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.

Deacon  

DIY Trust

Many dads believe that they have to micromanage the lives of their children. However, the more control that is asserted can many times have the opposite effect than intended. This is very common, especially with new parents. Due to ignorance and an implied American image of manliness, there are those fathers that view themselves weak if they can’t control as many areas of their child’s life as possible. They may not come out and say this, but it can be inferred upon taking a closer look at the home.

What I want to discuss in this article/post is how developing a relationship of trust and faith can give you more control than that of a home of many rules. How a child thinks and values your relationship can determine more of their choices than your rules ever could. As I write this, I can’t help but think of a friend that I have known for many years. His style of parenting could not be more opposite of mine. He is a controller, in title and action, whereas I like to plant seeds that develop into mindsets that my children can own and align with there decision-making processes. 

If you have young children, this method can be applied now. Like the planting of a tree will produce fruit in the future, it is a process. If you are aware of the process, it can serve you well. Unfortunately, this is a difficult process to implement once they get older. Not thank good results are beyond your reach, but the best results seem to appear when these practices begin before going to school, especially before the middle school experience.

So what is the process? It starts by giving them small areas of responsibility and freedom. When they handle the situation well, praise it and try to replicate it. Be careful not to give them more responsibility and freedom than what they can handle. Over time, slowly increase these opportunities. At the same time, you must be immovable if they screw up or fail to perform at the level required for the responsibility or freedom to become a staple. Notice that I did not say, shut them down without the opportunity of redemption. An example of this could be to give them a task like picking up their toys. As a result, they could be allowed more time at a fun activity. If they fail to perform, the time is not granted…no matter how emotional they respond. Several days or even a week later, give them a chance for redemption. When they succeed, be true to your word. 

Showing your kids that freedom is something that is earned. My kids went for this “hook, line, and sinker”. They wanted control. Okay, no problem, they had to perform and act in a manner that ensured their reward. The reward or lack thereof needs to be granted or denied without emotion. When you have an agreement about tasks and behavior, they will earn or forfeit the freedom or rewards based on their decisions. Dads, your word has to be solid. You cannot reward or deny it based on your mood. It’s like, Johnny mows the grass. Johnny gets paid. Johnny doesn’t mow, he does not get paid. Feelings should not be a factor. Your word and their decisions should be the only factor.

As I have stated in other posts, I was able to get my kids to the point that they were in charge of the level of freedom and reward that they received. This made them want to take care of their responsibilities as well as keep their attitude in check. The results of this practice greatly increased the level of trust between my children and myself. Learning that dad would allow or disallow based on their actions and attitude, put them in control…or did it?

It does not matter if your kids realize that it is a game, practice, or the commandments of the home. The key is your consistency and giving your plan time to take root. My friend that I mentioned earlier in this article operates on “I am dad, hear me roar”. While this may put some kids into a mode of submission, eventually they will experience life that is beyond your control. I have seen many situations like this, where the kids went ape#### once they were out from under daddy’s thumb. If you squeeze too hard, they may run out of your grasp into the mouth of the lion that is life. This has been the case with my friend.

Being a dad is like a healthy lifestyle. The best results come over time and consistency. The earlier that we implement good practices, we tend to minimize damage, thus living with fewer regrets later in life. I realize that you are a dad and should be in control of your household. However, without proper planning and execution, you can lose control quickly. More punishment, emotional responses, and parental pressure do not mean that your children will respect you or will, in turn, be successful. Like your health, your relationship with your children should be an investment. Be who they need you to be. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon  

How Marriage affects Your Children

Marriage is a topic that has unfortunately been under-rated and not respected as it should by many young adults today. Perhaps this is due to our social environment as well as our failure as parents to teach the importance of this union to our children. I realize that many readers have beliefs that may differ from this writer, but as I will respect your right to voice your opinion, I will also exercise my right to express my beliefs and hope they will meet with equal respect.

I believe that the health of a marriage is crucial in the lives of children. It is the foundation of what they know as security and trust. They want to believe in mom and dad as individuals and as a team. This is a foundation that they walk on although rarely vocalizing its importance. We don’t talk about air much, but how crucial is it? Kids are resilient and adaptable, but no alternative situation is more ideal for a child than living with a mom and dad where there is a healthy marriage.

As men, we like to feel and act like we are strong, sometimes more so than we actually are. We want to think that we can do everything for our kids. You can’t. You can’t be a mom. You can perform duties and roles, but there is an emotional and spiritual connection between mothers and children that you cannot fake. They need a mom. We need to recognize this and nurture this relationship. We need to cherish our wive’s role and strive to treat this relationship with respect.

Now, let me lay a heavy point on you dads. You are the example to your children of how a woman should be treated. This is true for your boys and girls. You set the example. They are watching you. Many dads, especially those that struggle in relationships don’t like the weight of this fact, but it is true. The responsibility lies within your words and actions. 

I realize that there are women out there that can be a nightmare to live with. This is why I stress to you, that if you are single, do not get married for the sake of marriage. Being with no one is better than the wrong one. You need to realize what it is that you are committing to and spend much time in prayer and consideration before diving off into a relationship that is designed to be life long.

Now to soothe the minds of my lady readers. Men, I believe that 80% of failed marriages are the fault of the husband. When you get married, you give your life to another. This means that you cannot live selfishly. You cannot live for #1 and be successful. To me, the perfect example of how a husband should be can be found in scripture. Now, those that are not religious may want to skip over this part. However, I challenge you to read the following and then examine women and marriage according to this standard if you adopt these principles.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 English Standard Version (ESV)

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

If we do nothing, but desire and strive to live this way, I cannot see the woman you love to not say, “I’m in”. “IF” we love this way. I believe that most ladies would respect and love this quality in us. The problem is that we think we can do this and maintain “I am man, hear me roar”. Do you want to be loved and respected? Then it starts with you, not with your wife. If you look at scripture we/men are given the command to love. So, not to burst your bubble, but if you are not feeling loved and respected, are you loving and living as the scripture definition above describes?

Our role as dads and husbands lie in our responsibility for our words and actions, NOT in the response of those around us. This is something that must be given effort and time. You can’t expect to live according to scripture definitions for a week and everything will be better. This is a commitment to your bride and to your children. We must be selfless, not selfish. We need to be the best husbands and dads possible.

Deacon 

New Year Resolutions for Dad

As years come to an end, many of our thoughts go to the upcoming year. During this time, resolutions are made for self-improvement. We make personal pledges that we are going to do better at diets, workout routines, or goal achievements. It is a natural time to start new adventures or projects, no matter how brief they may actually end up being a focal point of our time. Parents need to do take advantage of this season to set goals for the family. Quality time and development of the family should always be a top priority. However, how should we approach these goals in order that we will actually see them take shape?

Parents must begin the process by taking stock of their current situation. Moms are usually better at addressing these issues. Sorry guys. The first hurdle is one of communication. Whether it is a date, or just taking the time before going to bed, couples need to make a list of the things they want to achieve. I would suggest that dads and moms make separate lists, then exchange the lists and discuss them. This may feel unnatural for some dads. Get over yourself. If you love your family, you need to examine feelings as much as you do your possessions. What do you as a dad need to do better?

After years of interacting with new dads, I can tell you that the amount of money that you make is NOT and should NOT be in your top 5. How do you spend your time? How do you communicate your love to your family? These are priorities. These are the measure by which you will be remembered. Dads want to be loved and respected. Just as we should teach our kids, our efforts and attitude spell out who we are as husbands and fathers. We must put them and their needs above our own. Notice that I said needs, not wants. Wives and kids NEED to know they are loved by words and time. They don’t NEED lots of things. They may want this and that, but things will never make their hearts joyful. It is your job as a husband and dad to identify these things.

Dad’s need to take care of themselves. They must manage their bodies, minds, and spiritual health. It is difficult to care and love your family when one of these is not being attended to. For me, I start with the spiritual. Getting right spiritually makes me want to do the right things for my body and mind. I have a quiet time in the mornings, reading my bible and having coffee. This sets my mind and drives me to tackle the rest of my day. The next thing that dads need to address is their calendar and watch. Does your calendar say that you prioritize your wife and family? Don’t know? Ask someone to evaluate it.

Please note that as a dad, your relationship to the mother of your children GREATLY affects your children’s sense of security. Yes, how you treat mom is expressing love for your children, whether you intend for it to or not. If you are a couple, it is paramount that you work on that relationship. If you are not, it is important that your kids see your respect for her role in their lives. Tearing down their mother is NEVER the right approach, regardless of her performance as a wife or mom. She is still a mom. Even if the kids are angry with her, do not chime in negative comments. It will hurt them later.

The journey to making goals as a dad starts with your self-evaluations. What are you doing or need to do to be a better husband and father? Then evaluate what you and your spouse need to do as parents? Are you on the same page? What do the two of you need to do in order to be better as a couple or the parents of your children? After the aspect of self-evaluation and that of the relationship with your spouse, look at what the kids need. No one outside the two of you should see this more clearly than the two of you. If this is not the case, then the problem lies with you and or your spouse. Address these things first. It will give you a more healthy platform to parent from.

Now, be specific with your kids. Let them in on your making of goals. Ask them their opinions, as they are able to understand. There opinion matters. What do they think you should do in order to be the best dad? What do they think you and your spouse or their mother need to do to better that relationship? Lastly, what do they think they need? Do they know the difference between need and want? This is a great conversation to have and can lead to some genuine growth.

People will make all sorts of New Years Resolutions. Most of them will not last long or will fail. Is this because we are unable to commit? Perhaps it due to the fact that the goals may be selfish or really just wants instead of needs. Maybe we are not taking the best inventory before we dive off into a new adventure. Take the time to make the right resolutions. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

The Making of a Princess

Little girls, teenagers, and young ladies have a special and unique need from dads. This is a subject that keeps me humbled and ever mindful of my responsibility. It is not that boys lack love and encouragement. However, there is a specific attention and assurance that is vital to girls. I know that I have touched on this topic before on my blogsite thedadmanual.com, but today I would like to address it with a bit more detail and clarity.

My first child was a boy. Seven years later, I had another boy. I was living in the world of “been there, done this”. This was comfortable ground. I knew how to care for boys. To me, they were low maintenance. Yes, they needed protection, love, and encouragement. However, they appeared to be “free-range” in their growing up. You just had to set them in motion.

Let me be the first to say that I screwed up in so many areas with my first kid. I did not know what I was doing. I learned by doing so many things wrong. You would think that when my second son was born, I would be more careful. No, I thought I was pro. I did make fewer mistakes but still did an injustice by not trying to educate myself on Dad 101. When it came to my little girl, this would be a different story…sort of.

My little girl had the same basic baby needs but quickly grew into a different creature. Her needs were different. I quickly noticed that she was developing quicker when it came to smarts. Not that I am calling my boys dumb, but things just came quicker to my daughter. She was growing up, but not with an outward trajectory as my boys. By boys required less protection, but my girl still desired it. She wanted to be near me. She wanted a safe place with dad. This would prove ironic later in life. As she grew, she became such a source of my strength.

Little girls crave that their dads notice them, love them, treasure them, and protect them. I am thankful that I quickly recognized this. Let me tell the dads reading this one important thing. You CANNOT tell your daughter that you love her too much. You also need to show it. I would write little notes and put them in her room, backpack, or other places that she would find them. I would send her flowers at school. Not just on special occasions, as often as I could afford to do so. Let me stress that it is NOT buying them things that will make the difference. It is you telling them that they are special.

If you have a little girl, start now. Give them your time. This is not just designating a time. Seek them out. Color with them, have tea parties, wrestle, tickle, sing to them. Be willing to be seen as silly. My little girl liked to paint my nails. Yes, I said it. I was willing to be silly and a fool for her smile. 

As she grew older, I praised her hard work and encouraged her to tackle the world. When she got knocked down, I would tell her that champions get up and fight again. When she would do so, I would praise her regardless of outcomes. This practice helped form her character today. Yes, she still desires dad’s safe arms and kind words, but she is a strong woman with a fighting spirit. So she needs me but doesn’t “need” me. Do you get it? 

The final point that separates the needs of boys and girls is your daughter’s need for you to be vulnerable. As a man, I can’t say that I fully understand this. They need to see you when you are sad, weak, or hurting. This is something that most men strongly avoid. We don’t like being vulnerable. We feel exposed, embarrassed, and less manly. However, if you will let your daughter in your safe space, it does something that bonds the heart. You will see that her presence alone is a comfort.

Your boys will be your chest-beating pride. Regardless of his recent troubles, I loved how Bill Cosby explained the father/son feeling. In his first major standup video, he was saying, “see the boy running the touchdown, that’s my son”. Daughters can also make us proud, but more so by reflecting on their character, intelligence, and drive. I found that if I lived vicariously, it was through my boys. My daughter was different. She was her own person. She was just so different. She was my princess. She did and does represent what is good and right…not just how tough she is. I hope fathers reading this will give an amen.

Your daughters need you in a special way. They need your words, actions, and your heart. Wholeheartedly serve them as the dad/man that they need. They are your princess. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

Getting Help Follow-Up

Trying to do everything by ourselves is a foolish way to live as well as a poor example for our kids. Today is a follow up to my blog post yesterday entitled Teaching Kids about Getting Help. In that article, one point was to encourage our kids to be problem solvers. Now, I want to look at the extreme opposite of this approach. 

Do you have any men in your family, now or in the past, that refused to go to the doctor? I say men because we are usually the most guilty of this particular mindset. I call this the “rub some dirt on it crowd”. It is composed of 3 kinds of men. 1. Stubborn 2. Scarred 3. Combo of 1 and 2. Everyone has fear. Unfortunately, old school thinking says that men are not supposed to feel or show it. The outright stubborn man usually dies earlier than he should. Whether it is stubbornness or fear, it is the wrong message to portray to our kids.

There are many issues that we should not try to face by ourselves. Health (physical and mental) issues obviously would rank #1 to this author. Other situations could be those that we lack the proper knowledge or expertise. An example of that for me is mechanics. If I work on a car, there is a big chance that I will cause more damage than good. I need to defer to the professionals. My kids will shout amen at this one. Lastly, there are situations in life that are much better to handle with the support of others. These could be issues of weight loss, addiction, or spiritual growth. 

There are issues that we will face that are beyond our abilities to conquer or cope with. We need to understand that getting help is essential. For men especially, this can be embarrassing. We don’t like to admit weakness. For many of us, we only turn to others for help when we have hit rock bottom. This is especially true when it comes to unhealthy lifestyles. 

The other night I was researching addiction by observing online forums and chat rooms for alcoholics. It is designed for a 24/7 resource for those that are trying to stay sober. While I must agree that we spend too much time plugged into technology, I believe that a resource such as this is amazing. However, as I was reading, I ran across several participants who were complaining about the “God” references in AA’s 12 step programming. One individual posted, “I think AA is great, but I wish it did not have religious overtones”. 

According to an interview that I watch on the Jackass star Stevo’s struggle with drugs and alcohol (see the interview…viewer discretion advised), he said that only 5% of alcoholics will be victorious in their struggle and recovery. That being said, why would someone NOT want to invoke God for help? If you knew that most people will fail in their attempts to get healthy. Would you want to place your success rate in the hands of those that will most likely fail? I say this for 2 reasons. 1. I know that I am sober only by the grace of God. 2. If I REALLY want help, I want it from those that have the highest probability of success, not those that I may be the most comfortable with.

I feel strange combining the scripture with a Stevo quote, but I believe that there is a great visual in these examples. Bare with me and see if these make sense to you. John 15:5 New International Version (NIV)

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. Stevo said that we are like refrigerators. We must remain plugged in, or everything goes bad. 

We need others. That does not mean that we should rely on other people for everything. As the last post stated, kids need to struggle and try to fix their issues. This, however, does not negate the idea of God and the community. Our kids need to know that both approaches to problem-solving are important. As a Christian, I believe that invoking the help of God is important whether you are alone or in a community. I pray that God will empower me, or that he will give me the wisdom to conquer a particular task or struggle. The answer may be revealed to me to fix the issue with or without others. However, I need to utilize the resources provided.

Pride can a real killer. We and our children need to understand humility and the grace that can come from having such a spirit. Others will have a much easier time coming to our aide when we are humble. This is also scriptural for those who follow biblical teachings. Show your kids how and when to invoke the assistance of others. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

The God Foundation

I believe that God is the giver of life and my children are a blessing from him. I don’t make any apologies about my personal convictions. I struggle with the thought of people talking about their faith, then making an apology for what they “say” means so much to them. Do we really believe what we proclaim, or is the desire not to offend others greater than our convictions.

There may be those that read this that believe differently from me. Your beliefs do not offend me. I am not angry if you disagree. Should I, therefore, worry about what others may think? If you have rights, then so do I. If I can share my beliefs, so can you. Why do we fear the judgment or being different from the rest of the world? In this writer’s opinion, I cannot be a strong dad and be timid about what I teach my children, especially if I “really” believe it.   

Our homes and the lives of our children must have a foundation. For me and my family, it is the belief in Jesus Christ and the authority of His word (the Bible). Some may say that love is the foundation of their home. To me, I agree with the statement, but the source of that love is a God that is bigger and more sovereign than my fallible existence.

Perhaps your view is that we should live and strive for our kids to live moral lives. I can find nothing more moral than that of what I find in the Bible. Its teachings have served my family without fail. This has been a source of hope in many hopeless situations. It has brought assurance when life offers us none. A prayer time and learning together has served as a glue for our family bond. 

Let’s be honest. You will let your family down from time to time. You will fail. Your love will not be enough. These are times that we must look beyond ourselves. This is when we need a peace that passes all understanding. That being said, I cannot explain to you, nor prove to you what I have discovered to be Truth. This is an experience and a journey that cannot be put in a simple explanation. For me as a dad, it has all come down to an element of faith. However, this faith can convict you more than any shred of evidence that you could experience.

This faith has become a staple for my life, my marriage, and my children. We live in such crazy times. Our world is broken and hurting. The foundation of God is the only source of love, hope, and assurance that I have seen to answer the needs of people. Many people, however, reject the idea for various reasons. Whether you want to relate to this as a choice or divine appointment, the heart of man wants to do what it wants to do. To surrender to this concept is to give concession to our lack of abilities and faults. 

Although many may argue, it is my conviction that children are happier, less stressed, and strengthened by faith and that of faith exercised in their parents’ lives. This is not to desire contention with other viewpoints, however, it is one that I stand by and will not apologize for. If you are moved to investigate the God foundation further, I hope and pray that you will. If you need guidance, have questions, or desire to connect with faith as your family’s foundation, there are many resources that you can reach out to. However, I would advise that you compare your information to the source of faith. Just because someone claims to have spiritual answers does not mean that you should simply rely on their words. 

For me, I advise those with questions and interest in the Christian faith to compare teachings to the Bible directly. Unfortunately, there are those out there that would lead you astray. There are those with personal agendas and teachings that promote the ideas of a cause that is not in line with that of the Bible. Avoid these individuals, but don’t give up on your journey and seeking to find truth. Some individuals feel as if it is bad to question teachers, the Bible, and even God. However, I submit to you that you only grow stronger in relationships that you can have a dialogue with. On a personal note, I am convinced that God is not afraid of your questions. 

This subject needs to conclude with a challenge. The challenge is, will you follow the truth where it leads you? Will you follow it regardless if it is different from what you believed growing up? Will you challenge yourself? Do you desire to have the strongest foundation for your home? Do you desire to be the best dad possible?

Deacon

Getting Fit for the Kids

Being a loving dad means that you take care of yourself in order to care for your family. If you are a loving father, it most likely shows. However, being there for your kids means that you do all that you can to “be there” for them. Dads need to make it part of their mission to live healthy lifestyles. Failure to do so can rob your children of one of the things that they need the most…you. 

At the time of writing this article, I am 50 years old. Wow, I had to pause and look at that number. This has got to be a mistake. How did time fly by so fast? It will happen to all of us. When my children were living at home, I was fortunate to have good health. I was no amazing athlete, nor did I always maintain a workout schedule or the best diet. However, I was always mindful and enjoyed healthy foods.

Now that my children are grown, I am noticing their reliance on me to “be here”. They are all amazing adults, but I am still a part of their lives as a fail-safe or idea checker. We have wonderful discussions about life, goals, and struggles. The subjects have added weight because they are doing life without a dad in control. Therefore it has been made clear to me that I need to do all that I can to live in a manner that will allow me to fulfill my new role in their lives.

The problem is that most dads start thinking of this too late in life. Living healthy is so much easier when it is put into practice at a younger age. However, you can only start where you are. The biggest stumbling block for most dads is that we like to conquer. Therefore we try to launch ourselves into our “healthy practices” overnight. Let me tell you that this method sucks. If you are out of shape, you got that way over time. The same will be true for the healthy you. Start small in your journey. 

If you are not in “gym” shape, don’t dive off in the gym. I have done this several times and it was never long-lasting. Start by adjusting your schedule. Start by designating time to get out of the house, off your butt, and moving. What does this mean? It may be a walk, yard work, chores, or anything that makes you mobile. Repetition is the key to lifestyle change. As you become accustomed to your new activity, other steps will come more easily. 

When it comes to diet, I am no authority. However, I have found that having the mindset of introducing healthy foods instead of a pledge to avoid foods worked for me. I slowly started substituting a variety of “healthier” meals and snacks. After some time, this became the norm. I noticed that I was avoiding unhealthy foods by default. I am a man. I don’t like having things taken from me. Therefore, I gave myself healthier things. This means that I just added healthy choices instead of trying to eliminate the bad. Eventually, eliminating unhealthy foods became a matter of doing it because I wanted to.

This mindset can also be applied to your vices. We all have something that holds us back. For some people, it could be alcohol, tobacco, too much computer time, or television. Again, my method for addressing this was to “add to” what I was used to, not to simply eliminate. My vice was alcohol. I love beer and or cocktail hours, which could be anytime that I had “downtime”. So, I added tasks to my schedule to have less downtime. I know this may sound weird, but it worked for me. As a result of not having as much downtime, I noticed not only productivity but also my energy level rise. Thorough time, this gave birth to more rewarding activities and reaching more goals. In turn, this has served my children well. It suggests that I will be around longer and more productive for them and their families. 

As I have stated in a prior blog post about the “Secrets of Life”, there is no secret. You have to “move forward”. This is done by one step in front of the other until you turn around and look down from the mountain that you just climbed. For your sake and that of your family, you need to move forward. Just “add” the little things. Eventually, you will have a new and healthier lifestyle. There is no magic pill, best exercise machine, or miracle diet. You do not have to waste money to live better, strengthen yourself, and benefit your family. You need to get busy.

Making changes takes dedication, but it does not have to be overwhelming. It is easy for us dads to love our kids, so let them be your motivation. I know so many fathers that would take a bullet for their kids. I’m sure you are one of them. Therefore I want to challenge you, not to take a bullet, but to live healthily for them. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon 

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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.

Deacon 

Are you a Prepared Dad?

One of the best things that you can do as a dad is to be prepared. Whether it is the scouts, military, businesses, or first responders, the motto is the same. Are you prepared? The lives of your children are paramount. The raw truth is that you most likely care about them than those outside of your home. That being the case, what are you preparing for? There are people, places, and circumstances that you need to think about. What is it that you need to know? You must have  knowledge of the tools and skills you will need. You must also have knowledge of the environment.

This may sound like I am trying to make you think negatively. On the contrary, being prepared for the good, unexpected, and bad is a very positive thing. What is it that you must possess or be able to perform to be a good dad? This article will be a first in a series discussing different needs or problems that you will or may need to address while your kids are home. These issues may require your presence, advice, verbal intervention, or action. So before we dive off into specifics, what resources and or skills do you need to bring to the table to be a prepared dad.

  1. Love
  2. Sacrifice
  3. Protection
  4. Provision
  5. Praying
  6. Teaching
  7. Counseling
  8. Supporting
  9. Listening
  10. Correcting
  11. And laughing….or being fun.
  12. Etc.

Along with these resources and skills, there needs to be a knowledge of any environment that your children may find themselves in. Examples of this are 

  1. Home
  2. Off with Extended Family
  3. Friends’ Homes
  4. Church
  5. School
  6. Sports or Social Groups
  7. Common Places
  8. And New Environments

No matter who you are, your kids are going to have needs, problems, serious issues, and even emergencies. How do we become prepared to assist or help them in their time of need?

We must start out by being observant. In the book Visual Intelligence by Amy Herman, you are taught to observe things that you may typically overlook. This is an amazing read. I highly recommend it. We need to take time and observe, really see and know the environments in which our kids interact. These environments are “where” their needs are going to surface. Depending on that environment, you may call on different resources and skills to best provide for them. 

Communication is key to know what to do when to step up or restrain yourself from getting involved. Many times, your kids won’t even know they need help. On the other hand, there are times when they will want it, but the best thing for them is to work it out on their own. How do you know what is right?

Before we move into this little series let me make a qualifying statement. Besides a physical threat, you and your spouse will rank these issues differently. The FIRST time you encounter a particular issue, it can appear larger than it really is. Let me quote from the Complete Survival Manual. “STOP. 1. Stop 2. Think 3. Observe 4. Plan”. Most people don’t realize that outside of an imminent threat, YOU HAVE TIME…use it. Give yourself time to respond instead of reacting. A sense of calm not only allows you to see more clearly but also calms others down. Whether you are on the inside, a display of calm spirit says you have some amount of control in the situation. This comforts others.

Over the next week, I will be posting different scenarios that you may encounter with or concerning your kids. Let’s serve our children well by being prepared, or as much as we can be. Thinking, communicating, and planning can go a long way for you to be the best dad possible. Don’t miss tomorrows post.

Deacon