Category Archives: Dad

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

Summer

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

June13

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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Why Interview Dad?

June9

Ever since I was a kid, I liked to pretend that I was interviewing people. Seriously, I remember walking around with a camera and just asking people random questions. Maybe you never imagined interviewing celebrities like me. I would like to tell you about my experiences with interviewing my dad over the past few months before he died.

It’s said that every time an older person dies, it’s like a library burning down. By telling you about my experience, I am hoping that you are inspired to consider doing what I did, and collect some of that vast wealth of experience before it disappears.

Before the interview began, I shared the “why” with my dad. I told him that I wanted to capture things on tape so that the rest of his descendants and I could know a little more about him. I let him know that I wanted to ask him some questions about “details”—like places he lived. I also wanted to ask him about special memories. Lessons learned along the way that he would be willing to share to help us on our life path. He was more than willing to help. I got the feeling he saw the value of our work even more than I did.

There was a more personal reason I had to interview him that was too hard to put into words at the time. It continues to be imperative for me as a man to get a picture of my dad as a fellow man; what made him tick, what was he about, what helped him excel in some areas and contributed to his weaknesses in other areas? In short, I still feel the need to understand my dad from a somewhat impartial interviewer position—as an adult who contributed quite a bit to who I am—both in my DNA and in shared experiences.

In the beginning, at his request, I shared a list of questions with him. This turned out to be not a great strategy. He became more concerned with giving the “right” answers rather than only sharing from his heart. I wasn’t trying to trick him into sounding like a jerk like some TV interviewers do, but it was important to me that he share from his heart without a script.

Rather than creating one marathon session, we took the interview process in 30 or 45-minute installments. That helped both of us stay fresh and energetic about the project. I prepared 10 or 12 questions per session, but always gave myself—and him—permission to go down any “bunny trails” that seemed important at the time. The essential part was giving him time and an opportunity to share what he felt was important.

Interviewing my dad gave him an opportunity to reflect on the amazing things he did through his life in a focused way. In some small way, I feel the experience helped him to see the things he did well and the lessons he learned along the path. It helped me to see him as a real man; flawed and imperfect, warts and all, who took on many challenging assignments to give me the chance to stand on his shoulders.

The best questions will be the ones that you come up with yourself. Here are some good ones to help give you a jumpstart, provided by the Legacy Project.

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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Show Him Some Love: Send Postcards

June6

Sometimes the hardest conversation to start is with the person who means the most to me. When I am in the grocery line, I can carry on mindless small talk conversations with total strangers. But when it feels like the stakes are high, I can invest lots of emotional energy in thinking about building the relationship, but my additional efforts seem to lead to a microscopic result.

In our relationship, my dad was not exactly a phone call talker. He spent lots of time on the phone for his job. So, I guess I can understand why having long heart-to-heart conversations over the phone were difficult for him. I think our average phone call lasted a mere 60 seconds.

Talking in person didn’t always go as well as I would hope, either. When there was a group around, it was hard to feel like we were really in sync. He was the life of the party, with the kind of contagious deep belly laugh that you could hear from two blocks away. Literally. On the other hand, I am a confirmed melancholic, preferring long and deep conversational connection with one or two people at a time.

But when we were alone together, the conversation wasn’t always the easiest either. Over the years, it felt as if we got better at finding streams of conversation that kept us both engaged. But it still felt like a challenge when I was focused on deliberate communication with depth, and he leaned toward light conversation with humor.

This is how I found the value of postcards. When I was a young dad, I experienced a moral bankruptcy and walked out on my wife and two very young children. When I split up the family, we ended up more than 1500 miles away.  Although I was committed to staying in a relationship with my kids, we could only spend time together every few months. And they were too young to engage in much of a conversation over the phone.

One of the books I read about being a dad from a distance recommended doing the postcard thing. They are colorful, easy to carry, easy to send, they don’t create an expectation of long and detailed communication, and they can be collected to serve as a method to connect with the heart over the long term. I tried it.

Whenever I was traveling, I stocked up on postcards from wherever I was. When I saw a series that could be of interest, I bought it: bears, US States, women in science, you name it. I rarely paid more than 50 cents per card, and because I was buying in bulk, I routinely could find them for 20 or 25 cents each. By the time I threw in the stamp, I was always out less than $1 to purchase and send the card. Then it just came down to writing and sending them—once a week, or even more frequently if I was traveling.

How did it go over? I had a few days with the kids when they were six and seven. They brought a lunch box with them that was FILLED with postcards. They told me that was only some of the collection they had saved at home.

Since I had such great success with the kids, I decided to try the same with my dad. Even though we had lived in the same city for the past 18 years, I periodically sent postcards to him.  My efforts intensified as he got closer to the end of his life.

Would you guess that they made a difference? Virtually every week I heard from either my mom or my dad about the postcard I had sent.

If technology has advanced so far these days, why send postcards? With the proliferation of email and the explosion of texting, why take the extra time to purchase, handwrite, find a stamp, and send a message in such an archaic way? In my opinion, each of these so-called barriers only increases the unique value of doing it. In fact, the handwritten aspect could be the most critical factor. Other than face-to-face conversation, I find it to be the most personal form of communication. Whether or not it’s true, it feels closer to the heart than emails or texts.

It’s super easy to get started, and it’s so inexpensive. Next time you see inexpensive postcards for sale, pick up a few. Then get to the Post Office and pre-stamp them. You can even go through and pre-address them all at once. The hard part is done. Then, just put it on your calendar—so you pump it out the same time each week—pop it in the mail, and you are finished.

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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