Monthly Archives: November 2013

Be Thankful!

On Thanksgiving we are all encouraged to express gratitude for all the blessings we are given. Spiritual writers and thinkers of all faiths worldwide remind us that all we have is a gift from God. Most non-religious people realize that what we have is a gift of nature. Any way you look at it we are gifted, and it is good to pause, recognize it and give thanks.

The table is the center of the feast. Around it we get together, tell stories, remind one another about how funny old Uncle Bert could be and that we still miss him. And we talk about how good the food is and all sorts of other things. What we talk about is not as important as just being together.

As a Dad, Thanksgiving is a good time to tell your children how thankful you are for having them in your life. Kids need to hear that they are valued and individually recognized as important.  So this year at the table single out each kid by name and tell him or her that you are thankful for them. If you have a kid that has been giving you lots of problems take time out from focusing on the problems and just mention that you love them.

All this brings me to my final point, and that is, direct the conversation so that it is always going in a good direction. This is not the time for us to criticize one another.  Thanksgiving dinner should not be a time to correct others; rather it should be without any ill will or rancor.  Have fun with one another. And don’t make fun of anyone other than perhaps, yourself.


You can’t turn on the TV or check the news anywhere without seeing something about bullying. In addition to all the stories about bullies in schools, the most prominent story is the one involving the Miami Dolphins.  In a nutshell one of the rookies left the team because of being bullied.  On the surface this seems hard to believe because you have this giant athlete capable of practically picking up a car with one arm who has to leave the team because he is being hurt by a bully.

But it tells us that no matter how powerful a person is he can be bullied.  All the talk show guests from the sports arena are saying that “my dad taught me that when somebody bullies you just go after them, hurt them and it will be over.”  Sorry, dad but that is not good advice and here is why.

Let’s go back to the old maxim, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”.  Seems childish and naïve and surely—not a guy-thing. But it is good advice.

In earlier posts I mentioned to always keep control of the agenda in any interaction.  That rule applies here too. Teach your kids that if a bully taunts you, do not react, keep cool and unflustered.

Explain to your kids that they can set the emotional agenda. Tell your kids that they will be teaching the bully that he can’t get to them.  Your kid remains “above” all that. This is about it.

Now it is important not to do anything but ignore the bully. Passive/aggressive behavior won’t work either. Just ignore the bully and move on. The important lesson to teach your child is that they are in control of the situation and not the bully.  In other words, your kid can choose whose opinion is important and whose is not, and the bully’s opinion is not important.

The underlying truth is that violence begets violence. Somebody bullies you and you strike back, and then he or she gets friends to back them…well you get the picture.

There is a corollary here too,  and that is teach your child never to be a bully.  Let them know that you think bullies are weak, insecure people who are not ever likable.  Bullies are pitiable. No one is ever proud of a bully.

Remind your child that it takes a real tough kid to ignore a bully, and tell them that you know they have got what it takes.

Take the Pledge

Last week I attended a conference on Fathers and Families in Louisville, Ky. It was excellent. One of the things that came from it for me was making me aware of the organization 2not1 Fatherhood and Families. This is a grass roots effort to help dads take responsibility for their kids and stay active in their lives. Many of those involved in this effort are volunteers and very dedicated to helping dads do their best.

One of the things I really like is the Pledge they offer to fathers. It really does a great job of outlining the obligations and responsibilities of fatherhood and dadding. I took the pledge and urge you to do the same. I suggest that when you do, make the pledge out loud, it is a powerful commitment. As usual I would like to know what you think.

Fatherhood and Responsible Manhood Pledge to Family and Community

I agree to take the pledge to:

Be a responsible man in the community to provide
for the safety and well-being of my children;

Serve as an example of positive male leadership to assist, guide,
and direct children in the community who don’t have a father;

Respect women and advocate against the violence and sexual assault of women;

Fight against child abuse and neglect and speak out when I see it;

Walk and hold myself accountable to my children, family, community,
and people I engage;

Use my strengths to strengthen the community;

Recognize the areas of my life that are short comings and do my due diligence to overcome them, to be the best I can for my family and community;

Protect my wife and children, if necessary, at the expense of my life;

Provide guidance for my children and teach them to respect their family,
themselves, and the community;

Teach my children to be responsible and accountable in their lives;

Promote humility and discipline in my children to not demean, mistreat, abuse,
or bully other children;

Take Charge and Use Common Sense

In my recent post I talked about how kids are people too and that they want the same treatment that any person does, especially from their fathers.

I also mentioned situations when you can observe dads not showing respect for their kids, by the way they correct them in public. But that prompts the question, what am I supposed to say when my kids acts like a jerk and is making me embarrassed and furious with what they are doing!

Well I hope you agree that you don’t want to use put-downs. These don’t really do any good, and a good case can be made that they can do some long lasting damage.  After all a dad’s first obligation to his children is to show them respect.

Now I am not saying that you not correct the child, or you let him or her take over the situation. But there are ways to correct the bad behavior without leaving a mark on the hearts and psyche of your kids.

But, you say, what should I do?  I have this kid acting like a maniac in a store, and he or she won’t listen to me and stop being so disruptive.

Here are a couple tricks that might work. One is to lower your voice. When I am frustrated I always want to raise my voice, but if you lower your voice and lean in toward your child’s ear you begin to change the dynamic.

It is important to remember that you set the emotional agenda not the child. You are the adult, and that means the one in control of your emotions. So do not react to what they are doing, rather take charge of the situation. Act calm and not rattled.

Another trick is to move quickly with your child to another part of the store. Ignore the behavior and walk quickly to a place where you can talk quietly with your child away from others. There you tell him or her that you will be leaving soon but you have to finish. Tell them that when you get to the car you want them to tell you why they are acting the way they are. Tell them this kind of behavior is not like them, even if it is!

Every situation is different. Every kid is different. So I hasten to add that these tricks may not work. But what does work is that you set the emotional agenda. You keep control of yourself.  And then use common sense. Don’t put your kid down.