What is the Value of a Dad’s Relationship with His Kids?

How Much Value?

How much value would you put on a dad’s relationship with his children?

Could you put a price on it? Considering that this relationship is going to have a huge impact on that child’s future?

I’d say it has incredible value.

From the relationships that our sons and daughters will form, to the types of people they will marry, dad’s influence has a huge impact. A child’s relationship with his or her dad will play a big role in how they perceive themselves throughout their lives, and how successful they’ll be as professionals and as human beings.

So why aren’t dads supported, encouraged and challenged to be better dads? Instead of being insulted, degraded, and dishonored by the media, the court system, society — and even their own families?

What kind of seed is this planting in the minds of future fathers? Not to mention our kids?

The good news is that, as of late, there has been a transition manifesting in the media. There’s a commercial running on TV from Foundation for a Better Life with a hockey player singing to his daughter, which speaks volumes about a man’s ability to be a good dad — even in the face of ridicule. Two current films also portray dad in a positive light: The Descendants with George Clooney, and We Bought a Zoo with Matt Damon.

Dads are a tremendous value to their kids. More support will only mean better lives for the entire family.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

Grow a Moustache, Help Cure Cancer?

selleckmagnumWelcome to Daddy Brain, where the moustache is more than fuzz on a man’s face.

Grow a Stach and Help Cure Cancer
Movember.com is the place to go if you’re interested in registering to grow a stash for a very good cause – “raising funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men.”

You can also make a donation without actually growing a stash (this is a great option, especially if you’re a woman).

Looking for Information About the Stash?
The New York Times wrote an interesting article a while back. Kind of a fashion meets history take on the subject.

What in the world could a moustache have to do with your future? Especially if you’re a woman?

Like a moustache, the thoughts we think & the words we speak grow out of us and become reality. In addition, these same thoughts and words attract energy to us. This energy actually manifests into reality.

If our thoughts and words are negative, then negativity is coming out of us AND we’re drawing it toward us from the outside. As you can imagine, the results of this are, well, negative.

On the flip side, positive thoughts and words helps us emit positivity, and in turn we draw the positive to us.

This is not some random idea that I’ve chosen to express. This concept has been around for a very long time. Here’s what Napoleon Hill has to say about it in his fantastic book, Think and Grow Rich. Although it was first published in 1937, it remains relevant, inspiring and motivating to this day (in other words, I highly recommend it):

“The ether in which this little planet floats, in which we move and have our being, is a form of energy moving at an inconceivably high rate of vibration, and the ether is filled with a form of universal power which adapts itself to the nature of the thoughts we hold in our minds; and influences us, in natural ways, to transmute our thoughts into their physical equivalent.

Our brains become magnetized with the dominating thoughts we hold in our minds.By means by which no one is familiar, these “magnets” attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts …”

One thing I wonder about is this: if I know this, if I believe it – then why is it so difficult for me to be positive? Why does it seem so much easier to be negative when I KNOW that it’s working against me?

Every day I set a goal to be positive – no matter what. Yet every day it is a struggle to be consistently positive.

Is it a personality trait, a human trait, a learned behavior?

What I do know is that feeding my mind with the positive helps tremendously. Whether it’s books, music, movies, talking with an empowering friend like my wife – whatever – the more positive stuff I put in, the more positive I am.

Being mindful of what I think about and focus my attention on also helps. Having command of our thoughts is a habit that needs practice in order to get good at it. We need to learn to stay positive, even in the face of negativity from others.

Simple, yet effective, smiling can change my mood in an instant – although my wife says I look insane when I make myself smile.

Whether I’m growing a moustache, or living my life, I want to grow something good.

And if anybody sees Magunm, tell him to put a shirt on already. 

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

The Daddy Brain Radio Show

Join me for The Daddy Brain Radio Show on Monday, November 14th @ 7pm CST on WORT Radio (Madison, WI).

The topic of our discussion? Dads are Not Second-class Parents.

I’ll be taking calls from dads to talk about how we’re often perceived as second-class parents by society, the media, the court system – and even our own families.

Local Listeners
Tune in to 89.9 FM

Listen from Anywhere in the World
Just click on the following link to download live online streaming audio in either MP3 or AAC format. It’s as easy as clicking a button to start listening!


Want to Join the Conversation?
I’ll be taking calls throughout the hour at: (608) 256-2001.

Whether you’re married, divorced or a widower, this is your chance to be heard.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

Ebay Dishonors and Insults Dads

Ebay has released a commercial to market their mobile device app — which in and of itself seems harmless, right?

Except for the fact that it’s insulting and offensive to dads — portraying us as the stereotypical overweight dolt that’s more interested in ordering rims for our car instead of watching our kids perform in a school play.

Ironically, this commercial aired only days after I published my post, Are You an iDad, which discusses how a lot of parents are choosing to be plugged into their mobile devices instead of watching their kids during after-school activities.

If you have 31 seconds, check out the commercial and see what you think …

Is portraying dad as selfish and disengaged supposed to make me want to buy stuff off Ebay?

Dads are not second-class parents. We are capable of providing our kids with everything our wonderful wives do — including love, attention and compassion. It is our children that we put first, not our cars — or even ourselves.

And remember, you are not alone …

Family Blogs

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

When Children Attack!

Originally, this post was going to be all about our kids and how they can hijack our brains – almost effortlessly – with ear-shattering cries, stubbornness, defiance, bickering and a general lack of concern for being on time for school.

Then I started thinking about how cute my kids are, and how much I miss them all day when we’re apart.

The gifts my children give me every day far outweigh the pain (and occasional damage) they cause my brain when they’re acting out.

From Dad’s Point of View
The problem is, I often get caught up in my own stress and exhaustion, which makes it easy to get bent when they’re a little late for school or when they’re arguing with each other. But is it really that big a deal? I think not. 

From My Kids’ Point of View
Compared to us, our kids seem to have it easy – right? But they struggle just like we do. And their struggles are just as serious to them as ours are to us – making it super-important for us to respect what our kids are experiencing instead of brushing their problems off as “kid stuff” (does anyone else do this, or is it just me?).

Plus, my kids are Power Rangers, so they’ve got to deal with Zed, Rita and terribly written dialogue. As they run through the house, deftly escaping the bad guy (usually me), I often realize that these precious moments will not last forever. Isn’t it best to enjoy them while we can?

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