Posts Tagged ‘ no regrets parenting ’

A Jackie Robinson Moment for Dads

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Parents magazine June 2014 Nick Lachey dads coverParents magazine June 2014 Nick and Vanessa Lachey coverEditor’s Note: In an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month with advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart on Goodyblog and on Parents Perspective.

I received my Father’s Day gift early this year when my June 2014 issue of Parents magazine arrived in the mail as always, a couple weeks ahead of the date on the cover.  There, before my grateful eyes, was a DAD on the cover, with his gorgeous son on his shoulders! Okay, it wasn’t just any dad, but celebrity dad Nick Lachey. Still, it’s a dad and his son on the cover of the best parenting magazine in the world (full disclosure: I am on the advisory board of Parents magazine, but it is the best parenting magazine in the world!). There are actually two covers of this issue of Parents. Flipping the magazine over, the “other” cover features Nick and his wife, Vanessa, with their son, Cameron.  So there are two pictures of a dad on Parents magazine this month.

Why am I so excited to see a dad on the cover of the best parenting magazine in the world? Because, in the world of parenting, this is a Jackie Robinson moment. A Michael Sam moment. An Emily Keicher moment. (Who is Emily Keicher? See below.) I love moms, and I would never want to diminish the importance of moms. I’ve been married to the wonderful mom of our kids for 27 years. But I’m a dad. And I have read every page of Parents magazine every month for many, many years. I’m a much better dad for reading Parents magazine. I’m also a much better pediatrician for reading Parents magazine. But in all my years of reading Parents and other national parenting magazines, seeing a dad on the cover solo with his child is a first for me.

Groundbreaking covers are not a new phenomenon for Parents magazine. Readers continue to buzz about the magical February 2013 cover story featuring Emily Keicher, a gorgeous 3-year-old with spina bifida who walks with the aid of leg braces and a walker. And how about the April 2014 cover featuring Chloe and Daniel Molina, 3- and 5-year-old siblings who both have autism?  And now this, a DAD on the cover with his son.

Last fall I had the privilege of giving the keynote address at the 18th annual convention of the National At-Home Dad Network. They estimate that at least 1.4 million dads are home with their kids. At the convention, I was witness to the extraordinary commitment these men have made to their families. Typically, my own “No Regrets Parenting” seminars focus on helping busy parents make the most of the time they spend with their kids, and finding more time, despite their frenzied lives. But, for the At-Home Dads keynote, I also described the two additional challenges that stay-at-home parents, dads or moms, must face:

1. Making sure the need for efficiency—getting everyone where they need to be when they need to be there, and getting everything done around the house—doesn’t overwhelm the joyous experience parenting should be.

2. Helping the working spouse or partner to get more out of his or her parenting experience.

I hope I was able to convey those important ideas to those dads. But whatever I was able to contribute, they contributed more to me in the lengthy and animated question-and-answer period following my talk. I started the discussion by asking what works in other families to make parenting more fun. I wish I had recorded the answers—it would have been my next book! There were fabulous ideas, including “Talk like a pirate (on International Talk Like a Pirate Day),” “Celebrate May the Force Be With You Day (on May 4, of course!),” telling practical jokes (like putting a fork in kids’ breakfast cereal for a hoot), arranging scavenger hunts and “geocaching,” making homemade ice cream, and hosting costume parties.

Jane Goodall, the famous researcher of primates who was childless, is quoted as saying: “One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.” Well, one thing I learned (among many) from the At-Home Dads is that dads DO know how to have fun with their kids. Cover dad Nick Lachey sure looks like he’s having fun with his son.

Happy Father’s Day to dads everywhere, whether you stay at home each day or struggle to get home most days in time for bedtime. Thanks for all the good stuff you are doing for your kids.

And pick up a copy of the June 2014 Parents magazine—Dads, it’s YOUR magazine this month!

Nick and Vanessa Lachey: The New Parents Game
Nick and Vanessa Lachey: The New Parents Game
Nick and Vanessa Lachey: The New Parents Game

Plus: What’s your parenting style? Take our quiz to find out!

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of four books for parents and families, including No Regrets Parenting and 940 Saturdays. He is also a Parents advisor and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

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A Graduation Speech for Parents

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Graduated boy wearing graduation capEditor’s Note: In an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month with advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart on Goodyblog and on Parents Perspective.

For many parents, May and June are graduation months. Those of you with young kids may be planning to attend graduation ceremonies from preschool or kindergarten, or perhaps “continuation” ceremonies between grade school and middle school. But whatever ages your kids are now, I urge you to look into the future and picture them older, almost grown, preparing for high school graduation and almost ready to leave home. That’s why I wrote my book No Regrets Parenting, which asks you to do just that—to make present-day choices about the time you spend with your kids while also picturing the day when the choices will no longer be yours to make. Indeed, when your kids are out of the house and on their own someday, their schedules will be more important than yours in determining the time you spend together. So I ask you to parent each day with an eye toward the future, realizing that the time you spend with your kids now is precious and fleeting. If you’re still stuck in the sometimes overwhelming routines of diaper changes, bedtime struggles, car pools, sleepovers, and after-school activities, high school graduation probably seems like a distant mirage. But even though the days now may feel very long, the years are short, and high school graduation will be here in the blink of an eye.

When your kids begin making plans to move on—to college or other adult pursuits—you’ll experience a graduation of sorts yourself. You’ll graduate from being the parent of kids at home to being the parent of kids on their own, who are “semi-launched,” as we say in our house. Your parenting doesn’t end when the kids leave for college, but it changes dramatically. When that day arrives, when you “graduate” from being the parent of kids at home, here’s the graduation speech I’d like you to be able to give:

I’ve done it!

They’re in college or out in the world!

I raised wonderful children who love their parents and know their parents.

I turned countless childhood minutes, hours, days, and weeks that would have otherwise been lost in the name of efficiency into special moments that I’ll cherish forever.

I was there with them every chance I had, and I created chances to be with them that I never imagined I could.

And as reward for my commitment, passion, and love, I can now pass by their empty bedrooms, feeling fond nostalgia and missing them terribly. But what a blessing it is to feel No Regrets!

The days were long, the years were short, and the time I had with them was then. But I made the time and I took the time.

Now it’s my time.

I’ve earned it.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

And while you are at it, award yourself this “World’s Greatest Mom” certificate. You know you deserve it!

Mom Confessions: If I Could Spend a Day Without My Kids I Would¿
Mom Confessions: If I Could Spend a Day Without My Kids I Would¿
Mom Confessions: If I Could Spend a Day Without My Kids I Would¿

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

Image: Graduated boy with mortarboard cheeringvia Shutterstock

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What Are Our Kids Really Thinking?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Asian baby girl thinking question marksEditor’s Note: In an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month with advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart on Goodyblog and on Parents Perspective.

Have you ever wondered what our pre-verbal infants and young toddlers are really thinking when we bundle them up, strap them in, and drag them along with us as we go about performing our adult to-do lists? As kids get older, of course, we can explain our plans for their day. Although they may not always agree, at least they know what’s in store for them: “We’re going to the mall,” “We’re dropping your sister at a friend’s,” “We’re visiting Grandma.” And they may answer, in adorable toddler Tarzan-speak, “Want ice cream!” “Need potty!” “More ice cream!” Or, simply, and not so adorably, “NO!!” Some days they might end up on the supermarket floor throwing a tantrum: “DON’T WANT TO!!” For better or worse, when they can speak, at least we know their opinions on the matter at hand.

But in the more tranquil months before they communicate with words, it’s only their gestures, body language, and the tone of their whimpering (or shrieking) that give us clues to their innermost feelings about…well, about everything! In particular, my wife and I were always curious about what our little ones thought we were doing when we packed them into a baby carrier, backpack, or car seat and set them in motion. It must have been especially weird for them when they were facing backward, looking at our chests or at the car seatback. What was it like for them to be helpless hostages to our adult whims, never knowing when each journey would begin, how long it would last, or where it would end?

I’ve come to believe that kids store up their responses to the ways we manipulate their lives until the day they have just enough vocabulary to burst forth with a revelation. Case in point: our youngest son’s first sentence, uttered into a plastic toy telephone while strapped into his car seat in the back of the minivan, was, “Driving-car-pool-be-little-late.” Or perhaps it wasn’t a sentence at all. It actually came out sounding like he thought it was one really long word, a “word” he’d undoubtedly heard his parents use far too often. He had accompanied his older siblings and their friends on the ride to school with us so many times that he learned to associate the term “car pool” with turning right-left-right-right-left after leaving the driveway. As it turns out, he knew where he was headed long before he could speak. And when he finally could speak, it all came out at once: “Driving-car-pool-be-little-late.”

Not long after that, he surprised us again with his growing car seat lexicon when, as we pulled into the hardware store’s parking lot, he shrieked, “NO MORE ERRANDS!!”

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?

What’s your parenting style? Take our quiz to find out!

 

Image: Wondering Asian baby via Shutterstock

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Pajama Walks Before Bedtime

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Parent and child walking at nightEditor’s Note: In an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month with advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart on Goodyblog and on Parents Perspective.

The daily choreography of dressing, feeding, teaching, and transporting our kids is daunting, and often leaves precious few moments for truly enjoying them. When you think about how much time we spend stressed out with our young kids, you can’t help wondering how many more meaningful moments we could capture from each long, hard day if we could only decompress some of those stressful minutes. Well, you can! Let’s start with one of the toughest challenges: bedtime.

Perhaps no period of the day is more stressful for parents than the minutes leading up to bedtime; they can be chaotic and tense. The kids are bouncing off the walls, hyperkinetic from a full day of action, impossible to calm down. You’re exhausted and need the kids in bed, asleep, to regain your mojo (or to go to bed yourself!). But they need one more glass of water or one more story. They suddenly remember the homework they forgot to do, the friend they forgot to text, or that their favorite team is on TV tonight (“please, mom, just one more minute!”). The night-light isn’t bright enough, the hallway is too noisy, the closet is scarier than usual. Kids are at their imaginative best when finding ways to delay or disrupt bedtime.

There is lots of advice out there addressing the best ways to calm and quiet the kids before tucking them in. As spring nears, with warmer weather and longer daylight on the way, one of my favorite techniques is a pre-bedtime pajama walk. Not only does it give kids gentle, tranquil moments when they can decompress from their hyper after-dinner activities, but it also gives parents special moments with their kids that otherwise might have been lost to TV, social media, and video games. Or, worse—these moments might have been wasted yelling and screaming at each other. The key to pajama walks is the pajamas. First, get the kids completely ready for bed: teeth brushed, faces washed, pajamas on. Then take their hands for a walk, or put them in their stroller, on their tricycle, or on their two-wheeler, and meander slowly around the neighborhood. No snacks en route (their teeth are already brushed!); don’t kick a soccer ball along the way or bring baseball mitts; postpone animated conversations until tomorrow. These are the mellow moments.

I’ve given a lot of thought to why pajama walks work so well—and they do work well! It’s because kids understand the concept of “going someplace.” They go to Grandma’s house, to the store, to preschool or school, to the park. But “bed” isn’t “someplace,” and kids don’t get the idea of going to bed, so they don’t — they dawdle and fuss and resist. The beauty of pajama walks is that kids are going someplace, so they (and you) can bypass the drama of bedtime inertia. It may take a couple of laps around the block, but by the time you return home with your kids, they will be in a fresh-air trance and ready for a bedtime story; they may even fall asleep on the way and just need your tender transfer into the house and under the covers.

And now it’s time to find your mojo again.

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Sesame Street Lessons: Bedtime Routines
Sesame Street Lessons: Bedtime Routines
Sesame Street Lessons: Bedtime Routines

Image: Father and son walking at night via Shutterstock

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This New Year, Resolve to Notice Your Kids’ Priority Lists

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

You Can Do It Yes No Ok BoardEditor’s Note: In an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month with advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart on Goodyblog and on Parents Perspective.

My wife said something the other day that made me laugh and think. She noticed something around the house that needed fixing or cleaning or throwing out (I can’t remember what it was exactly, for the reasons you’ll read in a minute). When I looked blank (which is common), she said, “You mean you never noticed that it needed (fixing or cleaning or throwing out)?!” Needless to say, I hadn’t noticed something that so obviously needed fixing or cleaning or throwing out. Ever. Not once. Didn’t cross my mind. Completely under my radar.

That’s when she said what we’ve both known for 27 years of marriage: “In combination we think of most everything, but we never both think of the same things.” The list in my brain of things to do, worry about, and discuss with Sara is completely different from the list in her brain of things to do, worry about, and discuss with me. As a result, we surprise each other a lot. “Really, you think the door needs refinishing? Which door? Why?” And then, inevitably, after she shows me the door she’s been obsessing over, I say something lame (but true) like, “But it looks fine to me…”

So what makes us still compatible? How have we reconciled our lists? After all, I never consider the way the dog looks before out-of-town company arrives at our home, but that’s exactly when grooming the dog soars to the top of Sara’s list. She doesn’t stress about the kids’ final deadline for college classes like I do. I never notice when my shirts develop yellow armpit stains; she does. She also vacuums the inside of the van, which I would never think of. I can’t figure out how to turn on the cable TV; she knows how to reboot the whole house. My car leaks oil, so I put a big piece of cardboard down to protect the garage floor; Sara changes the spark plugs and replaces the leaky gasket (or pan or belt or whatever) to stop the leak. I’m thrilled she plastered the hole in the ceiling; she’s upset because the patch doesn’t look smooth. I didn’t notice. “You mean you never noticed?!”

Our kids know there’s a distinct distribution of labor between their parents. They know exactly whom to call with any particular problem. I never hear about clothes, checking accounts, credit cards, or car problems. Maybe that’s because they all start with C, but I think it’s actually because I don’t really know anything about those things. Sara never hears about tests, term papers, thesis defense, or trades the Broncos or Rockies just made. Maybe that’s because they all start with T, but I think it’s actually because the kids need something to talk about with me after Sara takes care of all the important stuff in their lives. The kids also know exactly whom to ask about fun or expensive things—they know I’ll be a killjoy, party pooper, and wet blanket about them. Sara’s in charge of fun; I’m in charge of setting limits and saying no. That’s because Sara is fun, and I’m practical.

Thankfully, on the Big Items, we’re on the same page. Always. Our lists are a perfect match. We share our priorities for family, health, faith, core values, and dreams for our kids. And I’ve concluded that Big Items are what make people compatible. But it would sure help if we were better at noticing the things on each others’ lists.

It’s just as important to notice our kids’ lists, too. The high-priority items on their lists may not even make it on to your list; events and crises in your kids’ lives may seem trivial to you, but they are front-page news for your kids. (The reverse is certainly true, too.) But compatibility with your kids is still possible. This New Year, resolve to respect your kids’ lists; if something’s important to them, even if you never would have thought about it, make it important to you, too. Share everyone’s accomplishments of the day at dinner, and marvel about your kids’ plans for tomorrow. Talk about what’s bothering them or exciting them, even if you have to work hard to show your profound interest. It’s also important to remind your kids that grown-ups have priorities and responsibilities kids may never notice or understand, and they need to respect your list, too. But when explaining your list, never minimize what your kids think about, worry about, or want to discuss.

And always make sure the Big Items in your family’s life are shared on everyone’s lists—ultimately, that’s what makes parents and kids compatible.

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

Image: You can do it via Shutterstock

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