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Hurray for dads…make “kind” fathers a media focus!

Being a father is truly one of the most worthwhile, creative, and meaningful relationship we can experience in our lives. It is today’s dad, who like the million of loving and nurturing fathers that are actively involved with their children and are largely ignored by the media, are redefining what it means to be a man. The media instead will search for the deadbeat dad or child abuser, and run an hour-long special on a sick and mentally disturbed man who tormented his children, pointing out what this father did.

Meanwhile the millions of kind, and caring dads go about their responsibilities as parents inspired by the sheer joy of watching their children grow and develop and be a part of their lives. The development of this new paradigm for fatherhood — the involved and active dad — will be our most significant contribution in this millennium.

Yes, the microchip and the incredible technological advance we will see in our lives will be spectacular. And advances in the biological science will improve the health and longevity of our children in so many ways. But the infrastructure of all this will be our families and the new role fathers are engaged in within the family.

Here is a video you may enjoy!

Hurray for dads!

How dads matter…what is a “good man?”

How do we act and how does it impact our children? What will they reflect on when they think back on how we parented them? Of course we want them to have good values, be honest and kind in their interactions with others. We want to share adventures with them in hopes of building memories. We know they will observe all we do and draw conclusion about life from our example.

Many other people: family, friends, teachers, coaches will  influence their lives. But as “the dad” we are always of special importance.   Listen to this short audio clip by Susan Dix Lyons about her dad and what it means to a “good man.”

Sometimes it is the shear ordinariness of what we do as men and dads that tells our children volumes about who we are.  It is my belief that in the day-to-day routine of our lives our children learn who we are and what we stand for.

Helping our children in ecomomic hard times

The current “economic hard times” are affecting everyone’s lives.  You may be unemployed, know some one who is unemployed or just be aware from all the news and media around you that this is a time of financial hardship for many. The sense of confusion and uncertainty experienced by many of us as fathers (as well as mothers) can be transmitted to our children. Children may feel the tension between parents as they deal with household finances and they may be confused or anxious that their family is at financial risk. We as Dads need to help children feel in control, even if we feel vulnerable or angry ourselves.

The Nation Association of School Psychologists have published a paper offering some “guidelines” to help children cope with unsettling times. I am listing a few highlights and have included a link to the online PDF file at the end of this post.

Parents need to assess what level of support their children need. Many will not find the current economic crisis personally stressful. However, following general suggestions may help vulnerable or sensitive children cope.

Be reassuring. Children will take their cues from you, especially young children. Acknowledge that the potential economic challenges and uncertainty are unnerving but the likelihood is that you and your children or students will be okay. There is difference between the possibility of serious risk and the probability of it affecting them personally.

Acknowledge and normalize their feelings. Allow children to discuss their feelings and concerns and encourage any questions they may have regarding current events. Being an empathetic listener is very important. Let them know that others, including many adults, are feeling the same way and that their reactions are normal and expected.

Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promote physical health. Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.

Spend family time. Doing enjoyable activities with you reinforces your children’s sense of stability and normalcy. Try to do things together, such as eat meals, read, play sports or games, go for walks or bike rides, or watch non-violent, non-stressful TV. When stressed, young children may also want more physical contact (e.g., hugs, holding hands, sitting on your lap, etc.). You know your children best, and your love and support are the most important factors to their sense of security.

Turn off or monitor the television. It is important to stay informed, but watching endless news programs referring to “the economy is in crisis” or “another depression” is likely to heighten anxiety. Young children in particular are often unable to distinguish between news reports and their family’s reality. Older children may want to watch the news, but be available to discuss what they hear and help put it into perspective.

Take care of your own needs. Take time for yourself and try to deal with your own reactions to the situation as fully as possible. You will be better able to help your children if you are coping well. If you are anxious or upset, your children are more likely to be so as well. Talk to other adults such as family, friends, faith leaders, or a counselor. It is important not to dwell on your worries by yourself. Sharing feelings with others often makes us feel more connected and secure. Take care of your physical health. Make time, however small, to do things you enjoy. Avoid using drugs or alcohol to feel better.

Here are some “tips”  from the National Association of School Psychologists on how to help our kids cope with “unsettling times.”


Fathers and Anger

With all the stress and frustration of being a parent how can we as dads work with our anger?