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Trolling for Feedback

If you do nothing else today, let your kid know that something creative they did was awesome. And don’t just say it, show it. Be expressive and genuinely impressed with what they’ve done. Don’t critique it. Don’t offer how it could be better. Just let them know that their effort to try something new or take a creative risk was incredible. Because the very fact that they had the courage to share their work was indeed quite amazing.

For those who haven’t yet caught up, your children are able to put themselves out their for all the world to see more easily than ever in the history of kid-dom. They may write a poem, sing a song, do a back flip, dye their hair or share their opinion on Taylor Swift’s new album. They then have the ability to share this with the world with the simple click of a button; opening themselves up to every troll on the internet who is sitting at home in their underwear looking for things and people to make fun of.

I’m not even going to get into the ill-advised photo that goes viral. Or a video someone takes of someone else doing something stupid and then posts without the person’s knowledge. That’s an entirely different subject. No, I’m talking about kids innocently utilizing social media for Internet-Trollfeedback, and expecting or at least hoping for something positive or at the very least constructive.

All too often what they get instead is a comment from some idiot, hiding behind a fake profile, poking fun at people who have the guts to actually put themselves out there. All it takes is one negative comment on a new video post or instagram photo to induce extreme embarrassment and cause a kid to recoil into an insecure ball of shame curled up in the closet.

If you haven’t already done so, first talk to your kids about the fact that once they post something, it’s there for ALL the world to see, so make sure it’s something they genuinely feel good about. I made my stand up comedy debut in front of about fifty people and still wake up with cold sweats over over how bad it was. I can’t imagine what it would be like if it had happened in front of 100,000,000 people (and trust me I keep waiting for the tape of it to emerge on YouTube). But that’s the potential the internet provides. Mind you, chances are your kid’s video is going to max out at 45 hits, especially if it’s something innocent and unassuming. But they need to remember that when you post something on-line, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable and somewhere down the road you’re going to get a dislike or negative comment. As adults we get it (though it still sucks), but to a young kid who expects everyone to love what they do it can be a hard lesson.

So be your kid’s first “like.” Let your kid know that they’re amazing and what they do is amazing. Let them know that not everyone is going to like what they do. And that it doesn’t matter. They need to keep searching for the audience who gets them and loves what they do. Teach them to be able to brush aside the negativity, accept any and all criticism, acknowledge when they may need to take some of it to heart and adjust, but to NEVER let it stop them from moving forward. The truth is you can post just about anything and get both good and bad responses. And isn’t that the truth every day?

We can curse the internet and the volume of things our children are now exposed to, or we can embrace it and take every opportunity to use it as a life lesson for our kids. But it takes effort. It takes monitoring. It takes observing. It takes listening, watching, talking, discussing and caring. It’s going to take your time, but what better way to spend your time than learning about your kids and teaching them the realities of the world, people and the very society they’re so eager to interact with. What better way to teach them to deal with adversity, and develop a thick skin. Two attributes that will do them well in a world filled with so many unassuming trolls.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Your Own Private Idaho

If you don’t already do it, I highly recommend you find both the place and the time to step away once in a while from the craziness of your life, the pressures of your world and chaos that can overwhelm you. I personally believe this to be a necessity not a luxury. When you’re immersed in your life, it’s very difficult to gain a proper perspective of the big picture. Over time you’ll likely become drained and unable to think clearly as you’re continually bombarded with calls, e-mails, demands, needs, wants etc., making it virtually impossible to give a plan of action the proper attention and consideration. That leads to falling into survival mode rather than thinking strategy and making plans to get yourself into a better position. When you’re simple flying by the seat of your pants to survive, it’s impossible to think clearly and consider options beyond tomorrow let alone next month or next10339327_10152417504572908_8563728598664062419_o year.

For me it’s the finger lakes and whether I can afford it or not, the kids and I go every year to kick off the summer. We spend a week away from responsibilities and make every effort to focus on us, our lives and our future. The kids deserve your undivided attention when possible and this is a great way to do it. And you’ll be surprised at how clearly you can think, even when they’re with you, when the demands of your life aren’t dragging you down or pulling you away.

But whether the kids are with you or not, I believe it’s important that you discover the power of stepping back and giving yourself a chance to recharge, regroup and make a plan. Make some difficult decisions that can set you on a better course for you and your family. These should be choices that you can execute when you get back. Choices that will feel empowering as you start to build a new tomorrow that makes more sense for your new direction. Letting go of the world you built isn’t always easy, but once you can visualize where you want to see yourself a year from now, you’ll be able to recognize what steps need to be taken to get there. These calculated decisions can be made knowing there’s a purpose to each that leads to a more fitting environment for your new life. The craziness of your current life will be waiting for you as soon as you walk back in the front door, but you should be better equipped to juggle the madness again knowing you have a plan and a purpose. Yes, there will still be elements of survival to your current state, but it should be more manageable if you know in your head it’s a temporary situation, not the foundation of the rest of your life.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in balance, beginnings, Divorce

 

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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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Sick of It!

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of being a single parent, is the fact that you are not allowed to get sick. It’s actually in the bi-laws. Chapter VII, Section IV, Paragraph III, Line II clearly states, “a temperature of 102, severe chills, cold sweats and vomiting, shall not relieve said parent of the duty of making school lunches,
sick-guyfeeding and dressing the children, ensuring teeth and hair are brushed, school field trip permission slips are
signed and everybody is out the door in time to ride the school bus.”

Forget the fact that there’s no one around to take care of you either. And as a guy, I loath doctors. Part of it is the fact that I just love paying $100 to $200 out of my pocket to have someone tell me, “you really should get some rest.”

When you’re basically the sole proprietor of your family, there’s rarely room for even a “day” of stopping. Work, kids, soccer practices, laundry, shopping, meals, all keep coming up on the schedule. E-mails keep coming, phones keep ringing, clients keep asking, bills keep arriving, kids keep needing. You were overwhelmed when you were healthy. Now what? All problems and challenges appear 15 times larger when you’re sick and have no energy.

If you’re like me, your tendency is to fight through it. As my ex used to say, “you can be miserable at home or
miserable at work.” And typically it works. I take some DayQuil, eat an orange, hydrate, get a run or two in to images-13sweat it out, and in a couple of days I’m good to go. OK, and maybe I throw some donuts and coffee in there. But as much as I try to fight it, if after a week I’m still wheezing and dragging my ass, I’ll bee line it for the Kroger clinic in hopes of getting a z-pack. It’s the only way to ensure you’re going to have the energy and the ability to forge through long term.

As a single parent you’ve grown accustomed to “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” But obviously; if after a week you’re still sick, your body is telling you it just isn’t able to recoup on its own and needs some help. Try to recognize when you need to stop and shut down for a day and act accordingly. If you have a kid free day coming up. Cancel your plans that you’ve been waiting two weeks for and take care of yourself. If you have the kids, get them on the bus and take a day off – from everything! When they get home, let them make you tea and tuck you in on the couch. They’ll love it and usually their behavior improves at the same time. You’ll be amazed at how just 24 hours of rest and taking care of yourself can turn things around for you. Your boss will thank you, you’ll thank you and your kids will thank you.

So: single parents who are sick and goin’ it alone: High Five! I feel ya. You’re doing great and your family is better for your efforts. I’m personally cyberly patting you on the back. Hopefully it’ll help break up that cough.

 

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Aside

So, how’re you holding up? Keeping it all together?

Sometimes I have a difficult time coming up with a topic to write about. Today is one of those days. And yet I feel compelled to write to you and encourage you to keep moving forward; to keep the faith and to fight throughhow_you_doin whatever negativity you might be dealing with. Some days we simply need someone to tell us we’re amazing. That what we’re doing is epic. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear someone say, “I don’t know how you do it.”

Just the fact that you’re there for your kids is something to be both proud of and thankful for. Some dads leave a divorce and put it all behind them, including their kids. I wish there was something I could say to those dads, but chances are those dads probably aren’t reading this blog. I feel bad for those fathers because they’re really missing out on one of the most amazing experiences life has to offer. Keep in mind I’m not talking about dads who want to be there, but have limited access to the kids due to the courts. I’m talking about the dads who just don’t care. Because they would if they knew what they were missing.

But it’s not easy and it doesn’t come without an effort as you well know. It doesn’t come without battles, compromises and standing up for yourself AND your kids. There is a reason why you get up every morning, idadjpg-85702c75c414f9a9make school lunches, stay up late washing a special pair of jeans your daughter wants to wear to school in the morning, coach a soccer team or teach your kid how to make the perfect pancake. There’s a reason you stop what you’re doing when you tuck your kids in at night to spend 30 minutes talking to them about their day. It’s because once you see your kids smile due to your efforts it becomes infectious. When you sense the impact you’re having on your kids you become astutely aware of your true purpose.

It doesn’t happen right off the bat necessarily. And I think that’s where some dads struggle. You can’t just wake up one day and expect your twelve year old kid to be your best pal. It takes time for both you and your kids to find your groove and to respect each other. It takes time to accept certain aspects of being a dad and get comfortable with others. And even when you do, there are going to be days when you struggle to keep the focus where it needs to be. Because along with your kids, there are a thousand other people pulling at you, needing you, expecting things from you. You get lost in a project, or invariably everything lands on the same day between 10 am and noon. That’s when the school calls to let you know your daughter has a temperature. Or your ex texts you to see if there’s any chance you can best_job_ive_ever_had_being_a_dad_mousepad-p144662381049604604eng3t_400meet the kids at the bus stop today because of an emergency.

It’s a balance that takes time to master and even then it’s not always easy when you’re getting it from all sides. So I’m here to tell you you’re doing great. You’re a great dad and your kids need you, typically when they seem to need you the least. But they need you because of the amazing things you bring to their lives. They need you because you’re the only dad they have and over time they’ve learned to appreciate everything you do, even when they tell you you’re the worst dad ever because you made them turn off an inappropriate program or made them clean their room or turn off the computer. They need the boundaries you set, the hugs you offer, the reassurances you give them that they’re awesome and not a freak like so many of their school mates make them feel like sometimes.

They need you dad and they need you because you’ve set the bar. And now that you’ve set it to not maintain it would be letting them down. And the fact that you’ve set the bar is the strongest indication that you’re doing a great job.

How YOU Doin’?

 

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