Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Discipline versus Punishment

We were challenged to think about the difference between discipline and punishment.  To me it seemed a matter of semantics, "You say tomato...." If however the word punishment is so loaded that we can only think negatives, then perhaps it is only right that we consider discipline as the word of choice.

My post from last Wednesday, Feb 22, raised a few questions in the comments section.  Was I saying there was no place for rewards? Am I promoting negative parenting? Is the issue here over clarifying the terms reward and reinforcement? Great questions and they deserve some kind of answer.

First off, I suppose I have to be careful to not come across as the source of all truth when it comes to parenting.  We've been trying to get this right for thousands of years and we haven't done it yet.

Secondly, what I was trying to say last week and apparently didn't really clarify was that we have to be careful to not raise children who do right when rewarded and therefore lose sight of why something is right and wrong, they lose sight of doing good for goodness' sake. All our children are different. What I hope we can work toward is children who learn to appreciate goodness and being good.

Thirdly, as far as training goes, one interesting thing I've heard and applied at times is to have your child model the behavior you want them to have. If they say something impolite, have them repeat it correctly. If they are rude to someone, have them try again speaking the way they should. If they complete homework in an manner below their ability, have them redo it. It should give pause when time is of the essence, it sure would work for me! A few thoughts open for your comments.

Also, still lots of time left to enter the book giveaway.  Please see the last two posts for more details.

And, if you haven't signed up for A-Z Challenge, do it now!  Its a great disciplining time for bloggers and a great time to get to meet new people, add new followers, learn new things.  Its a win - win.

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Revised Pay-it-Forward Book Giveaway

I've decided to change the give-away slightly.  You don't have to post the large ugly rules picture any more:)

Here are a few other things you might want to know.

The books are terrific. So helpful and witty and timeless.
You don't have to be a dad. You just need to know someone who could use a book.
I have multiple books so its not first come first served.

Here’s the list again of the titles I have to give away.
  • Have a New Kid by Friday
  • Living in a Step-Family Without Getting Stepped On
  • Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage
  • 7 Things He'll Never Tell You, but you need to know
  • It's Your Kid not a Gerbil
  • Have a New Husband by Friday
  • The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People

On a completely unrelated note...have you signed up for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge? Consider it please! You have a real opportunity to meet lots of encouraging, funny, interesting people...people like yourself!  If you're not sure what to do or how to add your name, leave a comment here or over the Challenge site...and someone will gladly help you.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The great pay it forward giveaway

As I alluded to earlier, Dr Kevin Leman has generously donated several books to Dads UnLimited.  Dr Leman is a renowned psychologist and writer who has been helping families and couples for many years.  With very little prompting, Dr Leman’s organization sent me several books that I am now giving away.

Here’s the scoop.

I was given these books. 
I am giving them to you. 
You promise to give them to someone else.

Just follow these four simple rules and you could just win!

Here’s a list of what I have to give away.
  • Have a New Kid by Friday
  • Living in a Step-Family Without Getting Stepped On
  • Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage
  • 7 Things He'll Never Tell You, but you need to know
  • It's Your Kid not a Gerbil
  • Have a New Husband by Friday
  • The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rewards for right behavior

I have said it to kids a hundred times. Likely you have to.

“Do this and you will get this.”
“You did this, so, here, have this.”

I am training my child to act like a rat in a maze. Want a little pellet of food? Jump through this hoop. What is this really saying though? Are we not teaching our children that we do what is right because it brings a reward? What about if there is no obvious reward? Are we not also training our children that no reward means we don’t have to act rightly? Are too many questions in one paragraph hard to follow?

We need to take this back. We need to train our children to do what is right. Period. Maybe we sometimes use rewards. But we have to teach them why it’s right. Maybe we have to learn why ourselves first.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Why I won't play

My kids want me to play.

What makes me say no? There are legitimate and there are lazy reasons.

Tired -or- "Tired"
Mentally can't handle playing that make-believe game again. - or - Don't think I can mentally handle playing that make-believe game again.
"You won't be able to understand the rules of that game."  -or-  I don't want to take the time to teach you that.
I want to read.  -or-  I don't want to do that.
"I have to get some work done."   -or-   I choose to get some work done.

Its a hard balance isn't it dad (or mom)? I often tell one of our boys, "That's why I got you a perfectly good brother."  I don't know if that is just an excuse, but sometimes, a kid just wants to play.  Let's make sure that we sometimes get it right.

Friday, February 17, 2012

See you someday over there, Kid.

This was supposed to be about birds and keeping your kids in touch with nature, but that will have to wait. This has nothing to do with being a dad, but I have to say something.

Today (I'm writing this on Thursday), Gary Carter died.

The Hall of Fame catcher made baseball fun for me as a kid growing up.  I loved the Expos.  I was very sad when they traded him to the rival Mets. Gary was jovial, proud, gregarious, and talented.

I remember driving into Montreal with my brother the day he announced his retirement.  For several years we tried to make it to Montreal for at least one weekend.  We saw him on the field that day, the second last one of the season, but we didn't stay for the final game of the season when he doubled to win the game and end his career.

I have a picture of him that I took that day.  He's talking to his long time team mate, then with the Cubs, Andre Dawson.  The two of them no doubt laughing about days of youth and energy and potential and about what lay ahead.  I sent it to him to get signed and he graciously did.

I have a heavy heart, even though this has been coming for months.  Gary's daughter has been posting semi-regular updates and I checked it as recently as yesterday wondering what was new, since the last post, four weeks ago,  had been very disheartening. This is really hard to take.  One of my heroes is dead.  Heroes don't die do they?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The entropy of St Valentine

Valentines’ Day, Mother’s Day, Halloween, Back to School shopping, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Black Friday, Boxing Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents Day, Groundhog’s Day…how do all these special events get hijacked by retailers?  Okay, Groundhog’s Day’s still pretty much unaffiliated, but the rest? 

I know giving gifts is one way to show love.  I know buying gifts is one way to come up with something to give.  I wonder if we haven’t moved beyond desire to give to necessity to give and when that happens in any area of our life, how does it usually look?  Think about you in Grade 7.  Think about some of your Sunday mornings at your place of worship (or Saturday or Monday or whenever you gather).  Think about that relationship you took for granted.  Think about your car you used to keep so clean. 

Entropy.  It all falls apart.

Don’t let the marketing of “Love” ruin love for you.  Take it back whatever way you need to, whether in your own mind or in the way you celebrate these days.  And remind your kids.  Remember what it felt like Christmas morning?  Today’s the day after Valentine’s Day.  Who’s going to give flowers today?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Resources, and a hint of something new

Well, Saturday was a great day.  We enjoyed the winter carnival here in Orillia, the weather even hinted at winter for the day, so that was good.  Bring on the spring now.  Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training this week and that always means spring to me.  And baseball.  And hope.  No predictions for “my” Nationals this year, except to say that third last year and one game below five hundred…I expect better this year.

Over the past several days I have been searching for some inspiring dad related blogs and web sites.  Obviously when there are hundreds of millions of websites, this may take a couple of more days to exhaustively search out!  However, I would like to introduce you to a few new ones to me that I have added to the links panel at the side of this blog.

First up there is Dave Ramsey’s site.  Many of you have heard Dave Ramsey on the radio doing his financial show.  I think his advice is so needed in today’s world.  My wife and I have been following a lot of what he suggests for the past fourteen months or so and are seeing the rewards now of staying “gazelle-like”.  If you want to get a grip on budgeting, debt-reduction, investing, etc, this is a great start.

Secondly, there is Family Matters with their focus on grace-based parenting.  This site has lots of inspirational posts.

Thirdly, Dr Kevin Leman…and I will be saying more about him soon.  In fact, I will leak a little information here.  Lets just say, that Kevin Leman has been nice to Dads UnLimited and the winner is you! 

Fourthly, Kevin East’s blog from Following to Lead.  He’s got information on being a leader and importantly for me, on being a foster parent.  My wife and I have been fostering for nearly one year and it has been a joy and life-changing phase of our lives. 

Next, The Best Daddy Ever…Inspiring you to be just what the title implies.

Lastly for today, . hundreds of reviews, articles, ideas, fun, games, stuff!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Free indoor day activities do with kids at home

Last week I posted five free rainy/wintery day ideas to try away from home.  Here are five fun rainy day ideas to try from the comfort of home.

6)         Games.  Pull out some you did not think your kids were old enough for (our youngest son was playing chess at four), or, some that have been moth-balled.  If you don’t have the time or energy to play along with them, pull out the old family favorites that you don’t have to teach them the rules for.

7)         Build a fort.  The great thing about forts is that it can be torn down and made better or bigger.  Hours of fun to build and then enjoy.

8)         Share a hobby.  You’ve been working away on something you like to do for years.  Why not share it with your kids now?  Teach them a skill, and get them excited about something you are excited about. 

9)         Craft time.  Painting, coloring, plasticine, cutting and pasting, the ideas are limitless, the supplies needed are often simple.  Plenty of websites are available to give you ideas.

10)       Its only rain.  Go out and enjoy it!

Oh, and happy birthday, number two child!  Tomorrow is his big day and I can't wait.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Screen Time

According to Neilsens statistics, children aged 2-11, in the year 2009, spent at least 28 hours per week in front of a screen of some kind.  That’s more hours per week than in a classroom, talking, eating, or playing.  This does not even account for what likely is an even larger number by the 12-18 year old group.  This is becoming a reality of our world, you have to be able to use the cell phone and the computer to communicate well.  How much is too much though?  Are we losing the ability to communicate effectively and face to face (and those two often go hand in hand)? 

You may remember your early days of messenger and emails and message boards.  You offended and were offended very easily, this was an evolving technology and we didn’t know how to deal with it. 

Sadly, our children are growing up with technology and we assume they know how to use it.  We don’t recognize that the ability to use the technology is not the same as being able to handle it.  Teach your children to talk when they need to talk and text or message when its appropriate.  Teach them that arguing things out online or via phone messages is not an effective way of dealing with important situations.  More will be said about texting later.  

Screen time, its here to stay, but we own it, it doesn’t own us.  Or our kids.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Be the best dad you can be for your kids.

Be the best dad you can be for your kids... I guess that’s really the theme for this whole blog, but, I was thinking about the specific wording which headlines this post.  There are two ways to think about that sentence because there are two nouns. There is dad, and there is child.  There is me being the best dad I can be.  There is me being the best dad I can be for the child(ren) I have.

Think about it this way.  You have a boy who loves art.  You don’t love art.  You have no talent for art as far as you’re concerned.  Being the best dad you can be, you learn to love art, you learn to be better at art.  Being the best dad you can be for your kid, you encourage him to be the artist.  You pursue what is best for them, not what you wish they would do.  

How do I project my desires onto my children?  Do I live vicariously through them?  Do I allow them to be who they are?  

Friday, February 03, 2012

Five free things to make an indoor day with your kids enjoyable

Today’s post is a list of free wintry/rainy day ideas to do away from home.  I wrote this post for a few months ago but I’m splitting it up here for your enjoyment.  Next Friday will be rainy day ideas to do at home.

          1.)        Head to your local library.  New books, new music, new movies.  You will soon have lots of novel (excuse the intentional pun) items to entertain for hours.

          2.)        Indoor playground.  Some fast-food restaurants and malls have indoor play places.  Is the energy level building at home?  Let them burn it off at someone else’s place!

          3.)        Play date.    New toys and new personalities make it far more interesting to go visiting than to sit at home arguing with the same mom or sibling!  Plus, mom or dad enjoy the benefit of adult conversation and a good hot drink at the same time.  Don’t forget to reciprocate next rainout.  Invite your hosts to your place and watch the forecast!

          4.)        Scavenger hunt at the mall.  Depending on the age of your kids you can come up with easy games, like finding “things that are green”, or if they are older, “things that start with “j” or “something to give to Uncle Ben for Christmas.”  You can make it as unique as possible without even entering a store.

          5.)        Volunteer somewhere.  Is there a local seniors’ residence where you can go?  Could the local SPCA use help?  Is your church in need of cleaning their nursery toys?  Food bank?  An older or needy neighbor?  What better way to clear the gloom from your day than to brighten someone else’s!

What are some tried and true ideas that work around your home?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The myth of quality time

There is quality time.  I understand the concept.  A line from a song from the tremendously underrated but superb Chagall Guevara comes to mind. 
             Daddy’s gone AWOL, absent without leaving.

So yes, just being there isn’t enough, there is such a thing as quality time and we should be striving for it with our children. 

The issue to me though is that we use it as an excuse for checking out too many other times.  If I just spent twenty great minutes with my kids (“great” as defined by me too often.), that becomes an excuse for checking out for the next 24 hours.  Why?  “Its quality, not quantity.” We’ve heard it so often that we forget what it means and make our own definition.  Being selfish, I then allow myself to spend 23 2/3 quality hours per day on myself or work.  When this becomes a pattern, not an exception, we’ve lost perspective, and our kids are losing dad.  Chagall Guevara continues in their song I referred to above:

I swear if he ever really held me,
they’d have to pry me off with the jaws of life.

“You don’t understand, you don’t know my schedule, my stress.  I have needs too you know.”

I do know.  At least somewhat.  I too am a husband, dad, employee, volunteer.  I also know that our culture teaches us to take care of number one first.  When you had kids, you agreed to give them your best.  They didn’t ask to come into the world, you asked them. 

Lets try to spend a week giving more time, and see how that works.
Here's a clip of Chagall Guevara live in England a few years ago.  Don't listen if you don't like it a little loud and in your face!