Friday, May 22, 2009

A Fathers Day Challenge

More than 40 fathering organizations are making a statement this Father's Day—the 100th Anniversary of Father's Day. I'm behind this idea as a way to make visible the huge number of dads and stepdads deeply committed to our kids.

We're enlisting 1,000,000 dads to make a public commitment to their children. We want our kids to know that together, all of us dads are working for a more promising future for them, and we're committing ourselves to make that happen by living the five points of the 2009 Father's Day Commitment

  • I will love my children
  • I will coach my children.
  • I will model for my children.
  • I will encourage other children.
  • I will enlist other dads to make and live the 2009 Father's Day Commitment.

We have less than a month until Father's Day. Will you help us reach 1,000,000 dads by making your commitment at and then forwarding this blog to every dad you know?

You can use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and every other method of social networking, too. Just direct folks to to make their commitment and to learn how to begin fulfilling it.

On that same page, you can also learn how to upload a commitment counter to your webpage or blog, or the website of your company, organization or faith community. That way you can direct your recruits to your own website and keep track of how many dads you have enlisted. You can (if you;re into this sort of thing) even challenge someone else in your community and see who can enlist the most dads. Go for it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tips for Dads to Promote Girls' Sports

Why should your daughter or stepdaughter participate in sports? To be more healthy (in mind and body), feel better about herself, learn new skills, stay off alcohol and drugs, defer sexual activity, and, oh yeah, TO HAVE FUN! Sadly, some people worry that girls are too delicate, unskilled, or inadequate to play sports. To which the smart father and stepfather reply: "Baloney." Here are some tips to help you provide the kind of support your girl needs. 1. MAKE SPORTS FUN FROM AN EARLY AGE. Keep a relaxed approach when she's young. For example, have athletic-theme parties, like pizza and kickball.
2. DEMONSTRATE INTEREST IN HER ATHLETIC ACTIVITIES. Attend her games and other extracurricular activities. If you live away from your daughter, be sure to talk with her after every game to hear how it went.

3. GO TO THE GAMES TO CHEER. You can cheer hard for your girl, and then cheer for everyone who is playing. Every kid (and parent) should remember why they call it "playing" a "game."

4. LEAVE COACHING TO THE COACHES. Tina Syer of the Positive Coaching Alliance says, "You're there to fill the kids' emotional tanks and make sure they bounce back from mistakes, not to tweak their throwing motion or tell them where to be on the field." Be smart about choosing coaches tuned in to her age and skill level. If there's a lack of adequate coaches, sign up to volunteer!

5. BE A MODEL FAN. Think about what you would look like on the sidelines if someone were videotaping you instead of the game. Be sure you (and your daughter) would be proud of what you'd see.

6. ASK, "WHAT DO WE EACH HOPE TO GET FROM THE EXPERIENCE?" Then tell her what you hope she gets. If you don't talk (and listen), she may assume all you care about is a winning record or how good her stats are. Make sure she knows you want sports to be a fun way to make friends, test herself, be healthy, and feel good about herself.
7. LET HER PLAY WITH BOYS. In Raising Our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem And Save Girls' Lives, authors Jean Zimmerman and Gil Reavill suggest utilizing coed or single-sex programs according to your daughter's comfort level and what will contribute most to her learning and growth.
8. HELP HER USE "MISTAKES" PRODUCTIVELY. When she messes up, she'll look to you first. So illustrate how to put mistakes in perspective by 1) showing her how to let go of them & 2) encouraging (not demanding or requiring) her to use mistakes as motivation to improve her skills.

9. MAKE SURE GIRLS & BOYS HAVE EQUAL SPORTS OPPORTUNITIES. Support Title IX and encourage school and other sports programs to be aware of and promptly address inequities in opportunities and resources.

10. KEEP A RELAXED, FUN APPROACH. Team sports teach girls how to be self-reliant while also working collaboratively to be competitive. If she loses interest in sports, you and she can still be physically active together--and there are plenty of other ways to relate and have fun as a Dad-Daughter team.
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Answering "Where Do Babies Come From?"

I just heard from the dad of a 6 year old daughter who was interested in knowing where babies come from. He says that his wife decided that, since her parents never told her anything, she would be honest with the girl:
Mom did not give her the mechanics of how a baby is created. Instead, when my daughter asked how a baby was made, she said that she is too young to know and that she would tell her later. So, what is the big deal?
Well, my neighbor had to break up an incident where my daughter was telling his daughter where babies come from. He said that his daughter was on her back with her legs spread (clothes on) and my daughter was kinda in the position of being a doctor. There was no touching, just pretending to give birth with a baby doll.
I was and still am not sure how to really handle this. I told my daughter that "Some parents do not want their children to know where babies come from and that it is not your job to tell them. The only person you can pretend with and discuss babies is your mother."

My daughter is such a sweet girl and doesn't appear to be "sick" in the least. I think she is fascinated by knowing that babies are in the bellies of the mom. I am concerned that she will do it again as she is passively hardheaded.

Did I say the right thing? Should I have said something else? What if it happens again?
Any thoughts?
My thoughts are that he responded very wisely to his daughter. Her behavior, as described, indicates normal, healthy curiosity. He told her that other families have different ways of handling things like this--just as they do with stuff like how much TV or ice cream their kids can have.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Respect You Give

You’ve been reading a lot lately about my take on the most productive stance a divorced or live-away dad can take in terms of keeping strong bonds with his kids.

Many common problems during “visitation” (boy, do I hate that word; kids don’t “visit” their parents) occur the transition time when the child moves from one parent’s house to the other’s. Divorced dads often tell me that the mother will call to say that she misses the child, especially when the child has just arrived or has just spent the first day with her Dad. A wise dad named Chris had these reflections on that issue:
I had equal visitation, as long as I sent my check. My ex did that same thing not as a game, but out of her own insecurity. My kids responded initially as wanting to protect their mother. After a relatively short while, they got tired of having to “take care of her.” Especially when Dad offered a more sane alternative.
I didn't say “I miss you.” I kept it positive, and said "I'm looking forward to seeing you again on such and such day". I never used that to buy them, as much as to show them that I valued my time with them and allowed them to value their time with their mother without 'guilt'.
My kids got it pretty quick. Four daughters. My youngest, twins, just moved into their own house-dorm- as they prepare for college in the fall. So now I’m experiencing empty nest. But I have a real connection with them, and a great respectful relationship with them. Last week, one of my youngest got terribly ill, mono, and came to my home to get taken care of. She had no question of where she would get the caretaking she needed.
They scarcely want to talk to their needy mom, though do out of respect. Your children will decide what relationship you all will have with them based upon the respect you give them REGARDLESS of what the other spouse is doing.
What are your thoughts and experiences about Chris’ central point: “Your children will decide what relationship you all will have with them based upon the respect you give them REGARDLESS of what the other spouse is doing”? Share them with us in the comments below.