She Just Does Things Differently

We had an experience at the pool last week that was, well we will say interesting.  It seems these things always happen in front of my highly curious 8 year old son who doesn’t let things slip past him.  There was a mom at the pool with her 3 kids nearby to us.  I am not one to judge, I have had bad days and lost my temper a little too quickly with my kids before and they have been known to catch an attitude before, but this was tough to watch.  Her son was going just below the surface and making a gagging noise and kept getting the attention of everyone around including the lifeguard, to sound like he was drowning.  Every time he saw people looking, he would burst out laughing.  His mom had enough and said if you do that again, you are getting out of the pool.  That’s when things took a turn.

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The boy yells at him mom “So what, I’m not listening to you” and my eyebrows raised from behind my shades.  They go back and forth for a solid 3 minutes and it goes from 7 minutes sitting out, to 14, 21 and so on up to 49.  I was first confused by the 7 minute increments but I continued to pretend to mind my business nosily.  It ended with him getting out of the pool and telling her to shut up already and he was tired and that’s why he was getting out.  Within 5 minutes, he was back in the pool and it seemed all was well with them.  I noticed and really hoped that my son didn’t, not so lucky.

In his, never quiet voice; he asks me “I thought that boy had to sit out 49 minutes, why is he swimming again?”  Well what do I tell him?  Do I tell him that she’s tired of fighting that fight with her kids, that she’s worn down, or that she lets them do whatever they want?  No, we know those aren’t the best things to say to a kid that likes to repeat everything.  I told him that we need to mind our own business and that we would discuss it later.  Whew, bought myself some time for a well-thought response.  Like most parents, I forgot until it got brought up.

I try to have honest conversations with my son, he is extremely logical and though he doesn’t always like what is going on, he seems to understand and put the new information into future decisions.  My daughter is not on that level of thinking at all, so for the time being, it is just man to man.  I have to give some kind of spin to things, but I want him to be as well-prepared for the real world as possible.  I decided it was time for one of those distraction-free conversations.

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I told him that parents all do things differently.  He knows that when I give him an ultimatum that I mean it and I will follow through.  Not all parents are the same way and sometimes people have bad days.  Maybe she realized that she lost her temper too quickly, she talked to him and calmed him down and said that he could swim again (I was there and this was not the case at all).  We talked about the language that the boy used to his mom and how that was not appropriate talk to anyone, especially to an adult and if he said that to his mom or me, we would be in the car on our way home before he finished.  I explained differences in parenting styles and how differently children respond and privileges that they get.  He knows that some of his friends don’t have TVs, others can’t ever play on a phone or iPad while he gets limited time and others can be on them all day long if they want.  There is no right or wrong way of doing things as a parent as long as the kids are not hurt and no laws are being broken.  We should not judge others and allow them their own space to parent as they feel is necessary.

I know that I am guilty of judging parents from time to time when their kids are going crazy in public and then also been on the other side.  I remember trying to eat out after the kids were stuck in a car for a few hours and it was complete pandemonium!  I know that we were getting looks from other restaurant goers that evening.  We need to remember that even though we don’t agree with how someone else is treating their kids or how they allow their kids to treat them, we never know what is really going on in their life and we should not judge.  Sometimes we just need to see a smile and get a few minutes to ourselves to regain composure and get back to the plan.  Raise up our fellow parents, don’t look down on them.

Stay strong out there dads, however you choose to be a dad!

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How Old am I Today Daddy?

I know that I am not the only one who was very aware as a kid that my parents would tell people that I was a different age to save a few bucks.  Whether it is a buffet, an amusement park or some other attraction, the prices would vary by age and I would always be younger than I really was.  This became pretty normal and I never really thought about it until I got older and had a family of my own.  Is this really OK, is it a victimless crime or is this instilling the wrong values at a young age?

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I will not sit here and preach that I have never lied or that I have never told anyone that my kids were younger than they are but it is not a regular practice.  I made a conscience decision a while ago that I would not do this on a regular basis.  I mean, how can we get upset with our kids for lying when they see us blatantly lying, how can we justify that it is different because we are doing it to save money.  I just can’t bring myself to do it.  First of all, my kids would call me out in a second and say things like “No Daddy, I’m 5 now”, or something like that which is quite embarrassing.  But that isn’t why I won’t do it, I am a firm believer in practice what you preach to make the message that much stronger.  Again, I am no saint and there have been plenty of examples of me being far less than perfect but why do I want to willingly add to these?

There are two examples in the past year that I can remember doing this and telling someone they were younger than they really are and though there is no justification, my son doesn’t eat most foods (we are working on it) and at a buffet, I really resent paying full price when he is likely to eat a few pieces of pizza so as long as I can have the conversation with the waitress away from the kids, I might shave a year off his age.  The only other time was at a museum that we originally thought was free and we didn’t have a lot of spending money budgeted for the trip and the kids were waiting around the corner when I paid.  Again, not trying to justify my dishonesty here.

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I know a lot of people who are struggling for money, these are very tough times and we are fortunate to be able to do things as a family.  Sometimes people have to make these choices in order to go to these places, they may not have the money, or it may be budgeted for something a lot more important, like doctor bills or grocery bills.  My point is that we don’t know other people’s struggles and we should not judge them if we see them doing something like this.

It is a moral conundrum that many parents don’t even think twice about, but maybe we should.  If our kids see us lying to other adults who seem to be in a position of authority (even if that is the sales clerk at a museum or waiter), that shows them that we think it is OK for them to do it as well.  We instill in them that there is a whole lot more of a gray area in right and wrong and while that may be true, their tiny brains may not be able to process all of that.  It is definitely hard enough to be a kid these days with all of the added stressors from our day and we shouldn’t complicate things even further by making them question if their mommy or daddy is someone who tells lies to people in order to get what they want.  Think of how it could impact their decision making!  Think of what could be said at school when asked to tell the class about their family.  I’ve been in classes when kids say too much and it can be very embarrassing for everyone around.

This is not the easiest decision in the world, but it seems that nothing is anymore.  We need to think about the values that we want our kids to have and show them that we have the same ones.  A child’s moral compass is formed from learned behavior, let’s come together and have them learn the best possible behaviors at a young age.

Stay strong and honest out there dads!

7 Ways Dads Relieve Stress Differently

I understand that we all get stressed and it is imperative for us to deal with that stress in some kind of healthy way.  With that being said, men and women are different and are going to deal with these stressors many times differently than each other.  I’m not saying that no guy will relieve stress by doing yoga or a paint night with the girls, but this is a perspective that not many women understand.  Men have testosterone and many of us need to get anger out with their stress.  Many guys don’t feel better after a good cry like a lot of the women that I know (not that there is anything wrong with men crying, see https://allgoodinthefatherhood.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/i-was-a-tough-military-man-until-fatherhood-unleashed-all-my-emotions/ ).  I had to have a talk with my kids about how boys and girls are different after my daughter was mad that she couldn’t stand up to pee like her brother, but maybe I need to break it down for some adults as well.  Not all of these are going to be good ideas for you, but they just might be!

business men phonecall

Run/Workout 

This one is probably the most effective for me; when I get stressed out, there is nothing better than a good run!  Breaking a sweat is my happy place (https://allgoodinthefatherhood.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/the-happy-place/ ).  The body releases so many endorphins when you start to push it and really break a good sweat.  When I am running, it is just me and the road and whatever I’m listening to, I don’t answer the phone or texts, I am just running.  My wife knows when I’ve had a terrible day, that I just need to get out there and she doesn’t bother me with any of the daily struggles, she just says go run and we can talk later and I usually come back as a new person with a different outlook.

Shoot Guns

I know that this won’t be ideal for everyone, but some time at a range can do wonders on your pent up stress.  I’ve gone a number of times and imagined that report that is due is on the target and lit it up with so much enthusiasm.  When you can release a few pound of lead at 1200 feet per second makes you feel completely in control and similar to my other techniques, it is one of those no cell phones allowed type activities.

Yell

Many times this will raise your stress levels if you are directing your yells at someone, but that isn’t the idea.  I cannot even count how many times that I could feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and someone cut me off on the way home from work and I just let out a yell at the top of my lungs and felt better afterwards.  Obviously the windows were up and there were no words because road rage is real and highly dangerous.  I can almost feel the stress coming out of my mouth when I do this, but not always.

Video Games

Playing video games, specifically sports or violent games help many guys get out their stress.  They can slip into their avatar and become something else completely and lay the hit stick on their opponent in a football game or snipe someone from a long way away in a first person shooter game.  Getting any kind of small victory can go a long way for a guy who is having a crappy day, trust me I know!

Stress

Punching Bag

I used to have an issue when I was younger that I would get mad and punch things, it was not a good idea.  I ended up putting a hole in my door and broke my hand on a different occasion.  My buddy Bryan had a weighted punching bag hanging in his carport because his mom was tired of patching holes after raising four boys and I thought it was a great idea.  If we get mad enough to hit something, make it productive and turn it into a workout without having to worry about drywall work or replacing doors.

Fish

Fishing is very therapeutic to me.  I am a catch and release kind of guy, if I ever actually catch anything.  I don’t do the research to see what is biting or what the best bait is currently, I just love to be one with nature and cast a line.  I recently got back from a trip with my dad and did some fishing; it is Zen-like in the ocean to me.  It also helps when you have to yank a 10’ rod across your body to launch the 3oz weight a hundred yards into the sea but we can stick with the cell phone-free relaxation factor here.

Hanging Out with the Guys

I cannot stress this one enough!  It is so important for a guy to be able to escape work and the family and spend some time with the guys.  Most times, it isn’t the family causing the stress but we can act differently when it is just the guys and be disgusting and talk sports and tell old stories without having to watch our Ps and Qs.  This one goes both ways though guys, if you expect your old lady to watch the kids while you go out, you better expect to return the favor on ladies’ night!  These nights are usually a great time, but it isn’t too irregular for real feelings to come out and somber the mood for a few but it usually bounces back pretty quickly.

(Extra) Podcasts

Because I am not the best at math, I’ll throw in an 8th that works for me when I can’t do any of the other things on the list, like in the middle of the day while I’m at work.  I go for walks to escape the cubicles and throw on one of my favorite comedian’s podcast.  I can escape the world while listening to funny stories with Ben Bailey, stupid internet clips with Tom Segura and Christina, learn about some of the craziest theories with Joe Rogan, hear Bert Kreischer’s addictive laugh or catch up with sports.  They have become such a big part of what keeps me going during the day but you have to find what works best for you!

Stay strong and stress free out there dads!

Dad Interviews

Pops and me

Since becoming a father, I have been able to relate to my own dad in a different way than before.  Instead of the usual Father-Son dynamic there is now an element of Dad-to-Dad understanding, a shared experience.

As a Dadblogger, I enjoy commenting on and analysing my own parenting style but I haven’t previously spotlighted the parenting I received.  I thought this might be the case for other dadbloggers too.

-MadDadSkillz

Read the full interview at http://maddadskillz.com/dad-interviews-dad/mark-roeder/

Stop Scaring New Dads!

I tend to be a nosey person when I am bored and like going for walks during my lunch break at work.  I was walking near a couple of guys last week and they were talking and my Bluetooth headphones had died so I listened in.  The older guy was telling the younger guy (who was apparently expecting a baby) how hard it was and then the phrase that makes my skin crawl “You better sleep now because you won’t be sleeping for a long time”.  I had to turn and walk away.  Why has this type of thing turned into “advice” from us veteran dads to new dads?  Are we just trying to prove how tough we were to be able to get through it or is there more to it than that?

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Dads have a very different perspective on parenthood and that shouldn’t surprise anyone.  When our bellies get bigger with a new baby coming, nobody says how cute we look or how we are glowing, just gaining sympathy weight.  Having a designated driver for 8-9 months was really nice but I know I’m not alone when I say that we definitely have our unique worries as well.  Moms usually have that instant connection with their baby; it usually takes dads a little longer to form that bond, whether it is because of maternity leave and not as much paternity leave (I did get 10 days off), the possibility of breastfeeding or the lack of skin on skin time that moms seem to get automatically.  I had never changed a diaper in my life before we had Brennan and I hope that I’ll never have to again since we are done having kids after 2.  Those first few months are crucial and very hard for dads; many of us have similar feelings like we aren’t bonding and it is very scary, but I assure you that is normal.  Why aren’t dads telling fathers-to-be this kind of thing instead of scaring them and telling stories of no sleep or “I guess we will never see you outside of work again”.  I mean really, what’s that all about?!

I heard the same type of thing over and over when we were expecting our first kid and it got met with a smirk and an eye roll when that person wasn’t looking.  I vowed to not be that guy that just wanted to scare new dads and make them dread their new addition.  Unfortunately, I remember catching myself saying the same type of thing after a few years, forgetting how I was on the other side.  I heard a great take on advice and I’m trying my best to live by it now; don’t give advice to others, share your experiences and allow them to make decisions and use what they might find useful.  I thought this was genius!  I’ve been doing it wrong this whole time.

Scaring

Part of that mantra helped me want to start this blog.  Share some of my funny and many times very real experiences with anyone interested on the hopes that someone could learn from them and it could help them or make them feel better.  It wasn’t until my son was a few years old and I was having a few beers with some other dads that I someone admitted that it was really hard to bond with their newborn.  It was a moment of raw emotion that made me smile and tell them I felt the same way which was followed by all of the other dads saying the same thing and I think we all took a sigh of relief.  We need to life each other up, not try to scare each other, I mean the competitiveness can be saved for the sports field of your choosing but dads need to stick together.  I remember being at my wit’s end after taking the kids out to eat one day and thought they were the worst behaved children on the planet, when really I don’t know a parent that hasn’t had a similar experience who has tried to eat out.  I am a part of a dad blogger community that we can ask for help with our writing, vent or just joke around with each other and the entire point is to lift each other up and never put each other down (except for a few well-taken jokes).

Let’s cut the scare tactics and share our great experiences with fathers-to-be.  Tell them how you felt when your kid first said dada, tell them how there was a period when only you could make them smile, tell them how your whole world changed for the better and how your kid made life seem just a little bit brighter.  I remember recently telling a soon to be dad how I did stop hanging out after work sometimes because I had a kid but not because I had to, but because I wanted to spend every possible minute with them.  I’m not sugar coating fatherhood to make it seem like everything is flowers and rainbows but new dads have enough to be worried about without you trying to prove your manliness and scare them.  Always tell some good with the bad.  If you are asked how well they sleep through the night, be honest and say that you get a up a few times every night for a while but also tell them how when they are so tiny and fall asleep in your arms, you just want to stare at them and know how your world has changed for the better.

Stay strong out there dads and raise up your fellow dads!

Crazy Hair Don’t Care

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I recently saw a picture on social media of a little girl who had a crazy haircut that I thought was cute.  I noticed that there were a lot of comments under the picture so I began to read on.  There was a seriously heated debate about this child’s haircut and how it could affect how she would be treated and thought of in school by her teachers and her peers.  Some of the comments were rude and even bashing the parents of this little girl for “allowing” her to do something like this.  That really got me thinking about why it was a big deal to some people.

I thought back to my days as a child when I didn’t have much or any control over almost anything.  I remember being around 7 years old and telling the barber how I wanted to get my hair cut, yes I did it myself!  My parents and I don’t agree on everything and have very different parenting styles, but we definitely agree on this one, hair grows back and it is a great way to express one’s self.  We were given the power to have our hair however we wanted it, I remember having a ponytail in 6th grade to be like Jonathan Taylor Thomas and then went through a Slim Shady phase in high school with the bleach blonde.  I remember the only stipulation was given to my brother when he wanted to shave his head completely was that he had to wear a hat or sunscreen when outdoors so that it wouldn’t burn.  He didn’t, it burnt and he regretted it.

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I remember when we were much younger and our neighbor always had curly hair and he hated it.  It was a hot summer day and my brother and I had just gotten our usual short haircuts and he was saying that he really wanted one.  He went to his house and told his mom that he was going to get his hair cut at our house; he failed to mention that it was my brother doing the cutting and not my mom.  My brother got out the clippers and gave him a pretty short buzz cut.  After he went home and the story was explained, my mom got an outraged phone call and needless to say we didn’t seem him outside for a few weeks.  This totally blew my pre-teen mind as to how he could get in trouble for doing what he wanted with his hair!

When Brenn was younger, he wanted a Mohawk and we were completely OK with it.  We got some interesting looks from time to time but he really liked it and thought it was so cool.  The only problem was when he didn’t want it spiked up, he kind of resembled a donkey.  He later went through a phase when he wanted spikey hair and now he gets it cut just like daddy.

Lilly on the other hand has always been the wild child who dances to the beat of her own drummer.  She wanted color in her hair, so not only did she get a pink streak, but she also talked my wife into getting one.  More recently she kept telling us that she wanted rainbow hair.  My wife said that we need to wait until after her dance recital and I asked why.  So we went ahead and got it done.  She was over the moon with excitement!  She has told everyone that she sees that she has rainbow hair and she has gotten a lot of compliments and even gotten some comments about her having the coolest mom (I’ll pretend that doesn’t bother me).  When she changes her mind and wants a new style, we will be on board again.

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I know that we want what is best for our kids and believe that we always know what that is, but keeping kids in a bubble and not allowing any self-expression will likely turn into more rebellion.  Kids need to have some control over their life, whether it be their hair or their clothes (to an extent), they need an opportunity to find who they are while dealing with the stressors of school and technology of today.  They aren’t walking into a boardroom for a high powered corporate job at this age, and if later on they decide to do so with a Mohawk, so be it!  I can be a very strict parent at times, partly because of how I was raised and partly because of my military background, but there are some battles that are going to do a lot more damage than good and I think this is one of those instances.  I may keep this same very short military haircut for the rest of my life, but it is my choice.  My son will likely keep his hair style very conservative because it suits his personality and that is completely OK as well.  Let’s work on not over-parenting our kids and remember that they are just that, kids!

Stay strong out there dads with whatever haircut you want!

I Was a Tough Military Man Until Fatherhood Unleashed All My Emotions

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As early as middle school, I was working tirelessly on my image and wanted to make sure everyone knew how tough I was. After all, I was the younger brother of a tough guy. It was a difficult sell in high school when I was 5’10” and 130 pounds, but I played sports and had big, tough friends. This image stuck around after high school, as I worked in construction and at auto body shops, and culminated when I joined the military. I’ll never claim to be a Navy SEAL by any means, but getting through boot camp for enlisted Sailors was still quite the feat. When I was deployed to the Persian Gulf for nine very long months at 22 and newly married, I felt I had seen it all and couldn’t be broken. Boy, was I wrong!

Read on at https://www.babble.com/parenting/tough-guy-fatherhood-emotions/

Why I’m Telling My Son the Truth About His Sports “Hero”

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I feel very lucky to have a son who not only shares my passion for sports, but for the same teams I follow. Some of our favorite times as Daddy and Brennan are when we’re able to go to a live game or even just sit around and watch one on TV.

My son has learned so many of the nuances of baseball, football, and most of all, soccer. He understands all of the rules and can recognize almost every player on Manchester United. As we were watching the game when Wayne Rooney became the all-time leading goal scorer for the club, he said something that really made me think, “Daddy, when I grow up, I want to be just like Wayne Rooney.”

Read on at https://www.babble.com/parenting/telling-kids-truth-sports-hero/

Difficult Questions from Innocent Mouths

I had of those great days with my son on Monday, I worked from home most of the day and got to chaperone him and his classmates on a field trip.  It was just the two of us when we got back home and we played and he was so well behaved.  We even went out to eat with my dad for a guy’s dinner.  We talked about sports and how the Orioles were doing and that was when I noticed the news on TV at the restaurant.  The good and light hearted time came to a complete halt, a headline flashed across the TV and I prayed that he wouldn’t notice, but nothing gets by him.  He then asked that dreaded awkward type of question, “Daddy, what’s a hate crime?”

Hate

It was at this moment that I wish that I was in one of those terrible Geico commercials and I could respond with “You know people can save a bunch of money by switching to Geico”, but we all know that wasn’t happening.  My first thought was how can I explain this in a way that not only would he understand what it is and how wrong it is, but also in a way that if he repeated in, neither of us would get in trouble.  I thought about dancing around it, but I know my son well enough that he wouldn’t let it drop that easily and would ask again later.  I took a deep breath and decided it was as good a time as any to hit this one head on.

There have been a few road trips that he listens to my podcasts with me, the family friendly ones of course.  We listened to Neil deGrasse Tyson on Joe Rogan, Manchester United Pod, Know Them From Adam with Adam Schefter and That’s The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe.  Mike Rowe is usually pretty tame and keeps his language on a PG level so I figured it was harmless but about 4 minutes into the 10 minute episode, I realized this was going to spark another tough conversation.  Mike was talking about how the news broke of a secret organization and their secret names through a kids cartoon, but the organization was the KKK; thanks Mike.  We had a lot of time in the car that day so I decided that we can have a talk about racism and prejudice.  It went very well and he was a little perplexed that people would act that way but understood that some people were just bad and didn’t know any better.

hate2

I went back and referenced this podcast at dinner and told him that groups like that commit hate crimes.  I explained that hate crimes are crimes against a certain type of person and not necessarily because of anything that person did.  I told him it could be because of someone’s religion or beliefs, the color of their skin or even because of who someone loved.  That last one got a strange look and took some more explaining.  I told him that even though he has a mommy and daddy, not all families are the same and some families have 2 mommies or two daddies and that’s OK.  He said “Yeah like Bree has 2 mommies”, I agreed and said that they are our friends.  I told him that it goes way beyond not liking people and that these bad people hurt, kill or destroy the property of others just because of these factors that are beyond their control.  I told him that some people weren’t taught the same way he was and haven’t been around different types of people growing up and they were just raised to hate people that aren’t exactly like them.  He was so profound in his response “That would be so boring if everyone was the exact same”, well said kid!

The topic was soon thwarted when our pizza came and he was thinking about how much pizza that he could shove into his face.  Later that night, I was thinking long and hard about this entire situation.  Though of course these things existed when we were younger and I heard stories from my mom about the Irish Republican Army and some of the terrible things they had done, but it wasn’t plastered all over the news on what seems to be a daily basis.  I’m sure our parents said the same thing about our generation, but I’m scared for the future and just how easy it is to get all of the news and bad information at your fingertips at any given moment.  The world is set up to turn any normal and happy go lucky kid into someone with extreme anxiety and depression.  It is so sad that I was thinking like this but it is true!  All we can do as parents is teach our kids the right way to think and be empathetic towards everyone.  Unless someone does something not so kind to you, they deserve the benefit of the doubt and you can be respectful to them.

Don’t avoid these conversations; they are a great way to instill the right traits and values in your tiny humans at an early age.  Stay strong out there dads!

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