This is a video I made to celebrate our love for our country and our families. Each is precious and we should never take them for granted!
Sometimes fathers are just not tuned in to their children. Kids are always wanting this and asking for that. Of course, no father should or could give in to all of those requests. Neither, however, should a father never give in, or never reward a child. To know when to say no or yes requires one to know each and every child.
A self-absorbed father can make a wrong choice in one of two ways. He can give in too easily to remove, what is to him, an annoyance – a way to move on, to stop the engagement. Or he can stubbornly refuse in order to instill his authority, whether necessary at the time or not. Then again, he just might be lazy, cheap, or not interested.
A dad handles issues like those above differently. He know his children, their desires, their tricks, their needs. A dad knows when to reward, when to surprise, and when saying no is best, which can be quite often – at least at first.
An inner question insightful dads sometimes ask of themselves is this, “Will this (reward, gift, act, assistance) make my child a better or worse person?” Now granted, many of the acts are micro impacts, but over time, they shape your child.
Do dads make mistakes? Do they grow potatoes in Idaho? Yes! An occasional slip, giving in too easily or an earned reward denied, will not be an issue. A cloudy day or two should not ruin a summer vacation. But a father, who is also a dad, will have children who do not beg for every lollipop or bicycle they see, and they will trust their father to make the right decisions for them.
A child learns behavior. Some learn how to work with you as a parent, and others learn how to work around you. Fathers who aren’t ‘dads’ can work against their children, slowing their progress or even pushing them in the wrong direction. A dad works with his children moving forward together.
First a father, then become a dad!
Fatherhood is a Blessing for a Man.
Dadhood is a Blessing for a Child.
I have a few passions that keep me busy. Two of them are photography and fatherhood. I combine the two in my blog, this blog, entitled, "Helping Fathers to be Dads".
Here are a few of the photos I have taken over the years that have been used as introductions to my articles. The quotes are some of my thoughts on being a father, and on parenting at large. Check my archives to find these and other articles on Dadhood!
Thanks to my daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren for being unpaid models.
The Dadhood Slide Show
If you are very lucky, one of the greatest perks of being a father is eventually becoming a grandfather. Unless you become the primary caretaker, and hopefully that never has to happen, there are rules for your relationship with your grandchild that don’t apply to dad.
As a dad, you have to be little stricter on the rules. Giving in too often is bad for the child’s outlook on how life works, and it is bad for your authoritarian relationship. As a grandfather, you are an occasional deviation from restrictions that parents have to enforce to be good, thoughtful parents.
Yesterday I took my three and one-half-year-old grandson, Ryan, to the Cardinals-Dodgers baseball game. It was “Build-a-Bear” night and he got a stuffed bear in Cardinal gear. Getting the bear was not a grandfather thing as most children there were brought by their parents. Kids certainly do get treats from their parents.
The national anthem started. Just at the time, his mom and dad called on 'Facetime'. I pointed the phone at him with his hand over his heart as I had instructed. They loved seeing him in his Cardinal shirt and hat respecting our national anthem. Later on his mom told me he forgot to take off his hat. I forgot to teach him that.
A rookie pitcher made an emergency start for the Cardinals and he gave up nine runs before he got five outs. That may have soured my night a bit as a Cardinal fan, but my grandson isn’t yet old enough to care. He sat patiently while the Dodgers poured it on. Losing 9-0 after two innings, we decided to go to the kids play area. He played for a while then decided there were too many other kids there. Besides, an $8.00 ice cream cone had been promised.
Back to our seats to devour a quickly melting cone and a couple more innings. I knew we wouldn’t be able to stay the entire game because it was way past his bedtime. We left after the 5th inning. The Cards were losing 9-3 then anyway.
We walked to the car with a stop along the way through Ballpark Village where Ryan saw an enormous TV and then through City Garden where kids were cooling off in the many miniature fountains of water. Of course, Ryan had to stick his hand in one and got his shoes wet.
Before we left Busch Stadium, Ryan had asked for a lemonade. He told me his mom let him have lemonade at McDonald’s. Knowing the price of lemonade at the ballpark, I told him “how about we get lemonade at McDonald’s on the way home?” He was all for it!
We made our way to the car from City Garden and headed home, watching a distant lightning storm to the west. Ryan wasn’t too happy with the lightning. I told him he was safe in the car and suggested it looked like fireworks. He agreed but said there were no colors like real fireworks. I agreed.
I tried to listen to the game in the car, but he was chattering so much I turned it off. We stopped at McDonald’s and got a large lemonade and fries to share. He was in little-kid heaven. He loved the lemonade but had to wait for the fries to cool a bit. We got home with me wearing a 'Fredbird' balloon hat that a balloon artist had given to Ryan at Ballpark Village. He bounced into the house as happy as I had ever seen him, telling his parents about the night and eating french fries. He asked that I put some of the lemonade into his Batman cup.
I don’t know if Ryan will remember this night being so young, but I will cherish my night with him forever! I love being a grandfather!!
I have written at least two articles a week for the last 120 weeks, 95% on fatherhood, a few on photography and two or three involved both. Some were good, some bad, some ugly. I have written over 240 articles during this time, all available on this website. I decided to take a break for a week or two, but I don't want you to forget me or my blog on Dadhood.
I'm guessing you haven't read them all and I don't suggest that you do. But I have ferreted out four at random and made sure they weren't the ugly ones.
Please hit the links below to read these four past posts of mine and check them out. It will feel nice knowing I'm getting some traction without writing something new. Yes! I believe in recycling!
The Seven "Be"s of Successful Dads - All dads should 'BE' these things!
Balancing Work and Family - A Fatherly Dilemma - Both are important but you need to be aware!
When Your Heart Lags Your Brain - A brief look at a dad (my dad) "lost at sea"!
A Photo Journal of Cinque Terre - A change of pace! All about five picturesque villages in Italy.
This article is a tribute to the members of the United States military and their families. The efforts and contributions of these men, women, and children to and for our country are truly a family affair. While our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airman are those in the most danger and often live in real discomfort, the families have the stress of fending for themselves back home. We owe them all our thanks!
Children are born while fathers are away. Kids have birthdays, sports, and recitals without mom or dad around to cheer, applaud, and encourage. The moms and dads who remain with the family have the work of two parents and all household chores. I haven’t yet mentioned the loneliness, fear and heartache all feel.
I left off my last article mentioning that I was going to Ft. Campbell with my wife Kathy and our two daughters to greet our son upon his return from Afghanistan. Mike had been deployed four times before, but this was the first time he returned to the mainland where we could meet him. It was a new experience for us. I brought my camera with the sole purpose to record the event for my family. As it turned out, it became a bigger story for all of us.
We entered Ft. Campbell an hour prior to the scheduled arrival of the troops of the 101st Airborne and were directed to hanger 3 for the homecoming ceremony. As we walked into the hanger and saw all the families, the signs, and the children running around freely, I was overcome with emotion. My wife and daughters were walking ahead of me. When they turned around, they all had tears in their eyes. We were all struck by the same emotion of sadness and thankfulness. My oldest daughter said, “I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.”
We took seats in the stands, had a drink and some popcorn provided by the family support group, and watched the families and kids waiting for loved ones. The welcoming signs many had so proudly prepared, and being dressed in their finest were both subtle hints to the obvious. They had waited a long time for this day! One child had a sign attached to his stroller saying, “I’ve been waiting all my life to meet my Daddy”. Another little girl boasted that her daddy was coming home to be her Valentine.
Finally, an aircraft could be seen in the distance. A chartered airliner was bringing the troops home on a very cold, sunny day. Everyone had poured outside to greet, and get a first peek of their loved ones walking across the tarmac from the plane. Despite the cold, the enthusiasm was intense. The soldiers had to take care of some business before coming into the hangar. Families returned inside for a brief ceremony prior to their reunions.
Upon release from the two-star commander, the soldiers broke their ranks and the families poured from the stands. It was a great scene, heartwarming, but I was a bit surprised. The crying tears of happiness I had expected were few. What I witnessed were mostly big smiles, kisses, group hugs, and handshakes all around. Kids were placed on the shoulders of their dads, one couple stared into each other’s eyes seemingly forever, unaware of anyone around them. One little girl hugged her daddy’s leg and wouldn’t let go. Another little one sucked on a juice box as her daddy hugged her mom.
The strong emotion we all felt when we first arrived had curiously not gotten out of our control. We took the lead of the brave families, who may have gone through this scene maybe two to five times before and had accepted this as their way of life. They didn’t act as if they had just survived a major interruption and sacrifice in their lives. Instead, they were thankful that they could be together once again. It was if they had become calloused to giving so much of their lives and loves, doing something more than 95% of the country has never had to do, yet all benefit from the service of these brave men, women, and children.
I tried to tell this story with words, but the story is likely better told with pictures. Please take the time to watch the slide show of this remarkable event (below). It will make you want to personally thank the next military family you see. In my opinion, in these days of strife and terrorism, you can’t thank them enough!
Slideshow of the 101st Airborne Homecoming
I’ve rediscovered the magic of Christmas, again! Or should I say my grandchildren have found it for me.
The first magical Christmas I recall is a faint memory of when I may have been four or five. I remember a two-story metal gas station/garage with miniature cars that my aunt had bought for me. I’m not sure how I knew that she bought it since I totally believed in Santa Claus. But that is the first present I remember ever getting.
Each year, thereafter, had a common thread of memories. The slow march of days in anticipation of the big reveal. Then the day finally arrived, with all my brothers and sisters waking early on Christmas morning tearing through presents placed under an often scrawny tree tricked out in tinsel, then the emotional crash soon afterwards realizing that the magic was over--and it wasn’t even noon yet.
However, I was usually happy with my presents. One year I got a “Johnny OMA”. It was a replica of an Army bazooka. OMA was short for “One Man Army”. My brother and I got into a fight one day soon after Christmas because my brother wouldn’t give me my Johnny OMA. I was eight and my brother was six. I chased him into our bedroom and from his advantage on top of the bed, he smacked it over my head. Pretend guns don’t hurt brothers, brothers hurt brothers.
I was big into cowboy stuff. My favorite, when I was ten years old, was a set of toy pistols (cap guns, I believe) in a double holster. I loved practicing my quick draw. Somehow I managed not to become touched in the head by those innocent endorsements of handguns and army weapons. It is difficult to explain to parents these days how exciting it was to play ‘Army’ or ‘Cowboys and Indians’. We never thought of those games as violent. Today parents are criticized for buying their children toy guns-if you can even find them. Yet video games, that are violent beyond anything we could have ever imagined, are common!
My mother usually managed a good Christmas even though we had next to nothing in money. When you have five siblings, the number of presents piled under the tree looks impressive. Often it was my grandmother or an uncle that helped. Sometimes it was the local church.
Between my late teens and becoming a parent, Christmas is kind of a blur. Some of that has to do with a memory so bad that I forget to take the pills that help my memory. But mostly it is because no small children were there to forge a memorable impression.
That all changed when my wife and I became parents. Again we got into the wonder of Rudolph, Santa, and his elves. The kids picked up on Christmas like they were born with a knowledge of its story and all its traditions. We were excited about them being excited and looked forward to Christmas morning almost as much as they did.
I confess that I never really liked wrapping presents nor did I like putting up Christmas lights that never seemed to work. Worse yet, they worked off and on. I would try to fix them when they went off, eventually getting into a terrible mood when it took up half my day. But all the preparation and work was worth it on Christmas morning, watching our kids open presents which, by the way, came with rules. My wife insisted the kids take turns opening their presents, one at a time. That never happened when I was a kid.
My wife and I really enjoyed our family Christmases! But eventually they grow up and the magic that come with little children disappears. No eyes the size of saucers, no screaming or jumping up and down. No little girls in brand new pajamas with missing teeth, or little boys wearing new cowboy boots in their underwear. It becomes a nice, but relatively unexciting, day of controlled present unwrapping and polite thankyou’s when only adults are involved.
Then come the grandchildren! The excitement returns! They want to help you with your decorations, which triples the time it takes, and afterwards, they want to play with them. Hiding presents becomes necessary once more. Wondering what they might want and buying too much is a given.
I still don’t like wrapping presents and putting up lights! My wife doesn’t like the Grinch in me. But we do have new traditions along with the old ones. For instance, cookie day is a must for my wife, daughters and kids. I help as a taste tester and bowl licker. My main responsibility comes on Christmas Eve when the extended family gets together for dinner and fun at our family farmhouse. In the days prior I look for inexpensive gifts, mostly from the Dollar Store, and wrap them as prizes for the kids who win rounds of Christmas Bingo. The first one who gets five elves, or sleigh bells, or wreaths, in a row, wins and gets a present to open. The older kids help the younger kids and they get such a kick sharing the excitement with younger siblings and cousins.
Christmas has always been a mixture of emotions, changing with the circumstances of your life. One constant has been the absolute joy of kids and Christmas morning. Of course, the birth of Jesus is why Christmas exists at all, and the holiday has certainly become too commercialized. But the joy of Christmas includes the smiles of children around the world. Certainly their smiles would make Jesus smile also.
Family, fun, and fotos!
I created a table top book with a collection of photos (with captions) that I have used on this blog (Helping Fathers to be Dads). It is entitled 'Thoughts on Dadhood in Words and Pictures". I created it for my family but since it requires no extra work to share it, other than this post, I decided to do so.
I actually like photography more than writing so I almost always add a photo of mine with each article. The book I wrote, "The Power of Dadhood" and this blog are part of my mission in retirement to share what I have learned as a child abandoned by his father and as a father who cherishes every aspect of his Dadhood! Taking photos is my escape!
I used MyPublisher to make this photo book months ago, therefore, more recent blog photos aren't included. The cover is an ocean shore with a seagull flying by. I'm not sure why I picked that photo. It doesn't portray 'Dadhood' at all. If I expand this book I will change the cover, possibly with the photo of my grandson in a creek (above).
If the link "Dadbook" doesn't work for you or you can't read it, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email the photo book to you, no charge, except the wish you might share it with other parents, especially dads!
Click on Dadbook, or the photo above and wait 5 seconds, it should pop up after MyPublisher's page.
Memorable moments often have a hook. A hook is something that nails that moment into your memory.
I’m from St. Louis and this year is the 50th anniversary of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, or as we call it in ‘the STL’, the “Gateway Arch” or simply--“The Arch”. The Arch, if you have never seen it live, is an amazing piece of architecture! It is beautiful in its graceful simplicity, yet becomes visually complicated as you approach it from different directions, seemingly contorting into endless shapes and amazing viewpoints. There may have been more photos of the Arch taken over the years than I have of my grandchildren. Actually, a lot more! Almost every snapshot by a tourist, St. Louisan, or professional can be unique. As an example, I will add a few of my own Arch photos I’ve taken over the years as an example of its photogenic nature.
Occasionally, I will post a photography article even though the blog is usually dedicated to fatherhood. But here I will combine photography and fatherhood because the Arch was the focal point of one of the few fond moments I had with my father--and it has stayed with me for over fifty years.
It was late 1963 or early 1964, I was 13 and due to circumstances I don’t recall, I found myself downtown on an observation deck overlooking the Arch work site with my dad. The shiny metal legs had started to poke through the earth like two huge transformer-type trees leaning towards each other.
It was very unusual for me to be hanging out with my father. He was not the kind of guy to take any of his six children on adventures, even when he was around. It was just the two of us. The last time he did anything with me was about six years prior when he took me to my first Cardinal baseball game at the urging of my mother.
I remember looking at the two legs, maybe at 10% of what would be their final height of 630 feet, and projecting in my minds-eye where they would intersect in the sky. It was at night and the weather was cool. We exchanged a few words about how awesome it would be and wondered how each leg would keep from tumbling over before they met at the 630-foot level.
Just a couple of blocks away, the construction of a new baseball/football stadium was going on. It was someplace that I would spend quite a bit of my time the next 42 years until another new baseball stadium was built in 2006. I’m feeling quite old having watched Cardinal baseball in three different home stadiums.
Knowing how being with my dad on this night stayed with me, I wanted to provide memories for my kids. I even took my son to the construction site of the Rams football stadium in 1994 and took photos of him with the iron framework in the background. I told him how fast time flies and someday he could show this photo to his son. I was thinking back to the time with my dad, wishing we had taken photos that I could show my kids.
We all know people who had great memories of growing up with their dad. We also know people who did not. Those relationships may or may not appear to have anything to do with their success in life. But they always do! It may be that a child is successful because of an inadequate relationship with a parent, driven by the need to prove him or herself. That’s not how I wanted my children to succeed.
I mentioned a hook in the first sentence. I’m not sure if the hook in this particular memory was the construction of the Arch or having one-on-one time with my dad. Maybe a little of both.
Find something to do with each and all of your children. Have some family time and one-on-one time. Create traditions that will be anticipated with delight and discussed in later years. It’s about happiness, warm thoughts, pleasant memories, constructive relationships, and even mental stability. That is the success I'm talking about! My memories of my father afforded me an opportunity focus on fatherhood, turning around a dysfunctional relationship into a forum where I can speak openly and honestly about “The Power of Dadhood”. It is a power that should never be wasted or misused!
This blog is normally for the topic of "dadhood". But I occasionally do photography. If you read my last post, you know I just returned from vacation with my wife and the families of my two daughters. It was a blast! But upon return, I had to go mow the 2.6 acres at my farmhouse property. It usually takes about an hour an acre because there are lots of trees, slopes and obstacles.
I started about 5:30 pm on a hot day. As I was mowing, a couple of rain clouds passed by and a rainbow popped into view. I stopped my John Deere XL500 and took a photo of the rainbow with my iPhone, then another a little later. After I finished mowing, around 8:00 pm, I could see the clouds in the west and I knew there was some potential for a good sunset. I went inside, grabbed my Nikon 5100 and started walking towards the field behind the farmhouse. When I looked out, a family of deer was watching me closely. I snapped their photo and kept walking into the field, which chased the deer away.
I took a few blah photos, which I won't bore you with and waited some more. I looked away from the west and looked straight up, noticing the moon and some hazy clouds. I rested my camera on a bale of hay and took some zoom shots. I could tell I might be able to do something with them. They turned out to be very interesting and clear for a day shot without a tripod.
Finally the sky was starting to change. Some clouds became fiery while others were dark. To the northeast, white billowy clouds contrasted with the blue sky. I took panoramas, and close ups at different points along the horizon.The final shot was of some white clouds over my barn--just to show I was at my farmhouse. It was beautiful and timeless. Nothing else entered my mind at all during my shooting.
I enjoy writing my blog "Helping Fathers to be Dads", because it is a very important topic and I am passionate about fatherhood. But it is a lot of work writing so much while also trying to publicize my book. But photography is a release for me! I am lost in the moment during times like I had tonight. It is fun making something normal look interesting, but nature made it easy on me this evening. Rainbows, deer, the moon, clouds and a sunset--all within three hours!
Man! I's so happy I had to come to the farmhouse to mow tonight!!
I hope you enjoy the slideshow!
Three hours on July 26, 2015
Click on cover to order!
A review of "The Power of Dadhood" by About.com
'Helping Fathers to be Dads' Facebook page