Read these 99 First-Time Fathering Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Dad tips and hundreds of other topics.
Parenting has its ups and downs. Single parenting is experiencing those ups and downs alone. Life seems easier when you have someone by your side to bounce ideas off and consort on parental issues. A single parent usually has family members, but let’s face be honest, it’s not the same as having your partner with you. So we single dads go out in the world armed with our hard work ethic and keen sense of direction only to be in dire need of compassion and understanding. Compassion and understanding rarely comes easy to men; usually we have to learn those traits. As a single father, I came to a conclusion on parenting not too long ago. A parent’s primary task in raising their children is to teach them to make decisions they can stand by and accept. I might not like my child’s decisions in a careers choice, the clothes they wear or their behavior, but they certainly have to live with their choices. Living with my decisions is one thing in life I’ve certainly learned the hard way.
I’m amazed at how some parents think their children are going to magically one day start making good decisions. We see these parents’ constantly in malls, extracurricular activities and in school; these parents do their kids homework for them or yell at them to behave in public. Parents should understand children that are taught at an early age to make their own decisions don’t need to be spanked or constantly hounded to do school work. These children know what happens if they display unfavorable behavior in public when they get home: they’ll be in a time out or lose something they value. It’s their decision.
Teaching kids to make their own decisions will help them learn consequences. Consequences will have them hesitate when their sixteen and about to do something incredibly stupid or foolish. Consequences will have them practice safe sex. Consequences will help guide them through the rest of their lives. If you teach a child consequences when their young, then they will determine a natural instinct to hesitate and think through every decision they make in life. Children will grow to be comfortable with their decisions and secure that they can make the rights ones for them. We make hundreds of decisions every day, from what to wear to should I make that left hand turn with that car so close? Give children the ability to make decisions on their own and they will pass that on to their kids. You could change more than one life by teaching a simple life skill.
“Don’t die with the music still in you” – Dr. Wayne Dyer
Your mind is the doorway to infinite possibilities. To quote a cliché, teach your children: “don’t leave anything left in basement.” If they want to see Machu Picchu, then go. If your children want to study in Harvard, then study. If they want to write a novel, then do it. It’s that easy. Every person that has accomplished any of the aforementioned goals started exactly where your children started. They were born, raised, and went out to achieve.
They are no different than Hemmingway, Carnegie, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Lincoln. There is nothing holding them back except their lack of willingness to achieve. The reasoning behind some of the previous tips is for our children to be able to accomplish their dreams. They will need to display all of those previous traits to reach their goals. Our children must first realize their dream in their mind, before the universe grants their request.
Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) is a prejudice tactic used in business, advertising, public relations, and politics. FUD is a strategic effort to persuade your point of view by dispersing negative information targeted specifically at influencing your judgment. FUD tactics are either harsh and simple or subtle and devious. A sample “harsh and simple” technique would be a political campaign commercial claiming devastating effects if a certain politician is elected or allowed to be kept in office. You’ve seen those commercials, the background music is playing a ticking sound and the candidate looks really angry. A sample “subtle and devious” technique would be an infomercial or “pitch guy”. You’ve seen the commercials that use phrases like “you’d be crazy not to own one of these”, “why do you want to work twice as hard”, “no other product can do this” or “you can’t live without this”.
Every form of media uses FUD – Radio, Magazines, Newspapers, Television, and the Internet.
The Media is constantly bombarding us with influential messaging. Limiting, or eliminating, media in our lives assists in our efforts to free ourselves of worry, prejudice, fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The average American over the age of 14 watches nearly 5 hours of television per day, and in those 5 hours, 1.5 would be spent viewing advertisements or 30%. It’s difficult for a parent to compete against that kind of constant bombardment so don’t let your child be influenced by FUD tactics. When we do watch television I press the mute button when commercials are one. It accomplsihes two things: cuts down on FUD tactics and gives us all some much needed peace and quiet.
"Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future. Today is a gift - which is why they call it the present." – Bill Keane
Dwelling on the past and worrying about the future are futile habits, extremely futile habits. Living for today or in the “now” opens people’s mind to possibilities and imagination. I’m not suggesting never planning for the future or learning from your past. What I’m suggesting is when you’re working restrain from daydreaming about being on vacation, and when you’re on vacation, don’t fret over the work waiting for you at the office. We continually ponder noisy memories of our past and worry about what the future has in store for us. We don't appreciate living for today. Focus on your breathing, calm your mind, and enjoy the moment.
Living for today requires practice and self discipline. We have to become aware we are pondering the past or future; when recognizing either two try calming your mind by focusing on your breathing. If you are making pancakes for your children then enjoy the moment. When you are finished call them over to sit down and talk with them. Don’t look up at the clock or check your messages. Passing on this philosophy to your children will ensure they enjoy life to the fullest.
Every man at one time or another thinks about his legacy. When my time is up on this earth what will I leave behind in my memory? There is this quote that sums up my point.
"A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child." – Author Unknown
Our memory lives on in our children. Soothing don’t you think? As our children’s father becoming their first mentor just happens. You can either be a good mentor, a so-so mentor, or the only mentor your child will ever need. I hope you chose the latter. If you’re going to be a mentor the first step is to teach your child something you know. This can be anything. Maybe you can cook great lasagna, build birdhouses, fly a kite, or hit a baseball? You must know something.
Pick something you’re really good at and teach your child how to do it. It’s a great bonding experience and will prepare you for the next tip.
When I was 7 years old I was in the kitchen and my mother asked me to check a burner on the stove to see if it was hot. It was an electric range and when it’s hot the burner turns red. I put my hand on the burner and severely burned the palm of my hand. My mom immediately became hysterical, rushed to thrust my hand under cold water and repeatedly yelled, “Why would you do that? You’re supposed to put your hand over the burner, not on it!” I just said I was sorry and continued to cry. I do not remember why she asked me to check the burner, although I do remember her repeating why. Why indeed? My instinct was to place my hand on the burner to see if it was hot. I’ve never experienced a burn before, and therefore, never knew what to expect if I placed my hand on a hot burner. I know now. I have no malice towards my mother, I adore her, and she only did what any mother would do in that situation.
If we ask ourselves why a child would do something, our answer will always be instinct. Why did that kid chase his ball into the street? The answer is instinct. According to the child his ball is bouncing away and he has to go get it; he’s doesn’t care if a car is coming and as far as the child is concerned cars stop when kid cross the street. As parents we need to accept the “why” and build a relationship based on understanding and nurture. For example: “Sweetheart, I understand you want to go get your ball if it goes in the street, but you can’t go chase the ball because the cars can’t see you. If your ball goes in the street come and get daddy and I’ll get it for you.” You can then demonstrate and have them stand on the sidewalk while you duck down between the cars, roll the ball out and then run to get it. Children are smart and they’ll understand.
Andrew Carnegie, regarded as the 2nd richest man in history, engraved on his tombstone these words: “Here lies a man who knew how to enlist the service of better men than him.”
Carnegie knew and understood the importance of surrounding himself with quality people. If you are going to succeed in having a proper work/life balance keeping the right people around at work is key in your pursuit. If you currently have an employee, or several employees, that are not “A” players then let them go. Don’t think of my advice as being harsh or unsympathetic; instead look at the situation as the reason this person is not performing is because this career is not for them. I worked in the hospitality industry for years and worked with many “aspiring” actors, authors and singers. Every person is on their own personal journey and it’s possible their goals are not aligned with your department or area of work. If their goals are not in line with your own, find a better person than yourself to fill the void.
There is no shame in accepting help from family, friends and neighbors. Remember the Ego? It’s the Ego that gets in the way most of the time. Well don’t let it happen to you. If friends or family ask to help watch the kids, try taking them up on their offer. Create a win-win situation and just like at work you can apply those principles in your home. You can trade with other couples. You’re not the only married couple with kids. Take your friends kids for a Friday night or Saturday and in turn you can get a free Friday night or Saturday. When it comes to personal time try trading with your wife. You can meditate before dinner and she can work out after dinner. Your wife stays in shape and you spend some much needed time alone with the kids after meditating. The best time to spend with your children is after clearing your mind of daily tasks. Create a win-win situation when accepting help from others.
Breaking down your day can be an eye-opening experience for instance: according to the U.S. census bureau the average American spends more than 100 hours commuting to work each year. If you correlate this statistic with another you’ll be shocked. The average American accumulates 80 hours of vacation time each year. We spend more time commuting than we do earning vacation days. The average American, 12 years old or older, watches 4.7 hours of television per day or 1,704 hours per year.
I’m not suggesting quitting your job and working from home, but it’s not a bad idea to look for a career you can enjoy from your house. Will you really miss the daily commute? And how can watching nearly five hours of television be productive or fulfilling? Taking some time and trim the needless fat from your day. It will give you time for other personal and family endeavors.
Children repeat the behavior they witness. If you want your child to have exceptional social skills then my advice is for you to set the example. You can start with the basics. People feel and project themselves better when they are appropriately dressed and groomed. What do I mean? Throwing on a pair of sweats and a ball cap every weekend together with not brushing your teeth is not a good example to set; either is walking around in your pajamas half of the day, or worse all day. What kind of example is that?
Getting your family on a schedule is the first step to teaching exceptional social skills. For example: everyone is up by 7:00 a.m.; everyone eats breakfast by 7:30 a.m.; everyone is dressed, teeth brushed and ready to start the day by 8:30 a.m. and on and on. When your child is use to a schedule and focused on proper hygiene and presentation then little things like please and thank you is a natural progression. Children who experience their parents going about their lives with pride in themselves will follow suit. It’s natural to them. You don’t have to wear the most expensive clothes, just make sure you’re clean and presentable.
Sigmund Freud had a theory on infants and toddlers. It seems he had a theory on just about everything, but this particular theory seems to have a considerable amount of merit. He believed children are born in an innate state called the Id. This natural state for any child is of course driven by a very primitive urge – an immediate satisfaction without any regard of consequences. This immediate need for satisfaction without total regard of consequences is what Freud called the pleasure principle. I’m sure you’ve heard of the colloquialism “if it feels good, do it,” well that pretty much sums up Freud’s theory on infant and toddlers. My point is some infants continue to exude predominate Id characteristics all the way through adulthood, and some, even further into their lives. How can we stop the Id from ruling our children’s minds?
We can thwart the Id by consistently teaching children rules and boundaries. I know we do this every day, but how do we go about doing this? Are we a strict authoritarian or an authoritative parent? There’s a distinct difference: an authoritaritarian is an overpowering perfectionist that demands their rules to be followed without question and an authoritative sets boundaries and rules as well, but enforces them with love, kindness, and respectfulness. An authoritative also will be democratic in their rules as children grow into adolescents. So fight the Id with guidance, love and kindness.
Shielding ourselves from the rest of the world is easily overcome with proper mind-body-soul balance. Proper balance will shield you from daily peaks and valleys. For example, have you ever been in line and the person in front of you was constantly complaining about how long the line was and then someone else joined in? Did you feel like you just wanted to get away from these people? Or did you indulge in the complaining and turned your mood for the worse? Achieving a mind-body-soul balance will shield you from indulging in those type of situations and you’ll just smile and go on your way.
Exercise and a proper diet will give you physical health; learning to live for today will clear and focus your mind; daily meditating will bring you to a deeper state of relaxation and achieve what you think would be impossible. Living and practicing a healthy mind-body-soul balance and passing this on to your children will make you a legendary dad.
When your wife/partner is up during the night feeding or changing the new baby, you can lend her physical and emotional support by getting up too. Even if you do it just to give her some adult company during those long dark hours of night when baby is awake, she will appreciate you making the enormous effort to get up. You don't have to do it every time she is up. In fact, you might agree that you will get up once every second night for a full feed session and you will change/prepare the baby, or you might agree to be up every second time the baby awakes. Whatever you both agree on, it gives your partner a relief from the lonely solo efforts she endures.
Make sure that you set some time aside a couple of times each week to spend (child-free) with your wife/partner. When your baby is asleep is best. Make it your time to sit and chat or do whatever you used to do before baby came along. Stick to this as often as you can, despite tiredness or being busy. If baby wakes up or you really can't keep the time available, plan for another definite time as soon as you can. Ensure that you maintain a one on one relationship with your partner.
Before your child is born, start a treasure box to collect wonderful momentos for their life. On the day that your child is born, add a copy of the day's newspaper(s), a list of top 40 songs, a few notes from yourself about the day and what's happening in the world. Add to it as your child grows. Put in things like birthday and Christmas cards, first clothes & shoes, etc. This will all become a time capsule that your child can treasure and add to all of their lives and show to their children.
Most mothers will consider the father's method of looking after baby to be sub-standard: Care for your baby anyway. Gatekeeping is extremely common with newborns. Fathers must know about mother's tendency to gatekeep and overcome this difficulty.
Selective hearing is a good skill to develop: This does not mean you should not listen to your wife. It does mean, you have every right to disagree.
Make sure your home is safe for your children. Attach child-safe locks on all accessible cupboards except one. Fill this cupboard with things that are safe for the child to play with e.g. old saucepans and other containers are great for young children to explore. Ensure all dangerous items (especially drugs, alcohol, matches, washing powders, etc.) are stored in a high cupboard that is locked.
Get plenty of rest. As a new dad, you are going to need it. Even if mom is doing most of the night work because you need to go to work during the day, you will still suffer from broken sleep patterns and unexpected changes of plans. You're going to need your strength for that and also to help mom keep on top of her emotions - she will be exhausted even if you're not. It can't be said too often - get plenty of rest!
Try to give your children as many experiences as you can whilst they are young. If possible, give them more then you got as a child. Things like staying on a farm and feeding the animals, going on a long train trip, going in a plane, may seem very inane to you nowadays, but it is experiences like these - so enormous in a child's little world - that add to the character and attitiudes of your children.
With these life tips - or any improvements / changes you try to make - take them one at a time. Don't try to do everything at once - it, generally, won't work and you will end up achieving nothing and feeling empty and guilty. Find something that appeals to you and try it. Keep working and focusing on it. Be positive about making it work and don't give up, especially when you really don't feel like doing it. After a while (a few weeks), try another one - but keep focusing on your first one as well as your second. If something doesn't work and you've given it an honest and long try - try something else. Don't feel guilty because you're not "doing everything right". Give yourself time to adapt and change. Remember, there is no failure here, except for the failure to keep trying.
With a new baby on the way, you are going to have to make sacrifices. This means making more free time then you probably currently have. Giving away some of your pleasure pursuits or taking a serious look at reducing your working hours (removing some of that overtime or taking less work home) will be necessary to make space for baby and the chaos that will follow. Allow yourself the time to be flexible in order to catch that odd bit of sleep when you can or to take over the baby chores whilst mom sleeps. If you both decide that you will split baby chores whilst you are home, you certainly want to make sure that you have the time and flexibility to do it. Baby won't oblige and stop crying just so that you can finish off that report.
A new baby puts a strain on both of you. However, your body has not undergone the extra strains of actually having the baby. Your wife/partner is going to need extra rest in order to repair and revitalize her own body. Also, if you have been at work all day and she has been with the baby, she may want some emotional rest as well. You can help balance her physical and emotional loads by taking on more of the share of chores then you previously did, as well as baby chores.
Try to keep some of your regular things happening after the baby is born. If you and your wife used to go to the movies every Saturday night, you could book a regular baby sitter and keep going. If you wish to take baby with you, go to an afternoon session and find a cinema that has a baby room or crying room in it (some do nowadays). You may need to wait until baby is a couple of months old before re-establishing your routine. If you used to do something that you can't take the baby to, try using a baby sitter or change to another activity. The important thing is that you are doing something that doesn't revolve purely around baby.
With a new baby on the way, your other child / children need to be able to adapt to the necessary changes. Help them handle the changes by making some before the baby is even born. Get the baby's room set up and do things like setting space aside for the new baby's toys so that the other kids can get used to these things. It is recommended that you do this between 6 weeks and 3 months before the baby is born, giving your other child / children plenty of time to adapt. In this way, they won't see the arrival of the new baby into the house as so challenging.
When should you start encouraging your children to discover their creativity? What should they focus on? Music? Writing? Art? They learn so much as babies and toddlers. Encourage them as early as possible to explore all areas of creativity. Play songs and sing to them, tell stories - get them to tell some too. Encourage them to draw as well. Give them a mix of creativities and they will find what they love the most.
Are you finding that the whole house is turning into the kids playroom? Strive to always keep some space that is yours. Make it a "toy free" zone. Maybe it's okay for the children to play in that area as long as they don't leave toys laying around or move your things. Better still, make it an area that they don't play in. e.g. the study, parent's retreat or lounge room (if you have a separate rumpus / TV room). You may want to create a comfy corner for yourself with certain books or momentos by your favourite chair.
To take the mystery out of where daddy goes to for so many hours each day, you may like to show your kids where you work. If you work in an office, arrange for them to come at a time when they will least disturb other staff. However, always be clear on your employers policy on children in the office - some companies don't allow it at all, so always make sure that you fit within the rules and only take your kids if there is a time that is okay. If mom can bring the kids over for five minutes, this may be a more acceptable method then having them in the office for hours.
Always check public playground equipment before letting your kids play on it. Ensure that the equipment is free of sharp or pointed parts, is not faulty or broken, is free of bird droppings. Also check the ground for sharp objects that people may have dropped, broken glass and dog faeces. Your child will not notice a lot of these things until it is too late.
Being a dad is a full time occupation. Don't just do it part-time. Commit to full responsibility. Think how you would like to be fathered if you were a child again. Would you like to have a father that is often too busy working around the house, or at the office, or locked in his study, or off playing golf? Or, would you rather have a father that is around as often as he can be and is available to you anytime that he is around? Be the father that you would like to have yourself, and you just may get the kids that you want.
Should you be emotionally close to your kids? Do you find it difficult to show your emotions to them? Remember that, for your child, you are a window to the world. If you hide emotions in order to be strong or manly, your child is often likely to do the same. Wouldn't you rather that they feel free to express their feelings? Not in an over-reactive way, but in order to avoid becoming insular (cold) to those that love them.
Are you finding that the kids' homework is too hard for you to help with? A lot of the expectations and knowledge required from schools today is beyond what the parents studied or are used to. However, always remember, it is not your role to do the homework. It is your role to be a sympathetic ear, an encourager or someone to bounce ideas off. You don't need to understand the exact details to be able to offer support.
Don't expect to love your child as soon as they are born (or even before they are born). Remember, you haven't even established a relationship with them yet. Whilst you may feel a love towards them as your son or daughter, you don't know them personally. Sometimes, it can take time before you really feel a close love and relationship with them.
With a new baby, be flexible in your time and commitments as much as you can be. For instance, if you run for exercise every night, maybe it's time to start running first thing in the morning when baby is regularly sleeping and leave your night free for looking after the baby, cooking the dinner, doing other chores, or ensuring that you get to bed early in order to deal with the middle of the night baby activities. Be prepared to have your schedule regularly challenged and changed.
Stop your children having access to unsuitable sites on the internet or telephone services. You can buy internet programs that restrict children's access to only certain things and avoid any sites that use certain words or phrases. Also, your telephone can be barred from services using certain prefixes. Find out what is available in your area and ensure that you protect your children from what is unsuitable for them.
Are the kids getting in your way whilst you are doing some things around the home? Don't fight them. They want to be with you and be involved in helping; let them join in. But, not in a dangerous way, like climbing ladders or playing with tools. You can give them "important" but safe jobs that give them a feeling that they are really helping dad to do his work. Perhaps, they could hold the ladder steady, or count the number of cup hooks that you have to put up (and be the special holder of these hooks), they could point out when the picture has been set straight, etc. The most important thing is that they feel involved.
When you drive into your driveway always be alert to where your children are. This is especially important if you reverse into your driveway as small children are lower then window height and not easily picked up in your mirrors. The kids will be excited that you're home from work and may rush up to greet you. Their enthusiasm often blinds them from common sense and safety and they can be in front of / behind the car before you notice. Always drive slowly and keep your concentration alert. Turn your radio off and wind down a window so that you will have a better chance of hearing them even if you can't see them. Ask your wife / partner to always ensure that the kids are inside before you are due to be home, but keep alert as well.
Some people like to keep their home and yards as neat and clean as possible. However, with kids it's often difficult to maintain neatness. Kids love to tear around yards on bikes or play sports that may damage a few gardens and take a few divits in the lawn. Inside the house can often look like a war zone with toys, clothes, and other bits and pieces strewn about the place. It's important not to go overboard with trying to maintain a home that looks like a kid-free zone. If you have children, they must be allowed to live with some element of freedom. Whilst this does not extend to damage or defacement, there should be some flexibility in tolerating some mess. With kids, there will always be mess at some stage of the day, even if you enforce cleaning up at the end of the day.
What should you do when you have urgent work to do and your family want your time as well? Weigh up what's urgent against what's important. Is the urgent work important as well as urgent? What would happen if you delayed it for a couple of hours? A day? A week? On the other hand, the family are important, but can they hold off a bit on their request? Children live mostly in the moment, so they want things now and can make urgent demands on you in the moment. Can they be distracted onto something else for a while until you complete some or all of what you are doing? Can you strike a compromise? Look at all the options first before you decide.
You don't always have to spend money to amuse your kids. You can take them to a local park and kick a ball around, fly a kite or just have fun running around. Go for a picnic and take some books or a guitar. Go for a walk and look at nature or notice the differences in the houses / buildings around you. Think of ways to provide your children with free entertainment.
We’ve all had experiences with coaches in our lives whether it was with a little league coach, a school teacher or a mentor at work people have influenced our lives in both negative and positive ways. Take some time and separate these people from the good and the bad. The bad people should pop into your head like it happened yesterday. That’s just the way our minds work. Write down those bad experiences and make notes of what you particularly disliked about them. Was the person condescending? Did they smirk when they spoke to you? Did they use big words and made you feel inferior? Jot all those bad things down. Let’s try not to get too negative so focus on the good people or positive experiences. What did these people do or say that kept the experience positive? Did they constantly pump you up? Did they continually point out your good points before they corrected some unproductive habits? Take the time and make some notes.
Now make the same list each time you interact with your child.
Are you more like the bad list, the good list or in between? If you’re not totally on the good list then changes need to be made. Coaching is about positive reinforcement, bringing up the things a child does well before correcting an undesirable habit and encouraging self-efficacy. We’re not all perfect, but we can definitely take the time to make a better life for our children. Good luck.
A week after the first day of school my oldest daughter begins her I’d-rather-sleep-than-get-out-of-bed-ritual. There’s no real pattern for this behavior, like rainy days or cold mornings, some days she just doesn’t want to get up. I’ve tried time-out warnings, but after a few of them I had to actually follow through on the threats. The time-outs were eating into our precious limited early morning time. With neo-traditional means not working I attempted something new. I woke the children up, turned on the lights in each of their rooms and open the shades and blinds. I made breakfast and by the time I was finished they were both at the table. While gently rubbing their eyes and wondrously welcoming in the early morning light my oldest said to me, “Why didn’t you wake me up earlier?” I smiled and replied, “I’ll remember tomorrow.”
I felt instantly gratified that I made the right decision. I allowed them to get out of bed on their own. I didn’t rush them or rip the covers off them; I just said time to get up and went about the rest of the morning. My lesson was simple: all I had to do was let her know when it was time to get up and the rest she did on her own. I can’t say this situation will play out the same for every parent, but the principle should work. Sometimes all you have to do is let someone know what time it is and they’ll do the rest.
The last day of summer is upon us. While most people agree the best time of the year is summer, for me it’s the last days of summer. It’s not just because the leaves are changing or the kids are going back to school after a much needed summer vacation, although all those things are nice, it’s because of fall baseball. After Labor Day baseball seems to take over the sports-minded individual’s attention. Sure football season begins as well, but the first few weeks of football season are riddles with out of shape players being winded and penalties circling their sloppy play. For baseball though the players are thinking about the post season and adding players to the roster. Baseball elevates to a new level after the school bell begins ringing again. What’s the only sad part about fall baseball? Unfortunately it signals that the season is nearly over for most teams. So enjoy the ballpark for a few more weeks and hears to hoping for a speedy winter. For when the snow begins to thaw and the birds return chirping happily baseball will return to us all, and for you beach lovers bringing back summer in its wake.
Back to school is creeping upon us already. Walk into any retail store and you’ll see “Pre-Back-To-School” sales everywhere. There are many great deals in the marketplace for those that buy early. Take advantage of these offers and buy up what you can now. Stores like Target and Wal-Mart are running great school supply discounts on everything children need this school year. As we all know school supplies can quickly add up, so purchase the items you know children will need like: pencils, pens, paper, trappers, and backpacks. Stay away from single use items like protractors and a map of Australia. If you stay focused and buy early enough you could take the sting out of those early September buying sprees.
Participating in your child’s after school activities creates a bond that lasts far beyond the end of a season. Making time to coach a baseball team or participate in your little girls dance recital makes lasting impression on your child. This persona you create as being an “involved parent” will most likely be adopted by your children as well; regular involvement becomes the norm and your kids will pass this trait to their children and on and on. This gift can change a family for the better and you can be the reason. What a great thing to do for someone.
At first try to make their practices, get to know the other parents and see if the team needs any help. Most youth sports organizations always need volunteers. After getting to know the kids, parents, and other volunteers you’ll see its community that keeps these organizations running and you can be part of the engine.
One time during the early relationship with your child take them somewhere to share a once in a lifetime moment together before they journey into their adult life. Go to the Grand Canyon and watch the sunset or cruise the Prince William Sound and eat glacial ice just like a snow cone. A special moment intended just for the two of you.
I’m sure you’ll have several family moments together like their wedding, graduations, and their children’s birthday and events. You’ll always have their childhood scrapbooks, photos, and videos to view when feeling a little sentimental. And in the midst of all those memories you’ll possess a final once in a lifetime moment. A moment you both sat and enjoyed a view or shared an adventure. You’re child will experience a monumental conclusion to one journey and at the same time assistance in embarking on another.
You can purchase professional time capsule kits online complete with instructions for a low as thirty-five dollars to over a thousand dollars depending on what you want to include and how long you are going to keep the time capsule closed. Some items you may want to consider including are:
· Anything of sentimental value you won’t miss anytime soon
· A letter or postcard to your future self
· An plaque or an award
· A progress report or a report card
· Sketches and drawing by the kids
· Lockets if hair form each family member (you want to remember what you hair looked like or when it was your natural color?)
· A description of each family member by each family member
· A child’s blanket or “Woobie”
· Some currency of the day (maybe in 50 years there won’t be any?)
· A list of predictions from each child, for the future in general and their future in particular
· A letter describing your life thus far or the day you completed the capsule
· Get the Grandparents involved and have them put something in to remember them by
How long do you keep it sealed? That’s completely up to you and the quality of your kit. If you want to save it for future generations then go ahead and spend the extra money. Preserving your memories with a family time capsule is a great way to ensure your future family, remembers their past.
Children are filled with great questions like how did we get here, where did the Pyramids come from and how does a light bulb work? Although some of these answers are unexplainable, most can be researched and witnessed. If you live near a metropolitan area and have access to museums, taking your children to discover the “wonders of our world” is an exciting experience. They will able to see and in some museums touch actual exhibits. Encourage their enthusiasm and welcome the questions. If you live in a rural area then you are much more fortunate. Invest in a telescope and a map of the constellations.
For centuries mankind has gazed at the stars and wondered. We are fortunate to live in a time when man has walked on the moon and worked in outer space. Star gazing opens windows to many interests like physics, mythology, art, exploration, our environment, and oceanography.
“To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest” – Mahatma Gandhi
It’s of no concern what religion you follow, or don’t follow, just believe in something and bestow your passion on to your children. Our children may grow and believe in another higher power or choose to believe in the one we open their minds too, but their adult choices are their own. Mankind has been finding spiritual solutions to some of our most complicated and mind-bending problems for centuries. Struggling alcoholics turn to faith based AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, and people struggling with weight loss have utilized a Christian weight loss program - the Eden diet.
Spiritually based programs are readily accepted by people who believe in a higher power. Our roads are long and winding, and for whatever reason, if we wonder off the beaten path and are in need of a helping hand having roots in a belief will help get us back on track in our times of need.
“The best way out is always through” – Robert Frost
We see courage around us in our fellow man every day: a boy goes to school and excels, despite of being bullied every day. A single father is awarded sole custody of his children despite everyone telling him it will never happen. A single mother raising four children while taking the bus, working two jobs and still preparing dinner every night for her babies. Opening our children’s eyes to everyday heroes is enlightening and heartwarming, because showing them true courage may change their lives forever. Teaching your children to live for today and admonish fear, uncertainty, doubt and not prejudge all require true courage.
True courage is attempting to change the norm and swim against the current. Why do salmon swim hundreds of miles upstream every year to spawn, and most likely to certain death? It’s because their instinct is guiding them - they just do. Why does a man turn at the fork in the road and venture down the road less traveled? It’s because he has true courage.
Prejudging is the result of being uneducated, unaware, and uninformed, ignorance. It doesn’t matter if a person is well-educated at some point in a person’s life someone, or themselves, made an uneducated, unaware, or uninformed decision regarding a situation, social class, ethnicity, religion, or philosophy. A few situational examples are a parent telling their child “Don’t go walking down the street alone, someone might kidnap you” or “Don’t walk into the kitchen while I’m cooking, you could get burned or cut or knock something over.” What we are really teaching our children is to be afraid. We instinctually fear for their safety and well-being.
I don’t let my kids in the kitchen while cooking or stroll down the street on their own either. I tell them they aren’t cooking, and therefore have no reason to be in the kitchen; and don’t walk down the street alone unless I’m with them because I have to keep an eye on them.
As we know children are instinctual, and adults are supposed to transcend to a higher level of consciousness. In other words as we mature and become conscious, people begin to form their and the more our opinion either changes or solidifies depending on our current beliefs.
Children that were taught or experienced fear hardly ever transcend past the prejudices they developed as a child without some kind of outside influence later in life. So passing on those fears and beliefs to their children will continue until someone breaks the cycle. Instead of prejudging teach your children that not all strangers are out to get them; every dark alley doesn’t lurk a kidnapper; a certain ethnicity is not lazy; different religions are not wrong. Break the cycle and assist your child in forming their own opinions and beliefs.
Children are like flowers, you can nourish them all you like but until they are let out of the shadows they’ll never grow. Watching our children grow is both satisfying and alarming; two very strong emotions to feel at once. We remember the day we held them in our arms, mended their first wound, listened to their first word, and witnessed them leave for the first day of school. It requires strength and confidence to let our children grow into their own person. Witnessing your child step into the light is a monumental moment, so just remember to let them.
You’ve done your best. You’ve parented from their point of view, become more than a figure head, balanced work and home life, built a lasting relationship, understood them, and was their first mentor. If you feel like you’ve missed something or could have done more with the time you had you’re not alone. We’ve all been there. Your children will always need you, especially if you’re the dad I think you’re becoming.
Chances are you didn’t become the man you are alone; I’m sure you had some help. Introduce your children to your mentors. Perhaps they already know a few? So go ahead and let them know who they are and have them share stories of your ups and downs. Humility is a good thing. Children grow up thinking their Daddy is Master of the Universe; while we’re trying to figure everything out from day to day. One of my mentors is Abraham Lincoln. When my daughter is old enough and I explain to her who my mentors, or influences, were she will be able to read and research Lincoln for herself. He may even become a mentor of hers. Part of being a mentor is sharing prior triumphs as well as current struggles.
As we grow our pursuits change and we strive for different goals. If you are currently receiving mentoring from someone at work, the gym, or online let your child partake in some of the conversations – assuming they are age appropriate. Think of the exercise in terms of the Godfather. The entire family was built on mentoring, except in your family no one gets shot.
Young people have a tendency of taking on too much at once, feel overwhelmed, and then overburdened stop attempting a worthwhile pursuit. Children also tend to “out think” themselves out of meaningful undertakings. Teaching our kids to relax their minds and bodies and focus specifically on task in front of them is a valuable characteristic. If you are raising mature children and they are disciplined enough to meditate you probably don’t need this tip. Chances are your kids are like everyone else’s: constantly running, laughing, jumping, and everything else children do. Yoga is another form of meditation.
You do not have to be at total rest to calm your mind and body just focused. Yoga is a form of meditative practice. One of the beginning forms of Yoga is Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar A. Sun Salutations are a series of basic yoga poses children can perform on their own or in a group. With posing names like “Upward facing dog” and “Warrior 1” they are fun to teach and perform. There are 10 poses in all and are in performed in a specific order. You can either search “yoga sun salutations” online and pull up image on the internet or purchase a book or video. If you’ve never performed yoga before I suggest you purchase a video. Sun Salutations require focusing on specific poses, controlling your breathing, and calming your mind through meditative practice. It’s a great way to teach your kids to relax and focus.
Give a person a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach a person how to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime. – Chinese Proverb
After answering most of your child’s questions they will begin to say, “My Daddy is so smart.” And you are but let them in on your little secret. The internet is a tool future generations will use for years to come. When your child is the appropriate age to use the internet show them how to find what they are looking for online. Google is the most popular search engine on the internet. Google offers web search help and below are some of the guidelines for better searches.
1. Every word matters – all the words in your search will be used so be careful about what you include. For instance if you want to go to Sea World in Florida then enter “Sea World Florida” and not just “Sea World”.
2. Keep it simple – The same applies if you have all the information for Sea World you don’t have to Google “Sea World Orlando Florida Vacation”, think K.I.S.S. – Keep it Simple Stupid.
3. Think how the page you are looking for will be written – If you want to just check out a vacation special Sea World is running like buy 3 nights get 2 free package then search “buy 3 nights get 2 nights free sea world” There is no need to include the, in, and or of type words.
4. Describe what you need with as few terms as possible – Getting ready to leave for the trip and want to know the weather? Google “weather orlando” instead of “weather report for orlando florida”. You’ll receive far better results.
5. Choose descriptive words – Try using specific and unique words for you searches. For example: “sea world packages” will give you far better results than “sea world getaways”.
If you are worrisome about your child surfing the web with all the adult content or harsh language you’ll have to monitor their activity. Google products are intended for adults only and are restriction for underage users. In other words, just don’t tell the kids: “search for the answer on Google.” You’ll still have to monitor their searches, but it helps them to use a great tool and learn how to look up information on their own.
Bonding experiences are best realized when two people have to work together to complete a project as opposed to other activities. There are many interesting do-it-yourself projects to choose from that your child would find mind blowing. Google “home projects” or “do-it-yourself” and find some really cool projects. I found how to build a Mailing Tube Wine Rack, Hands-Free Toilet Flusher, Homebrew $30 Air Conditioner, and even how to build a Secret Bookshelf Door on lifehacker.com. What kid wouldn’t want to complete any of those projects?
If you opt for larger projects like adding a deck or remodelling the basement, then make it fun and have the kids help with picking out materials, measuring, and painting. Document the entire process with photos and build a scrapbook or video and post it on You Tube. After the project is complete congratulate and acknowledge their hard work and assistance by creating a certificate they can hang on their wall or keep in their scrapbook. Memories like these will be shared and cherished with future generations.
The greatest stories of all time are in print. There are even advances in technology for wireless reading devices like Kindle. You can order, download, and read anywhere from these slim, lightweight devices. Whether you read paperbacks, hardbacks, or wireless devices, passing on your love of reading is advantageous to your children. Recommended reading for beginners is Dr. Seuss. My children’s best-loved beginners’ book is Green Eggs and Ham and the Harry Potter books are a phenomenal series that will be enjoyed from elementary school through high school. Whatever books they decide to read just get them reading early and often.
Introduce them to every aspect of literature. Reading to children, and they, seeing you read, will light a spark within them for reading. I read constantly. I read Hemingway, Bukowski, Coetzee, Marquez, Jung, and Ellison. And I'm in the process of passing on my love of reading to my kids.
“There is only one way… to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.” – Dale Carnegie
Children are on their own agenda. It’s not that they are lazy or malcontent they just don’t realize the consequences of their actions. Their psyche is incapable of understating how their current actions will affect their future selves – forgive them for they know not what they do. Sound familiar? You can go on and on about how not doing well in school is going to affect what college they attend, but they won’t realize the severity of their actions until the entry reply comes in the mail. And who ultimately suffers then? Your child ends up suffering. Instead of punishing or taking electronic devices away from our kids why not try appealing to their higher motives? Instead of buying everything they want for Christmas or a Birthday try making them earn it. Their current obligation outside of the home is school; just like your obligation outside of the home is work. Actually school is their job.
After school they will replace school days with work days and studying for late night brainstorming sessions. Try making them earn their next video game, dress, or car? Another tactic is to lay down a challenge. Highly intelligent children need challenges - it invigorates them. You’ll want keep the competition away from siblings though. You don’t want the house turning into a battle ground. Another tactic is to have your children write a set of goals. Have them write goals for short and long term objectives. The overall theme is to get engaged in their lives and let them know you care and are concerned about their future.
Assisting our children with their homework and doing their homework for them are not the same. Yet some parents end up doing their child’s homework and school projects. How do you avoid this common pitfall? As in prior tips, a routine needs to be set up and followed by both children and the parents. When your child walks in the door from school they should know what is expected of them and how much time is allocated for homework. A four step success plan is easiest to remember and facilitate:
1. Midday Snack – After a long day at school a midday snack will give them just what they need to hit the books before dinner.
2. Complete Homework – Setup a designated homework/study area so the kids can concentrate and feel comfortable. The area needs to be well light and free of any distraction.
3. Review with Mom or Dad – After completion Mom or Dad has to sign off on each homework assignment before letting junior enjoy recreational activities.
4. Follow up with the Teacher - Always keep in constant contact with your children’s teacher for progress reports. Most schools utilize the web better than most companies. In the beginning of the year ask for the teachers email address and correspondence will be easy.
If your child has difficulty in an assignment ask them to skip over it and together both of you can tackle the task after the rest of their homework is finished. When your child has no homework ask them to review the current chapters they are covering in subjects they are experiencing difficulty. If the lack of homework continues contact the teachers and ask for additional work your child can complete to boost their knowledge in the subject. Preparing our children for college and life is our responsibility. In college there won’t be many days without homework. It’s best they get use to the course load now rather than later.
After you mastered the prior tip you’ll have a good frame of reference for this one. Pick a task a little more difficult, but something you’ve always wanted to try; this could be like wine making, sailing, or making a short film and post on you tube. Anything you always wanted to try but needed a really good reason to start. The possibilities are endless according to the age of your children. I would wait until they reach double digits – 10 or older.
In fact, you can make the lessons part of their double digit birthday. We only turn double digits once in our life. Plus this will give us time to figure out what we want to teach them and learn it for ourselves. Expanding our knowledge of the world and opening up new experiences to our children. You never know what can happen. This lesson could end up being a bond you share your entire lives.
Showing regard for other people’s feelings can definitely win friends. Are we applying the same social skills in the home? Doubtful we are as methodical in our speech at home as we are in the office. As our children reach preteen and teen years they tend to become highly emotional young adults. Knowing this is bound to take place, being considerate around our children is the best way to keep the lines of communication flowing. Try not to treat them as a ticking time bomb. Instead, assist them in managing their expectations of the world.
When a teen takes their first steps out on their own they will make certain assumptions about life. On most occasions those assumptions are far different from what they had in mind. Their “ideas” don’t coincide with the conditions they are thrown into: whether it’s inflated expectations, underrating difficulties, needless optimism, or a negative attitude. The only way to prepare our children for heading on their own is be considerate of their feelings and treating them as equals with respect.
Forgive them for they know not what they do – Jesus of Nazareth
I attended a seminar once and the speaker spoke about forgiveness. He went on to say not forgiving those who’ve wronged us in some way was like carrying a backpack full of rocks. We walk around with this heavy load; wondering, why do I continue to struggle in this world? Why we can’t seem to make progress? Why are we constantly angry or sad or confused about our lives? His answer was simple: “because we lack the will to forgive.” I was never very fond of the quote by Jesus when I was younger. I believe in forgiveness, but always believed we are responsible for our own actions. If we are responsible for our own actions then how did those people not know what they were doing to Jesus? I completely misinterpreted the point because I took his statement too literally.
The people that committed that heinous act did not know what they were doing. How could they? If they knew they wouldn’t have done it. For instance, my biological father believed in hitting. That was all he knew, because in his mind when a child misbehaves you hit them. The means at which parents facilitate this act differs with each person; nonetheless, a beating is going to happen if a child steps out of line. I forgave him a long time ago. Teach your children to be forgiving by practicing daily. If someone cuts you off on the highway, forgive them, maybe they didn’t see you? Maybe they knew not what they did?
Be sympathetic to your child’s needs and wants. A “need” is not as simple as food, air, water, or shelter; nor is a “want” as simple as television, a bike, a car, or video games. Children need and want to run around and play outside. They need and want to play and interact with other children and especially need and want our attention. Our busy lives cause us to run errands and complete home projects on the days we have time. And for most of us the weekend is the time to “get things done”. My girls get so excited when we go to Home Depot, not really.
As we balance our home and work lives we must keep in mind to balance our weekends. Plan out weekend projects and chores so months do not go by and finally we do something with the kids. Keep in mind there is only so many times a child can play with their toys or swing on the backyard set or ride their bikes. Rotate Saturdays and Sundays as such, this week on Saturday its work around the house and Sunday is a family fun day. You can always ask the kids to pitch in and help on Saturday and who wouldn’t want to spend Sunday biking, hiking, or at the park? Any family activities are a joy for children because they just want to spend time with their favorite adults.
It is usually the imagination that is wounded first, rather than the heart; it being much more sensitive. – Henry David Thoreau
In school, children are often asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a common question and eventually we’ll ask them as well. We might have a predisposition on what we want for our children; we can want all we want, but very rarely does it ever happen. Most parents will just say “As long as they go to college I don’t care what they do for a living. Whatever makes them happy?” Many children have no idea what is going to make them happy 5, 10, 20 or 30 years from now. I know I didn’t. Think back to when you were a child and you told your parents you wanted to be an Astronaut or Fireman or Baseball player, were they sensitive to your aspirations? I’m sure they said “That’s fantastic. You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up.”
And you smiled and went on your way. You can very well say the same thing to your child and maybe go a step further? If your child wants to be a fireman, then what about taking him to visit the local fire department? If you called in advance and made an appointment most fire or police departments would welcome the visit. After all, they are public servants. If your child wants to be an Astronaut, then why not take them to a museum with aeronautical displays or take them for a flying lesson? They have to be at least 16 years old before flying solo and 17 before they are issued a license, but being sensitive to your child’s dreams is priceless. You never know you may learn something about yourself along the way?
Children ask a lot of questions. I’m sure sometimes it seems like the questions never stop. Why is the sky blue? Why is it so hot? Why can’t I play in the street? Why can’t I stay over my friend’s house? Why? Why? Why? Answering all those questions with a, “because I said so” or “because that’s the way it is” is not really an answer. Imagine if you had that attitude at work? Your employer asks you, “why are we behind on this project?” and you curtly reply, “Because that’s the way it is.” I’m pretty sure you’d be out of a job after that rude response. Fortunate for us children can’t fire you, we’ll always be their father. We will also make our fair share of mistakes along the way through our parenting career. We don’t have to answer their questions right away, just in a timely manner.
Try fielding questions like the White House Press Secretary. If you don’t have a specific answer, or don’t want to answer a question at a particular time, do a little side step; though make sure you get back to your children in a timely manner. For example:
“Daddy why is the sky blue?”
“Sweetheart, I don’t have an answer for you at this time, but I’ll let you know later today.”
“Because I forgot; I learned in school why the sky was blue, but I have to look it up again. I’ll let you know later today. Is that alright?”
“Alright” – she maybe a little sad, but you responded to her and let her know the importance of her question.
Later that evening get back to her question.
“Honey, do you still want to know why the sky is blue?”
“It is because blue light from the sun strikes the air molecules and scatters and our eyes perceive it as blue.”
“Oh, Daddy what are air molecules?”
Well, you may have to do some more research after all.
My daughters love to draw picture for me. I take every picture they draw, color, or paint and hang them up on a wall or in my office for everyone. Seeing the look on their face after hanging up their latest masterpiece is reason enough. I see how important the ritual is to them. It’s the little victories you celebrate with your children that builds a life. The day you take off their swimmies; the day they first learn to ride a bike; their first day of school; these events all require your attention and acknowledgement. It’s up to you to notice how important something is to your child.
When you walk in the door from work do a mental dump of all work related issues you have fluttering around in your head. Give your children as much attention as you would your boss or a client. People have a way of neglecting those closest so don’t be that person. Practice honing a keen sense of perception and take notice of your loved ones.
Children are in their own little world. Take a simple act as going to the bathroom. I have two little girls and my oldest learned to use the potty in a day and my youngest took nearly a week. I had to assist her through three. I continued to exercise my patience with her because she is on her own path. I could have screamed, hollered, used sarcasm, and punishment all I wanted, but that would have only scarred her and not get her where I wanted her to be. She got there on her own schedule. As I continued to help her, she continued to learn.
Patience is a learned skill. We already know children mimic our behavior; if we are continually stressed and anxious our children will assume this to be normal. If you pull into a restaurant and see a full parking lot, go ahead and park and wait it out. If you are in traffic and someone wants to pull in front of you to get over a lane then go ahead and let them through. Exercise your patience daily and you’ll pass on a vital asset to your children.
A pleasant disposition is noticed by everyone. Most everyone refers to being kind as having manners. Opening and holding doors for strangers, giving up your seat for ladies, and saying good morning to people you meet are underrated qualities. If you want your children to be kind and respectful you must set the example. Children notice the way you peck their mother on the cheek in the morning. Fathers want the best for their daughters and they learn how a man treats a lady by observing you for numerous years. The first man in a girl’s life is her father. Your daughter will choose a partner based on your example. In the same way your son will learn how to treat woman based on your actions. There is simply no way around this natural phenomenon. Showing kindness and expecting the same level of respect from your children will benefit them in every part of their adult lives. You don’t have to pull over and change everyone’s tire on the highway, but you can ask them if they are alright and in need of assistance. When I was younger I suffered a severe eye injury, had no insurance, and was away from home. During this period in my life I wasn’t speaking with my family.
The hospital recommended an eye specialist and made an immediate appointment for me. The hospital never charged me and even gave me a ride to his office. After the optometrist cleaned out and bandaged my eye, I asked him how much I owed him; knowing I didn't have any money I said it neverously. He said, “It’s free of charge.” I said “thank you” asked him “why?” He told me his daughter left home six months ago and hasn’t been in touch since. He went on to say, “I hope if she is in need of assistance, someone will do for her, what I’ve done for you today.” I’m sure he was right.
Be generous in everything you do with your child. Give out compliments in overabundance. Share your love with them at every moment. Bestow your knowledge of food, books, or woodworking upon them. Most importantly teach your children the art of giving. You don’t have to be a philanthropist to give to charitable foundations; you just have to be just generous. Teach our children others are less fortunate than us and donating furniture, clothes, or time is a way to honor our lives. Andrew Carnegie, arguably the greatest philanthropist in history, summed it up quite nicely.
The man who dies rich dies disgraced – Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie donated nearly 4.5 billion dollars (according to today’s standards) before he died and after his death he donated another 250 million. Placing others needs ahead of our own is a valuable trait to pass on to our children.
Our children can be happy everyday without a single hardship or letdown. Is this possible? Maybe if we shielded them from the world, but in actuality they are going to encounter bumps and bruises along the way. Your child can’t win the little league championship every year or become a professional athlete. Or maybe they can? Point being there will be a time when you will need to console your child and show compassion for their suffering; whether it’s getting second place in the science fair or not being asked to the prom. You’re going to “step up” and attempt to alleviate their suffering.
The best way to console your child is tell them you’re proud of them and assist in getting them back on their feet. Let them know how much you love and support them in everything they do. Second place is fine achievement. John Adams lost his first bid for the Presidency and then won the next election. If your daughter doesn’t get asked to the prom and she really wants to go; encourage her to ask someone herself. Let her know strong women get what they want and determination dictates the outcome of any situation. A heartfelt, compassionate talk keeps kids thinking positive and believing anything can be accomplished.
Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do – Benjamin Franklin
This is one of my favorite quotes. You can write a book based on this quote and some people have. There are so many critics in our world that our homes can do without another one. Besides how can you criticize a child for doing something instinctual? You really can’t, so don’t. As our children grow and begin to enter adolescence and adulthood, we are prone to offer our criticism. Resist the urge and hold the tongue. We want to build bridges in our relationship not create obstacles.
Instinctually, no one blames themselves for anything. I’m sure you’ve seen on television perhaps people claiming they killed their spouse only because they caught them in bed with another person. The lawyers shout “It was a crime of passion! My client was temporarily insane.” Instead of critiquing our children let’s work on ourselves. It requires less effort and we will reap the benefits every day. Besides, there is already one of you in this world, do we really need another?
We all make mistakes and no one knows everything. Children ask so many questions so it’s impossible to answer them all correctly; if you make an error then acknowledge your mistake and apologize generously. I drove my children from Jacksonville, Florida to Houston, Texas and along the way I turned off the highway for gas and when I got back on the highway I headed the wrong way. My five year old daughter kept pointing out how the signs looked the same, but I told her we were going the right way. After an hour I realized she was right and quickly turned around.
I apologized to her the rest of the way and I had to endure the recurring question, “Are we going the right way daddy?” It was a very humbling experience. Up until that happened the ride was pretty dull and quiet, but after we laughed, joked, played games, and sang the entire trip. I tell that story all the time and she still calls me “Silly Daddy”. If I didn’t acknowledge my mistake immediately and apologize generously our memory wouldn’t have been as celebrated.
Children act out of instinct and that’s why they touch everything. They need experiences to assist in developing their psyche. Knowing children are sponges and soak up everything they see and hear, then why would anyone purposefully say: “My little Johnny is a bad boy. He gets into everything”? They wouldn’t purposefully say those words, but parents do all the time. Instead of saying Johnny is a bad boy why not say: “My little Johnny is so curious he gets into everything. He’s going to be a smart one”? Curious is more desirable trait than being dreadful because during an age when children do get into everything they are exactly that, curious.
Give your child a prominent reputation and they will likely fulfill your request, whereas condemning your child to mediocrity will only realize your words. Constantly tell your child how smart they are; how loving and thankful they are; how patient and forgiving they are; all the traits you aspire for them to develop reiterate daily. While disciplining your child rationalize what happened and why they are in a timeout through positive words. For example:
We’ll say “Sweetheart, I know you want to be a good girl, don’t you?”
“Yes daddy” – she replies sadly, but understanding.
“I asked you to play nice with your sister and you grabbed the toy from her. That wasn’t very nice, was it?”
“Alright then, you know why you are in timeout?”
“Why?” – I always ask this question.
“Because I took the toy from my sister” – you might even get a little display of what happened.
“You’re a good girl and are always very kind to your sister, so after your timeout are you going to be nice to her?”
“Good girl. I love you”
“I love you too daddy”
After the timeout ask her to go over and apologize to her sister. Even while a child displays unwanted behavior it’s important to solidify their prominent reputation.
Saying I love you are critical words your child must hear as often as possible. Expressing I love you takes time and imagination. Going to work and providing for your family is not expressing true affection, it’s your obligation. Don’t give yourself credit for something you are supposed to do. Making your children oddly shaped pancakes every Saturday morning instead of buying doughnuts is a sign of affection. Try putting some love in their meals.
Like most great chefs presentation is vital in serving a fine meal. You know your audience so work on your presentation and they will love when daddy cooks. Start out simple with mid-day snacks or lunch. Go to the baking aisle in the grocery store and pick out some fun or funny cookie cutter designs. I’m partial to Christmas designs. Instead of slapping bologna on some white bread with cheese or plain old peanut butter and jelly, make the sandwich and cut out a character; its fun, the kids will go crazy, and every meal will be welcomed. If you are artistic carve a little freehand landscape design on their plates. Take this personalized approach with everything you do for the children and they will experience the love you have for them.
Exercising patients with your children is simple. First you need to become a calm person. Proper attitude, diet, exercise, rest and meditation assist greatly. We’ve covered every aspect of the aforementioned in detail and you should be a smiling well-rested fit Zen machine by now. If you are not you better get moving. We all have our days though and yours truly is no exception. Acknowledging you are beginning to lose your temper is the first step in controlling an outburst. For example, you are at the grocery store and stressed for time and the kids are not cooperating, it’s raining outside, and everyone is wet. Half way through the shopping you realize you left your wallet in the car because you were trying to find a spot close to the door and the kids were fighting in the back over an old happy meal toy they found in between the seats. You park the cart, run out to the car with the kids (in another cart) grab your wallet and head back in wetter than before. Sound familiar?
After wrapping up the shopping you wait in line for a half hour attempting to keep the kids nearby and away from the candy in the magazine racks. Finally you arrive at the checkout and the cashier begins scanning. When all the groceries are bagged and in the cart, you pull out your wallet and your debit card is missing, WTF? You remember your wife lost her bank card and asked to borrow yours until hers arrived in the mail. Meanwhile the kids begin fighting over who gets to sit in the cart.
Now is the time to remain calm.
You don’t yell, scream, pull, yank, or briskly walk across the parking lot and throw your children into the car. Instead kneel down to eye level and ask your children to behave and tell them we will be leaving soon. Go a step forward and say,” Please behave for Daddy, please, please, please.”They smile and say, “O.K. daddy.” You can then explain to the cashier your situation and call your wife. If she doesn’t answer take the kids out to lunch and have a good laugh. Go grocery shopping another day.
As children age their interests are going to be different than our own. It’s an all too common occurrence. Parents can handle this in many ways a few are: you can either let distance grow between you or take an interest in your child and close the generation gap. The internet provides a world of information at your fingertips. Are you beginning to notice odd posters on their wall and they’re beginning to dress differently? Then try to Google their favorite artists and download their favorite music from the internet. You never know, you might even like it. The same reasoning applies to any of their interests: movies, games, sports or books. Taking a real interest in your child’s life requires being agreeable. Avoid those awkward moments at the dinner table and become part of your child’s life. Showing a genuine concern in your children’s pursuits builds lasting relationships and common interests.
Smiling is infectious. Have you ever wondered why a dog is commonly referred as man’s best friend? Anyone who owns a dog can tell you every time they come home their dog greets them with a big smile. And why are dog owners so happy to see their dog? Dogs are always smiling. In the early part of the twentieth century Bell Telephone Company installed a mirror in front of their operators so they could see the faces they made over the phone. Below the mirror was the word “SMILE”. The progressive company believed their agents smile projected over the phone lines and into people’s homes. If an infectious smile can transcend the phone lines imagine what it can for face to face discussions. If your child ruins your papers by knocking over a drink, smile. If your child removes some keys on your laptop, smile. If your child continues to ask, “Are we there yet?” You most definitely have to smile. Smiling and keeping a positive attitude is easy when everything is going you way, but it takes strength of character and a forgiving heart to smile when something goes wrong.
“If there is anything we wish to change in our children, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.”
-Carl G. Jung
Showing interest in your children is more than shaking your head up and down every few seconds and seeming engaged. Does the term “mutual dialogue” set off any bells? When playing with your children ask them open ended questions to show real interest in them. Instead of asking, “How was your day?” or “Are you having fun?” Try asking them, “Why are we playing with this toy?” or “What does this toy do?” Stay away from yes/no questions and engage conversation with open ended questions that stimulate conversation. If you do not understand what your child is saying ask the person that probably does, your wife.
If your wife is a stay at home mom chances are she knows exactly what your child is attempting to communicate. Try asking your wife how her day went and what the children learned or played while you were away. Getting incite before engaging your child will assist you in decoding their language.
The decision to have more than one child weighs heavy on most couples shoulders. Do I have enough time to give another child attention? How will our first child respond? What about sibling rivalry? Those are just of the questions that married couple ponder when thinking about “getting pregnant” for a second or third time. If you are fortunate to have more than one child you know children competing for attention can get very heated. Avoid these frequent outbursts by spending time with each individually. Maybe not all of your children will like doing the same activities, actually the chances are very slim. I’ve seen families go as far as take separate vacations with each child. If you enjoy that type of income then by all means give it a try. A week solely with mommy or daddy is a multiple child’s dream. For a day trip take your child to the Zoo or park or ice skating. Sit down and talk with child and ask them what they would like to do with Daddy for the day. You’ll be surprised at what they suggest.
Keeping the romance alive is not as challenging as you may think after having children. Like the rest of your appointments schedule a consistent date night. Whether you decide on once a month, twice a month, or weekly, a consistent date night is detrimental to your marriages success. Most couples take turns choosing what and where they spend their coveted night out. You can take her to dinner and a movie, visit friends, play games (video games, board games or cards), take her dancing to a nightclub or change things up and take her for couple massages.
Can’t get a consistent baby sitter? Try spending the night committed to each other at home. Order takeout from your favorite restaurant and then enjoy a DVD together. You can even include the kids every now and then to join you. A family night together playing games or miniature golf assists in building family camaraderie. As long as you put all of your other activities and commitments aside, a date night at home can be an ideal alternative.
Americans on average do not utilize their vacation time as well other countries. If you do not have the funds to take a family vacation chances are the money is being spent elsewhere. Maybe your vacation money is spent on the new BMW you purchased this year? You know the car you spend 100 hours a year commuting back and forth to work. If you are having difficulty finding vacation money then start thinking outside the box.
Create an account with your bank and save vacation money a little each week. Some banks have creative ways for families to stock pile money. One major bank will save a dollar every time you use your bank debit card for purchases. Don’t get a debit card with your savings account; this will not allow you to withdrawal money from the account unless you go inside the branch. Nice way to save. Start thinking of summer vacations in a nontraditional sense as well. Avoid airports and long family car rides in favor of local attractions. If you live within driving distance from an ocean or lake rent a house for a month. If funds are really low you can take long weekends to spend with the family and continue to work during the week while they enjoy the house the entire month. The family gets to relax for an extended period of time and you can drive your expensive car back and forth, another win-win situation.
Hobbies and personal ambitions are lifelong pursuits and can be the difference between a life worth living and a life spent wondering. Set some time aside for yourself now that you are an expert in trading time and creating a win-win situation. I’m not referencing reading or meditating. I’m discussing lifelong pursuits like learning to play an instrument, climbing a mountain, achieving a black belt in martial arts, competing in a 5K, or a triathlon.
Whatever your pursuits are I’m sure they are worth pursuing. Don’t short yourself on personal goals indulge in them. Go as far as scheduling time for your pursuits. Make a note in your blackberry or your day planner and treasure this time as you would work or spending time with the kids. You’ll live a much more interesting life and never feel the need to look back and wonder: what if?
If you are wise enough to be watching less television and freeing up your day then try getting into the art of mediation. Take at least ten minutes per day and spend it mediating. If you are a religious person the time you spend praying is considered meditating. For this tip we are assuming you do not meditate or pray daily. There are many forms of mediating and I’m outlining the one I find easily practiced. Find a spot in or outside the home where it is quiet; sit down crossed legged or more commonly known as the half lotus position; rest your hands on your legs and in your lap on top of each other folded in your center; straighten your spine and do not slouch; if you are finding it difficult or uncomfortable to sit with your spine erect sit with your back to a wall or post for support; quiet your mind and think of nothing but your breathing; let go of all the tension in your body beginning from your head all the way to your feet; focus on your breathing and slow it down. You must practice slowing your breathing down and think of nothing else for the entire time.
After you have mastered clearing your mind and controlling your breathing, you can present conflicts or obstacles in your life worth contemplating. Over time mediating will result in less anxiety, stress, and muscular tension. And finally, Let me know if you’ve reached enlightenment.
It’s quite easy to figure out your highest priority. Assuming you were sleeping when it started, if your house was on fire what would you grab first? I’m sure right after looking over and seeing that your wife is awake and moving in a coherent fashion your children would be the first thing on your mind. I’m guessing you wouldn’t jump right out of bed and leave her there to fend on her own? Try making a list. When I was married mine was: my wife was my highest priority; followed by my children; then my family; my spirituality; my health and on and on.
Don’t fret if your list is different than the one I outlined above. Some people put their career way up there behind their children, but you should have your spouse and children as one and two. In my opinion, it’s important to place your wife as your highest priority for a number of reasons: she’s your life partner; she’s the mother of your children; she’s your best friend; she’s your confidant; she puts up with you. I could make a much longer list. If you are fortunate enough to raise girls wouldn’t you want your little sweetheart being the highest priority in her husband’s life? I have little doubt you wouldn’t. There is another quote I learned to love over the years and it’s by David O. McKay, it reads, “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
Making decisions to satisfy your ego will get you into trouble. You’ll encounter hardship, turbulence and resistance in your life. Have you ever argued with someone? That was your ego talking. Have you ever argued with someone and said things you shouldn’t have said or regretted later? That was your ego taking control. Neither situation will accomplish anything other than creating adversaries and losing friends. There is quote from Dale Carnegie I’ve learned to love over the years: “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.”
What Mr. Carnegie so very well put into words is only a fool allows their ego to control their emotions, but it takes self control to be understanding and forgiving. Arguments are naturally emotional and that is why you need to avoid them. Honorable people work out their disagreements and an argument is never won. If you disagree with someone listen and recognize their point of view, avoid escalating the disagreement to an argument, sympathize with them, and let the other person do the talking.
Egocentrism is present in mostly children; and as a child becomes consciously aware during the second stage of their psychic life they shed their “I” or ego. Therefore, if you are dominated by your ego you have not transcended to a higher consciousness and are in need of assistance. For whatever reason, internal or external, you did not “make a leap” during the adolescent years. There are many modern day self-help gurus to guide you through your life journey: Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Wayne Dyer and Carl Jung are my personal favorites. Taking time to control your ego will benefit you in every aspect of your life.
I haven’t brought this up in prior tips but if you are in a co-parenting situation which is separated and or divorced, then you’ll need support from friends and family. Separation is never easy but sometimes very necessary. Couples separate for numerous reasons and whatever the reason is for you I’m sure it was a good one. Seeking out support and beginning the healing process will make you a better man and father. Self-help books, family, friends, and the internet will greatly assist you in your time of need. The internet and blogs is a free resource for you to utilize if you find yourself in a co-parenting situation. The important part of the entire process is focusing on the children. As you already know children need consistency and when mom or dad moves out their world is turned upside down. The best advice anyone will give you is to always speak highly of each other and never involve the children in your disputes. Shielding your children from the bickering and badgering will benefit their self-esteem, sense of family, and assist in their mental development. Find a confidant, seek out assistance, and love your children; you’ll find your life beginning to make sense in no time at all.
Just the mention of “kids on a plane” brings on anxiety for most adults. Don’t fret, you’ll have a sure fire regimen when traveling with the kiddies. Try these seven tips when taking flight with the little ones.
1. Spend the money and buy the extra ticket – do you really want to hold anything on plane for three hours? Not a good idea. Purchase a ticket for each family member and you’ll enjoy more space and every one will be comfortable.
2. Flight patterns and sleep patterns do coincide – book your airfare around the time your children’s naptime or when they are noticeably tired. My children tend to get a lull around 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. every day, even though they don’t take naps any longer.
3. Book the right seating arrangements – Sit in the back row of the plane. It’s closest to the restrooms and no one is sitting behind you; so if junior wants to pound on the wall the entire flight he can.
4. Arrive early – Arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight. You don’t want to be doing the “OJ” thing through the airport with your children.
5. Make security check easier - Most airlines have a family line; go to their website and check before arriving. Avoid belts on the kids or yourself and look for slip-on shoes to wear. Everyone will remove their shoes, belts, cell phones, anything electronic or metal. The less you have to take off, the less you have to put back on.
6. What to bring? - Don’t forget to bring a blanket and pillow, luck favors the prepared – you have to create the atmosphere. Everyone gets a carry-on so bring a backpack if you are past the diaper bag phase and load it with a few stationary toys (you don’t want to be crawling for cars and trucks the entire flight), books, crayons, games and if you are fortunate to have one – a handheld video game. Also, bring snacks, juice boxes or Sippy cups (they will help if the kid’s ears begin to hurt) and gum (if the kids know how to chew it). You can base everything on the length of the flight and then add an hour for possible delays. Save the toys, games and snacks for when you are in the air. Also, take the time to let the kids get comfortable in their new environment. Let them enjoy the takeoff and landing – it really is quite an experience for anyone.
7. Expect the best and that’s usually what you’ll get - Expect everything to go as smooth as possible and envision a perfect flight as well as a good time with everyone enjoying themselves. If you are prepared for the challenges and expecting the best you’ll have safe travels and a great experience.
I’ve seen many bachelor pads in my day and of course I lived in one for some time. The most common occurrence was the thick layer of dust that resided on most furniture and certain fixtures. The first rule of cleaning is dusting. If you aren’t very fond of dusting products than a healthy alternative is a paper towel, some water and a drying clothe. Damp your paper towel and begin wiping everything that collects dust starting from the top and working your way down. We’ll start in the living room. If you have ceiling fan wipe that down first. Make your way to the television - it’s a dust magnet - and wipe that down. Before wiping down the T.V. make sure you read the instructions on caring for your television as some require a dry cloth or a special cleaning product. When the television is completed you can make your way around the room. After dusting you can vacuum and you are finished with the living room. Easy enough, isn’t it?
The reason you dust first is to knock down all the dust particles in the room and vacuum them up with the dirt in the rug or on the floor. Make your way to every room and after you can move into the bathroom and kitchen. Since these are areas tend to build much more bacteria you’ll need to invest in some cleaning products, but the same principles apply. Start from the top and make your way down. Make sure you get behind the toilet bowl - no cheating. Happy cleaning!
If you’re going to cook for the family there are some things you should know besides the phones number for the local pizza place. As you know a diet can dictate how you feel, rest and think. Proper nutrition is detrimental for a healthy lifestyle. When cooking dinner, or any other meal, for your children incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables in the meal. Eating foods with high water content will benefit your family tremendously.
If you ever visited the hospital you’ll notice they will always have an intravenous infusion or, I.V., placed in everyone’s arm or hand. The solution most commonly used in I.V.’s is saline which is salt and water. The intravenous drip is used mostly to correct dehydration in patients. All hospitals initially rule out dehydration from most incoming patients.
Serving your family foods with high water content is essential when you are preparing a meal: for dinner always include a fresh raw salad; when preparing lunch pack a piece of fruit instead of cookies or crackers; for breakfast include fresh fruits in their cereal or on their pancakes. Whatever meal you are preparing stay away from foods with additives and preservatives. Additives and Preservatives are poisonous to your family’s body. If you include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetable in the family meals, then they’ll love you for it.
All parenting books instruct on how to make your life easier. One of the tips I’ve read went something like getting someone else to watch your kids while you went grocery shopping and, therefore, you can shop uninterrupted, relaxed, and without fear of the kids running around. I couldn’t disagree more with that kind of advice. Children need social experiences to build their social skills. How else are they going to know how to behave in public unless you let them out of the house?
If you have one small child then placing them in the shopping cart and giving them a snack is the easiest way to ensure wanted behavior. Children tend to act out when they are bored and want your attention so preoccupying them with a snack and a toy will give you ample time to get the shopping completed. If you have more than one child, place the youngest child in the cart before going in the store and have a conversation with your other child or children. Explain to them what the proper behavior is and that you need their assistance in shopping. Have your child put items in the cart to give them something useful to do. Remember to show honest and sincere appreciation, praise, and give them a fine reputation to live up to and your trip to the store will be a fun and exciting adventure.
There is a hierarchy in your home and it was forged without you even knowing. If your wife is a stay at home mom then she is in charge, even when she is not around. It’s best just to accept this and go with the schedule. There really is no use in swimming against the current. After all, she knows all the little nooks and crannies of the children, where they hide things, if they are really sick or just faking and their favorite foods.
She is home all day and you are at work. Understanding and accepting the social order of the house will ensure your families success. Be a great supporter of your wife and raising children will be much easier. When she makes a decision, support her; if she sets a curfew then agree with her; if she cooks the worst dinner you ever ate then eat it with a smile. Chances are she knows she messed up, but you don’t have to bring it up at the table. Letting her save face in front of the children sends the message that mom and dad are a team and make team decisions. If you disagree with something she does or says save it for a time when the kids are not around.
Running a household is a difficult task for anyone. It’s important to share this role with your wife. Cooking, cleaning, picking up and dropping off the kids and caring for the family pet are not the most fun activities to perform daily, but they have to be done. Coordinate with your spouse and come up with a routine that fits everyone’s schedule. Don’t just think because you wash the cars on the weekend and take out the trash your pulling your weight around the house.
Take turns rotating between doing the dishes, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, clothes shopping and dropping off and picking up the kids from school. Like all great partnerships its shared responsibilities that make it work. You’ll enjoy a better marriage, home life and teach your kids how a household is run.
While your kids progress through the lower grades (Pre-K through 5) most teachers will send them home with a list of school supplies for the coming year. Sometimes and not always these lists will include a wish list for the needs of the class. Items like tissues, paper towels and hand sanitizer all flow up and down the page like your own grocery list. I’m fortunate enough to have a friend that teaches; and apparently if these items are not donated by the parents the teachers have to purchase the supplies themselves! I was shocked when I heard the news. I thought the district supplies the classrooms. I did a little research and the district supplies the necessary needs to keep each classroom sanitized and safe for the children. Unfortunately the budget doesn’t include items like hand sanitizers, paper towels in the class room or wipes. These items are considered to be luxury items.
After hearing the news I immediately go out every year and fulfill the teacher’s wish list. Not because I have too, but because these people have a great influence on my children’s academic future and self-esteem. The least I can do is provide them with a little luxury in return.
Have you ever been to on a conference call and one person keeps interrupting the speaker and asking questions? What about after the call is over and the guest presenter asks, “Are there any questions?” And no one answers, just silence. Everyone more than likely had their questions answered during the call. If you are fortunate to have your child open up to you and start showing interest in your conversation don’t interrupt or cut them off. Think of your child as a presenter on a conference call; they are the expert on what is on their mind and what they want to convey so let them.
Ask your child questions you’ll know they want to answer. For example, we’ll assume you are on the computer checking-in for your flight the next day to Seattle and your child walks up to you and asks:
“What are you doing daddy?”
“I’m checking-in for my flight tomorrow morning.” You answer kindly as you are still typing.
“Are you going on an airplane?” Your child replies.
“Yes, I am.”
And your child says “O.K.” and skips away.
There was nothing wrong with this conversation you were kind and informative. Could we have done a better job engaging with our child? Here is the same conversation, but instead we’ll ask our child questions they want to answer.
“What are you doing daddy?”
“I’m checking in for my Seattle flight tomorrow morning. Do you remember daddy is going on a business trip?”
“Daddy, you’re going away again?”
“Yes, it’s part of my job. Do you want to help me check-in for my flight?”
“Come on up here…..” Dad picks up his little girl and places her on his lap.
After helping daddy find his seat placement and assisting in printing out the boarding pass father and child play a nice game together.
European workers value their home life so much that many laws have been placed to protect the life/work harmony. American employees average ten paid holidays per year while our British counterpart’s average twenty-five and our German counterpart’s enjoy thirty. Americans work nearly three months more per year in total hours than Europeans. Over a forty year career a U.S. citizen will work ten years longer than a European citizen. Europeans, by law, can only work a maximum of forty-eight hours per week and many countries enacted lower maximums for their residents.
If you are struggling believing these numbers, don’t take my word for it, go ahead and look it up. You don’t have to live in Europe or work for a European company to live like a European; the choice is yours and always has been. You can change your life today. Dust off your resume and start looking for different options. If you are good at what you do there are always better companies to enlist. There are other options like starting your own business, consulting, and real estate investment. America is the land of the free and home of the brave, so live free and be brave.