Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Question of Why

It came out of nowhere. One day, our daughter was taking everything we said at face value. And then, all of the sudden, she asked that question that parents everywhere dread - Why?
Caylah, have a seat and eat your dinner, please. Why?
Caylah, let's go put on our shoes. Why?
Caylah, don't throw your brother out of his crib. Why?
And it goes on and on.
Dads, if you've gotten to this phase yet, you know how stressful it can be. The last thing I want to do is give the age-old answer - "Because I said so," right? But that means that I've got to come up with a quality answer in a split-second so that it sounds legit, and even then it might be met with a "why?" as soon as the words have come out of my mouth.
So right now I'm perfecting my answering reflexes. I've found that if you stretch out "becaaaaaaauuuuusssseee" it does, in fact, buy you time to actually invent an answer that does sound somewhat satisfactory. "Ask mommy," is also effective, but, surprisingly, can only be used sparingly.
Seriously, though, it's cool to see Caylah move into a new developmental phase. Conversations with her have more depth than they ever have before, and watching her process a response or thought is pretty amazing. So as the "why"s keep coming, I keep telling myself that this is a good thing.

Thankfully, we haven't gotten into the tough "why" questions yet. With the recent tragedies in Boston and West, I'm sure a lot of older kids are asking those "why"s that begin to shape their view of humanity, God, and themselves. For now, however, we're just doing good questions about rules and regulations at home.
I just hope my answers are just as good.
How about you? What strategies do you have on those "why" questions?  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Finding Time

My house is up early today.

No real reason why. And even though our kids can't/don't get out of their beds until a decent hour, the cooing from Caden's room and the singing from Caylah's can make for a lot of "action" around the house.

Even when it's a calm morning, though, it's difficult for me to find time to spend in quiet. Between getting ready for work, comparing daily schedules with my wife, and getting the day started with the kids, alone time - much less quiet time - is tough to come across.

I have been telling myself that it's just the stage we're in. It's because our kids are so young and require so much of our attention that I have an excuse to not worry about setting that time aside now. Once they get older, it'll be easier. The problem was that I was talking with a woman who has two teenagers and she was bemoaning the same reality that I was - making sure her kids got up, and taking them from here to there, and getting them through their day - that was making it tough for her find that solitude as well.

I guess it's just a matter of doing it...somehow. Getting up early, or stealing away midday, or grabbing time at night. Rarely will quiet time just fall in my lap, but needs to be something I pursue. It's important for me, and for my family.

How do you make that time to spend in solitude or quiet as a dad with small kids? Why is it important to you?

Monday, February 18, 2013

The One About the Magazine

Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue arrived at my house last week.  Upon receiving it, a few questions came into my head:

1) Is a magazine with women in swimsuits really THAT big of a deal?

2) Does it REALLY affect my effectiveness as a father?

3) CAN I just read it for the articles?

I threw it away, but the questions lingered.

What about you? How would you answer those questions?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The D2BD Guide to Potty Training

Warning: The contents of this post might be a little graphic if you have no kids. If you are easily squeamish of bodily functions or prone to giggling out loud of embarrassment, this might not be the post for you. 

A couple of months ago, I talked about being freaked out by potty-training my daughter. I'd heard my fair share of horror stories, and was not all looking forward to the possibility that my little girl would be adding to those. Right before Christmas, however, we just went for it. We hunkered down for a couple days, and, lo and behold, it was success!! I couldn't believe it. So, in the spirit of, brotherhood, I wanted to share what worked for us (and what didn't), cuz, as the amazing father GI Joe said, "Knowing is half the battle!"

We did a few things to prep on the front end. I mentioned here that we got a Dora the Explorer potty to go on top of our normal toilet, which got her excited. We actually didn't buy the small potty to put in the kitchen - just stayed with the add-on. We also bought some underwear and showed that to her ahead of time, as well as borrowed some books from our neighborhood library about going to the potty.  We bought an Elmo potty training book that had a chart in it, which we taped up in our main bathroom for Caylah to put a sticker on whenever she at least tried to go potty.

Our neighbor happens to be a child behavior analyst, so she actually had a schedule that she's used on her clients, but it was pretty much a carbon copy of what's in this book. Here's the deal with the schedule. It's intense, but stick with it. Dads, if you work, do it over a weekend or take some time off during the week, or else your wife will go nuts trying to do it on her own, and you definitely don't want to come home to that. Or, if you're a SAHD (and especially if you're as results-oriented as I am), you'll want to have your wife there. You pretty much don't leave the bathroom for at least the first half day.

But here's the best thing we did during this process. Admittedly, it started as a fluke. My wife threw something out about a "potty fairy" that was going to come visit our house the night before we started. We hadn't talked about anything like that, but I guarantee you it was the Lord speaking through my wife, because that got our daughter so excited to use the potty. We had a little box of small trinkets that Caylah could choose from if she actually went, not just sat on the potty, that the potty fairy had left for her. And on Day 2, the potty fairy came back to refill the gift box, and really wanted her to stay dry. If y'all don't mind bringing imaginary beings into your house (i.e., if you're doing Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc), this is a great one to add!

Finally, a couple of tips. First, there will be accidents. And it's ok. We still have accidents every once in a while. It's not at all telling about your ability to potty-train. It's a process. Second, stick with it. It will be frustrating, but coming from someone who's on the other side, the process is worth it. Lastly, encourage, encourage, encourage. It's tough not to get completely exasperated when there's a massive puddle on the carpet, but that positive reinforcement will go so much further than getting visibly upset at them. It was tough for me to separate getting mad at the action from getting mad at her, but it's crucial to the success of potty-training.

If you're about to dive into potty-training your own son or daughter, I hope this helps. If you've already gone through it, I'd love to hear some tips from you.

What else worked for you? What didn't work for your process?

Good luck!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Father of the Year?

A buddy of mine brought it to my attention on Monday that The Father's Day/Mother's Day Council, Inc is going to be giving one of its Father of the Year Awards to Bill Clinton at this year's awards ceremony in June. After I got over the massive affront of not being picked myself, I started to do a little digging. I mean, political leanings aside, I never thought of our 42nd president as the "fatherly" type.

But, maybe I missed something. Between all of the media attention given to helping with Obama's re-election campaign and Hillary's blood clots, maybe there wasn't room or time available for the press to write about President Clinton's paternal relationship to his 32-year old daughter who got married over two years ago. Maybe he's on Chelsea's speed dial for advice on marriage. Maybe the daddy/daughter relationship had gotten really strong since Hillary started posing for texting memes. Who knows?

Well, I didn't find any of that. What I did find, however, is the criteria the Council uses to determine who is the most deserving. Dan Ortwig, the Chairman of the National Father's Day Committee (the division of the council who actually confers the awards), pointed out Clinton's "profound generosity, leadership and tireless dedication to both his public office and many philanthropic organizations." Every article I read about this - this was the only reasoning given for why Clinton is getting the award.

Really?? Correct me if I'm wrong, but what it seems like is that because he worked really hard and gave away a lot of money, that makes him a good father?? Forgive the repetition (and use of multiple punctuation marks), but...Really??  I'm sorry, y'all, but I'm lost. If the organization that promotes Father's Day is using this sort of thing as criteria, no wonder we dads are in the situations that we're in.

Oh, and in case you're wondering who won last year, thinking this year is just a fluke, it was Shaquille O'Neal.

What would you use as the top three criteria for this award?
Who do you think the FOY award should go to?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Don't Tell Mom, the Babysitter's Dead

In case you weren't aware, I'm in the middle of a job transition. My last day at my previous job was December 31st, and I'm still looking for where my family and I would go next. As a husband and father, this time in my life contains many implications, both positive and negative. One of the great ones is the amount of time I can spend with my family that has increased exponentially. Over the past week and a half, I've been able to go on numerous daddy/daughter dates, take care of the day-to-days when my wife was sick, and various other things that I wouldn't have been able to do (as easily) previously.

I was asked a very interesting question the other day, however, because of my new phase, that has caused me to do some reflecting. I had someone ask how it's going being a "full-time babysitter" to our two kids. I know this person believes that I am a fully-capable, dare I say, very good father, and so the question was not meant to be demeaning or belittling, but the terminology was interesting, nonetheless. I have come across articles like this or this that speak to the appropriateness (or lack, thereof) of the "dad as babysitter" mentality before, but had never come face-to-face with it myself.

Putting that babysitter label on fathers does, in fact, cause us to be looked at as secondary parents in the raising of our children, as if I'm really nothing more than a stop-gap at worst, or, at best, an acceptable alternative when their mom can't be with them.

And as vehemently as I disagree with that, I gotta admit, there are times when I see myself in a very similar vein. There are times when my wife leaves, and my main goal is just to make sure my kids don't die before she returns. Feeding them is a bonus, but as long as I don't cause them irreparable harm in the next two hours, then I've done my job. Granted, those times are fewer and farther between as I've had a number of parenting successes, and am also blessed to be married to a woman who is constantly encouraging me as a father, but that self-doubt still sneaks in.

Dads, if you're reading this right now and nodding your head in agreement to the struggle, hear me when I tell you that you are more than just a babysitter! You are a father! Next to husband, it's the most important role we will ever play, and I firmly believe the Lord would not have called you to it (which He has if you have kids), if He were not going to equip you to carry it out in an amazing way. So be more than a babysitter today. Dare to be Daddy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Daddy

Whew! It's been a hectic past month. Between potty-training, our first Santa-ed Christmas, and a baby that is now eating solids (all of which make for great fodder for future posts), the blog has fallen by the wayside.

But now that it's 2013, I'm joining in with the throngs of people who are vowing to start anew. It's resolution time, and that hasn't been lost on D2BD. I've been doing this blog for about six months, and, from what I've read, this is the point at which a lot of bloggers quit. No doubt, this can be tough, but one of my resolutions for the year is to stick with it. Like I wrote when I started, this community of dads is too important to let slip away.

My other resolution will be much tougher. I resolve to be a better husband and father, I'm sure many of you reading this want the same. The question is, how? It's one thing to say it, but, as so many resolution-ers out there know, carrying it through past January can be pretty tricky.

So I'd love to have some ideas shared here. For me, I'm planning to do a marriage retreat with my wife later this month. A time for the two of us to spend some concentrated time away from our kids to just work on our relationship. Not that we have massive issues to work on, but a good shot in the arm of how-tos on communication, conflict management, etc, never hurts. I know that will help in my effectiveness as a father and a husband. I also want to start reading to Caden on a nightly basis. We started that routine with Caylah at about six months, and it has proven to be a really good bonding time for the two of us.

Here are some that I found on All Pro Dad that are pretty good. They're mostly for families with older kids, but good things to think about, nonetheless. Maybe this will spur us on to other great ideas!

Happy New Year from D2BD!

What about you? Are you resolving to be a better dad and husband this year? What does that look like for you?