Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Standing Up to Dad

Another great post worth a read from Good Men Project: Standing Up to Dad. If you haven't noticed... I really like this blog and highly recommend them for daily consumption.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall... Talking about Beauty.

This article by Emily Heist Moss which was shared on The Good Men Project blog was one of the most impactful pieces I have read on fatherhood and the importance of our behavior and speech to our daughters. Being a good father means thinking about what we say and how we interact with the world around us and remembering there are little eyes watching us... closely. The piece focuses on self image and how family and fathers in particular can shape our daughter's opinions of beauty.

"So how is a good dad to avoid adding to the barrage of corrupting messages your daughter receives every day? Start close to home. Think about what she hears from adult women around her. Do her mother, older sisters, or aunts discuss looking fat in front of her? Do they pinch themselves, complain about how they look, or crash diet? Does her grandmother tell her that she needs to watch her figure? Girls’ and women’s bodies are unfortunately considered open to “constructive criticism” from strangers and loved ones alike."
Nothing in this article should discourage us from telling our daughters, or any other girls in our lives we may be impacting, they are "cute" or "beautiful". However, it is very important we offer other compliments more often. We must teach children we value their independence, athleticism, intelligence, and kindness, to name a few, far above their appearance. I also think this is an important lesson for children if we expect them to grow up to be respectful of people of other races and cultures... much of the discrimination in our world seems to stem from society's exaggerated focus on the importance of physical traits.

Reading this piece and thinking about the advice and the issues discussed within reminded me of the powerful Dove videos that came out a while back and is certainly worth revisiting:

Being a good dad, means a whole lot more than just doing "what feels right"... if we are serious about influencing our children in a positive manner, it is going to take a whole lot of patience, studying and the will to apply what we have learned.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Time out works & if you feel like hitting then you are the one who needs the time out.

I recently read an interesting article from Montreal Gazette which discussed a study from the Journal of Child and Family studies and the results which indicated time outs are an effective tool for parents. 
"Time out can de-escalate contentious parent-child situations, they found, and the more effectively and consistently it's used, the less it's needed."
Nothing really new there, but the article started me thinking about the contrast of physical discipline and other forms of parenting. Oddly enough, the most insightful view on this subject that I recall seeing comes from comedian Louis C.K. and his comedy special Louis C.K.: Hilarious. You can view the segment below the blog post (though I warn you Louis is not shy about dropping the F bombs and coming down on the offensive side occasionally). If you would rather bypass the cursing, which I actually find quite fitting in this discussion, the relevant transcript (edited) is here: 
"You're huge. How could you hit me? That's crazy. You're a giant, and I can't defend myself" I really think it's crazy that we hit our kids. It really is--here's the crazy part about it. Kids are the only people in the world that you're allowed to hit. Do you realize that? They're the most vulnerable, and they're the most destroyed by being hit, but it's totally okay to hit them. And they're the only ones. If you hit a dog they ^#!%i!# will put you in jail for that ^#!%i!#. You can't hit a person unless you can prove that they were trying to kill you. But a little tiny person with a head this big who trusts you implicitly, ^#!% 'em. Who gives a ^#!%? Just ^#!%i!# hit--let's all hit them. Hey, people want you to hit your kid. If your kid is making noise in public, <people will say>, "hit him, hit him! Hit him!"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One bourbon, one scotch and one baby?!

Hat tip to Nathan @ Dadwagon for pointing out this gem... it really is golden. This is the movie trailer for “Las Palmas” by Johannes Nyholm which can be described as nothing less than epic. We've known for years that toddlers have a lot in common with the drunken bar flies, but I had never considered that taking the former and casting one as the latter could result in an Oscar-worthy performance. Just watch it: 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mush! Mush! It's time for the Chiditerod!

Looks like I'll be teaming up with a great group of guys to "ride roughshod over hunger" in the 6th annual Chiditerod coming up on March 5th. Our team will be part of the larger consortium known as Hobo-Q 3 and our cart in particular will be Hobo Q 3: What about Bob?! The shtick being that we'll be dressed as characters from the movie and we'll be serving nothing but kabobs out of our grill carrying, super-mod grocery cart. I'm hoping we have room to strap someone on the front like this great scene from the movie, but I'm not yet sure how the logistics of that are going to work out. Depends on how "rollable" our cart is and how harsh the road conditions are, probably. Keep in mind, we still have snow on the ground from the groundhog day (another great Bill Murray movie) blizzard and if we are pushing our food laden cart across ice patches and snow... I'm thinking we're not going to want anyone's ass strapped to the cart, but we'll see.

If you would like to donate to the cause through our team, please click here. The event is fantastic and is a great cause to help feed the hungry! Last year they raised nearly $2500 and collected over 7 tons (yeah, tons... as in over 14,000 lbs) of food and this year is expected to be even bigger! Please give what you can, I'll share pictures of the fun after the fact! If you want to be a part of the event with feet on the floor when the magic happens, let me know and we'll find a spot for you.

Poppin' ain't easy, but it sure is fun...

Check out this article over at Bitch Magazine. Great perspective on stay-home Dads and Dad bloggers in particular. Also a great place to pick up some new blogs to read or conventions to consider.

"demographic shifts combined with an ongoing recession, high childcare costs, and a twist on the notion of family values are leading more and more hetero families to split childcare in nontraditional ways. Inspired not necessarily by gender deconstruction or feminism but rather by a belief that children are best cared for by a parent, a growing number of families are relying on dad to stay home, maybe because mom’s job offers better benefits, maybe because dad was laid off, or maybe because dad simply prefers it. These families may well be the true vanguard of a new vision of family life, and the children raised in these households the most interesting bunch to watch in the future."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Doctor Phil Bad

Doctor Phil gives advice to a concerned mother who asks about the behavior her 5 year old son is displaying in playing with Barbie dolls and wearing girl's clothes.
 "Direct your son in an unconfusing way. Don't buy him Barbie dolls or girl's clothes. You don't want to do things that seem to support the confusion at this stage of the game ... Take the girl things away, and buy him boy toys. Support him in what he's doing, but not in the girl things."
So... support your kid in what he does... unless you don't agree with it? Of course we shield our children from danger and work to correct anti-social behavior, but does dressing in girls' clothes present a danger to a 5 year old? Is there some inherent difference between a Barbie, which is just the likeness of a very unrealistic woman, and other dolls action figures your child might play with?  Last I checked none of them have genitalia anyway. If your child wants to throw a tea party or a masquerade ball for his/her toys does it really matter if the doll is stamped with the name Barbie or G.I. Joe? Play is play and children's imaginations are a lot stronger than the Doc gives credit for... if the kid wants to play with the toys in a "girl way" he's going to, regardless of what they look like. My daughter names her pretzels sometimes (fortunately, I harbor no animosity toward baked dough being referred to as Larry or Sadie). The Doctor does at least say these behaviors are not a precursor or an indication that the child is gay (although, I'm not entirely sure he doesn't see gayness as an undesirable outcome)... so why not just allow your kids' personality to develop as it will instead of teaching them every aspect of life should be managed and controlled in order to comply with society's expectations? I'm thinking a 5 year old is going to go through a lot of phases from dressing as a women, pretending to be a dog or a lion, dreaming of becoming an astronaut; just let the kid be himself, he'll be OK. Maybe he's going to grow up to be gay, heaven forbid!! Maybe he'll be the next Bill Cunningham or perhaps another Roddy Piper.

Gender rules are constructs of society... gender's only role should be to determine if two beings can procreate. If we looked at gender for what it is in this fashion, think how much better it would be for women in general, transgender people, gay people or basically anyone who doesn't fit the gender stereo-types. Sexism, homophobia, and any of the multiple forms of sexual identity discrimination are all based in the idea of gender identity and our need to put people in tidy little boxes. If a man wants to dress and act as "most other men" (whatever that means) great... if he wants to go another direction... fine. Same for women and children. We are all just people and we all just want to do our own thing. You notice how people from other cultures have a hard time assimilating in different societies? It's all part of the same problem. A person is not defined by the way they talk, who they love, how they dress... scratch that... people ARE defined in some ways by these things.. but we are not limited by them and should not be judged by them. When people of this world realize that we are all here trying to enjoy a little happiness while we are here then maybe we can stop hating on each other for the most ridiculous things. The only reason Dr. Phil's advice seems sound to some in this example is because they believe confusion about gender roles is a problem... I ask why? Why do we have these roles? What purpose do they serve? My daughter is going to be a strong person capable of choosing any path in life she wants and I'll be damned if a gender stereotype is going to stop her. If/when I have a son, the same will go for him. We need more men in teaching, in nursing and as stay-home parents (maybe I'm biased here)... Men are just as capable of caring and nurturing as women and women can be just as tough and hard-headed as men.

I did some digging on the Dr. Phil's positions around gender issues and find nothing to indicate he is homophobic and he seems to give good advice (and more here) about homosexuality and he even went after the Vice President of Midland School District in Pleasant Plains, Arkansas who made some terrible comments about homosexuals last year. I just think he got it wrong on this one and I can't say I've ever been a fan of his approach.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jedi Mind Tricks...

J Bean's grasp on the use of manipulation continues to grow. Her latest Jedi mind trick is employed by saying "Daddy Loves You" and flashing the sweetest smile that has ever graced the world at me when she is busted red handed getting in to mischief. This morning J Bean was conducting an experiment to determine if raisins fit more readily into a DVD player or a PS3. It seems the PS3 is more likely to accept raisins, but probably only because she did not figure out how to open the DVD player before I intervened.

I have to admit, I definitely prefer the puppy eyes and "Daddy Loves You" trick much more than whining which is another talent she excels in. I worry that one day J Beans attempts at distraction, manipulation and straight up mind control will surpass my ability to recognize them or resist.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We don't need a doctor... it's just a piece of bacon.

Today as I was cleaning up J Bean after her breakfast, I had to take a second look as I thought I was seeing an open wound on her head. In a flash, I was trying to determine how it happened and what action I needed to take. In that microsecond I was also wondering why isn't she crying?? Could this be a serious brain injury!? Oh wait... it's just a piece of bacon stuck in her morning hair-do. 

I know what you're thinking and yes... I ate that piece of bacon. We're talking about bacon here folks.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Like to Move It!

Wake up the kids and move it! On second thought, maybe you should wait until they wake up on their own.

The "I Like to Move it!" posts will be fun stuff for the little ones to join in on. I'm hoping these posts spark some impromptu dancing in the living room and serve as a reminder that being a parent is loads of fun and we need to remember to get off the computer, put away the bills, set those chores aside and forget our troubles regularly to just spend some time with our hands in the air and smiles on our faces with our kids. This installment: Will.I.Am - I Like to Move It (from Madagascar2)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Imagination (or a paperclip) can be a wondrous thing.

We're entering new territory now as J Bean's imagination surpasses my predictive capabilities. I used to be able to look around for dangers and potential threats in a room and feel pretty comfortable about what she could get in to. Now I might be in the kitchen working on dishes and peek around the corner to find that she has pulled off her socks in order to use them to dip into the cat's water bowl and then spin the sock around her head before putting it in her mouth in order to suck the tasty water out of it. The water bowl is blocked in such a way to prevent her from walking up to it, but not in such a way that you couldn't repel down to it or gain access with a pole vault. 

Note to self: Need to keep the cat, the cat's water, food, and litter into a child-proof safe as current precautionary measures are insufficient. Also aquariums, fish food and all electronic devices need to go in there. Also, I may need a bigger safe. 

It seems to be something new every day as J Bean's brain power, strategies for destruction, physical capabilities and height increase at a startling rate. It is time for child proofing part deux, which will be completely pointless. Even if I manage to cover everything in the house in Nerf, nail each item to floor and install a state of the art monitoring system... I am destined to fail. We have spawned baby MacGyver. J Bean could tear up an anvil with a powder puff (and a paper-clip). It's only a matter of time before she figures out how to make an incendiary device with which she can target me. My favorite part of catching J Bean tearing something up or finding the evidence afterwards is her wide eyed stare and the immediate innocent exclamation of "What Happened?!! Tear it Up!!". Reminds me of the scene below (audio only) from Black Sheep for some reason. 

(Link) View more Thomas 'Tommy' Callahan Iii Sound Clips and Chris Farley Sound Clips
Hope everyone has a great Sunday! I'll be trying to watch a little football (a once or twice a year rarity for me) while keeping at least one eye on my daughter lest she fashion a catapult to launch Disney figurines at me with. Maybe I should consider a helmet too?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kid Lord of the Sith

This video has been making the rounds and it's slated to be a Super Bowl commercial. I just can't resist the temptation to share it in case any of you have missed it up to now.

I don't fully understand the kids and Star Wars phenomenon, but I definitely support it! I've been teaching J. Bean to say "Luke, I am Your Father" for months and she finds it wildly funny. She also enjoyed having her own light saber for a few days before she demolished it around Christmas. I guess I should go all in and get her some other Star Wars Gear. Here are some of the goodies I've been eyeing:



Thursday, February 3, 2011

Play in the dirt... it's good for you.

Great article linked here from Whitney Wyckoff at NPR. Think twice before letting your daughters become too prissy and too clean! Looks like a little Tom Boy in your daughter's attitude could reduce her chances of developing certain health issues later in life.

Girls are expected to stay squeaky clean while boys are encouraged to play outside... and that might explain why women have higher rates of certain illnesses.
Women have a higher rate of asthma than men — 8.5 percent compared to 7.1 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They're also more likely than men to have allergies. And the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association says autoimmune disorders affect women three times more often than men.
 Not all young girls avoid dirt. Hannah Rose Akerley, 7, plays in a gigantic lake of mud at the annual Mud Day event in Westland, Mich., last July.

Stupid Baby Tricks

I have no background on this video, but I like to imagine this guy was on the verge of becoming a stay home father when he put this video together. Now he's probably reading dad blogs from his computer at work instead, because his wife changed her mind about that being a good idea... That's a baby, not a puppet! Nice timing though, I think the kid has a gift... just sayin'.

Baby's First Audition from alex on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Holy Moly, Me Oh My, You're the Apple of My Eye

Hat tip to Man of the House for this great clip of a Daddy/daughter singing duo! J Bean can really belt out the singing, but I'm going to need some guitar and voice lessons before I can help her reach fame like this.

I didn't have an "I Like to Move It" choice up and ready, and this seemed appropriate to lift spirits after my previous morbid post. We're preparing for a blizzard in Chicago, stay safe everyone!

Do you have a council of Dads?

A moving TED presentation from Bruce Feiller discussing his cancer diagnosis and his approach to help fill the shoes of "dad" when and if he succumbs to the disease. He decided to approach some trusted friends who would be willing to be a part of his twin daughters' lives if he were to pass... he was looking to form A Council of Dads.

This a fantastic idea to discuss with your friends before you find out something could be happening to you, after all, life is fleeting and none of us know when our time will come or if we will have any forewarning. I've already spoken with a friend of mine on my wishes that my online "diaries" in the form of my blog and social networking be saved for my daughter in the event I meet an untimely end. What does that mean anyway? Is there ever a timely ending? After seeing this, I think I'll have that foxhole conversation with him and some other friends too.

I hope my wife would find a new partner in life if she were to outlive me. (Only if I'm gone though, VeeVee, don't get any ideas!) There is no doubt that anyone she could love would be a wonderful and nurturing parent as a prerequisite, but it would be nice to know my friends (who share some of my philosophies and interests and who know me well) are willing and ready to step up and take an important part as role-models, advisers and confidants in J Bean's life. These thoughts also make me realize I would like that council of Dads to have a part in her life regardless of my presence or lack thereof. Children need strong mentors, both men and women, in their lives. Have you selected your council of Moms or Dads and spoken with them about how important they are to you and the commitment you seek from them? It takes a village.

Sorry for the morbidity, but that clip really got me thinking about this. I'll have to follow this up with a "I Like to Move It!" selection to lighten the mood. Life is short... make sure you are really living it!!