Obama vs. McCain: Who’s Best for Our Kids?

As the 2008 Presidential Election approaches (thank God it’s almost over), have you thought about which candidate has our children’s best interests in mind?

Who do you trust, not only to run the country and make things better NOW, but who has the right mindset to build a better future for our children?

Here’s an anonymous poll to gauge how parents are viewing the election. You are also welcome to comment in as much detail as you like (this will not be anonymous).

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Remember, McCain couldn’t even take the time to answer some questions for Parents Magaazine. Only his wife showed up. What does that say about how he prioritizes kids? And moms?

And remember, you are not alone…

The Politics of Parenting: Don’t Lie to Your Kids

In life, we can’t insure that the Presidential Candidate of our choice will win. We also can’t control what the President, or any political figure, will say or do once elected.

But if we look at some of the ethics we’d like to see in our politicians, we CAN make sure we’re applying them in our own little country we call home.

Welcome to the first installment of The Politics of Parenting: Don’t Lie to Your Children.

Let’s take the recent John McCain incident as an example. He was supposed to appear on The David Letterman Show for an interview. If you haven’t heard the story, Senator McCain backed out of the appearance, saying that he had to get back to Washington immediately to help with the economic crisis.

McCain then proceeded to tape an interview with Katie Couric BEFORE he made his way back to Washington. Obviously this interview was more important to the Senator than the Dave Letterman appearance.

But the point is McCain flat out lied. And with that lie comes loss of trust & loss of credibility. The same is true of parents that lie to their kids.

Kids are not stupid. They know when we’re lying. More importantly, they deserve the truth.

If we’re going to lie about something, big or small, how can our kids ever be sure we’re telling the truth? I’m not saying you have to be brutal in how you share the truth, it can be offered in an age-appropriate way.

Even if we have good intentions, trying to protect our children with a lie is not the best choice. When we hide the truth from them, we rob them of the opportunity to learn a valuable life lesson. This shelters them from a reality that might one day be present in their lives as adults (like money issues, death, or relationship problems). I think our kids will fare better if we’ve given them a foundation of what to expect from life and how to deal with it.

Protecting the integrity of our relationships with out kids has far better long-term results. It gives them a sense of security & safeness. It helps them feel like “real people,” because they’re included (again in an age appropriate way) in what’s going on with the family. This helps them grow into healthy, high-functioning adults.

If our kids have lost faith in our word, how can we expect to be trusted  — especially during stressful or major life changing situations? Even if it’s a “small lie,” you can not realistically expect your kids to listen to your advice or suggestions after you’ve undermined the relationship with a lack of trust.

McCain could have said: “Sorry Dave, I can’t make the show tonight. As you know, there’s an economic crisis I have to attend to. I also have a news interview scheduled with Katie Couric, and I simply can not break that interview. Plus, I’m really old and I need a nap. Is there any chance we can resehceule when things calm down?”

Sure, Dave may have still been pissed, but at least he’d have the satisfaction of knowing the possible future President told the truth. If he’s lying about trivial things like this, can we trust anything he says?

If your kids can’t trust you to tell the truth, who can they trust? Certainly not John McCain.

Here’s what Letterman had to say about what happened thing…

And remember, you are not alone…

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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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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Out of energy. Out of time. Out of Luck?

It is almost midnight here in Wisconsin — better known lately as the frozen tundra, a place where an hour long drive to work on a sheath of ice zaps what little energy I might have.

For me the time is a relevant issue. I should be in bed, but my desire for rest is usurped by my need for some time to myself.

In one of my recent posts, The Road to Nowhere, I wrote about my belief that we have the power to create our reality. I’ve been thinking more and more about how we, mere mortals, are supposed to overcome the obstacles of exhaustion and lack of time, and somehow recreate our reality into something more positive and fulfilling.

Let’s face it — it’s a lot easier to write about changing one’s reality than actually doing it. Of course one could argue that writing about it is one of the elements in the manifestation process. But where do we fit in the time to take meaningful steps for change when we work all day, then come home to play with our kids, feed them and get them to bed? For me, when all is said and done it’s about 10 pm, and by this time of night I’m burnt out — how about you?

And yeah, there’s that thing about it already being 10 pm. The day is just about done unless you want to stay up late, which will have you feeling burnt out tomorrow. So you’ve got to decide the burnout factor. What’s your burnout tolerance? Mine is pretty high, so I’m able to get little things done at night — maybe an hour or two of productive work (and the occasional game of internet poker) before I lay down to the comfort of my bed.

This is one of the most frustrating problems I have ever faced. I often feel like I’m making no progress at all. If I look forward, it appears that nothing’s really happening. It just seems like what no matter what I do, I’m spinning my wheels and wasting what little time I have.

But if I look back into the past, I can clearly track the arc of progress I’ve made in my life. I remember going through really awful times, some of them life threatening, feeling that same “motionless” sensation. Or worse, literally sliding further and further downward into an ugly, negative place. But things did change. Although at the time there didn’t appear to be any change occurring until a new reality manifested.

The other day I was feeling exceptionally down and my 4-year old son noticed. He asked me why I was so sad. Then he told me:

“Don’t give up dad. You can’t give up. You just have to keep trying and do your best…”

And he’s right. This is the message I’d like to share with you. We’re only failures if we give up — so don’t! All we can do is our best each day, keeping in mind that which we’d like to create. It could take years, but it is possible.

If you take enough micro-steps they add up to a step. If you keep your momentum going (even if it falters at times) a step will turn into many steps. If you do your part, one day you’ll look back and see that you overcame what seems insurmountable today.

I think it’s also so important that we ask the Universe (God, Buddha, or however we refer to the power that is “bigger” than us) for help. There’s no shame in asking for help, and I have found the Universe is glad to give it.

Thank you Universe!

If you would like to read more of my thoughts about creating your own reality, please click: Anything is Possible; The Magic Quarter: Creating your own reality; and The Road to Nowhere: It’s not too late to recreate your reality.

And remember, you are not alone.

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Leap Day: The Next National Holiday?

As a dad who works a full-time job, I think leap day should be a national holiday.

I’m always looking for an excuse for a day off, and a day that shouldn’t really exist anyway seems like a perfect choice! I don’t think our jobs would mind  it’s not like we’re deducting a day of work from the year, we’re just not adding one! We full timers don’t get paid an additional 1/365th for the day, so why bother? Wouldn’t it be better to spend one of the last days of winter snug at home with our families?

Blame it on Julius Caesar, the father of leap year. It’s all his fault. Well, actually it’s the fault of his astronomer, Sosigenes, who worked out the details. Couldn’t he have made leap day on the weekend? This way we’d have Saturday, Sunday, Leap Day and then a 4 day work week!

Anyway, Happy Leap Day everybody.

And remember, you are not alone…

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