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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Mashable Generations!

Watched the Grammys last night with the kids. I have to tell you, it’s something I recommend every dad does. There must have been no fewer than 2,582 teaching opportunities throughout the evening. From Beyonce’s opening “performance” to the Metallica / Lang Lang mashup, to Paul Williams being on stage with Daft Punk, there were countless opportunities to talk about everything from Imagethe objectification of women in media to musical influences through the decades. But probably the most important thing about the evening was that it was an opportunity for us to learn a little more about each other as well. When I asked my daughter if she knew who the woman singing with Sara Bareilles was, she replied, “NO idea dad.” I promise you that my daughter will be listening to Tapestry tomorrow. She’ll also be receiving a refresher course in Beatles history as well as a copy of Merle Haggard’s Okie from Muskogee

Meanwhile I’m going to be taking a moment to listen to some of the artists she was screaming for (and I do mean screaming) last night. She often tries to get me to listen to things and all too often I shrug my shoulders. Last night reminded me that I need to make more of an effort to stop and listen because she’s doing more than just asking me to listen to a song, she’s opening a door to her world and who she is. She’s looking for acceptance from me. Music is such a great means of connecting with each other and learning about each other. I personally thought last night’s broadcast brought to light how important it is that we as generations listen to each other and recognize we both have a lot to bring to the table.

So take a look at the the winners from last night’s show. I think you’ll be surprised to see artists like Led Zeppelin and Edie Brickell Image(with Steve Martin) on there. But also take note of some of the newbies like Macklemore, Rianna, Lorde and Kacey Musgraves and make a point of sitting down and actually listening to their music.

There are a lot of great clues about our youth woven within the songs. Clues that will help you understand your kid’s world a bit more. But you have to be willing to listen without judgement. You’ll like some things and be shocked by others. But just think what it would have been like if your parents would have taken the time to listen to Break on Through, Dust in the Wind, Another Brick in the Wall or A World Without Love when you were a kid. All mine ever did was tell me to “Turn that noise down!”

The next time your son or daughter says, “Hey dad! listen to this!” Don’t say things like, “That’s not music,” or “That’s just noise.” Because what they’re hearing is, “What you like is stupid,” “You have horrible taste,” “You’re wasting my time.” Instead take it as an opportunity to spend ten or fifteen minutes learning about each other and connecting on a level most parents would kill for. Watching a three-and-a-half hour awards special with them, was quite frankly, priceless.

 

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Too Young To Date?

Sing it with me, “She is 13 going on 29.” Honestly, you couldn’t pay me enough money to be an eleven-year-old in today’s society. The peer expectations and influences are mind blowing. The idea of dating has actually come up in our households. It’s also coming up in our daughter’s friends households and I’m sure there are different opinions in every home if not more than one. Couple that with the fact that our kids are inundated with messages on television and on-line that are down right scary; and you’ve got quite a challenge. As parents it can be difficult to stick to your guns on the topic. So I started putting some thoughts on paper and came up with 10 tips that may (or may not) help.

1. You know as well as anyone that our kids are great at making it sound like everyone else’s parents are “OK with it.” Well, trust me, they’re not. Just call and ask them. They’re likely in the same boat as you are. A goodyes relationship with your kid’s friends’ parents is golden. Support each other as much as you can. Or if nothing else, let them know the rules in YOUR house so that they’re aware because I guarantee you your daughter’s friend has said “Her dad said it’s OK.”

2. It’s OK to make your ten-year-old delete their “Vine” and “SnapChat” apps. I’m sorry, but they’re not appropriate for a nine or eleven-year-old. I don’t care who else has them. Some of the videos and images shared on these platforms are down right offensive. And I can’t think of any reason a ten-year-old would need to ensure an image is gone after a few minutes. Why go there?

3. I’m a firm believer that every kid, as much as they argue and battle, like knowing that you’re all up in their “stuff” when it comes to their personal lives. That doesn’t mean you have to be hateful about it. Just a part of it. They want to know you care enough to stick your nose in their business. I also believe whole hardily that they need and “want” us to help them say no, because on their own they feel pressured and overwhelmed. Knowing they can use us as an excuse to say no is not a bad thing. Again, that doesn’t mean you have to be mean or a jerk about it. Just subtly let them know you’re watching and involved.

4. Trust your gut, but be open to giving a little. It’s important for your eleven-year-old to learn how to interact with the opposite sex appropriately. If we can encourage boy/girl friendships and give them opportunities to learn to respect and appreciate each other as more than just the opposite sex at an early age I think it’s a win / win. Because in a couple of years their bodies and hormones are going to take over and they’re not going to be thinking straight.

5. Now more than ever you need to put aside your differences and work out a mutually agreed upon plan of
action with your ex in terms of how you’re going to approach dating and your pre-teen. If your kid knows their mom and dad are unified and that both are going to be communicating and sharing, it’s a huge coup. the-delicates-too-young-to-date-londonConversely, if they feel left to themselves to figure it out or learn that they can play mom and dad against each other, I can’t imagine it working out well.

6. It’s going to mean giving up your free time and off-nights, but be open to being there as a parental chaperone for group get togethers perhaps even along with your ex. It’ll drive your daughter crazy but as a dad (and mom), this is a great compromise; “Sure, you can go as a group to the movie, as long as I’m there too.” And if you go, don’t make a big deal about it or be an ass. Just be there.

7. Listen. Just listen. Don’t wait until it’s a big discussion or argument. Make a point of opening the floor to your kids at an early age over tea before bedtime, or at the dinner table. And just listen. You’ll be surprised at what they’re willing to share once they get rolling.

8. Don’t be ignorant. Don’t believe for a second that if you ignore it it’ll go away. Your kids are being exposed to things we didn’t see until we were much older. And I’m sorry, but you can’t protect them from what their friends are sharing and talking about. Don’t think for a second that just because you’re not talking about it that they’re not aware of it. And if you stick your heals (and head) in the sand and wait until they’re sixteen to talk about it, brother you’re going to be in for a big surprise.

9. Educate yourself. Do your best to keep up with the latest apps and what kids are talking about. Your kids find things on-line. So can you. Learn what’s influencing them. Don’t just send them off into the world without fully understanding to the best of your ability what they (and you) are up against.

10. Baby steps work best. So start now. Don’t wait until she (or he) is fifteen.

Remember, the underlying tone here is, this shouldn’t be about sex. This should be about learning how to be social on expanded fronts. That said, as a dad I don’t think it’s a bad thing to start talking to your daughter about how stupid boys get when they’re thirteen and around girls and why they get stupid. Give your daughter some perspective and teach her that she too should have as much control over a situation as anyone. It’s good to be trusting, but in some situations having your guard up isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And please, PLEASE, teach your sons to respect girls. Don’t let them be stupid or ignorant just because they’re boys. That’s not an excuse. Educate them. It’s your job. Above all, don’t be stupid yourself believing that your boys and girls are perfect angels. Because they’re not. No matter how smart or good they are, they’re still going to be dealing with hormones, peer pressure and ignorance. Don’t be afraid to be the adult. And remember, every kid has a different capacity for understanding. You should know best what your child can handle.

This is a touchy subject I know. And everyone has their own opinions of what’s appropriate at what ages. But I think the more open we can be about it and the more we can stand up as parents and guide our children appropriately starting at an early age, the more chance we have of getting our kids into adulthood with an appreciation for each other. Lord knows the internet can at times send the wrong messages. We need to be there to help them decipher those messages and understand self control, boundaries and rules can be a good thing.

Good luck! We’re rootin’ for you!

 

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Cleaning House!

It was Friday and the kids had been pushing to have friends over. So apparently at some point I promised I would open our house up to friends this weekend. And sure enough they called me on it. And so, two out of the three got to invite someone over for the night.kaleyann_cleaningkit_02

I wish you could have seen the looks on their faces when they walked in the door and I began to hand out cleaning assignments. We all gathered in the family room and I gave each kid a room to clean. Now, my kids already know me and were 94 percent certain I was joking. But the looks on their friends’ faces was priceless. That look of sudden uneasiness, shock and fear. The expressionless stare of “wha?” “um, really?” was one of the highlights of my week. “Is your dad serious?” was whispered a couple of times I believe.

As I began to hand out dust rags even my kids started to wonder what they’d gotten themselves into. I said, “Well we always clean on weekends and you said you wanted to have friends over. Never said what we’d be doing. This will make it go that much faster.”

Of course I was kidding. But what a fun fifteen minutes that was.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in cleaning, Daily Life, Divorce, Uncategorized

 

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A New Normal

There have been so many life altering changes the past couple of months in our household. And through it I’ve recognized an odd sense of calm overtaking me. Where I would expect to be much more anxious and stressed, I find I’m not really worried about the things that typically bring on anxiety. Sure I have my moments, but for the most part I’m just kind of rolling with it. Then it hit me. Perhaps my calmness is actually an internal belief that I’m dreaming and that at any moment I’m going to wake up and everything will be back to normal.

But then I’m faced with having to define normal. Honestly, I’m not so sure I want to go back to what was normal. It had become a place of negativity and cold. Like you, I’ve worked so hard to get to where I’m at. It normal12may not be perfect and there are still a lot of uncertainties. But managing to survive these past few years has created a new normal of sorts. One worth building on. There is new found internal strength. A strength and confidence I haven’t felt since I first set out on my own.

I remember moving to Los Angeles after college. Top down, 2,000 miles, driving alone across Route 66. I reeked of self confidence. There was no question I would make it. And I did. And then some. So at what point did I get so bogged down in self doubt and worry? The process was so slow and arduous, I didn’t even realize it was happening. Until I “came to” one day after signing the papers. It was then that I recognized how much negativity had entered my life. Only now have I been able to slowly peel back that layer and rediscover the power of self reliance.

You will get there. And along the way you will likely continue to have moments where you freak out about tomorrow. It is still a lot for one person to carry. There’s little doubt my ex experiences the same fears and anxieties. I can only hope she is also rediscovering an inner strength and a sense of calm as she builds her new life. Because it’s what our kids need. They need to feel the security of seeing mom and dad at ease and building a future. Like us, they need a sense of calm and a new normal. Even if their mom and dad are anything but.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2014 in beginnings, Uncategorized

 

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