Posts Tagged ‘ blog ’

Dads are From Neptune, Moms are From Pluto

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Seven months.

The DadabaseWhat do some parenting blog titles reveal about certain insecurities that we may have as parents?

Back in March when I was trying to figure out what I was going to rename this dad blog for Parents.com, obviously the first thing I did was to Google-skim (I made that word up but I assume you’re hip enough to get it) the Internet for inspiration and to check out my competition… I mean, my… fellow dad bloggers.  During my 43 minutes of research, I picked up on blog name patterns for both dad bloggers and mommy bloggers.

The dad bloggers who were more vulnerable and self-depreciating with their blog names often focused on the fact that they didn’t know what they were doing, with titles like “Rookie Dad,” “Thingmababy,” “Daddy Knows Less,” and “Daddy’s In Charge?”.

Meanwhile, their mom blogging counterparts often focused on their attempts to organize the chaos of motherhood with “Three Kid Circus,” “And Then She Snapped,” “I Want a Nap,” “The Tightrope Walk,” “The Life of a Juggling Mom,” and “Cinderella is Falling Down.”

If I were to extract the assumed meaning of this particular pattern I discovered, it would be this: Dads want to be helpful and productive, but don’t necessarily know what to do by instinct.  And moms more instinctively know what to do, but they just don’t always have enough energy, “sanity”, and/or time in the day to get it done.

So I assume if these characteristics are at least somewhat true for those of us who blog about our daily parenting experiences, they are typically just as true for the parents who don’t blog about it.  There’s a reason why these blog titles I’ve mentioned do indeed ring true with readers.

Evidently, dads have the energy, sanity and time to get the job done, but not the know-how.  Conversely, moms have the know-how, but again, not the energy, sanity, and/or time in the day to do it.  As dad-and-mom teams, we have everything we need to pull this thing off.  It’s a matter of working together to win this three legged race.  Actually, we don’t even need to win the race; all we have to do is run it.

Or hop it.  Or walk it… whatever it takes for the family to move forward, together.

How can you enhance your own parenting skills today? Communication: Ask your spouse for help and be vulnerable enough to tell him or her the ways you feel sub-par as a co-parent. By nature, it’s easy to want to help someone who is being humble enough to ask for your help than someone who is complaining for lack of it.

I guarantee that your spouse abounds in the things you lack as a parent.  And have this conversation with them: Acknowledge that one of you often feels like a third wheel who tries to contribute in caring for your child, but often gets discouraged by not having the instincts to know what to do when it comes to parenting.  And that the other person often feels overwhelmed by the never-ending list of stuff that needs to get done. Then work out a plan accordingly. Then act on it.

We can allow ourselves to remain frustrated by our deficiencies or we can celebrate and make good use of each other’s goods and services.  As for me, I’ll always choose working smart over working hard. And working smart, in this instance, means confessing my weaknesses so that my strengths can be best utilized in both marriage and parenting.

All pictures were taken courtesy of Dave Stanley at Little River Falls in Fort Payne, Alabama.

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A Parent Obsessed with Constructive Criticism

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Seven months.

I am fixated on being the best version of myself I can be; especially when it comes to being a parent.  So I seriously wonder if anyone else in the world is as excited as I am to receive constructive criticism?

baby hat Good HousekeepingIt’s nearly hilarious how in the unsupervised playground of the blog comments world, some adults instantly become childish.  Some are only there to pick fights with either the author or other commenters, trigger-happy to name-call a random stranger; including but not limited “idiot,” “moron,” and “naive.”  If these blog comment snipers can find an angle to make another person look less intelligent than they are, it evidently gives the blog comment sniper a feeling of superiority.

There is a school of thought among some blog authors that by allowing these dog fights to occur in the comment section of their post, it will at least help drive traffic to their site- therefore, nearly anything in the comments section is allowed.  Well, I am not one of those blog authors and this is not one of those kinds of blogs.  If a comment is malicious, condescendingly sarcastic, or deconstructive, I simply won’t approve it.  Just because we are in the seemingly imaginary avatar world of the blogosphere, it doesn’t mean that the tradition of treating people with respect should disappear.

Note: So far, out of 102 posts here on The Dadabase, no one has left an inappropriate or disrespectful comment, so thanks for being cool!

I do allow comments with constructive criticism; just not deconstructive criticism. In fact, as the title’s message conveyed, I love and appreciate constructive criticism.

Constructive criticism truly never hurts my feelings or makes me feel bad about myself.  I never take it personally.  Because I am constantly overly aware that in each area of my life, there is still room for improvement.  I depend on people telling me exactly how to improve- whether it’s what I do at work, at home, relationships with people, etc. So while I don’t go around fishing for constructive criticism, I always am excited to hear it. Because it means I get to become better at something.

baby in overallsHowever, constructive criticism means giving specific advice.  If I am told, “You need to work on this,” without being given exact instruction on how to get better, I will in that case, get offended and frustrated. That would be an insult because the person is not respecting me enough to tell me exactly how to help myself.

I live by the belief that if you’re willing to bring up a problem to another person, you need to A) provide a proposed solution and/or B) ask that person to help you find one.

The way I see the world, everyday is filled with constructive criticisms anyway- whether or not it is spoken to me directly by another person.  In fact, much of what I deem “constructive criticism” is actually just daily observational self-teaching. Sometimes it’s little things I observe in my social interactions; like what not to say in a conversation, after receiving a weird look from another person, or an awkward moment of silence. Sometimes it’s learning a better way to interact with my son as he is going through a new phase.  Or learning a quicker way to rock him to sleep.

Each morning when I wake up, it’s like there’s an invisible scorecard that pops up in my head.  It consists of a dozen little empty boxes, ready to be checked off each time I learn something new about myself.  If I don’t learn anything constructive that day, then subconsciously I feel that day has been wasted.  I thrive on constructive criticism; it gives me a sense of validation.

baby puppyWhen someone has the guts to be bold enough to teach me how to improve at anything, I feel an enormous amount of respect for that person.  Why get offended if someone tells me that I have a black bean skin stuck on my tooth?  Instead, I would thank them and respect them for letting me know.  But the importance of constructive criticism doesn’t just apply to after-lunch moments. For me, it applies to all situations in which my world can be improved.

Call it a superhero type of ability, but I literally am immune to being hurt by any criticism that’s constructive.  There is not one tiny fiber anywhere in my body that is the least bit injured when I learn to do something better than the way I’ve been doing it.

I’ve asked other people about how they perceive constructive criticism and some have told me though it would be unwise to ignore good advice, they feel disappointed in themselves for not already doing it the best way to begin with. While I do recognize that as a valid way to feel and while I try to empathize, I simply can’t relate to that mindset.  Because I evidently am wired weird and it seems most people I’ve talked to can not relate to how my mind works regarding this issue.  So I fully acknowledge that I’m weird for thinking the way I do.

Yes, it’s an obsession of mine, but I have to know that I am the best man I can be. I see it as a frivolous goal to try to be better than any other person.  So as a father and husband, I’m not competing with other men.  I am competing with myself.  I am in competition with tomorrow’s version of myself, because tomorrow’s version is more improved than today’s version.  So the one person I am trying to better than is me.

I’m not a perfectionist.  That to me, would be a waste of my energy.  I’m not chasing that magical unicorn of perfection.  I just want to be better than myself and I refuse to let any amount of pride or self-conservation get in the way of that.

BONUS- Wikipedia’s definitions of the two major kinds of criticism:

Constructive criticism aims to show that the intent or purpose of something is better served by an alternative approach. In this case, the target of criticism is not necessarily deemed wrong, and its purpose is respected; rather, it is claimed that the same goal could be better achieved via a different route.

Negative criticism (or deconstructive criticism, as I call it) means voicing an objection to something only with the purpose of showing that it is simply wrong, false, mistaken, nonsensical, objectionable, disreputable or evil. Negative criticism is also often interpreted as an attack against a person.

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The Magically Entertaining Wooden Spoon and Other “Toys”

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Seven months.

Luv's diapers

What interesting “toys” does your baby get to play with?

By now it’s nearly cliché to point out the irony in a kid getting more enjoyment out of the cardboard box that a toy is packaged in rather than the actual toy itself. So I won’t. But similarly, I will point out a few other seemingly mundane household items that currently serve as Jack’s greatest form of entertainment.

baby and air vent

His biggest fascination is with air vents; whether or not air is actually coming out of them.  I suppose that to him, he gets a thrill out of the anxiety of wondering at which exact moment the cold air will suddenly begin blowing on his face and through his hair.  Jack hovers over and around the air vent like it’s some magical wishing well, about to grant him his wish of an instant set of teeth in which he could use to eat veggie pizza with his parents.  Or at least a masculine unicorn to ride on.

The Dadabase

But for the times that Jack prefers a more hands-on experience, there is the amazing wooden spoon!  Thanks to my wife’s creative thinking, Jack now has a wondrous multipurpose toy that can be used for the following:

1) Jack can use to the handle to repeatedly ram his leg, while joyously smiling.

2) Jack can use the head of the spoon to repeatedly hit himself in the forehead, again, while joyously smiling.

3) Jack can pretend the wooden spoon is a Popsicle, tasting its delicious wooden flavor.

4) Jack can practice his self-invented stunt of attempting to crawl while carrying the spoon in one hand.

5) Jack can wave the wooden spoon around in the air like he’s conducting a choir of enchanted kittens.

crawling baby

Should Jack ever tire of the wooden spoon, there is always the back-up plan.  Yes, the paper towel roll.  While Jack can basically use it in the same ways he uses the spoon, he can additionally become mesmerized by watching me put the paper towel roll to my mouth to make weird falsetto humming noises through it; like a giant kazoo.  It works similar to the way Indian men charm snakes.

I am a certified baby charmer.

And fortunately, Jack is like a cat in that he can entertain himself with nearly any random household object.  The question is, who is more entertained by the magical wooden spoon and its other glorious counterparts?  My infant son for finding entertainment value in it,  or me for finding entertainment value in watching him find entertainment value in it?

The Dadabase

The Dadabase

P.S. As I post this, my sister is in labor with her first child.  Jack’s about to get a new cousin!  And I’m about to be an uncle for the first time, through blood.

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The Amazingly Obnoxious Sound of the Baby Buzzer!

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Six months.

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Want to hear the most annoying sound in the world?  No, it’s not that weird mutant sheep sound that Jim Carey makes in the classic comedy, Dumb and Dumber. Instead, the noise that rattles my cage and ruffles my feathers every time is the cry of my son.

Yes, he is an easy going little guy.  But he is human.  So when he cries for lack of sleep or food, everyone in the room becomes aware of it.

It’s a high frequency, shrill, scratchy, siren that makes me turn my head a little sideways whenever I hear it.  There is no way to ignore him when he cries.

His cry is motivating; that’s for sure.  It instantly motivates me to rush to fix whatever the problem is; mainly so the noise will stop wrecking my inner ears. But also because he’s a little baby who can’t communicate the way we adults can. All he can do is cry, at this point in his development.

So I have to respect that process, despite the fact that his crying is downright offensive to listen to.  He doesn’t ask nicely.  He doesn’t give me a minute to finish up whatever I’m in the middle of.  Hearing that cry is the worst sound to be interrupted by.

The Dadabase

But God knew what He was doing when He designed babies to cry like they do. Imagine a world where you could actually ignore a baby when they need something.  I can’t.  A baby’s cry is part of the necessary breaking-down phase of parenthood.

My son’s cry is the height of what I call “the baby buzzer.”  If his cry is a “10″ (on a scale of 1 to 10), then down at “1″ is his gentle correcting sound he makes when I am rocking him to sleep, but not holding his head at the right angle.

I hear, “mrrrraghttk…” It’s like his way of saying, “Nice try, but no cigar.”  That sound makes me think of a cross between Frankenstein and the sound effect when you touch the tweezers to the metal in the board game Operation.

It can be challenging for me to deal with a baby who can’t communicate the same way as I do.  Because I am a guy who is obsessed with open, clear, positive communication. But with a baby, a lot gets lost in translation.  Somewhere between my “Why are you crying?!” and his “I’m laying down on my pacifier and it’s hurting my back!”

I’ll be glad when he and I speak the same language.

Yes.  I know, that’s a whole other ball game: A kid that can say “no.”

baby sleeping

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Southeast Tornadoes April 2011, Part 1

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Week 23 (5 months).

Jack, helping us survey for storm damage this morning.

Thank the Good Lord, we were spared from the damage of the violent tornadoes this week.  Granted, I’m writing this from inside a Starbucks across the state border, in Rome, Georgia.  That’s because currently, it is my understanding, that most of Northeast Alabama is without power and Internet.  Sadly, nearly 300 have been confirmed dead because of this week’s storms in the Southeast- not to mention all of the homes, businesses, and churches that have been destroyed.

Our next door neighbor's front yard.

I came home from work yesterday and at ate an early dinner with my family, and as I finished my last bite of dinner, the power went out.  Thinking the power would eventually come back on, we spent most of the next four hours in the bathtub.  By bedtime, it was safe to get out of the tub, but still no power.  This morning when I woke up I learned by calling my dad that there was no need to show up to work since the whole city was without power  too.  We are expecting to be without power for five days.

We salvaged what we could from the refrigerator and made it our lunch.  After we leave Starbucks in a few minutes, we will pick up some nonperishable groceries to last us until the beginning of next week.  I am extremely grateful that all my family and our homes were not damaged by the storms, but I can’t help but constantly think about and pray for all those who were not so fortunate.

Even if our power wouldn’t have went last night, the constant weather coverage would have prevented us from watching our friend Diana on Wheel of Fortune.  So we just watched on YouTube a few minutes ago:

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