Tag Archives: parenting

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!

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!

Tell us if you agree or not!

Why Daughters Need Their Dad So Much

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Most you know I am a sucker for blogs like the one I am sharing below.  This isn’t something I have written personally but did manage to find it in my Facebook feed a few weeks ago.  I held off reading because it seems every time I read something like this I get dust in my eyes and they water uncontrollably for several minutes. Sure to the outsider, it may look like I am crying but I assure that is not the case!

Anyway, the blog was written by Dr. Meg Meeker.  She has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for 30 years. It will certainly tug at the ole feels (if you have them) and isn’t for the faint of heart if you are a father of a daughter.  I hope you enjoy.  Get out the dust rags.

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Men, we need you.

We — mothers, daughters, and sisters — need your help in raising healthy young women. We need every ounce of masculine courage and wit you own because a father, more than anyone else, sets the course for a daughter’s life.

After more than 20 years of listening to daughters — and doling out antibiotics, antidepressants, and stimulants to girls who have gone without a father’s love — I know just how important fathers are. As a pediatrician, I have listened hour after hour to young girls describe how they vomit in junior high bathrooms to keep their weight down. I have listened to 14-year-old girls tell me they have to provide sex acts that disgust them in order to keep their boyfriends.

I’ve watched girls drop off varsity tennis teams, flunk out of school, and carve initials or tattoo cult figures onto their bodies — all to see if their dads will notice.snm-dad-daughter

And I have watched daughters talk to fathers. When dads come in the room, the girls change. Everything about them changes: their eyes, their mouths, their gestures, their body language. Daughters are never lukewarm in the presence of their fathers.

They might take their mothers for granted, but not you. They light up — or they cry. They watch you intensely. They hang on your words. They hope for your attention, and they wait for it in frustration, or in despair. They need a gesture of approval, a nod of encouragement, or even simple eye contact to let them know you care and are willing to help.

When she’s in your company, your daughter tries harder to excel. When you teach her, she learns more rapidly. When you guide her, she gains confidence.

If you fully understood just how profoundly you can influence your daughter’s life, you would be overwhelmed.

Boyfriends, brothers, even husbands can’t shape her character the way you do. You will influence her entire life because she gives you an authority she gives no other man.

Many fathers, particularly of teen girls, assume they have little influence over their daughters, or certainly less influence than their daughters’ peers or pop culture. They think their daughters need to figure out life on their own. But your daughter faces a world markedly different from the one you did growing up. It’s less friendly, morally unmoored and even outright dangerous.

After age 6, “little girl” clothes are hard to find. Many outfits are cut to make her look like a seductive 13- or 14-year-old girl trying to attract older boys. She will enter puberty earlier than girls did a generation or two ago. Boys will be watching as she begins to physically mature even as young as age 9. She will see sexual innuendo or scenes of overt sexual behavior in magazines or on television before she is 10 years old, whether you approve or not. She will learn about HIV and AIDS in elementary school and will also probably learn why and how it is transmitted.

If you’re reading this, you are a motivated, sensitive and caring father. You are a good man, but you’re probably exhausted. For you, there is great news and bad news.

The great news is that to experience a richer life and raise a fabulous daughter, you don’t need to change your character. You need only to indulge what’s best in your character. You have everything you need for a better relationship with your daughter.

Here’s the bad news. You need to stop in your tracks, open your eyes wider, and see what your daughter faces today, tomorrow and in 10 years. It’s tough and it’s frightening, but this is the way it is. While you want the world to be cautious and gentle with her, it is cruel beyond imagination — even before she is a teen.

Even though she may not participate in ugly stuff, it’s all around her: sexual promiscuity, alcohol abuse, foul language, illegal drugs, and predatory boys and men who want only to take something from her.

Don’t think you can’t fight her “peers” or the power of pop culture. fatherdaughterExactly the opposite is true. Yes, the four Ms — MTV, music, movies, and magazines — are enormous influences that shape what girls think about themselves, what clothes they wear, and even the grades they get. But their influence doesn’t come close to the influence of a father. A lot of research has been done on this, and fathers always come out on top. The effects of loving, caring fathers on their daughters’ lives can be measured in girls of all ages.

When you are with her, whether you eat dinner and do homework together or even when you are present but don’t say much, the quality and stability of her life — and, you’ll find, your own  — improves immeasurably. Even if you think the two of you operate on different planes,
 even if you worry that time spent with her shows no measurable results, even if you doubt you are having a meaningful impact on her, the clinical fact is that you are giving your daughter the greatest of gifts.

Your daughter will view this time spent with you vastly differently than you do. Over the years, in erratic bursts and in simple ordinary life together, she will absorb your influence. She will watch every move you make. She might not understand why you are happy or angry, affectionate, but you will be the most important man in her life, forever.

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When she is 25, she will mentally 
size her boyfriend or husband up against you. When she is 35, the number of children she has will be affected by her life with you. The clothes she wears will reflect something about you. Even when she is 75, how she faces her future will depend on some distant memory of time you spent together.

Be it good or painful,
 the hours and years you spend with her — or 
don’t spend with her — change who she is.
 Come on, men. We daughters need you!

Tell us if you agree or not!

 

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.

Tell us if you agree or not!

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.

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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.

Tell us if you agree or not!