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 , and Fix Your Wife in 30 Days or Less (And Improve Yourself at the Same Time ). Mark is also the publisher of the “Dads Don’t Fix your Kids” ezine for fathers. To sign up, go to or E-Mail him.

30 Things That Really Matter for Fathers

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
2. Understand family systems
3. Tell them your stories
4. Have rituals in your family
5. Teach them your values
6. Avoid the bad mistakes - anger is often a culprit
7. Know the stages of your child’s growth
8. Be playful with them, even when they’re older
9. Know your child’s life intimately
10. Treat your wife very well
11. Be physical with them - hugs, wrestle
12. Do nothing with them
13. Know the fundamental errors we make with boys and girls
14. Take care of your life
15. Get them involved in activities
16. Be accepting of all of them
17. Make connections - family and friends
18. Yes, tell them you love them
19. Learn how to process events
20. Teach them how to do one thing really well
21. Push them to do things, but gently and at their pace
22. Notice the beauty in life, closely
23. Teach them they’re not alone - worship
24. Understand that they’re going to have big emotions
25. Be involved in their schoolwork
26. Listen, don’t preach - they’ll come to you
27. Learn the art of closing your mouth
28. Teach them about what you do
29. Have them do chores
30. See them as great, always.

10 Ways to Avoid Arguing With Your Wife

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 you’re 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 you’re 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. It’s 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.

Marriage, Divorce and Kids

Are men to blame for the divorce problem in this country?

It’s 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 there’s 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 they’re also essential for the well-being of your children.

In Maggie Gallagher’s book, “The Abolition of Marriage,” she states that, “Half of all children will witness the breakup of a parent’s marriage. Of these, close to half will also see the breakup of a parent’s second marriage.”

Can we possibly continue with a system in which half of our children witness the breakup of their parent’s 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. It’s the chat after dinner, and the kiss before work. It’s the core from which we respond to difficulty.

It’s what makes our lives richer and deeper.

2. Emotional Awareness: If we know what’s 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 you’re planning on getting married someday, you need to be aware of what your emotional issues are. Because, if you’re not aware of them, you’re a great candidate to add to a divorce rate that’s already staggering.

3. Be Kind, Not Right: We tend to have a tremendous stake in showing our loved ones that we’re right. An enormous amount of time is wasted in our relationships by arguing over who’s 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 you’re kind, you don’t need to be right. And it’s 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 children’s lives’ is staggering, and the trail behind them is strewn with actions and decisions that reek of childish self-interest.

It’s time for people to grow up. It’s time to stop looking to “get your needs met” in your relationship, and to start looking to meet the needs of your family. It’s time to stop running away when things get difficult, and to start persevering through the pain.

And most importantly, it’s time to see the impact of divorce on children. Because the cost of not doing these things is beyond measure.

© 2008 Mark Brandenburg

Other Father Issues, Books, Resources

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To this day I can remember my father's voice, singing over me in the stillness of the night. - Carl G. Jung

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