Category Archives: Dad

UNCOMMEN Dads Make Holiday Memories with Kids

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So you got a couple of weeks or maybe days to the holidays. Being a leader in your family means taking the lead for the holidays as well. That doesn’t mean you have to pack your schedule with tons of activities or spend tons of money to make those Christmas memories. Just don’t be one of those zombie dads you see walking through the mall who look in a total daze and completely unsure of what’s happening next. Truth time: many men are notoriously bad at planning around the holidays for social gatherings, work parties and planning out great activities for the family that can help create those lifelong memories. Time to change the situation.

Here are a couple of UNCOMMEN ideas. Instead of spending a lot of money on gifts, why not invest some of that money on creating an experience? Depending on where you live and age appropriateness, that might be a hike through the woods in the snow. It might be a Christmas talent show that you organize in your living room. It might mean piling in the car with hot chocolate and finding the best Christmas lights. There always seems to be that one place or neighborhood that has the best lights in your city or state.

Time for daddy daughter date. Get dressed up nice and take your daughter on a Christmas date! No matter the age, that one-on-one time can be something they will never forget. Same thing goes for your sons. It can go a long way in creating a holiday memory or a tradition for them to look forward to each year. Kids love building traditions!   

Time to serve. The holidays are a time to be very thankful for you what you do have. And one way to be thankful is to be giving and generous to others. Sign your family up for a service opportunity and do it together. Be generous with your time, money and effort to help another family in need. Remember the Christmas season originated with a gift to us all. And we give and receive gifts to remind each other of that. 

Time to remind your kids what it’s all about. Spend time with your kids at the dinner table leading up to the Christmas season talking about what’s most important about the season to your family and what it represents. These things are as much taught as they are “caught.”

Watch a classic Christmas movie with your kids; make popcorn, cookies, and drink hot chocolate. This is always a hit in our family. Have a family board game night. Try to play a different game that you only play at Christmas time. Not with your kids on holidays? Set up a time on FaceTime or Skype, or exchange letters or fun gifts.

About the Author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative based in Matthews NC.

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Class is in Session

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We all remember that feeling: making our way through noisy school hallways. Sounds of yelling, laughter, footsteps, lockers slamming, feet shuffling, doors opening and closing. The announcements burst through the loudspeaker, the bells ring, the hallway clears, and we sit down at our desks. Class is in session.

One of the things I’m challenged with as my kids grow up is, “how can I help them make sure they are getting the most out of their school year?” If you want to help your child get the most out of their school year, stop thinking about them returning to school and start thinking about your own. Children whose fathers are involved in their schooling early on show significant advantages in reading achievement and lower rates of grade retention. In nearly half of all two-parent families today both parents work full time, which is a sharp increase from previous decades. That means many parents are sharing the workload of working all day and running carpool duty as well. I encourage all dads to share the workload with school volunteering as well if your schedule permits.

While it may seem like moms appear to gravitate towards getting involved in and volunteering at the school, that doesn’t mean dads are excused. Research by the National Center for Education Statistics indicates that this is true even when a child’s mother is already involved in the school. A father’s involvement “exerts a distinct and independent influence” on a child’s success in school. What, then are the benefits of father involvement?

When fathers are involved in school, their children:

  • Learn more.
  • Perform better in school.
  • Exhibit healthier behavior.
  • Have fewer discipline problems.
  • Are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities.
  • Enjoy school more.

Here are a couple of suggestions if you find yourself pondering the best fit for you:

Volunteer in your child’s classroom. Volunteer with plays, special projects, or a regular literacy or math block. By assisting in your child’s classroom, you communicate to them that you care about their education.

Assist with an extracurricular activity. Assist with a sports team, or help out with homework club. When you help out with extracurriculars, you provide your child with opportunities that he or she may not have found elsewhere.

Attend school board meetings. Attending school board meetings are one of the best ways to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings at your child’s school.

Join the Parent Teacher Association. Joining your PTA is a great way to stay well informed, connect with teachers, and make your child’s school a better place.

Chaperone a field trip. Chaperone a field trip and share in your child’s excitement as he or she connects his or her learning in the classroom to the outside world.

Attend a school open house or “back-to-school night”. Familiarize yourself with your child’s teacher and the current curriculum. A lot has changed when it comes to teaching methods in the areas of math and literacy; take the time to understand those changes so when your kids ask you for help on their homework, you can assist them in it.

About the Author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative. As the father of two small children, he finds himself running the carpool line from time to time and trying to learn to be more involved with his kid’s education. 

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Fathers at Play

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The results are in. According to a recent global study, roughhousing is critical to a child’s development. Maybe the best gift you can give to your young kids is to roughhouse with them a little bit more. 

Dr. Richard Fletcher is the leader of the Fathers and Families Research Program at the University of Newcastle in Australia. In a recent ABC news story he said, “Rough and tumble play between fathers and their young children is part of their development, shaping their children’s brain so that their children develop the ability to manage emotions and thinking and physical action altogether,” said Fletcher. “This is a key developmental stage for children in that preschool area between the ages of about two and a half and five. That’s when children learn to put all those things together.”

Fathers who understand this are often found tickling, wrestling and throwing their children high into the air. Typically in our house, my wife is the one saying, “Not so high!”. Fathers are more likely to chase their children, sometimes as playful, scary monsters, and be more physical in their play with the kids.

Roughhousing is not just all fun and games. It’s also a place to teach your young children many important lessons such as restraint. Children who roughhouse with their fathers learn that biting, kicking and other forms of physical violence are not acceptable. They learn self-­control by being told when “enough is enough” by their fathers and when to settle down and call it quits, often right before bedtime. Sons and daughters both learn a healthy balance between being timid and being aggressive through this kind of play. 

Dad’ here’s your UNCOMMEN challenge for this week: put a note in your weekly schedule to roughhouse with your kids a few times this week before bedtime. And make sure it ends with lots of tickles, hugs, and high fives. (And maybe a few tears every once in awhile if you have multiple sons in on the action.) You will be amazed at how it will teach them lifelong lessons and how they will look forward to that with you. And if you aren’t careful you will come to realize how much fun it is and how it helps you bond with your kids. 

About the author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative. As the father of two small children, he is a self‐proclaimed undefeated champion in roughhousing his two kids in the last four years. Although, he knows that record is in jeopardy because the kids are getting stronger each year.

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10 life lessons on Summer Adventure with your Kids

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The Summer brings about all kinds of opportunities for quality family time with your kids. While you often can hear about mothers dealing with challenges of the extra free time kids seem to have on their hands, it’s time for Dad’s to step up and draw their children into adventures. Here are 10 Lessons compiled from a group of Dad’s in Charlotte, NC on lessons learned from taking kids on adventures from infants to the teen years. 

Lesson 1: Newborns can travel too.

Contrary to popular belief, babies can travel. They don’t spontaneously combust on an airplane. They don’t melt if you take them out in the rain. They don’t drown if you put them in a boat or canoe. They don’t fall apart with a little sand in their diapers at the beach. And they don’t break if you hike them up a mountain. Sure, those early months and years are a precious and demanding time, and you will need to adjust your activities, but you don’t have to stay at home to enjoy them. If you’ve both got some leave and are starting to argue over who does the next diaper change, then why not change your location instead. It’s an excellent time to explore the world together. Just start by getting away for the weekend. Or even going for a one-night camping trip. You might as well have no sleep in a place you’ll remember. 

Lesson 2: Toddlers are easier in the outdoors.

It’s a myth that being trapped in the house with the little cookie monster for days on end is a healthy situation for you both. Toddlers were made for stomping in puddles, for gathering up leaves in the woods, and for stuffing twigs into pockets. The outdoors is a great big playground. It’s also free. Why visit expensive fun factories or waste money on play barns when you can explore the world together at no cost? Take a wagon of snacks and see what’s out there. (Let me repeat this Dad’s: make sure you bring a lot of snacks! )

Lesson 3: Tweens and teens bring challenges wherever they are.

Everyone knows children can be challenging—tweens and teens especially—so why not let them sulk in a pleasant environment? Let them hate you while the sun beats onto your back and a light wind fans your face. Let them text their friends from a forest instead of phoning them from their bedroom. Help them broaden their horizons, take on responsibility and give them the chance to say what’s on their mind without the distractions of everyday life. Challenge them physically to climb a mountain or ride a long distance together on a bike. Spend time with them now, keep those communications channels open and you can build relationships that will survive almost anything.   

Lesson 4: The world is a natural learning environment.

You don’t need to teach them a language if they’re immersed in it already. You won’t need to teach them emergency navigation skills if you give them a map and let them figure out the way on a regular basis. A school is a great thing, but the world is the most efficient teacher there is. I can’t think of many better learning environments than a dad teaching their kids in the outdoors how the world works. Just think of all the subjects that crop up when you’re out exploring the real world. History, geography, science, math, art, and languages never feel like a chore when they’re studied as part of a journey.

Lesson 5: Family life is more fun when you’re together.

On a family adventure, you chat, joke and laugh. You share things. You have a good time. You have tantrums. But let’s face it: if there’s going to be tantrums, at least there will be others there to share the anger. So much of daily life is spent in separate rooms or even different buildings. Come together once in a while and get to know each other. Build up a bank of shared experiences that you can draw on. It’ll help to ground you for when more difficult times set in. Make those deposits now. 

Lesson 6: You don’t need all that stuff. Really, you don’t.

Always thought a stone was a dull, everyday object? Think again. Our family adventures always remind us that the plastic toys, the Nintendo DS’s and the GHD hair straighteners are not what life is all about. Life is about people. Ditch the stuff and try playing with each other for a change. If you’re worried about your children being stripped of their precious iPad, don’t be. You’d be amazed at what a pocket full of stones and a lake can do for a relationship with your kids. 

Lesson 7: Taking on new challenges boosts confidence.

Who doesn’t want confident children? Every time you go on a journey together, go somewhere new or try something different. You create an opportunity to learn new skills for yourself and the rest of the family. Learning to deal with travel and new experiences builds character and develops personal resilience not only in you but your children. You’ll discover that you and your family can deal with way more than you think and that’s great for everyone’s confidence, even if at the moment it’s a challenge.

Lesson 8: Adventures create strong reminders of their childhood.

Some of my best memories growing up are camping trips with my dad in Yosemite. Children grow up in the blink of an eye and let’s face it: a lot of regular life isn’t that memorable. But adventure ramps up the number of new situations, people and places we encounter. It stirs up emotions of all kinds, and deepens and tests relationships, which creates lots of strong, shared memories. We won’t forget the time we slept out under the stars, the sense of achievement when we climbed our first mountain, that time we got caught in a rainstorm in a canoe, or when we caught our first fish. And these memories of our adventures together anchor us to moments in their childhood. Add to that the photos, videos, diaries and blogs we have of adventures at every age and it’s sure going to be hard to forget what happened when the kids were growing up. Memories of experiences shared as a young family are the glue that keeps an old family together during hard times.   

Lesson 9: Getting out with the kids keeps you fit, not fat.

Middle aged beer gut setting in? Get on your bikes. Or up a mountain. The children will be fitter than you, and closer to their peak. Let that be a challenge, not a problem. They’ll thank you when their own middle age sets in.

Lesson 10: Parenthood is short.

You think it will last forever. It doesn’t. Make the most of it while you can. Be a UNCOMMEN dad. Take your kids on adventures. They will never forget it. And neither will you. 

About the author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative. As the father of two small children, he’s a big fan of ditching the iPad and finding time with kids on the bike, on a trail, or anywhere life allows family adventure.

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Raising a Legacy: A Father to Future Fathers

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The ultrasound bill came in the mail. I laughed. $650 is a lot of money for what amounted to 10 seconds of work. 

My wife and I have two sons: ages 5 and 3. There’s another child on the way. So, when we went to learn the gender of Kid No. 3, there was plenty of cheers from the peanut gallery for a little girl. Extended family, church friends, even Big Brother wanted a little sister. The fact that this is probably the last round for us (never tell God never) only added to the finger crossing. The ultrasound tech pushed some buttons and turned the screen towards me. “Okay, let’s see if we can get a peek,” she said (as I’m sure she says 20 times a day). But before she could even get the words out of her mouth, I knew. My wife knew. We’ve been down this road before. And even a 16­ week­ old fetus has a pretty clear, ahem, package. Well, at least all three of my boys. Family jewels, you might say.

Three boys. I can honestly and proudly report there was no disappointment with my wife and I. We had a hunch — a mother’s intuition and a father’s go­along­with­it — that another boy was in the cards. We were excited. Having three boys is a privilege.

Still, as I drove away from that appointment, the thoughts crossed my mind that I may never have a daughter. There would likely be no daddy­, daughter dances or pink soccer cleats in my future. My wife wouldn’t get to pick out frilly dresses or decorate pink nursery walls. There would also be no boyband posters. No heartbreak over Instagram drama (I’m told it’s a thing). No teenage boyfriends to scowl at. No weddings to pay for.

Hey, having boys will be so much easier, I thought. I know how to do this. Teach them to play baseball. Teach them to fish. Cut their hair short. Show them tough love. Keep them away from skinny jeans. I can do this.

Somewhere between then and now it hit me. I’m not raising three boys. I’m raising three men. Three future craftsmen or entrepreneurs or artists. Three future husbands. Three future fathers. Three future leaders. Three future grandfathers who will be looked to for their wisdom. And what will they do? What will they say? What childhood will shape them and tune them for this future? Gulp. That’s a large load, even for a 33­ year ­old pair of shoulders. How can I possibly teach them everything they’ll need?

I know this responsibility is equal, boy or girl offspring. My load would be no lighter if I were raising girls. But, for me, the notion that I’m a father raising future fathers is sinking in. For the next 20 years, my primary purpose on this planet is to raise a legacy. These three boys will be with me for a short time; then they will go out into the world as men to make a mark. And here’s the surprising part for me: even though I know I will falter, there’s a strength in this mission. Instead of wilting or fearing the impossible task of raising men, God is using it to teach me and push me onward.

In Proverbs 3, Solomon shares timeless lessons to be passed from fathers to sons. The advice is so basic and so simple. Yet, so often misunderstood. It’s not a lengthy to-­do list. Good thing. We’d all fail to accomplish that. Instead, it’s a reminder of the character an Uncommen man should seek and strive to display. If our purpose as dads is to raise a legacy, then our task is to model Proverbs 3 for our boys.

Uphold love and faithfulness. Acknowledge God. Fear the Lord. Honor Him. Accept discipline. Show mercy. Choose humility. Seek wisdom.

Oh, and no skinny jeans. Ever. (I’m pretty sure that’s in there, too).

Article written by Adam O’Daniel. Adam is Communications Director at Movement Mortgage; and also a Writer and Editor. At Movement Mortgage, Adam leads a top-notch communications team building our corporate communications, brand journalism and public relations from the ground up.

Prior to Movement Adam was a journalist for the Charlotte BizJournals, with experience covering finance, Fortune 500, technology, startups, economic development, human interest and sports. Connect with Adam here.

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Write A Tribute For Dad

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When I first heard about this idea of writing a tribute to my dad, I knew I didn’t have a choice. I had to do it, even though I knew it would be a stretch goal. I felt so nervous about it that I procrastinated way too long.

I first heard about the idea from Dennis Rainey from Family Life at a meeting of the Fatherhood Commission in the first week of December 2015. As leaders of the “Fatherhood” movement, his comments inspired us to take the simple action of writing down what dad has meant to us over the years. We were especially encouraged to present him this tribute in person if said father was still alive. As Dennis was showing this idea, I could see how it would benefit me. Through taking some time to think intentionally about and write down my dad’s contributions to my life, I would experience a surge of gratitude for the positive things. But, since my dad happened to be still alive, and we had a relationship, it would also give me the chance to encourage him by appreciating specific things that I was grateful about receiving from him.

In my case, I didn’t work up the nerve to write and present a tribute to my dad until his 74th birthday, which was almost eight weeks later. This was pretty risky because he was already quite ill. In fact, there were plenty of excellent opportunities to share it with him before then: including right away, Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, before he went in for major heart surgery, etc.

Knowing I had no business waiting any longer, I invited our family to come over to present my tribute to him. Now that I was on the hook, I sat down to write the day before our scheduled visit, writing these words at the top of the page: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME? Then I hit the worst writers block I have experienced in a long time. If I was ever to write something important, now was the time. My mind went blank at the magnitude of the assignment. I wondered, “how can I get out of this?”. It was too late now; there was no turning back.

At first, I tried to write long and flowery prose. To be honest, I couldn’t figure out how to decide what to try to include and how to say it. Then, an idea: just write bullet points. For me, this made it much easier. Just get little ideas out instead of trying to tie things together into tidy sentences and paragraphs. First, I wrote 10. Then 20. Then I walked around and wrote a few more. I was on a roll. When I was in the shower, I thought of about a dozen more. Finally, I ended up with 50. Not bad. Especially since I was kind of nervous about writing at all. I printed out two copies and went to bed wondering how it would go when I presented my tribute the next day.

When we arrived at my parent’s house, it was nothing like I had dreamed. My dad was clearly in the middle of something, and we ended up crowding into his office—six of us in a space where two would fit comfortably. I handed him one copy and started reading down the list, item my item. There was seriously no magic, no chemistry. He didn’t look at me once but instead kept his eyes drilled straight ahead on his computer screen. He sneezed once, and we helped him clean up. His eyes were watering pretty bad, but I wasn’t sure if it was emotions or a cold. I got to the end, feeling more relief that I had finished than anything else.

Now that my dad is gone (he passed away about ten weeks later), I am so glad that I took the time to do this thing which seemed so hard at the time. I am glad that I got to read it to my dad in person while he was still alive. I am glad that my kids got to observe this exchange. I am glad that I took the time to think intentionally about 50 things that my dad did for me over the 48 years of my life he was alive. By the way, the experience was so valuable that I repeated it just a few weeks later for my mom.

Some of you may not be ready to write a tribute to dad—yet. Some of you couldn’t think of 10 things to appreciate about your dad. I had far from a perfect relationship with my dad, but we did have one. And in some way, although he lost much of his ability to reciprocate as he became sicker, the experience of writing a tribute somehow made it easier for me to thank him for the things I did appreciate.

If your dad has passed, or you don’t have a relationship now with your father, or never did, there may still be some things that are worth valuing. One lady told me “I will never have the opportunity to meet my dad. But I know that he gave me good genes for nice skin and physical fitness.”  This could be the opportunity of a lifetime to see how to make the positives grow in your life and give you clues about how to overcome the negatives.

Tim Truesdale is a son, brother, and father of 4 who is still figuring it out. Want to join him on the journey? Check out his blog entries or subscribe for periodic content like this here. Be sure to check out practical ways to be an honorable father by downloading the UNCOMMEN app at uncommen.org.

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Check out the Honor Your Father campaign for more inspirational stories and ideas on how to honor your dad at honoryourfathertoday.com.

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