Fatherly Stuff

Apr 7, 2015

Fatherhood From a Point of Reference

We all know that that being a good dad isn’t easy. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that we all tend to suck at it from time to time. Despite this information, there are scores of men-including myself- who wake up each and every morning and become the horse for their children’s piggy back rides, the kisser of their boo-boos, the wiper of their tears.   In other words, many of the decisions we make are with the happiness of our kids in mind. On the other hand, there are just as many men who are selfish, neglectful, or abusive towards their kids. Those men, although being the individual who managed to fertilize an egg that produced a life, in no way deserve to be called a father.

 The moment a man finds out that he is going to be a father, he will immediately find himself in front of a road which diverges into two paths: The road of becoming a good dad is the more difficult path, but the rewards earned by the journey are worth their weight in gold. The other path on the surface is seemingly the easier, but the end of the journey is riddled with nothing but bitterness and resentment and regret for all parties involved. You would think that the decision to walk the “good dad” path would be a no brainier, yet so many men make the choice to go the other way.  So herein lies my question:

 What are the determining factors that make a man choose to walk one path of becoming a good dad versus the other? It sounds like a complicated question, but when you peel back the onion, you'll notice that while the answer might vary based on the circumstances of each man, the common thread between them is their point of reference for fatherhood.

For better or worse, we are all products of the way that we were raised. The person who I am, who you are today is the direct result of how the people who brought us up treated us as children. If you were brought up by a father figure who gives love and support, you're more likely to use that example to become the type of father who provides this for their kids. However, if your fatherhood point of reference is that of someone who was absent and neglectful, then there is a chance that you will also follow suit when you become a father yourself. On the flip side of that, your destiny is not set in stone. There's also the opportunity for growth and evolution if you use those negative experiences to resolve to become the father that you did not have growing up.

How that father figure treated you as a child had shaped your mind and has set you on a path which dictated how your decision making skills will guide you in your life. The inner workings within our character, in our personality that we innately use to choose who we surround ourselves with-be it friends, our significant others, etc., - is either directly or indirectly derived from that point of reference.

Quite often, I have friends and colleagues who compliment me, who look at the fun Facebook and Instagram pictures, assume that this fatherhood thing is all jellybeans and unicorns and will tell me that they look forward to the day they will become a dad. However, they have a very little (if any) of an understanding of the hardships, sacrifices and personal doubts and anxiety that I went through that got me to be where I am today.

Please understand though that the purpose of this exercise is not to give you an excuse for crappy behavior in any shape or form. By reflecting on, and acknowledging your past, you will put yourself in a position that will help you make better decisions in the future. We don't have the ability to choose our environment and role models as a child. But as an adult, we can start to surround ourselves with healthy relationships.

The point of reference doesn't just affect your parenting ability; it can also shape how you interact with other people. For example, if your parents were married for 30 years, your point of reference as an adult will guide you in a direction where you will be more than likely to seek out someone that you can see yourself with for the next 30 years. If your point of reference is more volatile than that, you're more prone to seek out someone that might not workout in the long run.
 
Although my parents divorced at 4, I don’t remember it really affecting me as a child. In fact, it wasn’t until later in my adult life that I realized what a profound impact that point of reference had on me. Most of the relationships that I had before getting married have been short lived, which was mostly due to my efforts. The instability that I witnessed growing up resulted in me unwilling to make meaningful connections with people. Looking back, I now understand that I constantly kept them at arm’s length so I could avoid being hurt. These superficial relationships caused me to unintentionally push people away. When I finally came to an understanding of this, I found myself at a crossroads and was faced with two choices. Either shrug my shoulders and continue my behavior, using my past as a crutch, or I can use my newfound awakening as a learning opportunity and focus my energies to evolve my way of thinking.

So, it is import to reflect and ask yourself this question: What is your fatherhood point of reference? Based on your answer, will you choose to become a better dad/husband because of that reference, or despite of it?


4 Quick and Easy Ways to Save Money Right Now: #IAmProtective

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #IAmProtective #CollectiveBias









If you randomly walked into an economist’s office and demanded that they tell you whether or not the US was in a
recession, they would (besides call for security because a stranger just barged into their office and started asking questions) probably say no. And if you measured the growth of the economy by using indicators such as our GDP or the stock market, they’d technically be right.  However, pose this same question to the average American family who is scraping by, they’d almost certainly say the opposite.  The reality is that there are many people who are still reeling from the effects. And I should know, since I’m one of those families. With two young children, I’ve had to figure out creative ways to keep our budget on track by being protective and by doing more with less. Here are four simple ways to help ease that pain by keeping more money in your wallet. Of all the different things you can do, the methods that I’ve outlined have very minimal effect to quality of life and the impact will also be felt in the short term (2-4 weeks).

Brown Bag It- With the rising cost of eating out, this is one of the first things that should be instilled in your regimen if you’re serious about saving. If you work in an office environment like I do, you might feel some peer pressure to go out to lunch with your colleagues. However, keep in mind that if the cost of lunch is $8 (this amount is on the conservative side), doing this every day is costing you a whopping $160 per month! Instead, consider bringing lunch from home by using techniques such as prepackaging leftover dinner for the following day. I’ve found that the benefits of doing this had gone beyond just fiscal: Since I’m directly controlling my portions, I’m taking in a lot less calories, so I’m feeling healthier as well! 

Cut the (Cable) Cord- These days, having a cable service is considered an expensive and outdated luxury.  When my wife and I decided to get rid of cable for good, we went through all of the channels we had through our service and realized that out of the 100+ channels we had, we only watched about 10 of them. In lieu of cable, we picked up a streaming service (i.e. Netflix, Hulu, Prime, etc.), so we could have some entertainment when we needed, but for only a fraction of what we were paying before.  Since we cut the cord, we have found that we have found more productive ways to spend our time together as a family.


(Semi) Extreme Couponing- You don’t have to have cable to know about America’s latest sideshow, extreme couponing. This hobby consists of men and women who dedicate copious amounts of their time and energy in order to obtain the most insane deals ever. These are the people who get $100 worth of items for only $10. While some of these feats are admirable, most people just don’t have that level of insanity time to put into in. However, there are some couponing strategies that I’ve observed, which I employ in my own life. For example, if I have a coupon for cereal, I will try to combine it with an in-store sale in order to optimize my savings potential. 




 Play Hard to Get- It is a great time to be a customer. With ever increasing competition, companies are doing everything within their power to keep your business. In fact, some companies even have a special department (usually call retention) whose sole existence is dedicated to doing just that. A great example of this is with our car insurance. We were paying $200 per month, and we felt that was way too high. So, we called our carrier and let them know that we were considering switching providers. By the end of our phone call, we ended up with a monthly charge of only $120. Be smart, do your research before calling and you will ensure that the odds will remain in your favor.

While researching saving techniques, I came across this learning library by Protective Life. This is a great resource that covers a variety of topics, such as money management  and life insurance.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #IAmProtective #CollectiveBias - See more at: http://spaceshipsandlaserbeams.com/blog/2015/03/boyish-charm/my-new-adventure-blogging-full-time-iamprotective#sthash.j1l15pA8.dpuf

   
 I'd love to hear your thoughts. Comment below and tell me what other tips and tricks work for you. Thanks for reading! 

Mar 17, 2015

The Road to Gender Equality



When you first think of  solutions for "women's equality", what are the things the pop into your head? Equal pay? Breaking glass ceilings? Ronda Rousey?

Whatever you were thinking, I'm willing to bet my grandpa's jazz vinyl collection that paternity leave was not very high on your list. According to a recent NPR article however, providing paid leave to men in order for them to stay home with their children just might be another tool for forward progression. The article states:
Granting paid days off to a new dad sets a pattern for both parents to share the caring from the get-go and boosts chances for women to stay in the work force because they're not the sole caregivers.

Which totally makes sense. Looking back to the births of both my children, I remember being told by my respective supervisors (different jobs, with no paternity leave) to "take all the time I need". But reading in between the lines, there was an unspoken expectation that I should be back at work after only a few days, which in retrospect was not nearly enough time. Those early stages of life are critical for bonding and also for establishing the precedent for how the co-parenting duties will be handled between mother and father:

"when men fail to become active co-parents in the first few months of the child's life, it sets up a pattern that is difficult to change."
 The United States certainly seems to be behind on the trend. Currently, there are 92 countries that offer paid maternity leave and 96 which offer paid leave for both mothers and fathers. Of the remaining 9 countries that have neither, the US is the only developed country. While the US does have FMLA that is available, it is not paid and in the scope of baby bonding, only moms can take advantage of it.

We're basically that awkward dude at the wedding who sits arm-crossed at the table while all of his friends are on the dance floor, all because he thinks he's too cool to do the funky chicken. Come on, America. Let's not be "that guy". We're definitely not too cool for the funky chicken. So get your ass up out of that seat and get down with the rest of your buddies.

 In the end,  establishing (and normalizing) paid paternity (and maternity) leave in the US will encourage men to take on the primary caregiver role. This will in turn afford more women the freedom to pursue personal/professional goals without guilt or social pressure. So, you can say that the road to gender equality is paved with diapers, bottles, and baby wipes.

You can read the full article HERE