Mark Brandenburg has a Masters degree in counseling
psychology and has been a counselor, business consultant,
sports counselor, and a certified life and business coach.
He has worked with individuals, teams, and businesses to
improve their performance for over 20 years. Prior to life
and business coaching Mark was a world-ranked professional
tennis player and has coached other world-ranked athletes.
He has helped hundreds of individuals to implement his
coaching techniques. Mark specializes in coaching men to
balance their lives and to improve the important
relationships in their lives. He is the author of the
popular e-books, 25
Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers
Your Wife in 30 Days or Less (And Improve Yourself at the
Same Time ).
Mark is also the publisher of the Dads Dont Fix
your Kids ezine for fathers. To sign up, go to
In the chaos of modern life, it's easy to lose sight of many of the important things you can do as a father. Here's a list of some of the more important ones:
1. Leave something for them - a letter to them, some
reflections on their childhood
As soon as my wife said it, I could feel the tension.
My trigger point had been hit, and an argument was waiting to happen. But our kids happened to be in the same room. And if you listen to the experts on parental conflict, you learn that arguing in front of the kids is something to avoid.
"Many parents think that kids get used to parents' arguing, but that is not true," says Mona El-Sheikh, a psychology faculty member at Auburn University, who researches how aggression between parents affects children. El-Sheikh says most parents don't understand the damage they can do to their child if they argue frequently, and the child can hear or see.
"Many parents think that children will understand that parent's are just letting off steam, or that the child will not remember, but that is not true," she says. Kids who are exposed to repeated conflict are sensitized to arguments, not desensitized.
And while arguments can be done with less anger and more negotiation, most arguments do your kids a great disservice. To limit the arguing you have in front of your kids, here are some ideas:
1. Be concerned with being kind more than being right. If youre kind to your spouse and treat them well, you'll experience fewer arguments.
2. Develop the fine art of keeping your mouth closed. There will be many occasions when you'll want to respond to a comment your spouse has made, and an argument is waiting to happen. Take a hard swallow, and notice that no argument occurs.
3. Talk with your spouse about making the effort to avoid arguments. Have a specific plan in place you both agree on when things gets tense. If you know youre both committed to improving, it's easier to stay committed.
4. Raise your own standards. What kind of person do you really want to be? In view of how useless arguing is, wouldn't you rather hold yourself to a high standard, and spend time doing something else?
5. Just walk away from the argument. Walking away allows you some time to gather your thoughts and to cool down. When your perspective is better, you can continue the discussion from a more objective place.
6. Date your spouse regularly. A lot of arguments result from things that haven't been fully explored. Its crucial to have a way to stay up to date, and create rituals that have the two of you talking. Make the time sacred.
7. Bend the truth now and again. If it's between being honest and being kind with your spouse, be kind every time! You can tell her the dinner is awful when she asks, but you increase the chances of conflict. Smile, and tell her it's delicious.
8. Compliment your spouse twice a day. One of the major reasons for arguments between couples is that people don't feel acknowledged. Acknowledge your spouse regularly, and they'll feel appreciated. Appreciated people are less likely to argue.
9. Know Your Triggers Around Arguing. Familiarize yourself with what comments and situations trigger your anger and argumentative behavior. What are these about? When do they occur? Learn how you can avoid getting trapped in the future.
10. Make yourself accountable for your arguments.
Have other family members hold you accountable for your
behavior. Tell them your working on improving, and would
they please remind you if you're starting to argue again.
This puts some teeth behind your commitment.
Are men to blame for the divorce problem in this country?
Its been said that one of the reasons for the high rate of divorce in this country is the manner in which men choose their wives. Specifically, they choose their wives in a fashion similar to how they choose their next car.
They get the best-looking one available, and hope theres not much maintenance down the road.
While this may occasionally be true, there are also practices that married couples need to follow to avoid adding to a divorce rate hovering around 50%.
These practices are important for the success of your marriage, and theyre also essential for the well-being of your children.
In Maggie Gallaghers book, The Abolition of Marriage, she states that, Half of all children will witness the breakup of a parents marriage. Of these, close to half will also see the breakup of a parents second marriage.
Can we possibly continue with a system in which half of our children witness the breakup of their parents marriage? Is a divorce rate near 50% enough to have us consider new ideas about how we decide about marriage and divorce?
One idea we might consider is educating young people about the qualities of a successful marriage. The best way to do this is to model these qualities for your children. In addition, we can talk to them about the specific qualities and actions which make a marriage successful.
Here are some of those qualities:
1. Commitment: According to one definition, Commitment is a freely chosen inner resolve to follow through with a course even though difficulty arises. How do we show our children what to do when difficulty arises? Do we move to where the grass is greener? Commitment is a daily discipline. Its the chat after dinner, and the kiss before work. Its the core from which we respond to difficulty.
Its what makes our lives richer and deeper.
2. Emotional Awareness: If we know whats really bothering us, we can have effective and meaningful conversations with our spouse. We can be genuine, honest, and open with each other. And we can discover that much of the pain we feel in our relationship is actually our past emotional history coming back to haunt us.
If youre planning on getting married someday, you need to be aware of what your emotional issues are. Because, if youre not aware of them, youre a great candidate to add to a divorce rate thats already staggering.
3. Be Kind, Not Right: We tend to have a tremendous stake in showing our loved ones that were right. An enormous amount of time is wasted in our relationships by arguing over whos right or wrong. This excessive arguing is just an indication of our low self-esteem. A much easier and more effective way to be in a relationship is to commit to kindness. When youre kind, you dont need to be right. And its so much easier for others to be with you!
There certainly are divorces that are respectful of children, and many may be justifiable. But the number of divorces that damage childrens lives is staggering, and the trail behind them is strewn with actions and decisions that reek of childish self-interest.
Its time for people to grow up. Its time to stop looking to get your needs met in your relationship, and to start looking to meet the needs of your family. Its time to stop running away when things get difficult, and to start persevering through the pain.
And most importantly, its time to see the impact of
divorce on children. Because the cost of not doing these
things is beyond measure.