My Son Is Becoming Friends With Boys

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Since your first and best friend, Sophie, moved away in February, you have by default been put in situation where you are becoming friends with other boys.

Up until now, the way it’s worked out is that the kids in your class at school who are closest to you in age are girls- so that’s why you have been more prone to hang out with girls, instead of boys, outside of school.

But now that Sophie is no longer attending your school with you, I’m pleasantly surprised to see you talking to and playing alongside boys when I pick you up from school each day.

There’s even a picture at your school of you and a boy named Alex. The two of you posed arm in arm on Western day for your teacher.

That’s not a side of you I’ve seen much of.

I am very excited by the thought of you having a regular “outside of school” friend that is a boy.

This is because I recognize the importance of having friends of the same gender, not just the opposite.

I remember one of my 1st friends like that in preschool- his name is Russell McElhaney. I still remember that he was my first friend that was a boy. I remember “outside of school” activities with him, like going to each other’s houses to play with He-Man action figures.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve never really written a letter to you that tells a story about you and one of your friends who is a boy.

I predict within the next year you’ll have a friend here in Nashville who you are close enough to that they do indeed end up in a story.

As for now, my next letter is about you going to downtown Nashville, arm in arm between two girls from school.





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Is Spanking Actually More Effective Than The Alternative?

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

I try not to make a big deal about it, but we don’t spank you. However, I’ve mentioned before that until you were born, I was “pro-spanking”.

That changed when you were born, but not because “I didn’t have it in me” to spank you.

Instead, it was because as I’ve been comparing you to other kids your age, I clearly see that you are no worse behaved than those who are spanked.

I just don’t see the benefit of spanking a child, as compared to a child who is disciplined the way I try (!) to discipline  you:

Setting clear expectations to begin with, consistently following through with time-outs, calmly (yet assertively) explain why the punishment occurred, as well as how it can be prevented next time.

I realize now that it’s the lack of discipline that concerns me. That’s why I am very serious about making sure you are effectively and consistently disciplined.

However, I don’t have a problem with other parents spanking their kids, because that’s none of my business. I’m a Libertarian, after all. (Though I would become the Incredible Hulk if I ever found out any other adult, like a teacher, ever spanked you!)

But for me personally, I don’t see how spanking is any more effective than the way I have always tried to discipline you. 

In fact, Richard Rende, PhD, who is an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School and Buter Hospital and a blogger at Red Hot Parenting, cleverly put it this way in his article, Spanking Doesn’t Work:

 ”Let’s keep in mind here the argument for spanking – it’s purported to improve children’s behavior. Studies continue to demonstrate that it does not do this, and in fact often predicts worse behavior. So despite the personal stories and folklore about how a good spanking can change a kid, each empirical study that comes out suggests that it changes a kid for the worse, not better.

If these stories ring true, why don’t we see huge positive effects of spanking when we study kids over time?”

I’m not saying that I’m the best example of a parent… and I really don’t know who is. With that being said, I have to admit, you’re not a kid who gets into trouble.

You’re a 3 year-old. A lot of your issues are based on me not getting you home in time for your afternoon nap.

I have never spanked you and I never plan to. (Plus, Mommy wouldn’t let me even if I wanted to.)

More than anything, I believe in doing what is most effective. Therefore, I discipline you without spanking you… because that’s what’s right for our family’s culture and communication style.

Discipline without spanking is not right or effective for all families, but it is for us.

Love, Daddy

P.S. This video explains 5 alternatives to spanking that Mommy and I try to apply:

1. Ignore attention-seeking behavior.

2. Pay attention to good behavior.

3. Redirect your child.

4. Teach consequences that make sense.

5. Use time-outs for serious offenses.

Discipline Without Spanking
Discipline Without Spanking
Discipline Without Spanking

What’s your parenting style? Take our quiz.

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I Actually Like Buying Groceries With My Kid

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

With Mommy and I both working full-time, it’s a fact that as a family, we are constantly running short on quality time for the three of us together.

So even though it would be more efficient for Mommy just to go buy groceries by herself on Saturday mornings while we stay home, we instead have made it a family routine that we all go to there together.

I have learned that quality family time isn’t always automatic; it’s often something we have to create.

Granted, buying groceries is not necessarily the most stress-free thing to involve a 3 year-old. But finally, it’s gotten to a point where I feel it really is quality family time for us… largely in part because our Whole Foods in Nashville recently purchased about a dozen kid-sized shopping carts.

On the car ride there each Saturday morning, you and Mommy read stories in the back seat while I drive.

Then once we get there, you grab a kid-sized cart and literally help me buy my specific items, like my Synergy brand Kombucha (a source of Vitamin B12 for vegans) and my bottle of balsamic vinegar (I avoid eating oils for salad dressing).

It’s a lot of fun for you and me both. You actually are quite helpful to me- you take the job seriously.

You don’t make a joke of the task. It’s not like you’re running around, crashing the cart into fruit stands. You’ve never tipped over the cart or made a mess of any kind while pushing that little cart.

Then, after we’ve collected my stash, we always have a father-and-son breakfast in the Whole Foods café; which is our version of going out to eat, since most restaurants are not very enticing to plant-based families like us.

By the time we’re finished with our vegan bars and coconut water, Mommy is finished with the rest of the shopping.

What’s not to like? It has become good quality family time for us.

Of course, that kid-sized shopping cart has a lot to do with that. It gives you a purpose and transforms you into Daddy’s little helper, while Mommy has time to do the hard work.  So that way everybody’s happy, even at the grocery store.

Love, Daddy

Test your knowledge of toddler nutrition here!

Sesame Street Lessons: Healthy Eating
Sesame Street Lessons: Healthy Eating
Sesame Street Lessons: Healthy Eating

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The Little Observational Alien In The Back Seat

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Being in the car with you everyday is like having a little observational alien on a visit from outer space, who processes his thoughts out loud regarding the happenings of planet Earth around him.

After having just left the church library with a copy of the Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears A Who! and Horton Hatches The Egg, you invented another Horton book in your head that you asked me about:

“Hey Daddy, what about the book Horton Walks Into A Building? Can we get that one next time?”

Good point. I mean, how could that not be an awesome book? Now you got me pretty curious about what happens once Horton walks into that building. There are just so many possibilities…

Horton walks into a building. I like it.

A few days later we were at a red light, next to a guy smoking a cigarette, with his window down.

I looked back to you to catch your reaction. You were silently and discreetly blowing air, thinking I wasn’t paying attention.

But you saw, then proclaimed, “Hey Daddy, that man blows fog out of his mouth.”

That was the first time you’ve ever seen a person smoking before. I didn’t bother explaining how that works. We’ll just pretend it’s fog for now.

Another time we drove past a pond with ducks in it. Your immediate comment:

“Hey Daddy, some ducks have wings.”

Again, another good point. Some ducks indeed have wings. Maybe it’s just the part of Tennessee we live in, but I’ve actually yet to see the ducks that don’t have wings.

I wonder- do those ducks have arms instead?

Friday morning as we were driving to school, I pointed out to you a small fire up on the hill. I showed you the black smoke as it was rising up like the Smoke Monster from Lost.

You had another “hey Daddy” observation for me:

“Hey Daddy, I think firebirds live there in the mountain.”

I responded by asking you what a firebird is.

“I think it’s just a bird that flies away from the fire,” you explained.

Man. That’s classic. I like having a little observational alien in the backseat.

For all I know you’re secretly reporting back to your home planet like Mork did at the end of each episode.

I hear you talking for about 10 or 15 minutes each night after Mommy puts you to bed.

Maybe that’s you reporting back to the base?

Love, Daddy

Manners & Responsibility:  3 Manners Toddlers Should Know
Manners & Responsibility:  3 Manners Toddlers Should Know
Manners & Responsibility: 3 Manners Toddlers Should Know

How tall will your little alien grow to be? Find out.

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Potential Parenting Trend: Dubble App Sonograms

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

There’s nothing like seeing your child’s sonogram picture for the first time. It’s like Christmas when you’re a kid.

That’s why I think this is a cool story…

Back in the year 2000, I attended a one year Bible college in Hudson, Florida with a guy named Bryce Olson. That summer I was a camp counselor with him and I just remember he was a cool person to be around.

Flash forward 14 years later. Now he and I are both in our early 30s and are Facebook friends.

He always has interesting pictures.

That was definitely the case last week when he posted this mash-up of his sonogram picture and a random stranger’s picture of the sky.

It’s worth checking it out so I’m spreading it Facebook and Twitter too.

I think it’s an epic idea- combining sonograms with other pictures.

How cool it would be if this idea went viral? I would love to see people start uploading their sonograms to Dubble  and posting the results on social media with a special hash tag, like #dubbleappsonogram.

Maybe I should start promoting that idea to other people? I will close with this Facebook comment that my friend Bryce included with his “Dubble app sonogram”.



“So, I recently got this app called Dubble where it generates an image from a photo you submit along with someone else’s photo that is randomly selected. 

What I LOVE about this image so much is that this sonogram photo that we had taken this past week was combined with a photo someone took of the sky.

To my wife @natalieohhh and I, this, which is our first pregnancy, involved over 2 years of trying, prayers, let-downs, tears, frustration, and answered prayers with ultimately God’s hand and perfect timing throughout it all.

We are people who live by faith and believe with all of our hearts it is God who gives life. We have been praying for His will be done and we are continuing to pray this as we have a long way still to go and a lifetime ahead of us to love this, already-living being.

My beautiful wife, Natalie is going to be such an incredible momma and I am asking for God’s strength to be a great father as well. We believe life is a miracle and we will never take this pregnancy for granted and we know it is a miracle.

I pray that whoever took this photo of the sky believes in the God of creation as well and knows the love of the Father, Son & Spirit. As we look to the sky may we all know that there is someone out there who not only created us but also cares and loves us so deeply and intimately.

Thank you Lord for saving my soul and we commit this child to you and are so very thankful! #dubble by mbryceo & pearlthomasdocpho @dubbleapp #dubbleapp ”

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