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.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Role Of Fathers In Child Parenting

Although the role of mothers has changed little over the years, the role of fathers has changed considerably, particularly over the past 150 years.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, often referred to as the Victorian Era, the father was a very distant and rarely seen figure as far as children were concerned and his responsibility was largely confined to being the family's 'law giver'. This changed during the early part of the twentieth century, due in no small part to the influence of Freud, and by the middle of the century fathers were seen much more as being the family's 'wise breadwinner'.

As we moved into the 1960s and 1970s however fathers were once more given a back seat role and many people viewed them as nothing more than 'sperm donors'. Today, it's difficult to define the role of fathers and it's very much a case of 'ask ten people and you'll get eleven opinions'.

So where do we start in trying to define a father's role? Well, the answer is that we have to return to basics and ask a few fundamental questions such as "what effect does their presence (or absence) have on the family?"and "why do children need a father?"

In trying to answer these and other similar questions the first difficulty that you encounter is that there is a wide variety of opinions. However, one thing that most studies agree upon is that children do not normally fair as well in the absence of a father and poor performance at schools, drug use, violent behavior and criminal activity are more frequently seen in children who are raised without a father. But trying to determine just why this should be the case is not easy.

It seems likely that there is no single cause and that a combination of financial, psychological and other factors are involved. Whatever the cause, it would nonetheless seem that children need a father if they are to get the best start in life.

Apart from the traditional role of being the breadwinner and providing the basic necessities of food and shelter, fathers are also undoubtedly seen as providing such things as protection for their daughters and a role model for their sons. However, many suggest that it is the role the father plays as one half of the parental partnership that is perhaps the most important.

Children are strongly influenced by everything that they see and hear and they see and hear a great deal more than we often realize. Observing the roles of mom and dad working together, children learn a great deal from the way in which matters are discussed and decisions made. The manner in which responsibilities are divided between the parents with mom taking care of such things as bedtime routines, diet and household chores and dad being the guardian of such things as the front door (granting permission for the children to spend time with friends or go the mall) and taking care of the issue of pocket money, provides children with a model of parenting and teaches them a variety of skills.

This, combined with a host of other experiences common in a two parent household, helps to shape a child's view of the adult world and of the interaction between the sexes.

We could of course continue to develop this further and look in more detail at just how the interaction of two parents influences the children, but things begin to get a little bit complicated when we start to consider such things as the personalities of the two parents and the strength or otherwise of their own relationship. Looking at the possibilities here would means looking at literally hundreds of different scenarios.

Perhaps the simplest answer to our original question of what a father's role is would be to say that it is many different things to different people and, while we could try to define it, perhaps it's simply enough to say that the presence of a father in a child's life is important and that, in general, children are better off with a father than without one.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Teaching Children At Home

Most parents put considerable effort into selecting the right school for their children, and frequently make sacrifices to save enough money to send their children to a good college, because there is little doubt that giving a child a good education is one of the best ways of ensuring a successful career and a secure and happy adult life. In many cases however this focus on school and college leads to parents neglecting another extremely important element of a child's education - teaching children at home.

Daily family life presents parents with dozens of opportunities to teach their children things that they will find both interesting and helpful as the grow up and, in spite of the fact that in many households both parents are busy working people, it's surprising just how easy it is to make time for your children if you organize your daily schedule.

Teaching children at home doesn't mean sitting them down in a formal 'school-like' setting but merely means thinking about day to day activities and using these to provide your teaching materials. Teaching children at home doesn't need to be boring either and both parents and children can have a great deal of fun and learn at the same time.

One secret lies in thinking about what you're doing and how your children could benefit your activity. How many times have you hurried home from work to get in ahead of your kids from school and then sat them in front of the television while you prepared supper? What's going through your mind? You've had a long and stressful day and all you want to do is sit down and relax but first you've got to feed the kids, so you tuck them out of the way so that you can get on quickly, feed them and then at last relax yourself.

Thousands of parents do this same thing every day and everybody misses out as a result. How about trying to do things slightly differently?

First of all, start by getting the kids to help you to prepare supper instead of sitting glued to the television. Sending your kids out into the world knowing how to boil an egg and not a lot else isn't going to help them much, but giving them an interest in cooking will provide them with a very useful life skill.

Next, it gives both you and the kids a chance to talk - something which is sadly missing in all too many households today. Providing an opportunity for your kids to share their successes and failures at school, listening to what's on their minds and allowing them to ask you about your own experiences and seek your advice is invaluable for both parent and kids. In addition, you'll be amazed at how many problems you can avoid simply by knowing what your kids are doing, what they're thinking about and how they're feeling.

Finally, it's a super way to relax! Relaxation after a long day's work doesn't mean lying down on the couch for an hour or two, it merely means giving yourself a change of scene. Putting your day at work behind you and enjoying your kids is one of the best ways to unwind after a long and stressful day at work.

There are hundreds of examples of things that we do each day at home that can be turned into valuable teaching lessons, helping our children to develop and mature and allowing everybody to have fun at the same time.

Education is not, and should not be, just for the educators and there is very considerable value for everybody concerned in teaching children at home.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fathers Day Poems

Many authors and poets have been inspired by the emotional celebration of Father's Day to write and create poems about it. These poems have become an integral part of Father's Day celebrations and have also been embedded into American culture. These poems also help to put into words the special bonding that children have with their fathers. Not only are famous poems usable for Father's Day, but you can also try your hand at writing your own poem as a token of appreciation.

While many authors and poets have published books and poems pertaining to Father's Day, there are many poems available over the Internet. These poems are free and can be used for non-commercial purposes only. The names, numbers and genders can be changed in these poems, thereby increasing their utility value. Some websites have poems which can be sent as e-greetings too.

Father's Day poems make excellent gifts. One can give them in printed form, as books or as lettering in a frame, accompanied with photos of days gone by. Many Father's Day poems are available online. Some of the websites where these poems are available are:

Some heartwarming literature which reflects the love and honor of Father's Day include:
  • My Hero
  • It Takes More Than Blood
  • Daddy's Girl
  • Lessons My Father Taught Me
  • y Father
  • Daddy's Day
  • Play With Me
  • A Little Girl Needs Daddy
  • After My Father Gave Me His Blessing
  • Even Though We've Lived Apart
The various websites offer sonnets and other poems for free. Various search engines will come up with a host of results for Father's Day poems.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Role Of Grandparents In The Parenting Equation

Grandparents play a very important role to in the parenting equation and can be extremely helpful. However, they can also put parents into a 'middle management' position with all the problems that this entails. So just how can you benefit from all of the good things which grandparents can bring into your life and the lives of your children while at the same time avoiding the problems that they can also bring with them?

Over the years grandparents gain considerable wisdom from their own experience of parenting and many of the problems which you face as new parents and which seem quite major will have a simple solution to a grandparent who has seen the problem before. The fact that you are able to turn to grandparents when a problem arises can be both helpful and extremely comforting.

Many parents also lead very busy lives today and often both parents will have careers of their own. The fact that you can call on grandparents to assist with many of the practical daily problems that this poses can also be extremely valuable.

Many of the problems which do arise do so because grandparents don't always find that it is easy to accept that their job as your parents is largely finished and that, having raised you and set you on the right path, it is now time to take a back seat and let you lead your own life. They will always be your parents of course and will continue to love you just as they have always done and will be there for you when you need them. However, their job now is to stand back and to step in only when you need them and when you ask for their help. For many grandparents this isn't easy to accept.

Dealing with the problem of 'interfering' grandparents isn't always difficult and, in many cases, all that is needed is a 'diplomatic' word in their ear. Sometimes however the temptation for them to step in is simply too strong and no matter how diplomatic you are they simply can't help themselves from adding their two cents worth and from lending a helping hand.

When this happens it's often a good idea to take a moment to look at the situation carefully before getting too worked up.

In most cases grandparents merely want what is best for their grandchildren and, although it is often quite a natural reaction to view their advice as interference, generally if you pause to think about it you'll see that their advice does have some, often considerable, merit.

It is also normal for you to allow your annoyance at their interference to overwhelm your sense of objectivity. When this happens, quite minor issues can quickly take on an importance which they don't warrant.

Grandparents have their own views, opinions and desires and while these will not always coincide with your own they still need to be respected. When grandparents decide that they want to do something which you would prefer them not to do, then you need to take a moment to consider whether or not this is going to do any harm or whether it is something that you really feel strongly about. If it is something that you would probably not do but which nonetheless will not do any harm or cause a problem then is it worth getting yourself worked up about it?

Where you feel that the grandparents' actions might cause a problem it is usually possible to find a compromise which everyone is happy with. For example, suppose they want to give your son a bicycle for Christmas but that you feel that he is too young. Rather than simply reject this idea, the secret to this problem lies in steering them in a different direction. You might for example suggest that what your son really needs this year is an activity center which you've seen and which would give him countless hours of fun and would also assist him in developing his reading skills. Merely putting this idea in their heads and leaving them with the option to buy a bicycle at a later date will probably solve the problem.

Occasionally you will run into problems which are not going to be quite so easy to solve. When this happens the solution can often be found by looking for common ground and this is easy when it comes to differences of opinion between parents and grandparents. Whatever your difference of opinion you will both have the best interests of the children uppermost in your minds and, as long as both of you are reminded of this fact, it is usually quite easy to find a solution to most issues.

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