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In Ten Years

In Ten Years

As I reacted to the natural call of my offspring (“DAD!”) for the 1,528th time this weekend, I recognized that I was starting to sound annoyed in my responses. Annoyed. Annoyed with what? Being needed? Loved? Not alone?

Overall I consider myself to be a pretty good dad. But every once in a while I stop and see myself as being a complete ass. I allow my ever evolving, busy life to cloud my judgement and get in the way of valuing what’s really important. It’s the moments when I’m in the middle of something personal or maybe working from home (which I’m remarkably fortunate to be able to do from timeIMG_8576 to time), maybe typing an e-mail, that the adolescent piranha that can be my children, all seem to peck away at my aura simultaneously each with their own specific need, ie.”DAD can you make me a snack,” “Dad, my computer won’t work,” “Dad,where’s the remote?,”  “Dad I’m bored,” “DAD!, blankety blank didn’t flush,” “dad have you seen my … oh there it is.”

I’ve at times asked them to give me a minute so I can focus on the task in front of me assuring them that I’ll be with them in a minute. By the tenth time, I know I can come off somewhat rudely. Something about the same question being asked ten times within five minutes will cause that.

Yet, it’s those moments when I get made at myself for reacting that way. Because the truth is; in another ten years, I’ll miss the beckoning. I’ll long for just one, “DADDDD?!!!” And wish to God one of them would need me to find the brush their sister took without asking.

Remember, the days with our kids are limited. Embrace every moment, answer every question and once in a while, let the rest of the world wait and be the dad!

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2016 in choices, Uncategorized

 

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Be The Dad

Be The Dad

I received a few messages from several of you asking, “Where’d you go?”, “You haven’t posted in a while, you ok?,” and the simple answer is, all good. I’ve started no fewer than twenty new posts that for one reason or another I didn’t finish. I think that once I found myself repeating myself from posts a few years old I started to wonder what was next. What messages could I provide and what topics could I cover that I had yet to delve into?

To that end, for the past six months I’ve contemplated where I’m going with this blog. It’s been over five years since I started writing and the experience has been amazing. But I’ve always believed that everything must evolve. So where was I headed? What was next?

Then last week I found myself heading to Buffalo to say goodbye to my own father who had just turned 93 and had been suffering from dementia. The decease was in its final stages 12400442_10154457866442908_1873714818408639097_nand by the time I’d hit the road he had entered hospice and had stopped taking nutrients. During the 12 hour drive I thought a lot about my father and my experiences with him. I also considered my own life as a dad. And I thought about all of you. And I thought about stories I’d read about kids who didn’t have a father figure growing up for one reason or another.

The underlying thought I kept coming back to was the fact that my dad was there. Right or wrong, good or bad, brilliant or misguided, my dad was there. He wasn’t the kind of dad who came to track meets or came to see my band play. But he was there as a father. He was an influential part of my life and there was no question … he was the dad. He was a foundation and a rock for me to build my character and self image upon.

That, as it turned out, was the inspiration I was looking for. Along with encouraging readers to stay positive and to focus on the kids, I wanted to start encouraging men to “Be the Dad.” Be that rock. Be that foundation. Kids desperately need a father figure. They need that guidance. A single mom can fill a lot of roles, but I’m a firm believer that every boy needs a strong fatherly influence to help him build his character and self image. And every young lady should have the opportunity to grow up with a strong understanding male influence who will provide her with a reference of how she should be treated by men.

And so, in the coming weeks I hope to start a new video blog encouraging men to “Be the Dad.” Even if it’s not your own kid, be the dad to someone you know doesn’t have one. Be the positive, be the root. Growing up I had several father figures. Along with my father I had brothers-in-law who were like big brothers and each of them influenced me in different ways. I would not be the same person I am without their guidance and time.

I know your situation may make it harder than some, but know that every moment you spend on your son or daughter is pure gold. Every text of encouragement. Every call. Every visit. Every second you have with them is invaluable. Sometimes all it is is a mindset. Visualize yourself as “The Dad!” Remind yourself, “I’m the dad!” Because you are. And it’s a gift like none other.

I said goodbye to my dad last week. There will be characteristics of his that I will carry with me and pass down to my own kids of course. But the one thing that I’ll always remember is, he took his role as father very seriously. He was there. Always. And I’ll always thank him for that.

And so moving forward, I hope to encourage each and every one of you to, if nothing else, “Be the Dad.”

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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You Couldn’t Pay Me Enough!

I’m watching my kids and the issues they deal with on a daily basis and I swear, you couldn’t pay me enough to be a kid today. I thought my insecurities were overwhelming when I was a teen. But the social pressures to be “happy” and “popular” put on our youth today through apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, ooVoo, twitter etc. are astounding. You’re measured by how many “likes” your photos get and image is everything. And no matter how much you talk to your kids, convincing them that the persona kids project through social media is 85% bunk, is impossible. They see happy, perfect and popular and believe that to be reality.

But let’s face it. As adults we view people’s lives through Facebook and assume it’s reality. I’ve read research that shows that the more you view Facebook the more inclined you are to be depressed. And that’s for adults! Imagine a teen who tends to be consumed with self-conscious tendencies. No way.

I continually attempt to remind my kids that the truth is everyone hurts. Everyone struggles with self image and self doubt. But it’s tough to convince them of that when all they see is smiling happy faces on their phones. Everyone’s successful and has the perfect family. How do you compete with that?

I worry about my kids. And I likely over-react when I see them looking a little down or quiet. That’s a natural thing for a 13-year-old to begin with. But I do get concerned. I can only imagine what races through their heads on an hourly basis. Can only imagine the things they read12138421_10154296188072908_4156606227263288022_o in their chats. If I was inundated with that type of constant feedback from 500 – 1000 other insecure, hormone enraged teens I would go bonkers.

On top of it they get plenty of negative feedback from us as we point out all of the things they’re doing wrong. What’s that? Not you? Please. You mean you don’t consistently tell your kid to pick up after themselves. Or to be nicer to their siblings. You don’t tell your child that it’s not ok to wear “that” to school or to talk to you the way they do when they’re approaching teen years?

There are times when I see what my kids are facing and I can’t help but feel like I’m in WAY over my head. How do you help a kid navigate through the pressures of school, social media, images they see on-line, messages they get from advertising, video games and television. The world is constantly in their face and rather than feel safe pulling back, they have a deep need to be accepted and social.

I do my best but even I fall short. I’m constantly beating myself up for what I perceive as an error in approach. I want nothing more than to be supportive and encouraging. But there are times I see my kids make serious errors in judgement and in assessing situations that I cringe and can’t help but sit them down and force my intellectual will on them.

What a crazy time it is to be a kid. And to that end, what a crazy time it is to be a parent of those kids. I speak a lot about the importance of working with your ex rather than battling them when it comes to parenting. Our kids really need our support and they need to feel as much of a strong foundation as we can offer. A split home for them is a fractured foundation no matter how you present it. They need to see that it is indeed solid and the best way to do that, in my opinion, is to have them see their parents working together as a unified front on their behalf. Putting additional pressure of “handling it” themselves is not the answer. And by “it” I mean their parents.

You couldn’t pay me enough to be a kid today. But as for being a parent, I wouldn’t accept a penny. All I want is to see my kids grow up self assured and confident in who they are. And between you and me, I’m as overwhelmed with that task as they are. But we have to be in it for the long haul and just keep swimmin’. To do that I encourage you to be involved. Keep up as much as you can on social media trends. Talk to your kids. Interact with your kids. Listen to your kids. Seriously think about every interaction you have and how you can improve the next time. Be involved. Talk to your ex about what she’s experiencing with your kids (that’s right they’re still YOUR kids even when they’re at your ex’s house). You’re both on the clock no matter where the kids are. Communicate. Learn. Grow. The world is in your kid’s face. You need to be too, now more than ever.

My gut says the answer is to simple be there; be there and be there. To do your best to create a safe environment. For them to know they’re loved and appreciated no matter what they may be dealing with outside.

I could go on for another four pages on this subject. The truth is, I don’t think any of us have the answers. Sometimes it just helps to know other parents are experiencing the same things and that we’re all in this together.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Meet The (Other) Parents

So far this summer my oldest daughter has been invited to no fewer than 57 “hangs” with friends. She’s a good kid and from what I’ve seen her friends are a good crew as well. Some of these are an afternoon at the pool hang. Some a group hang. Some a sleep over hang. But regardless of the type of “hang,” in most instances when I get a “Hey, can I hang at XYZ’s tomorrow?” my response is always the same: “Is it ok with her parents?” and “will an adult be there?” And if this is a new friend, I always ask to receive a text from them or get a chance to meet them or at least talk with them on the phone. It’s our rule. Plain and simple.

What I (and her mom) usually hear is something to the effect that we’re over protective and that no other parents care or ask to meet other parents. What I have found in many cases is that this is complete bunk. And frankly, I don’t care if it is or not. I want to know the people watching over my child and want to ensure someone IS watching over my child or at least keeping an eye on the situation to ensure a simple hang with a friend doesn’t turn into a full on pool party at someone else’s house with forty other kids. And no that’s not an exaggeration. It’s happened.

What I’ve personally found is that these newly anointed teens all use the same script. “You’re over protective and no one else checks in.” I know this because as soon as I check in with other parents they all say, “OH GOOD! I thought I was the only parent who did that.”

Listen, it takes a village. We all need to be watching out for each other’s kids, especially when they’re hanging out together. At this age, they don’t always think, so we sometimes need to help guide their thinking and ensure that good choices are made. They’re going to 2015-07-02 14.30.06
make mistakes. Let’s do what we can to keep those mistakes manageable and good learning opportunities rather than “scar for life” type mistakes.

When hanging with friends, our rules are simple.

– An adult needs to be in charge.
– If you change locations, let us know.
– If boys show up, let us know.
– If you’re alone, let us know.
– If plans change, let us know.

Follow these simple rules and you’re gold. We also insist on balance. Time with friends is important. But so is family. I personally like to have my kids home for dinner. Sleep overs are OK but not every night. I’ve also found, monitoring any apps at this point is also important as summer pool hang pictures are quick to find there way onto social media and frankly, someone needs to protect these kids from themselves sometimes. They have NO idea how dangerous it can be.

My point to all of this? Simple. It’s OK to be a parent. It’s OK to be protective. Our job is to keep our kids safe and we need to do so by whatever means possible. I personally think it’s important for parents to know each other, share rules with each other and respect each other’s rules when kids are staying at each other’s homes. You’ll find most of them have the exact same issues and concerns you do. And all have had their kids attempt to snow them with “no one else’s parents do that.” They do. And so what if your child is embarrassed once in a while. Sometimes they may be embarrassed, but I also think they like seeing that we’re doing our job.

Yes, we need to be reasonable. We need to give our kids additional rope at this age. But we’re still the dad (and mom) and we need to be prepared to adjust the length of that rope at any time depending on situation and choices that are being made. And one of the keys to ensuring we know the full story, is to meet the other parents.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Pushback Top 10 of Divorced Kids

When my daughter was four I told her to take the gum out of her mouth before we sat down for dinner. “You’re ruining my LIFE!” was the response I got. I told her, “Wow, hadn’t really anticipated ruining your life until you were 13, so I’m WAY ahead of the game.”

As parents our decisions are sometimes met with hateful resistance. I’m pretty sure it’s a sign you love your kids if you’re told how much theyFotoliaComp_34861400_4phGROBYL2KdLisCNSqaTcl8idEYHapB hate you from time to time. We weren’t put on this earth to be their best friend, rather protect them from the world and themselves as they go through different stages of development. And we all know that kids will use anything in an attempt to push our buttons and get us to change our position on things.

Driving to work this morning I was reflecting on some of my favorite pushbacks from the past thirteen years. Thought it would be fun to create the Top 10 pushback phrases we hear from our children. A few are unique to divorced kids, but most are applicable to any child. If you’ve got one not on the list don’t hesitate to share here or on Facebook (facebook.com/lifeasadivorceddad) or Twitter (@divorceddadlife).

And now the list!

Number 10. Everyone else’s parents are letting them go!
Number 9. This wouldn’t be an issue if you and mom (dad) hadn’t gotten divorced.
Number 8. You wouldn’t understand (which flows directly into number 7)
Number 7. It was different when you were my age.
Number 6. You’re ruining my life!
Number 5. I don’t do half the things my friends do.
Number 4. Mom (dad) let’s me do it at her (his) house.
Number 3. You’re MEAN!
Number 2. If it were (insert sibling’s name) you’d let them do it!
And the number 1 pushback we hear from our kids when they don’t like our answer: “Now I know why mom (dad) divorced you.”

Twitter: @billfilipiak
Facebook: facebook.com/lifeasadivorceddad

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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