Posts Tagged ‘
Friday, October 28th, 2011
Yes, I’m that kind of dad. From the very beginning, I have stuck to my guns about my son not being prematurely exposed to TV, computers, smart phones, or any other kind of device that might confuse his brain regarding what is reality and what is a simulated image.
I’ve written about this before, saying that I’m part of the school of thought that believes there is a tie between Autism and TV. For me, letting a child under the age of 2 watch TV is like feeding him soda in a bottle; it’s simply unnatural in every way.
So ultimately, that is why my son isn’t allowed to watch TV, for at least another year. But the physical reason he can’t watch it is because we currently don’t really have one; unless you count the old-school (2006) 34 inch we keep just for watching Netflix and playing Wii, which rarely happens these days.
Even if we could afford cable, we wouldn’t have time to watch it without seriously jeopardizing the small amount of time we have together as a family. The TV we have is so outdated it won’t even pick up the main networks with an antenna.
Additionally, I’m not cool enough to have the Internet on my phone. Therefore, I’m fine with my son playing with my phone: The worst he has done so far is to text the message “xykghild” to an imaginary contact named “olkhgenjnbsd.”Sounds Icelandic to me.
Heck, he doesn’t even have age appropriate toys to play with. How does an eleven month old little boy learn to psychologically mature with a toy basket full of stuffed animals and some wooden blocks he mainly uses for chew toys? He doesn’t.
Instead, my son makes a game out of finding crumbs of a wheat tortilla that fell into the seat of his high chair.
He takes the cupcake pan out of the cabinet and walks to the other side of the room with it; then falls on top of it, using it as a sled across the carpet.
He speaks in some weird robot language to the invisible army of cats he evidently commands on a regular basis.
Honestly, I don’t see how my son would have time for TV and other electronic entertainment even if we could afford it. I guess he’s stuck with just his parents and his imagination. But I really don’t think he minds being a low-tech baby.
My son has plenty of time to catch up to all the cool, tech-savvy toddlers out there. I’m sure he’ll send me a text message from his first day at Kindergarten. That is, if texting isn’t culturally irrelevant by then.
Thursday, October 20th, 2011
Alternate title: “How Not to Look Like a Man in Your 40′s When You’re Really in Your 20′s or 30′s.”
In “Does Becoming a Parent Make You Less Cool?,” I proclaimed that I didn’t want to end up looking like a “bland soccer dad.” What does that even mean?
Let me take you back to my senior year of college. I was working an afternoon shift at Liberty University’s brand-new student center with my culturally aware, straight-talking friend, Anna.
“You totally look like a soccer dad right now,” she said.
At the time, I didn’t realize that was a bad thing, with my faded polo shirt tucked into my khaki cargo pants, paired with tennis shoes and a flat hairstyle that resembled Mike Brady on the first season of The Brady Bunch.
Over time, especially since getting married, I have learned how to dress as a culturally relevant man, not Nick Burns, your company’s computer guy.
So for any dads out there who are wanting to step up their game, I’m here to sincerely help. The truth is, Nick Burns (a Saturday Night Live character played by Jimmy Fallon) is a good place to start; regarding who not to look like.
1. If you are a white man under the age of 40, nix the mustache. It makes you look a pervert. No one takes a young mustached Caucasian man seriously- hence the term, “ironic mustache.”
2. Lose the cell phone belt clip. Just place your phone in your pocket and leave it on vibrate. That way, no one has to hear “Sweet Home Alabama” every time someone calls you.
3. No white socks. Unless you’re playing sports or you’re Michael Jackson in 1985, white socks are nerdy.
4. Give away your pleated pants. Pleats went out with Sears catalogs and Zack Morris cell phones.
5. When it comes to your hairstyle, the key is not to look like a weatherman, who I feel are notorious for having a definite “side part” like the previously mentioned Season One Mike Brady. The truth is, the clean-cut, yet semi-messy “Ryan Seacrest” is the safest way to go right now.
6. Go black, or go brown; but don’t go both. If you are wearing a brown belt, don’t wear black pants or black shoes too; and vice versa.
7. When it comes to jeans, light and baggy says “Hey man, Creed’s coming into town and I’ve got front row tickets!”. Also, do not purchase jean shorts. Like the white man’s mustache, they have become a fashion joke, now referred to as “jorts.”
8. Unless you’re actively on duty in the military, there is no reason for your pants to have cargo pockets. Cargo pants equal “sloppy” except they are part of your required uniform.
9. When wearing a neck tie, which you sporadically should, only wear it with a long-sleeved, collared shirt. I’m sure you don’t want to look like Dwight Schrute.
10. Fact: There is a reason no one ever asks anymore; “boxers or briefs?” That’s because it goes without saying. Boxers.
Passing the Mic:
Can you think of anything to add to my list? Maybe you’ll give me enough material here to write “10 More Ways Not to Look Like a Soccer Dad.”
Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
“Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven.” -Wikipedia’s definition of “purgatory”
I’ve never actually met anyone who truly believes in purgatory, yet I feel that the general population is familiar with the idea of it.
On the final episode of Lost, the people from the Island who had ultimately lived their lives for the goodwill of others instead of greed and selfishness, reunited and reminisced in purgatory before entering Heaven together.
For those who are not Lost fanatics but like the band Coldplay, in their song “42,” some of the most memorable lyrics include the refrain, “You thought you might be a ghost; you didn’t get to Heaven but you made it close.”
Most of us don’t believe in the actual place, but for me at least, there is something pretty fascinating about the concept. I think it’s so easy in this life, in this culture, in this country, to feel like we are lost, or at least that we don’t belong wherever “here” is. We want to think that we deserve to transcend this lowly and boring situation, asking the question:
“What am I supposed to learn from this? Why am I here?”
My life has been filled with stretches like that. Even right now, my wife and I are having to adjust back to the busyness of our full-time jobs in Nashville, this time with a kid; which is a completely new balancing act for us. We are having to figure out and work out our new lifestyles and schedules, making time not only for the three of us, but for the two of us, as well.
It’s a purification process that is not easy; but it is necessary. We can see how natural it can be to let your kid consume your leftover energy and thoughts, slacking on making conscious efforts to keep the marriage relationship fresh and engaging. But we don’t want our lives to end up like Everybody Loves Raymond.
Ultimately, we are being forced to mature our marriage relationship. This “forced maturity” is sort of the whole point of purgatory. You suffer until you overcome.
Not that I am constantly immature or naive, or maybe I am (?), but I am always needing to grow in a way that I never could have without entering my newest purgatory.
But really, the more I think of the literary device we know as purgatory, the more it just seems like a straight forward yet abstract way to describe life itself; the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, we are made ready for Heaven, at best.
We may figuratively compare our lives to hell at times, but really, hell is an eternal end; it’s never-ending loneliness and destruction. Purgatory is temporary.
I don’t mind viewing life as purgatory. Until I pass on in to the afterlife, I will always have much more growing up to do, more necessary suffering, and one more level of maturity to reach- even if I live to be 80.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Must Read, Nostalgia, Spirituality | Tags: afterlife, Coldplay, culture, eternity, finance, God, Heaven, hell, LOST, meaning of life, purgatory, religion
Saturday, June 25th, 2011
My wife and I have a catch phrase in our house: “millionaire mindset.” Whether we are discussing an unnecessary purchase or are patting ourselves on the back for money we cleverly saved somehow, we speak our code word to each other.
It’s our way of reminding ourselves that in order to be successful with what we have been given and blessed with, we have to think with the mindset of a frugal millionaire who worked hard for his fortune. It’s not that we are trying to become millionaires, but it sure won’t hurt if we are wise in our spending; and more importantly in our savings.
So we are not ashamed to use store brand products, to buy used stuff for our son off of Amazon.com or Ebay, and to make our own baby food for him. We keep in mind that while name brand products tend to impress people, they are counter-productive when it comes to financially prospering in the long run. Having a child makes you reconsider your spending habits as well as your saving habits. After all, our son starts college in less than 18 years from now!
There was a time when bigger and flashier was better, when it seemed most people refused to buy store brand products; right down to their hand soap and kitchen table condiments (like it matters that your bottle of mustard says “Kroger” instead of “Hunt’s”.)
I think it’s safe to say that the modern cultural movement is now towards simplicity. We, as a nation, are learning the meaning of “living within our means” and not consuming more than we actually need; that credit cards are the devil and that frequenting all-you-can-eat buffets are an invitation to onset Diabetes.
We get it now that money isn’t everything- and more importantly, that it in theory it’s a waste of time to spend our entire lives chasing more money, only to find that by the time we retire there may be nothing left for our own social security. Money is simply a necessary evil, as far as I’m concerned.
My wife has said several times since we’ve been married, “I could never be a millionaire because I wouldn’t know what to do with the money- I would end up giving it all away.” Exactly. Because no one person can legitimately spend anywhere near a million dollars within a reasonable amount of time, without giving a good portion of it away. Sure, it can be invested, but ultimately, it’s a matter of asking what the end goal is in investing that money. I personally just don’t see much of a point in investing in a bigger lifestyle only to encounter more overhead.
Who knows, though? Maybe all it would take is a million dollars to prove me wrong. I doubt it though. I prefer a laid-back, low maintenance lifestyle. I don’t like extra noise even if I’m wearing the most expensive ear plugs.
I’m sure part of the reason my wife and I have this generational mindset is because we were both born in 1981; the crossroads between Generation X and Generation Y. We were told our whole lives that money isn’t everything, but being happy is. So we believed it. And I guess we always will.
Free buzz cut courtesy of my wife… priceless.
Categories: Home Life, Must Read, Storytelling | Tags: 1981, baby, becoming a millionaire, born in 1981, culture, dad, fatherhood, finances, financial stress, Generation X, Generation Y, millionaire, money, name brand, parenting, spending habits, store brand
Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
Dads need better PR; that’s where I come in…
In popular American culture we are definitely familiar with hearing the term “Supermom;” a phrase which is typically followed by a brief description of itself when it is used in conversation: “She’s Supermom. She does it all- takes care of the kids, the cleaning, the cooking…”. But honestly, have you ever heard anyone use the phrase “Superdad”? My guess is, not until just now.
Why is that? Well, that’s not a tough question to answer. But I will answer it by quoting one of my favorite authors, Michael Chabon, from the first chapter of his book, Manhood for Amateurs: “The handy thing about being a father is that the historic standard is set so pitifully low.” In other words, simply by showing up and “being there,” a man can meet the positive social expectations of being a dad.
Evidently our society is so accustomed to the relatable lyrics of man-bashing songs sung by beautiful young pop singers that part of us begins to believe that most men really are the losers that inspire hopelessly victimized females to post “Men are jerks!” as their Facebook status update.
What I’m not concerned with is what percentage of America’s men really are like the previously mentioned stereotyped villains. Instead, what is worth focusing our attention on are the real life husbands and fathers who are doing it right. When I think of the men in my own life whom I look up to, including friends, family members, co-workers, and even acquaintances, it’s the unsung heroes of fatherhood who come to mind. It’s the men who aren’t insane, selfish, abusive, cruel, idiotic, buffoonish, lazy, cheaters, and/or addicts.
A few weeks ago I was back in Nashville visiting my friend Joe Hendricks, who is expecting his first child with his wife, Rhonda. As we talked about how our lives are changing by becoming dads, he confirmed one of my preconceived ideas when he said, “I really think dads are making a comeback. They’re becoming more actively involved in their kids’ lives than they used to be.”
I believe it. We are reaching a point in history where as a dad, you’re either a hero or a zero- you’re either “all in” or you’re “all out.” Men are learning to find their identity and their purpose in fatherhood, not despite it. In fact, it’s actually cool to be an actively involved dad these days. There are actual social undertones of respect that men receive when it is apparent they sacrifice their own wants and desires for their family.
Is it a coincidence that you are reading a “daddy blog” right now? Why did Parents.com deem it necessary for a normal dad like myself who holds no impressive psychology degree or dozens of years of counseling experience to craft his paternal thoughts before an enormous audience on a daily basis? Because there is value in positive, relevant, everyday (not mediocre) fatherhood. There is a need for the voice of good dads to be heard.
If this so called re-branding of fatherhood is to take place, how can we go about making it happen on a large scale? Do we need to tell men to be better husbands and fathers? Nope, because that would be A) nagging the ones who need to hear it most and B) preaching to the choir for the rest of the men, who already are good fathers and husbands.
That makes me think of a blog post by Jon Acuff of, Stuff Christians Like, who recounts how most Mother’s Day sermons he’s heard throughout his lifetime do nothing but praise mothers, while Father’s Day sermons typically, in contrast, preach to men to step up to the plate and stop being so selfish.
How do you inspire a man? Encouragement. Positive reinforcement. By positively confirming with him what he is doing right, he will become eager to repeat his good behavior. No man wants to be a failure, nor does he want to feel nagged. Especially not a good or decent man.
So as the author of The Dadabase, my focus on deliberately proclaiming this positive re-branding of fatherhood is for the men who are already leading the way. As for the rest, if they’re cool enough, they’ll catch on and join us.