thing you can give them. Make it a top priority to spend as much time with your children as you can.

Tough Love

Don’t shy away from the crucial moments. The hard times. The big decisions. This is when your love is tested the most. A parent has to do the right thing. The responsible thing. Not the popular thing. The love you show now will be reflected back when they are adults. You’ll be rocking your grandchild in your arms one day and your son will tap you on the shoulder and simply say “thank you Dad.”

Really Know Them

We all have ideas of what we would like our kids to be. Chances are those ideas do not match reality of who they really are. Find out what makes your kids tick. What stirs their passions. Help them develop those traits. Our children’s biggest fear is disappointing us. Make sure they know that could never happen.

The Language of Love

Sweetie Pie. Sport. Honey Bun. Champ. Pet names declare love. They let a child know they are special to you. So does the more direct version of just saying three words. I love you. Say it loud and say it proud. A lot

Affection

Hard to believe, but some men have a real hard time with this one. Some Dad’s just aren’t prone to hugging and kissing. We are raised to be tough and strong. That’s a good thing. However, your child needs your affection in the most vital of ways. If you don’t hug your daughter everyday, chances are somebody else will. If you abandon affection from your relationship with your son, he will do the same himself one day. It’s a good bet that you could use a big ol’ hug yourself. So knock down those walls and extend those big arms. You’ll be addicted in no time.

Special Occasions

Always celebrate the big moments in their lives. Birthdays. Recitals. First day of school. Graduation. Everything. Make a big deal out of each and every one. These are the days they feel special. The moments that honor life. Who do they want to notice more than anybody else? Dad.

Professor Dad

They watch every single move you make. They are learning from you no matter what you are doing. Even if they are learning that men can snore really loud when they nap on a couch. Teach them everything you know. How to fix a flat tire. How to ride a bike. How to drive. How to hit a baseball. How to go on a date and behave like a gentleman. Everything.

Believe In Them

This is a hard one. We want to shelter them. Protect them from any and all harm at all times. However this will not do any good in the real world. They have to learn to stand on their own two feet. Teach them well. Give them the skills and values that are required for success. Then let them fly. Trust them. Believe in your child. It will mean the world to them.

Spirituality

We all have the same Father. Our most important duty as a parent is to make sure our children know their Creator. Give them the foundation that God intends for them to have. His is the greatest love we will ever know.