It’s great to be needed, wanted and appreciated

I’m amazed by how our children’s statements serve as windows to the essential role we have in their lives.

Last weekend, for example, my 7-year-old experienced a nose bleed. It wasn’t serious; nothing more than dried-out membranes that many experience this time of year. I wasn’t home at the time so it was Granny who attended to him with the nurturing, loving care that is uniquely grandma. Still, my little man’s statement to her was, “Granny, you better call Dad.”

A couple weeks ago some of us dads in the neighborhood got together to have a baseball game with our kids. As we divided up into teams, D.J. lobbied for me. “I want my dad on my team,” he said. I was moved and puzzled at the same time; D.J. can be pretty competitive and while I used to be a half-decent ballplayer, nowadays I’m mostly just old, certainly older than some of the other dads who were there and in better shape than I am. But on this day, D.J. wasn’t as concerned about winning or losing as he was about he and I competing together.

He’s also at that “my dad’s tougher than your dad” age and God help me when he volunteers me to prove it. Or, my dad can do this or my dad can do that, which provides for some further teachable moments.

At the end of the day, my son’s confidence in me to be able to do anything inspires me to try because being his go-to and sounding board (for whatever he needs at 7 years old) is the greatest purpose I’ve ever known.

Friends tell me it’s even more rewarding when your adult children continue to use you as a touchstone. When they call, for example, to ask your advice in financial issues or what direction to take in something or how to fix anything from broken cars to broken hearts.

The fact is, we matter, we matter a great deal in shaping our children’s character and helping them to believe in themselves by spending the time and effort they need us to experience that we believe in them. When their desire for that sort of reassurance and connection continues well in to their adult years, what better a statement that we truly do make a difference?

The Be Connection

It is important to find time to do with your kid(s),  it is more important to be with your kid(s). Every child wants to be seen and heard; Look at me,  Daddy look at me and the father take a moment to see what is going on and then the father fills the empty space with “That’s nice” and in that moment neither the father or child is fully engaged in the moment.

Back up this senerio to the moment of Daddy look at me and the father takes a moment to connect with eye(s) contact and to be fully present the father sees his child’s glistening joy, sees their actions and sees how proud they are of themself.  Being filled with their father’s undivided attention the child comes alive brighter then before. The father  smiles and says “I see you are really good at that and I am proud of you and what you do”.

In the first scenario the father is offering a comment without much connection. The second scenario the father is being fully present and in being present the father is offering a terrific gift to the child and himself.

My challenge to you is to be fully present with your Kid(s), by being so you will give them and yourself a big gift.

Create holiday traditions that work for you

I love all that makes up this time of year. Still, as a parent outside of marriage I’ve sometimes felt out of place when bombarded with images of what is traditional. Everywhere I look I’m hit with pictures of children frolicking in the snow, big families laughing around a huge meal or couples exchanging gifts in front of the fireplace.

But what about those people who aren’t included

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Giving Thanks

It’s that time of year again to take inventory of what we’re thankful for. The older I get the more I realize that celebrating blessings is something we ought to do every day. The following are a few that are at the forefront for me this holiday season:

I’m thankful for my family – the love and support we’ve shared with one another, but also for

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Experiement shows benefits of switching roles

I’ve been following a series of blog entries on Slate.com by a married couple who decided to switch roles for a few weeks. He’s an editor at Slate, she’s an at-home mom who does freelance writing. They have two young children.

This type of stunt is always good for readership (it certainly caught my attention), but typically sheds little light on the subject of parenting roles. Nevertheless, the experiment (if it could be called that) is fascinating in part because the two participants have been so candid about their experiences and impressions.

The dad had a lot of trouble adjusting to the home world,

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Kids need both parents

I make no apologies for being a shared parenting advocate. As a family therapist, I’ve understood for years that kids need both parents. But in 2003, the clinical benefits that are achieved for children in shared parenting and the negative outcomes that often result when a parent is under involved became even more meaningful to me when my son was born.

Yet with all the research and understanding,

Read moreKids need both parents