Defending Dads!

 I love to laugh, especially at imaginative and funny TV commercials. However lately, I’ve seen a disturbing trend in the ones that poke fun at men and fathers as if they were congenital dunces!  In fact, this actually worries me! Okay… I get it! Women, as statistical facts indicate, are the major decision makers in most households so these TV ads are aimed at women not necessarily to denigrate men, but to play on women’s emotions in hopes that they’ll slice the family savings account for products and services.  One has to wonder though, when the subliminal types of messages with their disparaging facial expressions, belittling body language or overt condescending language toward men become part of our everyday thinking.  Are women and girls being beguiled to disvalue boys and men?  I certainly hope not; because eventually these girls and boys will marry, and they must know how to respect and honor each other for their nuptials to have a chance, and to set a high-quality example for their own kids.

Over the last few decades, women’s roles have grown exponentially outside of the home yet they have also maintained their domestic role and maternal inclinations of child rearing.  For this they deserve immense respect.  In fairness to men, their growth also deserves respect.  I am pleased to see many movements where men embrace their vital role as parent, express detachment from their traditional role of “breadwinner” and share domestic responsibilities.  So why, when so many men are trying so hard, is there a culture that mocks them?  Why do the TV media, extreme feminists, and Hollywood starlets purposely choosing single parenthood, perpetuating trends that advocate the “I don’t need a man mentality?  I’m all for the independence of any given individual but when it comes to rearing children, both a mother and a father are ideal.

Research supports my belief that men, generally speaking, deserve to be respected (even if a woman can do their job) and fathers deserve to be heartily defended for their roles, which frankly, women cannot replicate!

Psychologist John Gottman outlines research stating that even though mothers generally spent more time with kids than fathers, that the quality of interaction provided by fathers was a more powerful predictor of the child’s later success or failure with school and friends.   It was believed that fathers have this extreme influence on their children because their particular type of bonding evoked powerful emotions in kids.   It is important to note, however, that a physically present dad didn’t create this research finding, but that the emotionally present dad did!  So kudos to dads who choose to be present in this manner!

This is further supported by the following research based facts listed at the National Fatherhood Initiative.

  • The National Center for Educational Statistics reported that when fathers are involved in their children's education, the kids were more likely to get A’s, enjoy school, and participate in extracurricular activities.
  • Kids with engaged fathers demonstrate "a greater ability to take initiative and evidence self-control."
  • When these boys grew up, they were more likely to be good dads themselves.

But when fathers are devalued, here's the result:

  • Their children have a higher rate of asthma, headaches, anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems.
  • Teenagers are at greater risk of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use, and suicide
  • Adolescent girls are 3 times more likely to engage in sexual relations by the time they turn 15 and 5 times more likely to become a teen mother.

Here’s more:  In 1996, Duncan, et. al. found that “For predicting a child’s self esteem, it is sustained contact with the father that matters for sons, but physical affection from fathers that matters for daughters.”

The list proving a father’s worth goes on and on so I felt it was important enough to write about.  And the timing seems right since Father’s Day is fast approaching.

In fairness to the moms (remember that I’m one too) you bet you matter by leaps and bounds!  But we have to realize it isn’t a race about who’s a better person or parent.  Each of us has a vital role to play in the lives of children and sometimes, circumstances create it so that a dad just can’t be present.  If your child’s dad is missing in action because of necessary travel, divorce, death, or simply detachment, then you are my hero for doing the job solo.  However, when Dad is around and doing his job, try not to let those derogatory TV commercials subtly get to you.   Value your children’s Dad and remember to thank him.  And know that your kids are watching your every move.  If you treat men respectfully, they will learn to do the same.

Please don’t treat Dad like the babysitter with a list of instructional do’s and don’ts.  Allow his personality to shine in his own unique way.  You might just find that the man will surprise you when he’s allowed to think and act for himself.  After all, what’s more important?  A father feeling good about spending time with kids, or worrying about “mom” reaming him out because little tikes ears weren’t cleaned well enough?  Mom needs to be Dad’s partner, not his gatekeeper.

So on this upcoming Father’s Day, I’d like to thank not only my husband who is a fantastic Dad, but all the men, who give of themselves not just physically, but emotionally, to nurture their kids into happy, successful citizens of our world.  Good job Dads!  Keep up the great work!  Our future generations depend on it!

Reader comments are cherished.  Please share yours.

How one Mother's Dying Wish Impacts our Parenting

 Death is never easy to accept. When it comes prematurely, it yields unrelenting agony for those left behind.  Our hearts ache, particularly, for children who are not equipped to understand.

My own heart is aching for one very young fellow who recently lost his mom to cancer.  This mom had many roles but “mother” is the one she fought hardest for.  Motherhood is a job that can never really be finished.  There is always an opportunity to love, teach, impart wisdom, extend the hand of friendship, soothe pains, revel in joys, and of course so much more.   In a job that seems limitless, this mom had very limited time. 

I came to comprehend her plight most clearly when I read her last online journal entry.  She said it was the “most difficult” one to write as Hospice had been summoned and she knew her end was near.  She made a final request.   

The request was for letters that would help her son know her better as he got older.  Friends and family were advised that the letters would be held for him to read at an age that was appropriate and she asked that they indicate that age on the envelope.  Specifically, she longed for stories about the kind of person she was, or any other information that would help her son to know her as he became an adult. 

This dying mother’s request saddened me deeply, but it also inspired me positively to think about my legacy, and I am writing to inspire you to think about yours (if you want to). 

Besides a legacy in which we bequeath material items, what could we leave our kids that would enrich their being?  Here are some questions to ponder.

  • What do you want your kids to know about you?  Why?
  • What easy to recall stories can you share that will illustrate your strengths in overcoming adversity? 
  • How can you help your kids avoid mistakes by sharing stories about your weaknesses and how they debilitated your efforts or results?
  • What are the most important scriptural verses, or spiritual messages you’d like to impart?  How do you hope these will help your children?  Are there any specific situations you’d like to include?
  • What guidance will you impart to your kids about managing everyday frustrations, romantic relationships, community or corporate leadership, or their own roles as future parents?
  • Are their favorite books or movies that you would want to share so that your kids have insights into what moved you emotionally?
  • Do you have perspectives on social graces, etiquette, study skills or education that you’d like to convey?
  • Would you include a code of ethics, family “commandments”, or moral wisdoms that they could live by?

As you can imagine, this list could go on and on.  What is important is that you create it in a way that reflects what is most important for you, and what you think is important for your kids to know as they navigate their own lives.  You are the author of your legacy.

After pondering the questions, one might ask “how do I best convey my legacy?”  Here, we have to consider the child’s age and level of maturity, and the style that best suits the parent.  I have heard of one mother (also dying from cancer) who left her daughter videos on various subjects including how to apply makeup.  Verbal communication, letters or journaling, audio recordings, or even video are options.  Choose one or choose them all.

Alice Earle Morse wrote this quote:  "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that's why it's called the present."

Since none of us have a crystal ball to know what will happen tomorrow, we can use the gift of time today.  What do you think?  How can we start to leave our legacy for the ones we love the most?  What would your legacy include?  What method is best for you to convey it?  Please share your thoughts in our comments section.


A Senator, The State of The Union Address, and a Parenting Idea

The State of the Union address is scheduled for Tuesday January 25th and if you haven’t already heard, a new, “never been done before” idea is buzzing about it.  Proposed by Senator Mark Udall, the idea is to blur party lines and promote unity by asking Independent, Democrat, and Republican members to sit amongst each other.  As you know, the traditional format of being divided by “the aisle” represents division of ideas and often support. Will this idea be adopted and will it work to ease party tensions?  Moreover, what does it have to with parenting?  Okay… I realize it is a loose connection, but the “sit together” idea reminded me of a discussion on a long lost parenting forum. One mother asked how she could keep her three school aged daughters from fighting with each other when separating them wasn’t an option.  Another mother answered brilliantly and I only wish I knew her name so I could thank her personally for the idea.  She said she managed her own children’s skirmishes by making them sit in a circle and hold hands for 10 minutes.  They weren’t allowed to talk so they made mean faces at each other until inevitably, they burst out laughing.  Problem solved… at least temporarily.

Well, while this idea is fun for kids, I’m not sure we can make our political leaders discover unity by holding hands, though it could be helpful start to keep animosity at bay.   What say you dear reader?  Did your parents use techniques to help you get along with your siblings?  If you’re a parent what strategies do you use with your own kids?  We’d love to hear your stories!

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