Strong, Weak and Vulnerable At The Same Time

by Kevin

guest_post_imgThese past few months have been quite the experience of being a dad and plenty more unsuspecting roller coaster turns to come I am sure. I have written quite a number of posts relating to the struggles and the coping (lack of) of ET suffering from GERD, but I never actually started from the beginning as such.

Have you ever been strong, weak and vulnerable at the same time? Read on to find out, why I felt this way all at once.

Ever since our son ET (real initials) was born, initially I was overcome with such happiness and joy that literally everything else in my world did not matter as long as I had both my wife and son by my side.

We were in the hospital for the most part of the first week in trying to set up some routine in his feeding patterns and getting the advice we so desperately needed from the helpful staff of midwives and nurses.

As the days and weeks progressed, things were shaping up to be great, we were told one great news to another and that it would only really be a matter of days before we can take our son home. As quickly as we were told that we could, we also quickly found out we could not take him home. After a number of tests and monitoring on the little fellow, we were told he had a mild case of Jaundice which is essentially a yellowness in the skin.

Our little guy had to undergo photo-therapy which involved him being stripped down to his nappy and a blindfold put on and carefully monitored via number of cords and placed inside a transparent box housed with a couple of UV-based lights.

We were told he had to be under these lights essentially for a full twenty four hour period while maintaining the regular three hour feeding intervals at the time.

As the days progressed, ironically our level of sleep increased because we knew that with him being in the nursery and carefully monitored by the doctors and midwives, we ended up booking a staying in room in the ward and we could sleep knowing we would be the first to hear of anything from the midwives regarding ET.

After the first session of photo-therapy, we were told his levels of Jaundice had decreased quite significantly and that after a few more standard checks we would finally take ET home. During the moments at home we had been anticipating taking him home for such a long time, we were in for quite a ride, the feeding hours seem to jump quite erratically, ranging from some two and half hours to three hours and one piece of advice we were told by one of the midwives before we began the process of going home was “Remember, just feed on demand when at home”

Because of her profession, we figured this midwife must know what she is talking about, seems to make sense we thought he is obviously growing and getting older by the day, it must be normal for babies to get to the on demand feed stage this early in their life, of course later on we were told by other medical professionals this should not happen at this early in his life and that we still should have continued to wake ET up every three hours for his feed.

We had taken ET home, and he was still being breastfed at this point, the first night was great feeling we followed every advice we could remember from the hospital, we changed his nappies, fed him, carried him as the days went on and everything seemed great.

I can’t remember exactly when we started to notice a change in his behaviour. It was after just one day, we had began to notice his complexion had seemed a little yellow and that is when we decided to call the hospital, and after a few calls back and fourth and monitoring from home, we took him in for observation.

And this is when we essentially had what felt like everything thrown in our face, his was underweight, his Jaundice level had rebounded and significantly higher than what they were before the first photo-therapy session and so again he was under the UV-lights for round two of photo-therapy. Even though we as a family had gone through with ET being under the UV-lights the first time, the second time felt such like a tonne of bricks just came crumbling down on us, it was harder on us to accept the fact he had to go through such an experience again and I think being able to take him home for such a short amount of time before hand had contributed to this.

After a full photo-therapy session, we were essentially given the green light to once again take him home, again everything was going well initially until we started to notice and suspect he wasn’t eating a much as he should have and as days and weeks progressed, we noticed we had such difficultly in settling him after a feed.

We thought this is just normal as all babies cry and need soothing and settling but we didn’t think too much of it. During a routine check up see an excellent paediatrician, he officially diagnosed ET with GERD (severe reflux)

The anticipation of become a father, I had read up on all I could to at least think that I was going to be prepared in some way or another, but never in my mind did I anticipate even the thought of a child suffering from GERD.

All up to this point before finding out ET has GERD, I felt incredibly strong for ET, being able to provide for him, be able to look after and nurture him and suddenly feeling weak. As the weeks progressed, we began to notice a change and a lot of trial and error with his medication to try and suppress his reflux, we felt like we were on top of it all, we had overcome his GERD and for the most part it is definitely under control.

Occasionally when I am feeding him (on prescription formula), and trying to settle and soothe him, I am finding it very difficult and tends to push on my patience, I end up being frustrated and I unfortunately take it out on those around me that mean to me the most and it is incredibly unfair on them, I feel tremendously vulnerable and weak during this moments while at the same time feeling I should be stronger, to be there for my son, to provide for him.

Being a parent is definitely the hardest thing I have done in my life and having such an overwhelming rush of feeling strong, weak and vulnerable at the same time has made me realise that in some strange way this is all perfectly normal and that things do happen for a reason and has made me take a step back and realise that the real person who is having most difficult time is ET who has to go through the pain from GERD and dealing with an incredibly short-tempered excuse of a father during those times when he needed it the most.

Do I feel incredibly stupid for the way I have been handling this whole situation? Of course, I am working on this and as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words and I vow to prove that to the fullest not only for myself so I can look in the mirror and be proud of who I see, but for my wife, for those around me that care about me, for those I love and care and most importantly for our son ET.

The Two Most Important Decisions Your Child Will Ever Make

Barry-300-320x240by Barry Adkins

“It’s just alcohol; at least they are not doing drugs.” How many of us have said this, heard it, or thought it? Often we think that as long as they are “just drinking” our children will be okay. The truth is, most illegal drugs are tried, for the first time, under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol kills more than all illegal drugs combined. Try using Google to search for the term “alcohol abuse,” and check out how many results you get.

Those precious children that you have held, burped, changed diapers and loved, have hopes and dreams. They dream of growing up and finding a cure for cancer, making the world a better place, being president, (insert your child’s dream here). They will be faced with many decisions that will determine whether their hopes and dreams are realized. Decisions like where they want to go to college, what they want to study, where they want to live, etc.

All important decisions, no doubt, but the two most important decisions your child will ever make are about drugs and alcohol. Make one bad decision with respect to drugs or alcohol and all of the above hopes and dreams are gone, vanished into thin air.

It’s too late for my son, Kevin, but it’s not too late for your child. The decisions your child makes about drugs and alcohol will have a profound effect on how their lives turn out. Educate yourself, and then educate your children. Act as if their lives depend on it, because they do.

When you lose a child the most that you can hope for is to make something very good come from it. That is what I plan to spend the rest of my life doing.

I Try

When they’re young, how do our children see us? When I look at my kids, I am in awe of the love that I feel emanating back from them. When you think about it, we are their world. They look at us for guidance and leadership. They trust that we will never let them down or hurt them in anyway. When I see the love in their eyes, I’m in awe. It’s a feeling that you can actually sense radiating from them. The term “unconditional love” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I have no idea what to call the way that they must see us, but that’s ok. I think a label would only cheapen it anyway.

Every day, I’m amazed by their love. When they wake up in the morning, the first thing they want to do is crawl into our laps and cuddle. When we leave to run some errands, they always want to go with. Even when we have to punish them, they don’t hold a grudge. Within 30 minutes, they are back. They want to play Candy Land with us not because they like the game, but because they want to play with us. They want us to be down on the floor and in their world. As much as we may want them to play by themselves for an hour, all they want is to be next to us.

Think about that for a minute. Think about the love that small person has for you. They don’t love you because of how you look or what you drive. They don’t care about what kind of car you drive or if your hair is grey. They simply love you because you are thier parent. That’s it!

Think about the trust. They don’t care how many mistakes you’ve made. They don’t know how many times you’ve failed over the years. They know, without a doubt, that you will do the right thing. They believe, to their core, that you will take care of them.

Wow… How do you live up to that? How do you even come close to being the person that they think you are? How do you become infallible? How do you pick that child up, look him or her in the eye, and say, “Yes, I am your daddy.” How…

If you’ve read this far thinking that I have the answer, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’m just like everybody else. I’ve failed many times. I have made plenty of mistakes. I haven’t always been a good person. I’m as lost as you are. I can only tell you what I do.

I try

I try to be the person that they think I am. I try to be a good enough father to deserve that love that they show. I try to earn that trust that they give me. What else can I do? There’s no magical elixer that will make me a good father. It’s hard work, and it’s often painful.

I still make mistakes all the time. There’s no way that I am the person that they think I am, but I’m trying. I doubt that I will ever become that great, but hopefully, I’m a little bit closer today than I was yesterday. Maybe, I’ll be even closer tomorrow, or maybe there will be a set back. Either way, I have to keep trying.

After all, what else can a guy do….

WWF in Fatherhood? Differences in Raising Boys and Girls.

As a father of two girls there is a perceived notion that you must raise your daughters in a certain way (or at least I sometimes get this impression form the people that I interact with). At the same time, when I talk to fathers of boys, I hear differing things about their impressions and the ways in which they feel that they can and should raise their boys as well.

For girls, there is the impression that society expects that they will be introduced to dolls, dress up and the like and that fathers will support this feminine societal view. While boys are given toy guns, legos, cars or trucks to solidify their manhood. Who says though that it has to be this way? Who says that a girl can’t love playing with cars or trucks? Who says that a boy cannot like playing with a Cabbage Patch Kid doll?

For me, I have always encouraged my girls to do what they want to do. Whether this is playing baseball or dolls, dress up or cars, I am encouraging them to be the person that they want to be while at the same time encouraging them to explore areas outside of the normal societal mores.

As a father of two girls there is a perceived notion that you must raise your daughters in a certain way (or at least I sometimes get this impression form the people that I interact with). At the same time, when I talk to fathers of boys, I hear differing things about their impressions and the ways in which they feel that they can and should raise their boys as well.

For girls, there is the impression that society expects that they will be introduced to dolls, dress up and the like and that fathers will support this feminine societal view. While boys are given toy guns, legos, cars or trucks to solidify their manhood. Who says though that it has to be this way? Who says that a girl can’t love playing with cars or trucks? Who says that a boy cannot like playing with a Cabbage Patch Kid doll?

For me, I have always encouraged my girls to do what they want to do. Whether this is playing baseball or dolls, dress up or cars, I am encouraging them to be the person that they want to be while at the same time encouraging them to explore areas outside of the normal societal mores.

I have been encouraging this from an early age and I show this not only in the things that I let them see and try, but also in the things that I do with them. Thus, whether it is wrestling and roughhousing with them on the floor or dancing will we can’t see straight, I am pushing myself to look outside of the box while at the same time encouraging them to explore non-traditional society roles and activities.

I truly believe that fathers who do this are building their daughters into strong, well-adjusted members of society that will be able to stand on their own two feel and who will be able to decide for themselves in the end what is right and what they will stand for. In the end, that is what I want for my daughters. I want them to be self-sufficient and I want them to know that no matter what society will say that they can do and be what they want to be no matter what!

What about you? How do you encourage this in your own children?

Changing My Default Setting

Sometimes, I find that I need to change my default setting. I’m not necessarily talking about computer programs or the speed dial on my phone. I’m talking more about my attitude and the way I interact with the kids. Every so often, I’ll find that my default response gets stuck on “NO.”

Sometimes, I can trace the events of the day that led to the situation. Maybe there was a rough day at work. Maybe I didn’t sleep overly well the night before. Maybe the kids had been running me ragged all day, and I just didn’t have anything left. Other times, it’s more of a surprise. Either way, I’ll find myself responding to every question that the kids ask with “NO.”

To be fair, that’s the correct answer for a large percentage of the questions. When Princess comes up and asks if she can jump off her bunkbed into a pile of pillows, the answer should be negative. When she asks me if she can paint, however, the question at least should be considered. Unfortunately, when my response gets stuck, I’ll usually say no before she’s even done asking the question.

There are times when the answer should absolutely be “YES.” I’ve had times where Little Dude asked if he could help me unload the dishwasher and told him no without even thinking. Princess might ask me if she can go read a book, and I’ll say no. Afterwards, I’ll look back and think, “What was that??? I just told my son that he can’t help me do the dishes and my daughter that she can’t read a book. Why on earth would I say that?” Then, I realize that my default response has gotten stuck again.

At that point, I’ll try to stop and reconsider things. I’ll realize that I’m putting the kids into a position where they are bound to get into trouble. If I forbid them from doing anything, they’re going to get bored and find something to do. By eliminating all of their normal options, I’m driving them towards unusual situations. That’s definitely not setting them up for success.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I should have my default setting switched to “YES” either. That can be just as bad. If Little Dude asks me if he can chase the dogs with his toy sword (very much in the realm of possibility), the answer should absolutely be no. If Princess asks if she can color on the wall (also very possible), she should be discouraged.

I need to keep my default response set to “Let me think about it.” That’s fairly safe. Maybe there are times when painting a picture isn’t a good idea. If we have company coming over and don’t want a mess, for example. There may be other times when it’s perfectly acceptable. It might be a little work to get everything set up, but that work may result in a kid that is totally entertained for the next 2 hours. It may actually take me longer to unload the dishwasher with a 3 year old helping me, but there are some valuable lessons contained in that process. It would be absolutely worth the extra time and there would even be some bonding in there.

Next time that you’ve had a long day, and you find yourself dismissing every question that your kids ask, try to stop and think for a second. Are you answering no because that’s what the answer should be, or is your default setting stuck again? It might be worth the effort to stop, take a deep breath, and reassess things. I’m not saying that it’s time to start allowing everything, but the night may go a lot smoother if you simply take a second to say, “Let me think about it.” Maybe the answer is still no, but maybe you’ll realize that they are trying to do something completely innocent. Maybe, by answering yes, you’re entire night can get turned around.

Being Stuck in Dad Purgatory

It’s an afternoon in the Divadom and my wife is working, that means that I am the head honcho, the one and only guy in charge, or am I? Living in a home full of glitz and sequins I find that there are days when I think I am in control and in fact I find myself stuck somewhere in between, or in a place that sometimes feels like Dad purgatory. Have you ever been in this same place? Where you make rules and they are tested, you make punsihments, but they don’t seems to make a difference? Yes, this is the land I call Dad purgatory.

It’s an afternoon in the Divadom and my wife is working, that means that I am the head honcho, the one and only guy in charge, or am I? Living in a home full of glitz and sequins  I find that there are days when I think I am in control and in fact I find myself stuck somewhere in between, or in a place that sometimes feels like Dad purgatory.  Have you ever been in this same place? Where you make rules and they are tested, you make punsihments, but they don’t seems to make a difference? Yes, this is the land I call Dad purgatory.

I find this a hard place to be at times, because I want to be a good parent. I want the respect of my children, but it is hard at times to get to that point. I keep looking for the do-it-yourself manual when I go to the bookstore in the parenting section, but alas, there are many that have tried, but I have never found the one true guide that is the sure fire fix.

I find that this sense of dad purgatory sets in even further when a childs’ friends comes over. Sometimes these friends can bring out the best in our children and sometimes the worst (I always pray for the best of course).  When you not only have to parent your own child but the child or children of other parents who may not have the same rules that you hold your own children to. Alas, this is still the bane of a parent’s life as it will continue as long we remain parents, right?

So for me Dad Purgatory remains, but I attempt to break down its walls every day, making it easier and easier to strive to be a better parent and father… only time will tell if I am successful, but I sure hope I am!

I would love to hear your thoughts on what you do to keep yourself going and whether you have ever fell into this realm of Dad Purgatory as I have labeled it…

No Harm, No Foul, No Apologies

In these ways, moms and dads are not that different. We all share a common ground which should be remembered by both parties. We share our fallibility, we share the parts of us that make us fail at times. We share human nature. And when it comes to being human? No harm, no foul, no apologies.

**Note: This is a fixed up repost from my personal blog. As certain events have unfolded in my life, and with words that have been floated my way recently, it is very fitting to my mood today, so I wanted to share it here too**

 

There is probably a lot in life that I should apologize for. Fighting with the wife, punishing a child then later finding out they weren’t the one at fault, being late to work because I had no motivation to show up. Perhaps I should take into consideration the lies I told my parents when I was a kid, the times I stole from others during my later teens and early 20’s, and the guy I flipped off and almost wrecked the day before the wife gave birth to Little Man.

These are just a few things I could think of that I should apologize for. There are many more, but it would take years of posts to list them all. The better side of this is that I have done things that don’t warrant an apology, whether others see it as right or wrong. The biggest , and perhaps most steadfast action I will never apologize for, is for not being mommy.

Here we go:

People like to compare dads and moms, and hardly ever is it in a good way. Though that is a view that has been shifted greatly in recent years, but there is still a long ways to go. In more specific detail, people like to compare SAHDs to SAHMs like they are inferior, weaker, and more likely to fold under pressure. Recently, personally, it has been said that maybe if I did things more like mommy then my new role as the at-home parent during the week wouldn’t be so bad.

Here’s the thing:

I am not mommy. I am not my wife. I am not a female. I don’t do things the same way she does, but I will never, EVER apologize for that. Since when did doing things different mean that you were doing things wrong? Nap time came 30 minutes later than normal. Big deal, we still napped, and were up in time to get Little Man off the bus. No harm, no foul, no apologies.

I think that popcorn and apples are perfectly acceptable snack time foods. Oh dear Lord though, I gave them something not so healthy along with something healthy. But guess what? Nobody is in bad health, nobody had explosive diarrhea or a case of the farts that would run out any weiner dog nearby. Nobody puked, nobody even cared. It was snack time with a movie, and popcorn and apples sounded delicious. No harm, no foul, no apologies.

When it comes to discipline, I take the role of “Daddy Law Enforcement Agent” pretty quickly. There are some things that can slide with a quick “no, don’t do that” or will cease with the simple use of a child’s middle name. However, there are sometimes when more direct actions need to be taken. A time out, a slap on the hand for a hitting infraction, or being sent to a room until crying has stopped. Again though, I parent on my terms, not anyone else’s. Despite some of the harder days (like a recent hand in the diaper, poop in the face incident), despite the fact that there are evenings when it seems there is more disciplining going on than singing and dancing, my children love me, and I love them. No harm, no foul, no apologies.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere really. Just been kind of bothered by comments and remarks I have heard from people about my parenting style. And being told that I should be more like mommy? Well, that just sends me over the edge. I am not mommy. I am not a female and I am not my wife. Parents use different styles. It’s different between moms and dads, different between dads and dads, and different between moms and moms.

What matters is that I choose to parent effectively, lovingly, and without harsh judgement. Do I always succeed? No I don’t. But do you always succeed? No you don’t. We are human and we are fallible. That is how we work. We succeed or we fail. But we learn what we can for the next time. Even if next time is not the same as the previous, we have something to go by that helps us make better decisions.

In these ways, moms and dads are not that different. We all share a common ground which should be remembered by both parties. We share our fallibility, we share the parts of us that make us fail at times. We share human nature. And when it comes to being human? No harm, no foul, no apologies.

Terms of Engagement: Drawing the War Plans

With the change in parental roles in our house, came a change in attitudes, routines, and habits. None of us were prepared for all of the changes, and all of the new stress that came along with it. This also included how to handle aggressive and undesirable behavior from the children. We knew that there would be some acting out, some of that “pushing the boundaries” jazz, and all that other junk, but we did not have any knowledge of how to decide if and how to intervene or administer punishment.

Buzz Lightyear lies wounded on the battlefield. Not too far from him, Optimus Prime lies fallen. Both, victims of a horrific act of violence. Two of the world’s strongest allies became innocent bystanders in a war that was never there’s. The time was 6:47 in the evening. Hell hour. The giants that stood above these iconic heroes, rained tears down on them, as if truly sorrowful for their actions, and for ending the run of the famous toys.

In hindsight, I guess the kids really did feel bad about throwing the toys, sending them to their makers. Or to the force flex trash bag. The war was exhausting on both sides. Ultimately, daddy won the the battle, but nobody won the war. Now we were all in a state of mourning. The kids mourning for their lost possessions, and I for my inability to keep the civil unrest in order, and prevent such atrocities. Then, with just a few words, my son looks at me, and puts it all in to perspective. He says:

I wish Mommy was here. She would bust your tail, Daddy!

He is probably right. She would.

What really intrigued me about him saying this was that it noted in my mind the fact that he knows, without a doubt, the differnce in our parenting styles and disciplining methods. And trust me, him and his sister are both good at exploiting these differences to get their way. They are master deceivers and workers of the system. They sit up late at night, exchanging and comparing notes through the gates at their doors. They are knowledgeable and well armed.

Okay, that was a bit dramatic. My kids spend more time yelling at each other to be quiet than they do plotting. They are sweet in their own ways and for the most part, decently behaved. Yet, as they get older and approach the ages of 5 and 3, they become more possessive over toys, over attention, and over each other. This generally leads to sibling rivalry, and at least once a day, the need to place a call to the Daddy Law Enforcement Agent, for immediate intervention and sentencing. Still, there is definitely the knowledge there that shows that my wife and I should perhaps hash out a war plan, and terms of engagement, when it comes to discipline in the house.

With the change in parental roles in our house, came a change in attitudes, routines, and habits. None of us were prepared for all of the changes, and all of the new stress that came along with it. This also included how to handle aggressive and undesirable behavior from the children. We knew that there would be some acting out, some of that “pushing the boundaries” jazz, and all that other junk, but we did not have any knowledge of how to decide if and how to intervene or administer punishment.

There are times when a time out, or being sent to the room, or the loss of a privilege or toy must happen. Sometimes there might just be the need for a light rap on the hand, or a firm holding of the hand, followed by short and definitive verbal response. Such as “I do not want to see that again” or “We don’t hit in this house”. Then there are times when a simple calling of the full name and the raised eyebrow will suffice. And of course, there are times when the behavior is pure instinct in reaction to the change, and it should be allowed under supervision and understanding. The gray area for us is in how we judge what category behavior falls under, and what the law of the house says should happen in response.

This isn’t the point of the post where I give out wonderfully thought out advice on how to avoid this problem. This is the point where I straight up tell you that I have no advice on this. In fact, this is the point where I turn to the DadRevolution community. I know we aren’t the only ones who disagree on discipline and different aspects of the parenting  job. This is new territory for us, with new changes, new stresses, and new needs to hash out new plans.

So today I am asking you. How do you answer these questions?

  • Who lays down most of the domestic law in your home when it comes to children and discipline?
  • Do you struggle to maintain an even playing field between discipline styles in the home?
  • Are your kids experts at exploiting the difference in parenting and discipline styles?
  • Do you have set rules that were set in agreement between both parents? Share these?
Now it is your turn. Share your answers in the comments below!

A Parenting Success Story

This fatherhood thing is hard. It’s mostly trial and error, and it tends to be more error than trial. You do your best, stay up all night thinking about it, and then try it again the next day. You work hard to do the right thing and raise your kids to be good people. You make a lot of mistakes along the way, but that’s what parenting is all about. Every once in awhile, however, you try something, and it actually works. It’s like taking 12 shots to get to the green and then sinking an 85 foot putt. You just stare at it and wonder how you got everything right this time. It makes all of your hard work worth it. I recently had an 85 foot putt, and I would like to share it with you.

Our son is 2 years old, and he certainly has an attitude to match. Like most 2 year olds, he doesn’t like to hear “no.” He is normally a terrific kid, but he has a scream that can shatter glass and eardrums, and he likes to use it when he doesn’t get his way. He also makes spitting noises when he doesn’t want to listen to you. Because he’s so young, I don’t expect him to be happy when things don’t go his way. He’s not old enough to realize that there are reasons we tell him “no.” I did, however, very much want the screaming and spitting to stop.

We had tried quite a few things with little success. Timeouts don’t work, and it doesn’t make sense to yell at him to stop yelling. If we put him in his room, he’ll just wait until we shut the door and then start playing. That certainly doesn’t seem like much of a punishment, and it’s definitely not reinforcing good behavior.

Then, I decided to try something slightly different. Every time he would scream or spit, I picked him up and carried him into his bedroom. I laid him down in his bed and then shut the door while I stayed in the room. I sat down on the floor and simply stared at the wall. Since I stayed in the room, he wasn’t able to get up and play. If he got out of bed, I picked him up and laid him back down.

Once he realized that he couldn’t get out of bed, he started with his normal reactions. He would scream at the top of his lungs and make spitting noises at me. I just kept staring straight ahead. I didn’t flinch or acknowledge his actions in anyway. At first, he would keep going for 5-10 minutes. I would sit there during the entire time and just look at the wall. I always made sure that I could see him in my peripheral vision in case he tried to kick the wall or hurt himself in any way.

After a while, he realized that screaming and spitting wasn’t going to get him what he wanted. He stopped, and immediately said, “I’m sorry, daddy.” As soon as he said that, I picked him up and gave him a huge hug and explained the situation to him. If he screamed or spit at anyone else, I also ask him to go apologize to that person.

This process went on for a couple weeks. Every time we played the game, it would get a little shorter. 5-10 minutes of screaming turned into 1-2 minutes and an apology. That turned into 30 seconds. Pretty soon, he would say that he was sorry as soon as I laid him down. Next, he started apologizing as soon as I picked him up. Once he realized that screaming or spitting wasn’t going to get any reaction from me, good or bad, he changed his behavior.

Over the past week or so, there have actually been numerous instances where he normally would have turned and unleashed his voice. You can actually see the thought process take place in his eyes. Instead of screaming or spitting, he just turns and walks away. He’s still not happy with the situation, but he’s doing a better job of expressing himself.

Did I just turn our son into a fully functioning member of society? Absolutely not. It was a small victory though. It’s made me realize that maybe I can do this fatherhood thing after all. It certainly wasn’t the most fun experience, but it worked. Now, if I could just get our daughter to listen to us…

Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

Sometimes, in order to be a good parent, you have to step outside your comfort zone. What works best for you may not actually be the best solution for the little ones, and in the grand scheme of things, their needs trump yours. You have to adapt and overcome. Mealtimes in our house are a good example of this.

We decided early on that we were going to place a high value on family meals. We always try to sit around the dinner table and enjoy each other’s company. It’s a good way to make sure that we’re connected with each other for at least part of the day, and it’s also helps teach the kids good manners. Every once in a while, we will order pizza and then sit in the living room while watching a movie, but we try to reserve that for special occasions and rewards.

We also want everyone to eat their meal. In order to facilitate this, we try to limit snacks throughout the day. That way the kids are hungry when meals roll around, and they eat what we put on their plate.

This works fine with our daughter. She’s always been big for her age and a healthy eater. As long as she likes the food (and there’s very few things that she doesn’t like), she will sit down for dinner and eat like a champ. Since she is our older child, we have become very comfortable with this routine over the years, and it works great.

Our son, on the other hand, is different. In some ways, he’s the polar opposite of his sister. While she has always hovered around the 95th percentile as far as height and weight, he dropped off the bottom of the chart when he was about 9 months old and has never been able to get back on it. He’s perfectly healthy in every way, but he’s just small. He also doesn’t eat as well as his sister. He’s more of a grazer than anything else. He doesn’t like to sit down and eat a lot at one time. He would much rather just keep eating small amounts throughout the day.

Obviously, this doesn’t fit into our plan very well. We’re very reluctant to give him a snack at 4:30 when dinner is only an hour away? How is he going to eat his meal if he’s been shoving trail mix in his mouth all day. Therefore, we just maintained the norm. For him, however, hunger doesn’t have much to do with his desire to eat. He could be starving, and he still wouldn’t eat everything on his plate at dinner. Since he’s such an active child, some days became a battle to ensure that calories in were greater than calories out.

Last November, my mother moved in with us. As I knew from growing up, she’s not against snacking throughout the day, and family meals are great, but they’re not a necessity. She doesn’t mind giving Little Dude a cup of raisins 45 minutes before lunch or giving him a cheese stick whenever he asks for one. At first, this made my wife and I fairly uncomfortable. In fact, I’m still not sure that we’re completely cool with it, but it appears to be working.

November was also the last time that we measured Little Dude against the wall. In the 3 months since then, he has grown about an inch and a half. That’s a huge leap for him, and it marks the largest growth spurt since he was born.

It just shows you that your way isn’t necessarily the best option for everyone. While we enforced the family meals and limited snacks with the best intentions, it wasn’t working for Little Dude. It took Military Gramma moving in with us to break us from our comfort zone and find a better solution. Sometimes, you just have adjust your way of thinking if you’re going to be the best father that you can.

Let the Kids Help

My biggest shortcoming as a Naval officer is definitely my ability (or lack thereof) to delegate. I would much rather just do the job myself and make sure it’s done correctly than take the time to train someone else and then check their work afterwards. This is something that I try to work on, but (as with anything worth doing), it’s not easy. As I gain rank and responsibility, however, it’s going to become critical for my sanity.

I sincerely wished that this fault only extended towards my career. Unfortunately, it seems to apply to the kids as well. If I can get the dishes done in 15 minutes, why should I let the kids help when I usually end up redoing their work and it takes me twice as long? If I’m cleaning up the back yard, do you realize how much time I will have to spend cleaning them afterwards? When they help vacuum, they inevitably get in the way or run over the dog. It just seems to be more trouble than it’s actually worth. Of course, it seems that way because I don’t actually realize what that worth is. There are three great reasons to let the kids help out around the house.

The first reason is that they actually want to help. How refreshing is that? They want to help you unload the washing machine and put together the new bookcase. I have to imagine that this particular attitude isn’t going to last forever. It’s probably a good idea to take advantage of it while we can.

The second reason is that it does teach them how to do things. Maybe loading the dishwasher isn’t necessarily the most crucial life skill, but it’s certainly something that will come in handy. It’s much better to teach them these things when they actually want to learn.

The third reason is that if they’re helping you, they’re not doing something that they shouldn’t. They are right there beside you the entire time. If they’re helping you get the cord out of the vacuum because they managed to run it over for the third time, they’re definitely not trying to break into your medicine chest.

I’ll use the one instance where I actually succeed with this subject as an example. The favorite meal in our house is when I make chicken fried steaks. Since we don’t eat red meat, I use pork cutlets, and everyone loves it. This is the meal that our daughter actually requests for her birthday. Making the meal has turned into a family affair where both kids get to help.

There’s three stages to the breading process. First, the cutlet is coated with flour. Then, it’s dropped in an egg wash. Finally, it is coated with a flour/corn meal/seasoning mixture. We set up a sort of assembly line process. Our son (2 y/o) will take the meat and put it in the flour, flipping it to make sure that both sides are coated. He’ll then drop it in the egg wash. From there, our daughter (5 y/o) will take the pork and coat it in the final mixture. I’ll then take it and start cooking it up.

Does this process take about twice as long as it would if I did it by myself? Absolutely. You have to be pretty watchful since there’s raw pork and eggs involved, and cleaning 18 layers of flour, corn meal, and paprika of their hands is always a challenge. It’s worth it though. The kids have a great time. They are helping out, and they’re learning a little bit about cooking. Best of all, they are exactly where I can see them, and they’re not doing something crazy like trying to complete the perfect bunk bed swan dive. It’s a lot of fun, and as an added bonus, they actually like dinner more because they helped to make it.

If only I could make myself be this patient and understanding with everything else.

Watching from a Distance: With Tearful Eyes

At a critical stage for development in them, I reach a critical stage of backing off. The new year roles around and so do many changes. I’m sure there will be many memories made, many new things learned. And plenty of opportunities to just sit back and watch.

Yes indeed, the year is about at it’s end. So much can happen in the course of 365 days. There are a lot of memories to be made, a lot of learning that can occur, and a lot of growing up to be done. During the last 12 months, we have seen a lot of change, a lot of growing, and have made a lot of memories. In looking back to the beginning of the year, and looking upon all of the events of the year, I turn my focus to the kids.

My, oh my how they have grown. Physically, and as their own little persons. I look back in amazement at how much they have learned, how much they can do, and how much of an individual both of them have become. I know at this point next year, I will be saying these same exact words. I’m pretty sure I did this time last year too. This year however, it is with somewhat tearful eyes I look on.

Looking towards the past, or off into the future, is always looking from a distance. Looking from a spot that requires a different angle, a different focus. With a somewhat tearful eye, I know that for me, the future will require watching my children from more of a distance as well. As they learn and they grow, they will continue to grow more independent of my guidance and my hand. They will be striding on down life’s road a little further ahead of me than they have in the past. For me, it’s a hard realization to come to grips with. After four years of being the working parent, and missing out on so much, I am finally home with the kids on most days. And now that I am home more, I have to disengage a little more. Just doesn’t seem right does it?

The fact is, it is exactly what is right for my children at this stage. They are more than eager to explore the world around them without as much guidance and security from myself and my wife. They are more confident, more aware of dangers, and maybe a little more cocky too. They know a greater understanding of right versus wrong, and good versus bad. They have their boundaries and are ready to push as close as they can to the edge of said boundaries. It is truly an amazing thing in itself. To think that my two little munchkins are their own people now. They have their own agendas, own plans for the day, and their own imagination of what more could be possible during the hours they are awake.

Of course, I want to be right there. Grabbing on before every may or may not be fall. I want to be constantly telling them that something is not safe, or not a good idea, or whatever. But I can’t. I shouldn’t, and I don’t know quite how to feel. I am proud of the individuals they are becoming. Don’t get me wrong about that. I want to raise strong, reliable, independent individuals in my kids. But for so long, I have been the playmate, the lunch maker, the guardian of all toys, and protector. And now? Now I’m like the spotter in a NASCAR race. I don’t watch a lot of racing anymore, but I’m pretty sure they still use spotters. They let the drivers do their thing, but they watch from a distance giving the best advice possible and hoping he driver can do the right thing with the information.

I guess I won’t be the only one learning things in this new year. As they learn their new boundaries, new abilities, and new limits, I will also be learning these things about them. And I will be learning to watch from a distance. At a critical stage for development in them, I reach a critical stage of backing off. The new year roles around and so do many changes. I’m sure there will be many memories made, many new things learned. And plenty of opportunities to just sit back and watch.

My Secret Weapon

Being a parent is exhausting whether you’re a single, stay-at-home/work-at-home, or working parent. As one of the latter, I’m usually tired before I get home. I’m normally awake around 5:15 and out the door by 6:00. I’m currently on shore duty, and while my current job isn’t necessarily difficult, it is still taxing in it’s own ways. I drive to work about half the time which involves about an hour round-trip on the San Diego freeways. The rest of the time, I ride the bus which is much more relaxing, but takes about twice as long. I’m normally fairly tired by the time I get home.

Most days, I get a second wind as I walk through the door. Whether it’s from the joy of seeing the kids, or their ridiculous amount of energy rubs off on me, I’ll usually feel pretty rejuvenated for about an hour or so. Of course, adults aren’t built to operate at the levels of a 2 year old, so I quickly wear back down. This is when I am sometimes forced to break out my secret fatherhood weapon.

Before, I go into this, I need to make sure that every reader has gone through a thorough background check. This weapon can’t be taken lightly, and it comes with great responsibility? Background checks complete? Then, let’s go.

This is a weapon that is so powerful and so brilliant in its simplicity that it should be illegal in 49 states (nothing is illegal in Nevada). It has the ability to turn a situation where the kids are going crazy and you have no control into a situation where the kids are still going crazy but you have a slight amount of control. For those of you without kids, that probably doesn’t seem like much of a change, but ask the nearest parent, and you’ll realize how valuable that can be.

My secret weapon is incredibly simple. There is no assembly required and no moving parts. It’s incredibly inexpensive. In fact, it’s absolutely free. There are only 3 pieces required. You need to have at least 1 child with energy levels that could power a small island, 1 exhausted father that can no longer keep up, and 1 relatively soft surface.

There is only 1 real instruction for how to operate the weapon. Take the 1 exhausted father and put him in a horizontal position on the relatively soft surface. The rest will take care of itself. Now, some of you are probably saying, “Hang on, I take naps all the time, and it doesn’t solve anything. It just makes my significant other upset and the kids continue on as they always were.” Well, there’s a slight twist, and it does not involve you actually taking a nap (as tempting as it may be). The kicker is that the relatively soft surface needs to be on the floor in an area where the kids like to play. I call my secret weapon the “Simplylieonthefloor-inator” (I watch way too much Phineas and Ferb), and here’s how it works.

Step 1: You lie down on the floor.

Step 2: The kid(s) notice that you are comfortably resting on the floor.

Step 3: The kid(s) decide that this will not stand.

Step 4: The kid(s) begin playing in your immediate vicinity, and in most cases, directly on top of you.

This may not seem worthy of true “-inator” status, but think about it. You are doing absolutely nothing. You can even think about it as pacing yourself or replenishing your tank. In the mean time, you know exactly where the kids are and what they are doing because it is happening directly on your spine. Trust me when I say that there is no way kids can resist a parent lying on the floor. It’s like a snot magnet. They will show up every time. You are also bonding with your kids in a wierd, twisted way. Are you actually talking to them? Not necessarily, although you’re always welcome to. You are, however, connecting with them because you’re at their level and in their vicinity. You are expending absolutely zero calories, but your kids are loving it. They are climbing all over one of their heroes. How is that not awesome?

Now, there are a few guidelines that you should follow when using this weapon. First, I cannot stress “relatively soft surface” enough. When flying toddler butt meets exhausted dad head, you don’t want your cranium supported by granite tiles. It might quickly sour you on the Simplylieonthefloor-inator.

Location is also important. When deciding on your relatively soft surface, you want to go through a mental check list. Is the surface soft (Seriously! Make sure it’s soft!)? Check! Will the kids be able to find me and safely play in the area? Check! Is it clear of any hazardous objects like dirty laundry and litter boxes? Check!

Be advised that a small pain threshold is also recommended. Knees will meet ears, elbows will meet spleens, and feet will meet…basically everything. Personally, I like to lie on my stomach because it covers most of the really vulnerable spots. If you work it out right, it can also be beneficial for your health. Do you have back problems? This can turn into a horribly uncoordinated and pretty inefficient massage. That’s better than nothing.

One of the problems with this weapon is that it is so secret even I forget to use it. I’ll come home exhausted and decide that putting a movie on is the best option. In general, I’m not against TV, and I think it provides valuable bonding experiences of its own, but for my money, the Simplylieonthefloor-inator is far superior.

In all seriousness, simply lying on the floor is one of the best things that you can do as a father. The kids absolutely love it, and you are able to bond with them. There have been times where I have gotten down there and not moved at all. There have been other times where my energy has magically returned, and I turned into a horsey. There was also one time where I chose my spot poorly and picked a location where our barely house-trained dog had an accident that we didn’t know about, but hopefully, that won’t be a problem for you.

In closing, there’s a phrase that I used to use pretty often but have forgotten about lately that pretty much sums up my parenting strategy. When all else fails, simply lie on the floor.

Friend vs. Parent

I hate disciplining our kids. I absolutely despise having to yell at them, and it normally ruins my entire night. I’ll kick myself for letting the situation get that far, and I’ll lie awake at night questioning my methods. If you ever heard your parents say, “This is hurting me more than it’s hurting you,” you probably thought, “Yeah right.” It turns out that they were telling the truth the entire time.

I would much rather just let them have their way. I would rather say, “Sure, they might not be listening, but they sure are having fun climbing over the back of the sofa.” Instead of fighting them to go to bed every night, I’d like to just let them stay up until they fell asleep watching movies. When they ask me if they can watch an entire Phineas and Ferb marathon, I would love to say yes. These are all things that I want to do because it would make the kids happy, which makes them smile. Every parent just wants to see their kid smile. If I were a good friend to them, that’s what I would do.

Alas, I’m not their friend. I’m their father. While those two roles are allowed to intersect at certain points, they are not the same thing. While I love making my kids happy and granting their wishes, those are not my primary responsibilities. More than anything else, my job is to help ensure that they become good human beings and, in some extreme cases, simply survive the day.

Climbing over the back of the couch is awesome fun, and to be honest, I would love to join them. Our floors are granite, however, and in the battle of granite and skull, those tiles are going to win every time. They need to be told to stop.

I know they don’t want to go to bed. They’re young enough that everything is new and exciting, and they don’t want to miss any of it. I understand, and I’m sorry that it makes them sad (or, in my son’s case, mad). If we stayed up until midnight playing Candy Land, they would eventually fall asleep on their own anyway, so what’s the issue? They need to sleep. It helps them grow, and the body needs time to repair and recharge itself. Therefore, the nightly struggle has to take place.

I’m always fighting the war when it comes to parent vs. friend. There is a fine line that you have to walk. Your kids have to understand that you will keep them on the right track when it comes to right and wrong and add discipline as necessary. On the flipside, they need to know that they can talk to you about anything. It’s a balancing act that circus performers would be proud of.

As with most things, the easy way isn’t necessarily the best way. It’s easy to let your kids play in the trash and chase each other with forks. It’s hard to make them stop. It’s difficult to discipline, and it’s incredibly difficult to enforce the same rules consistently.

The bottom line is that being a parent is one of the most sacred duties that exists. We are shaping the futures of actual human beings and not taking that responsibility seriously can have drastic results. As much as my kids want me to be their best friend, they need me to be their father.

Sweating a Sex Education Class for Fathers and Sons

I watched as fathers and their sons entered the auditorium for the evening’s edification. Each pair sat side by side, talking to one another in hushed voices, as if waiting for a funeral to commence. I quelled my tension by trying to place myself in my son’s situation. Surely he must be feeling weirder than I about being dragged to yet another event “that’s good for him.” I was careful not to squirm.

Fatherhood continues to amaze, delight and enrich me. I just went to a sex education class with my 11 year-old son, and yes, I was secretly dreading it.

My wife signed us up. She was almost giddy from the program’s great reviews she’d heard through her ever-flowing moms’ grapevine. “Everyone says it’s the best… you’ll love it,” she exclaimed.

I wasn’t so sure. The reality of a graphic immersion into the world of human sexuality with my offspring without the props of a punch line or locker room towel snap was a bit off putting.

Yet daddy duty called, and as a father who strives to be aware and there, I certainly endorsed the concept of a truthful discussion about the challenges of puberty, sexuality, reproduction and the like.

Driving… slowly… to the appointment with my son, who now rides in the front passenger seat next to me, I wondered why I felt so apprehensive. A memory of my own father’s dilemma about this subject made me smile with some understanding.

You see, my dad, while a college professor and exhaustively loquacious on most subjects, played hooky when it came to discussing sex with me.

When I was in my early teen years, long after I’d learned the playground buzz of the birds and bees and even taken some experimental sprints at some of the “bases,” my dad said he wanted to show me something. He led me upstairs into his bedroom, opened the top drawer of his dresser, and lifted up a pile of handkerchiefs to reveal a box of condoms.

I still remember the brand: Ramses. I guess the manufacturer of Ramses wanted a heroic image from antiquity to compete with Trojans. But since the Egyptian king Ramses reportedly fathered 160 children, it’s little wonder why this brand has been discontinued.

Anyway, my dad said, “Here are the safes. I’m going to tell you what Dr. Jones told his kids.” Dr. Jones (not the real name of my dad’s colleague professor) had a brood of rough and tumble boys.

“If you get a girl pregnant,” my dad continued, “don’t bother coming home.” With that, he left the room. That was it. That was his drive-by, hit-and-run, scare tactic method of sex education. And “safes,” don’t you love that term? Never heard it used before or since.

I watched as fathers and their sons entered the auditorium for the evening’s edification. Each pair sat side by side, talking to one another in hushed voices, as if waiting for a funeral to commence. I quelled my tension by trying to place myself in my son’s situation. Surely he must be feeling weirder than I about being dragged to yet another event “that’s good for him.” I was careful not to squirm.

The lesson began, and I learned the true value of a good ice breaker. Having sat through innumerable meetings in which well-intentioned facilitators asked everyone to “go around the room and say something about themselves,” I had my doubts.

But our sex education teacher asked all the men to give a different synonym, however crude, for the penis. And he went around the room, right up and into the faces of all the dads, and politely but firmly demanded that we come up with an answer… a different name each time.

It was hysterical. There were almost no repeats from about 60 dads. Cultural and geographic differences unearthed endless variety. Everyone, all the kids and dads, were laughing and loosening up, releasing fear and anxiety, and sharing in the common bodily bond of masculinity.

From there it was a breeze. On the way home, my son asked me a couple clarifying questions, and I was struck both by how basic are the knowledge needs of tweens and by how casually I was able to answer him. He was more like my buddy when I shared my information. I was not hung up by embarrassment or thoughts about what a proper dad might say. I just told him the truth in my own salty terms.

My son listened intently, then said, “I get it.”

And I got it. This sex education class transformed taboo into prosaic. It was the learning ladder that assisted our leap over a tricky hurdle. We connected more as fellow males rather than as father and son. And I’m confident this unspoken yet powerful linkage will help us confront future issues more forthrightly and solve them more readily. My fingers are crossed that this is true.

I’m glad I didn’t flunk out on my chance to go to sex ed class with my son. Oh, and to answer that question left dangling there… the synonym I offered rhymes with “wants.”

Lin Filppu (@MidLifeDad)

This column first appeared in the Huffington Post Parents section http://www.huffingtonpost.com/len-filppu/sweating-a-sex-education-_b_1129325.html

Be Cognizant of Being Over Protective of Your Kids

Today I wanted to talk about the protection of our children and being able to let go when needed.

Today I wanted to talk about the protection of our children and being able to let go when needed.
Today we are talking about being protective our children. When I talk about this, it is important to know what it means to be protective and what it means to be overprotective. There have been many times when I have seen parents who disagree to the extent of protecting their children, and I have even found J-Mom and I differing on this every now and again. Thus, as parents you must have a discussion while your children are young to determine where that line is for each of you. Every parent is different and there is no right answer regarding this, but there are signs of over protection that you should be aware of and steer away from.
Some questions you should ask yourself include:
  • How far can you child ride their bike without you being concerned about their well being?
  • Can you child go and play in the dirt (getting dirty along the way) without repercussion?
  • If your child starts to cry (or fake cry) do you run to their side or do you take more of the “are you bleeding?” approach.
  • Do your children make choices for themselves or do they always defer to you?
If you answered yes to any (or all) of the above, this does not mean completely that you are overprotective, but it may give you something to pause about as you are thinking about the raising of your children. As the below articles will reflect, providing a safe environment is critical, yet it is very important to provide your kids room to grow and learn in an environment that encourages exploration and (some) risk taking.

So ask yourself the above questions? Do you find yourself to be overprotective? In what ways? What steps will you take to provide your kids more room to make choices and take risks? Do you feel that being overly protective is a negative trait, why or why not?

If you are so inclined please leave your responses in a comment below.  I look forward to your thoughts and comments!

Their Lives Will Not Be Like A Movie Romance

Emulating health relationships is important for our children, as most kids today get something of a warped sense of how relationships work as they watch movies, reality TV and the like. Even through billboards, magazine ad and articles and other such material, our children today are being immersed by a plethora of images that somewhat skews their sense of what does and what does not constitute healthy relationships.

Emulating health relationships is important for our children, as most kids today get something of a warped sense of how relationships work as they watch movies, reality TV and the like. Even through billboards, magazine ad and articles and other such material, our children today are being immersed by a plethora of images that somewhat skews their sense of what does and what does not constitute healthy relationships.

 

As this image portrays, one would believe that Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara were the perfect couple (that is until you watch more parts of the movie – beyond this scene that is). Thus, though this may look very real in a young it is in fact much more complex than one might see on the big screen.

 

This imagery starts when they are young with movies that are geared for kids such as from Disney such as: Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty & The Beast, The Little Mermaid (all favorites in the Divadom). While I am not saying these movies are bad examples for kids, I am saying that our children are exposed at an early age to the idea that in relationships everything works out in the end and there is little strife or work that has to occur in regards to relationships. While children may not understand the complexities of relationships they will understand the concept of They Lived Happily Ever After” and as parents it is difficult to help them understand that this does happen, but not always. It becomes our job as they get older to understand the reality of life that surround them in regards to relationships and help them to see what a healthy relationship truly is.

 

Hopefully they are seeing this on a daily basis within your own home between parents or between other family members. In some homes though I know that there may not always be healthy relationships occurring. These are the children that I end up worrying about.

 

On the following site I found a breakdown at what constitutes healthy versus unhealthy relationships. They stated that:

Healthy Relationship

The signs of a healthy relationship include:

  • Loving and taking care of yourself
  • Respecting your partner’s right to be himself or herself
  • Having a life outside the relationship, with your own friends and your own activities
  • Making decisions together, each partner compromising when necessary
  • Resolving conflicts through open and honest communication
  • Having more good times in the relationship than bad

Unhealthy Relationship

The signs of an unhealthy relationship include:

  • Focusing all your energy on loving and caring for your partner
  • Trying to change your partner to be what you want them to be
  • Dropping friends and family or activities you enjoy
  • One partner makes all the decisions
  • One partner yells, hits, or throws things at the other during arguments
  • Having more bad times in the relationship than good

 

In thinking about and researching this, I found the following links that I wanted to share with all of you:

 

So today think about the relationships that you have within your life that interact with your children. As you are thinking about these answer the following questions:

  1. Are these relationships healthy for my children? Why or why not?
  2. How can I make my relationships healthier for my children?
  3. How can I help my children understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships?

How would you answer these questions for yourself?

 


Being Engaged With Your Kids

When I talk about being engaged, I am referring to doing things directly with the kids that are important to them and that they find enjoyable and fun. This could be something such as cooking with them, playing sports or games or other such activity that brings a smile on your and your child’s face (as hopefully you are having fun as well).

When I talk about being engaged, I am referring to doing things directly with the kids that are important to them and that they find enjoyable and fun. This could be something such as cooking with them, playing sports or games or other such activity that brings a smile on your and your child’s face (as hopefully you are having fun as well).
Our children crave our attention and don’t care what else is on our minds. They don’t understand when we have a big deadline, or when we had a bad day. Instead, when they see you (especially as they are young) they light up and are happy to just have you around.
I know for me, I get distracted and get pulled away while at home, and sometimes it takes a word from J-Mom to break me out of my disconnected stupor to see that what I have in front of me is so much more important than what I was doing on the computer, or what was on the television or what was in a book. I appreciate the interrupt and at times I believe that we all need a bit of a disruption to get us back on track.
Some questions you should ask yourself include:
  • How are you engaged with your child?
  • How are you distracted from this engagement, and what can you do to minimize this when around your child?
As you begin to answer these questions you may find it necessary to revisit them over time as your answers and definitely the answers about your children will change as you all change and grow.
In researching this topic I came across a few sites that I thought that I would share with all of you:

So develop a list of five things that you can do to better engage with your child today. Make sure that the list includes things that are important to the child but also will lead to positive experiences for you as well. Take one activity on the list and do it with your child today!

Always Use Words, Not Violence

Children are exposed to violence everyday as they turn on the television, look on the computer, read magazines or stories. They see it in front of them and yet do not always know how to process this.

Children are exposed to violence everyday as they turn on the television, look on the computer, read magazines or stories. They see it in front of them and yet do not always know how to process this. If they also see and feel violence within their own home in how their families deal and react to them, this begins to teach them other things that may not be as healthy (not to say that the former list of items are healthy as most are not).
As parents we make many choices that impact our children. In regards to violence, one of the largest things that we have to decide is whether to spank or not to spank our children. The post today is not going to be a pro and con discussion about spanking, far from it, but this is something that falls into the discussion when talking about violence within the home.
All studies that I have been able to find agree that physical violence with children is detrimental to their development and self-esteem, and leads to teaching children that this type of violence if alright. The challenge is whether you as a parent believe that spanking fits into the category of physical violence.
Outside of this what I have come to find in my research is that there are alternatives to hitting that parents may wish to consider. First and foremost is to use words, and help your children to use their words to express their feelings. In an article that I found in researching this topic they provided a list of eleven alternatives to violence that parents can take which is relevant here, they include:
  • Begin providing guidance and limit setting as early as infancy
  • Keep communicating your words to your baby and young child
  • Show mild disapproval of undesirable behavior
  • Discuss your feelings about what you see
  • Empathize by putting yourself in their shoes
  • Offer alternatives
  • Redirect your child’s attention
  • Be consistent and follow through (do what you say)
  • Offer encouragement when your child follows through
  • Thinking time – have your child sit with you and think about their actions and have him or her decide what they could do differently next time.
  • Offer solutions and ideas with your child – sometimes they don’t know what to do and need your guidance.
There are challenging children out there who do not always seem to respond to these tactics, but most experts state that the most important thing for parents is to be consistent with discipline and not to waiver, especially between parents. Our children must know that their parents will have a solid front when it comes to their actions and that they can expect the same treatment no matter who they are with.
Your children must be respected and loved for the people that they are and must be able to feel that they are safe to make mistakes and are in a safe environment to grow and learn. The perpetuation of violent acts within a home whether between parent and parent or parent to child breaks down a child instead of building up a child. 

Some questions you should ask yourself include:

  • How do you react to your child when you are upset?
  • How do you currently disipline your child?
  • How is the way that you are disciplining your child helping them to become a better person?
  • Are there any actions that you are taking that break down your child’s self esteem? If so what are these, and what can you do to build it back up again?
As you begin to answer these questions you may find it necessary to revisit them over time as your answers and definitely the answers about your children will change as you all change and grow. 

In researching this topic I came across a few sites that I thought that I would share with all of you:


 

Older Dad Blues

I got a bit of a late start at being a dad. My amazing son was born at the end of June in 2007, and barely two months later I turned 40. We didn’t hold a big party for my 40th birthday party, since Mrs. LIAYF and I were still in sleep deprivation induced shock at the time.

I got a bit of a late start at being a dad.  My amazing son was born at the end of June in 2007,  and barely two months later I turned 40.  We didn’t hold a big party for my 40th birthday party, since Mrs. LIAYF and I were still in sleep deprivation induced shock at the time.  Plus, I’m not sure I would have known how to respond to not only the jokes about being over the hill, but also about how old I would be when Lukas entered High School, got married, or had kids of his own.

Sure, there’s a lot of good natured kidding around when it comes to subject of being an older parent, but you know what? It is, at least partially anyway, based in reality.  By the time you are in your 40’s – unless you are some sort of health freak – you’re slowing down considerably from your earlier days of adulthood.  Heck, my parents were in their early 20’s when they had my sister, brother, and I.  And although 3 kids in three years sounds rough (Mom, you were amazing), I often wonder if the dealing with 1 kid when you are 40 is roughly the same equivalent. 

I’m pretty sure I would not had the same patience, experience, and financial stability that I have now if I had become a father for the first time in my 20’s or even 30’s for that matter.  But I am sure I would have had a heck of a lot more energy. Energy that, as I ponder it now, would most certainly come in handy when picking Lukas up from preschool after a long day at work, or on weekend mornings when he rises with the sun, wanders into our room and wants to play, or to snuggle, or to go downstairs and make pancakes that very minute.

Plus, it would sure be great to be as limber as I was when I was 20.  To paraphrase my lovely wife, I wish I was in as good of shape now as I was back then when I thought I was in bad shape.  Now though, when it’s time for toy clean up and I know there is little to no chance that our little guy will clean up all the toys himself, I just look down at them strewn everywhere and sigh, realizing that ‘they sure are a long way down’.  Not to mention that my back will usually crackle, snap, and make sure I know that it’s definitely against the idea. 

Don’t even get me started on being a ‘horsey’ who gives rides.  Mrs. LIAYF volunteered me for that task the other day. And while she chuckled and Lukas laughed with joy, I was crawling around on my knees on wood floors with a 35 pound dead weight on my back.  I was more nag than thoroughbred. 

You know, If I weren’t so tired, I might actually make time to work out more.  And, of course by more, I mean some.  Plus, now, just when our nearly 4 year old seems to be getting independent enough to give me the time to actually do that, we are in the planning for another child.  Of course, this time I will definitely be more prepared, but I will also be closer to 45 than 40.

Sure, I complain a bit. It helps.  But I know that I am an incredibly lucky man.  And even despite all the above listed things, there is not a scenario conceivable to me where I would trade the experiences I am having now as the father of such an amazing boy for the chance to go back and become one at an earlier age. 

As tiring and painful as it can be, this is my life.  This is my happiness, and my reason for smiling each and every day. I’ll be fine. 

Just give me a tub of ibuprofen and my kids a set of spurs.