Archive for Home

How do you Foster the People?

It’s been a long time since I have written a post.  For all of my fans, all I can say is thanks for your patience.  My first post is a simple story about knowing what you are listening to before you promote it to your child.

There is a pop song I was fond of by a group called Foster the People called Pumped Up Kicks.  It has a good beat but I never really paid attention to it.  Over the weekend, I happened to hear it and placed it on my Rhapsody account.  The problem was that a lot of the words were difficult for me to understand.  Therefore, I went to my Iphone and downloaded a free app called Lyrics. (pretty convenient and I highly recommend it to all parents) Read more

How To Be An All Pro Dad

Today’s post is going to be a little different.  I don’t typically give plugs to organizations but I am going to make an exception today.  There is a national organization I am a part of called All Pro Dad.  This is designed for dads and their sons or daughters.  The national spokesperson is former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy.  Here is a link where you’ll find meetings in your area.  http://www.allprodad.com.

The crux of the group is for dads to spend quality time with their child.  The meetings are typically once a month to once every six weeks.  Last week’s theme was humility which is a trait that I could certainly use more work.

The meeting is a lot of fun as well.  We started it by watching this truly funny video.  I’m not really into rap music but this one made me laugh.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOKuSQIJlog

It continued with dads standing up in front of the group to announce one reason they are proud of their child.  The children really love the public praise from their fathers. I wasn’t raised with a father and my mother wasn’t a person to give a lot of praise.  I’m certain though my child loves the recognition I give him at this time.

During the meeting, I had an interesting moment.  All the fathers were asked to answer this question to their child.  Who was the most humble person we knew?  After thinking about it for a few seconds, I came to the conclusion that the answer is my wife.  I’ve always thought of her as a humble person but being put on the spot in front of my child was eye opening. These kind of moments makes All Pro Dad special.

The last thing we did before adjourning was a raffle.  The last prize was an All Pro Dad shirt in which I won.  Granted, I would have rather won the prize before the shirt which was a football signed by my favorite quarterback of all time Dan Marino.  Nevertheless, the shirt is super.  On the back, it lists 10 ways to be an All Pro Dad.  Here is the list.

1.  Love Your Wife

2.  Spend Time with Your Children

3.  Be a Role Model

4.  Understand Your Children

5.  Show Affection

6.  Enjoy Your Children

7.  Eat Together as a Family

8.  Discipline with a Gentle Spirit

9.  Pray and Worship Together

10.  Realize You’re a Father Forever

By the time the meeting was over, I felt like I worked with my boy on a great message, had fun, and took a step towards being a better person.  My child said he can’t wait to go again.  I think a lot of fathers would agree that they would like to spend more time with their child.  There’s not a doubt we will be at the next one!

My next article will be on Friday.  All my best to you and your family!

**********************************************************************************

Housekeeping Note

Over the weekend, I received my 1,000th “like” on my Facebook fan page.  It’s a great way to keep up with this blog.  Also, when I discount my book Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures, it is announced there first! You can log into Facebook and find my page at claytonpaulthomas.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

6 Parent/Teacher Conference Tips Not Often Heard

Parent- teacher conferences are a time where there should be a meeting of the minds.  Teachers should be able to lay out their case for the child’s progress academically, socially, and emotionally.  Parents should be able to compare what they are hearing to what is going on at home.  At that point, a plan should come together as to how to work with the child going forward. It should be the ultimate collaboration crammed into about 15 minutes.

When I was a teacher, I was meticulous about laying out my arguments about how a child was performing before a parent walked through my door.  Instead of dominating the meeting, I would lay out these arguments as quickly as possible in order to allow the parent to agree or disagree with my assessment.  Because I have been on both ends of the parent teacher conference table ( I was an elementary teacher for 7 years) perhaps these tips will guide you through a conference.

 

The first tip is for a parent to keep samples of student work just like a teacher.  This is especially helpful if there is a disputed grade in a subject.  Bring the student work to the conference and compare it with the work the teacher presents.

The second tip is to respect the knowledge of the teacher concerning your child but don’t take it as the law.  You have been around your child for years.  At this point, a teacher has had your child two months (give or take).  I’m not saying that teachers do not know what they are talking about.  What I am saying is that you know your child better than anyone.  There’s nothing wrong with trusting your instincts unless the teacher can present irrefutable evidence.

The third tip is to approach the conference as a problem solver.  The last thing a parent should want is to be lectured for 15 minutes about poor grades or behavior then sent home shamefully.  Let’s pretend there is a behavior problem in the classroom.  As a parent, you should be able to present a few effective methods you have used at home for handling discipline. If concentration is an issue, what do you do at home to help your child concentrate?

The fourth tip is for parents to understand that teachers aren’t the only professionals in the room.  All parents should be treated like professionals because when it comes to your child, you might as well have a PH. D.  If you feel like you are being talked down to or belittled by a teacher, you can choose to address it on the spot.  If you are not confrontational or if you have a situation that catches you off guard; going to the principal is always a good option.

My fifth bit of advice is to not get too excited or too depressed about the results of a parent/teacher conference.  A conference is simply a snapshot in time.  If a conference goes well, be happy for your child but understand there is still more work to do.  If a conference doesn’t go well, that’s fine in most cases.  There is  plenty of time to turn the problem around.

Finally, here’s the key once a conference has concluded.  Follow up with the teacher (in the next couple of weeks) by phone or email to make sure that the game plan from the conference is being implemented to everyone’s satisfaction.  Often, I had parents who I would not see again until the next conference 5 months later.  It’s much better for all parties (especially children) when the parent clearly demonstrates they are keeping their finger on the pulse.

I hope you liked today’s article.  Don’t forget that there are many other lessons parents can learn from my parenting book Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures.  Feel free to read the preface located right below my picture.  I hope the lessons you will learn from the book will serve your family well.  Here’s the direct link to the book from www.lulu.com:   http://tiny.cc/8gs8o

I also wanted to announce that over this past weekend, I receive the 1,000th comment on www.claytonpaulthomas.com.  For everyone who has ever cared enough to leave a thought on my website, I truly appreciate your time and effort.

My next post will be on Tuesday.  Have a terrific weekend.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Three Don'ts of Discipline

First, let me send a note of thanks to people who have sent parenting questions they would like answered on my blog this Friday.  For anyone who would like to send a parenting question- feel free.  My mind has not been made up yet as to which one I will answer.  The email address is tantrumstroublesandtreasures@yahoo.com.

Last Thursday, I wrote the Three Do’s of Discipline.  Please check it out at http://www.claytonpaulthomas.com/archives/550 because it leads directly into this blog. Today, I want to flip the script.  There are some things you shouldn’t do when disciplining your child at any age.  I realize that all rules have exceptions.  But, by and large, what you are about to read will save any parent from a lot of stress and headaches.

1.  Don’t discipline your child if you aren’t thinking two steps ahead.

Any chess player knows you have to outwit and outmaneuver your opponent in order to be successful.  Parenting isn’t much different.  Any parent should be able to talk to their child in such a way to get them to open up, calm down, or discipline to redirect him/her.  You never want the tail to wag the dog if you know what I mean.

What happens though is that parents get caught up in the emotion of the situation.  When this occurs, they start to lose their composure which is one of the greatest advantages any parent should have over a misbehaving child.  When a parent loses their composure, it’s much more difficult to think two steps ahead.  Mark my words.  Parents who discipline when they are not composed make mistakes.

2.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

This is a common saying where I am from.  I am using the phrase to mean to separate the overall good of the child from the bad behavior.  If parents were to chart the good versus bad things their children did, many would be surprised to find the amount of good in a child perceived as poorly behaved. Sometimes, parents get so consumed with a poor behavior that they fail to see the qualities of the whole child.  One of my strategies is to find (and file away) the good qualities of a difficult child immediately to combat the behaviors I may see down the line.

Let’s say that I see a child, who struggles controlling their anger, start to rev up.  I want to catch them before the wheels come unhinged and remind them of another time they were able to control their anger.  My theory is if they can do it once, they can do it again.  This tactic has worked countless times but it does take some quick thinking, patience, and self control on my part.

3.  Don’t allow children who struggle with discipline to stay idle.

This tactic is difficult and time consuming but is well worth it.  Children who struggle with self discipline need to stay busy as much as possible.  When they are idle, he/she is more likely to get into trouble.  Therefore, at dinner time, for example, I won’t cook alone if I have a child in the room who struggles with behavior.  The child may be helping me prepare the food, be put to a task (such as reading) or be sent outside to burn off some energy.

I can’t assume a child who struggles with discipline will magically “get it” one day.  What I can assume is that I will put in the time and training to assist as long as I am needed.  There are times, of course, when we have to let children go in order to evaluate what has been learned and what needs to be improved.  Sometimes, the child will misbehave and we have to start over from square one.  There are other times though they will do something right (help a friend, control their temper, etc).  This feeds right in with point two which is very exciting.

Here’s a final thought I’ll make about discipline.  Whether you are working with a “terrible two” or your teenager is testing his/her boundaries, discipline is essential.  Though it can be really hard work, there’s a big personal satisfaction to the parent who watches their “little hellion” start to grow up and implement the discipline that was painstakingly implemented.

I wish you well and can’t wait for Friday’s question/answer post!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Three Do's of Discipline

Housekeeping Note:

Welcome to my blog.  Thanks for the feedback on my slideshow presentation for Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures.  For those who haven’t seen it, click on the About the Book section located at the top of the blog.

Next Friday, I will have a question/answer blog.  Though I haven’t done this in a while, they are very popular and the parenting questions I get are thoughtful, serious, and sometimes zany (which I enjoy).  If you have a question about a real or hypothetical parenting situation, send it to tantrumstroublesandtreasures@yahoo.com.

Too often, parents think of discipline in terms of “How to get that child back for what he/she did” or “How can I punish my child sorry for all the gray hair he/she is causing me.” Although consequences/punishment can be a form of discipline, it’s better to think of discipline in an overall behavioral context.  Discipline is simply a means of teaching right and wrong.  When a parent uses discipline effectively, they can often solve a problem before feeling like they have to pull out their hair. With that in mind here are three do’s of discipline.

1.  Make sure your supervision coincides appropriately with the child’s age. For example- If your 3 year old gets in a drawer, finds a pair of scissors, and cuts their hair to the scalp while you were busy watching The View, I would worry more about you taking it as a learning lesson in supervision versus getting on the child for the inappropriate behavior.  3 year old children shouldn’t have that type of access to scissors nor the time to do the deed.

The same principal can be said of the 11 year old who is struggling in math.  If, for example, you know your child struggles in math and you don’t help them- how can you consequence his academic behavior?  Of course, if you do help the child and he/she still struggles, there could be a deeper issue and consequences still would not be warranted.  Contrarily, if they are not giving any effort to improve their work despite your due diligence, consequences may come into play.

2.  When a child misbehaves, reflect back to assess what you could have done better. Something I’ve noticed is that children don’t always mess up on their own accord without a reason (unless we are talking about toddlers who are in their own world).  When a child talks back to their parent, fights their sibling, or misbehaves in school, there’s usually a reason.  Although consequences may still be warranted, sharp parents will dig to the root of the problem to avoid a repeat performance.  In past blogs, I have referred to this as keeping your finger on the pulse.

3.  Turn down the burner before stirring the pot. When I cook spaghetti, I turn the burner on high, boil the water, and turn the burner back down before I place the spaghetti in the pot and stir it.

This analogy is used because something similar happens when discipline is needed with children.  When a child is angry and misbehaving, the blood is already “boiling.”  At this point, I have a couple of options.  I could decide to consequence the behavior on the spot or I could wait for the child to calm down while staying close enough to keep him/her safe.  Waiting is very difficult and sometimes takes an extreme amount of patience.

If I consequence the child on the spot, it would be like never turning the burner down on the stove.  Eventually boiling water will escape the pot.  Children are not fun to work with once things have gone this far so I typically take a different approach although I have the right to use either method.

I like to turn the burner down on children.  By this I mean my own voice is under control, I will be a good listener, and I will apply consequences (if needed) based on the facts of the situation.  With smaller children, some parents may choose to use intimidation to get a child to calm down an angry child.  As a child gets older though, they are less apt to be intimidated-especially during the teenage years.  Turning down a child’s burner before stirring the pot with consequences has been a more effective way of dealing with difficult children for me.

If you’ve noticed closely, all 3 suggestions focused on us- the parents.  Don’t get me wrong, children misbehave all the time and there are times consequences have to be applied.  Regardless, the most effective parents I’ve seen and worked with have the three do’s down to an art.  The ones who didn’t were typically confused with why they were the parent of a “bad child.”

I’ll write to you again on Tuesday.  Until then, have a great weekend with your family!

Enhanced by Zemanta

When Fear Isn't Enough

Fear can be a terrific motivator for a child.  It can drive him/her to clean their room even if they don’t want to.  It can make a child perform better in school (fear of failure or fear of peer embarrassment) than they would have originally thought.  It can also keep a child’s behavior in line during those push comes to shove moments.  Yes, fear can be a wonderful thing to have and a great parenting tool as well.  So, why can’t fear alone make a child be the perfect angel, get the best grades in school, and/or be the ultimate parenting tool?

I would honestly say that 90% of the children I’ve worked with (my own included) have feared me- at least somewhat.  But, fear has limits.

Here’s an example.  I can make my children clean their room any time I want.  It’s not difficult because most of the time fear is an external motivator.  My children don’t want to see me upset or receive consequences; therefore the room gets cleaned quickly.  But, if fear worked all the time, my children’s rooms would stay clean consistently even if I weren’t hovering over them.   It is possible to make fear an overriding motivator but only if I want to get a bit extreme.  For example, if I threatened to spank them each time I saw an unkempt room; that could possibly work although there are no guarantees.  I’ve actually never spanked my children.  My suspicions are that it would also take a few beating to get the message across.  Surely, there has to be a better way.  In this case, there is.

The trick is to turn an external motivator such as fear into an internal motivation within the child.  This may sound like high level psychology but I’ll bet some of you do this more often than you think.  Here’s an example in my home.

Desired Behavior: Putting on a Seatbelt

In this case, I created the great seat belt race.  I hate getting into a car and waiting for everyone to get in properly and get their seat belts on.  Therefore, we have competitions.  You may be surprised how often I come in last.  My 7 year old has been taught the safety of seat belts.  But, my 4 year old just wants to win.  The truth is I could use fear to get them to hurry up but I like my method a lot better.

Don’t get me wrong.  A little fear inside a child can be healthy as long as a parent understands its limits.  There are plenty of times I use it to get what I need.  My goal as a parent though is to teach, encourage, and model various behaviors until my children have an internal motivation to do them on their own.  It’s a long and lengthy process but one that is well worth it.

I will write to you again Friday.  Have a terrific week!

Sink or Swim (Part 2)

I hope everyone is having a terrific day.  Before I get into this post, I want to welcome the readers from the Feed Me Friday blog hop.  I’m happy you are here.  I also hope you will pass the post along to others if you know parents who could benefit from today’s topic.

Last Tuesday, I discussed how important it is to be vigilant around the pool or lake.  It would be a good idea to take a quick look at the blog if you have an extra minute in order to understand the particulars of this post.  http://www.claytonpaulthomas.com/archives/378

Today, I want to discuss my extended family and how they lost track of a two year old.  My grandparents had 16 children. (No, that is not a misprint).  In the area and time they lived, having large families was commonplace.  Of those children, 12 of them had at least 3 children each.  I have about 50 cousins.  But, one of my uncles (Cliff) died when he was two years old.

Years have passed and there are some variations of this story.  Regardless, what happened was Cliff found his way to the pond on my grandparents’ farm, fell in, and was retrieved too late.  His grave is next to the resting place of my grandparents.

For years, I have been a bit cynical of his passing.  I always wondered how so many people could have lost track of Cliff.  But, on the other hand, my aunts and uncles are very responsible people.  While Cliff was going to the pond, many of them were involved in various chores that are associated with a farm.

Any traces of cynicism left my mind permanently when my youngest child fell into the pool at Calypso Cove and stared at me with eyes wide open- drowning.  The thing is accidents will happen in the blink of an eye.  When our children are near water, we really have to put down the Ipad, the book, and the phone in order to pay attention.

My grandparents raised children who turned out to be hard working, honest, and trustworthy people.  I am very blessed to call them aunts and uncles.  By all accounts, they had every right to be as proud as parents can be.  Nevertheless, losing Cliff was a heavy burden.  It’s a burden that happens to many families every year.  Simply watching the news or reading a newspaper will confirm this point.  I have heard of or read about four separate drownings over the last two weeks alone.

My message is simple and blunt.  Please pay attention to your child near water.  You’ll never regret it.

On Tuesday, I am going to talk about a topic that is much lighter than today’s post (because I can’t get much heavier).  My youngest child recently tore the front cover off a book- and I am incredibly proud of him.  I’ll tell you all about what happened and why you will want your child to rip off a cover or two as well.  You won’t want to miss this so feel free to include your email address located at the top right hand side of the blog.  The post will be sent to your email inbox as soon as it is published.

Have a terrific weekend!!!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Handling Failure

I am glad to have you back again!  I am noticing some of my parenting questions getting more difficult.  I think some of you out there are trying to test me.  Well, bring it on because I asked for it.  There is an email address on the right side of the screen all questions can be sent to.  If I don’t think I can answer your question, I’ll send you a return email privately.  Please be patient with me.  I only answer one question per week for now.  On that note, buckle up because this ride will not be pretty. 

Today’s question is from “Amy” who asks “How should I respond to my child who has failed at things important to her?”  Amy mentioned grades and a cheer leading team as examples.

First of all, allow me to be blunt- failure stinks.  What I would like to impart to you is our children do not have the same mental capacity to handle a failing situation like most of us do as adults.  There were times when I was a kid that I failed and my mom (God bless her) would give me the ol shake it off speech in one way or another.  “Shake it off Clay.  It will be just fine.”  Another line used more than once went something like, “It won’t even matter when you are an adult.” (But mom, I am only 11)

I’m not angry in the least at my mom but the truth is she didn’t know what to do or what to say.  I would be willing to bet there are a lot of parents who mean well just like my mom but don’t know what to do as well.

The first glimpse I had at looking at what was perceived as failure through the eyes of a child came at St. Joseph Children’s Home.  I’ll guarantee few parents who read this will understand failure like a child who goes through an adoption fair, doesn’t get “picked” and watches one of his buddies who does.  I won’t get into the process but it goes on for quite a while before the adopted kid actually leaves.  Therefore, everyday the “chosen” kid is still at the home is a reminder for the unpicked child.

Some of the children in these cases were inconsolable for a while. It was really hard on me personally to watch these things happen even if I was happy for the newly adopted child.  This was especially true when a kid looked right in my eyes and asked that familiar question, “Why couldn’t it have been me?”  Another of my heart wrenching “favorites” was “What’s wrong with me?”

I told you that story because I had a general response/attitude that worked for me in these dire times and I hope it works for you as well.  My response was something like “I know things didn’t work out for you but I’m right here and I think the world of you.”  The only reason this worked for me was because the relationship I had with certain kids was top notch.  Anything less, and the kids would have interpreted my words as pure B.S.  In these moments, that is the last thing a kid needs.

When it comes to Amy and her question.  Grades come and go but if they are important to the child, then they should be to you.  Let’s pretend, for example, we are talking about a math grade.  I would display a nurturing attitude with a tough undertone (because that is my nature).  Here’s how this would look.     

I’d put my arms around Amy’s kid and let her cry.  When she was finished, I’d let the child know how smart she is and that we were going to work through this problem together.  In the ensuing days though, if I ever saw the kid slacking on the math work, I wouldn’t be quite as nurturing.  I’d give subtle reminders of how that math grade made her feel and encourage her to stay focused.

Cheerleading is pretty much the same story.  Any time a child doesn’t make a team, it is devastating because of (1) the feelings of failure for not making the team and (2) having to face the peers at school who did.  Although the math grade may be more important to you as a parent, the cheerleading problem may be harder in the eyes of the child.  After all, the math grade is private.

Photo taken at a public event of event partici...
It is not easy to face the girls who beat you in school

I’d like to know why she didn’t make the team by talking to the coach.  (Don’t pressure the coach to include the child on the team).  Find out what she can improve on and attack the weaknesses if the child is willing.  If not, it may be a good idea to find another sport which she is better suited.  Let the choice be hers.

As all of us know, failure is a part of life.  No one succeeds at everything.  But, the effective parent will get down on the child’s level, help them through the pain, and teach towards the future.

Thanks to all who stopped by today.  If you think this post is worthy please pass it along to another family.  

This Monday, I will be back with an education blog.  I am going to write the illusionists piece I premised last Friday and some similarities they have with teachers. Break out your magic wands and hidden keys and I’ll see you Monday.    

Competing for Mama

Today’s behavior blog will focus on the relationship some children have with their mothers. In my home, the boys really like their mommy time.  I used to joke that when my oldest son was smaller, he was mommyfied.  (I know spell check- it’s not really a word)  The competition for mom’s time is fierce.  They are competing with dads, the television, the internet, the phone, and their siblings.  What is it about mothers?   More specifically, what is it about mothers versus fathers when it comes to competing for time?

Even as a stay at home dad, the boys competition over mama is much greater than their competition for my time.  For example, I could be on the phone 20 minutes without being disturbed.  My wife can’t be on the phone 20 seconds before I am shooing a child away from her.  One may think I could be sore about this lack of gripping attention.  Quite the contrary.  I could have guessed this would have happened even before I had kids because I saw the same things at St. Joseph Children’s Home.

There’s something about moms and their ability to connect with small children.  One of my theories is that it has to do with affection.  It could be that mom is home more or that when she is home, more of her time is spent touching children (in appropriate manners).  At. St. Joseph’s we had some strong willed women who could show affection as well.  They were dedicated and really knew their business. Children gravitated to them especially in time of need.  As a matter of fact, in our youngest department with kids ranging in age from 3 to 5, I would approximate women logged over 95% of the hours.  


What’s interesting to note is that when I worked alone, the children would open up in the exact same manner when they needed anything.  But, they didn’t compete for my time.  This also held true in the classroom where I obviously worked alone.  In other words, I didn’t have children crying for their moms when I was teaching.  Although I wasn’t out to win any popularity contests, most of my students really liked me.  This has led me to believe that while children will take affection from dad, there are times they would rather have it from mom if there is a choice. 


Bill CosbyBill Cosby performing “Himself.”

These beliefs reminds me of an old Bill Cosby comedy routine which spoke to the power of moms.  Basically, he said he was hoping for a son to be a great football player one day.  Many hours would be spent working with the kid to be the best he could be.  Due to the time and hard work, the kid could go on to a major university, score a touchdown, stare into the television camera afterward, and yell, “Hi mom!”  The stumped look on Cosby’s face will forever be etched in my mind.


I’ve always felt there was a lot of truth to be garnered from that skit.  Moms are special and I’ve never met a man who could really take their place. Even though the opposite is true as well, I’ve never actually witnessed children competing for a dad’s time or at least not nearly on the same level.  Keep in mind I know there are homes out there where this precisely happens but with all my experience, I would have assumed seeing it by now. 


I believe my boys would perch on my wife’s legs all day if we would let them.  The only time they have ever been disciplined for hanging on mom too much is when I can tell she’s getting a bit tired of it.  (Even then, I’m not too hard on the boys).  The only thing that bothers me from time to time is with all the competition for mom’s attention; I worry mom doesn’t win often enough.  By that I mean if other mothers are like my wife, when do you carve the time and place all the attention on yourself?  At. St. Joseph’s, it was different because the house parents were compensated employees.  All the house parents (outside of myself and a couple of other ladies) also had their own homes.

As a dad, I really feel one of my roles is to encourage and prop up my wife on the highest pedestal possible.  Of course, she will read this and get emotional (because her husband is so great) but the truth is I have an alternative motive.  I want my boys to have the deepest respect and love for their mom because in some way, it translates to being a good man, a good husband, and one day, a good father. If this means competing and /or clinging on to my wife for a small period of time in their lives, so be it.  These days won’t last forever.  One day, the competition will be over and, in the end, all of us will hopefully be winners.

I guess the lesson in the end to all parents but especially to the dads- be patient with your kids.  Back away from time to time and let the kids have their time with mom.  But when you see your better half getting a little tired, be there to peel the kids away for a while.  This is a competition after all.  The kids do not get to win every time. (wink) 

All my best to parents and children who still cling to their momma’s legs (figuratively and literally). I’ll be interested to read the comments.  I’d like to know if there is a competition for mama in your home and how it is handled.

I read an interesting parenting question I would like to answer on Friday. The general topic concerns kids failing and how it has been handled on the children I have worked with.  I look forward to having you back on this road of tantrums, troubles, and treasures. (or as my father in law calls it: t-cubed)

One final note: If you know any parents who have small children who “compete for mama,” please consider passing this blog along.  I certainly hope it helps by letting them know they are not alone. 

How Do I Know

Today’s question actually came from a friend several month’s ago.  “Rick” and his wife have an infant son.  Rick is a great guy but tends to worry (like many parents) and sometimes that worry leads to asking loaded questions.  Rick’s specific question to me was “How do I know if I am doing a good job (being a father)?” Though today’s answer applies to fatherhood, women should take note.  Many of the things I am going to talk about applies to mothers as well.  Therefore, I am going to direct my answer to Rick towards parents in general.

The reason I call this a loaded question is it depends on what one’s definition of a good parent is.  I gave him an answer that sufficed for the time being.  I wanted to share that answer but I also wanted to expand on it because I’ve had several months to think about it since.  Keep in mind this is a blog not a book.  I’m certain to leave out some important details and that’s where you come in.  If you believe after reading this I left something out, feel free to add it to the comments section at the bottom of the post.

One of the keys in assessing Rick’s “job” performance occurred when he questioned himself.  Reflection is a big theme in my Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures book and it certainly applies here.  I wonder if Rick is trying to model himself after someone else and if so, how is he doing?  Before I get any trailblazers piping up, remember that parenting has been going on since the beginning on man.  Odds are most of your good (and bad) ideas with kids have probably been used by someone before you.  As for me, I’ve modeled myself after specific men and women from St. Joseph Children’s Home.  It is a good thing I listened and learned because I did not grow up with a father. 

Another key is what are you providing to your child to help him/her grow?  I’m sure there are many things but some that come to mind are religious beliefs, time, finances, love, caring, education, understanding, discipline, sympathy, and direction.  Generally speaking, parents would claim they provide these things so let’s push the idea.  Which areas are your weakest and should be attacked now?   When you figure out that answer and attack it, you’re doing a better job as a parent already.

The truth, in the end, as to how you are doing as a parent can be seen in the eyes of your child.  As they are growing up, are they reflecting the values you are teaching them?  Are they someone to be modeled by other children; or someone to be avoided?  Are they respectful to all adults and specifically, their mother?  These answers can be found quickly.  All a parent has to do is pay attention.  Another piece of the puzzle is once you find the answers, do you settle or do you continue to parent and build upon these traits.

US Supreme Court building, front elevation, st...Image via WikipediaPossibly this story will sum it up best.  I remember hearing about a 1964 Supreme Court case (Jacobellis v. Ohio) where they were talking about whether a movie was pornographic.  I am paraphrasing but Justice Potter Stewart said, “I can’t define pornography; but I know it when I see it.”  When you see good parenting occurring, take mental notes and apply them when the time is right.  Many times, the “job” of a parent is to read, react, and regroup.  I’m sure if you can accomplish this, not only are you a good parent but you’re going to get better every day.

My next blog will be posted Monday and it will focus on an educational theme.  Until then, have a great weekend!