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?

 


Fabulous Film Fathers

With the snow and cold weather out, my boys and I have been taking advantage of Netflix and our local library to watch some movies.  I’ve noticed a couple that showed some good examples of fatherhood.  Just a warning: Spoilers Be Ahead.  If you haven’t seen Despicable me or Shrek Forever After yet, you might want to bookmark this article and come back later.  Otherwise, dive on in.

Despicable Me

The main character, Gru, is a villain.  He’s first introduced noticing a little boy crying over a dropped ice cream cone.  He cheers up the boy by crafting a balloon animal… and then shows his true colors as he pops it making the boy sadder than he was to begin with.  Not quite your ideal father figure, right?  Especially when his motive for adopting three girls is to gain access to another villains lair so he can steal a shrink ray that he plans on using to steal the Moon.

In flashbacks, we are shown Gru constantly trying to please his mother to no avail.  He says he’d like to go to the Moon.  She responds by telling him they stopped sending up monkeys.  He shows a spaceship design, she dismisses it.  Even a working model fails to impress her.  He hasn’t exactly grown up learning how to be a loving parent.

As his plans for stealing the Moon progress, the girls pry open Gru’s cold heart.  He supports them against a carnival worker who tries to cheat them out of a prize.  (In typical villain fashion, he trades the baseball to be thrown with a giant plasma cannon.)  He finds the girls becoming less of a chore and annoyance that get in the way of what he really wants (stealing the Moon) and more of an experience that he looks forward to.  The movie leaves open the question as to whether he has turned completely from his villainous ways and become a hero.  In any event, he is definitely a good father in the end, gladly giving up his stolen prize to save his girls and then risking his life to save them.

This movie shows how parents often find themselves at conflict between what they wanted to do before having children and what they want to do after having kids.  Your priorities shift and things that previously seemed like the most important things in the world fall to the wayside.  Other activities that would previously make you want to run away screaming turn out to be the happiest times of your life.

Shrek Forever After

Shrek has definitely undergone a lot of changes in the four movies he has appeared in.  In the first movie, he fell in love.  In the second, he learns to love himself.  In the third, he comes to grips with his impending fatherhood.  In the fourth film, Shrek is shown to be living the hectic life of a parent.  And a famous one no less.  Every day is the same routine over and over and over again.  Every quiet moment he gets to himself is interrupted by someone or something.  He can’t even go to the bathroom in peace without a local tour group pointing out his potty activities.

By the time the triplet’s’ first birthday party rolls around, he is a raw bundle of nerves.  (Not so good for any parent, even worse for an ogre parent.)  He blows up at the party and storms away.  At this moment, Rumpelstiltskin steps in.  He offers Shrek one day of freedom.  Just one day where he doesn’t need to worry about being a husband and father.  He can go back to his old life for 24 hours.  The offer sounds glorious but, even in his at-wit’s-end state, Shrek senses a catch.  The catch is that Rumpelstiltskin will take one day from Shrek’s past.  A day from his childhood that he wouldn’t even remember.  Shrek signs the contract.

Suddenly, his world is turned upside down.  Shrek finds himself a feared, single ogre again.  He’s able to terrify villagers and do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.  But his happy romp takes a terrifying turn when he sees his home deserted (in fact, it looks like it was never occupied at all) and he is captured.  Donkey doesn’t remember him at all.  It turns out that Rumpelstiltskin’s taken day was the day Shrek was born.  This means he never existed, never rescued Fiona and never became a father.  Once his 24 hours of freedom are up, Shrek will fade away and this topsy-turvy world (where Rumpelstiltskin rules instead of being a vagabond) will be cemented in place.  This only chance to get out of the contract is to find Fiona and share True Love’s Kiss before his time runs out.

What follows is a series of desperate attempts by Shrek to find Fiona and get her to fall in love with him.  At one point, she even kisses Shrek but it has no effect.  Shrek realizes that, in this reality, she never fell in love with him.  Simply being there isn’t enough.  He needs to take an interest in her and support her to get her to love him once more.

The lesson here is twofold.  First off, being a parent can be stressful.  Any parent who tells you that they never feel any stress at all as they raise their kids is lying.  There will be times when you wish that you could just run off for a day and forget about being married with children.  But even in these darkest times, a parent will still love their kids.  They might want some time for themselves, but they would never truly wish for their kids to vanish completely.

The key is small doses of “kid freedom.”  Go on a date night with your spouse while the kids are with a trusted friend/relative/babysitter.  Have your spouse watch the kids while you run some errands alone.  Or have your spouse run the errands while you stay home alone and enjoy some solitude.  These little breaks will help keep you from an ogre-sized blow up.

The second lesson here doesn’t involve the kids as much as it involves the parents.  You can’t simply just “show up” and expect that your spouse will stay in love with you because you are you.  You need to constantly work on making your spouse fall in love with you all over again.  This can be with a previously mentioned date night or kid-break-period.  It could also be simply listening to your spouse when they are talking about something that interests them even if your couldn’t care less.  The little things can build up and help to strengthen a marriage.  And a healthy, happy marriage can lead to healthy, happy parenting.

Romance in the Age of Parenthood

I still vividly remember the day I first set eyes on my wife. I was a chronically late high school senior which meant I routinely spent time in late detention. Little did I realize my penchant for disregarding time would provide a pivotal moment of serendipity.

I still vividly remember the day I first set eyes on my wife. I was a chronically late high school senior which meant I routinely spent time in late detention. Little did I realize my penchant for disregarding time would provide a pivotal moment of serendipity. My wife, then a member of the high school band attending practice, had exited the school at nearly the precise moment late detention had let out. Her blonde hair along with her light pink jacket immediately caught my attention. She moved with purpose. Whatever teenage angst I had been harboring that day immediately melted away. She was different. Little did I know she’d change my life forever.

Despite several turbulent years encompassed by separate colleges, distinct career aspirations, geography, and personal growth we still found ourselves passionate about each other. Then one Spring day in Yankee stadium, she proposed. As a married couple our romance bloomed. We traveled often, dined out and slept in simply because we could. Yet this blissful existence would only last for one fleeting year. A new chapter in our lives began the day we confirmed we were to be parents.

As expected, our romantic indulgences diminished proportionally as our due date approached. Yet I naively convinced myself that we’d return to “normal” not long after the baby’s birth. The reality turned out to be a more compartmentalized approach to intimacy. Neither of us were prepared for the sleepless nights, the onset of stress, the lack of time, and the new found responsibility of being a parent. Yet surprisingly our passions burned brightly despite the pitfalls of parenthood albeit with a lot less verve.

After the birth of our second child, romance once again took a back seat to raising our kids. As they grew so did their demands on our time and energy. Mind you my wife and I would still exchange amorous glances, steal a hug and kiss or two in between toddler tantrums, and hold hands while watching intently for Blue’s next clue. Our star crossed romance had evolved into a parents gone mild approach.

Yet every so often, be it a date night, or an event such as a wedding in which just my wife and I attend, we rediscover each other, laugh a lot about the insanity of it all, and connect once again. Our children, both intricately linked to our lives as a family, fade into the background during these private times. They’re never forgotten of course, we inevitably mention our children in conversation, but the focus redirects to rekindling the spark in our relationship. At our last wedding reception, my wife and I danced, drank, laughed, and indulged in each other’s love. Just the remedy needed to solidify the foundation necessary for the sometimes rocky business of parenting.

My advice to expectant Dads? A short list for you to forge your own path to romance in the age of parenthood:

  • Stay optimistic. Life is good.
  • Your relationship with your wife will change and you must be willing to adapt.
  • Family life requires balancing one’s whole life while including the lives of your family.
  • Learn time management skills.
  • Don’t lose your sense of humor.
  • Remember to make time for just you and your wife.
  • Think of romance in terms of a slow burn leading to memorable moments rather than love on demand.
  • Everything changes, you can too.

CuteMonster.comVincent Daly aka CuteMonsterDad is a graphic designer, writer, actor, artist and most importantly a husband and father. He is the founder of CuteMonster.com, a resource for Dads.

Romancing the stone

Sure its the title of a movie directed by Robert Zemeckis starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner,  and Danny DeVito. It is also a similar feeling to how romance goes once you have kids. I’m real in the fact that once we had a child it was a nose dive – we didnt sleep (heck, we still dont sleep) and sometimes we have different viewpoints on how we’re raising our son. None the less the the action/adventure that made the heat, is slowly turning into drool.

Of course it doesnt help that we’re now sharing our bed with our child.  I dont really talk to much about this topic mainly because I still havent found the balance or a working solution.  Sure I highly suggest Date Night because you need to dress up and wipe off the drool from your shoulder try to act like adults and get out for a moment.  I also highly recommend doing a short vacation without the kids – even if its a stay-cation and you take a local hotel room its great to connect, if you could swing the few days away in paradise it’ll really help you drift away (just make sure whoever is watching the kids know that you’re not to be disturbed unless there is an ER visit!).

I hear couple talk about just wanting to spend time alone – which I do understand too but many people dont… my reasoning is sound in the fact that you need to take care of yourself first then you can take care of others… if you need a moment you need a moment before you can share moments together and really appreciate them.

Romancing the stone is just a funny topic because after such long periods of time you both forget what true passion and romance is to each other… so its almost like we’re both stone.  Sure as a guy we’re almost turned on by any shiny object but to reconnect with your partner/wife is never as simple.  You’re almost required to go to great lengths to make them forget about the day to day with kids, to make them feel special (where usually its about making your children feel special), and most importantly feel connected.

I know how to do awesome dates (it also helps to be in NYC where romance is just a little bit more expensive then a regular meal out) its also easy to toss some romance in to a simple evening at home with the right wine, cheese, and some flowers but to keep that romance there everyday is much harder and goes way beyond telling my wife how beautiful she looks.

Recently the topic of how did our parents and grandparents make this all work – I still wonder that even on romance front (forgetting how did they make it in the car for hours on end without a PSP or a pocket DVD player or an iPod).  Maybe that’s the culture shift and why so many marriages are ending these days – because we’re forgetting to take care of each other and putting so much focus on our children.  Who knows… its a long standing discussion.

My only advice is this – tell your wife/partner how much you care about them, tell them how much they mean to you and inspire passion into you and your life.

Flowers, Notes and Gifts… Is This Even Still Possible after Kids

We all get busy in our lives once we get married and when we add kids to the mix, our lives and our creativity sometimes takes a back burner. As parents we put all (or at least most) of our energy into our kids’ lives and sometimes our partner in the family dynamic gets left behind.

We all get busy in our lives once we get married and when we add kids to the mix, our lives and our creativity sometimes takes a back burner. As parents we put all (or at least most) of our energy into our kids’ lives and sometimes our partner in the family dynamic gets left behind.

Have any of you felt this way?

I know that for me this definitely has occurred on and off within my wife and my 12 years of marriage. I know that I was much more romantic early in our relationship and definitely prior to getting marriage.

So why does this happen?

I think from conversations that I have had with other dads, this occurs because we become comfortable and busy. Comfortable with the way that our lives are going and busy with the hustle and bustle or family lives (can we say sports, school and swing sets?).

So how do we get out this rut?

All of us want romance in our lives, yet what our definitions of romance differ between each individual. I can say that I definitely like to feel wanted and appreciated and I know that my partner does as well. To provide this for her I try little things such as:

  • Surprising her with small notes around the house
  • Doing chores I normally would not do
  • Giving her time to do things that she normally would not get to do
  • Giving small gifts periodically (as we can afford them)
  • Taking the kids away to give her some quiet time (as she is a stay-at-home mom)

All of these small things keep our relationship strong, and I hope, also providing a strong example for our daughters of what they should aspire to in their own relationships within the future.

How do you keep your romance alive?

A Different Kind Of Romance

One of the things that parents like to complain about is the fact that romance goes out the window as soon as the stork drops off your first-born. So books are written on how best to makes time for yourselves and gurus emerge who despite often being childless themselves offer all the cliché steps to “rekindle” the flame. All of them, as far as I am concerned, are useless.

Romance as a parent is different. It has nothing to do with how much I love my wife (which is unquantifiable). It has everything to do with how I express my love. The equation changes, inevitably. The selfishness we had as a couple is gone – forever. No lazy Sundays. No last minute getaways. No surprise anything. The surprise is if I can get away with surprising her with anything at all. Everything needs to be planned these days around our son and even with attentive planning things rarely go as planned. There is always a last minute diaper change, a forgotten toy, a tantrum or a runny nose that forces you to be flexible.

When I was wooing my wife and she was having absolutely none of it – that’s the Italian way – I threw the kitchen sink “romantic” at her: flowers, chocolate, surprise visits at home (which may have spooked her a bit), dinners in little hidden places, walks along the Tiber (I was living in Rome, at the time), long hushed conversations on benches while the rest of the city slept, bringing her a fresh baked cornetto and coffee in the morning – you name it, I did it. I did it because I was in love with her and wanted to spend every second of the day just looking at her (OK maybe not just looking). I had that knot in my stomach every second I was not near her. And then, to make a long story short, along came our bundle of joy. And things changed.

Not in a bad way – just, as I said before, different. As you must learn to adapt as a parent, you learn to adapt as a couple when you have a kid. Every minute alone (the rare ones) is sacrosanct and can be used to do something as simple as enjoying the silence – or napping (personally it’s on my “Top 5 Romantic Things To Do With My Wife” list).

There is always a lot of grumbling from both of us. No doubt about that bit. “You were more this or that… You used to do this and that” before Jr. showed up. Maybe it is true about the time alone we spend with each other, but I challenge the notion that it means less in terms of being passionate about each other. In my case, having a child together is one of the most passionate and romantic gifts I could give or receive in my life.

So once you get past: the complaining; the sore backs; the mind numbing headaches; the “Mine! Mine! No! No!” ringing in your ears; the half eaten stash of rotting fruit found in the back of the closet weeks later; the smell of bodily fluids – day in and day out – there is the joy of parenthood. No box of chocolates, no trilogy of diamonds, no dozen roses, no iPad (although…), no Date Night, none of the traditional romantic “things” can give you that amount of happiness. Does that mean that we stop making these gestures all together? Not at all, but they are, in the end, just “visual” reminders of a much more important underlying sentiment.

By now you must think I am crazy so I’ll wrap it up. It all comes down to the fact that I know, as does my wife with me, what she is thinking about at any given moment, I know what she needs or wants when she gives me a certain look, I know when she is pissed at me because I did not understand what she wanted when she gave me that look or if she is just pissed in general and has decided to take it out on me, I know when it’s my fault and I won’t admit it and vice versa, I know when I have made her happy, she is my lover, my partner, my confidant, my right hand, my counselor, the place I call home, my laughter when all else sucks and, of course, the mother of my child. And that is what I mean when I tell her I love her. That to me is a different kind of romance.