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.

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.

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 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.”

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…

Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of October

Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of October 2008


Welcome to what is supposed to be this month’s installment of Tops in Pops. Unfortunately, at least for the immediate future, Tops in Pops is on hold.

Frankly, I have not been receiving enough nominations to sustain the series, and I have not had the time to seek out great posts myself.

Thanks to all involved over the past few months. Although I’m disappointed that the series did not take off, I am grateful for the wonderful submissions I did receive. I’m also grateful for the dad’s I’ve met because of Tops in Pops. 

Who knows, maybe one day it will be back.

And remember, you are not alone…

Tops in Pops: Nominate the Best Daddy Blog Posts of the Month

It’s not too late to nominatie for this month’s Tops in Pops. Choose yourself or someone else either way, you have until midnight, November 2nd to submit. So what are you waiting for? Click on the link below & vote!

What is Tops in Pops?

Have you read an awesome post on a daddy blog lately? Have you written one? Well, here’s your chance to shine (or help a fellow daddy blogger shine) by submitting a post you feel is “Tops in Pops,” for the month of October.

Every first Monday of the month, the previous month’s picks will be posted.

You have until November 2nd to submit a nomination. Just go to the Tops in Pops Submission Form at Blog Carnival. Fill in a few lines of information, and you’re done!

Looking forward to seeing everybody’s favorites.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related links:
Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of June 2008
Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of July 2008
Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of August 2008
Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Bog Posts of September 2008

Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of September

Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of September 2008

Welcome to Tops in Pops. This month’s best-of list is shorter than usual. Between receiving less nominations & not having time to seek out great posts, there are only a handful. The good news is that these posts are fantastic!

Every month, this ongoing blog carnival spotlights extraordinary dads — finding out what’s on their minds, and in their hearts. I hope you enjoy this month’s selection, and I look forward to your comments.

And now, the best of September…

babbo presents Transition – Five Songs that Make Me Think posted at Discovering Dad. This post features 5 songs that will make any dad reflect on life…

tom presents Go Kings! posted at D is for Dad, saying, “Excellent story about a divorced dad’s hopes finally coming to reality.”   

babbo presents Failure Can Be a Good Thing posted at Clif’s Notes. Inspirational, motivational and shocking.


Reservoir Dad presents Dr Drowser and His Heavies posted at Reservoir Dad. This post starts off looking sarcastic and hard to believe. But Reservoir Dad soon eplains just how debilitating exhaustion can be.

That’s it for this month. If you’ve read an awesome daddy blog post, or written one yourself, here’s your chance to shine (or help a fellow daddy blogger shine) by submitting a post you feel is “Tops in Pops,” for next month’s blog carnival. As long as the nominated post is written by a daddy blogger, it’s accepted for consideration.

What are you waiting for? Submitting a nomination is easy. Just use this carnival submission form. It takes about 10 seconds, and your done!

And remember, you are not alone…

Previous Tops in Pops Installments:
Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of June 2008
Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of July 2008
Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of August 2008

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Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of August

Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of August 2008

There is something very exciting about receiving entries for Tops in Pops. I have to be honest though, some of the entries have nothing to do with being a dad. Many of them aren’t even written by dads. But some of them are really special. It’s an honor to receive these, and help spread the word.

This month’s installment is short but sweet, with fantastic favorites for the month of August, 2008.

Every month, this ongoing blog carnival spotlights extraordinary dads — finding out what’s on their minds, and in their hearts. I hope you enjoy this month’s selection, and I look forward to your comments.

And now, the best of August…


Jeff Tincher presents Why Can’t I Relax? | Daddy`s Toolbox posted at Daddys Toolbox. A candid look at stress, and how difficult it is to let go of. The author also shares the major cause of why he can’t relax around his kids: the loss of his sister, Jennifer, when he was a boy. 

babbo presents Dad Gets a New Title posted at DadTalk. Brett explores the ongoing challenge of trying to balance being a parent and a WAHD. Yes, I said WAHD. Read his post for the definition that’s less gross than this acronym sounds.

Reservoir Dad presents Northern Dads Group Guest Blogger #1 – Jack posted at Reservoir Dad, saying, “This is a post from one of the Dad’s at my local Dad’s group.” The post revolves around what the local dad’s group talks about when they get together. Although dads from older generations might think raising kids is “piss easy,” most of us modern day dads need to get together once and a while to discuss stuff.

Reservoir Dad presents No Point Crying Over Spilt Weetbix (with an intro to Dr Drowser) posted at Reservoir Dad. Just for the record, I usually only allow one submission per daddy blogger. But since Reservoir Dad’s other post is by a guest blogger, I’m making an exception. Plus, this is a great post! It is a realistic look at a (difficult) day in the life of a real dad.

Jeremy Neal presents What Kind of Dad Did You Have? posted at Discovering Dad. Written by guest blogger Matt Pfingsten, who shares that his dad went from great to awful rather quickly. “It was as if someone flipped a switch in his head that instantly transformed him…”

babbo presents, An Interview with Mark Brady, Ph.D: Part 1Part 2, and Part 3. Mark’s insight on how the brain of a child is physically damaged by emotional abuse, yelling and hitting is amazing. We also discuss parental exhaustion/stress and how to help our kids develop “secure attachment.”

That’s it for this month. If you’ve read an awesome daddy blog post, or written one yourself, here’s your chance to shine (or help a fellow daddy blogger shine) by submitting a post you feel is “Tops in Pops,” for next month’s blog carnival. As long as the nominated post is written by a daddy blogger, it’s accepted for consideration.

What are you waiting for? Submitting a nomination is easy. Just use this carnival submission form. It takes about 10 seconds, and your done!

And remember, you are not alone…

Previous Tops in Pops Installments:
Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of June 2008
Tops in Pops: The Best Daddy Blog Posts of July 2008

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Have You Checked Out the Manival Yet?

This blog carnival is a fantastic journey into the minds of men. If you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s your chance to catch up.

Created by The Art of Manliness, it brings together some of the finest, most diverse blog posts I have ever seen. I hope you enjoy them…

Manival #9 @ Night Writer

Manival #8 @ Spark Plugging

Manival #7 @ Simple Marriage

Manival #6 @ Building Camelot

Manival # 5 @ The Care & Feeding of Man

Manival # 4 @ The Art of Manliness

Manival # 3 @ Shaefer’s Blog

Manival # 2 @ A Good Husband

Manival # 1 @ The Art on Manliness

And remember, you are not alone…

DVD Review: NASCAR Baby is on the Right Track to Learning


by Team Baby Entertainment
Featuring the voice of Jay Leno

There’s a children’s DVD company called Team Baby Entertainment. Greg, the president, has done a wonderful job of creating sports themed children’s “entertainment.” The reason why I’ve put quotes around the word entertainment is because Team Baby goes far beyond simply keeping our kids occupied.

It helps them learn. And it’s fun, too!

Today’s review centers around NASCAR Baby, a great DVD about, well, NASCAR! My wife is a huge fan and we watch the Sprint Cup race every weekend. Since we know NASCAR, I wasn’t quite sure if my wife and I would be engaged in the video. But we were, and so were the kids.

My older son is 4 and my younger 21 months. Despite the age difference, they were both interested in the race footage and engaged in the learning segments. There’s spelling and numbers, all geared (no pun intended) towards NASCAR. So as kids learn how to spell words like “tire” and “race,” they’re also learning about the context of how these things are used.

The DVD is packed full of short, cartoon-like learning segments. At first I thought the kids might be overwhelmed, but they were totally OK with the amount of spelling and reading they were seeing. 

My younger son loved the music (which is pretty catchy) and danced around, trying to keep an eye on the TV so he wouldn’t miss anything. He repeated the letters, and liked seeing the babies and children in the DVD.

Here’s a quote from my older son: “I liked the song, the spelling and I also liked the babies. And I liked the race cars. I can’t wait to watch it again sometime!”

I asked him if he would recommend it to his friends. His response was an emphatic “yes!”

My wife and I also liked the DVD. We found it was cute and educational. It managed to fit a lot of learning into a half hour program. But not in a way that was overwhelming. Each child picked up what they could along the way, while we all talked about cars and spelling, etc.

It became a social interaction that we all enjoyed. 

Greg also has a daddy blog, in case you’d like to read what’s on his mind.

And remember, you are not alone…

Tired of Being Exhausted

Being a parent is tiring…
…especially if you work hard to be the best dad you can be. I have heard childless people, all women, share with me how their mother “raised 5 children under the age of 8,” or “8 children under the age of 12,” etc. My first question (which I refrain from asking) is: did your parents ever hear of birth control? But it gets worse. These same women have told me they were beaten by their mothers when they were “bad,” with shirt hangers and wooden spoons no less. In some odd way it becomes a pissing contest of sorts. How many kids one mom could take care of. Then, as if it were good parenting, the different ways their wonderful mothers “cared” for all of these kids by beating the shit out of them. What’s wrong with this picture?

If you made a mistake at work, what would you do if you were reprimanded with a spanking by your boss? If he or she took you in their office, bent you over their lap, and spanked the crap out of you? (For the purposes of this blog, disregard any thoughts of your boss being incredibly hot, or any desire some of you might have to be spanked.) Would that be acceptable behavior? Or would you have that person arrested for assault?

The answer seems pretty clear. So why would anyone think it’s OK for parents to hit their kids?

This prelude leads me to the main point of this blog. Exhaustion. I am exhausted. And I feel pretty stuck in the sticky muck of it. I have a plan on how to get out: exercise, meditate, sleep — but I’m inept at getting these things done. Anybody else have this problem? My current physical and mental state makes it harder for me to make good, clear decisions. And although I would never dream of hitting my kids, I don’t always have the energy or the mental capacity to assess what they’re really saying when they’re acting out.

Parenting is a lot like poker.
And just like there are different types of poker players, there are different types of parents.

The above example of a parent who hits to have their children behave a certain way (and to prevent them from doing certain things) is like a hyper-aggressive poker player. This type of player bets, bets and bets some more, no matter what the situation — attempting to beat their opponents into submission. They lack the ability to assess a situation. They only act with aggression, no matter what is going on around them. They’re not looking to understand, they’re looking to pummel and control opponents.

Another type of player is more thoughtful. He/she sits down at the table and assesses his opponents — their tendencies, personalities, playing styles, etc. In other words, he is taking stock of what is going on around him so he can make the proper adjustments. This allows him to make the best decision (at any given moment) on the most effective way to act. But this style of playing requires a high cognitive process (not needed in the brutal aggressive style nor in the abusive parent who’s only solution is to hit until a behavior is changed).

This thoughtful style of parenting is one where we can actually gain an understanding of our children and help them, instead of instilling fear in them. I believe children who live in fear become adults who live in fear. They’re too scared to make a mistake, so they often fall way short of fulfilling their potential.

My job is to help my children reach their highest potential and be true to who they really are. But when I’m exhausted, it’s hard to make the right decisions. One’s “read” of a situation can often be way off.

Somewhere along the way, things tipped and started feeling too hard.

Maybe it’s because there’s no family around for support (we’re recent transplants to Madison, Wisconsin). Then again, there wasn’t all that much support from family when we lived close by to begin with. But there was always an option to ask for help if you really needed a break. Out here, the isolation never ends. It’s like driving on a road, and you never get to stop. There’s never any substantial regeneration. Plus, it’s rare for my wife and I to get an uninterrupted night of sleep. Our boys are 4, and 1 ½ years old, and my younger boy wakes up crying quite often these days — teething, colds, lost pacifier… I am so tired.

I start to feel sorry for myself, which makes me incredibly angry. So what if I’m tired? My kids need me! It doesn’t matter if I’m tired, or at least it shouldn’t. I feel like it is an excuse, but isn’t it a reality? I just feel so overwhelmed, so inept. In fact, as I write this it is past 12 am. So in a way, I’m perpetuating my fatigue. But this is my time, the only time I get all day long for me. I’m not complaining, it’s a fact. And I think there are many like me — looking for some self-time. Without it, we might wake up one day with nothing left of ourselves.

For me, I need to sleep, exercise and meditate. Easy right? But the mind gets in the way. It stops us from doing what is natural, easy. It rationalizes, in a most irrational way, and keeps us in patterns that we would rather break. In other words, I’m resisting. So I stay up. I play online poker instead of meditating, I never seem to make the time to exercise.

Accepting resistance is the first step in letting it go. It’s there, whether we like it or not, so accept it. Let it be there. Resisting your resistance only builds upon what is already there.

Yes, just about every waking moment is for my kids, my wife or my job. The little time I have for me doesn’t get spent on the things I need the most. Some would say I have nobody to blame but myself. But I’m doing my best.

Does anybody else have this problem? Has anybody found a way to overcome it? Your thoughts and stories are welcome.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related posts:
Equal Rights for Kids. Part 2: Don’t Hit!