A Fresh Look at Goals: for Parents, Kids & the Family (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about methods that help us define and develop goals.

Once you’ve clarified what they are, the next step is breaking each goal into down into manageable steps, so we can set out with a plan on how to accomplish them. This plan may need frequent adjusting. This is not only OK, but a healthy part of the process.

As we move along and things clarify, we sometimes find that part of a plan simply does not work. This is NOT to be considered failure, it is a mini-success because with the adjustment in our plan we align ourselves more closely with the end goal.

Ultimately, if we take steps on a daily basis (no matter how small) we can attain our goals. It’s important to remember that we may not reach our goals on the intended date. Some things are out of our control. And if you’re a parent, lack of time and energy are real obstacles that may hinder rapid accomplishment. Fear not, it’s still possible, as long as you become crystal clear about what you want and how you’re going to get it.

The good news is that if we do this ourselves, we wind up teaching our kids how to do it, too. It’s a winning situation for everybody.

Here’s snapshot of what my mentor, Zig Ziglar, says about the goals process. His fantastic book, See You At The Top, goes into great detail about this subject (see a full list of recommendations at the end of this article).

1)     Identify EXACTLY what I desire
2)     Spell out exactly why I’d like to reach these goals
3)     List the obstacles I need to overcome in order to get there
4)     Identify the people, groups and organizations I need to work with to get there
5)     Identify what I need to know (learn) in order to reach these goals
6)     Develop a plan of action
7)     Set a date on it. When do I expect to get there?

One additional thought. If this all seems overwhelming, that’s normal. You can’t possibly answer all of these questions all at once. If you’re just starting the process, you may not be able to answer any. But if you allow yourself to believe that you can do this, you will. If you believe that you can’t, you won’t. In other words, your perception will create your reality.

SPEAKING OF KIDS
It’s never too soon to help our kids learn to set their own goals. By this I do not mean us setting goals for them, that’s different (and also necessary).

For instance, my son Max is in kindergarten. I shouldn’t expect him to be able to answer the following: “So, what are your plans to get to college?”

But I can help him set some goals for the coming school year. Any extra-curricular activities he might want to partake in (ie: swimming or track and field…) I also like to discuss future goals with both him – from career to family plans. I do this with my 3-year old, too. It helps my boys develop their frontal lobe, which is so important in decision making and problem solving.

There are too many young adults that have not idea how to set a goal, or what to do with their lives.

OUR GOALS
I’d like to take a deeper look at the kindergarten to college analogy. ANYBODY who tried to look at this scenario as a point A to point B endeavor would be completely overwhelmed. Here’s a way it can be broken down:

Kindergarten (where I’m at) to College (the goal)
the step-by-step approach to accomplishing my goal:

– Section it off by grammar school, middle school, high school and college.
– Now break it down by grade (year): kindergarten, grade 1, etc.
– By semester
– By month
– By week
– By day
– By class

You get the idea. Each step leads us to the ultimate goal, but it’s much easier to build upon if you start from the “by class” goal. Now it’s manageable – a small enough bite that you can actually chew on it, instead of choke on it.

FAMILY GOALS
Family goals could be anything from spending more time together, taking a family vacation, helping each other get in shape, fixing up the house, etc…

Sometimes an individual’s goal becomes a family goal. For instance, my son Max wants to be a NASCAR driver.

This is his goal. But since he’s only 5, it’s my job (and my wife’s job) to help him attain it – making it a family goal.

My first step is bringing him to a kart race to gauge his interest level. Once he sees exactly what kids’ kart racing entails (this actually exists for kids his age), what does he think?

My responsibility is to help both boys set goals that are realistic and attainable (but not necessarily easy). I can’t expect Max to drive a full-sized car right now, but there are karts he can drive, or he can play a driving game on the Playstation, etc…

If we make goal setting a way of life for ourselves and our kids, we can all expect more fulfilling and less frustrating lives.

Is it easy? NO.

Have I accomplished everything? Hardly.

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

It’s a long road, but the sooner we get on the better off we’ll be.

And remember, you are not alone…

For further reading & listening:

Zig Ziglar
– See You at The Top (Highly reccomended book)
– Goals (audio CD’s)

Jack Canfield
The Success Principles
(also available on audio CD)

Brian Tracy

The Modern Day Dad Award Goes to David Goldman

This is the first Modern Day Dad Award presented by Daddy Brain.

I was inspired to create this post when I heard the heart-wrenching story of David Goldman, a dad who had been denied seeing his son for over 4 years. It is an unusual story, one which I fear is more common than we might think.

David’s strength, dedication and refusal to give up under extremely difficult circumstances exemplifies what it means to be a modern day dad. 

Before you read the article, I’d like to ask a question. What would you do if your wife took your 4-year old son on vacation to her homeland and never came back?

The following is a reprinting (in its entirety) of the Today Show’s online article about David’s crusade…

After bitter 4-year fight, he finally sees his son again

Dad has ‘beautiful’ reunion with boy whose mother abducted him to Brazil

By Mike Celizic, TODAYShow.com contributor
updated 9:41 a.m. CT, Tues., Feb. 10, 2009

Choking back tears that had been building up for more than four and a half years, a New Jersey father tried to describe the emotions he felt at finally being able to hold and hug his son and tell the boy how much he loved him.

“It was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since his birth. It was incredible. Amazing. I got to see my son,” David Goldman told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Tuesday by phone from Brazil.

The previous day, accompanied by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, Goldman had finally reached the end of a nightmare that began in June 2004 when his wife, Bruna, left with their son, Sean, for a two-week trip to visit family in her native Brazil. She never came back.

In all the years since, Goldman had traveled to Brazil numerous times hoping to see his son, but all the contact he was allowed to have consisted of a few brief phone calls.

International dispute
A New Jersey court ruled that Bruna had to return Sean to New Jersey for a custody hearing. But despite international law and treaties between the United States and Brazil that upheld the court ruling, Bruna refused to either return or to give up custody of the boy. Instead, she divorced Goldman in a legal proceeding that violated international law, and married an influential Brazilian attorney.

Then, last August, Bruna died while giving birth to a child by her new husband. After her death, that husband petitioned a Brazilian court to take Goldman’s name off his own son’s birth certificate.

Although the system seemed stacked against him, Goldman never gave up. Finally, with the help of Smith, the New Jersey congressman who accompanied Goldman to Brazil, father and son were reunited for a visit on Monday.

“After all this time I got to see him, walk over to him and hug him and tell him how much I love him and how much I miss him and how joyful it was to be with him,” Goldman said.

‘It was beautiful’
He had no idea if Sean would really remember him and how he would greet him, Goldman said.

“I was expecting the worst. And when our arms locked, it wasn’t that way at all. It was beautiful,” he told Vieira, fighting back tears the entire time he spoke.

Sean asked his dad why it took so long to visit him. “That was very painful,” Goldman said. “I saw the anguish on his face.”

What to tell the boy? Goldman was understandably reluctant to tell Sean how his mother first left him and then refused to let him see Sean.

“I didn’t want to hurt him by telling him the absolute truth, so I just said that the courts were making things very difficult,” Goldman said. “I said, ‘Sean, I’ve been here many, many times to try to be with you. The last time I was here I stayed for 10 days and I couldn’t be with you.’ ”

Smith told The Associated Press that Goldman shot baskets and went swimming with Sean during Monday’s visit. Goldman was scheduled to see his son again on Tuesday.

Vieira asked what plans he had for today’s visit.

‘It’s going to happen’

In a later interview with TODAY correspondent Amy Robach, NBC senior legal analyst Susan Filan said that Goldman should eventually regain custody of his son, whose room in Goldman’s Tinton Falls, N.J., home remains as it was the day he left for Brazil with his mother more than four years ago. Filan said that international law and treaties between the United States and Brazil are unequivocal in affirming Goldman’s parental rights.

“You can’t take a kid from one country and hide him another country and say it’s OK,” Filan said. “There’s no question this case should have been decided in a New Jersey court.”

TODAY
In happier times: David Goldman with his son, Sean, and his late wife Bruna.

Filan said she’s looked at the facts from every angle and can conceive of no legal justification or explanation for how the Brazilian courts have acted. According to every law, she said, the man who married Goldman’s wife “has no legal rights to this child whatsoever.” 

She added that the change of administrations in Washington and the personal involvement of Rep. Smith have clearly helped Goldman press his case. Public attention given the case should embarrass the Brazilian government into bowing to the dictates of the law, she said.

“Once one government accuses another government of being in violation of a treaty, it’s embarrassing,” she said.

Filan cautioned that it may still take time for Sean to finally come home to live with his father.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as quick as everybody wants, but I think ultimately it’s going to happen,” she said.

Links to The Today Show’s videos:
Today Video Interview #1
Today Video Interview #2

Stories like this that remind me how lucky I am. I am so grateful for my family.

And remember, you are not alone…

Keeping Life in Perspective

There’s no question, being a parent is hard. Being a good parent? Even harder.

In an effort to do our best, it’s easy to get caught up in the thick of daily to-do’s, responsibilities and problems (which can linger for weeks, months or even years). This struggle can be overwhelming and even debilitating. Fatigue, frustration and dissatisfaction creep in and suddenly things appear insurmountable — a huge mountain that we’re standing at the bottom of. And our climbing boots don’t fit.

The size of the “mountain,” and our ability to climb it, is directly related to our perception of the mountain. In other words, it’s as big as we think it is. You’ve probably heard the statement, “your perception becomes your reality.” It’s true.

When my perception tips toward the dark side, the Universe (God) has a way of stepping in with a reminder to help me realign.

This week, my reminder came in the form of an article in Esquire Magazine called, “What I’ve Learned: Glenn Fitzpatrick.” Glenn is the father of a 5-year old girl named Maddie. He’s also dying from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

And suddenly I realize, my life isn’t so bad. I’m actually pretty lucky.

Click the link above to read Glenn’s brief, yet moving interview. It really puts things in perspective. He seems to be coping with his illness and imminent death with grace and dignity, and he inspires me to deal with my problems in the same manner (which often feels impossible).

Problems that seemed so large, and feelings that were so strong shift. I’m not saying they’re invalid. They most certainly deserve respect and attention. My issues are just smaller in comparison to Glenn’s — a man whose five year old daughter won’t have a daddy soon. How hard will it be for his wife to carry on? To raise their family? To smile?

At least I’ve got a partner, my lovely wife, to help my family through the peaks and valleys of life. I always say wife rhymes with life for a reason! I thank the Universe for her every day. How much harder must it be for a single parent?

I hope Glenn’s words help you as much as they’ve helped me. If you are a single parent, or if you are sick, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. I’m always here to listen if you need someone to talk to.

Remember, you are not alone…

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The $5,000 Tooth! (and the deconstruction of America)

I’m starting to feel like The Bionic Man. Not because of any special powers or enhancements like telescopic vision (heck, I’d settle for 20/20), or the ability to run faster than a cheetah.

No, I’m talking about a tooth. A solitary tooth, which I failed to properly take care of when I had a cavity years ago.

Ka-ching! Root canal, $2,000.

Present day. Root canal’s still good. But I’m told the tooth is cracked, oh well…

Ka-ching! $3,000 for an implant.

An implant? Couldn’t they think of a more friendly name? I feel like I’m in an X-Files episode. For that price you’d think they’d at least include something high tech  like a blue tooth implant.

Point being (other than complaining), in today’s economic climate with most of us up to our eyeballs in debt, how are we supposed to get ahead? Or simply break even when the cost of living is so high? There’s only so much fat you can cut, and there’s only so many hours in a day that can be divvied up between work and family.

And yet this country spends BILLIONS of dollars “fighting” a war for the “spread of democracy.” How about the spread of economic independence for Americans? If George Bush thought more about the people of this fine country, instead of the profitability of oil, maybe I wouldn’t gag (no pun intended) at the thought of such expensive dental work. 

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a “turn the other cheek” world. And we don’t live in a world where disputes are always resolved through talking and cooperation. So yes, we have to defend ourselves. But I’ve heard that the USA gave Osama Bin Laden somewhere in the amount of 3 billion dollars prior to September 11th. How much good would that have done for America? But to gain leverage and power in the Middle East, this money was given to a man who masterminded a terrible day. Nice work with that investment there.

And if no “weapons of mass destruction” were really found in Iraq, then why attack? Oh yeah, power & profit. Then we get to pay over $3 for a gallon of gas. It appears that “spreading democracy,” as George Bush puts it, is pretty hard on everyone but the rich here in America. And the deconstruction of economic foundations is global. That’s how influential our country is. In a very real way, we’ve become the heart of the world.

I’m left with a troubling question: Who has the guts, the brains and the determination to make this a better world for our kids? Who has an honest soul and a heart that cares more about helping Americans than making a buck?

I feel like there’s a cavity eating through America and there’s no dentist to be found not at any cost.

Your thoughts and opinions are welcome.

And remember, you are not alone…

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The Way I Am: A Song of Acceptance & Love

This beautiful song cuts through life’s daily clutter and to-do lists, and clarifies what’s really important.

It reminds me how much I love my wife and kids, and how much I miss them when we’re apart. It’s also a great example of how acceptance of each other is the key to unconditional love. Being loved for who we are, while being supported and given room to grow, is truly a great gift…

The Way I Am, by Ingrid Michaelson

And remember, you are not alone…

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Baby Einstein: The Target of Stupid Claims about Kids & Educational TV

I recently read two posts (see links below) on one of my favorite daddy blogs: Working Dad: An Unauthorized Guide to Parenting. The topic? Educational DVD’s for children, including Baby Einstein.

There’s a coalition called “Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood,” that believes these educational videos are not educational at all, and may actually be harmful to small children. Although the coalition mentions only a couple of children’s DVD producers, the implications are clear that no children’s educational TV is safe from this scrutiny. Which is fine, as long as common sense and intelligence lead the way.

In this case, I believe the statements made by the coalition are ridiculous, untrue, and just plain stupid.

I have seen both of my boys benefit from a LIMITED AMOUNT of television/DVD viewing. Especially programs like Thomas the Tank Engine, and other “educational” programs including Baby Einstein.

It has helped with speech, as well as learning colors and numbers. DVD’s have helped them build cognitive process by improving their ability to follow a story (sequence and succession of events). I personally find it fun, satisfying and comforting to watch these DVD’s with them. Sure, kids who learn only from DVD’s and TV do not experience the same learning advantages as kids who learn with their parents as well. I don’t need to get a grant and hold a study to make this statement — it’s common sense!

What it comes down to is this: Good parents take responsibility for their kids, and themselves. Bad parenting is bad parenting, no matter how much TV a child watches — educational or otherwise. It’s all about how good of a parent you are, how and how much you interact with your kids. If you use an educational DVD as a learning tool, great! But parents who use it as a babysitter or in leiu of personal interaction, are bad parents. How can anyone in his or her right mind think a DVD like this could be harmful?

Excuse my sarcasm, but I’d like to meet the 6-month old that was interviewed about the Baby Einstein series. I’m sure his quote of: “I find they have no educational value, at least not for me,” sounded a lot more like “gaa, poo poo, baba, dada.” Point being, adults don’t really know what’s going on in the minds of little ones when they watch TV.

I also find part of Baby Einstein’s response to all this offensive and insulting. “Since day one, Baby Einstein products have been about moms and babies spending meaningful moments together…” Yet ANOTHER major children’s company has left out dads. Maybe I’m being picky, but you know what? I AM A DAD. I TAKE CARE OF MY KIDS, JUST LIKE MY WIFE. I’m not off doing “manly” things, and it’s about time these major corporations respected that.

Maybe the people who make these comments should shift gears and examine the social implications of major companies who constantly exclude dads! Could that be something that affects our kids negatively? Not to mention dads? Something to think about for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood…

How about a campaign for common sense!

Your thoughts and comments are appreciated. Feel free to post them.

And remember, you are not alone…

Links to Working Dad’s original postings:
Baby Einstein – Part 1
Baby Einstein – Part 2

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What is a Wife?

I thank the Universe every day for blessing me with my wife. She far surpasses anything I ever imagined a wife could be.

If it weren’t for my wife, my life would be completely different, and quite frankly I think it would kind of suck. I would not be who I am today — plain and simple.

It’s because of my wife that I have learned to let go of my anger and heal from Crohn’s disease. Because of her, I am a professional writer. And it’s because of her that I have tried every endeavor that I was passionate about. Whether I succeeded or fell at the speed of light into failure, she supported me, believed in me and never complained or tried to stop me. Now that’s one darn good wife. And she’s cute too!

Without her strength and support, my chances of accomplishing these things would have diminished greatly.

As grateful as I am, I find it difficult these days (as a busy and exhausted dad) to take a moment — a real moment — to be together and regenerate. We don’t have any support since we moved away from home (for a job opportunity). It’s just us out here in the frozen tundra that is Wisconsin.

I’d like to make today National Bond with Your Spouse Day. Forget Valentine’s Day, let’s make today a day where the sweet smelling gift we give is not roses (or cake — yum!), but the gift of ourselves. Let’s take some time today to be grateful for our spouse and spend some quality time together.

Honey, thank you for being my wife. Thank you for all your love, support and patience with me.

I love you.

: ^ )

And remember, you are not alone…

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