The Important Things p.2

Today is a follow up to my last post called “The Important Things”. If you haven’t read that piece, I encourage you to click on the link before proceeding here. Today is not about a lot of legacy instructions for a child to be the conquering hero. As a matter of fact, it may seem dull to those that are not yet fathers, or fathers of small children to which some of these points may not apply. However, as I think of things that would be beneficial for kids to know beyond part one, here are some ideas that I hope will be helpful.

Keep in mind that these points are obviously more geared to a specific time or season of life. I hope that you can make the obvious connection. Let me know what points you would add to your list. For now, here is my top 20 for practicality.

  1. There are certain body parts that need extra care for the aging process and thus should be a focus of a proactive lifestyle. However funny a few may sound, just think about what it would be like to have a lack of healthy function for the following: 
  1. Good dental hygiene
  2. A healthy back
  3. Healthy feet
  4. Healthy hands
  5. And good G.I. or gut health (from mouth to pooper)

       2.   Be mindful of safety. This allows you to do more of what you want tomorrow.

       3.   You will never be a specific athlete, performer, or artist. Improve YOUR game.        

             Be known for what You do, not that you are Like someone else.

       4.   Don’t brag about yourself. Let others do that for you.

       5.   Being respected and being popular does not always coincide. 

       6.   Do you want people to think you are smart? Speak less

       7.   Don’t be quick to respond. Say, “let me get back with you” if you need to think.

       8.   Learn how to manage money and credit.

       9.   The “field is greener” on the other side of the fence because it has more crap.

     10.   Chivalry is never a mistake.

     11.   Date someone that is LOW maintenance.

     12.   Discipline yourself and your children.

     13.   Try to maintain fresh breath and lack of body odor. 

     14.   Getting help is not a sign of weakness.

     15.   Taking medication is not a sign of weakness.

     16.   Being honest means you have to remember less.

     17.   The opinions of others rarely make a difference in your life.  

     18.   Be proactive at work. It speeds up the day and makes your boss quieter.

     19.   Arrive early, this eliminates stress.

     20.   Learn how to say “no”.

The lessons that we want to give our kids can grow in length and complexity over time. However, these are a small list that you may be able to draw from. It is important that we take from each other and learn when it comes to knowledge and skill. Like any acquired abilities, these items must be reinforced and practiced with repetition. For example, if you were to instill the “Golden Rule” as a priority in your home, this would not be a one time lesson. As opportunities or even trials present themselves, this standard should be reinforced. Over time, it is more likely to take root and be adopted with other important standards of living.

Let me stress, that depending upon the phase of life they are in, our children will do better with the appropriate lessons being taught at the onset of a particular time in life. Teaching the Golden Rule should not be introduced to kids when they are entering high school. Likewise, practicing good dental hygiene should be stressed before the age of 30. You get what I’m talking about.

It is our job as parents to set the standard for our children. As they grow, hopefully, they will adopt healthy habits and standards that they will not only practice in their daily lives but will one day pass down to their children. Be proactive and consistent when it comes to teaching your kids. From the moment they are born, they are watching, learning and taking in information. Be a good example. Be the best dad possible.


I have a Say in This

Elementary age kids should not be introduced to gender studies. I am a dad that doesn’t want kids dealing with these issues at such a young age. As I have been doing blog research on topics for dads, trying to gather resources for fathers that are truly committed to the health and development of their kids, I run across several articles and podcasts that address the issue of gender studies. This is an agenda that is coming for your kid. It is already here. If you are a new dad or have young kids, you need to listen up.

The responsibility of sex and gender education is yours. Now, that being said, there are many parents who do not teach these matters to their kids. I’m not saying that sex education is bad. However, it should be biological and not a moral argument in the school system. Morals should come from you. It definitely should not be at the elementary level. Today class, we are going to work on spelling, multiplication tables, art, and why Timmy has 2 dads. NO!

Regardless of my beliefs or your beliefs on gender roles and sex, elementary school kids don’t even know who they are yet. Besides the basics of academics, they should be putting into practice good manners, kindness, and maybe a touch up on hygiene. Little Suzie is not allowed to mess around in the kitchen and you want her messing around with gender politics?

My point is one of age and the responsibility of parents. Dads, you need to step up in this role. It is okay to answer a question on any topic if that child brings it to you. However, you don’t want a stranger to teach your 9-year-old about gender. Today, there is a war going on between adults on the political left and right. It is in the news, in our places of shopping, and within various families that our child may be associated with.

You need to be active in your child’s education. The sad part is that many fathers are not involved. When I say education, I mean their learning about life as well as their academics. You need to set boundaries on what is appropriate and acceptable. Trust me when I say that I know people on both sides of the war. I know parents that never verify the lessons taught to their kids by school teachers. I also know parents that unduly smother their kids and become the hated parent of every educator. Balance and communication are key issues.

I don’t want my kids receiving mixed messages. If they are, I want to be prepared to address them. When I disagree with a school’s agenda, I condone it with my silence if I do not speak out. There are venues for these issues; parent-teacher conferences, principal meetings, and even the school board. Beyond meetings, there are elections that can remove those that may have an agenda in which we disagree with. Finally, there are plenty of educational options these days with private schools, co-ops, online, and others. 

In many countries, there may not be an educational menu that allows you to dictate how your child learns. In America however, there are more options surfacing every year. My suggestion to you when it comes to sensitive issues like sex or gender discussions is for you to determine what is right for your household. If contentious matter arrises, you must be willing to engage it. Communication efforts within the family and with school officials may offer a solution to matters that arise. 

Secondly, educate yourself. Know what is going on in society, the school system, and other organizations that serve young people. Read books and articles from opposing viewpoints. This can strengthen your convictions and arguments. Talk to other parents, teachers, clergy, and or counselors. Never charge the hill without gathering information. This is foolish.

Finally, have it in your heart and will to fight for the innocence and emotional health of your child. To do what is right is never popular with all. So, be prepared for opposition. You only have an average of 18 years with them to install the values that you want them to learn. This learning needs to take place in the correct order and in the correct dosage. Dads, your kids need you on topics like these. Be there for them. Be the best dad possible.


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Opposing the Victim Mentality

Never let your kids accept a victim mentality. We need to teach that failure, being mistreated, or their past does not need to define them. The victim train goes through our community right in front of our kids every day. It’s all over social media in the form of hashtags and awareness campaigns. It’s taught in schools. It is contagious.

Look! I understand that we or life can crap our diapers. It happens to everyone in different ways to different degrees. My advice. DON’T SIT IN IT! Don’t teach your kids to adopt a whoa is me attitude and rely on others to pat them on the back or to change their “diaper”. Get up, clean up, and move forward. Fight back.

As a parent, I never wanted to give any encouragement, or attention to words, actions, or mindsets that allowed my kids to stay in a bad place. Today it has almost become a celebrated culture to promote oneself as a victim. There are people that will call you brave. Brave for admitting it?…uh okay. However, to stay there and accept it as a status is pathetic. Be an overcomer and show your kids how they can conquer situations. 

To stay or allow oneself to be kept in a state of negative circumstances gives that circumstance control over you. You will never be able to protect your child from all disappointment, mistreatment, or pain. They are going to hurt. Therefore, what are you going to do to show them how to rise above it? If they hurt themselves, they need to own the error and learn from it. If others or circumstances hurt them, they need to know it was not their fault and they have no blame. Therefore they are free to heal, strengthen themselves, and to serve others with their knowledge. 

The question is to teach them that each day has an opportunity. However, life is not going to hand them what they want. They must go after it. They have to be willing to go through obstacles, pain, and those who stand in their way…whether it be physically or emotionally. They must defy the labels, can’t, doubt, and anything that would define them by their past. We must teach kids to be defined by those things we can change. There are situations and people that we can’t change. However, we can always change something…even if it is only an attitude.

I remember when my daughter was in judo. At one point she had a hurt ankle. She could not do her throws. However, she could practice her finish moves. So guess where she went that night? She was in control of something. She decided to work on what she could improve. If I haven’t already told you, she is a huge inspiration to me. No one will control her attitude or effort. These are always in her control. This is really the secret.

Your kids will never be able to control what others think, say, and do. They will never be able to guarantee a win for the team. However, they can always control their attitude and effort. The idea to get on and ride the victim pity train is a neutering experience. Never encourage this. Raise a fighting spirit in your kids. Give them a work and life ethic to live by. People can hurt them, so can situations. They must accept their mistakes but reject any and all concepts that celebrates being a victim. If that makes you brave, then you and anyone can be brave by doing nothing. 

I’m sure that there are readers out there that may disagree with my point of view. Let me qualify my statement as one who went through abuse. That was no reflection of my lack of worth or potential. It meant that an asshole chose to take advantage of a situation. This, however, has not and does not define me. I am defined by the way I live. Everyone has circumstances or poor decisions in the past. Work on the things you can change. Refuse to be stuck or labeled by the bad times. Show your kids that they can move forward, learn, and better their situations.

Be vulnerable enough to share with them what you have been through and how you chose to deal with it…whether that be good or bad, so they can learn. If you are experiencing a negative situation now, talk to your kids. They may have some ideas for you. Love each other. Support each other. Be the best dad possible.


Prepared for Bullies

Bullies are the diaper stain of mankind. They don’t even get to be called p.o.s. in my book. Your kids may face these morons rather early in life. If not before they enter school, by this time they will have a face to go with the term. Whether they are the direct target or not, I can guarantee exposure. Bear in mind that bullies are not limited to the thrills of childhood. As many of you know, there is a plethora of them in adult life. They like hurting people physically, emotionally, or vocationally.

How do you prepare your kids for dealing with bullies? Although it is a public taboo and denounced, it is ever thriving in our society. Differently from when I was a kid, now we have cyberbullies. At least when I was a kid, the jerk had to have enough guts or stupidity to perform a public act. Now, these little cowards attempt to ruin lives from the safety of their computer or smartphone. The Greek fable writer Aesop once said, “It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.” I might add “or from anonymity”. Therefore, the best way to address them is as they are, cowards. Our kids need to know that bullies are cowards that are trying to convince themselves and others that they are brave, strong, in control, cool, or should not be picked on themselves.

Due to the fact that they are cowards in their hearts, our children need to learn that while an action or word can harm anyone, the “person” should not be feared. Everyone has the potential for harming another. However, if they need a visual, think of the almighty chihuahua. They can be one of the most aggressive breeds of dog on the planet, but should we really fear them.

When my father was young, there was a big boy in his class that feared by all. This bully, we will call Ted liked to step on and kick the heels of those in front of him. Kids back in that day were reluctant to “telling on” bullies because they didn’t want to get beat up. I also, can’t state this as a fact, but it appears that teachers and principles didn’t have the zero tolerance that they proclaim today. 

One day dad encountered Ted. He had run-ins with Ted before, but this time Ted scraped down dad’s leg with his shoe, taking a layer of skin of his Achilles tendon and heel area. Dad had already told him to stop. They were going upstairs to the music room at the school. Once they reached the top of the stairs, my dad turned around and hit Ted as hard as he could in the nose. The two of them tumbled down the stairs. When they reached the bottom, fortunately for dad he landed on top of Ted, not underneath him. As fast as he could, dad hit the boy several times hoping to hurt him bad enough so that Ted could not get up and beat him to a pulp.

Both my dad and Ted got licks (the paddle) for the incident. My dad thought it was a huge injustice, but could not do anything about it. Oddly enough, Dad and Ted became buddies after the fight. This type of result is more common among boys than girls. According to the author and Dr. Leonard Sax in his book Why Gender Matters, although boys tend to fight more often, there is usually not an ultimate end to the friendship. With girls, however, although their physical aggression happens less than boys when it does happen, the friendship is usually over.  

As you prepare your kids to deal with these individuals, note that boys and girls can feel quite differently about the situation. There can also be a difference in how your child reacts to a bully that may be different from how you would react regardless of their sex. Dads, trust me when I say that just because you have a son, does not mean that he is a mini-you. Your boy may have a much more passive or aggressive response to these individuals. Let me give you a visual on this point.

My oldest can get angry, but it takes a LOT to set him off. My middle child…well let’s just say that when we met his Marine drill instructor and HE asks me if my son has anger issues, it can be significant. I find myself in the middle. I’m not really like either one of my boys. Therefore, it was important that I approach the topic of bullies catering to the specific boy I was addressing. You need to know how they are going to act to frustration. 

A few bits of advice that I have given to all my children concerning bullies are as follows: 

  1. Physical bullies are usually less intelligent. Hang out with the smart kids and strive towards academic achievement. Upper-level classes rarely have such individuals.
  2. Be in public or well-populated areas when possible. You don’t have to be a part of a crowd, just in it. This is like insect repellent for bullies. Be around or in the view of adults.
  3. Be aware of your path throughout the day. Bullies may take transition times as an opportunity to pick on people. This is particularly is true for those kids that walk home from school or ride the school bus.
  4. There are consequences for defending yourself. This has nothing to do with justice. If you choose to defend yourself, know that although there may be consequences at school, you will not be in trouble with your mom and myself.
  5. Befriend and defend those that cannot defend themselves. Watching someone being hurt and doing nothing is just as cruel as the one hurting them…and in a way, more so.

Support your kids. Plan ahead. Be the best dad possible.


Bringing a New Baby Home

New babies don’t have instruction manuals. Not that dads are known for reading the instructions. We usually tell ourselves and others, “I got this”. The funny thing is that we often find ourselves with extra parts or something attached backward. Perhaps you are especially organized and have the engineering degree need to put that Christmas morning present together. As for me, some assembly required usually means frustrations and several words that you wouldn’t want to say in front of momma.

I want to encourage those with older kids that I’m not going to do these blogs “necessarily” chronologically. However much sense that may mean for a future publication, I know that there are readers at different stages in life, facing various struggles. I like to stay up with current events and readers questions/comments that may spark a specific interest. This was just a side note.

Back to my daily rant, I have been asked what I believe new dads should know about that first couple of weeks at home. Let me paint this picture as clearly as possible. Both of my boys are now grown and in the military. My oldest is in the Navy. My middle child is a Marine. I’m not making light of the Navy boot camp, but there are 2 reasons that I’m going to give a Marine analogy. #1, my oldest son is a machine. Once you set him in motion he just keeps going. I really did not worry about him at boot camp. I knew he was going to be successful. #2, my middle son would fit the typical all American athletic kid. He has lots of potentials, but can be lazy at times.

Marine boot camp has been reported to me as a bit more lengthy and intense. My son described it as very little sleep, always hungry, always being yelled at, and when you think something is over, it gets worse. I told my son that it sounds like being a new dad and getting into a new routine. At least it is the case for dads that try to do it right. There are some fathers that allow this time to fall heavily on their wives. This is a mistake.

Try as you may, a baby is on their own schedule. You can attempt to “groom” them into a schedule. However, in many cases, babies are like cowlicks. No matter how you comb it, it kind of does its own thing. Many babies are up and hungry while the world sleeps. You know, it’s the time when you should be resting before going to work. DO NOT use this as an excuse to stay in bed, ignore the babies cries, hoping your wife will get up.

Mom’s have this amazing connection with babies that gives them extra stamina or resilience. However, it does not mean that their bodies and minds don’t pay for it later. So in Marine terms, you are exhausted. When you don’t sleep, you get fatigued and stressed. Finally, when you think you did everything right to get them to sleep, the eyes pop open and they wanna play.

The positive side of it is the end product and the bond that results for your continuous care. Dads…hear my words. Look for opportunities to step up. This is where the “I love you” words to your wife are proven. Seriously, If you slack off, stay in bed, fuss at her, or use the words “I gotta go to work”, you are gonna screw up. Doing your best to serve and love her as well as your baby makes you “the man”, not “henpecked”. It means that you are strong enough to do what you have to do as well as bare the needs and load of others.

The first couple of weeks or months can definitely be an adjustment. However, your performance will echo with your wife for years. This is especially true when ladies get together to talk about their men. Don’t be the loser. You won’ get everything right. You may not even get verbalized appreciation. However, it is the best course to take. Serve your family. Bear their burdens. Talk is cheap. Show your love with action.

When you have additional children, not that all kids are the same but you will know what to expect. It was so much easier with my second and third child. Again, not because they were better babies, but I was just living in a been there, done that situation. I knew what to do. I didn’t do everything right, but I got my butt outta bed and sought to be of assistance.

Something that worked for me to make this time a bit easier was a quick nap at lunchtime. I brought a sandwich, ate on the walk to my lunch break, set a timer, and crashed. When I got home in the evening, I would play with my babies if they were awake. If not, I would try to catnap again or go to bed early. You will develop your own system. Just make sure that you stick to it. Keep moving forward and be the best dad possible.


Let’s Get Busy

Thanks for joining me!

Being a dad is the greatest job on earth. It definitely isn’t easy. There are a lot of hard choices along the way. It’s hard finding a healthy balance; knowing when to pick your battles. Sometimes you have to fight for your kids. Other times, you are fighting your kids.

There is a lot that we can learn together. I am going to offer some opinions, give you my experience, and even suggest some things that you may disagree with. After all helping someone is not telling them what they want to hear. It’s telling them what they need to hear. Am I always right? By no means, but I will be honest. That is the best I can offer you. 

I hope you will follow this blog, build a community with me, so we can learn together and strengthen one of the most powerful relationships that mankind has ever known.