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Category Archives: Talking To Kids

iPhone Hangups

Does your child have a phone? Are there rules? Time limits? Text spot checks?

I once wrote about how different it is today than twenty or thirty years ago when there was ONE family phone in the hallway. If someone called you, first and foremost you never knew who was going to answer it. Could be a sibling, mom or worst of all, DAD. It was tethered to the wall so any thought of privacy was completely out of the realm of reality. And you typically had a time limit of anything under thirty minutes.

Flash forward to 2015. Kids have their own phone. In their room. With the door closed. Are texting friends all day long. Can access God knows what on-line. And are completely unmonitored. digitaladdict

Are you OK with that? Is your mind set that of “It’s just a different generation.”

Well. It’s not about a different generation. It’s about respecting technology. It’s about respecting rules. It’s about mom and dad defining structure and limits. It’s about your impressionable, naive, child not having carte blanche when it comes to access to the world. It’s about parents monitoring their child’s behavior and looking for teaching moments. It’s about establishing healthy habits and remembering that the phone is a privilege not a right.

If you do a quick spot check of your kid’s texts you’ll likely be shocked at their approach to relationships, people, current events, music, and their use of language. It will demonstrate to you how much they have to learn and why it’s important that you are guiding them rather than leaving them to figure it out for themselves. It’s not about “eves dropping, being big brother or invading privacy.” This is about teaching, mentoring and guiding.

My ex-wife and I are instituting an “all phones on the counter” at 7:30 pm with hourly limits on weekends. In my house, this includes me, although I do have a little more access since I use my phone for business. In the first two days it’s already made a difference and I anticipate more. What I’ve initially seen of youth is that they’re obsessive. Phones can be remarkably useful, helpful and a great means of staying connected. They can also addictive and a lousy baby sitter. I personally believe that at some point there need to be rules and regulations established by those in charge of the house. Hopefully, that’s you.

Do you have rules for phone use in your house? Would love to hear what you’re doing.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2015 in Divorce, Talking To Kids

 

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Changing The Perceptions of Divorced Dad

Last week I wrote about the perceptions of divorced parents and in particular divorced dads and how they’re viewed or judged on a daily basis. As I read the e-mails and comments from readers I started reflecting on the overall view of divorced dads and fathers in general. We’ve all watched commercials on television that depict mom as the hero of the household and dad as the buffoon who doesn’t know dishwashing detergent from laundry soap. We see stories about deadbeat dads on the news and read about infidelity that leads to separation and divorce. It all makes it that much harder for the dads that are there for their kids 24/7 as a positive influence.

Just as a few rotten eggs in the NFL get all of the attention and grab all of the headlines making it difficult for the rest of the players in the league, the abusive husbands and fathers that the media loves to exploit in their attempt to garner advertising dollars, make it nearly impossible for the growing percentage of dads who are not only involved, but carry an ever increasing percentage of weight in the rearing2015-01-31 19.19.40-2 of their children.

So as I read the input I couldn’t help but ask myself, “so what can we do to change the perception of dads both married and single?”

First and foremost I think the number one thing we can do is to continue to step up our game. We can put down the iPhone and help with homework, we can ensure we sit down together at the dinner table, we can coach a soccer team, we can continue to put the needs of our kids first and be involved. We can spot check their texts and hold them accountable for their actions. We can make an effort to listen without judgement. We can remind them over and over again how much we love them and how much we love being their dad. We can do all of these things; consistently and with vigor.

What we need is a to establish a growing portion of the population that grows up with an appreciation for what their fathers did for them when the odds were stacked against them. Sure it would be nice to see more advertising targeting single dads or programs that depict the divorced father in a positive light. But it all starts with us. It all starts with our efforts to provide our children with a foundation of love and support. Of understanding and unconditional love. Of creating a safe home where calm resolve and respect out duals adversity and anger.

Over time, as more and more positive examples of dads are seen by society. As more and more kids grow up with a dad who was there for every recital, who taught them their first guitar chord, who threw a thousand pop flies, showed them how to change a tire, but also made a thousand school lunches, taught them how to find a bargain, live smart, respect people, and do laundry, as more young adults grow up experiencing this dad, there will be a greater chance that we’ll be able to change things for the single dads that will follow,

But don’t do it for the future fathers of generations to come. Do it for your kids. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Do it because what’s most important is what your kids think of you and what they’ll remember you for. Do it because you want your grandchildren to have the best mom or dad possible and your daughter-in-law or son-in-law to have the best spouse possible. And that all starts today with the dad you are to your kids. It all starts with the perceptions you create.

Let your kids be the spokespeople for the next generation. Let them create the TV shows about the awesome divorced dad. Or write the commercials targeting dads who shop for Tide. Let your actions today, help change the perceptions of dads for generations to come.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2015 in dads, Divorce, Talking To Kids

 

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It’s Not Whether You Win or Lose – (blah blah blah)

Heading into the 4th quarter, my son’s basketball team was up by six. It was a low scoring affair as most games featuring 8-9 year olds are. It all fell apart for them and they ended up losing by six. My son was completely dejected. He hadn’t had his best game and when it was over he came to the sideline to meet up with us and started to tear up a bit. He was heartbroken.

When the dust settled we all got together for lunch (his mom, sisters, him and I). While we were waiting on our food I leaned across the table and told him I was proud of him. He looked at me with this shocked look on his face and peered at me inquisitively. I continued; Basketballshot“You never quit. You never pointed a finger at another player. You didn’t beat yourself up when you made a mistake. You respected your coach. You gave it your all. You fought to the very end. Overall you played with maturity and I could never ask more of you.” I know, I know, it was a little cliche’. But I meant every word.

I have to admit I was kind of taken aback when he looked at me with a bit of a sigh of relief. I half expected him to brush it off and remind me of all the negatives. Or tell me, “You have to say that because you’re my dad.” But he didn’t. As I leaned back to make room for our waiter to place our plates down, my son just sat there, kind of perked up a bit and smiled.

It’s so easy to tell a kid how they need to act mature and roll with the punches isn’t it? Easy to judge their actions and approach to life and offer our worldly advice. But what about us? What about the parent? Who’s coaching us? After lunch the kids went with their mom. When I got home I thought about my week. Thought about how many times I missed the shot or turned the ball over. There were more than a few this week. And then I looked in the mirror and smiled. I felt very much like my son as I visualized him walking across the court beating himself up over the game. Replaying over and over every error and kicking myself. But one of the things I love about having kids is how often I learn more about myself simply by watching my children grow. The words I say to the kids reverberate in my head and quite often I find that the very speech I gave my kid is one I needed to hear myself.

The truth is we’re all kids at heart. We may age on the outside. But inside we’re still nine on so many levels. We take on the world with more experience every day, but still battle the same insecurities we did when we were in elementary school. Despite a few more decades under our belts, we’re still pretty good at beating ourselves up when we make mistakes. Just like our kids, sometimes we need to be reminded that how we handle our mistakes is more important than if we win the game.

I truly was proud of my son this afternoon. He became a little more of a young man today. He may have missed a shot or two, but his attitude, well that was a slam dunk. I can only hope I can say the same for myself this week.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2015 in Divorce, Talking To Kids

 

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Joy To The Imperfect World!

We all have visions of the perfect Norman Rockwell holiday. Everyone works hard to create the perfect day for their children and make sure that all the t’s are crossed and all the i’ dotted. badly-wrapped-gift

But just remember; it doesn’t have to be perfect. Chances are pretty good that not all of the planets will align the way you’d hoped. And you know what? That’s awesome! Revel in the errors and spilled egg nog. Just roll with it and remember that what’s important is to enjoy the time we have with each other. Do your best to make it a fun time for the kids and provide them moments they’ll recall with fondness. Frankly, I’m not sure what perfect means. Perhaps the perfect holiday is defined by your ability to enjoy the imperfections.

Regardless of how messy your holiday may be, I wish you peace, calm and a joyful spirit this holiday season. May you find strength and good will knowing that no matter what your circumstances, you’re not alone because I guarantee you someone out there knows exactly how you feel.

Happy Holidays!

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2014 in Divorce, holidays, Talking To Kids

 

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Presence Not Presents

Perhaps one of the most stressful things about the holidays is the pressure that the world around us puts on buying gifts. Between the catalogues, TV commercials, billboards, e-mail blasts and Web ads, someone is in your face every thirty seconds offering you 20% off, 50% off, 80% off, buy one get one free, free shipping and every other incentive you can think of to spend your money. And of course it’s all so you can show someone how much you love them. As if money = love.

Let’s get real for a moment shall we?

Don’t feel guilted into buying your kids Christmas. Yes they have wish lists. Yes Christmas morning is a magical moment for them. There’s2014-12-08 21.24.44no question about that. But having been through three or four Christmas’ as a divorced dad I can tell you this. What they’ll remember more than anything are the moments. What they’ll appreciate most, is time together with no arguing, fighting or yelling between adults.
Keep in mind, I’m not saying don’t buy them anything. Just don’t feel like buying them a bunch of stuff because you feel guilty about the divorce is the answer. If you’re like me, you still have to be smart about how much you’re spending. It helps to put boundaries on purchases and to have a plan.

One thing I started doing that helped was I gave myself a budget per kid. What I knew I could afford. Some years it’s been more than others and yes, I typically go over it, but starting with a visual financial guide really helps. I’m fortunate to be able to communicate with my ex regarding the big picture and we establish what the kids are going to get. But even if you’re not that lucky, make a list of what you want to get them and give yourself limits. This will help you avoid all of the extras we typically purchase on a whim when we really have no idea what we want to get them.

But the most valuable things you can give them are laughter, family, fond memories and you. They’re already stressed out about the holidays whether you’re divorced or not. What they need and want most is to know they matter. What they really need is your presence not your presents.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in Divorce, holidays, stress, Talking To Kids

 

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