Friday, October 28, 2011

Baseball, Dads, and Growing Up (A Guest Post from Josh Solar)

Josh Solar is our guest today. He is one half of The Happy Family Movement, an amazing website that aims to help families live a great life together. Fittingly, today he talks about the bonds formed through baseball.


Memories. You know the ones. All the wonderful memories you created with Dad. All the baseball. The trips to the amusement park in Albuquerque when mom was in some sort of training. The soccer & basketball & swimming (yes, lots of sports). Sneaking food into your room when mom sent you to bed without dinner because you wouldn't quit talking back. I'm sure your memories of Dad vary from mine, but you get the point.


For me, baseball with my dad was IT. The moment I could walk, I'm pretty sure my dad was throwing whiffle balls to me and teaching me how to properly field a ground ball. Watching the Dodgers on TV, eating all sorts of junk food. Most of my favorite memories of my dad involve baseball in some way or another. Especially the time we got to actually go to a Dodgers game and I got to try the world famous Dodger Dog for the first time (Note: It lived up to the hype!). I remember how excited I was when my dad took me to the Dodger store so I could buy all the World Series memorabilia after they won the World Series in 1988… you know, the year when Kirk Gibson hit that home run on one leg.


Now that I'm a dad, I think back to all the things my dad did with me and how they influence the way I raise my son. He's 6 and he LOVES baseball. Every day after school, we either head to the ball park so I can pitch to him, or we just play baseball in the street (we live on a cul-de-sac so it's safe). I'd like to think that my time spent playing baseball with Max will lead to some of life's most important lessons. Patience. Teamwork. The importance of putting in hard work to master a certain skill set. Hustle. Never give up. Be ready for whatever may come your way. Pride (I feel a great deal of pride when he rips a line drive over my head and I see that big 'ol grin as he's proud of himself).


Playing baseball with my son brings me back to all the time spent with my dad. I'm constantly reminded of the impact we have on these young, beautiful little human beings. As a dad, just being there, being PRESENT for your kids, attentive, listening, laughing with them, LOVING them with your whole heart. That's a big deal. I know, at some point, he'll be out on his own. He'll fall in love. Have kids of his own. And when it comes time to play with his kids, I want him to remember all the wonderful things WE did together. To love his family with his whole heart, and pass those same life lessons on to his kiddos.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reconciling Beliefs or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Christ.(A Guest post from Dustin Christian)

Another post from Dustin Christian of Daddy Geek: Raising the Dungeonmasters of Tomorrow. Today he talks about reconciling the differences in his wife's and his faith and beliefs.


Reconciling Beliefs or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Christ

To me, “Christian” is nothing more than my last name. It's a last name that my wife loves because it's applied to her for as long as she can remember, but it's just a name to me.
Rhonda grew up with God as a constant presence in her life. I grew up unsure if God even exists.
I wasn't raised as an Atheist – most of my family considers themselves Christians (the church kind, not the last name kind) and would probably answer the classic question “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?” with an automatic, knee-jerk yes.
I've been to church, I even know the Lord's prayer by heart, but I've always been the type to question everything and forge my own path. Most church leaders I met didn't like it when a kid constantly questioned their faith, even if I was just trying to understand and reconcile what I saw as inconsistencies. Being constantly told to sit down and shut up, and seeing hypocrites like Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker on the television (and hearing about the worst kept secret of pedophile priests) left me full of distrust and disdain for organized religion in general and evangelical Christians in particular.

I went from being Christian by default to agnostic to atheist to... undefined. I've studied and dabbled in other religions, faiths, and philosophies, and developed my own spiritual ideas. I could write thousands of words on the subject, but I now call myself an open-minded agnostic, for the sake of simplicity. I tend to believe there is probably a higher power, but I don't think it matters what you call that higher power – or if you even decide to call that power anything at all – as long as you try to be the best person you can possibly be.

I've never reconciled myself with closed-minded hypocrites of any faith, however. I doubt any one faith has all the answers, and they have to many commonalities to dismiss each other out of hand.

I'd reached the open-minded agnostic, live-and-let-live stage by the time I met Rhonda. But people who were extremely vocal about their faith still made me nervous, and Rhonda definitely wears her faith on her sleeve. As someone with such strong faith, she had never even considered spending her life with somebody who didn't share that faith. And, since we both had kids, any relationship had to beviewed with a consideration towards long-term implications.

While we were very interested in each other, religion was a potential deal-breaker.

When we talked about what we really believed, though, we found that we actually agreed on most things. Rhonda was raised in a Christian family in a heavily Christian small town, but had her own ideas about what was right and what was wrong. While she was without a doubt a Christian, she could see the value in other belief systems and agreed that, as long as they were focused on trying to bethe best person you could be, they were on the right track.
I believe that we've come to the same point from different paths. If I had been raised going to church every Sunday, I'd probably have a lot more faith. If she was raised away from church, she'd probably be a lot more skeptical – though I hope not as cynical as I am. I know that we've influenced each other. I've made Rhonda question things more and consider life from perspectives other than the Christian viewpoint, and she has caused me to have more faith and become more spiritual.

But I digress.

No matter how much we might agree, there was still the big question – once we were sure that ours was a long-term relationship – of how we would raise our children. Rhonda had never considered anything other than raising her kids as Christians and, while I had moved past my issues with Christianity, I wasn't comfortable with my kids being taught that there was only one way. Besides, I'm still not comfortable with a lot of the “morals” that many Christians profess.
In the end, we decided that the boys will make up their own minds about faith and religion. It's inevitable that Christianity will be the first thing they're exposed to. In this country (and particularly this state), they'll also be exposed to Christianity most often. I'm not looking forward to the day when I have to contradict some of the things the boys will hear (especially from their grandfather who is born-again and thus insists there's no other way to be), but at least I can do that without getting angry. I'm sure there will be bigger fights over the racism and homophobia they'll eventually hear from Rhonda's uncles and other bigots.

Rhonda had the idea of taking them to mosques, temples, and gatherings of other faiths, and I would love to do that – if they show interest. I'm not forcing anything on them. If and when they have questions, we'll answer them as openly and honestly as we know how. I hope it can wait long enough that they'll be able to grasp why Mommy and Daddy don't believe exactly the same things, but we'll do what we must.

The most important thing I can teach my kids is that everyone is different, and different ideas are not only okay – they're essential.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Challenges of Fatherhood (A guest post by Alex Walsh)

Today's contributor is Alex Walsh, the publisher of the blog Daddacool (which is listed #8 in Cision's Top 10 UK Daddy Blogs). Today he touches on some of the challenges of fatherhood.


So this Daddy lark then. Has it changed me? Well I’m now capable of wiping someone elses bottom, which is something I never thought I’d be able to do. I barely enjoy wiping my own to be honest. The same goes for sick, I never thought I’d have a poorly toddler clasped to me when they chose to vomit down my back. To this day I remember the walk to the bathroom with chunks of sick worrying their way between my buttocks. And of course, there is the claim to fame I have in my twitter profile that elicits a lot of amusing chortles: Super powers include walking over Lego barefoot AND feeling NO pain!

Of course the experiences are only a small part of it really, and even the rather unsavoury ones have their upside- having a poorly child cling to you because they find you reassuring is special, even if the acidic smell of sick is burning your nostrils.

There are always challenges to being a Dad, and they’re not always the ones you’d expect. I always found little wriggly babies both incredibly delicate and incredibly strong at the same time. I clearly remember getting more frustrated than a newborn in my attempts to get a sleep suit on a baby. I also remember vividly the wrench at leaving my wife alone and confused after my two weeks paternity leave had finished. I even wrote about it for a national newspaper here in England.

And the lack of sleep, oh my goodness the lack of sleep. The boy didn’t sleep through the night until he was one but his little sister Fifi, still doesn’t sleep properly and she’ll be three in January. She was still waking up twice in the night until she was two, and after that she insisted on getting up at around 5am. Enough to make you weep tears of exhaustion.

I like to think that Claire and I are a team though. She might have been the one to carry the kids and give birth to them but I was the one who accidentally ensured that some heavy metal was playing during at least one of the deliveries. I try to do my fair share of the good stuff and the unpleasant stuff, be it bedtime routine and stories (which I always try to be home from work for) to taking them for their immunizations. The biggest challenge I have is not lowering myself to their level when it comes to playing games. I find it really easy to empathise with the children, particularly the boy.

I think though, the thing for me that sums up being a Dad perfectly is one of those days I come home to be met at the front door by the boy. He has a worried look on his face, mingled with a slight trace of worry. He gives me something precious to him that’s been broken and has complete faith in me to make everything all right. It’s a fairly well placed faith as far as he’s concerned. When we were lucky enough to go on holiday to Lake Garda, Italy, we spent hours walking around a fortified walled city. When we got back to the hire car, he said, “Where’s bunny?” We had 20 minutes on the parking meter left and he had lost his most precious cuddly toy in a walled city. I ran off at speed and came back 17 minutes later with his bunny. He was unconcerned, because I was his Daddy and he had complete trust in me to make things okay. And that is what it means to me to be a Daddy.


Time Sure Goes By Fast (A guest post by John Willey)

John Willey is the author of Daddy's In Charge? and one of this year's Best Dad Blog Award Nominees. Check out his Lego movies (starring everyone from Chuck Norris to Spiderman) which record his singular views on fatherhood.


"Time sure goes by fast, huh Daddy?" - my son Tyler

Yeah Tyler, it sure does.

It seems just like like yesterday I was sitting outside the operating room crying hysterically both scared to death and happy all in the same moment. Scared to death that your mother was having an emergency C section but also happy because it meant that you were on your way out. I was also scared to death because my life would change forever, I was now going to be a dad, and I had no idea what that was actually going to mean. Time sure does go by fast, I remember the first night you were home from the hospital, you were crying your little eyes out and we had no idea what the problem was. The only thing that we could think of was to put a binky in your mouth, it worked wonders. It still took you a long time until you slept through the night, but look at you now, you sleep like such a big kid, although you could go to bed on your own sometimes.

Time sure goes by fast, I can remember sitting in your bedroom late one night and you rolled yourself from your back to your front. It was just you and me and I thought that nothing could be better than that moment. Then you started to crawl, albeit like a wounded army man, and you could now get around on your own. You didn't need me to carry you everywhere. Look at you now, you are faster than a speeding bullet and you run everywhere you go. We have had a lot of nights like that one in your bedroom, a lot of great moments.

Time sure does go by fast, you used to need us to read everything to you. You didn't know your ABC's or how to count to ten. But you figured that all out, you turned into such a smart little kid. The smartest in fact! You used to just scribble everything, before you knew how to write or draw. But look at you now, look at what in incredible artist you are. You amaze me everyday with that little brain of yours.

Time does go by fast, you used to be the only baby that we had. It used to be only you, but then along came Carter. We had an idea that you would be a great big brother, but seeing how you are with him, you really turned into the best big brother in the whole world. He loves you so much! You have gotten to be such an awesome little kid in these past seven years and you grew up so fast, it makes me wonder sometimes where it all went.

"Time sure goes by fast huh daddy? I came into your room at 6:30, (fell back asleep) and now its already 7:45. How did that happen?"

I have no idea Tyler, I have no idea.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Redefining the Definition of "Fatherhood" (a guest post by Matthew Peregoy)

Today's second article is by Matt Peregoy, The Real Matt Daddy. He lives with his family in Gettysburg, PA. He gave up a 70 hour work week for a national retailer to be a stay-at-home dad for his daughter and is married to a wonderful woman who "trusts me enough to give this experiment a try while she goes back to work full time." Today he talks about men who are redefining the definition of "fatherhood."


First, I want to thank Erin for featuring dads on her blog. We don’t always get the attention we deserve (and that’s okay with most of us), and we certainly haven’t been painted in a good light by the media over the past several decades. I don’t have to tell you about the stereotypes that the media uses to categorize men and fathers. Just watch Fox on Sunday night. The thing that most concerns me, is what is being done to stop the negative connotation of the words “dad,” “husband” and even “stay-at-home dad.” The only "thing" that is going to change the minds of people and the media is dads becoming more engaged with their families. For many families, that might mean a job change or a "role swap" where dad stays home and mom goes to work. As a stay-at-home father, I felt like I was making a huge sacrifice to walk away from a career to stay at home with my daughter. It was providing, but in a different way than is traditional in America. It took me a while to be okay with that, and the key to wrapping my head around it was finding support from other guys that are doing the very same thing. So, in an effort to help change the negative stereotypes that dads face, I wanted to take the opportunity to let you know about several men that are fighting to get the good image of dad back by defending and advocating for involved fathers everywhere.

Al Watts

President, Daddyshome, Inc


Al has been an at-home dad for 8 years and has four children ages two to eight. He is the President of Daddyshome, Inc. a non-profit organization that provides support, education and advocacy for dads who are their children’s primary caregiver. In addition to his work with Daddyshome, Inc., Al also writes for Al was largely responsible, along with Dr. Aaron Rochlen, for getting TIME Magazine’s online affiliate “Healthland” to change the headline and URL of a story that claimed, “Stay-At-Home Dads Are More Likely to Divorce” (the URL was worse!). The editors of the story had an angle, and they used a study that was completely unrelated to make a wide generalization that the study’s own data did not support. Through Al’s work, the headline and eventually that URL were changed to more accurately reflect the data in the study that “Unemployed Men Are More Likely to Divorce” not stay-at-home dads. You can read about the entire situation on the Daddy’s Home Blog HERE.

Dr. Aaron Rochlen
Associate Professor in Counseling Psychology University of Texas at Austin


Dr. Rochlen is a licensed psychologist, and a married father of two. His research has focused on men and masculinity, including men’s barriers to help-seeking, men and depression, and men in non-traditional family roles. He has published several studies on stay-at-home fathers and their families, and has appeared as the keynote speaker at several at-home dad conventions. His work has appeared on The Today Show, NPR, CNN, and in publications like The New York Times and USA Today. Dr. Rochlen’s work is unique in that it studies the relationships of families with a male in a non-traditional role such as an at-home father, a nurse, or a elementary school teacher. His research is helping us understand why more men are rejecting traditional roles in our society, the impact those decisions have on their families, and what we, as a society, can learn from this shift. For more of Dr. Rochlen’s work, you can read the following articles: A Q&A With At-Home Fathers, A Recent Article for, and Honey, I’m Home – Stay-at-Home Dads’ psychological well-being guaged in this new study.

Bruce Sallan


Bruce is a one-of-a-kind renaissance man with a big smile and a heart for adventure. He’s got a passion for family, and a determination to create great content for today’s dad. Bruce works with dads through his weekly parenting column that is written from the male perspective and is featured in several newspapers. He produces his own internet radio show as well. He has also written a book called “A Dad’s Point of View: We ARE Half the Equation,” and he even translates some of life’s best examples of this idea into a comic strip series called “Because I Said So.” He uses whatever spare time he has left to curate the discussion at #DadChat on Twitter every Thursday at 9PM EST and enjoy life’s adventures with his wife and two sons.

C.C. Chapman
Founder Digital Dads


C.C. Chapman is the Founder of Digital Dads and the author of Content Rules. He is a family first entrepreneur with two great kids. He loves the outdoors, cooking, photography and technology. He consults with companies around the globe to help them embrace the new world of marketing and business. Mr. Chapman is frequently challenging the current trends in media that tend to portray dads in a negative way. For example, he recently went to bat with Ragu and their parent company Unilever about their recent campaign to “rescue dads” from the kitchen, but not only offering criticism, but also suggesting how they could have done it better. You can read about it on his blog HERE. No matter what he is up to, you can bet that C.C. is defending dads and, more importantly, helping companies understand how to change their definition of dad so that this negative trend can be over with.

Lance Somerfeld & Matt Schneider
Founders - NYC Dads Group

Lance and Matt are stay-at-home dads that found themselves looking for a way to provide an opportunity for their kids to meet up and play, and not only that, they wanted to build a support network for other dads that want to be involved with their families. Two years ago they founded the NYC Dads Group, and it has rapidly grown to over 425 active dads! They do playgroup and educational events including a New Dad Boot Camp. Their site also has information about how to start your own dad's group. They have been featured on CBS News and NBC’s Today Show and in publications like USA Today and Parenting Magazine. They were recently asked to be a part of the New York City New Parents Expo. They were asked to sponsor the “Dad Lounge,” and the event planners originally wanted this to be an “escape” for dads, way off in a corner, to hang out and do mindless activities like play Xbox and sit on couches while their wives went around to the vendors at the expo. Lance and Matt did not hesitate to seize the opportunity. They said, “Yes, we will do the sponsorship, but we want to do exactly the opposite of what you’re planning. We want to show dads how to be more involved with their kids... and we want your largest booth... and we want to be in the center of the hall.” How’s that for changing the definition of dad? They showed all of the attendees and vendors just how important it is to be an involved father!

If you want to keep up with my adventures as a stay-at-home father, you can check out The Real Matt Daddy Blog.

A Father's Future (a guest post by Steve Birkett) #pregnancy

I first met Steve Birkett during one of @BruceSallan's #dadchat twitter parties (Thursdays at 9:00 EST). When I learned that he was a first time expectant parent I asked him if he would write a post about his thoughts on his future fatherhood. He gladly obliged. Steve is a social media consultant primarily focusing on the music industry. You can read more about his business (and contact him if you are in need of a social media consultant) at his blog Above The Static.


A Father's Future

I first learned of my shift from aspiring Daddy to real life Father-to-be on a sleepy Saturday morning this past summer. Having satisfyingly pounded the snooze button for perhaps the thirtieth time, I was presented with an altogether more persistent form of wake up call: an ecstatic wife with a positive pregnancy test. My lie-in would have to wait (a situation that I've since been informed to get used to).

Having tried for over one year to conceive - enduring all manner of unpleasant treatments for my strong-willed wife - I was, of course, feeling elated. Relief, uncertainty, joy, questions, and confusion also flooded through me, the latter quite possibly down to being half awake and not entirely convinced that the whole thing wasn't a particularly vivid dream.

Tears, tea, and talking to my wife brought home the reality of the situation: I'm going to be somebody's Dad.


The More Things Change...

The first thing that surprised me was the disconnect between the enormity of the news and how little it actually changes things, in the short term at least. We couldn't really tell people outside of close family for a month or two, so no great hype built up around our life-changing event. We had a lot to learn, but nine months is a significant amount of study time (please, remind me of that one week before the due date!). Even our eating habits didn't need to be adjusted that much until the second trimester. My wife doesn't drink much and neither of us smoke, so there were no addictions to suddenly break.

In some ways, at least practically, this was business as usual. Mental preparation and not too much else.

In the absence of practical steps, I always turn to research. My better half Jen has a similar reaction, so we both felt a trip to the Borders fire-sale to be in order. The Brooklyn Central Library has since been raided on multiple occasions since that day, having spurred us both to finally register for library cards. Then we turned to the online resources like webzines, blogs, Twitter chats... information overload!

Between the pregnancy planning books, online medical articles, mommy blogger advice, and myriad other information sources on offer for parents-to-be, it could be argued that over-reading is almost as troublesome as under-reading. Sure, there are some crucial things to know - how much to budget, safety tips, and how you’ll never get to sleep again - but the unabated hypochondria of the Internet age can also kick in, with self diagnosis of every potential health concern. A fine line to walk indeed.

Nonetheless, forewarned is usually forearmed. Given the choice, I'd rather understand potential risks and rule them out, than remain oblivious. In the case of new parents, I'm very much of the mind that ignorance is not bliss.

Man In The Mirror

In addition to thinking about me having a child, I've also spent a lot of time reflecting on the child having me. It's a strange thing to contemplate, how a person that doesn't yet exist as a person will come to view you. I find these thoughts guiding my decisions more and more as the pregnancy becomes more 'real'.

Inevitably, there will be many more trials, triumphs, and tribulations to come before my wee one arrives...and then, I'm told, the "real fun" begins! Despite the knowing smiles with which that phrase has been delivered to me, I can't recall anticipating any event quite this fervently since my wedding day.

And for all the reading I'll have done and guidance that I've sought, one piece of advice will be at the forefront of my mind:

"Just when you think you’re getting the hang of it, everything changes and you realize that you still know nothing.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Father Figures: Howard Vawters, Sr.


Have you ever sat down to write something but the enormity of it froze you in your tracks? That's how I am feeling right now writing this post about my Grandpa. He was and will forever be one of the most important people in my life. We were a very tight knit extended family and from as early as I can remember got together for any occasion, no matter how small. It was well known among everyone that I was Grandpa's favorite. He was mine, too.

I went fishing with him. And camping. He taught me my first piano lessons. I would go to his house often just to visit with him and Grandma. Grandma and Grandpa were interwoven into each other, having known each other since grandma was 5 years old. They were second parents to me, just not quite as strict as my mom.


He had many jobs during his life, including administrative positions, teaching at a local community college, tuning pianos on the side, working as a security guard, the list goes on. To me, he will always be tuning a piano (or playing one, songs like "Fascination" and other standards; he loved to play his piano, which now sits in my living room) and a cool college professor who talked to his psychology students about metaphysics.


Metaphysics. He was a Rosicrucian who had passed all but the highest level. He believed in all ghosts and aliens and telekinesis and claimed to have astrally projected to another country. But then, he believed every cover of The Weekly World News and Enquirer as if they were The New York Times. He truly believed in Bat Boy - really, I'm not kidding (which astounded us as he was an educated man and an educator). When I was a kid, all of this was Amazing to me; now that I'm older it just adds to his character, which was larger than life.

I've yet to meet someone who could talk more than him. And he had an opinion on everything. And he was gonna tell it to you. I have to tell you, there were areas where his prejudice would arise and times when he would talk and you wondered what the heck he was talking about. He wasn't perfect, and he didn't know everything he thought he did (even though he was a highly intelligent man), but I loved him just the same.


I don't even know how to put into words how much I loved him. He was a kindred soul, someone who seemed to understand me and was every bit as quirky and eccentric as I was, just in other ways. He could be very cranky and mean at times, but I couldn't imagine him not being there, with his astounding stories or huge pronouncements, and just being able to sit and watch him, be in his presence.


He was a lifelong pipe smoker, started in WWII when he was barely out of his teens. And he was never more belligerent than when someone told him that smoking his pipe wasn't good for him. That pipe was a part of him (we all have one of his pipes now - I smell mine quite a bit to remember him). In the end, he got lung cancer that metastasized everywhere in his body including his brain. In his final few months, he became befuddled, argumentative to an extreme; it was like all of the worst traits that he has magnified. And then there were moments when he was himself, claiming that with herbs and right living he would get rid of the cancer.

But he didn't. He was put in hospice at the same time I was in the hospital having William. I always pictured that I would be buy his bedside in his final hours, but I was on absolute bed rest and had a preemie and there was no way for me to get to him. And he was at most 2 blocks away from me, which stung even more. One of the greatest pains of my life is that he never was able to see William and I wasn't able to tell him goodbye in his final hours. To have just held his hand one more time . . .


He knew that I was going to give William his name as a middle name and as he was dying, shortly after I had Will, he asked my cousin if I really had given him the name Howard. She told me that when she told him yes he smiled and seemed calmer.

And when I talk to William about his name, I tell him daddy picked out William, but Howard came from my grandpa, someone who I still love almost as much as I love him.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don't Take My Advice (A Guest Post by Richard Monroe)

There are just some bloggers that you instantly connect with. Richard Monroe, author of The Butterbottom Blog is one of mine. He's funny, nice, and willing to help with anything. He also knows my favorite donut (peanut from Jolly Pirate) and delights in reminding me. I've become a peanut expert on Klout, and I believe it's all because of him.

Richard started blogging as an adjunct to his clothing line Butterbottom. He soon realized that he loved the process of writing as it helped him reflect on what is important in life, what's not, and, most importantly, what he can turn into satire. He lives with wife Laura and sons Henry, 7, and Turner, 5.


Don't Take My Advice

When my pal Erin asked me to contribute to her Dadtober blog special, first thought was: of course I'll help her. Which was soon followed by, does that mean I have to write something new? That sounds like work. Erin, being the great sport, said it was fine to contribute something already posted on my blog, which was relevant to her theme.

But honestly my reluctance wasn't complete laziness (although that was a large part of it), but the issue of parenting advice and its irrelevance to anyone but your own children.

As contradictory as this sounds, the best parenting advice and the only one I've ever adhered to was told to me by a former colleague who I never would have taken for a parenting guru. About a month before our first was born, he simply said, "Look, after about two weeks, nobody on the entire planet is going to know your baby better than you and your wife. So you don't need to listen to anybody else. Its your kid, you'll know him or her better, so just do what you think is best."

And that seems just about perfect. In reality, every single child out there is different. So however one person deals with their kid has 0% to do with what you should do with yours (unless that person is your spouse of course). And if you have more than one child, you will find that each of those kids needs their own style of parenting. The nice compassionate extremely patient parent may be great for one, while the other may need the 'tough love' parent. Just threatening my oldest with a timeout stops him in his tracks, whereas the younger will not stop till whatever punishment is put in place.

But what really complicates things is that they grow and change and no two days are alike. So suddenly, your once introverted kid is suddenly mouthing off at school and a cocky little son of a gun. Or one day, after weeks of just general unpleasantness, your kid wakes up and seems like a brand new child and you think "I don't know what happened, but I'll take it".

And then they can pull a 180 in the midst of a single day. How many days have you had the best morning turn into the worst night? Or vice versa? Or how many times has one of your kids been totally awesome and then turns into a complete sourpuss, just as the other one has suddenly gone from acting too big for his britches to being the best daddy's little helper?

Its like the scene from The Incredibles when discussing the Omnidroid 9000, Bob says, "Let me guess, it got smart enough to wonder why it has to take orders from you?" That's childhood in a nutshell.

So, who am I to give you advice? Whatever I think probably doesn't work for your child and even if it does today, it won't tomorrow. So all you can do is keep fighting the good fight and start looking at military schools in your area.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Getting To Know Your Newborn (A Guest Post by Mark Perlman)

Today's guest post is an excerpt from the book Caring For Your Newborn, Dr. Oslson Huff nd Nicole Rawson-Huff eds. It was submitted by Michelle Hutchison, Managing Editor of Sixty Second Parent.

Mark Perlman, the post's author, has 35 years of experience working with parents, children, and families in strengthening the family bond. He authored The Nurturing Father’s Program, a thirteen-week parenting curriculum for men that has been utilized by thousands of fathers and implemented by organizations such as Prevent Child Abuse, Head Start, and Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative. Mark also authored the MArraige and PArrenting Program (MA & PA), which helps couples parent successfully as a team. He is the past Executive Director of the Family Counseling Center, the Child Protection Center and Fathers United Network (FUN) of Sarasota, Florida. He has served on the Florida Commission on Responsible Fatherhood, Commission on Marriage and Family Support, and currently on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention and Permanency Council. Mark is the proud married father of two grown sons.

Getting To Know Your Newborn

The days and weeks that follow the birth of your new baby are a busy time. As a father, you will likely continue to be the support person for your partner as well as communication central for family and friends. You will be juggling many roles and responsibilities.

It’s important that you take time to get to know your baby. Don’t hold back; jump right in and be an involved father.

If you are not too familiar with newborns, ask the delivery nurse how to hold your baby and any other questions you may have. These first days and weeks provide a unique opportunity for you to establish a bond and begin the relationship with your daughter or son that will last a lifetime.

Look for opportunities for you and your new baby to spend one-on-one time together, for example, when your partner is sleeping, needing a break, or preparing for nighttime feedings. Some new dads offer to get up to give the baby the middle of the night bottle (if bottle feeding) because it is such a peaceful and quiet time to hang out together – and mom will love the extra sleep.

Some dads describe holding their baby in one arm (head carefully supported) while doing some light work around the house. Other dads smile when they describe their baby falling asleep on their chest while they watch sports on television.

Use your five senses to learn about and enjoy your newborn:

  • Sight--Look at his face (eyes, ears, tiny nose), hands, feet, hair (if any).

  • Watch his facial expressions, awake or asleep. Smile and make funny faces. Close face-to-face contact allows your baby to see your face.

  • Sound--Listen to your baby’s breathing and the many sounds he makes.

  • Touch—Caress his soft cheek, feet, and tiny hands. Place your finger in his hand and see if he grabs hold. Bend your finger and let your baby suck on your knuckle. Let your baby lie on your chest. (This may work best with your shirt off because babies love skin-to-skin contact.) I also recommend that you and your partner learn infant massage.

  • Smell—Take in his feast of amazing smells – hair, scalp, face, and other smells (with which you will become too familiar).

  • Taste—Kiss your baby’s forehead, cheeks, hands, and feet.

Hold your baby close: After being in the enclosed womb for nine months, infants are used to being cuddled and held close. All of the above activities also engage your baby’s senses, which stimulate his growth and development.

By Mark Perlman

Friday, October 14, 2011

Stupid, Selfish, or Just Plain Silly (a Guest Post By Barry Silver)

Barry Silver's blog, A Life Well Lived Concludes With A Smile is not a Dad Blog, but he does speak about his children and family often. Instead Barry writes about a bit of everything, current events (as in the case of this post) to media and entertainment, with appreciation of life smaller moments thrown in.


Stupid, Selfish or Just Plain Silly.

My fall Sunday morning radio is usually dominated by one topic: the NFL and more specifically The Bears (please hold on to your snide comments, Monday night’s game was a season’s worth of penance). The Sunday was a bit different because the Bears were playing Monday night. In lieu of Bears talk the local sports talker provided wall to wall live coverage of the (insert sponsor’s name here) Chicago Marathon. If you’ve never heard a Marathon covered on radio it’s like listening to a magic show, except not nearly as exciting. This Marathon had something a little different, although I didn’t find out about it until Monday.

Life Is Not A Sprint, It’s A Marathon.


Amber Miller, a dedicated recreational runner finished the marathon in roughly 6 ½ hours. In itself that is a remarkable feat. I couldn’t finish a marathon in 6 ½ days. Even more astounding and dumbfounding, Ms. Miller was 39 weeks pregnant and gave birth to a healthy baby hours after crossing the finish line.

Before I jump into treacherous waters, I’m not a fan of men’s opinions of pregnancies. When my wife was pregnant, my two primary sentences were “How can I help?” and “Yes, of course dear”. As eyes roll at the previous sentence, I am not being flippant. Whatever help I provided my wife during pregnancy, there is no way possible I was sharing the responsibilities of pregnancy equally. Since % of opinion is guided by % of labor pains borne, I return to “I’m not a fan of men’s opinions of pregnancies”.


When you choose to become a spouse and a parent you willingly put the needs of others ahead of your own needs. Since I am writing this post between my two kid’s bedtimes, I understand the delicate balance between the needs of family and the needs of self. So before I unsheathe my verbal stiletto, I want to point out some of the things that Amber Miller did not do wrong:

1. Amber Miller was never far from adequate medical care. In addition to the usual marathon medical accommodations the Chicago Marathon course is never more than ½ hour from a hospital. Children’s Memorial Hospital which can serve any manner of high risk pregnancy is either in close proximity or on the course.

2. Amber Miller is in great physical condition. Additionally she walked the 2nd half of the course avoiding the body’s self cannibalization during the last miles of a marathon.

So exactly what was wrong with Amber Miller running a marathon pregnant? It was an awful decision!

Q: Don’t we all make silly decisions from time to time, especially when faced with a new situation?

A: Yes we do. This was the third marathon Amber Miller had run while pregnant. She was pregnant twice before (albeit at earlier stages of pregnancy) and ran marathons.

Q: Did she have a contingency plan if she couldn’t finish the marathon?

A: She actually didn’t plan on finishing the marathon. So why start?

Q: Why register for a marathon when pregnant?

A: She didn’t know she was pregnant when she signed up for the Chicago Marathon. Obviously calendars, calculators and medical advice are in scarce supply in Ms. Miller’s home city.

Q: What did her husband think about Ms. Miller participating in a marathon?

A: He was participating with her every step of the way. Husband and wife finished the marathon together.

You Decide.

Judge not, lest ye be judged.” I’m familiar with the quote. Still, being a parent is a series of seemingly endless decisions. I’m sure there are parental decisions I’ve made that many would consider awful. But, running/walking a marathon in the final weeks of pregnancy? What’s the upside? How about the downside? I’m sorry but the decision was selfish. I can’t see it any other way.

What about you? Do you think the decision to participate in a marathon at the end of the third trimester was stupid, selfish or silly? What would you do? How would you feel about the comments that follow your decision? Do you have any examples of parents making head scratching decisions at or near a due date?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Making Up for Lost Time (a guest post by Justin Mannato)

Today's guest blogger is Justin Mannato of Daddy Knows Less. Justin's inspiration is is daughter (known as "Peanut" on the blog) and he strives to catch parenthood in real time. He captures the moments, large and small, that make up parenthood and family. Daddy Knows Less is Circle of Moms #12 Top Daddy Blogs.


Making Up For Lost Time

Sometimes the smallest thing will stop you in your tracks. And break your heartd

Another day started way too early as my alarm sounded at 4:24 in the morning. I dragged myself out of bed and stumbled downstairs, towel and razor in hand. I shower downstairs to ensure I don't wake everyone up.

There it was: frozen in time

Then, I saw it. Sitting there on one of the stools under the counter. One of the Peanut's books.

And that's when it hit me. Smacked me in the face, in fact.

Yesterday evening the Peanut ran into the kitchen holding that book. Did she want me to read it? No. She wanted to show me something in it. It's a book with a different dog on each page, and when you turn the pages each different dog takes on the same big googily eyes. She wanted to show me which one looks like Luna.

But I was too busy. To my defense, I really was very busy. I had to delay getting dinner started because Luna once again crapped in the living room. So I was annoyed and busy.

And it grosses me out to have to clean up dog poop and cook a meal. The hand washing knows no end.

Standing there in the kitchen ten hours later, guilt consumed me. I remembered telling the Peanut to please wait. I wasn't nasty. I nicely explained to her that because Luna had an accident, I couldn't look right now. But I will in a minute.

This is the daily struggle we as working parents endure. Sometimes I stop doing what I'm doing and pay attention to her. If not, I will follow up in a minute, when I have a minute. (But who ever has a minute?)

That minute never came. I felt devastated. I felt I had disappointed her. I showered, soaked in sorrow.

When I came home tonight to start dinner, I saw that book again. Forgotten again. By me. By the Peanut. Now 24 hours later, it still sat on that same stool.

I hadn't even taken my bag off my shoulder when I announced to her, "You know what I'd like you to do right now? May you show me what you wanted to show me in this puppy book?"

She immediately ran in from the playroom, as if no time had passed. She grabbed the book, turned the pages, and showed me.

"This one is Luna:"


Then she turned a few pages and said, "And this one is me.”


Maybe she didn't think anything of it. Maybe she did. Either way, I felt like in that one little moment, I saved her a trip to the therapist. I righted a wrong.

And in that moment, we both felt better. All it took was a little time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

9 Great TV Dads

These days you'd be hard pressed to find a wonderful TV dad. They are out there, but really, where are the Cliff Huxtables and Andy Taylors of today. Cartoons give us bafoonish examples like Jimmy Neutron's completely lost father, i Carly's dad is absent and she's more mature than Spencer, and where is Victoria Justice's dad on Victorious? Our kids are being exposed to some pretty bad examples.

Back in the day we had amazing father figures to look to. Here is my list, in no particular order, of great TV dads.

Ward Cleaver


He is my prototypical TV dad. Always a wise word, loving with his wife, great with his boys, he knew how to take his shoes off, put his slippers on, and read the evening paper before dinner. He got mad at the boys when they were bad, but not too mad. Just angry enough that the Beeve and Wally knew they'd disappointed the old man, which was just something you didn't do to Ward Cleaver. He was too good to be someone you'd want to disappoint; instead, he was the type of man you aspired to grow up to be.

Steven Keaton


Always the wise word, because he used to be a hippie. Which made him cool, even though he was now a sort-of-yuppie. Also, he lived in Columbus, OH, and NO t.v. show was set in Columbus, ever (although us Columbus kids couldn't really figure out where he lived, in his lovely Victorian house and safe neighborhood, a combo that wasn't as common then as it is now). His son Worshiped at the alter of capitalism and Ronald Reagan, something he was totally opposed to (remember, hippie), but he loved him and listened to him just the same. His daughter brought home a scary looking artist dude and he accepted him. He got angry, and the kids didn't want to disappoint him, either, because at the heart of it, he was a good man who loved his family and he wasn't afraid to say it. And his son was Michael J Fox.

Dan Conner


Dan was an every man. He worked on motorcycles. His business failed. He worked hard to keep his family supplied for. He didn't like his life at times and at others loved it and everyone in it. He threw angry fits at times, but usually saw the humor in life. Dan took things as they came at him and handled them the best he could, which was usually pretty well, given that he was poor and had a crass, domineering wife, rebellious, disaffected kids, and an absolute mess of a father, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law. He gave funny yet insightful advice to his family and was as protective as he could be. Blessed with a big belly and a big heart, we all loved him.

Andy Taylor


Probably one of the moral people ever on TV. The town sheriff who wouldn't let his deputy load his gun (for obvious reasons). He raised his son in an authoritative yet gentle manner; you were never in doubt of who was in charge. When Opie killed a bird, he didn't like it and let Opie know it, but he let Opie work out the ethics of it all on his own. He was always there for his son, Aunt Bea, Helen, and everyone in town. The handsomest man in church, he ate the kerosene pickles just to make sure Aunt Bea was happy. If every boy aspired to be an Andy Taylor, just imagine what a fabuous, Mayberry of a world we could live in.

Charles Ingalls


Frontier dad who built a log cabin, could dig a well, and saw his children through a life threatening illness practically every episode. Could deal with tragedy better than any human being ever born, and had the authority to get his family (and everyone else in town for that matter) through it as well. Strong, silent, loving, godly. Was Charles Ingalls perfect? Maybe.

Steve Douglas


Widower, aeronautical engineer, and understanding father to Mike, Chip, and Robbie, and later, Ernie. A family of boys who grew into men, accompanied by grandfather "Bub" and housekeeper Uncle Charlie. Along the way, the boys got married, had a few kids, they moved from Illinois to California, and Steve ruled the family along the way.

Howard Cunningham


A man who found his calling when the toilet overflowed. Local hardware store owner, devoted husband, lodge brother, and bowling league member. Let a greaser live over his garage and eventually became the closest thing to a father that greaser ever had. Raised a superb son of fine moral fiber (even though he barely tolerated his goonie friends) and a spazzy girl in a poodle skirt (even though she eventually ran off with the greaser's cousin to live over a pizza shop and sing cheesy duets). Had it going on long before "had it going on" meant anything.

Tim Taylor


Sure, he was a TV handy man who couldn't fix anything. That didn't matter when he got home (well, it did, but there was always Al to fix what he broke). At home, he was a manly man, raising three boys to become honorable men, drinking a beer here and there, and restoring his series of amazing hot rods. He and his wife had IT going on, even though they had a fight here and there. Slightly befuddled but spot on where it counted, he knew when to ask his sage neighbor for advice, and always seemed to get it right in the end.

Cliff Huxtable


When Americans were asked which TV dad they would most like to have, all of the above men made the list, along with Ben Cartright, Ozzie Nelson, Mike Brady, and, inexplicably, Peter Griffin, but Cliff Huxtable was #1 by a landslide. And lets all face it, Cliff is the best dad on TV, ever. He's funny, smart, likes to play with kids, love his wife, may not get what he wants all the time but can laugh his way through it, and will go to unending lengths to teach his kids a lesson (such as when he cleared out Theo's room, created a fake job, made him rent his room back, buy all the furniture, leaving him, of course, with nothing at the end of the day to have fun with, all the while enlisting every member of the family as bit players in Theo's lesson in economics). Who didn't love his wacky sweaters, his love of jazz, and his attempts to eat whatever he wanted despite Claire's watchful eye. I really could write an entire thesis on Cliff (and I'm sure a few people have), but I will end it here, wondering "Will there ever be another Cliff?"

Who are some of your favorite TV dads, and who did I forget?
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