Monday, December 28, 2015

The Fraternity Of Fatherhood

When I was a boy growing up in Baltimore City, I often wondered what it would be like to be a father. I always felt somehow, that I would be a good father, but I wasn't sure how I would get there. For most of my childhood, I grew up in a single-family home with my mother. Our life during my childhood was good, but we often struggled as my mom worked really hard to make ends meet. I watched my mother work full-time while putting herself through college and taking care of me. As she continued to excel in her career, our quality of life became better. I truly admired her for that, but I was still missing something.

My father was around while I was growing up, but not on a daily basis. In fact, there were some long spans of time when I didn't see my dad. When I had the opportunity to spend time with him, he taught me things, but they were usually most useful to me on the streets. I mean, he taught me how to be tough and defend myself. Those kinds of things were very helpful to me, but I also needed to be around some other positive males that could collectively teach me what being a man, and ultimately a great father, was really all about. I needed and wanted to learn how to do that.

As I grew into adulthood, I learned that it takes more than just reaching a certain age, or having the ability to reproduce that makes someone a good father. When I became a father, I realized that I was automatically inducted into an elite fraternity of brothers that easily surpasses any other fraternity that anyone could be a part of in terms of the level of importance. I came to understand that God charged me with the obligation of being a teacher to my children.

Over the years, I have made plenty mistakes while dealing with my children. Everything has not always gone the way I wanted, as nothing rarely ever does. I have learned that it takes a combination of several attributes that has helped me to become a better father. There are several characteristics that every father must incorporate within himself that can help him to be the best possible father that he can be. I have compiled a list of some of those characteristics.

1. Every father should be a role model for his children. So many young people tend to look up to celebrities to pattern themselves after. Some of those celebrities accept that role and handle it pretty well. On the other hand, I can't count how many times athletes have rejected the responsibility of being a role model to kids. They don't want that responsibility. There are others who seem to want the role, but are not fit to lead a five-year old to a kindergarten classroom. Above any other group, it is the father's job to live the kind of life that any child would desire to emulate.

2. Every father should be a teacher. A father should instruct his children on all matters of life. That is not to say that a father should know everything. No one knows everything. The point is that the father should be involved in every aspect of his children's lives. He should be there to provide advice and guidance to assist his children as they develop and progress through life. Fathers should certainly be able to share the lessons that he has learned during his lifetime with his children that may have profound effects on them as well. In my opinion, besides a school teacher, no other person should pour into a child more than their father.

3. Every father should be a disciplinarian as all children need discipline in their life. Fathers should be the catalysts of discipline for their children so that the judicial system does not have to become that catalyst. Being a disciplinarian is about teaching children to obey laws and to follow rules that are enforced by consequences. Developing a reverence for leadership should start with the father. If done correctly, children will most often grow into law-abiding citizens with a healthy amount of respect for authority in all areas of their lives.

4. Fathers are supposed to be the primary provider for their children. Financial situations are different for everyone, but the effort to provide should not solely be financial in nature, although it is very important. It is still just one aspect of providing. Other aspects of providing for children may include, but are not limited to friendship, love, security, emotional support, guidance, and life skills. This list of things could go on forever, but the point is that being an active father can have a positive and powerful influence on the development of our children.

5. Fathers can be empathizers for their children. We are a fountain of knowledge and information for our children. The experiences that we have gone through can help us to pass along wisdom that will be invaluable to them. We are the ones that can relate to our children the most. While there may be some variances to the situations that young people face today, we can still have some level of understanding and even compassion for what they go through. Sometimes our children may not even need us to fix all their problems. Just being there to listen to them could do wonders for their esteem and give them a sense of support.

Being a father is not easy for many reasons. There are so many things to deal with when it comes to raising children. It's even more difficult when the father and mother are not in the same household. However, being a father is a great privilege that should not be taken lightly. Any man who is lucky enough to have children, is automatically inducted into the fraternity of fatherhood and should purpose in himself to live by the code of the fraternity. It is our responsibility to raise our children. If we relegate that responsibility to others, we are delinquent in our obligation to God, negligent to our communities, and ultimately accountable for the outcome of any of our children who become wayward.

Fathers, let's work really hard together to make a positive change in the lives of our children. We have to step up our game. There are so many of our children who are going down the wrong path, but we can turn that around by increasing the level of activity that we have in the lives of these children. Whether a man is or is not a biological father, he can be a member of the fraternity of fatherhood by being a mentor to a young person in need. Understanding that fatherhood is difficult, we can also seek advice from each other when we encounter unfamiliar territory. We don't have to try to do everything on our own. We are a band of brothers. We are the fraternity of fatherhood!

L. Wayne Smalls, Author of Called To Be A Soldier and President of L. Wayne Smalls & Associates, LLC. is a retired Army Officer who is now a motivational speaker and writer. See more at

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A Father's Day Story

It's Father's Day today here in Australia and, as such, I feel obliged to come clean. To admit that the more I traveled, the more excuses I often found myself making for not wanting children.

But, the truth is, when all was said and done, I could've saved myself the effort. The truth is everything more or less boiled down to a single memory of an event from over thirty five years earlier.

It was an 'event' that started with little more than a pleading glance and culminated in a late afternoon, front yard, sporting triathlon. As such, over the years I've often wondered-when it seems my memory has frequently failed me in other, substantially more significant matters-- how or why my long term memory managed to latch on to such a fleeting moment?

The glance would be an exchange of non-verbal communication between my mother and father after I'd ambushed dad to shoot some baskets in the front yard only moments after his getting home from a long day of high school teaching. Dad looked to mom there in the kitchen with eyes that silently begged for her to speak up.

To play the role of dutiful wife and explain to her eldest son that his father was tired. That he had to rest up before heading out, as he often did, for the evening to referee a couple basketball games. Or any of a 101 legitimate excuses to remove himself from this unexpected date with fatherly obligation.

As I remember it, mom just shrugged her shoulders and smiled. Then went right back to whatever it was she'd been doing when we both came in. Her verdict rendered, all that was left was for dad to get changed and us to head outside. Which we did.

For thirty minutes we took turns shooting baskets before I was ready for a change and ran into the garage for a football after which father and son took turns running pass routes for another thirty minutes that probably seemed like hours for dad.

And, still, I wasn't finished.

Because it was only then that each of us finally donned baseball gloves where I went about striking out countless invisible batters as dad squatted on aching legs getting his hand stung and, eventually, his shins repeatedly dinged by the occasional ball 'in the dirt'. That was usually the cue that WE'D had enough.

For years the images from that afternoon's three sport extravaganza and 'the look' that proceeded it stayed with me. I could hide behind the allure of all the smiles, memories and good times the road had ever offered up but, the truth was, that memory from so many years earlier simply scared me. It was, I knew, what it meant to be a parent and, as such, the bar had been set at a height I wasn't prepared to reach for.

Then, things just happen.

Today, just a little more than two years into things, while organized sport is not yet in the picture, there are still books to read, movies to play, blocks to stack, trips over to the beach and too many parks to visit on any given afternoon. And always, it seems, on the heels of not nearly enough sleep.

It's at these times that the exchange between my parents comes back to me--the sigh, the rolling of the eyes, the shrug and the smile-and that fear gets buried just ever so much deeper.

It's then that, like my father did for me, I discover the energy all good parents somehow manage to tap into. The energy to keep reaching for the bar.

Thirty plus years ago, a young 13 year old got his first clue surrounding the work of parenting. Today, a child of his own only confirms it.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Father's Day - The Modern Dad

"By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong." -Charles Wadsworth

It may seem a sexist comment, but there is no doubt that Fathers Day pales considerably in hype and brouhaha that surrounds Mothers Day. It may be so because a mother evokes more tender and mushy response than a father does. I am not saying that a father's love lacks emotional content, but it is subtle and subdued.
Sociological tradition has got a strong influence on our perception of family. A mother perceived to be the person who raises children, makes the food and stays at home. A father goes out to earn a livelihood, takes the decisions and acts as the protective shield. Feminist movements have altered the rules to a certain extent, but that is only in case of the woman. The perception of a father as the protector has not received a dolt.

A father evokes very raw emotions. He's the person you are scared of, he's the person you go about to with an unreasonable demand; he's the person you hide from when your grade card is out, he's the person you boast about in school as the best man ever. These conflicting emotions make it difficult to put down your love for your father in black and white.

A father is often misunderstood. Strictness is intrinsic in a father. It is an essential quality because it serves a great benefit in raising a child. The mother is more likely to pamper the child. However, the trend is making a significant change in the opposite axis of the graph. Nowadays, in most nuclear homes, including mine, the father is the one who takes up the act of spoiling a child with love, gifts and tons of favors.

A father can also be an example for the child. His patience, his outlook to life - from his love for the mother to his religious tolerance and everything in between, fascinates the child and leads the child to emulate. There is also a dominant sense of hero-worship. Here the case becomes a little dicey. If the father does not match up to the pre-conceived notions of a father, the child may be led to a state of depression and betrayal.

However, a father always remains a figure who is respected and revered. He is the base on which the foundations of a child's future may be laid. Love is definitely a very integral part of a father's domain. Providing the best life possible for the child is also the father's prerogative. A father's patience is his asset; corporal punishment is not the way to being a good father. Things have changed in fatherhood since Solomon has stated: "Spare the rod. Spoil the child."

Dorothy Smith, the author of this article, writes about the events & special occasions. Want to know more about father's day or father's day cards ? Celebrate father's day by sending free happy father's day and other related resources.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Father's Day Links for Modular Bracelets

Daddy's Lil Princess

Daddy's Lil Princess
I Love My Dad

I Love My Dad Charm
Daddy's Girl Italian Charm

Daddy's Girl Italian Charm

We Love You DAD Heart Laser Charm

We Love You DAD Heart Laser Charm
Papa Italian Charm

Dad Italian Charm
I Love Dad Italian Charm

I Love Dad Italian Charm

Fathers give us guidance and constantly support us in our endeavors. So for Father’s Day this year, show your father how much he truly means to you by wearing an Italian charm bracelet in his honor... Father's Day Charms at

Monday, April 30, 2007

Fathers Day

'Father! - To God Himself We Cannot Give a Holier name!' - William Wordsworth

The above quote completely defines the meaning of being a father, and the various responsibilities the male parent has on his shoulders. We salute fathers all around the world and honor them on 'Father's Day'. Father's Day is the male equivalent of Mother's Day. Just as Mother's Day celebrates motherhood, Father's Day celebrates fatherhood. Father's Day originated in USA. Father's Day is celebrated on Saint Joseph's Day in the Roman Catholic tradition. Saint Joseph was the husband of the Virgin Mary, and therefore, foster father to Jesus. Saint Joseph’s Day is celebrated in some branches of Christianity in honor of the Saint. In Roman Catholicism, it is a feast celebrated on March 19.

In the USA, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. Father's Day is celebrated on differing days around the globe, and in some countries, it is a secular celebration. In the USA, Sonora Smart Dodd is considered instrumental in the founding of the 'Father's Day' tradition. Her father, the Civil War Veteran William Jackson Smart, had raised six children as a single parent. She was inspired for her work for Father's Day, while hearing a sermon on Mother's Day. Sonora had chosen June 19 as a day for the celebration, coinciding with her father's month of birth, June.

The first Father's Day in the USA was celebrated June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. Father's Day in the USA has an interesting history. Woodrow Wilson was personally feted by his family on Father's Day, while Calvin Coolidge had recommended it for a public holiday. The National Father's Day Committee was formed in New York in 1926. Lyndon Johnson made Father's Day a celebration to held on the third Sunday of June, and it was made an official holiday by Richard Nixon.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Tale of Two Fathers

We all know that divorce isn’t pretty and that the kids often bear the brunt of the drama, so let’s focus on the positive instead. Father’s Day is all about spending quality time with Dad, but divorce can throw a big monkey wrench into any plans for family bonding. Deciding how to spend Father’s Day, especially if Mom has remarried, can open up a difficult can of worms. Don’t lose heart; making Father’s Day a positive celebration for Dad and the kids is possible, it just takes a little finesse.

How pre-planning makes everything easier
One rule that we can’t stress enough is never to make Father’s Day a battle that involves your kids. If the kids have a strong, active relationship with Dad they’ll probably want to spend the big day with him. Talk with your ex well in advance of the holiday and decide on a plan that works for both of you. Even if Dad isn’t scheduled to have the kids on the Father’s Day weekend, it might be better for everyone to ignore the schedule this time and let the kids spend the holiday with him. Just be sure you also plan how the visitation schedule will resume after the holiday to avoid any confusion.

Mom’s new man
If Mom has remarried or Dad isn’t an active part of the kids’ lives, neither parent should pressure the kids to choose between Dad and their step-father. Although Father’s Day is supposed to be all about Dad, in the case of divorced families it’s more important that the kids’ feel comfortable and happy with the arrangements.

Pushing the kids to embrace their relationship with their step-father is a dangerous move. The more you try to direct children towards a certain path, the harder they’ll veer away. Mom can ask the kids if they’d like to do something for their step-father on Father’s Day, but if they seem hesitant or say no, leave it at that. Mom and her new husband should talk about the holiday in advance too. Make sure he’s prepared and doesn’t take it personally if the kids aren’t ready to embrace him as “Dad” on Father’s Day. Remember to keep your kids’ age range in perspective. Adolescents and teens are often more rebellious than their younger siblings and may be more vocal about their opinions. That said, don’t sacrifice your family’s rules of respect and acceptance during this tumultuous time.

The Disappearing Dad
In some cases, Dad just isn’t involved in the kids’ lives. If it looks like Dad won’t be around on Father’s Day, plan activities to help the kids cope. Make sure they understand that even though Dad’s not there, he still loves them. You don’t have to lie, but don’t berate him in front of the kids either. If they ask where Dad is or why they aren’t spending the holiday together, keep it simple and explain that Dad wasn’t able to make it. Ask if they’d like to write him a letter or send him a card to let him know they’re thinking of him, make sure they have the freedom to do so.

After a divorce, it’s normal for the family dynamic to be shaken up for awhile. But don’t lose hope! With time, your family will adjust and sort itself out. Be patient with the kids, your ex and with yourself and you’ll be one step closer to a happy Father’s Day for everyone.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Girly Girl's Guide to Father's Day

If you have trouble coming up with the perfect Father’s Day gift, you’re not alone. Choosing a thoughtful gift for Dad can be fairly easy, but choosing a thoughtful gift that he’ll like is another story.

Mushy yet manly
When we’re buying gifts for Mom, sentimentality is often the guiding force. A delicate ceramic figurine that symbolizes your bond of friendship and trust will mean a lot to her. Try giving Dad the same gift you gave Mom and you’ll get a confused look and a collectible item that sits in its box on a shelf in the garage. That’s not to say that Dads don’t appreciate sentimental gestures, you just have to know how to do it right.

Usually, men and emotions don’t mix. They’ve got their own ways of telling the people around them that they care. A slap on the back, a cold beer, an awkward joke – those are Dad’s ways of saying, “You’re important to me.” So how do you get your communication styles to mesh?

A personal gift is worth a thousand embroidered words
To some women, a fish gutting knife is not a gift that says, “Thanks for being a supportive and caring father.” But to guys who love the great outdoors, this Father’s Day gift is a statement that you really understand your dad.

To show Dad how much you care, you have to show that you get who he is. If he’s into sports, tickets to a game, a jersey from his favorite team or a cushion for stadium bleachers are all wonderful gifts. If he’s into techie gadgets, anything iPod, a laptop accessory or a digital camera memory card will leave him smiling.

The point is to think about the things Dad loves doing best and find gifts that relate. Does he barbecue dinner every night in the summer? Does a fine cigar make his weekend? Does he read The Economist cover to cover every week? Giving Dad a gift that reflects his hobbies and interests shows him that you love the guy he is and think he’s altogether fabulous.

Say it right
The art of the Father’s Day card is a subtle and difficult one to master. The same rules apply as above. If you and your dad don’t exchange “I Love Yous” on a regular basis, an overly sentimental card may leave him uncomfortable and unsure how to respond.

We suggest finding a blank card with a nice design and writing in a few heartfelt words. Thank him for something specific like helping you learn to drive or supplying funds for extracurricular activities in college (shopping should be a sport). You don’t have to go overboard on the mushy thoughts. A few phrases of appreciation for his support and hard work show him that you know how much effort he’s put in to providing for his family.

No two dads are the same. If your dad has a sentimental streak and has kept every one of his #1 Father trophies, you’re on the right track with your gift giving strategy. If he’s not particularly open about his feelings, focus on the things you do know about him. Showing Dad that you love him for who he is can be the best gift he gets.

Worshiping Your Hero on Father's Day

Our fathers: from the time we were small, it seemed like there wasn’t anything they didn’t know or couldn’t do. Forget Spiderman and Superman, you had your own hero sitting right on the couch. As we mature, go through our awkward and rebellious teen phases and get a better understanding of how the world works, our impressions of our fathers change. Could be we think he’s even more amazing than we did when we were kids. Could be we realize that he can’t actually pull quarters out from behind our ears – although we love that he tries. This Father’s Day, bring back some of that childhood adulation by making your dad feel like a real hero.

Making it all about the man
Father’s Day is about the relationship between a father and his children, but it’s too easy for this big day to become more about the kids than about Dad. When you’re planning Father’s Day activities, think first about the things your dad likes to do best, then find ways to make them family-friendly. If he likes fishing, buy rods for the kids and yourself and get him to teach you his secrets. If he’s into history programs, take a trip to the museum with a stop or two at the kids’ section to keep the little ones entertained.

To build a stronger relationship with your dad, make Father’s Day a Father’s Weekend. The Saturday before Father’s Day, find ways to share your own interests with him. While he’s never going to really get what makes a pair of Steve Madden’s so fabulous, he might be open to learning about your favorite painters, going for a walk or jog along your running trail or trying a new kind of cuisine from your favorite restaurant. Sharing your interests with him and learning more about what makes him tick can strengthen your bond.

Great giving
A key part of Father’s Day is giving Dad a gift that shows him how important he is to you. Remember, as with all gift-giving, money doesn’t matter. A thoughtful present that cost only a few dollars is better than dropping a few hundred on a gift that you figured was “good enough”.

It can be hard coming up with gift ideas for Dad, so it’s a good idea to start early. The best strategy for gift giving is to pick up items throughout the year when you see something that would make the perfect present. Stash them in a safe place and keep track of what you’ve bought. If it’s close to Father’s Day and you still don’t have a gift, this strategy isn’t going to be much help!

When you’re choosing a gift for Father’s Day, even if it’s last minute, don’t go generic. Not every dad wants a new barbecue tool set or drill. Think about things you did together when you were a child and look for gifts that can help recreate those happy memories. Or plan a gift that you can enjoy together. Arrange to take cooking lessons or go sky diving. A peaceful trail ride at a local horse ranch or a friendly round of golf at the country club are great ways to reconnect.

No matter how you choose to spend Father’s Day, be sure to take the time to tell your dad how much he means to you. You don’t have to go overboard with the mushiness if it makes you uncomfortable, just put a few heartfelt words in a card and give him a hug. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Single Parenting - The Pros and Cons

The number of children living in single parent homes is now at an all time high and single parenting presents you with some unique challenges regardless of whether you're a single mom or a single dad.

As most single parents these days have to work, the first set of problems that you face are practical and will include such things as finding suitable child care, making arrangements when you need to work late or perhaps work at weekends and coping with day to day activities such as shopping.

How you manage these problems will depend to a large extent on your personal circumstances and income, but you will often find that you are able to rely on older children to take care of younger ones and can turn to family and friends for assistance. In most cases these difficulties do not present an insurmountable problem and a reasonable solution can be found.

The greatest challenge often comes from issues beyond the purely practical and stem from the loss of a partner to discuss problems with, to bounce ideas off and to use as a sounding board.

In some cases parents can find it difficult to deal with problems that are particular to children of the opposite sex and miss the input from the same sex parent who can draw on his or her own childhood experiences. In most instances these problems can be solved by turning to other family members or friends for advice.

Many of the problems presented by single parenting are however balanced by what many parents see as considerable advantages. The loss of a partner can also bring with it the loss of arguments, disagreements, and tension and can make it much simpler to set guidelines and rules for the children without having to debate them.

Also, many single parents make far more effort to spend time with their children and find they talk to their children much more. This invariably results in single parents growing closer to their children and developing a much stronger bond with their children.

Studies show children in single parent households often mature at a younger age and develop a greater sense of responsibility. Studies also show that children of single parents suffer no detrimental effects from the experience in terms of either their educational or personal development.

It may appear that the loss of a partner to share in the care of the children should be detrimental, but single parenting provides a unique opportunity to influence the development of the children without suffering the hindrance that the presence of a partner can sometimes bring. In addition, provided you don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the practicalities of raising your children alone, the benefits can often far outweigh the disadvantages.

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