Monday, January 30, 2012

Seven Dads I’d like to meet

Several days ago, Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out passed along an idea to write about seven people from the past that you would like to meet and why. 
Abraham How could you be so sold out for your God, that you would risk your son for Him?  Where does that faith come from that lets you say, “We will return”? What was that wait like?
Charles Dickens You cared so much for the poor children of the day, how were your children treated?  I hear that home wasn’t so good.  How did you wrestle through that?
Bill Cosby You wrote the book on Fatherhood.  Did you ever wonder about what people would think of you as a dad?  You lost your son in a tragic situation.  How did you keep going?
Ike Everley You played with, maybe even taught Chet Atkins on the guitar.  You raised two lads who became the Everley Brothers, and years later, fame and fortune never broke that unity apart.  How did that happen?  Could the same thing have happened in today’s culture?

Henry Fonda You raised three kids in the spotlight, you always struggled with living who you thought you were supposed to be in a culture and atmosphere that allowed you to behave differently.  You struggled with showing love toward your children, and yet late in life, you discovered how to reach out to them. 
Archie Manning This may be a theme here, but how do you pass on a love for something you were obviously good at to your boys?  How do you cheer when they compete against each other?  What’s the mental part of the game that you taught them?
Ken Griffey Sr. You and Archie Manning are a lot alike.  You both had really good careers as professional athletes, and now you’re better known for who your children are.  What was it like running out on the field with Junior that first time?  I always thought that was so cool, father and son on the same team.

Obviously there are lots of other interesting dads out there.  Who would be on your list?  Can you let me know in comments if you decide to use this topic please?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dads UnLimited enters A-Z April Blog Challenge

There are a few things which may come along to interrupt the flow of Dads UnLimited and our quest to find the better Dad inside all of us. One of those things is April's A-Z Blog Challenge. This challenge is to post every day (except Sunday after the 1st)beginning with A and carrying on to Z. The fun is in the visiting, commenting, and having visitors comment on your blog. I intend to follow the theme of Dads UnLimited through the month while at the same time play along by the Challenge's rules.

 Today is the first day you can sign up for it and so I did. Last year there were over 1300 people signed up for it. It was a great way to meet fellow bloggers, challenge myself to write more consistently, study blogging strategies, think a little more clearly about what I want to do with this site. In fact, last April was the seed for the tiny sapling this blog is today.

 May I suggest to you that you would also find great fun doing this challenge? Head over to the main site, read a few of the latest posts, especially the tabs at the top of the page and sign up!

Friday, January 27, 2012

We have seen the enemy and he is us

Today's idea is to pay attention to yourself.  It sounds selfish, but read on.  When a situation begins to escalate (and though I'm talking about at home, this is true of everywhere else also), you need to be aware of yourself enough to step on your own brakes and bring that situation to a stop.

As a dad, my role is not to win arguments but to train up my child in the way they should go.  To help them work through the difficulties they are experiencing.

Too many times, I am the cause of the problems of my child's bad reaction.  If I spoke to them or treated them the way I am trying to train them to speak and treat others, I would not receive the negative reaction I get.  I would say that in all my years of teaching, in a vast majority of situations where a child got in trouble for disrespecting a teacher, the teacher was guilty of disrespecting the child first.  Sometimes that was me.  It wasn't until I came to realize that I had to be in control of myself before I could be in control of my classroom, that this became less of an issue.  It sounds like an obvious thing to say, and it makes sense, but I had never really thought of it in that way before.

So, here's an idea, pay attention to yourself.  We have seen the enemy and he is us.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Immortality's what we're buying?

One of the saddest trend going in our world today is the one that pushes us toward our fifteen minutes of fame.  Ever since Marshall McLuhan came up with that prediction, the world has been marching toward fulfilling it like it was a command, not an assumption.  From the popularity of Survivor (over ten years ago now!) rose the monolith of reality television.  The belief now is that my big break into the celebrity world is just a submission-tape away, or with YouTube, a viral video.  If I am a somebody on tv, I am somebody. 

The blurring of what is real and what is not is evident in tv shows like The Hills for young people and also The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for slightly older.  Is it real or acting?  Do I have to be someone I am not, sell myself out, ignore my conscience to be popular?

It sure doesn’t take much to become popular today.  It may be as easy as singing really badly, behaving poorly, staging a phonynews event, wearing something in public that should have at least two layers over it, tweeting something insensitive or rude… doesn’t take talent, it takes a plan. 

When I used to ask students ( I taught Grade 8 for thirteen years) what their dreams were for their future, the trend was toward being famous.  “I want to be a famous fill-in-the-blank.”  I rarely (likely never, truth be told) heard, “I want to be a really good fill-in-the-blank.”  For some it was because they thought the famous musicians, dancers, athletes, actors, lawyers, or doctors must be good.  For many though, it is the fame itself that they really wanted. 

If I am not “somebody”, that doesn’t mean I am “nobody”.  Tell it to your babies.  What is right is not always popular, what is popular is not always right.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome to the club

So today’s big news is that we’ve added a page here to Dads UnLimited.

 Look up at the top and you will see it there- the one that says Join Our Community. It has been there off and on for a while but now it actually has some content. The point of that page is to engage each other. Lets ask, add, imagine and inquire into what it may take to become better dads.

 Maybe you have a pop culture question.
 Maybe you have a problem with one of your children or your role as dad.
Maybe you have an inspiring or funny story to tell.
Pop in, join the community, introduce yourself and lets make this thing work!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hit the floor

First off, stay tuned for a fun bit of news coming on Monday. I am hoping to make this place a little more interactive and Monday will be the beginning of that.

 Its Friday so here’s an idea for you...Get on the floor (not now, after you’ve finished reading this…).

 From this perspective things look different. You see that sock under the chair that someone was just missing, yes. But, you also see the world of the little people in your home. While you are down there, wait a few seconds… unless your children are in bed or are immobile, within that few seconds, they may just come to you. How often does that happen when you sit on the couch reading or watching tv? How often does that happen when you are texting or surfing blog posts?  You have arrived in their space. Be careful, fun may just ensue.

Now, get off that chair and get on the floor!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Get it now!

Why wait? Our society’s credit cards, drive-thrus, highspeeds, fastpass, express lanes, instant meals, and pvr/tivo is backing us even further into a sad place. We can’t wait for anything and we can’t miss anything.

I always remember my mother saying to me, “Life goes on,” when I would complain that while I was off doing one thing I wanted to do, the family was doing something else of similar fun. She was reminding me, that while I was free to make my choice of what I was pursuing that moment, the family was also free to do the same.

 I wonder if we really respect that today? We can’t stand in line making small talk with the elderly lady ahead of us because we are too frustrated with someone else in the aisle with one too many items for the express lane. We run and run but never catch up.

 We need to help our children to slow down, to enjoy not just the event but the anticipation. Try to do this by demonstrating some self-control yourself. Talk about what you are waiting for. Talk about how easy it would be to take the shortcut, but take “the sweetest way home” as my dad used to put it.

 Have you noticed this in your own life or in the life of your child? How do you slow down and enjoy life?

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Dad

Nearly two years ago, I wrote a very quick post about my dad. He’s the last of a great generation. The day I posted that, he was heading for triple bypass surgery. Since then, he’s struggled back to his old self. Though, maybe they should have fixed those knees when you were out of commission too, Dad!

 As I grew-up matured aged, I realized that everyone else thought their dad was from a different age as well, if not a different planet. However, when I hear Tom Brokaw speak of “The Greatest Generation”, I think of my dad. Though technically he wasn't born for several years after the generation Brokaw speaks of, to me he always seemed to be from a different time period from everyone else. He wore fedora hats, when everyone else’s dad didn’t. He had conservative rules, that even my conservative friends’ dads didn’t seem to have. He was never out of control. He was never domineering. He was never lazy. He was never afraid to say what he believed. In short, he was everything kids resist, but everything that we as adults strive to be.

 I know my dad's not perfect, but that doesn't matter to me. He does his best, and that does matter to me. 

So, what did I learn from my dad about being a dad?
                   You have to be consistent.
                   You can be firm without being domineering.
                   You can be respectful and respected at the same time.
                   Yelling isn’t necessary.
                   Working never hurt anyone.
                   Family holidays are important.
                  When it comes to matters of faith, live what you believe.

 I am sure there is more to be said about my dad as the months roll by, but for now, off the top of my head, that’s some of what I learned from the best man I know.

 What did you learn from your dad?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday's Ideas first ever post!

Ironically, as I type this, three of my own children are running around the house doing their own thing.  That, in and of itself, is not bad.  At the same time, one of those dear children needs lots of direction.  Another finds nothing better to do than annoying his siblings (and parents, and neighbours, and the planet!).  The third is only with us for now.  We do not know how long we will have the joy of raising this little gem.  He is our foster-son.

The irony stems from the fact that as a dad, I could be taking the time to pour into these little boys’ lives.  I could be teaching, talking, playing, interacting with them.  I could be showing them new ideas, modeling proper behaviors, perfecting their spiral throwing or coloring skills.  But I am not. 

At the same time, I can be intentionally parenting.  I must be a dad before I am a blogger. With this in mind, I must keep an ear to their play and interactions, I must allow them to play, but must allow them to be children within a family setting at the same time.  I must not allow myself to become detached from the world they are in.  Oh, how difficult that is to achieve!

Come back and visit often. Let's live and learn together!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Welcome to our first ever Wednesday's Trendsday post

First off…Happy Birthday to the first person who ever called me “Dad”.  Our princess is 16 today!  I will talk more about our relationship as time goes on in this site, but please allow a brief history. She was eight when I became her “dad”.  That was not easy for her, but from the day her mom and I were married she called me “Dad” (lately it has often been, “Daddy” in a funny, airy, British accent!).  So, happy birthday kiddo, I am so very proud of the young woman you have become.

Secondly, if you've come over here from A-to-Z or Tossing it Out, look at yesterday's post please!

Wednesdays are Trendsdays here at Dads UnLimited.  Consider the clever (pseudo) rhyming scheme there-  T.S. Eliot, watch your back… 

Some of the many topics we will cover here will be things like homework, movies, gaming, technology, attitudes, new toys and gadgets…anything that affects our children’s lives and how we as dads can help them through it. 

If you read these words and have anything to offer in regard to this topic, whether you’d be interested in guest posting, or just throwing out a suggested topic, please leave a comment here.  Don’t be shy, the internet can’t bite but you have to face this reality -your words are out there for many to read, so have a little restraint!  One of the themes this blog will uphold is that you are a dad 24 hours a day, even when commenting online, type something your child would be proud to read someday.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Video Challenge

At the risk of grinding momentum for Dads UnLimited to a halt, I break out of routine after only one day!  We will get back on track, but due to timing, holidays, other people's schedules, etc, I am posting this today.

So, one video begot another.

The first one, the one from Saturday was my attempt to join the reflections postings parade over at .  When Lee, one of the intrepid and untiring leaders of the challenge, and chief cook and blogger-washer at both A-Z and his personal blog , saw my first attempt, he did what Lee always does.  He encouraged me.  You just shouldn't feed the seagulls, though Lee, those things become pests!

What followed then was a dozen emails back and forth and then this second video

So, what?  Well, I'm done.

But you're not.

Maybe you can do something bigger better or bolder than mine.  Maybe you just want to try.  Ask a twelve year old, they can do something like I did in just an hour or two.  They can do something better than I did in twenty minutes or less too, if they have the right program.  They can likely find the right program, pirate it off the internet onto their smartphone (paid for with your money), figure it out and create something inside of that twenty minutes.  

But it doesn't have to be about better.  It does have to be about fun, and creative and inspiring and new and just go-ahead-and-try-it-you-don't-know-what-you've-got-till-you've-tried!
Check out for all the details of what's in it for you!  Promote your video. Put it on Youtube, link to it in your emails, post it on your blog, link to it on Facebook, you'll think of something, you always do!  

Please, please leave me a comment.  32 people showed up here on Saturday and only six left a comment, oh, there was that one spammer too...

Sorry if this sounds like a sales pitch... nothings being sold, just promoting a really great way to write, meet, network and enjoy the blogging community!

Monday, January 09, 2012

I am my kids' Dad

Anyone can be a father, you have to work hard to become dad.  There are so many great things that come about from the moment you are labeled as “Dad”.  One day, you’re you, the next day, you’re so much more. 

With the re-launching of Inside Out as Dads Unlimited, I hope to plumb some of the depths of meaning of the word "dad"- the joys, hopes, fears, responsibilities, aids, opportunities, and so much more that is necessary and helpful to us as dads.

For too long, popular culture has portrayed dads as bumbling, insensitive, selfish boors.  Some of us actually believe that is who we are to be.  Its time we make the name “Dad” into something hard to achieve, not easy.  Let’s re-take the title.

Over the next few months, I hope to see this blog turn into a place where dads can congregate, celebrate, cogitate and even castigate if need be.  “Press a button and tune back in three-four-five times a week,” are the words of Toronto’s all news radio station.  I encourage the same here.  Save to Favorites and come back often.  This blog is a work-in-progress, then again, aren’t we all?

Monday’s are planned for Inspirational days- days when Dads Unlimited brings encouragement and motivation to keep striving to become who we want so much to be.  Wednesday’s are for Trends- current topics and how we can possibly face what is going on in the world around us in light of who we are. 
Friday’s are for Ideas- things to do with our kids, or how to handle situations that may arise.

Tomorrow there will be a post as well…not a regularly scheduled one, a diversion.  There will be a second video uploaded regarding the A-to-Z Blog Challenge coming up this April.  Stay tuned.  Also, stay tuned over at the official A-to-Z Challenge website for exciting details of what is ahead!
Please, come back and see us.  As always, comments, even just a friendly hello, are welcomed.  Suggestions even more so.
Oh, and we are adding a baby to our home today too...stay tuned!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Well, my wife will love that it is her smiling face looking at you...but this post is a little aside along the way to the many upcoming changes to this blog.  Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out and the A-to-Z Blog Challenge has been kind enough to link over here to see this wee, amateurish video I put together as a reflection from last April's Blog Challenge.  I hope you like it!

Please tune back in here next week when I hope to begin a few strategic changes to the place, its been a fixer upper for a while, time to get to work!