Tag Archives: dad life

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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Nine Ways to Entertain Your Toddler Without Using Your Smart Phone

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This information is borrowed from The Everything Toddler Activities Book.

Okay gents today I am off to Las Vegas for a belated 40th Birthday trip.  I certainly won’t be spending any time blogging while there but hopefully will have some wonderful tales to tell (or not tell) when I return.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

Before you decide that reading this post isn’t for you because you don’t have kids I would warn you that is not a good idea.  Have you ever been in a long checkout line at a store or waiting in line for some event and there is a small child in front of you or behind you acting up?  If you are like me you probably rolled your eyes and cursed under your breath about your lot in life.  However, if you had the tools to keep said child busy or distracted you may be surprised by how many women around you would have found that attractive. Even though you may not want kids, showing kindness towards then certainly sets off a sensor in women looking for a good man and you might just get lucky simply by entertaining a small child.  So pay attention!

Of course I hope this is also helpful to you dad’s out there who need some ideas for keeping their kids entertained in a public setting without using modern technology.

You’re in a public place — say a restaurant or a doctor’s waiting room — and it’s taking longer to get your food or have your name called than you expected. Your toddler is starting to get restless. And cranky. Real cranky. She’s whining and teetering on the edge of a crying fit, and the other folks around you are glancing over with irritated, disapproving looks.

You don’t have any toys or books on you, making it extremely tempting to just shove your smartphone into your tyke’s pudgy little hands to instantly shut off the waterworks.

But, the idea that you should turn to your phone whenever you feel unhappy or bored is not exactly the kind of lesson you want to teach her; you want her to grow up to be able to entertain herself, absent a technological device. So you think about busting out some pen and paper games like hangman or tic-tac-toe, but she’s preliterate and only understands strategy in terms of figuring out how to poop so no one sees her.

What to do?

Well, with a few completely accoutrement-free games in your metaphorical back pocket, you can easily improvise some games that’ll keep your little one happy and engaged before her chicken nuggets finally arrive. Here are 9 fun, brain-boosting ideas to keep on deck; some work better depending on age and ability, many can be modified to meet your toddler’s level of cognition (which is right around that of a golden retriever), and some will be equally enjoyed by the preschooler set on up. Experiment and see what captures your kiddos’ attention.

1. Name That Tune

Hum a familiar song (“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Old McDonald,” etc.), and see if your child can identity and name it.

2. What’s Missing?

This is a great one to do at the table at a restaurant. Take a few objects — a fork, spoon, and sugar packet, for example — and tell your kid to take a careful look at the collection. Then cover the items with a napkin, and remove one of the items without them being able to see which one (lift the end of the napkin nearest you for cover as you withdraw the item). Now remove the napkin altogether, and ask your child to name which item is missing.

3. Who Am I?

Pick an animal, and then let your kid ask questions to try to get at your identity. E.g., “Do you roar?” “Do you live somewhere cold or hot?” “Are you furry?”

4. Touch Something That Is….

Ask your child if she can touch something that is X color. “Can you touch something that is red?” “Can you touch something blue?” She can touch anything within her reach — the table, her clothes, your clothes, etc. If it’s someplace where she can walk around without bothering other people, you can make the game mobile.

5. Shape Hunt

Ask your children if they can see anything in their environment with a certain shape. “What do you see that’s a circle?” “What do you see that’s a triangle?”

6. I Spy

Classic entertainment that’s good for the slightly older kid who’s able to process the idea behind this guessing game. Pick an object both you and your kid can see, and then say, “I spy something, and it’s ____.” If your child has a basic understanding of the alphabet and a modest vocabulary, fill in the blank with a letter. “I spy something, and it begins with the letter C.” It can help to sound it out: “Ca-Ca-Ca.” For the preliterate set who knows only their colors or shapes, substitute those categories instead. You can also describe the objects’ properties: “I spy something, and it’s rough and scaly/smooth and shiny.”

7. What Is Different?

You do need a pencil and paper for this, but that shouldn’t be a problem since like all great men in history, you’ve adopted the habit of carrying a pocket notebook with you. Divide a piece of paper into a quadrant. In three squares, draw the same shapes/pictures/pattern. In the fourth square, draw something different. So for example, you could draw dogs in three of the squares and a cat in the fourth, or a triangle in three of the squares, and a square in another. Have your kid point to the panel that differs from the rest. The more advanced your child, the harder you can make it; try doing 5 circles in three of the squares, and 6 in the fourth, or different patterns like XXOOXX in three squares, and XXOXX in the fourth.

8. Simple Riddles

Come up with easy riddles for your child to solve. For example: “I have four legs and am covered in fluffy white wool. What I am?” or “I’m shaped like a circle, I have two hands, and numbers all around me. What am I?”

9. Hidden in the Hand

Let your kid see your open, empty hands. Then put an object like a coin in one of your hands and close both of them. Put you hands behind your back and switch the object back and forth between them. Bring your closed hands back in front of you, and ask your child to guess in which one the object is.

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11 Ways to Raise Strong Daughters (Courtesy of Puzzling Posts)

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Happy Friday Gentlemen!

I am sharing a post from one of my favorite Dad blogs: Puzzling Posts.  You can check him out here.  Usually pretty good stuff so consider bookmarking the page.

*Note* The views express below are not my own.  I don’t claim to support 100% of everything written below.

Six nights out of seven, our oldest daughter, now a very proud “five and three quarters,” will fall asleep with a book on her chest. The book often changes—sometimes it’s about Christmas carollers, sometimes it’s a book about Barbie becoming a doctor. Sometimes she reads the same books about animals that I read when I was growing up and sometimes she reads stories she’s helped write herself.

Her mind, at this point, is incredibly fertile, and it’s an amazing privilege for us to be able to watch the many plants start to grow in that amazing young mind of hers. But it’s also terrifying how easy it is for seeds we didn’t plant to take root.

Because for every “I learned to read all by my own,” she says, there’s a “that’s just for boys,” or “that’s just for girls,” waiting for us.

The truth is, my daughters don’t read my posts. At their age, my daughters don’t read A Mighty Girl or Feministing or Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls or any of the many great sites out there that regularly present amazing stories of women doing amazing things unless we share them with them.

As a dad, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I can raise girls to believe they are as strong as I know they are. There is no single way to do this I’ve learned, and it will often feel like everything you do is a failure. But I have found there are a number of small things dads can do to raise strong daughters.

Maybe I’ll use all of these and I’ll be completely wrong. Maybe not though.

Protect them with knowledge, not with your muscles or guns.

Let’s all make the dad holding a gun to his daughter’s prom date’s head a thing of the past. If we want to protect our daughters, let’s make sure we teach them from an early age about consent, teach them that they make decisions about their own bodies, teach them about body and sex positivity. Answer their questions when they have them instead of letting them find out online or from a friend.

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Have some female role models yourself.

There are billions of amazing women out there and just because we grew up thinking football players and boy band stars were the most worthy of our emulation doesn’t mean that as grownups we can’t find new role models. Make sure your daughter knows how in awe you are of young women like Malala Yousafzai. And if you aren’t already aware of some of these amazing role models, check out A Mighty Girl to start your education.

Support their efforts.

A young girl will hear many times over their lifetime that they can’t do something because they’re a girl, because they’re not as strong as a man or because that’s not the way a good girl acts. Don’t be part of that noise and be part of the group of people in her life who takes her aside and says “you want to do that? You go ahead and do that and I’ll be right beside you helping if you need it.”

It doesn’t matter what “that” is. If they have an interest, let them know it’s an important one.

Girls playing the drums

Learn together.

If your daughter wants to pursue something you know nothing about, learn with her. If she’s showing an interest in photography but you’re at your picture-taking best, find a class to take together instead of saying you can’t help her. Often you can’t help, but that’s no reason learning can’t happen anyway.

Don’t write off failures.

When they do make an effort and when they eventually fail at something, don’t let them think it was just too hard for them. Don’t tell them not many women have ever been able to do it. Let them know it’s fine that they failed but that it isn’t because of any make-believe inherent weakness and that them giving up simply because they don’t think they can do it is a cop out.

DO NOT tell her something is for boys.

Yeah, no duh, right? Except this still happens every single day in a number of ways. Some things may be dominated by men but that doesn’t make them “for men” or “for boys.” My daughters both love princesses and I think that’s wonderful. But conversely, princesses aren’t “for girls” they’re just “for kids.” And if the princesses also love riding motorcycles and playing with Transformers, that’s great.

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Use “she” instead of “he” when you’re talking about non-specific individuals.

When talking about what scientists do, talk about the things “she” does on a day-to-day basis. I tried to take note of just how many professions I defaulted to “he” on and it’s astoundingly bad. Equal representation of women in the media for some professions just doesn’t exist. Girls are asked to think they can grow up to become anything they want but are asked to do this using men as their example.

Stop with the blonde jokes, and sexist talk. Everywhere.

This sounds so damn straightforward and you probably think it’s simple to do. But when you’re in a group with your buds at a bar and someone lobs a blonde joke across the table, it’s easier to laugh it off and think to yourself “I don’t think that way so I’m all clear. But, I don’t want to have to tell my buddy he’s being an idiot.”

But that doesn’t do anything for our daughters. Say something, even if it’s as simple as “that kind of joke isn’t funny.” If you’re pushed beyond that, say it again. Because it isn’t funny, it’s misogyny. It’s sexism. It has no place in front of your daughter and it has no place in a bar at midnight.

Don’t parent believing there are things daughters can only hear from a female.

There may be things you don’t experience—menstruation, shopping for bras, etc. but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about these things and be confident enough to answer questions from your daughter without making them feel like these are taboo topics or things they should only feel comfortable talking about with certain people. They aren’t.

Sure, there are things they might end up feeling more comfortable talking about to someone who isn’t you, but don’t let that happen because you weren’t welcoming or lacked knowledge.

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Fight sexist crap together.

When you’re walking down the toy aisle trying to find a Black Widow toy for your daughter but notice she’s the only one missing from the Avengers toy lineup, don’t shrug it off and tell her “oh well, that’s what happens sometime.” Tell her it’s not okay and then tell more people it’s not okay. If she comes home and tells you she was told she wasn’t allowed to do something because she’s a girl, find out why, fight it if it needs fighting. Fight her being told she needs to cover up at school because her outfit is a distraction to the boys in her school. Fight for her right to choose what she can and cannot do with her body. Fight, together.

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Play recklessly.

Explore beyond the campsite limits, turn over big rocks, swim to the big log in the middle of the lake. Play like you’re a kid again and spend as much time doing this as your daughter would like. There are butterflies to run behind, iguanas to photograph and cannonballs to perfect. Be part of it.

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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.

—–

Until tomorrow, make it a better day.

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It’s Official: I am a Father!

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Happy Monday Gents!

Sorry for the long lay off with the blog.  Thankfully I had one prepped for last Tuesday but otherwise I was pretty busy.  Last Sunday morning my wife woke up with pre-labor contractions and we spent the entire day hanging out at home waiting for real labor to kick in.  At about 7:30pm we headed to the hospital and a mere 12 hours later my daughter was born (8:02am to be exact!)  It was such an exciting time (obviously) and my wife was a real champ! Once the Dr’s told her it was time to push she entered “beast mode” and pushed our daughter out in less than 20 minutes!  The entire nursing staff and Doctor were impressed at her prowess!

Most fathers told me how amazing it was but nothing really ever prepares you for just how great the  experience is.  Not only is it exhausting and frustrating but also exhilarating and amazing all at the same time.

My daughter mean mugging me after her bath yesterday.

I am so grateful Sharlay’s mom was in town for the birth of our daughter.  She has been the only thing during the last week that has helped me from wanting to jump off a bridge at times.  Those first few days home with a brand new baby can be overwhelming, even with extra help.  Add in a highly emotional wife (I mean like out of this world emotional) and it can be a real challenge.  I am not sure how single moms manage those first few days (and weeks) at home with a new baby. Nor do I understand how couples survive without any help!

For the first time ever, I could actually understand how lesser men might crack under that pressure.  It is a lot of pressure.  Everyone is exhausted, emotions are running high, baby is screaming (and maybe pooping) and there seems to be no end in site.  Throw in any difficulties with breastfeeding, sleeping or medical issues and it is a lot for any person to take in (thankfully we didn’t have any medical problems.)  You cannot possibly understand until you experience it, but the minute your first kid arrives it will rock your world.  My friends all told me this.  I even saw how much it changed their lives when it happened.  Yet you really have to go through the gauntlet yourself to really understand how much your life has changed.  It is really crazy.

I remember telling my wife early on in her pregnancy how I thought it would be great if we had twins right off the bat.  I mean we could kill two birds with one stone (or seed as it were.)  Man that would have been awful! Ha!

At least with one kid we can sleep when she sleeps and if she is causing a ruckus, we can sleep in shifts.  Double the trouble and you don’t have that option!  Thus, while I am sure twins would have been a blessing I am uber thankful for having just one child on our first go round.

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Adorable indeed!

By the way, my daughter is beautiful. I mean in case you didn’t notice, although I am not sure how you could miss that obvious fact.  I am not one for bragging about anything usually, but even I was shocked at how beautiful she was the moment they pulled her out and placed her on my wife’s chest.  Surely she has more of my wife in her when it comes to the looks department but damn she is a cute kid! Although, let’s be honest, when it comes to farting she is certainly more like her dad.

It has been quite the roller-coaster of emotions, thoughts and actions over the last week but I am grateful for every moment and challenge.  It has already made me a better man and it is something I am forever humbled by.  I feel bad for men who don’t understand how important being a father is and also for those men who blow off the amazing responsibility of raising another human being.  I suspected for a long time now that I would be blown away at the birth of my first kid but I never anticipated it being this incredible!

I pray every day that I will be a good dad to my girl and that the mistakes I will surely make will be of the small variety instead of the large.  I thought she had captured my heart the moment I saw the first sonogram and heard her first little heartbeat.  I was dead wrong.  Apparently my heart grew over the last 9 months and the moment she opened her eyes and looked at me she managed to steal the rest of it!  Forget about it.  I love her to death and am so excited to get home from work to see her again!

Until tomorrow, make it a better day!

Andrew

P.S. given the status of fatherhood which was recently bestowed upon me, the offerings a Be a Better Man might be a bit sparse over the next two weeks.  Hopefully I will be able to write a few things but no promises at this time.  Thanks for all of you who bothered to wish us well in the last 7 days!  I appreciate all the encouragement!

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