An Open Letter to Young Dads and Dads-to-Be

As I write this, our first-born is just back home from his first year of college and our youngest is soon to finish her junior year of high school. A window will close soon for us. That window through which we enjoy hours and hours physically together most days, molding each other. That window closure is the natural way of things; it truly is the way it’s meant to be as they become their own people. Though this dad finds that bittersweet, it’s much easier to face knowing I have no big regrets.

That’s not to say I didn’t make mistakes; I made tons of them, and continue to very regularly. But I don’t look back and say “I wish I’d made more effort to be a part of it all.” I was intentional, from well before they were born, about being as much a part of their childhood as humanly possible. For all the miscues in the past and future, getting that one right has made all the difference for them, and for me.

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Mitch Albom: When did fathers become expendable?

A third of American kids now live without their biological fathers. Nearly every statistic on kids turn sour when fathers disappear.

  • Youth suicides, five times higher than average.
  • High school dropouts, nine times higher.
  • Behavioral disorders, 20 times higher.
  • Runaways and homeless children, 32 times higher.

What does a father bring to the table?

  • Strength
  • Quiet confidence
  • Discipline
  • Responsibility
  • Love

— all displayed differently than my mother, which was fine. My father also taught us how to be a husband, how to respect a woman, when to lead and when to support.

See complete article here

#1 Hottest Fathers’ Day Gift Idea for 2012!

I’m sure many people tuned into this post to find out about the hot new gadget to get dad for Fathers’ Day.   Sorry, but there’s no update on the newest in computerized grill accessories or digitized golf toys.  Instead, I wanted to share an idea for the ultimate gift – the one that more than pays for itself.  Unfortunately, there’s a major string attached to this gift – Dad doesn’t actually receive it until many years down the road.  In fact, with this gift, Dad needs to do most of the heavy lifting!  I know this isn’t sounding much like the traditional gift, but trust me – it’s the best gift ever given and ever received.

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“You can’t even imagine how important you are to your daughter,” says Chris Edwards

With the 11th Fathers Conference getting close now, any father with at least one daughter 10 years old or under should take a deep breath and feel the exhilaration of how much he means to his daughter(s), and will for the rest of her life.  It can be scary to think about how much influence you can have on her, both positive and not so positive.  But real fathers don’t run from something that can be scary…they see the joy in conquering fear and the unimaginable payoff in fathering our daughters with conscious, intentional and loving actions.

So, are you ready for a quick little quiz? 

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“Boys are men in the making” the “Boy Whisperer” says

All theories aside, a simple truth – a basic fact – frames everything:  boys are men in the making. Anyway you cut it, the facts are the facts. Patriarchy may be dead, but right now, the ‘boy code” (Real Boys:  Rescuing Our Boys from the Myths of Boyhood Pollack, 1999) rules the roost rushing the boys along the river into “guy code” (Guyland:  The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men Kimmel, 2009) [my view is they do not become men] and over the falls into the still pool of male unhappiness (I Don’t Want to Talk About It:  Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression and The Irritable Male Syndrome:  Understanding the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression Diamond, 2005).  The boys deserve a better shot at manhood. We can give it to them. Collectively, we can “kick some serious butt” and shatter the boy code. You game?

“A father’s value is Way more than the money he provides: the “Dragon Tamer” says

So, my friend Brett Stephenson, author of the outstanding book, From Boys to Men (Park Street Press, 2006), writes:  “More and more in my reading, I come across research that seems too ridiculous to be true. In Raising Cain:  Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, for example, the authors point toward a number of studies that reflect the importance of men in a relationship, both as a spouse and as father. The fact that we even have to research whether fathers  have a purpose and value is one of the saddest commentaries on our culture that I can imagine. It’s as though the underlying belief in our country is that fathers are expendable, except for the money they provide. As a man, and a father, I find this most insulting [an understatement to me -TB]. Is it any wonder so many men don’t recognize and fulfill their true responsibilities as fathers? Have we really digressed as cultural parents so far that we have to prove via empirical research that fathers indeed do have day-t0-day value in the emotional upbringing of their children?”

Kudos to Brett! My view . . . it’s worse than that. What do you think?

When I come to the game, I bring my balls. Bring yours too.

“They’re trying to develop into young men” the “Dragon Tamer” says:

The great secret about teenage boys, the one that simply confounds and screws up the grown ups (Dads included) is they’re trying to develop into young men. I kid you not! Superficially, defies all observable sense. That’s the kicker:  there’s magic and mystery going on here and when/if we don’t lead the parade right . . . poof! It all goes up in smoke or down in s..thole. Ancient African Proverb:  “If you do not initiate the boys, they will burn the village down.” Hey, ever watch the film or read the book The Fight Club? Haven’t met a teenage boy who doesn’t love or like that movie and cannot explain why. Check it out!
Looking forward to meeting with you all. Bring your gauchos. Were going to rock!

“It’s all about play and strength” the Boy Whisperer says

People ask me all the time “what is it with the boys?” How do you makes sense of them? I say, “two words sum up boys:  strength and play.” They all want to be strong and they all want to play. What an adventure! It’s joining in the “game” that trips up the grown ups – including the Dads.

Looking forward to meeting with all of you!

The “Boy Whisperer”

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?