Tag Archives: joys of fatherhood

To My Six Year Old – Happy Birthday!

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My Goo-Goo-Pop.  My Monkey. My Little Sweetie.  My Stinker. My Cutie Pie. I love you so much, and I am so thankful you are my daughter and I get to be your dad.  I pray for you every day that you know the love I have for you is the same love God has for you. His Love is even more bigger and better than mine, though.

 

Watching you grow up has been crazy.  There have been some hard days, because I don’t know how to handle someone so smart, and someone like me.  I want things my way, and I know you do too. I wish I could just give it all to you. But more importantly, I want you to know God and know His purpose for you.

 

There have been some awesome days too that are so much fun, like when I make funny noises or faces and make you and your sister laugh non-stop.  Or when we go to the store and we have fun goofing as we walk around the store. Or when I carry you to some other part of the house and you want me to do it again and again.  

 

And, of course, there are the days I get to watch you be so focused on your karate katas that you take home trophies or medals.  I could not be prouder of how hard you have been working this summer at karate camp and getting your belt promotions. I am glad you are excited about karate, and I am proud of your accomplishments.  I am always going to be proud of you, but I am glad you found something that you enjoy and makes you happy.

 

Always do your best, and always do what you love.

 

I love you just the way you are:  how silly you are, the crazy, silly things you do and say, how hard you try, how you play with your sister or yourself, how you don’t like putting away your laundry, how you talk to your turtle in the morning, how you snuggle with me before falling asleep some nights.  I love to hear you act and play with yourself. Your messy room drives me nuts, but I love that you love it just the way it is.

 

I love how much you love your sister and your friends.  I am glad you are so loyal to both, and I hope that continues through your life.  I pray that both your sister and your friends know how much you love them.

 

I don’t remember much of your baby days, unfortunately, but I remember your days from two years old and on.  I remember the scowl on your face just about anytime someone took your picture. I remember how impressed I was to see you use my iPhone at such a young age.  I remember some of our fights, but I also remember some other times of love and kindness and peace we had. I remember the times I would be squatting down to talk to you, and you would turn from facing me to trying to sit on my lap knocking me down.

 

I try my best to not get too mad and tell you to stop and obey, because I don’t want you to shy away from your feelings and keep your mouth shut.  I want you to speak up and speak your mind when it is necessary. I want you to fight for what you believe in, and I want you to fight for others and what is right.  I want you to fight for God, and follow His purpose for your life.

 

I can’t promise you good times.  I can’t promise that I’ll always agree with you.  But I promise to always love you. I promise to always be on your side and choose you.

 

Thank you for letting me be your dad, and thank you for being Haley.  Thank you for being a silly monkey. Thank you for being an awesome six year old.

 

I love you.

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“Nevertheless, She Persisted”

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My two daughters run my house.  My wife and I have big plans for both of them.  My oldest is the straight-and-narrow kid, who is going to get straight A’s and follow all the rules.  My youngest is the firecracker, the spitfire, the evil genius, the wild card, who is also going to get straight A’s but sneak out on a school night to go meet her friends at the frozen yogurt place across the street until waaaaay after curfew, which will be 4:15 P.M.  And when we catch her in the act, she’s going to do what she does now:  flash us that smile that says, “Who, me?  Noooo! You’re being silly, dad!  I’ve been here the whole time!  Ok, maybe not the whole time, but the whole time you thought I was here physically, I was home in my heart…and yours.”

 

I am not looking forward to the junior high or high school years.

 

Part of what makes my youngest daughter, who is now five, such a wild card, is her persistence.  Some might call it stubbornness.  It just depends on who you ask or when.  So there are times she digs in, and, if it is not something too serious, we’ll give in.  Those times are mildly inconvenient or not preferred, but they are not too problematic to give in to.  Most of the time, though, we try and diffuse the problem and help her get to more of a compromise.  We’re not always successful and she slides down the metaphorical hill that results in a temper tantrum.  And it’s not too surprising considering both my wife and I were stubborn, according to our respective parents.  Our daughter is just following in our footsteps-the apple of my eye.

 

I’d like to call it persistence, though, because, as much as I want my kids to be respectful of me, other kids, and authority figures, I do want them to stand up for themselves.  I don’t want them to be walked all over, and I don’t want them to just say “Ok” to whatever it is and harbor resentment and bitterness against someone else for the rest of their lives.  Ya know, like I have.

 

It is about balance.  It is about knowing when to push, when to pull back.  To know when to hold ‘em, and to know when to fold ‘em.

 

Well, this persistence played out a while back.  I didn’t see it first hand, but I have seen other examples of it.  I was at my older daughter’s hockey game, and my wife took my younger daughter to a family baby shower where her two cousins were also in attendance.  Usually once a week my in laws have my two kids and the two cousins over to spend the night for the four of them to play.  That week they didn’t get their weekend together, so after the baby shower my daughter asked my wife if her cousins could come and spend the night at our house.  My wife was totally caught off guard, tried to deflect and make up reasons to prevent it from happening more for my sake since I don’t like change, but, in the end, she didn’t have a good reason.  And my daughter was starting to step and slip down Tantrum Hill.  At every turn my wife said, “No,” my daughter would just say, “Yes!” and jump and down and say it again, and again.  And again.  Having witnessed this before, I know it just continues until someone gives.

 

Nevertheless, she persisted.

 

So I got a call as I was leaving the hockey game.  You know the kind of call, because you probably have made that call yourself in your life at least once, or were on the receiving end of such call.

 

“Hi, Honey!  So…how are you?  Ah huh, yeah, that’s good.  So…guess what?  We’re having guests over tonight!”

 

Now, I’m not opposed to guests in my house.  I’m just an introvert that likes my free time, my personal space, peace and quiet, and no changes to be made anytime ever for any reason.  So my wife asks her sister if it’s ok if her boys spend the night, and, of course, she says yes, because what parent wouldn’t jump at the chance to have a kid-free night?  I know I would if one was offered to me.  My daughter got her wish:  Her cousins came over, they played and had fun and got their usual weekend of family bonding in.  And that, actually, worked out:  since the kids were occupied it gave my wife and I time to chat and catch up.  And drink wine.

 

Persistence pays off.

 

Both of my daughters are going to be a handful, namely for me since I am not great at change or conflict resolution.  I need a new strategy since “My way or the highway!” isn’t very effective most of the time.  I need to ask myself, “Do I want my daughters to stand up for themselves?  Do I want them to, respectfully, defend their ideas and discuss solutions in the boardroom to the boss?  Or do I want them to be ‘Yes’ people that fold to the power of the position that is facing them?  Do I want them to shrink back?”  I know I want them to stand up to bullies, or other physical confrontations.  In an incredible time as now of the #MeToo movement that started late last year, the year of the Women’s March that for two years in a row had record numbers of people marching in the street, and a record number of women engaging politically running for public office, I want my girls to be women of power, too.  Not necessarily to be CEO’s, politicians, or women as the face of a movement, but women standing up and not backing down in the face of opposition.

 

Part of persistence is pressing on, not giving up.  Some people should give up on their goals.  I always think of the early rounds of American Idol contestants that believe in their hearts that they are born to be stars but can’t hold a note, or they are too pitchy, dog.  Some people, though, shouldn’t give up.

 

Nevertheless, persist.

 

I also want to encourage them and to know it is ok to stand up for others.  Speaking up for the voiceless, helping those in need, and serving others are actions that Jesus preached His followers to do.  I pray they follow in His footsteps.

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The Grass Is Dead

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Phiippians 4:11-12 NIV

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

 

Maybe it is part of being an adult.  Or maybe it is just part of being a human.  I have a tendency, when I go to someone’s house for the first time, to check out the stuff they have.  Also, I’m curious, in some instances nosy, about things people have.  Like, just recently we went to the house of my daughter’s friend.  The parents invited us in to chat a little, and when we first walked in, I was scoping it out:  nice T.V., sound system, nice couches with no kid blankets on them, no toys all over the floor, at least in that room of the house.  I was getting jealous.  For a minute I wanted their house.  Then we got a peek into their backyard that was neatly landscaped.  Jealousy rising.  Kitchen was nice and clean, relatively modern.  Jealousy rising.  No pool.  Jealousy subsiding.

 

There are other people-friends, neighbors, co-workers-I feel envy towards at times.  Whether it be the nice car or truck they have, the job they have, the TV setup, or even the kid-free lifestyle they have.  Some, even the single life they have I sometimes wish I had.

 

But there is a catch:  I hated being single.  I don’t want to be single, I love my kids, right now, I don’t need a TV bigger than my neighbor’s, and I don’t need a perfectly manicured lawn (hence the picture at the top; that is really my lawn).  I just want what I don’t have.

 

I was terrible at being single, for example.  At least being single and trying to get dates, that is.  I am painfully shy and was not be able to ask girls out, so I wished for a date but didn’t often do the work to get one.  I did get a few dates stepping out of my comfort zone from time to time, but it didn’t happen as often as I wished it did. I dreeeeamed about meeting my “soul mate,” having kids, and coming home from work to the pitter patter of my kids running to me screaming, “Daddy! You’re home!” and giving me a hug.  Now my kids barely look up from their homework or TV when I get home, but that’s beside the point.

 

The point is:  the grass is always appears greener on the other side.

 

Depending on my mood, if people ask me how things are going, or how my family is, I’ll answer, “Livin’ the dream,” which I’ll say in the most sarcastic and snarky tone I can.  But, if I think about it, I am living my dream.

 

I don’t make as much money as I dreamed I would be making when I was in college or earlier times of my career, but I am making a good living.  I definitely don’t have my dream job, but I do have a good job where I know I am helping people and making a positive contribution to the world.  

 

Regarding my career, I’m finding out through some personal development and general conversations with my wife that the CEO job I had dreamed of, or thought would be my ticket to happiness, or that the world tells me I should strive for, would be terrible for me.  Mostly, it would require a lot of decision-making.  Considering I can’t even decide dinner some nights, CEO might not be great for me.  And by “dinner” I mean eating dinner.  There are enough instances of me skipping a meal, my wife asking me if I am ok, and then I realize I never ate lunch or drank any water yet for the day.

 

Regarding my kids, parenthood is a grind, for sure.  I’ve talked about the challenge of keeping your head above water as a parent.  Between work, karate class, hockey games, playdates, and birthday parties, life is busy.  I am really just the homework facilitator or foreman and shuttle driver during the week.  My wife gets the playdates and birthday parties on the weekend, and somewhere in there we sneak in a date-night from time to time.  However, some weeks, we’re both so exhausted come Friday, date night is a glass of wine or a beer, a couple of tacos, or a slice of pizza, and a little binge watching and we’re done.  Not that either of us are fiends for the dance floor on a Friday or Saturday night, but not many people ask me what I did over the weekend are in awe of the answer or are hit with FOMO.  I wasn’t that way before marriage or kids, so why start now?  Stay in your lane, right?

 

There is always something in this world to entice us.  The fancy {new-insert product here}.  I don’t neeeeed the new iPhone that uses my face to unlock, but I wouldn’t turn it down if it was offered to me.  I don’t neeeeeed Playstation VR, but I played it once and it sent me on a shallow dive with hemming and hawing for a week of what to put on my Christmas wish list.  Part of the struggle is working through what Paul said to the Philippians.  I bounce back and forth between wanting everything for myself, or deciding I need to give everything away to the poor.  Sometimes I want to give all my money away to rescue all the kids in the world, or have all the water wells in Africa built.  And other days I want a BMW M5, a lifted Ford Raptor, and a Prius (I need a car to commute to work!).

 

Then I snap back:  what’s my priority?  What’s my goal?  What is the example I am setting for my kids?  Do I want them growing up struggling with just being consumers all their lives?  They already want every toy they see.  Or do I want them to learn stuff isn’t everything, the end-all-be-all of living?  That money doesn’t buy happiness.  I’m still trying to be consistent in remembering what brings me lasting joy.  I at least know I won’t find happiness on another patch of grass on the other side of the fence.

 

So I am letting the grass die.  The dream…the dream that keeps changing based on the latest and greatest.  The dream for something shiny and new..  The dream of wielding power, or proving my worth with a salary, or a position, or rank, or the corner office.  I’m letting that dream die.  My new dream is my old dream.  My new dream is the life I’m living now, the life I’ve always wanted.  The life God has been faithful to give and bless me with.

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Dreaming Of Girls, Girls, Girls

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I have a dream.  I’m stealing that line from a great man.  My dream is different, though; a little more personal.  It is still important, and it can still change the world.  That seems to be my goal for the year and possibly for the rest of my life.  This dream I am writing about here has to do with my daughters.  I want to give my daughters the tools they need to change the world.

 

My girls are awesome and that includes my wife.  She’s awesome and is a great role model for our daughters.  She often finds herself as the mediator between my daughters and I, and my relationship with them is better for it.  We are all lucky that my wife is a coach with part of her job is managing people’s emotions.  Very helpful when it comes to strict and cranky dads and, well, kids.

 

This doesn’t even include the fact my daughters got their cute smile and nose from their mom.  

 

In previous posts, I have talked about how I believe in my kids and want them to be the best at whatever they do.  I want to empower them.  I want them to have confidence.  I want them to feel they can do anything they set their minds to, and they are capable of doing all things through God and for God.  I want them to stand up for themselves.  I want to give them all the tools they need to be successful, whatever that means for them.

 

The charge to change the world is not something I am hoping they take on for selfish gain that makes them rich so they can hoard it.  My wish for them is they change the world for all girls, so that all girls know they are loved and are valued.  Change the world for girls who don’t have choices, or don’t feel like they have choices, or are enslaved in one way or another.  Change for all people.

 

Change the world so that all girls may grow up thinking they could become the president.

 

One way this plays out in our house is the mantra to never give up.  Not in the way the early-round American Idol contestants never give up but should.  More in the way skateboarders or figure skaters, for example, keep practicing and never give up.  

 

We have a plaque with “Family Rules” on it, and one of the rules is to never give up.  This played out recently at Legoland when my oldest daughter wanted to try one of the carnival games where you pay $10 for one chance to win the giant stuffed animal that won’t fit in your car if you win it, so you end up carrying around the rest of the day.  She wanted to try a game where you climb a wobbly ladder across a padded mat to the other side without falling off.  If you make it across, you win.  Since our kids are young, the game operator let them both go for the price of one.  My four year old didn’t want to try it, so my seven year old got two turns.  She got maybe one-third across the first time, then two-thirds the second time, but trying a third time meant more money, which we parents were not willing to invest in.  This led to a giant fit of disappointment, which I automatically assumed was about disobedience for not wanting to leave.

 

After being calmed down by my wife (both my daughter and I that is), who took the time to listen to her rationale, we discovered that she was trying to live by our family rule and never give up.  It made sense: first time, one-third across; second attempt, two-thirds; if she was given a third try, victory.  Can’t blame her for having persistence.  It will serve her well in the future.

 

My oldest daughter is also a school nerd, and she loves it.  She totally embraces it.  My wife found this shirt for her that says “I’m a Nerd” on it, and it is covered with math equations and geometrical shapes covering it.  I’m looking forward to seeing what she field of study she decides to pursue.

 

My youngest is not so much of a nerd, but she is certainly smart.  She’s crafty, so we’ll just have to make sure she uses her powers for good and not evil as she gets older.  She’s headed to kindergarten soon, and we’re curious to see how she’ll handle it since everything is boring if it’s not watching TV or playing pretend.  There have been times my wife has made volcanos, or slime, or putty with household items.  This leads to her filling up tupperware with water and stirring it up pretending to recreate these crafts.  The only two problems with this is, one, she’s sometimes carrying the water across the house not keeping all the water in the container, or, two, I have found she has poured something solid down the bathroom sink.

 

Again, after getting some clarification from my wife, she informed me she is trying to do science experiments.  The light bulb in my brain went off (it’s only a 30 watt).  Since I am a scientist myself, I thought I should encourage this behavior but in a controlled environment.  One of my new projects I need to work on is clearing out some space in the garage for her to do some kid-oriented science experiments.

 

Something that I want to do as a parent is to encourage my kids’ interests and not stifle them regardless of the level of my interest.  Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean my kids shouldn’t do it.  I grew up skateboarding in the 80’s and I watched a Bones Brigade documentary somewhat recently.  One of the skaters featured was Rodney Mullen, who was one of the premier freestyle skateboarders of his day.  By age 14 he had turned pro.  However, his dad did not support his skateboarding interest and that hindered their relationship.  I decided then that I wasn’t going to do be that kind of dad.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to like it when my daughters decide to start their goth or emo phase, but it does mean I will be as supportive as I can.  So don’t be surprised if you see in 5-8 years at a My Chem concert, or whoever the hot band is at the time.

 

More importantly, though, more important than what my dreams are for them, is what God has planned for them and for them to seek that plan.  I can have all the dreams I want for them, but they need to tune their hearts, ears, and minds to Him.  I hope to do what I can to guide them to God.  Whatever I dream they do is pointless and worthless if it isn’t part of God’s plan.  That is what I dream for them the most.  That is what I pray for.  That is what I hope they seek.

 

And I dream on…

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What Do Successful Kids Look Like?

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It’s assumed we want the best for our kids right?  We want the best for our kids, and we want our kids to be the best.  Also, we want our kids to be better than we are or better than we have done.  My parents were pharmacists, and they wanted me to be a doctor.  Not just for the positive aspects of the career, mainly the salary, but because they did believe I was smart and capable of doing more than what they had accomplished.  My parents also grew up in a time when success was symbolized through your profession, your back account, the size of your house, and the stuff you had.  Now, success means something very different for my generation.

 

Success can look very different between people as well.  For the first couple of years of parenthood, success to me meant that my girls would hear my requests – orders and ultimatums – to pick up their toys, clean up their messes, and get ready for school and do them right away.  I wouldn’t have to ask them 3-1000 times in 5 minutes while reminding them they are late for school.

 

Success to my wife was very different.  Success to her meant training them to make good decisions, be good people, do their best in everything they do, and learn to follow God’s call in their lives.  When I am having a temper tantrum over the girls not listening to me, my wife will ask me what my goals for them are.  I am usually dumfounded and don’t have an answer, partially because I am thinking, “They should know by the way I am yelling at them,” and partially because, “Oh yeah, they’re kids, who need to be molded and formed” so I should take it easy.

 

So I am trying to not be an a…jerk to my kids and be nicer to them.  I am doing a better job of expressing my belief in them, encouraging them to do their best and keep trying to get better.  The end-goal is they become successful people, whatever that means to them.  We can’t all be doctors, lawyers, CEOs, or professional athletes, but it doesn’t mean we are not successful.  We just need to decide what that means.

 

So what does success in my kids look like to me?  What it looks like to me is probably a lot different than what it looks like to my kids.  When I came home yesterday, the girls had paint out, their hands were covered in paint, front and back, and the paint mat was almost solid blue.  My first thought, “Disaster!  Let’s start the clean up crew and deploy the hazmat team!”  To my wife, who was on a conference call in her office, was probably thinking, “Great!  They are occupied until Charlie comes home.”  To my kids, “Paint!  More paint!”  In fact, they might have even seen it as a failure because they really only used one color, and the mat wasn’t completely covered in paint.

 

For the first year and a half or so of life, successful parenthood looks like kids that are still alive.  Excluding non-facetious conditions of alive that break my heart (cancer, birth defects, etc), I felt like it was a real accomplishment that my daughter made it to her first year of life under my supervision.  This is considering that on a regular basis the first year my wife and I were married, on my days off and she was at work she would come home and find me with a headache.  She would ask me if I ate lunch or drank any water that day, and I would frequently say, “No.”  Not surprisingly, she would look at me puzzled.  I would stare back at her puzzled as to why she was puzzled.  Also, when my oldest was transitioning to eating food instead of just milk, I would often not do it because I didn’t like the mess.  She still drank milk, I just didn’t give her food because it was inconvenient to me.

 

There is also all the paranoia parents have anytime their kids sneeze, or fall, or have a fever.  Because of my science education and job in the cancer testing industry, and my paranoia, my mind starts reeling anytime my kids get sick and I start to think the worst.

 

Then there are the things that make you put your parenting skills into question, or make you think you are a negligent parent.  “How on earth could this happen?!?” was uttered and thought by me the time the girls got lice from school or the time my oldest needed to get crowns for her rotten teeth before she was 6.  The only thing that made me feel like a successful parent that time was that I had a job that offered dental coverage.  The lice eventually went away by washing with medicated shampoo, and she got crowns, started flossing every morning, and now she has what she calls Robo Teeth (her crowns).  With my wife being the voice of reason, we all survived.

 

However, there are things that do make my wife and I feel like successful parents.  I was totally judging another parent in my head when I heard a mom walk up to the child care person at church and say, “My son is 3 and is newly potty trained…”  In my head, I thought, “Three?!  A little late, dontcha think?”  Both our girls were potty trained by their second birthdays. #AsianParenting.  (Church is a great place to judge people, by the way.  A lot of damaged people to judge, myself included.)

 

Another benefit to Asian parenting is the emphasis on doing well in school.  We started teaching my oldest to read before she started kindergarten, and it turns out she likes school, for now.  My youngest one takes more after me and doesn’t like to do work, but she does like learning and also seems to like school.  We’ll work on keeping that going for as long as we can.

 

These are the things that look like success from mine and my wife’s perspective.  Success to my kids is probably a little different.  They like learning how to read, count, and write and feel successful when they do it, I’m sure.  Especially when we tell them it’s crazy to watch them learn how to do these things.  In fact, we tell them to stop learning because we don’t want them to grow up.  They keep learning, though.

 

But success to them probably doesn’t involve learning.  It might include accomplishing things, but that could also apply to climbing up the counters to get to the cupboard where the candy is, which also happens.  I often walk into the kitchen and find my youngest either starting to swing her leg up onto the counter, or her standing on the counter looking for something to eat.  Same kid, granted when she was 6 months to 1-and-a-half, that was scared when riding elevators.  Now she’s climbing up counters to get food, or opening up refrigerator doors to do the same.  Part of the success is getting up there.  The other part of the success probably includes me letting her have whatever she was looking for since she is already there.

 

Other forms of success may or may not include the following:  going shopping with grandma or grandpa to get a toy without having to open their own wallets, getting mom or dad to read an extra story before bed, mom or dad (mostly dad/me) sneaking them an extra piece of candy, scoop of ice cream, or soda to share, getting me to take them to the park in 100 degree weather and stand in the sun to push them on the swings forrrrrreeeeeeevvvvveeeerrrrrrr, or getting me to go on roller coasters or spinning rides at Legoland or Disneyland.  The Legoland rides are not too bad.  I am definitely too out of shape to do any rides at Knott’s Berry Farm or Magic Mountain.

 

One other exhibit of success from the parents’ perspective is building positive characteristics in our girls.  For example, persistence is a characteristic we want our kids to have, and it is starting to sink in.  My oldest has started to play goalie this hockey season, and it has been challenging for her, understandably.  She is six, still learning how to skate a little while playing hockey, and her equipment weighs half of her body weight.  So her first actual game was rough, for her to play and for me to watch.  I was a stress ball.  Coming off the rink and the car ride home, she seemed fine until she got home.  She got really upset and broke down.  Fortunately, mom was there for her and talked to about her own crushing defeats playing sports.  It was tough to lose by a lot, but because of persistence she worked hard and got better.  It made my daughter feel better, and she was able to laugh off the loss and continues to play goalie.  And when my youngest turned to her older sister in the car the next day and said, “Sissy, don’t give up being a goalie.  It’s against our family rules,” it was clear we are having some success planting seeds of character.

 

Success is very different for everyone.  And even though my kids have a different view of success than I do, I think, even at a very young age, they are successful.  Keeping in mind they are still kids, which I forget a lot, they are quickly becoming actual people.  You can see their personalities coming out.  My oldest is a thrill-seeker and is willing to try new things even though she is extremely shy even around people she knows.  My youngest is stubborn like her parent (hmmm, which one?), but can be so sweet to her sister.  When she had pink eye we had to tell her to not get too close to her sister.  She started crying because she was worried she was going to give pink eye to her sister.  They are sisters and friends who love playing together, and that is enough of a success story for me.

 

What do successful kids look like to you?  What do you think you kids think success looks like?  What are you doing to help your kids be successful?  What are your success stories?

 

 

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Why Be A Good Parent?

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Part of the reason I started this blog in the first place is to try and make people laugh. I am a very sarcastic person when I talk to people. I mostly make sarcastic comments at the expense of others, but I will only do that if I feel comfortable enough with you to make fun of you. So, FYI, if I don’t know you very well, I probably won’t talk to you very much or aim my sarcasm at you. Anyway, the other reason I started this blog is to help dads know that they are not alone out there. Our kids can drive us nuts, and we dads should stick together. Just like women go to the bathroom together, guys should share kid-war stories with each other. That idea of dads exchanging ideas doesn’t happen. Tasha has told me numerous times to ask my friends with kids, particularly daughters, how they relate to their kids and manage to stay sane.

But I never have. Partially because I felt embarrassed, and partially because I feel weird doing it. It is the old adage or stereotype of guys who don’t like to ask for directions. I don’t like asking for directions with my kids just as much as I wouldn’t want to ask for directions to the nearest McDonald’s. So my hope is that this blog will entertain as well as let dads know or remind them why being a dad is cool and they are not alone.

I have mentioned it before, but I listen to a lot of podcasts. I was listening to an Entreleadership episode recently, and the guest mentioned a quote: “When you know your why, you can endure any how.” I had heard that before, but I didn’t fully understand it. I didn’t understand my why, why I am doing what I am doing, either with this blog or as a parent. Sometimes I forget my why as a parent and that’s when the thought, “Don’t ever f%$#ing have kids” either crosses my mind or comes out of my mouth. Tasha is coaching me on building up my blog into more than just a blog, and she asks me why I am doing things and I don’t know.

I need to find my why. And you should too.

There are a lot of hows because there are so many million scenarios, but there are only a few whys. Or perhaps just one: why am I parenting? I am parenting because I want my kids to be better than me. Depending on who you ask, that shouldn’t be that hard. Regardless, I want them to be better. I want them to be awesome. They already are awesome. I want them to be awesomer, but for them, not me. I will be proud of them no matter what they do, as long as they know they are doing what God made them to do and they are doing their best at it. There are a lot of hows, and most of them baffle me, but the important thing is why am I trying to be a good parent to my kids? So they do what I say? Or so that they learn on their own how to do what’s best for them?

Some of my posts so far have been about how my kids drive me nuts. They drive me nuts when they don’t listen when I ask them to do things. They drive me nuts when they whine about doing things I ask them to do and they don’t want to do it and kick and scream on the floor. They drive me nuts when they want mom to push them on the swings instead of me, but she’s not available because she is pushing the other kid. They drive me nuts when I am trying to get them ready in the morning for school, and I have to ask them again and again and again to eat their breakfast, find clothes to wear, put those clothes on, brush their teeth, and put their shoes on. All of these things usually end with me screaming, “How many times do I need to tell you to eat?! How many times do I need to ask you to get your clothes?! Didn’t you hear me say you woke up late, and we can’t be late to school?!”

ARGGHHHHH!!

Well, you’re not alone. Just the other day I was talking to a mom of Zoey’s friend at school about her struggle and how loud she was screaming at her girls to get them to focus, eat, and get dressed. Great chance for me to plug my blog, which I did: I said, “Welcome to my life. It’s like that every day for me. This is why you should read my blog. The struggle is real, and you are not alone.” She’s not on Facebook or Twitter (I know, I don’t know how she survives keeping her life so private), so she hasn’t seen that I have a blog.

The struggle is real, and you are not alone.

I struggle with the hows. When the girls get in trouble, they go to timeout like most kids would. So how many “hows” do I have? How come you can’t just listen? How many times are you going to ask me where we are going? How come you girls can’t play together without fighting? How can you still be whining? How can you be crying when I caught you trying to eat cupcakes without permission? How can you get mad at your sister for taking the toy you are not playing with? How many times do I need to put you in time out? I go to mental time out and stomp around the house for a few minutes to calm myself down. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Why put them in timeout? Tasha has made a habit for herself and for me to sit down and talk to our girls after a timeout. Part of the sit down is to talk them about why they were in timeout, what they did to earn the timeout, and what we both can learn from it. Part of the sit down is also for either Tasha or I to apologize for getting upset and losing our cool. The point is to train and discipline our girls that whatever they did is not the behavior we deem acceptable and not the culture we want to have in our family, and to teach them that apologizing for mistakes by both of us is important. Granted me steaming, stewing, and storming the halls of the house is not the culture Tasha wants me to cultivate in our family and house either, but she can only work on one or two children at a time, not all three (I’m the other child, by the way).

A more important part of the timeout is to explain why we got upset. It would be so much easier to just do nothing and let our kids run around like crazy people, scream at us, snatch toys from other kids, and do whatever they want. In the short term that would be easier to let them be “free spirits” and learn the ways of the world and society on their own. Hippies! Just kidding, but there are parents like that right? I’m sure we all know one. In the long term, I am making a large assumption that most people and parents know that a kid like that makes a bad adult. Now, 1+1 doesn’t necessarily equal 2. There does come a point where kids, young adults, or adults, make their own decisions. I know I made my own despite what my parents wanted or demanded me to do, but overall I work hard (just not study hard), I am generally polite to people, and have good manners because of the way my parents raised and disciplined me. That is the goal Tasha and I have, and I would assume most parents have for their kids: to have happy, healthy, shiny, productive kids that contribute positively to the world. An over simplification, but I am sure you get the point.

Comedian Louis C.K. said in one of his specials he is training his daughters to be the adults he wants them to grow up to be, not just disciplined kids. Our goal, Tasha’s and mine, is to have good adults, not just good kids. We want them to make good decisions now so that they develop the habit of doing it later on.

When I tell people that my daughters at 3 and 5 have allowances and chores to earn that allowance, they think I’m running a sweatshop, or whipping my kids to do the dishes. They feed the fish, practice karate, and put dirty dishes in the kitchen. But why not teach them about money and work early? The earlier the better. We also teach them about tithing and offering and why we do it. I didn’t learn how to make and stick to a budget until I got married. Now we’re on the Dave Ramsey plan, which can be tough, but it’s also better than being stressed out wondering how we’re going to pay our bills. It would be great if my girls had enough money to go to college debt free and buy a house before their 25th birthday.

I am not the perfect dad, but I think I am on the right track. The other morning I was getting ready for work, and we were all in the kitchen. Tasha and Zoey were in some conversation about her growing up and getting married, maybe she asked if Zoey had a boyfriend or something. I can’t remember, but what did catch our attention was that she “wants to marry someone like daddy.”

I must be doing something right.

What is your parenting why? What are your parenting challenges? Have you lost your noodle and need a reminder of your “why”? Leave a comment with your “why” and let’s work together!
If you want to listen to the Entreleadership podcast episode I mentioned, here is the link:
https://www.entreleadership.com/podcasts/john-o’learyliving-an-inspired-life.

My kids have an allowance. Read about it here: http://charliesdadlife.com/why-my-daughter-has-more-spending-money-than-i-do/

Need some financial peace of mind? Do the Dave Ramsey plan that we did: (http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/home/)

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