Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

It takes a real man to be a dad

May 28, 2013


Any dude can father a child but it takes a real man to be a dad. Dads are all in, heart and mind, for the long haul, encouraging their kids to become self-reliant young adults. Dads also teach by example that everyone (including children) deserves respect. When we see people treated unfairly it’s not enough to feel uncomfortable. Dads help their sons and daughters develop the social courage it takes to make things better.

OK. Enough of the high-level stuff. Let’s talk in-the-trenches, day-to-day. How does Dad do his best for his kids, especially when they are teens? Check out these tips. Make them part of your daily routine and you’re on your way:

  • Be a safe person to talk to. When your child wants to discuss tongue piercing, a solo cross-country trip, or dropping out of school to pursue hip-hop, stay calm. Take a deep breath. Take ten of them. Fyi, no one’s asking you to approve of every one of your kid’s crazy ideas. But kids need you to listen with respect. And if they ask for advice (don’t give it if they don’t ask), be a consultant and offer your wisest counsel. But do not freak out. Otherwise, they won’t seek your input; they’ll just go behind your back and do whatever they damn please. Which they may do anyway, but at least your voice will be in their head and yes, that can be a powerful antidote to stupidity.
  • Catch them in the act of doing something right. Some fathers believe you teach responsibility by berating kids when they mess up. That’s actually backwards and Dad knows it. Unacceptable behavior is unacceptable. No quibble there. But your kid is more likely to do the right thing consistently when you notice. You don’t need to throw a pizza party or give out gold stickers. Just say something simple like: “It was nice of you to help your brother with his homework.” End of celebration. Simply praise the behavior you want to see more of. It works with kids. Spouses, too.
  • Show your squishy side. There are plenty of fathers who act all mucho macho. But Dad isn’t afraid to express “softer” emotions in front of his kids. He’s also equally at ease when his girls and his boys are upset. When you show your family it’s more than OK to cry, to be afraid, to be compassionate, you teach your sons what it means to be a real (hu)man. And you raise the bar for the kind of partner your daughter will want.

Dads, your love, support and encouragement are essential to your children’s health and well being, so keep up the good work. And Happy Dad’s Day. Enjoy the attention. You deserve it.

Filed under: Holidays,Parenting — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Annie @ 10:15 am

Giving to Get vs. Giving to Give

December 29, 2009

And the tomato gods had a field day

And the tomato gods had a field day

I’m a gardener and by definition that makes me an optimist. Even my farming fizzles don’t deter me from continuing to bury peach pits or old potatoes. Those of you who’ve outgrown playing in the dirt may laugh, but every so often my efforts pay off big time. Like a couple of summers ago when the tomato gods smiled upon us. God did they ever! In fact, they were still laughing their heads off a full week before Halloween. Too bad you can’t carve a tomato.

When it comes to gardening, I’m not ashamed to say that I give only to get. I shower my plants with regular infusions of compost tea and worm castings because I want something in return. I believe that I’m entitled to a major payback for all my efforts otherwise I wouldn’t bother.

When it comes to raising kids, there isn’t really a payback. Not coming directly from them to you. Of course, there are rewards along the way. Like the joy we experience when they succeed at something they’ve worked for. And the pride we feel when our children honor us and themselves by making healthy choices­–especially when we’re not around to prod them. But those perks aren’t why we give to our kids. We’d still do it even if we got nothing to brag about. Why? Because, the simple fact is that we parents are in the business of giving to give. Parenting, unlike marriage, is a one-way street.

Does this mean that you’ll inevitably raise a young adult focused only on her own needs? Hopefully not! Because a big part of what you should be giving your kids is an education about what it means to be thoughtful, loving and compassionate. Hopefully you demonstrate that in the way you treat them. Set clear expectations for the behavior you want them to exhibit and you’ll see more of the good stuff. When you do shower those young ‘uns with praise. And pat yourself on the back. You’re helping to launch a loving spirit into the world.

Now there’s a harvest worth a whole lot more than a basket of tomatoes.

Filed under: Parenting,Tips — Tags: , , — Annie @ 4:59 pm
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