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Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Dangers of Texting and Parenting

Look, I get it; keeping up with the Jones’ isn’t easy. The influences of friends and their parents can make it nearly impossible to stick to your guns at times when making decisions about what’s appropriate for our own kids. Case in point: cell phones. As the father of three pre-teens I can honestly say that the discussion about when they could have a phone was a long and arduous one. Eventually we saw that the positives outweighed the negatives and honestly, phones are a valuable tool onteens_sexting_issues many levels when it comes to kids. That said, I also believe that they should be treated with the respect you’d give any tool whether that tool be a wrench, saw, or blow torch. While there are indeed many positives to your child having a phone, keep in mind that just as you wouldn’t hand your kid a cookie sheet and an oven mitt without lessons and safety measures squarely in place, I don’t think you should just hand your kid a phone and say, “Have fun sweetheart!”

The problem is that we assume that our kids are well versed in communicating with their peers and that their use of texting is going to be harmless. The reality is that a pre-teen really has no idea how to communicate. They don’t understand how words bite. They have no clue how to control the power of their verbal exchanges and through texting feel no restraint in trying to one up each other. They’re also not equipped to understand that they may be reading something the wrong way and shouldn’t take everything personally. Let’s face it, we as adults have issues with that fact and we’ve been here a lot longer. They also tend to change friends every two weeks. They may be “besties” today and not worried about it, but that text they send about someone will most likely come back to haunt them in a month or two.

Enter you the parent. Remember, you’re in charge. You set the parameters. So first, do not let them put a password on their phone that you don’t know. If they do. Take it away from therm. I also think it’s your responsibility to occasionally go through their texts and monitor their communications. This is not snooping or going through their journal. This is about teaching them the proper way to electronically communicate. The only bummer part is you can’t really give them a warning because they’ll just delete texts they don’t want you to see. But keep in mind, you don’t have to be mean about it. Just set the tone and the ground rules. Set the boundaries. As you read things, take notes as you see potential issues, concerns and then “calmly” discuss these things with them. Not in a judgmental way, but in an educational way. This will NOT be easy. You will likely want to react to some of the things you read immediately. Don’t. Stop, take it in. Relax and then sit down with them and explain why some of the things they’re saying may be construed as hurtful, dangerous, rude, etc. Remind them that everything they’re doing at this point of their life, from the 1926540-Mclothes they wear, to the way they communicate, is basically developing their brand and how the world perceives them. Let them know that you’re there to teach them and help them.

Listen, twelve-year-olds are going to do and say stupid things. It’s what they do. It’s up to you to guide them and teach them the proper way to discuss things with their friends. Most important, in my opinion, is to teach them how to avoid being sucked into the drama that is their world. To just walk away from negative discussions, name calling, finger pointing, and rumors. Popularity at their age is such a big deal. It’s so easy for them to lose focus and perspective and get pulled into the BS. As parents I believe it’s up to us to monitor their progress and guide them properly, putting time limits on usage and monitoring their use as well. Because leaving them to their own accord can have costly ramifications.

It’s so easy to just let em’ go and say, “Oh isn’t that cute how social they are.” Well, it’s not cute. The drama that is the twelve-year-old is epic and the last thing you want is for your kid to get wrapped up in it. The things you find will shock you from time to time. But just remember. This is why you need to be there to monitor this kind of thing. Left on their own they WILL dig very deep holes and honestly, they need you there to help them. Again, not to judge, but to educate. At the same time you’ll gain valuable insight into their world and what they’re up against, which I’ll tell you, is scary. But what’s scary is turning a blind eye to it and adopting the “ignorance is bliss” approach. I’ll quickly add that teaching them to put limits on their usage now may very well save their life later. I’m convinced that part of the reason texting and driving is such a huge problem now is that texting becomes a habit. We grow accustomed to immediate gratification and simply find it difficult to go five minutes without checking our messages. Teaching them to put it down now will help them appreciate the value of putting it down later.

My point here, is that they’re still young. They don’t know. And there’s a LOT going on that you likely have no clue about. So, help them find a clue and perhaps discover a few yourself. Let them know you’re watching and that you care enough to help them learn how to present themselves and treat themselves with respect. Their going to make mistakes no matter what you do. The least we can do is help them minimize the risk.

 

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Find Your Tribe

Today I’m here to simply remind you of the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive, positive people who truly get you.

You are going to have times when you feel as though you are being crushed by the pressures of your life. You are going to have moments when it all seems insurmountable. You will experience times when you feel completely isolated and alone. I assure you, the secret is to NOT be isolated and alone. Even if your marriage sucked; somehow you still felt part of a team, albeit a dysfunctional one. You still had that other person in the house. Now it’s just you. Just you to deal with the house, the finances, the kids, the groceries, the laundry, the yard; all of it. Just you. And sometimes it’s simply too much. One way or another, it’s important to step away for a moment and give your soul a respite. Quite often I jump in my Jeep, put the top down and just ride through the country to get way from it all. The secret is to remind ourselves that there’s a whole other world out there. What makes those rides even better though is knowing that even when we’re alone, we’re not. Dark,2014-03-31 08.32.57-2 cold, negative worlds are a horrible place to exist in by yourself. Life is going to naturally throw all kinds of negativity at you on a weekly, daily and sometimes hourly basis. And during those moments, sometimes it’s not necessarily having the ability to call someone and say, “URRRGG” that helps so much as it is just knowing you have someone you COULD call. Knowing that somehow they’re there with you in spirit.

If you haven’t already done so, reach out to people. Be human. Be connected. Surround yourself with others, even if just in spirit. And not only when you may need someone. Often the best medicine for what you need, is being there for someone else who needs. Obviously when your world is in a state of complete chaos, that can be a very difficult thing to do, but it’s worth it. It actually does your soul good to step away from your own mess from time to time and sit across from another human and just be there to listen. But it all starts with you taking steps to surround yourself with others who understand your world, want to be there for you and may need you just as much as you need them.

You’re going to slip into the abyss once in a while. You’re going to lock the door and close the blinds and curl up on the couch determined to shut the world out until the storm blows over. And honestly, sometimes we all just need to do that once in a while. But don’t make a habit of it. Give yourself a chance to recharge and then push yourself at all cost to step outside your comfort zone and be with people. You may get a text from someone inviting you to sit down for a cup of coffee. And you may be in a state of mind of coffejust wanting to be by yourself for a moment. Once in a while respond with, “Sure thing … be there in 10.”

Listen, I promise you, Facebook is a lie. Everyone’s life is not that rosy. Everyone is experiencing their own pain, their own struggles and their own hardships. It may be a relationship issue, a health issue, a family issue, financial issue or any number of things. But we all wake up with something that’s not perfect. Some days I’m tempted to start a new service called “Realbook” where people post pictures and updates about what’s REALLY going on in their lives that they’d rather you not know about.

The point is, you’re not alone in what you’re experiencing so don’t attempt to go it alone. Search out blogs like this one and people who are in the same boat as you are. Read books about what you’re experiencing. Educate yourself. The very act of taking steps to make it better will help. Now more than ever you need positive energy in your life. Search it out. Lose the negatives and focus on lifting yourself up by providing your soul with support rather than people and things that knock you down.

One way or another you’re going to make it through today. You can either get to the end of it being scared, frustrated and in a mode of panic, or you can choose to open up to others and make an effort to make things better. I promise you there are people there who want to help, who want to listen and need to be heard. People just like you. In all likelihood you’ve already said hello to a dozen of them today.

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Why Every Man Should Have a Daughter

I was raised by a remarkable woman. In addition, I grew up with four equally brilliant older sisters. And yet. Despite that fact, I knew very little about women when I entered my marriage. I was a blithering idiot when it came to understanding the female of our species and made remarkable errors in1656173_10152167021502908_421350704_n judgement because of that fact. They are likely errors most men make when attempting to understand and react to a woman’s thoughts, actions or needs. Yet they were still made by a man who clearly had no clue when it came to fully appreciating what it meant to live with a woman despite having grown up with several of them.

Enter my daughters.

As I’ve witnessed my girls grow and mature I have gained remarkable insights that I otherwise probably would have never known. To see first hand the development of the female mind is something great documentaries and scientific studies are made of. I often watch in awe and bewilderment as they navigate through relationships, friendships, insecurities, school struggles, body development, understanding the world and finding their purpose.

One thing I did learn from my ex-wife, (or attempted to learn anyway), was to sometimes just shut up and listen. It is a skill I often use while having a late night tea with my daughters. It is during these moments that I sit there on the verge of breaking out into desperate cold sweats of anxiety as they divulge their view on the world around them. There are times I’m tempted to open my mouth, but find the strength to just sit and take it all in; blown away at the perspective I’m being offered and the information I’m being trusted with.

Through this process I have begun to view women very differently. Perhaps it’s because I know that I myself am still very much defined by the kid I was many moons ago. So I believe it’s fair to assume that most people, women included, continue to react to the world in the same way they did as children; all of this despite 1185934_10151773292737908_2109251665_nour experiences, knowledge and education. We have, in most cases, matured and learned how to handle things more “adult like.” However, the root of who we are continues to be and always will be based on the foundation we laid as children.

To witness first hand the building of that foundation and to see how the mind of a young child, in particular that of a young woman, processes information is without question the most life changing experience a man can have. It is, in my humble opinion, a blessing to be given this opportunity to take it all in. And I urge any man who has a daughter to pay very close attention. I also encourage you to stop, just when you’re about to open your mouth in judgement and distain, to just shut up and listen. Observe, watch and learn. You will be scared. You will be terrified by some of what you see and hear. You may very well be rocked to your very soul. You may be tempted to run or perhaps yell, “STOP! You can’t be serious!!!” But fight these urges and just listen. I mean, REALLY listen. For there are insights hidden within the murky waters that is their language. Unfortunately there is no “Rosetta Stone – Women” to teach you this language. So if your daughter is willing to open up to you … remember it is a gift. One to be treated as such. And I promise you, you will be a better man for it.

I still do not profess to understand women. Neh; quite the contrary. I make mistakes and continue to hear things wrong, react wrong and mis-read. But that’s the point. We’re not supposed to necessarily understand. Rather, if I’ve learned anything these past several years watching my children grow, it’s that our purpose is not to understand, but rather simply accept and support. For we will not change them. We will not turn them into what we want. We can only be there to help them become the best “them” they can be.

 

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Out Like a Lion

The weather across the US was without question some of the craziest I’ve seen for a March in a long time. Ironically, my life followed suit as this March was an equally blustery and unpredictable month. It wasn’t all bad so to speak, but trying to keep up with it was anything but easy. From a bizarre running injury that is just now
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rectifying itself to the wrapping up of several amazing, yet time consuming projects, my life had its own series of storms passing through. And I’m just now getting to start cleaning up in the aftermath. Being a divorced parent isn’t unlike the weather. Cold fronts move in. High pressure zones take over and directly affect temperature shifts throughout the week. Annual patterns or seasons begin to form. Clouds can move in and stick around for days. And then every once in a while the sun breaks through.

When nasty storms blow in, it’s easy to blame some of it on the divorce. Phrases like, “If I didn’t have to go it alone,” “If I didn’t have to be at three places at the same time,” or “Man if I could just lie down for 30 minutes,” all race through your head. But as I tell the kids over and over again, we all have our crosses to bare. Everyone deals with changes in the weather. We all have storms that come creeping in. Everyone’s circumstances create their own challenges every day. We can blame our hardships on those circumstances or we can accept our lives and make the best of it. We can fight the weather or we can learn when to just close the windows, batten down the hatches and wait until the storm passes through.

Over time you start to learn how to handle it all and you recognize that weather patterns emerge. Storms come and go and 1617519_10152239263967908_2132315710_oeven after the longest stretches of rain, eventually the sun comes up in the morning. It’s funny. I teach the kids to go jump in the puddles when it’s raining out (without lightning of course). So why not teach them to go jump in the puddles created by life’s rain showers? Why teach them to fear storms? Yes, we’re going to have moments when we’re overwhelmed by the damage done. We may emerge from our safe haven with a huge mess to clean up. But we need to be able to understand that as great as it would be to have 75 degrees and sunny every day, even Los Angeles has its share of crappy weather not to mention earthquakes. You simply can’t avoid it. Life is going to throw some crap at you once in a while. Some people thrive on the chaos, others not so much. But the reality is, if you want to find true joy, you have to learn to make the most of it and maybe jump in a puddle once in a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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