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Category Archives: rules

What A Fool Believes

Rarely, if ever, will you find me talking about religion or politics on this blog. But every once in a while it’s fun to shake things up a bit. Look I get it. This nation was partly founded on a person’s right to religious freedom and ability to worship (or not worship for that matter) as they please without persecution. Freedom is what makes America great. Sure, sometimes the concept of freedom is lost on some, but still, we all have freedoms that allow us to believe what we believe and live accordingly.

The problem I’m having with all of these proposed laws pertaining to a person’s right to have their religious beliefs protected is the ambiguity that seems to come with them. By that I simply mean at what point does a Screenshot 2014-02-27 12.57.58person’s statement “it’s against my religious beliefs” have to be backed up? And is the person making that statement, sure that the religion they follow would back up what they’re saying? Basically are they accurate in their knowledge of their religion or are their “personal beliefs” influencing their “religious beliefs.”

I myself was raised Catholic. Much of what I understood about our religion I had learned from my parents. And they in turn had inherited that knowledge from their parents. What I learned later in life, was that a good portion of what they had taught me was actually inaccurate and more in line with what our ancestors “personally” believed rather than what the Catholic church actually taught. There were choices about our lives that pertained to meals, holidays, and interactions with others that were based primarily on what my parents considered to be the teachings of the Catholic church. These choices were, as far as they were concerned, based on their religious beliefs. However, the reality was that because their understanding of the Catholic faith was somewhat inaccurate, these choices were actually based more on personal beliefs. How awkward it would have been to have made the statement, “we don’t do that because it’s against our religious beliefs” only to have the church say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I’m fairly confident that the majority of Americans would be surprised to learn what their own church truly believes and how many times they’ve made choices that they thought were being made based on religious
beliefs, but were rather misunderstandings or misinterpretations of their own religion. So the question is, at
the-doobie-brothers-what-a-fool-believes-1979-5what point would a person have to back up a statement like, “I’m not going to provide you with that service because it’s against my religious beliefs?” Could they just say it and walk away or would they be obligated to prove it by providing documentation that verifies that those are in fact the beliefs of the religion they follow?

Religion in and of itself is such a private, personal matter and often interpreted differently by different people based on their own personal beliefs or how they were raised. It seems remarkably difficult to me to create a law which is very black and white in nature based on a religious belief which inherently has a lot of gray area. Even the bible itself is interpreted differently from faith to faith, congregation to congregation, individual to individual. So it seems impossible to me for someone to make the statement, “it’s against my religious beliefs,” without there being even a small percentage of personal biases interlaced within that statement.

Both my ex and I try to teach our children to learn about each other’s faiths and cultures to better understand the people around them and to recognize that we all think differently. I personally believe that the more you open yourself to understanding others, the more you recognize that despite our differences we’re very much the same. That is scary for some as it forces people to question what they’ve known as truth their entire life. And so they turn a blind eye to protect their own beliefs. But in doing so they very well may be living their life based on misinformation and making costly judgment errors.

Opening yourself up to understanding takes a certain amount of courage and, yes, faith. It doesn’t mean giving up your own beliefs, it simply means understanding the perspective of those we live with day to day. And why can’t we believe different things but still help each other. Sure it’s easier and may feel somewhat safer to live in a world of ignorant bliss. But to quote the Doobie Brothers, “What a fool believes … he sees.” And if all he sees is what he believes, then he’s actually quite blind.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Divorce, rules, Uncategorized

 

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Not Everyone Gets A Trophy

The question comes up from time to time within my family about the value of sports when it comes to kids. I have four older sisters, three of which are or were teachers at one time. The argument of teaching kids about competition and how to lose are sometimes at the forefront. Personally, I think it’s a sin that every kid gets a trophy regardless of whether they win or not. Life isn’t like that. Not everyone gets the gig or a raise. The argument about building self esteem just doesn’t wash for me. I think you can build more esteem by teaching a kid to bounce back from defeat and overcome that feeling of being let down. How you react to failure and
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adversity is a skill that needs to be taught at an early age (if you ask me anyway). That’s not to say we shouldn’t be pumping our kids up and reminding them about how great they are, but I think we forget that losing isn’t the end. It’s just part of the journey.

I personally believe that there are countless opportunities to teach our kids life lessons through sports. And if you’re not careful, sometimes you can learn a lesson or two yourself in the process.

Case in point: I was coaching my son’s soccer game over the weekend and had a bit of a revelation. He had struggled in the first half and was playing somewhat passively. His tentative approach had him out of position a great deal of the time and he was growing frustrated that he wasn’t getting the ball very often. I kept encouraging him during the third quarter to go after the ball more when the opposing team had control and to take the ball from them. Basically, telling him that if he wanted the ball, he’d have to fight for it. I reminded him that the other team wasn’t just going to hand it to him and his teammates weren’t going to pass it to him if he wasn’t open.

We talked about awareness and opening his eyes to the big picture and recognizing where he needed to be in order to be the most effective. What did he need to do to help be a more productive and valuable member of the team at any given moment? I told him, get your head up and eyes wide.

Early on in the fourth quarter, the action happened to be taking place directly in front of me. The other team was moving up field and my son was standing in front of the guy who had control of the ball. My son was just kind of standing there looking like he wasn’t sure what to do. I was close enough to yell to him and encouraged him to go for it and take the ball from the other guy. And sure enough, he pressured the imagesguy and got a foot on the ball and broke it free. He then proceeded to dribble toward the opposing goal and made a beautiful pass that set up a shot. From that point on he started getting right in the thick of things and started playing with more ferver. His energy and confidence grew each time he managed to gain control of the ball and eventually he even scored a goal.

A few of his teammates had taken notice as well and began to emulate his actions. Suddenly the entire team began to play with more intensity and were controlling the ball better. And don’t tell me winning doesn’t matter to a seven year old. They had no problem reminding themselves and anyone who’d listen who won and what the score was which quickly turned into a lesson on good sportsmanship and being a gracious victor.

As we got in the car, I started thinking about work and a couple of personal goals I hadn’t met. And then it hit me. I’d been living life the past few months like my son was playing soccer in the first half. Waiting for things to come to me and wondering why no one was passing me the ball. Yet I hadn’t really done much to put myself in a position to get the ball. I’d just kind of been standing there waiting for something to happen. And sadly, that’s not how it works. I looked at my son and the other kids on the field and eventually entered this week determined to step up my game and make a stronger effort to put myself in position to score.

From social skills to approaching adversity and challenges, I do believe sports are a valuable tool. But like any tool, it’s important to understand how to use it and the dangers of using it incorrectly. It’s also about balance and understanding when it’s time to back off and not take it too seriously. For us the first rule is to have fun and get exercise. But honestly, appreciating the value of both success and failure are vital aspects of growing up. It’s the cornerstone of what athletics are based upon; winning and losing. And like it or not, a big part of living a life of contentment is learning how to deal with both success and failure. So many life lessons can be taught through athletics and if you’re paying close enough attention, you can likely learn a little something yourself along the way.

 

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Oh Romeo Romeo!

I’m not a girl. Never dreamed of being a princess. Never imagined finding my prince charming and living a fairytale life. But I do have two young daughters. And from conversations we’ve had, I know they’re already starting to plan their weddings and I’m sure there’s a prince in the equation. Yet even at their tender ages, I can see they’re beginning to question the reality of ‘boys’ and whether Disney is basically full of #%@&.

Our kids today deal with social hurt on a level I don’t think we can comprehend. It was hard when WE were sixteen. I can only imagine what it’s like to be nine or ten in today’s world. But as a dad, and I’ve written about images-21this before, I believe we fathers have an opportunity and an obligation to be our daughters’ first knight in shining armor. We have a chance to set the bar that our daughters will look to as a measuring stick as they begin discovering romantic relationships.

It’s a tough balance, especially when you’re a single dad. You’re the disciplinarian, coach, chef, housekeeper, tutor and yes, you set the rules and uphold them. I personally think that it’s important that your kids see that everything you’re doing for them is for the purpose of keeping them safe. That you’re there to protect them above all things. To do that I also think it’s crucial that you continually work to maintain an open line of communication with your kids. Because one day, someone is going to hurt your little girl. God forbid it be physically, but even a broken heart is inevitable and the last thing you want is for your daughter to feel all alone, that she deserved it or like no one cares about her.

On some level, I’m a firm believer that every little girl wants to know that dad is there to protect them. I think it’s even more important that along with all of the reprimands we tend to hand out during the week, that they continually here us say how much they’re worth protecting. If we don’t believe they’re special, why should they? Let’s face it, it’s easy to get lost in being “dad.” In pointing out all of the things our kids do wrong and the poor choices they tend to make as kids. We harp on them about cleaning up. About being nice to each other. Keeping up with their things. We’re the first to point out that doing summersaults off the couch and into the beanbag chair is not a good idea or that using your little brother as a bike ramp may not be the best choice.

I’m sure they get plenty of messages from us about how they’re doing things wrong. We forget sometimes that they’re sensitive little egos get bombarded with reminders of how imperfect they are on a daily basis. Not just from us, but from the world outside as well. Which is all the more chivalryreason we need to stop once in a while and remind them of how amazing they are. How smart we think they are. How pretty they are. How brilliant they are and how special they are. And that no matter what the current state of our relationship with them is, if they ever need us to “just be there,” they only need ask.

I’m not saying we should be demonstrating that women need men. Or that girls can’t defend themselves. That’s not it at all. To me it’s all about respect and letting them know that above all, we’ve got their back. This isn’t necessarily about boys and girls. Because let’s be honest, one day your little girl may bring home another little girl to meet mom and dad. For now, I think what’s important is to let them know that they’re important and that anyone, boy or girl, who makes them feel anything less than special, isn’t worth their time. To teach them to focus on being around people who lift them up and treat them the way they deserve to be treated.

Being a single dad (or mom) means being a lot of different things to your kids. I’m finding that as my kids begin to get a little older and start to get to the age where the idea of romantic relationships are coming into play; I’m already starting to get very protective. I’m not going to apologize for that. And honestly I don’t think my daughters would want me to. I think as they mature and start to hang out with boys, they need (and want) to know that there is at least one boy on this planet who thinks their honor is worth defending. Because if they can find chivalry at home, perhaps they’ll believe they can find it again in another kingdom.

 

 

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Child Proofing

As a parent and a leader within my home, I often have to make some difficult choices that directly affect my kids. Some of these decisions are received with high praise, others not so favorably. But while the decisions I make aren’t always the popular ones, I have to remind myself that it’s not really my goal as a parent to be popular; it’s to teach, guide and protect my kids.

Some of the choices I make may not seem fair, as it requires removing something that may be OK for one child, but not the other two. So there are times when television shows and movies that may be appropriate for 46475171-0441-786E-F433F1BBB058B155_1
the eldest, are not yet freely allowed in the house as the younger ones could potentially be affected by it, even if by accident. In those instances we try to find ways of providing the older one with times and circumstances when it’s more fitting. We also establish some general guidelines that she understands and knows she has to abide by if she wants to enjoy some of the aspects of being the older sister.

It’s not always fun and sometimes damn hard knowing I’m disappointing the people I love most. But when I do it, I do so knowing I’m doing it in their best interest. Oh there’s typically some backlash. There are doors slammed, shoes thrown, hurtful words spewed and an occasional letter written in an attempt to make their case as to why my decision is unjust.

But in the end; I have a responsibility, not only to my children, but to the people my children will interact with today, tomorrow and throughout their lives. And even despite my best efforts, that always doesn’t work out. So I try to take into account all perspectives, all opinions and how my decision will affect the bigger picture. Many times it means one of the kids has to sacrifice, but we find ways of making things balanced. We work as a team and learn how to compromise for the greater good of the family. And when possible I try to reward them for their willingness to bend and do the right thing. Eventually they see the benefits long term and gradually become more willing to adjust knowing they’ll have their victories as well.

The reality is, as much as they whine about the limits imposed on them, I think they honestly want them. They
may give their share of flack, but deep down I believe they embrace boundaries and structure. As much as boundary_fullthey’d love to be able to run amuck and do whatever they please, when faced with that prospect, they’re not as comfortable with chaos as they thought they’d be.

And of course, as you well know, not every decision works out. Not every play is going to garner 15 yards.  But we learn from the ones that don’t and try to adjust accordingly so that we can make a better educated choice the next time. The bottom line is, that at some point someone has to make the call to ensure a higher quality of life for my kids.

You may be in a traditional home where both parents live under the same roof. Or if your’e following this blog, you’re more likely to have children who live in two homes. In either case there’s also the danger of the kids getting mixed signals as one house may be a little more liberal or conservative than the other. Hopefully you can find a way to come together and compromise to ensure the kids get as close to a common set of rules as they can. Rules that everyone can live with and adhere to, remembering that it’s the needs of the children that come first, not our own wants and desires.

You learn quickly as a parent that when you have a family, it’s impossible to please everyone. Whether it’s choosing what restaurant to eat at, what movie to choose for family movie night, who gets to use the computer or establishing an appropriate bed time; there are going to be disagreements and arguments. Many decisions will go quite smoothly while others will invoke their share of tantrums and slamming doors. But, looking at the big picture; If it means my kids are safe and healthy; I’ll take the occasional slamming door over an empty house any day.

 

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