Category Archives: Parenting

Be a Yes Man!

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Sometimes I wonder how my 2-yr-old finds the will to wake up in the morning. Imagine waking up, minding your own business, reaching to touch those pretty holiday decorations when all of  a sudden, “No!”  Oh, ok.  Well I’ll just stick my hand in this porcelain bowl full of cool water.  That should be refreshi- “No!”  Wha?  Ok, well… these walls look awfully drab.  I should decorate them with the colors of the rainbow using these magic waxy sticks!  That should brighten everyone’s da- “NOOOOO!!!”

I wonder how much it would take to finally break a child’s sense of wonder and curiosity.  What would it take to make him content with all he knows so that he isn’t trying to figure out what happens when you stick a fork in an outlet.  (PLEASE don’t be that kid who puts a glow stick in the microwave. What a ding-a-ling.)  All joking aside, it’s certainly reasonable to create boundaries for our children to live in.  At the same time, giving your children opportunities to hear you say “Yes!” is one of the most empowering things you can do.

I routinely set up situations that allow me to say yes to anything my children ask for.  It doesn’t take much.  Take them out to an empty field on a rainy day.  DAD! Can I climb that hill?  “Yep!”  Puddles! Can we jump in puddles?  “YES.”  Mudballs! Can we throw them at you?  “N..Nnnggh… Nnnn… ugh… yes.” After giving them permission to be who they are, take note of how they respond to life the next day.  They are more content, less irritable, and trust you when you tell them things like, “maybe later.”  This practice isn’t reserved for children but for anyone who looks to you for leadership.  If you’re a manager, have special meetings where people are able to share ideas and make a concerted effort to not shut them down. If you lead any type of creative group, create moments where people are allowed to step out of the box without being discouraged.  People are willing to follow leaders who aren’t afraid of their people’s mistakes.  A person who practices saying Yes will not lose people the moment they have to say No.

TL;DR –  Create moments that allow you to say Yes.  It inspires those around you to dream and adds weight behind moments when you have to say No.

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I know you love me

Things got real the other night during an outing  with a few of my guy friends.  It started off casually enough but before the evening was over we were sitting around a table sharing heartfelt stories and life-lessons.  I’ll admit, it was probably my own estrogen level that tipped the scale. While most of the fellas there would chalk it up to cigar smoke and dusty vents, I’m sure I saw a few eyes glazed over as thoughts were shared.  All kidding aside, I was recalling the memory of my father who passed away on September 1st of 2010.  In all the years that I’d known him, he must have told me that he loved me thousands of times.  That was comforting enough while he was still with me, but on this side of events, what I wouldn’t give to have heard him say at the end, “Son, I know you love me too…”

It wasn’t until after saying goodbye to him for the last time that saying, “I love you” wasn’t enough for me.  I needed to know that he believed it!  To be sure, I was absolutely obnoxious growing up.  I’m quite positive that I gave my father every gray hair he ever had.  I wasn’t prepared to think that somewhere along the way my affection might not have been clearly communicated.  Being caught off-guard and a little surprised by this emotion, I now choose to make it a point to tell my children from time to time, “No matter what happens, always know that I know you love me.”  I let them know how much it encourages me to know they care for me.  They need to know their love for others is effectual and appreciated.

TL;DR – It strengthens others when they know their love is received.


Sissies and the Men Who Fear Them

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These belong to my 2-year-old son.  Why?  Because he loves Disney’s Frozen with reckless abandon.  As soon as I get home from work:  “Can watch Leddy Go, Dad?” I’m sure Disney backmasks subliminal messages into the main song. There’s no other explanation. Yes, my boy loves Elsa and Anna and I support him in his obnoxious obsession.

He plays with girl toys?! Some dads fear this would cause their boys to grow up effeminate. Some refuse to let their sons join ballet or sing in choir because these activities aren’t manly enough… meanwhile the mother, who has an absolute passion for the arts, is robbed of the opportunity of seeing her sons exercising their inherited talents.  The rationale varies, but the most common objection I hear is, “I don’t want my son growing up to be a sissy.”

Please realize that it’s not your child’s interests that measure the man, it’s your child’s heart.  Does my oldest son have an inherent desire to play with Barbies?  Nope.  Would he play with them for his sisters sake?  Yep.  Would he “man-up” and deny that it ever happened?  Absolutely not.  He’s altogether confident in who he isThis boldness is what wins the respect of his peers! He’s a defender who stands up for others and doesn’t distinguish between the outcast and the popular.  He’s learned to appreciate the interests of others and I couldn’t be prouder as a parent.

You can force your sons to play with G.I. Joes, but inwardly they’re pelting the world with frozen snowballs.  Give your kids the freedom to be honest about their interests… otherwise, they become the living embodiment of Conceal – Don’t Feel.  In my estimation, there’s no greater definition of weakness.

TL;DR – Prohibitions that are more about saving face than protecting innocence will inevitably lead to true frailty.


I want to hear you say it!

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There’s a reason why this image absolutely crushes me. It’s a short exchange between my daughter’s iPod and my iPhone. The twist? I wasn’t a part of this conversation. She texted me and when I didn’t respond in a timely manner she found my phone and responded to herself.

Anyone who knows me realizes that there are no deficits of “I love you’s” between me and my children, but there are moments when they need to hear it at precisely the right time. I went and whispered this in her ear while she was sleeping but what I wouldn’t give to have sent this at 8:01 PM. This was her way of saying that she wanted to hear from ME and I intend to let her know that I’ve heard her loud and clear.

All that being said, If my son ever catches wind of this he’ll start texting himself from my phone with things like, “Hey, more video games!” I’ll need to play this carefully.

TL;DR – Pay attention to the ones you love. Gauge their love tank and make sure to fill it regularly with things that are meaningful to them.


6 Ways to Winning Your Children’s Complete Trust

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“One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. ‘Oh, no,’ I said, ‘Disneyland burned down.’ He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.” – Jack Handey

My children trust me. While the quote above is funny, it’s a prime example of what not to do as a responsible parent. It matters to me that when I say “don’t move,” they freeze instantly… not because it’s absolutely hilarious when they’re running mid-stride, but because it might save their lives one day when some car comes careening through a parking lot. It matters to me that my kids don’t have to be anxious or wonder if I’ll be on time when I tell them I’ll pick them up from school. Most importantly, it matters that when I discipline them they understand it’s because I love them more than life itself. My children are responsive to me because they trust me.

If you’re new to the whole parenting game, here are 3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts – Six simple things I do to win my children’s complete trust. Some are easy, some are difficult, but all are important!

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Things NOT to do:

1. Never make promises that you don’t intend to keep. Keeping promises are a matter of life and death to a child’s soul. Don’t ever assume they’re mature enough to understand why you had to change your mind. They may learn to adjust to the disappointment, but their ability to take you at your word will erode quickly. I know life happens and we will all eventually fail, but don’t let it be because you couldn’t be bothered or because convenience demanded it.

2. Never let them see you ignore wrong-doing. If you have multiple children, never ever let them see you allow injustice in your home. Parents, if little Suzy ever hits you or breaks something that doesn’t belong to her out of frustration, every sibling in the house is watching to see what happens next. If you choose to let it go unaddressed, those watching may have difficulties learning to expect you to defend them if they ever feel threatened or wronged.

3. Never speak negatively of the other parent. I can’t stress this one enough. For all intents and purposes, parents, you are your children’s foundation – their rock. Even if you are single, unless your ex is abusive or unhealthy to be around, don’t let the young ones hear you speak ill of their other parent. It may reflect more poorly on you than you realize. From a young age, your children are engineered to see you as one governing force rather than two separate people. Any weakness you expose in your mate could easily become a mark against parenthood in general.

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Things TO Do:

1. Apologize when you are wrong. Whenever I realize that I’ve been wrong, I confess it to them. Every. Single. Time. Treat them like an adult in that regard. It doesn’t weaken their opinion of you. It reinforces the understanding that you are self-correcting and a safe person to be around. Most of the time they won’t appear to even care that you made a mistake, but they’ll take note that you’re honest with them and that they matter enough to address it.

2. Listen to them, even if what they’re saying is trivial: This quote says it all, “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” – Catherine M. Wallace

3. Most importantly, create boundaries and train your children to live within them. The fastest way to lose a child’s trust is to not establish your expectations and show them that you do it because you love them. Being indifferent to your kids’ behavior tends to communicate that you are indifferent to their safety. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that children long to be corrected and given boundaries. It inevitably gives them a sense of stability and freedom and they will learn to love instruction. Most of the time, children push boundaries not because they want more than they have, but because they need to know your reaction will be one that governs and protects rather than one that turns them over to lawlessness.

Let me know what you think in the comments below! Have you learned any techniques that could help others that are reading? Have you ever broken your children’s trust? How did it happen?

TL; DR – Be consistent, be just, be gentle, be humble, listen to them and always give your child safe boundaries to roam free in. Doing these things will establish a foundation of trust that won’t be easily shaken.


Confession: I don’t treat my kids fairly

I’m not kidding! From a young age, I’ve taught my children to not expect equal treatment at any given moment. I would intentionally go out of my way to get a small gift for one and not the other when I would come home at the end of the day. It might be the boy this time… or it might be the girl. It was an exercise I would practice in order to avoid unhealthy behavior in the future. I suppose I could have just shown them this image and avoided the potential scars just in case my plan backfired:

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The result? My children have learned to rejoice when good things happen to the other ones. It’s given me the freedom as a parent to plan a trip with my son for his birthday without my other children wondering things like, “Does daddy love me as much?” I get to take my daughter rollerskating this weekend without my son sulking in the corner. They know that I love them all equally and are able to lean into that truth without insecurity. They’ll never receive a gift or privilege and have to assume, “He only gave me this because he HAD to be fair.” Also, guess what happens the one time you literally aren’t ABLE to be fair. My children are content in my love and I couldn’t be prouder.

TL;DR – Don’t let your children associate LOVE with FAIRNESS. Love will be cheapened and fairness will eventually fail.


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