Posted in Children, Relationships

Children ~ Future Heirs of Imperfection

A black and white illustration of a mother and...
A black and white illustration of a mother and son reading a book on a chair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good Afternoon All,

A quick recap on life before I delve into the subject of my post.  Since my last post much has changed–as is inevitable in life.  Circumstances beyond our control mix  and mingle with those that we can exercise control over.  As one of those American‘s beginning furlough yesterday, I chose to spend it on the operating table & recovery.  Yes, finally, I was able to have the operation to repair my tendon which suffered a vertical tear on my right ankle back in January when I slipped on black ice.  One of my challenges is to determine what to do with my furlough days (one day off per week for the next 11 weeks!)  besides recovering.

Journaling, blogging, gardening and quilting are on the menu for my enjoyment/entertainment, as well as, as the subject infers spending more time with the family.  I’m writing this post today because of a great article I read from an individual I follow on LinkedIn named Michael Lazerow.  His post was titled “Entrepreneur’s Choice:  Is Your Kid Worth $100 Million?”

I found his article well thought out and extremely thorough in navigating through the thought world of priorities one faces as a parent.  The challenges he addresses are especially important for the entrepreneurial sort of parent(s).  If you are married and one of you has or is planning to operate your own business–be “the boss” then there’s a lot at steak and many choices to weigh.  Here’s an excerpt from his post:  “For me, at least, the hardest part of being a working parent is not the long road trips or long hours or frustrated clients. It’s the internal struggle I fight between two equal and opposing forces – the time I invest creating shareholder value and the time I invest building family values.”

Considering now the thoughts you might have about the circumstance/situation, what are “WE” doing about the circumstances, the questions, and what choices are we making to bring these thoughts into social debate; and useful assistance to those faced with the challenges?  Michael ends his post with the following:  “Ultimately, the best present you can give your kids is your presence. Your full and undivided presence. And, just like earning $100 million, that’s not always easy.  What decisions would you make differently if you truly valued your children more than $100 million?”

As believers in a faith, we “attend” church to congregate with others who practice their faith in similar ways to us.  As writers; we join reading a writing groups; as collectors, we join stamp clubs, auto clubs, quilting guilds, and others who share similar interests…..but where oh where is the group for Parents in our day-to-day rhythms?  Online seems to be the only place where this topic gets the attention it deserves, but its too often a one-to-one relationship (the individual reading the article or post–and the author)  Child Care facilities are hardly the place to meet the need, however, a modification to the model would be ideal if psychologists and other family care professionals were to facilitate.

For those that do work for others, parenting issues are water cooler and lunch room discussions if at all.  Besides your co-parent, who do you talk to, ask questions of, and share these experiences/challenges?  It can only be that much more of a challenge to those who are single parents.

This topic is what I believe a LOT of men could really use.  Parenting isn’t traditionally attributed positively in association with men…. unfortunately our society places topics/activities into gender categories.   A movie with a great plot, relationship intense dialogue, and focused on an individual struggling with a major life issue is put into the category of chic flick.   Ask a group of married men their druthers whether to spend a Friday or Saturday evening watching a chic flick or watching/attending a sporting event or online gaming…most will NOT choose the chic flick–especially if asked in front of a group of guys.

For years I have hoped for/wanted a men’s group that meets to help each other be better men, fathers, and husbands.  I have felt in order to even get attendance, it would have to be a covert operation whereby I started a monthly night our for guys with our home schooling or back in the day when our daughters were younger, at the Twins Club.  I’m going to give it a try with our current home schooling group when I’m back on my feet–but, I just wonder if anyone else out there sees the same thing that I do?  There is power in numbers!  Parents (both men & women) should be able to join a group “FOR PARENTS” without having to pay a “family counselor”…to discuss and share things that work, things that didn’t work so well, and just be able to provide general support for each other.    Most groups that exist are for individual aspects of parenting (La Leche League–for breastfeeding; special needs, troubled youth, etc.)  Support groups need to exist for those without a chronic medical or mental issue, where parents can encourage each other to make better choices!

My wife has done an excellent job as a home schooling mother at creating some family traditions.  Reading aloud to the children during meals has helped to distract the kids from normal “Mom, he’s looking at me!” spats that normally arise from close proximity.  It has worked well and she’s continued the habit–the twins are now almost 18 and our son will turn 14.  It has helped them develop a voracious appetite for reading on their own.  Each Thursday, the kids go to the library and check out new books–they get through and read almost everyone they check out!  They all enjoy the reading time!  So, being able to share something as simple as that little coping mechanism a mom has during lunch times adds to the quality time spent together and teaches many important lessons.

These are the types of exchanges and ideas that can be helpful to new or struggling parents.  Fitting time into life’s schedules to create new/better habits and develop deeper relationships with our children beyond the logistical or parallel entertainment (TV watching) is what parents crave/need.  You don’t know it until you experience a pocket of it here and there…but when you have those moments, its like a “I could’ve had a V-8!” moment.  But we must consciously chose  to reprioritize HOW we spend our time and then develop consistent habits.

Children need and find structure comforting, even if they don’t seem to be appreciative, boundaries are what gives children a sense of stability and trust for their environment and caretakers.  If we don’t provide it for them, they will seek it out, even if it comes with great risk.  I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about choices you’re making to improve your quality time with children/grand children; or even with establishing a group for the purpose of becoming a better parent.

The practices we put in place (or don’t), the traditions we build (or don’t), the value we create (or don’t), the choices we make (or don’t) all end up being the legacy we leave behind.  Whatever you do (or don’t) are behaviors your children witness and observe (learn) internally as a way to do life–most proudly pass on to their children these behaviors and choices (both good and bad). What example are you setting?  Whether you like it or not, parenting is teaching, and what is taught, is learned and carried on to the next generation!

Cheers All!  Again thanks to Michael Lazerow’s post about parenting to help trigger this post!

 

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Posted in Relationships

From Passion to Parent – We Men Can do Better

Gentlemen,

I’m writing because there’s something that must be said.  I speak from personal experience, both as an observer from childhood and as a husband/father.  We can do better!  Just ask your mother or your wife!  On the average, regardless of origin, age or class, women bear the brunt in the familial relationship.

I know there are exceptions and some men are great examples of how to be a true teammate in the marriage relationship.  Most women however could, can or have thought the following:

How is it that even though we both work, I still end up doing most of the:

Grocery shopping/menu planning
Cooking/cleaning
Arranging for babysitters
Picking up the kids from school when one gets sick in middle of the day
Staying up with sick kids in the night
Handling the more emotionally sensitive discussions

Now I realize that some of you may bristle at reading this post.  If the truth fits though, perhaps there’s some chance/hope of change.  Most fathers begin their parental journey lacking necessary skills to embrace the responsibility in a fashion that allows women to feel they are “on the same page!”  Many of us are too absorbed in the feelings of loss created by displacement in what seems relationship priority.  You may feel as though this bundle of joy has ousted you in #1 position with your bride because you’re not able to spend the kind of time you used to spend with her.  You may also feel like no matter what you do, it doesn’t seem to be good enough.

This relationship evolution (from the passionate/blissfully spontaneous intimacy of just the two of you, to a now exhausted, frazzled, lets  just stay at home)  will never remain static.  Get used to constant change and many surprises.  If you find yourself in a rough patch, relax–its normal and it won’t always be like this.  The parenting years are some of the most stressful and create a great deal of introspection and comparison between how you remember being parented (what was and wasn’t okay) and how you want to parent.

The real key to harmony once you split yourselves up by creating more mini-miis is to mentally condition yourself to always approach every situation with a questioning mental posture.  If you attack the situation with suggestions and assumptions, you might as well take off your size 10 shoe and begin inserting into mouth!  Seriously, plan your time–print out a blank calendar each month and put the important things to accomplish on it and post it on the fridge.  If you don’t know what she’s planned, your spontaneous after work drinks with the guys just might have hijacked her schedule to have her one and only ladies night out event.  Guys, let me tell you, there’s no greater stress that having to juggle everything on that list above , maintain a house and full-time job!  Take inventory and see where you can help out.

Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, homework help…as much as you can anticipate and take care of  is greatly appreciated.  Where you begin to sense distance and coldness in your relationship is when she feels abandoned and saddled with the responsibility for everything.  She’ll be gritting her teeth, cleaning puke off the floor from one of your sick kids remembering “for better or for worse!” while you’re snoring away.  Its times like those that begin to create the irritable exchanges, the brief looks that once were longing, and the quick peck on the cheek instead of the passionate embrace.  Don’t let the little things in life, forgetfulness, procrastination, and obliviousness our gender is notorious for ruin the adventure of sharing your life with another.

Women, can I hear an amen?