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.
Newsbytes - Recent news for
Tips for Raising Safe and Healthy Kids
10 minutes in a hot car to show why kids can't.
Kids Develop Better Language Skills When Dad Does The Bedtime Story
Be a Dad - A moment here, a moment there:
Louis C.K. on Father's Day
Be an Adoptive Dad:
What Is A Father?
What Is a Father? II
The Simplicity of Fatherhood - Ya gotta see this!
A New Kind of Family
The incredible story you didn't hear about the gay dads featured in American Girl magazine.
How much it will cost to raise a child
How intelligent do you have to be to raise a child?
Top Ten Father Facts
So You're Going to be a
Help Fathers Be Dads
The Most Important Year for Kids and Dads
How not to raise a bully
Avoid Raising a Serial Killer
Things a Man Should Know: About Fatherhood
Tips for All Fathers
Convey your affection in minutes flat
These 13 men believe nothing is manlier than being a good dad
12 smart things every father should teach his kids
Fathers & Daughters
Fathers & Sons
Raise Kids Like a
Raise Your Daughter Right
Quality Time With Your Kids
Mothers - Help Fathers Be Dads
11 Smartest Things Ever Said About Fatherhood
The Fatherless Household
Raising Another Man's Child
How do we forgive our Fathers?
Dads Have Postpartum Depression, Too: Depression in Father Doubles Risk of Child's Later Behavior Problems
What is the cost of raising a child?
Take Our Kid(s) to Work Day
Taking Your Kids Out of the U.S. (New rules)
Guns & Kids
The Best Gifts
Parental Leave Act
The American Psychologist reports "Mothers aren't essential to the well-being of children."
Where to Put a Fire Extinguisher?
Being a Man
Stay Clear of Stay Clear
Teenage Substance Abuse
Ouch! Body Piercing and Tattos
The Alcohol Issue
The Divorced Father's Quilt
A Look at IRAs
Answering the Hard Questions
We're Going to Prison to Find Out How to be Better Fathers
Parenting & Forensic Testing
Halloween Safety Tips
In Fathering, First Things First
Languages - Over 100 different ones
Fathers Make a Difference
15 hilarious parenting comics that are almost too real.
6 Steps to Solving Most Any
Legal Aid for Duped Dads
Mom. Do you Want a Healthier Husband?
The Daily Husband Blog
Related Issues: How to Talk with Mom and Child (Downloadable), Talking With Kids About Tough Issues, Adolescence, kidstuff, children, fathers & sons, fathers & daughters, single fathers, step fathers, military fathers and fathers stories
Other related issues: circumcision, fraternities, gangs, hazing, sexuality-general, sexual harassment, tv violence.
Dictionary for Dads
Resources on public changing tables, families, gangs, parents, father's rights, urgent, Fatherhood Aptitude Test to check if you're ready to be a Dad.
Books on: children, circumcision, communication, divorce-general, families, fathers-general, fathers & stepfathers, fathers & daughters, fathers-single, fathers & sons, gay fathers or gay children, stepfathers, marriage, parenting-general, parenting-single, relationship, ritual-initiation, sexism, sex roles, sexuality-general, sexual harassment, gangs, abuse-boys, abuse-child, sexual-incest, abuse-ritual, abuse-sexual, violence-rape, violence-sexual
Journals - on Child, Emotional, Religious, and Sexual Abuse and Trauma
Periodicals - Children, Parents, Teens
Slide Guide: Gangs, testicles, stds, aids, safe dating.
Top Ten Father Facts
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
1 David Popenoe. 1996. Life Without Father: Compelling new evidence that fatherhood and marriage are indispensable for the good of children and society. New York, NY: The Free Press, pp.2-3
2 Sara S. McLaanahan. 1994. The Consequences of Single Motherhood. The American Prospect, 18:48-58, esp. 49.
3 Frank Furstenberg, Jr. and Christine W. Nord. 1985. Parenting Apart: Patterns of Childbearing After Marital Disruption. Journal of Marriage and the Family 47(4):893-905.
4 David Popenoe. 1996. Life Without Father: Compelling new evidence that fatherhood and marriage are indispensable for the good of children and society. New York, NY: The Free Press, p.159
5 Kevin Leman. 2000. What a Difference a Daddy Makes: The Indelible Imprint f Dad Leaves on His Daughters Life. Nashville, TN: Tomas Nelson, p. 83
6 Audrey Jeanne Roberts. 1997.
7 Michael Farris, 2004. What a Daughter Needs from
Her Dad: How a man prepares his daughter for life. Bloomington, MN:
Bethany House, p.24
Kids Develop Better Language Skills When
Dad Does 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
What Is A Father?
"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." -
So You're Going to be a Dad
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 www.peterdowney.com
Awesome Dad Videos
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 here
for the 1:40 video)
These 13 men believe nothing is manlier
than being a good dad.
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
More awesome dad videos
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
How not to raise a bully
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.
Convey your affection in minutes flat.
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 born."
Source: By Hugh O'Neill, Best Life, http://men.msn.com/articlebl.aspx?cp-documentid=2784267
The Most Important Year for Kids and
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 wonders.
Avoid Raising a Serial Killer
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 being told."
International Take Your Kids to Work
Taking Your Kids Out of the U.S. (New
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.
Parental Leave Act
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."
Where to Put a Fire Extinguisher?
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
Stepfamilies - The
Statistics are Staggering
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.
Clear of Stay Clear
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.
Ouch! Body 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.
A Look at IRAs
Answering the Hard Questions
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 helpless.
6 Steps to Solving Most Any
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.
We're Going to Prison to Find Out
How to be Better Fathers
In Fathering, First Things
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. www.realfatherhood.com
The incredible story you didn't hear
about the gay dads featured in American Girl magazine.
More than 10,000 comfort packs later, Rob Scheer continues fighting for foster kids.
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.
10 minutes in a hot car to show why kids
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 backseat.
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.)