Are You an iDad?

Every week, I take my boys to their after-school activities — swimming and karate. While I’m there enjoying my kids,  I’ve noticed that a lot of parents are plugged into their mobile devices.

They’re not watching their kids — at all.

Instead, they’re checking e-mail, reading a book or using an app on their iPhone. Sure, from time to time I’ll use my iPhone for a minute during a lesson, but never for more than that.

What it comes down to is where each parent is choosing to be engaged.

Would it be easy to stay plugged in to my iPhone? Sure. I’ve already seen Max swim across the pool dozens, quite possibly hundreds, of times. And I’ve watched Joss do his karate moves so often that I have them memorized myself. But I’ve also checked my e-mail hundreds of times.

Here’s the thing: My e-mail will be there later.

But there are precious moments that will only happen this one time as my kids partake in their respective classes. I don’t always know when they’ll happen, but if I miss them they’re gone. Forever.

So my decision is simple. I’m there to watch my kids.

I work so much (2 jobs, 6 days a week right now), and these half-hour classes are a chance to see my boys growing, learning and having fun. And if I’m paying attention, I can give them honest feedback and encouragement when they’re done.

There’s also another component tethered to this. When my kids look over at me, they see that I’m paying attention to what they’re doing, which makes them feel important (which they are). If they saw dad’s head buried in his iPhone, how would that make them feel? Insignificant and unimportant, that’s how. A definite contributor to poor self esteem and feelings of inadequacy.

It’s a great feeling to see my boys’ eyes light up when they see me watching them, really watching them, as I give them a big thumbs up.

Plugging in is tempting. These devices are addictive, they’re easy to get sucked into. And they can rob us of precious, one of a kind moments.

Just the other day, Max did two different types of backstrokes. Each time, I was awestruck as to how well he did them. My jaw literally dropped. I would have missed it if I were plugged in.

What it comes down to is this … Are you an involved dad or a chauffeur?

Being involved does not mean driving our kids to and from their after-school activities and being plugged in in-between. It means being present throughout. Which can sometimes be hard when we’re exhausted, and don’t have much time for ourselves. 

Am I an iDad?

As much as I love my phone — nope. Although I’ll admit that I can sometimes become distracted, I remain firmly plugged into my kids lives.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

Living with the Loss of a Child

Have you experienced the loss of a child?

Before we had our two beautiful boys, my wife (Kara) and I lost two children to ectopic pregnancies. During the second ectopic pregnancy, my wife almost died.

Although we lost our first two children over eight years ago, there is still an unhealed part in my heart – and I will always miss them.

We believe they are two girls – Sheila and Sky.

Why do I use the present tense? Just because we lose someone doesn’t negate their existence. They are still here with us – part of our family and alive in our hearts. And when I allow myself to do so, I can feel their presence watching over all of us.

This is not an easy topic for me to think about for an extended period of time, but I think it’s important to raise awareness that MANY couples have experienced this type of loss. Just about every one of my friends has experienced miscarriages. One even lost his child after she was born.

This loss is not something we heal from, but something we live with. What confuses me is why we’re not encouraged to talk about it. It’s as if somehow it’s taboo or wrong to bring it up.

You know what? It’s not wrong. It’s part of our lives, and it hurts.

I met a lady the other day that recently lost her daughter, who had lived long enough to become an adult. I can’t even imagine the unbearable pain she and her husband are going through. To watch one’s child grow up, only to pass away so young – leaving a void that can never be filled. Although we had just met, once I gave her “permission” to talk about it, the words and the tears poured out.

She needed to talk about it. Sometimes we all do. 

Feel free to share your own stories, and tell me about your children – both the ones that made it into this world, and the one’s who didn’t.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

Equal Placement in Wisconsin: Attend the Court House Meeting

Every child has a right to be raised by both parents. And every parent has a right to raise their child, as long as they can provide their kids with a safe, healthy environment.

Dads and moms, this is your chance to be heard!

This Friday is the inaugural event for the Wisconsin Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). The AFCC is the world’s premier interdisciplinary organization for professionals involved in family courts.

The topic of the event is A Conversation About Child Placement Presumptions, which features research done by Australian native Dr. Jennifer McIntosh, Ph.D. (there will be a video presentation and panel discussion).

According to Wisconsin Fathers for Children and Families, “if you do one thing this year, it’s to attend this function and make your presence felt. If parents who support equal time with their children, are not in the majority at this function, then accept that you are leaving the well being of your children to people who make money off the unhappiness of your children. The Dane County Court House is a taxpayer funded Public Building; you have every right to be there.”

The Wisconsin Chapter of AFCC is envisioned as “a community of interdisciplinary professionals dedicated to improving the court system and its outcomes for children and their families. This organization is needed because there is no single family law related organization in Wisconsin that: (1) is membership based, (2) is state-wide, (3) deals with court-connected resolution of family disputes, and (4) is interdisciplinary. A state Chapter will provide opportunities for AFCC members in Wisconsin to network at the state and local level in order to explore problems, share ideas, and promote solutions for family courts.”

Dane County Courthouse @ 215 S. Hamilton, Madison, WI, Room #L1000.

Friday, October 21st, 2011  from 2:00 – 4:00 PM CST

Following this event, Wisconsin Fathers for Children and Families will be holding a screening of “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” @ 7:00pm at The Coliseum Bar and Grill @ 232 E. Olin Avenue, Madison WI.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

How Many Drug Stores Do We Need? Medicating vs. Solving Problems

Every time I turn around there’s another CVS or Walgreens cropping up, which leads me the question: how many drug stores do we need ?

As a society, we are encouraged to put band-aids on things instead of determining the root cause and solving our problems.

Depressed? Take a pill.

Overweight? Take a pill.

Diabetes? Take a pill – or take a shot.

Stressed? Take a drink, smoke a joint or a cigarette – or take a nap (oh wait, naps are actually a good idea).

If a child has problems focusing, immediately label him with attention defect disorder and give ‘em drugs. The result? These children get started early thinking there’s something wrong with them, and that it can only be solved with a pill.

Medicate, medicate, medicate. Heck, millions of people are medicating themselves into mediocrity.

If all we do is medicate our problems,
how can we expect to solve them?

Instead of a CVS, how about a healthy food market that’s free of products with trans fats and bleached ingredients? The reason why many people are sick – to a large degree – is because of the food they eat. Look at how cancer, diabetes and autism have become so prevalent since the 1950′s. This is when processed food became popular (or should I say became forced upon us). If you ask me, Crisco and every product like it is the reason why many people are sick.

Why am I picking on poor old Crisco? Because it’s made of hydrogenated oils and mono- and diglycerides (trans fats), which have been linked to illness, allergies and arthritis . Instead of taking a pill to treat the illness, why not change our food habits and avoid it all together?

Just because there’s a drug store on every corner doesn’t mean it’s the best solution for what ails us. Sometimes things appear normal (or healthy) because they’re everywhere. Remember when asbestos was used as insulation in homes? That was considered normal – until someone found out it was deadly, and we stopped using it.

If all we do is dull the pain, how will we heal the wound ? I have Crohn’s disease. There was a time when it almost killed me. After I was diagnosed, I was told I would be on pills for the rest of my life (16+ per day, along with an occasional run of steroids).

I had a decision to make. Stay on drugs, or look inside and determine why I got sick in the first place. I was interested in healing — not a band-aid. I began meditating, and started going for acupuncture and massage. I quit my job — which was literally killing me. I also started pursuing what I loved in life, instead of making a paycheck. I’m happy to say that today I am drug free.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to brag, and I don’t have super powers. I just woke up. I realized that I needed to change who I was, what I was doing with my life, and the food I was eating — if I wanted to lead a healthier, happier life. That being said, I understand that there are times when meds are necessary, even life saving. But the preponderance to medicate first and ask questions later (if at all) is a big problem.

You might be wondering: how is this connected to parenting and our kids? Doesn’t this guy write a dad blog?

Every parent wants to be healthy, and be around for their kids — as well as their grandkids. That’s obvious. We also need to consider something else: what our kids see us do will be perceived as “normal.” If they see us medicating our problems instead of solving them, or staying in a job we hate instead of fighting for our happiness, they could easily figure that’s the right way to live.

We need to show our kids that they don’t need to follow the way of the masses. They have the ability — and the right — to simply be themselves.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

Peace: The Final Frontier

As a native New Yorker, September 11th is something I think about every day — even 10 years later.

All the lives lost. All the families shattered.

And it’s still happening. There are innocent people dying right now because of war and terrorism.

I wonder if our world will ever evolve beyond this into a place of peace. Even with all our technical advancement, greed and short sightedness (not to mention hatred) have kept us in the dark ages.

I’d like to take a moment to send peace and healing to all the families who have lost loved ones. May we honor them by living our lives to the fullest, being grateful for our families and by spreading peace wherever we can.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

The Greatest Risk of All: Losing Quality Time with Our Kids

As I work to support my wife and kids financially, and build a career for myself, I feel something far more important is slipping away.

I am lucky enough to spend time with my boys every day, but that time is filled with cooking and baths, cleaning up and getting them ready for bed. Lots of doing. There’s not much sit down and be in the moment play time with Max and Joss – and it’s breaking my heart.

Right now I’m working six days a week and there’s no guarantee that any of it will amount to anything more than next week’s paycheck. But what in life is a sure thing? Nothing is risk free.

And as my kids fight over toys and which video game they’re going to play with, they’re getting older. I find myself wishing that everything would just stop for a while and we could just play.

But that’s my choice, isn’t it? Sure, the kids have to cooperate and buy into it – but it’s my choice whether my next day off is filled with to dos, or time well spent with my family.

Have you spent a quality day with your kids lately?

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

The Romance Challenge: Learning to Date Your Wife Again

When was the last time you went on a date with your wife?

Did your conversation include talking about the kids, the bills or some other type of responsible discussion?

If so, then there’s a good chance you’ve lost the romance in what’s supposed to be the most romantic relationship in your life. I’ve never been overly romantic, but compared to how I was when I was dating my wonderful wife, I’ve slipped even further away from my romantic side.

Do I still love my wife? Of course. Do I sill find her sexy, interesting and attractive? Indeed I do.

But if I don’t take the time to be romantic with her, there’s a chance the connection we have will wither away. In other words, I can’t let stress, exhaustion, work, caring for my kids, my speaking career, mowing the lawn and all the other stuff in my life get in the way of keeping the romance alive in my marriage.

I have a friend who recently got divorced. Last time I saw her, she told me that the marriage ended because her and her husband had simply become friends. There was no fire left, no spark. If we don’t procure the romance in our marriage it might just disappear forever.

It’s time to begin the romance challenge. First up, making a date, and learning how to actually treat it like a date.

Who’s with me?

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

Enjoy Life

Are you a super-busy, stressed out parent?

If so, you may often forget to enjoy your life and your family.

It’s easy to get caught up in work, paying the bills, caring for the kids, caring for our spouse, the house AND working on building a better future for ourselves and our family.

Sometimes we lose sight of the blessings we have and get lost in the things we’re striving for.

But what’s the point of attaining the next goal, the next paycheck or a clean kitchen if we’re not enjoying our lives?

I challenge you, and myself, to enjoy every moment we can. Because one day, we’ll run out of moments. I for one want to look back with a smile on my face, not regret.

And remember, you are not alone …

The Hidden Secret Ingredient to a Great Marriage, by Jason Kotecki

I found a great article on marriage that I’d like to share with you. It was written by my fellow speaker and friend, Jason Kotecki, who is the co-creator Escape Adulthood, along with his wife Kim. They have a fantastic program that helps cure people of  “adultitis.”

Here’s the link to the article: The Hidden Secret Ingredient to a Great Marriage.

I hope you enjoy it!

And remember, you are not alone …