Menstuff® has compiled information, books and resources on the issue of fathers. Here's how people around the world say "father": Afrikaans - Pa; Czech - Otec; Danish - Fader; Dutch - Ouder or Vader; English - Father; Esperanto - Patro; Estonian - Isa; Finnish - Isa; French - Pere; Frisian - Heit; German - der Vater; Hungarian - Atya; Hebrew - Abba; Latin - Pater, Norwegian - Far; Portuguese - Pai; Spanish - Padre; and Swedish - Far.
Photos above are from left to right by Amanda Currey, George Silk, Matsuzaki, Dorien Grunbaum, Bruce Davidson, J. H. Lartigue, Charles Biasiny Rivera, Georg Oddner, Guy Gillette, Howard Sochurek, David Strickler, Jill Freedman, Bob Willoughby, James H. Baker, Burk Uzzle, Bruce Davidson, and Donald McCullin from The Family of Children See Parenting also.
How to raise kinder, less entitled
kids (according to science)
What Is A
So You're Going to be a
Raise Kids Like a
6 Steps to Solving Most Any
Click on bumper sticker to purchase
Fact # 1
From 1960 to 1990, the percentage of children living apart from their biological fathers more than doubled from 17 percent to 36 percent. If this rate continues, by the turn of the century nearly 50 percent of American children will be going to sleep each night without being able to say good night to the dads. 1
Fact # 2
Children who grow up with only one of their biological parents (nearly always the mother) are disadvantaged across a broad array of outcomes they are twice as likely to drop out of school, 2.5 times as likely to become teen mothers, and 1.4 times as likely to be idle out of school and out of work as children who grow up with both parents. 2
Fact # 3
Fifty-two percent of all adolescents aged twelve to sixteen who were living with separated, divorced, or remarried mothers had not seen their fathers at all in more than a year, and only 16 percent saw their fathers as often as once a week. 3
Fact # 4
For girls whos fathers are not involved, many positive character and personality traits fail to be developed. Girls deprived of strong relationships with their fathers tend to grow up with the perception that men are irresponsible and untrustworthy. As adolescents they commonly become obsessed with heterosexual relationships. In a desperate search for substitute forms of male affection, some have inappropriate sexual contacts, become overly dependent on men, and allow men to take advantage of them. 4
Opinion # 1
Dad, dont try to fix your daughter. Relate to her. Get to know her. Stop trying to solve your daughters problems. She doesnt want you to fix anything. She just wants you to understand. 5
Opinion # 2
It is easier to build a child, than to repair an adult. 6
Opinion # 3
There is nothing wrong with success in and of itself. But to obtain it at a time or in a manner that requires sacrificing our relationships with our children is far too dear a price to pay. 7
Maybe it was that time you took the kids to the amusement park, and on the way home their adorable faces still sticky from the slushies youd sprung for, their little wrists adorned with pricey full-day passes they asked to stop for ice cream. You declined, and they yelled, We never get to do anything!
Or the time you asked them to dust the living room after you had vacuumed the house, cleaned the bathroom, mowed the lawn and shopped for groceries, and they wailed, Do we have to do everything?
Nearly all of us have bang-our-head-against-the-wall stories about our kids acting entitled. Weve tried what feels like everything to stop it, and we still feel as if were not quite getting it right.
But theres a young and fascinating field of research called behavioral economics that explores the sometimes irrational ways we all make decisions and think about the world. Maybe if we understand a little more about the instinctive, irrational quirks of our kids minds, well be better equipped to raise kinder, less-entitled kids.
My excuses are totally legit
The cobalt-blue sports car roars up beside me, swerves into my lane, then races ahead. Seriously? I grumble. Idiot!
Just then, he hangs a quick left, right by a big sign that says, Hospital Emergency Room Entrance.
Oh. Right. (Well played, Universe. Well played.)
When someone cuts us off in traffic, shows up late or otherwise offends us, we often reflexively attribute it to an intrinsic characteristic of the person, yet when we inconvenience others, we generally blame outside forces (e.g., he was in my blind spot). This Scrooge-like tendency is so universal that behavioral scientists have a name for it: the fundamental attribution error.
How can parents use an awareness of this tendency to their benefit? The next time were at a restaurant and the kids are moaning, Where is our food? This waitress is terrible! we can point out that maybe the kitchen is backed up and shes doing her best. Maybe shes covering extra tables for someone who called in sick, or this is her second job and shes been up since 4 a.m.
Just talking about How do you think that person is feeling? is so important, says Amy McCready, a mother of two and author of The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World. Its a way of un-centering our kids universe and getting them thinking outside of themselves.
The curse of the chocolate-chip pancakes
Its Saturday morning and youve just set fresh pancakes on the table. Your sweet kids take a bite and then stop chewing. No chocolate chips?! they say, affronted.
Behavioral research shows that humans can become acclimated to almost anything if theyre exposed to it frequently. Its called hedonic adaptation, and its why Justin Bieber is always buying more outrageous cars, why the kitchen we just remodeled suddenly needs a new backsplash and why lottery winners, after the initial thrill of winning, end up about as happy as they were before.
What does this mean for kids and parents? Anything we provide or do regularly will become the new norm, whether its postgame milkshakes or a certain brand of clothes. And not doing things can also become a norm: If our kids have gotten used to having their beds made or dinner table set, theyll come to expect that, too.
I really think about it as Whats the default that Im setting up? says Tess Thompson, a mother of two in Webster Groves, Mo. My kids summer day camp is set up for their nonstop entertainment, so naturally they thought summer Saturdays would be, too. Thompson had to reset their expectations. Once the special outings werent every Saturday, they actually felt like treats.
You know this isnt normal, right?
Six-year-old Allison McElroy invited a friend over to play, but her playmate kept peering around the house. Finally, puzzled, the friend spoke up. Is this a mini-house? she asked.
Allisons mom, Cheryl, tried to keep her voice level. Uh, no, this is a real house. We live here.
Her tone was like, Is this all there is? recalls Cheryl with a laugh. Her daughters new friend lived in a neighborhood of soaring foyers and echoing great rooms, different from the lovely ranch house the McElroys live in. I really think shed never been in a one-story house before, Cheryl says.
The little visitor was experiencing what behavioral scientists call the availability bias, which causes us to overestimate the prevalence of something if we see many examples of it. So if everyone at our kids school wears $120 sneakers, our kids are going to think thats normal, not because theyre spoiled monsters, but because its what they see every day.
Its really challenging, because weve chosen to send our kids to nice private schools, and the other kids are coming back from spring break saying they went skiing in Aspen or Jackson Hole, and our kids start to get the impression thats the norm, says Josh Wright, a father of three in Takoma Park and executive director of behavioral consulting firm Ideas42. So were always telling them: You know thats not normal, right? Its just one little slice of the world. To give his kids a sense of the wider world, Wright regularly takes them to volunteer at a local soup kitchen; he also chose to live in a socioeconomically diverse neighborhood so his kids would be exposed to a broader range of experiences.
Girl, age 6. Wants: Undershirts.
The paper angel in my daughters hand read, Girl, age 6. Wants: Undershirts. The angel in my sons hand read, Boy, age 7. Likes: Dinosaurs. My lectures about faraway starving children had previously fallen on deaf ears, but on that December day, my kids, then age 5 and 8, eagerly dashed around the store to find just the right gifts. I think shell like these! They have princesses on them! Can I get him a sweatshirt, too? I dont want him to be cold!
Of course, it wasnt my fabulous parenting that finally got them thinking. It was what behavioral scientists call the identifiable victim effect the human tendency to respond more empathetically to the plight of a single individual, rather than a large group.
For instance, as behavioral economist Dan Ariely illustrates in his book The Upside of Irrationality, you might consider sending a few dollars to victims of a tsunami far away. But if you were walking through a park and saw a little girl drowning in the river right in front of you, you wouldnt hesitate to plunge in to save her. The vivid, nearby individual always trumps the vague, faraway many.
An awareness of this tendency can help us choose more effective ways to engage our children with those in need. For kids to internalize it, it needs to be about individual people, Wright says.
Come on, everybody, heave! With a final shove, you and your new neighbors wrestle their piano up the steps and into their house. The husband goes to the kitchen, where you assume he is getting you a beer, and comes back instead with his wallet. Here, he says, slapping $20 into your palm. Thanks for the help.
Suddenly, oddly, your warm fuzzies fade, and your desire to invite them over for pizza later fades with it. But why? Research indicates that we are more motivated to do things as part of a social transaction than a financial one. When Ariely asked students to move a couch either as a favor or for $10, more students were willing to do it as a favor than for the money: Once money was involved, Ariely writes, they started thinking: Is this really worth my time? Is $10 enough? Is this guy stiffing me?
This suggests that paying our kids to do chores isnt necessarily going to turn out as we hope. True, it will probably work at first, McCready says, and its no problem to pay for occasional, large tasks. But for everyday chores, at some point, youll ask them to unload the dishwasher, and theyll be like, Ehh, Im good. I dont really need the money today, she says. Or, the kids will start negotiating: How much will you pay me to carry these groceries inside?
Instead, McCready suggests framing chores as needed contributions to the functioning of the family. I know cleaning the bathroom isnt fun, but if we all get to work, well have the house clean by lunchtime. [Hand child a sponge.] Thanks for the help!
Clean house, warm hearts, generous kids.
Want your kids to tell
you about their day? Instead of asking questions, try
For generations, the most common answer to this question has been Nothing, followed closely by I dont know and its cousin, I dont remember.
When my daughter started preschool, I was desperate to know what she did all morning, but I couldnt get any information out of her. Some experts recommend giving kids space and time to decompress before launching into questions. I tried that, but she still wasnt forthcoming. Others advised me to make questions more specific, yet still open-ended. The Internet abounds with lists of quirky alternatives to How was your day? But when I asked my daughter who made her laugh or what games she played outside, I was met with sighs of irritation and emphatic replies of, Stop asking me those fings!
When school began this year, I tried a new approach at the dinner table. Do you want to hear about my day? I asked my daughter.
And on that day and every day since, she has never said no. So I tell her about meetings and photocopying, the jammed printer and how I lost and found my keys. I tell her about the games on the playground, the lessons I taught and how many kids asked to go to the nurse. I start with taking attendance in the morning and I end at dismissal. I am a teacher at her school although her class is on a separate campus.
Then, like shes taking her turn in a game of Go Fish, my daughter tells me about her day. I learn what book she listened to at the library, that she changed from her rain boots to her sneakers by herself, and the cause of her brief venture into timeout. She tells me who was classroom helper and who she sat next to at snack time. She sings Itsy Bitsy Spider for me, crawling her fingers up the invisible water spout above her head. She leans in close. Did you make letters in sand today? she whispers. I did that!
Although being a teacher may make my days relatable to a child attending school, I think my daughter is most interested in unveiling the mystery of what I do when Im not with her. It doesnt matter whether youre a software developer, a cashier, a blogger, a doctor, a bus driver or a stay-at-home parent, because its not about the minutiae of the work. Its about sharing what makes us laugh and what bores us, the mistakes we make and what is hard for us, the interesting people we meet. When I model this for my daughter, she is more willing to share the same with me.
Work is usually the last thing I want to talk about when I get home. I often think that a rundown of my day would be a bore to anyone, including me. Maybe my daughter finds listing all her cutting and pasting and cleaning up blocks equally tedious. But I delight in hearing the details of her day, just as she delights in mine.
Tonight at the dinner table, as my daughter inexpertly wielded her knife and fork and I started talking about tomorrows plans, she interrupted.
Mom? Arent you going to tell me about your
My husbands and my division of labor changes monthly and sometimes even weekly, based on our ever-shifting work schedules. In general, though, he gets the kids up, dressed and out the door, and I do the school pickup and dinner routine. The final stretch, that last half hour of bath time/kitchen cleanup/tooth-brushing/pajama wrangling, we generally split according to who feels like doing what. But it turns out that theres one duty my husband should always take on, according to science, no less: the bedtime story.
Kids who are read to by Dad, according to a study by Harvard University researchers, have better-developed language skills than kids who were read to by just Mom. So if families have a choicemeaning the father is in the picture and present in the householdDad should take on the nightly bedtime story.
Now while Im glad that kids can reap a specific benefit from storytime with Dad, Im mildly irked that its this child-rearing taska task that, of all of the tasks one does with small kids, is one of the fun ones. Wheres the study that says that kids benefit when Dad is the one hunching over them clipping their little fingernails? Wheres the research that says that kids do better when dads crouch by the potty for an hour with a kid whos only going to take a dump in his underpants five minutes later? When will a scientist say kids are happier when Dad is the one who sorts through their clothes every three months, rotates in new clothes and stores the old? Hmmm? Okay, never.
I kid, I kid. Children do, in fact, benefit when dads are involved in the nitty-gritty of child-rearing, from diaper changing to attending Parents Night at the junior high. And more dads are more involved these days, though the bulk of domestic duties still fall to moms.
So why exactly do kids get so much out of reading with Dad? Is it the sonorous voice? The scratchy beard? No. According to the Harvard research, the way dads read to kids is just different from the way moms read. Dr. Elisabeth Duursma, the lead author on the study, writes in the Sydney Morning Herald:
When we looked more closely at what was happening during book reading interactions, we found that fathers used more abstract and complex language.
When sharing a book with their child, they would often link events in the book to a childs own experience. For example, when a ladder was discussed in the book, many fathers mentioned the last time they had used a ladder to climb up on the roof or use it for their work. Mothers did not do this. Mothers focused more on the details in the book and often asked children to label or count objects or identify colors.
Dr. Duursma notes that dads interact with their kids differently than mothers and that those differences can be hugely beneficialdads roughhousing with kids, for example, helps children sync physical action and mental concentration and helps them learn to regulate themselves. In our household, at least, its true that dad tends to be the roughhouser while mom is more of the chill cuddler.
Frankly, Id bet that the benefit here comes not only from the reading but from the one-on-one attention from Dad. Moms still spend twice as much time as dads on childcare per week; they also clock almost double the hours on housework. Dads still spend more time working outside of the home than moms do.
This is all gradually changing, of course, and I imagine
that both men and women are benefitting from less rigid
gender roles, allowing them to pursue lives that feel
authentic and satisfying. Reading a bedtime story to a child
ranks right up there on the authentic and
satisfying meter. Its great to have science
confirm what most families probably already know: Kids
benefit from nurturing dads too.
"A man is called a father the day his first born enters this world. In truth, the quest for fatherhood has just begun, and it will last a lifetime. Father is the proud young man filled with joy at the sight of his newborn, and the exhausted, frustrated caretaker of a baby, wide awake at 3 a.m. As the child grows, Father is the rule maker, and the rule breaker. He is the invincible hero to his son; the knight in shining armor to his daughter. Father is all powerful, all knowing, all wise and wonderful...until his child reaches adolescence. Now Father is patient and kind, loving and proud, helpful and understanding. Everything he wished his own father would be. Everything he wishes he could be. And when his son becomes a father, he will understand. Here, for every man striving to be a father he always wanted to be, are daily meditations offering understanding, compassion, reassurance and spiritual guidance on life's most exciting and rewarding journey - that of becoming a father." A Father's Book of the Spirit
"Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father." - Lydia M. Child
"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was." - Anne Sexton
"I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection."- Sigmund Freud
A father is a guy who has snapshots in his wallet where his money used to be.
"A man knows when he is growing old because he begins to look like his father."-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"If the new American father feels bewildered and even
defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever
he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent
chance of being right." - Bill Cosby
Marriage and fatherhood are two of the most exciting things that can happen to a man but getting married and becoming a Dad are like getting hit over the back of the head with a semi-trailer.
Enter author and speaker Dr Peter Downey, a self-confessed ordinary bloke, husband and dad who put pen to paper to write three "survival guides" for men who find themselves about to take the plunge into the often scary world of weddings, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, and life with babies and toddlers. His best-selling books, (published internationally by Simon and Schuster and Fisher Books) are well known for their practical advice and down-to-earth style. Here is an excerpt from his latest book, So You're Going to be a Dad.
Before we go further, I must make one point clear. The point is this. Childbirth is PAINFUL. Very. Very painful. God was not kidding when he said, "With pain you will give birth to children."
There is nothing in a man's natural span of life that even comes close to the searing agony which accompanies a baby tearing itself from its mother and into the world. Sure, there are industrial accidents involving heavy machinery and testicles, but there is nothing that inevitably lies in our biological routine. Unfortunately, we have fallen victim to pathetically unrealistic television portrayals of labour. These tend to convince us that labour is little more effort than a rigorous afternoon aerobics session. The hapless woman pants a few times, blows a few breaths between clenched teeth and then with a herculean effort and a final gasp, the screaming baby is born. The woman has merely shed a light sweat.
This is crap. Total and utter crap. If you think about it, childbirth is like trying to push a camel through the eye of a needle. The camel is very big. The needle is very small. The needle will experience a lot of pain. There is no such thing as painless childbirth. This concept only exists in the mind of males who are timelocked in the fifties. A few months ago, a friend of mine lent me a cassette - it was one of those motivational ones by some American business guru. There is one phenomenal part of the tape where he says in a thick Texan drawl, "With thuh burth of mah furst chahld, my wahf and ah had uh paaynless layburr." I played this to my wife. She didn't think it was very funny.
I mean, not only did this fool believe that labour could be naturally painless, but he also had the audacity to assume that it was his labour as well. Although I'm not a medical giant, I am a veteran of almost three births now and think its fairly safe for me to claim that generally speaking, childbirth is not really very physically painful for the male.
That is, unless your wife grabs a soft fleshy bit and twists it just to let you know how she's feeling. This next story may help you come to terms with the pain of childbirth. Soon after I found out that my wife and I were going to be parents, I naturally became quite inquisitive and anxious about the whole labour process. But aside from textbooks, I had no source of information.
Then, one day at an afternoon tea, we met an old friend who had just had a baby herself. What a perfect opportunity ! Unashamedly, and in retrospect stupidly, I opened our conversation by asking her if childbirth was "painful". The look on her face betrayed the fact that quite clearly she knew that I was the most stupid man on earth. Fixing me in her steely stare, she began our conversation: "Imagine that you are holding an umbrella." Mmmm, OK so far, I thought to myself. "Now," she said, pausing for dramatic effect, "insert it into your penis."
At this, my legs involuntarily crossed and my eyes began
to water. I tried to break eye contact, but she could see
that her words were cutting me like a knife. She held me in
her gaze and pushed on mercilessly. "Now open the umbrella,"
she hissed. With alarm bells clanging loudly in my head, I
staggered to my feet in a feeble attempt to escape the
anguish I felt in my groin. But there was no escape. She
grasped my arm and snarled in my ear, "Now pull it out. Yank
it.... hard." She was revelling in the paralysing effects of
her words. And her words had had the desired effect. "That's
what childbirth is like," she snickered as I hobbled off. In
that one single moment, I had a slight glimmer of the pain
of childbirth. Taken from "So You're Going to be a Dad" See
German Ad Doesn't Need Words To Speak Volumes About Supporting Your Kids
Being a teenager is hard. But having parents who go the extra mile to show their support can make a big difference.
That's the message behind a new commercial for German
home improvement chain Hornbach. In the ad, we see a teen
girl dressed in all black who feels a little out of place in
her suburban high school environment. At the end of the day,
she returns to her house and finds her dad doing something
amazing to make his daughter feel more at home. (Click
for the 1:40 video)
(Be sure to check out the photos that go with each father type.)
Quick, what are the first thoughts that come to mind when you think about dads?
Yikes, let's hope not, because that couldn't be further from the truth.
For starters, many modern dads are loving, nurturing, attentive, and intrinsically motivated to be helpful.
When our babies decide to, you know, empty themselves on themselves, we jump on top of those dirty diapers faster than a linebacker jumps on a fumble in the end zone.
Why? It's not because we want to be fair to our spouses. It's simply because we want to.
So is that a big deal? Not really.
The beauty of fatherhood today is we (modern dads) have zero interest in winning awards for doing what we're supposed to do as parents, but we definitely want the world to know that we exist.
Dads do care. See how these 13 men demonstrate how they embrace the role of "dad."
1. We have the tools to get the job done.
2. We're always up for a game of peekaboo.
3. We handle the grocery shopping.
4. We believe in love at first sight.
5. We speak the truth.
6. We know that blood isn't as strong as love.
7. We know exactly how to unwind after a long day.
8. We follow directions.
9. We know that the lines between work and play are often blurred.
10. We know that saying goodbye to our kids is never easy.
11. We're creative.
12. We know that our bodies serve as excellent pillows.
13. We cherish every moment. Especially the quiet ones.
The way we do things may not be mom's way" or even the right way," but it's our way.
No matter how you slice it, the world is a better place
because of the dads who strive to do the best they can for
the tiny humans in their lives.
More awesome dad videos
Last year, we reported the work of Gina Cuen and her team just outside of Mexico City. Gina, a counselor and parent, had read The Wonders of Boys: What parents, mentors and educators can do to shape boys into exceptional men and formed a local council to put into operation a principle of the book and our nature-based theory: the secure construction of a three family system ("tribe") out of local resources. Gina and her team of men and women developed a local program for uniting nuclear families, extended families, and community mentors into the "Batsi" tribe. This is grass-roots, organic, family development work, and I am honored to be a small part of this. Please read their template for healthy fathering and family life. As families dissolve all around us, new families also emerge. The Batsi tribe is an example of a new kind of family.
Here is Gina's latest email and document. Thank you. - Michael Gurian
Tomorrow will be a special day in Mexico as we´ll celebrate Teacher´s Day, and despite the distance I needed to say that you will find it a nice gift to know that the Batsi tribe is still alive!... this is our second year running and we are working with 28 families and a Patriarchs Council formed by 6 families that stayed from the first generation. I also started a womens tribe under the name of Xnutsi (which means girl in a local dialect), it is a small tribe but moms and daughters are finding it really special.
I decided to write the letter you'll find attached, which I hope shows what I have learned from your books and my experience in our Tribe so far.
Her letter follows:
Dear Father of Family,
We are the Batsi Tribe, a community of families in which we have proposed to recover the fathers mission within family circle and which, thanks to the wisdom of men like Michael Gurian, we understand as equally sacred to the role of the mother. Above all, it is indispensible for the construction of mankind, exceptional men and women, capable of generating the best version of themselves.
To discuss the importance of fatherhood, we would like to share a reflection about something written more than 2 thousand years ago by a wise King named David. He dedicated a prayer of praise to God addressing Him as his shepherd. It begins by saying, The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing . (Psalm 23)
This image of a shepherd, simple and profound at the same time, has inspired us in this journey of understanding parenting. What would happen, for example, if from the heart we were to utter the words, my father is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Its possible that the soul would resonate with arising feelings of security and confidence that we desire to have in life. As fathers, we should strive to achieve conveying this to our children.
We know that its impossible to arrive at a precise definition of fatherhood, however, following this image of a shepherd we have conceived a fathers sacred mission as having 3 basic functions: Provider, Protector, and Guide.
Provider, because the father as shepherd is responsible for bringing his sheep to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul...As the provider it is important to .
Protector, the sheperd possesses the rod and staff which provide security for children to make their way in life, meet others, face the world and their adventures and cross fearlessly through dark places. As protector, it is important for the father to provide .
Guide, the father is like the shepherd who walks ahead of his sheep, not behind because they may become dispersed and lost, he knows them by name making each and everyone unique and special, and children follow him because they hear his voice, a voice that is caring, consistent, and recognized as the source of authority and trust, able to keep the herd together as a holy brotherhood. As a guide, the father .
To conclude, we would like to mention that this is not
intended as a model to follow, but simply words to show what
we have learned thus far as a tribe and that we hope will
inspire other fathers in search of purpose.
Bullying has gotten a lot of buzz lately, which is no wonder, as nearly one in three students report that theyve been faced with the problem at school, according to StopBullying.org, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicess anti-bullying website. Add to it the steady stream of headlines pointing to a tee suicide or school shooting linked to relentless bullying and its clear that something has to give.
So what can we as parents do to try and keep our kids from becoming bullies? Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician and author of books including Strong Mothers, Strong Sons: Lessons Mothers Need to Raise Extraordinary Men, sketched out five ways to cultivate kind kids, not bullies.
1: Be a do-gooder.
From an early age, teach your kids how to be considerate of other people and model that charitable spirit in front of them. When you bring a housebound neighbor a meal, bring your kids with you, Meeker suggested. During the holidays, make volunteering an activity the entire family does together. When parents actively involve children in projects that involve helping others, children learn how to be compassionate from an early age.
2: Model humility.
In short, your goal should be to teach your kids that all men, women and children have equal value as humans. Humility doesnt mean behaving like a doormat or having low self-esteem, she said. On the contrary, it means understanding that were not more important that others and that they are no more important than we are.
3: Dial down the competition.
If you teach your kids to compete with their friends and peers or push your kids to outshine other kids, youre the one who is ultimately responsible should they begin acting like a bully. As we know, parents can become more aggressive than their kids, putting down their childrens friends, teammates and competitors in sports, and this teaches kids that their desires are more important than anyone elses, Meeker explained. By being pushed to outshine others, kids do whatever they can to make themselves look better, which often leads to bullying behavior.
4: If you see bullying in action, handle it.
If your child is already behaving like a bully, nip it in the bud. Most parents see their children through rose-colored glasses and fail to see bad behavior because they feel that if their kids misbehave, theyre bad parents, she said. This isnt true, but parents must first and foremost see their kids as realistically as possible.
5: Trace back to the roots of all bullying.
What we know about bullying is that it tends to stem
either from a low self-esteem or a sense of entitlement.
Address this with your child and ask why hes
hurting others through either his speech or behavior,
Meeker said. If entitlement is the issue, then you
need to work with your child to help him understand that
nothing comes to people without effort.
I am sorry if the title of this post shocks you, or strikes you as harsh or over-dramatic. But honestly, parents dont realize what theyre asking of their LGBTQI kids. And they dont realize what their rejection is doing to them.
This is not about inclusion. This is a matter of life and death.
By making their children stick to their own expectations and standards for them whether they really think their gay child is going to hell or honestly are just ashamed of them parents are asking their kids to change something inherent, something that son or daughter cant change. No matter how much they pray or plead. Its just not happening.
And the message that sends is absolutely devastating. It tells our kids (young, teens or adults) that they are broken, not okay, for whatever reason.
Its plain wrong. And it can be tragic.
The suicide statistics for LGBTQI youth is alarming 40% of gay youth contemplate suicide, 50% of transgender youth 4 to 5 times the rate for their straight peers. And gay youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as gay peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
I have been in dialogue with a close friend about my support and affirmation of gays, and I am heartsick. We are going to meet for coffee, to see if we can find any common ground. She follows Jesus too, so that should be our common ground. But people get disjointed about this, bent out of shape, worked up.
She has already expressed her deep disapproval in me. I am simply loving without condition, which my main job in life (and its hers, too!). To even think about meeting with her makes me queasy, but I must speak up for those who deserve to be spoken for.
Just imagine the one who IS gay. How do they feel? Having to discuss this with a family member who doesnt approve, and other family members, and friends, and church, and society. No wonder this is so hard to walk through. No wonder they feel so alone, because they essentially are so alone.
Family we are supposed to love and support each other no matter what. If our own family wont do that, how does that impact our confidence that anyone else can?
Imagine the depth of the shame of a child rejected, condemned, shunned by parents. Or the shame that comes from parents who just tolerate their gay child, but the child clearly knows the parents are disgusted by who they are.
And imagine a parent conveying the message that God too is ashamed and disgusted?
Shame is not a good motivator, its a horrible motivator that can destroy a persons heart and spirit. Shame only makes a person feel fundamentally defective, and no one has the right to do that to someone else.
EVERYONE deserves to be treated as a human being. Even people you might disagree with.
I know this can be hard. Please dont go through it alone. Seek out people to talk to people who will support and encourage you people who will affirm, accept and love your gay child, and you too.
I have private Moms groups on social media, Rob has a Dads group. Contact us about those.
I am so proud of you for reading this. It may be the first step in making the decision to err on the side of love, to affirm your child. You may have saved their life.
I promise you that it does get better. The answers will come. Just take the next step, and find someone to take it with you.
I am here if you need me.
We know of way too many families who kicked out, condemned, rejected, shunned and shamed their gay child in Jesus name, claiming they were speaking for God and who lost their child to suicide or drug abuse.
Please. Dont. Just dont. Dont drive your child over the edge.
Every one of us would regret that for every single day of the rest of our lives.
Breathe. Love them for who they are. Err on the side of love. Trust God with all the rest.
Its what they deserve because they are human and because they are your precious child. No matter what.
Just love. Please.
One of the worst things you can do as a dad is play with your children when you really, really don't want to. Why? Because your lack of interest will leak through your insincere grin. Kids can pick up on the fact that Dad is distant and seems kind of mad, and it must be something they did and bam, we're talking self-esteem problems that last a lifetime.
So we have to figure out quick ways to show our deep, abiding love for our kids without actually having to interact with them much. Here are a few ideas for maximizing the "you matter" message in minimal minutes.
Leave a Note
If you're up and out before they get up, leave messages in their cereal bowls. Before they can read, a funny drawing will do. And after, even a one-liner is proof that Dad was thinking of them. That, all by itself, is a paternal endorsement. It makes them feel important to you.
Get Sleepy With Sendak
I know, you'd much rather catch the end of Cards-Cubs, but make yourself read to them in bed before they go to sleepjust for 10 minutes or so, five nights out of seven. First, once you surrender to it, it actually is relaxing; a kid in the crook of your arm lowers your blood pressure. Second, the physical closeness synchs heartbeats and knits you together. Third, books are a common ground, which isn't easy to find between little children and grown men. And finally, they'll get better grades later on, so you'll spend less money on tutors.
Every Saturday, have breakfast with the kids. It can be
pancakes at homecomplete with strawberries and
M&M'sor a ritual at the diner. "How but in custom
and in ceremony," wrote Yeats, "are innocence and beauty
Can paternity leave save you from the terrible twos? Children with fathers who spend significant amounts of time with them during their first year of life exhibit less unwanted, uncontrolled behavior at age two, according to a new study.
Kristin Berg Nordhal, a social worker at The Norwegian Centre for Child Behavioural Development in Oslo, recently published her PhD thesis from the University of Bergen. Her research shows that fathers who are able to interact regularly and positively with their infants in that crucial early time have a clear influence on the childs development. Fathers often become more involved in parenting after the first months of their childrens lives while mothers take a more active role in infant care as they usually have more time at home with the baby. But Nordahls thesis findings support the idea that new fathers time at home ought to be prioritized as well.
Fathers should be entitled to spend more time with their children, and they should be entitled to guidance in order to enhance the quality of the interaction between father and child, Nordhal said in an interview with the Kilden Information Centre for Gender Research in Norway. She hopes her research will lead to more practical ways for fathers to be included in childrens daily care during year one.
Erin M. Rehel, a former sociology professor and consultant at The Advisory Board Company whose studies focus on how fathers experience work-family conflict, agrees that it is especially important for fathers to play an active role in parenting during a childs very early life and its beneficial to the whole family. Leave-taking at the beginning addresses the opportunity for mothers and fathers to learn, at the same time, how to be parents, she tells Yahoo Parenting. Rehel explains that the idea that moms naturally know how to take care of the baby is often just a matter of exposure they put in the work. Yes, breastfeeding is biological, but the rest of it? Not so much. Anyone whos ever changed a diaper knows it doesnt come naturally its weird, she says. You learn how to do it and you become quicker. Theres no gender predisposition to being better at diapering.
Plus, when fathers are involved from the beginning in the basic care work of feeding, bathing and changing their babies, they tend to have more confidence and are able to stay more involved going forward because they learn to do everything that moms do. According to Rehel, everyone is afraid theyll break the tiny new baby in the beginning, but moms are conditioned to get in there right away. If dads do that too, by always taking on bath time, for example, theyre more likely to know the babys not going to break and it becomes natural for them to spend that time together.
Nordahls research points to the importance of positive interactions between fathers and infants, and Rehel suggests that being intentional about giving dads time and space to master newborn care can foster those quality interactions. If the mothers home with the baby, shell be better at soothing him at first, and its easier when a babys crying to have the person whos best at soothing do it all the time, she says. But then youre undermining the fathers chance to learn and reinforcing the fact that the baby is more comfortable with the mom.
Its not easy to listen to a baby crying or to watch
someone learning how to do things like change diapers and
calm tears. You have to be intentional and committed
to it even in moments that are more uncomfortable and
challenging, stresses Rehel. If you dont
give dads the opportunity to do, they wont
learn. In other words, trading discomfort in the short
term (maybe it takes the secondary parent a little longer to
soothe the baby initially) for long-term benefits (both
parents feel competent soothing the little one) works
When Junior does something disturbing, fixing it depends on your actions and reactions.
Temper your reactions
When something disturbs you about your child -- a drawing, an attraction to guns, a violent fantasy -- don't outwardly freak. "It's instinctive to respond to images of violence with fear and anger, and to have a desire to suppress them," says Gerard Jones, a media-studies advisor for MIT and author of Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence. "Think past that knee-jerk reaction and poke a little bit at what's going on. And don't make kids feel that they can't speak up. When you have an angry adolescent, you don't want to make him feel cut off and disliked."
Remember, your kids are not you
Some parents wonder, If these violent images disturb me, why don't they disturb my child? "We want to believe that kids are more sensitive and innocent than we are," says Jones. "Accept that kids go through a callous period, acting tough and insensitive. Just because they're in a different place now doesn't mean they're not going to grow up to share your core values later. A 10-year-old doesn't think like a 30-year-old. We shouldn't ask him to."
Understand what they're trying to learn
"Whether it's in a video game or in real physical play, make-believe is a kid's way of controlling something that can be scary if it's uncontrolled," says Jones. "If you're not letting kids learn that they can control it, then the thoughts and imaginings grow even bigger."
Help them distinguish between fantasy and reality
"In a wild game, it's not that hard to go from having fun
to getting angry and wanting to inflict pain," says Jones.
"That's one of the functions of make-believe violence:
learning how to modulate, be aggressive and conflictive, and
take a risk without forgetting that boundary. Which is a
pretty good life skill. Kids learn by doing, not just by
Always the work week after Father's Day, it's a time to share with your children what you do in the world and what keeps you away from home so much. Leaving the house each day with a brief case or tool box or lunch box isn't enough. We believe that mothers and fathers should take both sons and daughters to work to experience the reality of the workplace for their parents and support both sons and daughters in getting a closer picture of what their parents do all day. So, if you have children, make it a point this week to give them the experience of you on the job and get them involved in your work where safe. (Any day this week Hopefully you do this with your kids more than once a year!) There are other options, not alternatives, but options. Read about Daughters and Sons programs.
Want to take you child to Canada or Mexico, not much has changed. Those countries already require that children under 18 who are entering alone or with only one parent or guardian have notarized permission from the absent parent. An important change is coming in late 2000. In order to obtain a passport for a child 13 or younger, both parents will have to sign the application in person. If one parent can't be present, he or she will have to provide an affidavit granting permission. This legislation is going into effect to deter international child abductions.
Getting or renewing a U.S. passport to travel the world is as simple as getting a couple of photos taken, get proof of citizenship (birth certificate) and a photo ID, scrape up $60 for a new adult passport (age 16 and older), $40 for renewal, and $40 for a child's passport and ask your local post office where the closest location is that is designated to handle passport applications for the State Department.
No regulations or fees have changed in the past year, but
this change is coming. General passport information is
available 24 hours a day from the National Passport
Information Center for a fee of 35 cents a minute, charged
to the caller's phone. It takes about seven minutes to hear
all of the general information. 900.225.5674. Forms and
information also can be accessed from the State Department's
Internet site: travel.state.gov
and click on Passport Information. You can obtain forms from
the web site or at the post office. Bon voyage.
(Editor: This is most of the text. The full story was reported to be at: www.dailysouthtown.com/southtown/dsbiz/051bd5.htm, which we could not access so removed the hyperlink. This story had been reported as having gotten LOADS of press -- however, 6 of the 9 major daily newspapers said to have carried the story, did not have active links. We left the links but removed the hyperlink to them at the end of the story.)
NEW YORK - There were snide comments and many, many jokes. And when Maryland state trooper Kevin Knussman won his four-year legal fight this week against the bosses who denied him parental leave, only a couple of colleagues called to congratulate him. Knussman's victory highlights the rights of working fathers to take time off with their babies. But his isolation shows how balancing a job and a family remains a silent struggle for many men. "Much of the progress is still going on underground," says James Levine, a leading researcher on fatherhood and co-author of the book "Working Fathers."
Fearing - often with reason - that they'll be labeled slackers, fathers cobble together sick days and vacation time to create leave time after a baby is born. When they want to go to a school play, they dash for the door, under cover of attending a "late meeting."
Ben, a New York city money manager and father of a 3-month-old, carefully left his computer on and his desk lamp lit not too long ago when he took his wife to the hospital for a sonogram. "It made it look like I was still there," said Ben, who refused to be further identified, fearing for his career. "Plus, it made me feel better."
Over the years, attitudes have changed. Asked 15 years ago how much unpaid parental leave time was reasonable for men to take, 63 percent of business leaders at large companies said, "none." Even 40 percent of executives at companies with a parental leave policy at the time nixed the idea of actually using it, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit group that studies women in business.
Today, half a million men take some sort of parental leave each year to care for a new child, under the auspices of the 1993 federal Family and Medical Leave Act. That compares with 1.4 million women. A total of 20 million people have taken leave under the federal law, which says all employers with 50 or more workers must allow up to 12 unpaid weeks off to care for a new baby or seriously ill family member. The law also allows workers to use sick time and vacation so they can get paid during their leave.
Knussman, a helicopter paramedic, sued the state police after he was denied 12 weeks paid leave following the birth of his daughter in 1994. He was given 10 paid days off, but sought more time because his wife experienced childbirth complications.
On Tuesday, a jury awarded him $375,000 in damages for mental anguish, in the first sex discrimination case under the Family Leave act. Attorneys for the state police said they may appeal. "There's still a presumption that women are going to be the primary caretaker," said Sara Mandelbaum, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who represented Knussman. "Those attitudes are hard to change, especially in a male-dominated organization like the state police."
Some companies do encourage fathers to take parental leaves - and more men are taking them. AT&T offers new parents up to a year, unpaid, with a guaranteed job upon return. About one man takes advantage of the program for every 18 women. That's up from a 1-to-400 ratio a decade ago.
Howard Nathanson, an AT&T computer analyst, says his coworkers and bosses fully supported his decision to take nine months parental leave in 1996. "There was never any grief about this," he said. But for other men, obstacles, both perceived and real, prevent their making use of work-family programs.
Not only do men fear career trouble or teasing if they openly make family a priority, but they feel, sometimes rightly so, that work-family programs are mainly pitched to women.
Money also plays a role. A few companies, including Merrill Lynch and the software maker Lotus Development Corp., offer paid leaves for men. But most don't, and since men are major breadwinners, it's hard for them to take unpaid time off.
Nathanson and his wife, for example, both felt strongly that one parent should be home with their daughter for a year. Since she earns two-thirds of the household income, he stayed home. "Financially, I wasn't burned by the fact that if I took off, there goes the family income," he said.
For now, many men choose to do what they can, when they can. Clark Adams, chief executive officer of Needham, Mass.-based Mulberry Child Care Centers, says fathers pick up or drop off 25 percent of children at the company's 55 centers daily, and more are serving on parent advisory committees.
Still, Knussman is glad he took a stand. After he filed his suit, the state police gave him a full 12 paid weeks off following the birth of his second child.
"Biting the hand that feeds you is never easy," he said by telephone as his daughters giggled in the background. But taking three months off was "just a great, great time. I will never, ever regret that."
Editor: around 30 years ago, some research was done. Adults were asked what areas of the house they would have a fire extinguisher. They said the kitchen or garage. Kids were asked the same question. Can you guess their answer? Their bedroom. Ever since, every bedroom in my house has a ABC fire extinguisher that could get someone through the flames in the hall way and to safety. And 8 years old, she knew how to carry and work a 25 lb. ABC fire extinguisher. She also knew how to break the glass out of her bedroom window, hook up a rope later, and climb down from her second story bedroom. It's better to deal with the fear of height before an emergency. It also builds self-esteem when she makes it through the fear and down the ladder. Think about it.
Have a Fire Drill. Each year more than 1,000 youngsters 9
and under die in home fires. To safeguard your family,
follow these tips. Make a family escape plan: Draw a
floor plan of your house, identify two escape routes from
each room, and mark them with Xs. Post the plan on the
refrigerator or bulletin board. Choose a meeting
place: Pick a safe spot away from the house where
family members can meet. Mark this spot on your plan. Hold a
dress rehearsal: Adults and children 5 and older should
leave immediately using the designated exits. Younger kids
should stand by a window and wait for a parent or
firefighter to get them. Practice going to the meeting spot
and reiterate that each family member should wait there
until everyone arrives. Also, be sure to update your escape
route regularly. Parents
Tips & Tricks
According to information from the Stepfamily Foundation, Inc.:
Therefore, we have already become a nation of
step-relating individuals. However, most graduate schools of
psychiatry, psychology, and social work provide no specific
training in dealing with these particular dynamics of
stepfamilies. Often, the methods and information appropriate
to the nuclear family can be destructive ...if applied to
the highly specific dynamics of the stepfamily system.
According to Elizabeth Carter, ACSW, Family Institute of
Westchester, "Our culture provides no guidelines...It is our
experience that this is one of the most difficult
transitions for families to negotiate." Carter continues,
"Our cultural forms, rituals and assumptions still relate
chiefly to the intact, first marriage family, and the most
ordinary event, such as filling out a form or celebrating a
holiday, can become a source of acute embarrassment or
discomfort for members of remarried families." Stepfamily
Foundation, Inc., 333 West End Ave, New York, NY 10023
212.877.3244, Fax 212.362.7030/ 24 hour information line
Also, Stepfamily Assoc of Am, 215 Centennial Mall S #212,
Lincoln, NE 68508 - 800.735.0329. See books for stepfathers.
While the magazine advertising for Procter & Gamble's new Stay Clear Clearasil product is fairly innocuous (1), their new television commercials demonstrate how deeply ingrained the attitude of "putting people down so that somehow I will feel better than you because I'm really trying to stick you with thoughts I have about myself that I don't want to take responsibility for" is, P&G has taken it to a new low. It just isn't the jocks and cheerleaders shaming the geeks and the geeks get their revenge (see Sticks & Stones). Now, a major corporation is playing on this "attitude" to sell this product to the teen/preteen market. In it, it looks like the sister loans her brother her Stay Clear with the line "You can use this, but you'll still be ugly." Like the No Fear clothing line encouraging young boys to deny their fear and end up doing dumb, dangerous, unnecessary things, P&G is encouraging put down attitudes, especially against teens that have acne problems. We lodged a complaint with P&Gs customer service department (800.981.1841) but haven't received a response. You might want to join forces to leave them with an impression that maybe there is more than one person out there who finds their advertising offensive. John E. Pepper is the CEO of the parent company Procter & Gamble, PO Box 599, Cincinnati, OH 45201-0599. 800.981.1841. The product is produced by Richardson-Vicks, Inc., Personal Care Products Division, same address. The advertising agency that recommended this approach is DMB&B Company, Inc., 1675 Broadway, New York, NY 10019-5865.
The trend of strange continues in the facial care
category with another product designed to fight acne -
pHisoderm 4 way Daily Acne Cleanser (2). It uses the
headline "It's better to use" and shows a young woman with a
"Zit Be Gone" construction grade disk sander to remove the
zits from her face. Has the advertising industry lost its
ability to reach our youth creatively without violent or
abusive images. Apparently so.
More and more parents are finding themselves faced with their children asking about body piercing or doing it in private. Based on nationwide anecdotal evidence, body piercing - eyebrows, nose, tongue, chin, navel and genitals - is on the rise among teenagers. Piercing is not new. There have been people doing these piercings for hundreds for thousands of years. Certain tribes in African and North America were doing piercing long ago, as well as European sailors and carnival performers. Today, however, it is teens and young adults drawn to the piecing frenzy in droves. In some cases they are dangerously piercing themselves in order to wear the shiny body adornments so craved by their generation. Self-piercing is more prevalent today then ever before. Although it carries with it risks of self-mutilation, infection and serious complications, teens often have a cavalier attitude toward piercing their own body parts. They think they are invulnerable and think that nothing bad can happen to me. A sense of thrill or risk-taking can make self-piercing seem like an acceptable adventure, similar to the thrills of bungee jumping and drag racing in teens of previous generations. It may also seem like the only alternative to teens whose parents won't give permission for a piercing.
Where to Pierce: Oral piercing, the practice of inserting adornments in the tongue (most common site), lips, cheeks or a combination of oral sites would be obsolete if it rested solely in the hands of the American Dental Association. Citing oral piercing as a public health hazard, the ADA passed a resolution opposing the practice. The risk of the procedure includes pain, infection, scarring, a permanent hole or semi-permanent hold, and social stigma. During a tongue piercing a needle is used to insert a barbell-shaped piece of jewelry through the tongue mid line. Symptoms following a piercing may include pain, swelling, infection and increased salivary flow. Healing requires four to six weeks, in the absence of complications. There is no anesthesia during the procedure. The National Institutes of Health have identified oral piercing as a possible conveyance for blood borne hepatitis transmission, says Dr. Timothy Rose, president of the ADA. Other problems associated with oral piercing include tooth trauma, interference with chewing and speaking, hypersensitivity to metals, foreign debris in the piercing site, allergic reactions, altered taste buds and breathing difficulties due to swallowing the adornment. The ADA's resolution calls for ongoing review of scientific literature on oral piercing and public education programs on risk.
The Law: In California, teens must be 18 years of age (ID required) or have parental permission for body piercing. Piercing establishments are required to register with the state for licensing purposes, as well as have annual health inspections. Inspections check sterilization equipment and piercing tools and help to ensure the cleanliness and safety of each studio. Unregistered practitioners are subject to civil penalties.
If you've given the green light on body adornment or your teen is of legal age, make sure they do their homework. Only a professional should perform the piercing. And, understand the risks: possible transmission of hepatitis, HIV an other blood-borne pathogens. Have the teen locate piercers in the area. Talk with people who have had a piercing done, and find out who did them. Check out examples of a piercer's work. Meet the piercer's clients. Discuss techniques. Ear-piercing guns should never be used to pierce anything other than ear lobes. And, ask questions. A legitimate piercer will be happy to address your concerns. Get concise written instructions for the aftercare of the piercing - before the procedure.
Costs: The cost of piercing procedures varies widely, but expect to pay between $25 and $45 for above-the-waist piercing, and $35 to $55 for below-the-waist procedures. Jewelry is additional and is available in many styles, but should be smooth with no rough edges and made of inert, nontoxic substances. Surgical stainless steel, pure gold, and titanium are among the choices available for a new piercing. Piercing jewelry is personal and should not be exchanged or reused on others. Make sure you do not receive used jewelry.
The Future: Today, body art has stamped its
legacy on the teens of the '90s. Pierced tongues and navels
and shiny adornments stabbed through various body parts are
considered desirable. We adults, tough, still find it hard
to let our offspring exhibit an individuality that differs
from our perceptions of acceptability. As parents, we will
take great pleasure in anticipating the trends of our
children's children. Our grandchildren will one day torture
these body-pierced teens with their own brand of
individuality, as each subsequent generation makes its mark
on the world. See also Tattoos.
According to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, single-parent families headed by a male more than doubled from 1980 to 1993. A 1993 study at the University of Wisconsin has revealed that father-only families are the fastest growing family type in the U.S. If you're a newlywed planning to start a family, be advised that there is a significant possibility that you will be divorced before your kids reach ten years old. Your chances of obtaining full or joint custody of your children will be increased if you become involved in their lives from the start. Of course, it is hoped that you will be deeply involved for the pure pleasure and joy of it.
A bill currently before the Senate would entitle home-spouses to set up IRA accounts similar to their employed partners. Currently, dual-income married couples can each save $2,000 a year in a tax-deductible IRA. In one-wage families, only $2,250 can be saved annually - $2,000 from the wage-earner and $250 from the at-home spouse. Let your senator and representative know what you think. Senate version S 1669, House version H 4215.
As children become aware of the world around them - walking down the street, playing in the park, watching TV - they come across all sorts of things they don't understand. They wonder about the unkept man curled up in a doorway, the lady in a wheelchair or TV reports of a frightening kidnaping. They want to know if "it" will happen to them.
It's our job to interpret the world for our children on a level they can understand. But being an interpreter can be a tall order when we're not comfortable with the very things they are most curious about. And sometimes it can be downright embarrassing, exasperating or frustrating.
To young children, all questions are the same. They're just looking for information. "Why is that lady in the red dress fat?" is no different to a three-year-old than "What's in that pretty box?"
Most parents cringe when their child points out someone with an obvious disability. Be clear, honest and true in your response but don't give any more information than the question requires. And don't reprimand your child for staring or looking at a person with a disability. It's probably your discomfort and you can use their questions to help you learn empathy. How else is a child going to learn about people who are different if they don't ask questions? Besides, the more opportunity a child has to experience difference and diversity, the more accepting and tolerant the child will become as an adult.
Usually the questions we perceive as difficult are the ones that push our buttons, the ones that make us aware of our own anxieties. It is vitally important for parents to make the effort to control their emotions and not project their own fears and discomfort on to their children. We often want to shelter our children from unpleasant subjects like homelessness, poverty, death and violence. Children learn more than we wish they did from radio and TV, from talking to friends and from observing people on the street. If we don't answer their questions, it leaves a void that children will fill with their own imaginations. When that happens, children frequently come up with scenarios or fantasies about themselves because they have no other context for their concerns. If they see someone begging on the street, it's easy to imagine themselves in the same situation and become scared.
What should I teach about strangers? The relentless media coverage of the Kevin Collins and Polly Klaas cases had a deep impact, raising fears in parents as well as children. When questions about such cases arise, parents have an opportunity to both educate and reassure their children. Putting the Polly Klaas case into perspective is important. Although you can't make a blanket promise that nothing like this will happen to them, abductions are quite rare.
Strike a balance between concern for personal safety and raising children who are afraid to go out into the world. You don't want them to become so frightened that they assume anybody who says "good afternoon" is going to do them harm. On the other hand, you don't want them to be so trusting that they disregard potential risks.
Make a clear rule that you and your child really stick to: Do not talk to strangers unless Mom or Dad is right there. The key is to teach children to recognize the unlikely but real danger a stranger might pose, while still allowing them to exchange pleasantries in safe situations.
When your child asks difficult questions, it's important
not to deny or belittle the feelings that prompted the
question. The goal is to respond honestly giving children
the tools they need to feel empowered rather than
When mom and dad have different ideas on what to do when it comes to the kids, from what their child should wear, to when their child should come home, and so on, communication usually stalls. This is a nice way of saying, you aren't talking to each other! When this happens, both parents can feel frustrated and often argue. Fussing and fighting isn't the way to livefor you or for your kids. Let's have a new goalto reach a place where both people have power and are listened too. Sound crazy? We think not...
Whether it's communicating with your spouse, former spouse, son or daughter, problem solving like the list that follows will leave both parties feeling satisfied. Use these steps to help solve problems between you, your wife, your ex-wife, or heck, try this with your kids too!
1) Name the problem
Write it down. Seriously, have you ever been arguing for a extended period of time, and there doesn't seem to be an end to the bickering? It's probably because one or both of you lost sight of the real problem. Work on only one problem at a time. You can't fix everything overnight. Agree at the start on one problem to try and solve, then attack that one problem, not EVERY problem!
2) Decide who owns the problem
Is someone doing something you or someone else doesnt approve of, but does not see it as a problem? Is the problem yours or someone elses? More than one person can own a problem. It's important to discern and accept responsibilities for said problem before moving to the next step.
3) Discuss why the problem needs to be solved
This step can be the hardest one of all if the problem is someones behavior. For example, someones behavior is harming someone else and it needs to stop. This step also takes a lot of listening from both sides. The person creating the problem is generally the one who isn't as willing to listen. Try and be sure that person isn't you this time!
4) List what's been done to try and solve the problem
Write them down if the person has tried a lot of things. This process can go a long way in showing how much both parties care about fixing the problem. This also provides a great road map to what hasn't or doesn't work such that you can try something new to solve the problem. Which leads us to this...
5) Brainstorm new ways to solve the problem
They must be realistic ideas. Write them down if there are a lot of them and use the ideas during the next step. Discuss pros and cons for each idea.
6) Make a decision
Its okay if there is more than one solution. If the problem is owned by one person, let that person pick. If it is owned by more than one person, like the entire family, have those people agree on what to do. Remember, this isn't a dictatorship no matter how badly you might try for it to be.
If you brainstorm ideas and one or more of them dont offer a clear way to solve the problem, go through the first three steps again to figure out the problem, see who owns it, and why it needs to be solved.
You could get stuck on Step 6 if you and the person
involved doesn't have your ideas about the right way to
solve the problem.
A Fox Television Special ran on Father's Day, 1999 called "Bad Dads". It is said to be a powerful documentary featuring an extraordinary parenting program which is having remarkable success in turning "bad dads" into responsible, caring fathers. And, while I applaud such a film, it's sad that good fathers have to once again watch the press look at the negative fathers on their day. When was the last time you saw a "Bad Mom" special on Mother's Day. I don't think NOW's South Carolina Chapter making Sue Smith Woman of the Year, is quite what I was thinking.
In our high velocity culture, its all too easy for dads to get so swept up into the providing role that we miss the real heart and soul of our childrens infancies and toddlerhoods. Some of us allow ourselves to believe they dont really need us that much until they can effectively throw a ball or do a pirouette. Others seek consolation in the thought of providing opportunities for their kids' futures such as college. Maybe I was a bit of a renegade but all I could feel when I looked at my gurgling boy, Ben, was that I needed him as much as he needed me right now. Career had to wait in line. His mom and I took on a sandwich route in Los Angeles because either one of us could work it. So, we alternated through the montha week each hanging out with Ben followed by a week hawking our goodies to the stock brokers in the Pacific Exchange.
When we started the route, Ben was not quite a toddler but more a teeterer and lurcher, requiring his own security force. During my weeks home with him, we did a lot of veering from wall to wall. We also spent hours crawling around on the floor playing, singing and dancing. We dug lots of holes in the dirt, started a garden, captured whole nations of snails under the nasturtium and released them into someone elses yard after intense interrogations. We sat on the sidewalk watching the ants go marching one by one, hurrah! Sallying forth into the neighborhood, architecture, trees, shrubs and flowers became the objects of our affection. We rated displays in store windows, made friends with the local merchants, examined imported objects from everywhere, studied trucks, cars and bicycles. I was his trusty steed as he happily rode my shoulders and hips through successive adventures. In the playgrounds, the magic of the swing, the ball, the stick, the flag and the kite became known to us. We splashed and squealed through countless baths together and often took naps so deep, the thunder god himself couldnt wake us.
These were days of pure poetry. They gave Ben a much stronger start in life than most of his little playmates. They gave me immeasurable gratification and growth as a man and, Im convinced, broadened my ultimate capacity for assertiveness and entrepreneurship much later downstream when I finally did focus on my career. For my money, deep, connected fathering is a far better school for business leadership development than Harvard or Wharton. Whats more, we dont necessarily owe our kids $40,000 a year college educations certainly not if were going to sacrifice a critical phase of our relationship with them to save for it. What we owe them is a great childhood from the earliest moment. If we give them that, theyll make their way in the world just fine, with or without an Ivy League diploma.
Bob Kamm is an author, poet, songwriter
and family-friendly business consultant. This article is
adapted from his book new book, Real
Fatherhood: The Path of Lyrical
Parenting. He is also author
of The Superman Syndrome: Why the Information Age
Threatens Your Future and WhatYou Can Do About It.
You may have heard about Amaya, the 11-year-old girl with two dads who was featured in American Girl magazine
And you may have heard about the backlash that came in response to Amaya's article.
But what you may not have heard about is the most important part of all: the work Amaya, along with the rest of her family, is doing to help the estimated 400,000 U.S. children currently living in the foster care system.
The whole story stars with Amaya's father, Rob Scheer.
When he was 10 years old, Rob lost both of his parents and entered the foster care system. At 17, he became homeless. Without family and without permanent shelter, he made do by sleeping in cars or restaurant bathrooms before eventually joining the military. All the while, he carried his belongings in a garbage bag, standard practice for foster kids.
More than three decades later, Rob found himself confronted once again by those same garbage bags.
He went on to become a successful businessman; along the way, he fell in love with a man named Reece. Eventually, the two decided to start a family.
More than six years ago, as Rob and Reece began taking steps to adopt a child, the couple received a call from a social worker, asking if they'd be interested in fostering a sister (Amaya) and brother (Makai), ages 4 and 2. They said yes, and the next day, the two children arrived at their home with garbage bags in tow.
"I believe we need to make a change in how we think about children in foster care. So often, they're thought of as 'problem children,' but they deserve so much more."
Soon after, the couple took in two more foster children boys Greyson and Tristan. Rob and Reece eventually adopted all four.
"I want to make sure no child is given a trash bag again," Rob told me by phone.
That was the motivation behind his and Reece's nonprofit, Comfort Cases. The volunteer-fueled group works to compile and distribute care packs for children entering foster care. "Something to call their own," Rob said.
"No other child should ever arrive at a foster home like this," he says. "I believe we need to make a change in how we think about children in foster care. So often, they're thought of as 'problem children,' but they deserve so much more."
Each Comfort Case care pack includes things like a backpack, a set of pajamas, a blanket, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a stuffed animal, and a hairbrush.
Since starting in late 2013, Comfort Cases has distributed more than 10,000 packs to foster kids nationwide.
And while that's super helpful to the kids receiving them, the overall goal is to help these children find loving, caring, permanent homes.
"We as a community need to show [these kids] that we care for them and love them," said Rob. "They want what any of us want: to feel that we're loved and being treated like anyone else."
To do that, we need to stop stigmatizing children in the foster care system as somehow broken or less worthy of love.
November is National Adoption Month, and there's no better time to have a positive influence in a child's life.
Of course, not everyone can adopt or even foster a child. Not everyone has the means to donate to projects like Comfort Cases. What we all can do, however, is share success stories like that of the Scheer family. We can help treat these kids with the love and respect they all deserve.
May every child living without a permanent home find a
warm, welcoming, and loving environment like this family.
The world would be a better place for it.
It's getting hot in here.
It's the middle of summer, which is usually the time of year we start talking more about kids being left in cars.
According to Kars4Kids, an average of at least one child dies from heat stroke each week after being left in a hot car.
But here's the thing: Often parents or caregivers don't realize how hot it can get inside a car, even when it's not that hot outside.
When the outdoor temperature is in the 60s, it can still rise to over 110 degrees inside a parked car. So knowingly leaving a child alone in a car can create a life threatening situation, no matter the temperature.
And then there's this sad fact: Sometimes parents yes, even otherwise "good" ones forget that their kids are in the car altogether.
While that might seem hard to believe, it's possible and it happens. (There's a great Washington Post article about parents who forgot their children in cars that's worth reading if you're skeptical that quality parents can make real, tragic mistakes. You can also read first-person stories from loving and heartbroken parents who made this mistake themselves on KidsAndCars.org.)
Morris Franco from Kars4Kids explains, "There have been many tragedies of this kind that were a result of very loving and responsible parents forgetting their child [in the car]." Morris notes that it happens across socioeconomic levels and professions doctors, lawyers, computer scientists, teachers, and more have all forgotten their children in hot vehicles.
"Experts have explained this phenomenon of 'Forgotten Baby Syndrome' with the following," says Morris.
"Many tasks during the day for most people are performed by rote and require very little conscious thought. The part of the brain that controls that type functioning is the motor cortex. Then there are other tasks which do require critical thinking in order to make a clear decision and that is governed by the hippocampus part of our brain.
Whenever a person is stressed, sleep deprived and/or distracted there is a very high probability that the motor cortex part of the brain will override the cognitive thinking part.
A classic example would be when planning to make a stop on the way home from the office, when suddenly you find yourself parked in your driveway with your errand undone. That is your motor cortex kicking in your routine, while your critical thinking 'takes a break.'"
So what can we do to keep kids out of hot cars?
First, we can educate people about how hot it actually gets inside of a closed vehicle. In this social experiment conducted by Kars4Kids, the organization offered $100 to people who could complete the "Hot Car Challenge" remaining in a closed car for 10 minutes.
Watch how long these people lasted (and see how they reacted) to understand exactly how hot it gets inside of a car.
Not one single person lasted 10 minutes. Every person asked to get out before the time was up.
As one participant said, "It seems fine at first, but once that door closed, almost immediately, it becomes really hot and the air flow becomes oppressive."
Second, we can find ways for parents or caregivers to remind themselves that there is a child in the backseat.
Franco offers the following ideas to help:
Remember, don't ever leave kids in a car even when
it doesn't seem that hot outside and don't think that
an honest accident couldn't happen to you. Take precautions
to remind yourself that your little one is in the
Life doesn't come with an instruction book. That's why we have fathers.
You're never too old to hold your father's hand. - Gordon Clay
The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart.
-- Mencius (371-291 B.C.)
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of Gordon Clay
©1996-2017, Gordon Clay