Be Known

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My Dad – 1956

It’s around this time of year that being a father takes on a deeper meaning for me and it has nothing to do with the holidays. My father was born in November and each year on his birthday, I remember that another year has passed since he died in 2008. He was only 67 years old.

The thing I remember most is how little I knew about him.

I still recall his retirement party and asking him to recount each job he’d held since he started working. I finally wanted to know more about him as a person. I don’t know why it took me so long to take an active interest in his life – who he was as a young man, what his dreams had been and future dreams were, who his friends were and to hear tales about how he grew up. Those types of conversations were ones I’d never considered starting.

Of course, I knew what he had done for a living. I knew what his role in the household was. But I had no idea who he was. We’d never had the type of relationship, by no real fault of his, where those types of talks would happen naturally. He had tried a few times, when I was an unbearably rebellious pre-teen, to spend time with me golfing or fishing. It wasn’t easy for him.  I was the youngest of five, with siblings all within six years of age, and I’m sure his hands were pretty full.  I just wasn’t interested or was too preoccupied…and at that age I still hadn’t grasped how finite our time here really is.  And by the time I had matured enough and made the conscious decision to purposefully learn more about him as an individual, rather than just a Dad, he was gone.

That’s a regret I carry with me every day.

But it’s also a motivating factor on how I parent my daughters. I want to be known.

Being approachable is one of the five core traits we encourage fathers to implement in their daily parenting through Daddy Daughter Time’s D.A.D.U.P program. As fathers, we are the first men our daughters will know and see as an example of who to date/marry. The more my daughters know about me, the more yours know about you, the better.

Nobody’s perfect and daughters knowing that about their fathers can be an incredibly positive thing. How do we deal with our faults, errors, and struggles? What are our goals? What is the code by which we live our lives and make our decisions? Those are the heavy hitters. On the lighter side…What were we like as kids? What do we find funny or do for fun?

The sad fact is that I can’t answer most of those questions about my father and I won’t ever get the chance. But I hope my girls never have to face that same fact. I plan to be as approachable as I can and let them know that while I’m their father first, I’m available as more than just their Dad. I’m a person and hopefully someone who they will want to know more about.

I encourage you to open up and share your memories, good and bad, with your daughters. Share your outlook on life, your goals for the future,  what makes you…you. Don’t only be known as a provider or a disciplinarian. Be known for the man you are.

 

D.A.D.U.P. – Patience 11.12.17

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Not many famous artists were an overnight sensation. It took years of practice and plenty of PATIENCE before they became great. If you want your daughter to grow up to be your “masterpiece,” you’ll need that same level of PATIENCE.  It doesn’t happen overnight.

Parenting is an ever-changing art form. You have to constantly adapt and think about your “canvas” in different ways. Some days your brush strokes are smooth. Other days it feels like you’re finger painting and drinking the rinse water.

Take a breath. PATIENT parenting starts one day at a time. While you may never become a Rembrandt, the time you spend each day remaining a calm presence in her life may help produce a truly priceless work of art. More at www.ddtime.org/dadup

(At each of our Daddy Daughter Time events, we hand out D.A.D.U.P. cards to all of the Dads. It’s a way to help remind them to remain intentional in their daughters’ lives. There are five main components of the program: Dependability. Approachability. Devotion. Understanding. Patience. After each event, we post the message that was handed out here on our blog.)

D.A.D.U.P. – Devotion 10.21.17

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Grabbing a pumpkin this time of year is a simple thing for most of us. But growing them? Not as simple.

They are a finicky bunch. Pumpkins are a thirsty plant to raise but too much water and they rot. Too much sun or humidity throws a wrench into things too and that’s before squash bugs are even in the picture. You have to DEVOTE a lot of time, energy, and money. Sound familiar?

That same DEVOTION should come into play when you’re raising your daughter. Like the farmer, you can’t take a day off… even when you aren’t at your best. They continually need your guidance to grow every day. To her, you are the water and sun (and we suppose that would make that boy you don’t like the squash bug.) DADUP and make sure you DEVOTE time for her every day.

(At each of our Daddy Daughter Time events, we hand out D.A.D.U.P. cards to all of the Dads. It’s a way to help remind them to remain intentional in their daughters’ lives. There are five main components of the program: Dependability. Approachability. Devotion. Understanding. Patience. After each event, we post the message that was handed out here on our blog.)

D.A.D.U.P. – Understanding 10.09.17

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Glow in the dark mini putt. It’s just like regular, grown up putting… but it’s in a completely different-looking world.  You still use the same techniques to read the terrain, line up the putt, and hit the ball.

Your daughter’s feelings. They’re just like regular, grown up feelings…but come from a completely different-looking world. Self esteem, dating, peer pressure, depression, substance abuse. The techniques you use to deal with these issues may not be the same techniques she needs to use.

Understanding what she’s going through from her point of view is important. While you’re dealing with Bermuda grass, she’s working her way through windmills. It starts with your ears. Listening and affirming how she is feeling is an important trait in understanding who she is and a vital part of remaining an influence in her life. Dad Up.

(At each of our Daddy Daughter Time events, we hand out D.A.D.U.P. cards to all of the Dads. It’s a way to help remind them to remain intentional in their daughters’ lives. There are five main components of the program: Dependability. Approachability. Devotion. Understanding. Patience. After each event, we post the message that was handed out here on our blog.)

5 Things Every Dad Should Do…Every Week

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It’s time to DADUP with these five things we encourage you to include in your parenting every week (if not every day.) They are easy to do…and easy to forget to do. So remember to DADUP and be involved with your daughter(s).

D is for Dine. Want to know why you’ve heard for decades that eating together around the table is good for your family? Because it’s fact. They’ve done the research. (Short story: It lowers the risks of obesity, substance abuse, eating disorders, and even increases the chance of graduating from high school.) The bad news is that the frequency in which families are doing this is declining. We know. You’re busy. But if you can squeeze in at least one family meal a week, it’s a start. Oh, and NO electronics. This is anti-screen time.

A is for Applaud. OK, you don’t literally have to clap your hands here. Maybe we could use the word affirmation? Basically, send her positive reinforcement for her good behavior, accomplishments at school, stellar sticker skills…whatever. A father’s praise is like gold  glitter to a young daughter.

D is for Discuss. A recent survey stated that only 4.1% of teenage girls in America feel that they can approach their fathers and discuss a serious problem. That’s not a typo. That’s four point one percent. If you aren’t talking with her now – one on one (that’s key) – she won’t feel she can approach you when it really matters. Carve out 15 minutes with just her and show interest in who she is and what she’s talking about (even if it’s Justin Beiber).

U is for Unwind. Daddy Daughter Time is all about spending time together doing fun stuff. Just as important? Chill time. Literally. Do something that requires very little effort or something that helps you relax. Include her. Whether it’s a walk in the park or just catching a (kid) flick on Netflix, sometimes just being in the same place while you both just chill can bring you closer together.

P is for Participate. The opposite of unwinding. Get up off the couch or away from the laptop and dive into her world. Sure, you’ll be at her soccer game or band concert… but what about when she’s playing with her toys or doing homework? This is your chance to be a kid again. I mean, you didn’t really want to grow up anyways, right?

 

Active and involved fathering isn’t all that tough. Use these reminders and DADUP!

Have you checked out our D.A.D.U.P. program? It’s a monthly (and sometimes more often) reminder for Dads to help them remain active and involved in their daughters’ lives. The #dadvice we give out at each event is based on 5 traits: Dependability. Approachability. Devotion. Understanding. Patience. You can learn more about it here.

D.A.D.U.P. – Patience 9.23.17

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You know the feeling. You are hitting every red light and each one seems to last forever.

You take a sharp breath, grip the wheel tighter,… and then remember that your daughter is in the car with you. What you do next will affect how she sees you as a father. PATIENCE may not be your strongest trait, but it is vital in being the father she needs you to be.

Red lights will be the least of your struggles as you try to remain PATIENT as she grows older. Endless questions, screen time battles, eye rolls… idiot boyfriends?! The list goes on.

Remember, she’s watching how you respond to stressful situations – even to the ones that she has caused. She’ll take her cues on how to respond to stress from you so take a deep breath, remain calm, and Dad Up.

(At each of our Daddy Daughter Time events, we hand out D.A.D.U.P. cards to all of the Dads. It’s a way to help remind them to remain intentional in their daughters’ lives. There are five main components of the program: Dependability. Approachability. Devotion. Understanding. Patience. After each event, we post the message that was handed out here on our blog.)

Dad’s Guide to Traveling With Kids (And No Spouse)!

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So, you’d like to travel across the country with young children…without your spouse? What kind of Dad would be foolhardy enough to take on such a trip?

Well, I did that this past summer with my two daughters – Grace, 7, and Daphne, who was nearly 1 at the time. We flew from Grand Rapids, Michigan to San Diego, California…and we all made it back alive!

The following traveler’s guide, 5 tips and a mandatory packing list, should be read in its entirety. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea from my first suggestion which is…

…DON’T DO IT!!!

UNLESS…

Tip#1…. You are fully rested. I entered this adventure, (that’s what I call things other people call hassles), knowing that it would be a long day. I’m a patient man and I knew that it would require an extra reserve of that patience to deal with TSA check-ins, car rentals, and general travel pains while corralling an extremely mobile baby and short attention-spanned first grader. But I somehow forgot that I also had to work a full day before leaving that late afternoon. So, I still had to wake up early that morning. Do yourself a favor. Make sure you have time to fully rest. My day was 21 hours start to finish and I’m pretty sure I didn’t catch up on sleep until three days later.

Tip#2… You make lists. Then make a checklist for your lists. And then check those checklists. You get the idea. Your brain is going to be focused on how to keep the little humans alive and safe. Having a checklist for clothing, medical, food, and other necessaries means you don’t have to spend time thinking about whether you packed/have something while your little ones are wandering onto the tarmac. Thankfully, my wife is the queen of checklists. So mine were made out before she left.

Tip#3… You are well versed in the pace of life with kids. Sure, it’s easier to pop over to the store, friend’s house, wherever, when you’ve got a partner to watch the kids. When you’re flying solo with them, you need to schedule in buffer time. Lots of it. Planning to be somewhere way early means you’ll probably show up just in time. Maybe. (Read: The Pace of Life: Boy, Was I Wrong…(Sort Of)).

Tip#4… You are okay with screentime. Normally, I hate screen time for the kids. It’s something we avoid in our house if we can. But if you’re going to be in a plane for hours on end and there’s no other way to burn that energy off, fire up the iPad! Technology is your friend! Oh, and remember to download/find games that they can do without wifi (unless you like paying extra.)

Tip#5… You prep your unpaid volunteers. By “unpaid volunteers” I mean any of your children old enough to know how to help without causing more messes to solve. Sure, I told Grace we were going to have a great time. I also told her she would have to help me when it came to taking care of the baby. Fortunately, I won the “kid lotto” and was blessed with a more than willing volunteer who loves to help. Just make sure to give them a heads up so they don’t give you the stinkeye when they are told they have to help change a stinky diaper.

Mandatory Packing List

You’re instinct will tell you to overpack. But more stuff = more stress and more to carry. So, y’know, don’t do that. Here’s a list of essentials.

  1. Ziploc bags. Three words: poop, vomit, baby food. Ziploc bags are the quickest solution when you need to separate the messes from the rest when you don’t have a trash can handy.

    The sweet snooze of victory.

  2. Snacks. This is a no brainer but don’t ever think you’ll have enough. I ran out with 2 hours to go. Thankfully, the flight attendants had all sorts of goodies for Grace (and Daphne had finally fallen asleep.)
  3. The “lovey.” Does your daughter have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal? Go to Amazon and buy another one. That backup (we have two “foxies” for Daphne) is vital in case one ever gets dirty, damaged, or lost. Other small comfort items from home can make a trip less stressful for the kids, too.
  4. First Aid Kit. Don’t forget this! Baby Tylenol, Dramamine, Band-Aids. You never know and you don’t want to pay what the airport wants to charge for that stuff.
  5. Extras and Backups – I know I said to not overpack. But if you’re going to bring extra stuff… go with diapers, wipes, pull-ups, and three or more changes of clothes for when your kids ruin the ones they are in.

BONUS TIPS:

  • Did you know that on most airlines you can gate-check your stroller at no additional cost?  Well before boarding time, go to the front desk and ask for a stroller tag so that you are ready to go. Invest in a travel stroller, or an umbrella stroller.  We just purchased the 3Dtrek Convenience Stroller. Iit has many of the conveniences of a full size stroller, but folds up easy like an umbrella stroller.
  • If you are going to be traveling with breast milk or formula, be sure to check and print out the TSA regulations for “Traveling with Children”  

D.A.D.U.P. – Approachable 8.27.17

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Of course your daughter looks up to you… you’re taller. And that can be intimidating.

She’s not always going to have a trampoline handy to be able to communicate with you ‘eye to eye.’ So spending more time with her, getting down to her level, and most of all listening, will make sure she sees you as APPROACHABLE.

That’s important.  A recent survey asked young girls who/what they turn to in times of crisis. Dads came in at #48 on that list…47 reasons to make sure she understands that she can APPROACH you when times get tough. There is nothing more encouraging to your daughter — preschooler to teenager —than to know she can have her father’s undivided attention when it is needed. Find more at www.ddtime.org/dadup

(At each of our Daddy Daughter Time events, we hand out D.A.D.U.P. cards to all of the Dads. It’s a way to help remind them to remain intentional in their daughters’ lives. There are five main components of the program: Dependability. Approachability. Devotion. Understanding. Patience. After each event, we post the message that was handed out here on our blog.)

D.A.D.U.P. – Dependability 8.12.17

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Trigger, Silver, Tornado…and Daddy.

Just like those trusty Hollywood horses were always so DEPENDABLE, it’s your job to saddle up and be there for your daughter day in and day out.

Being DEPENDABLE builds trust so she knows she can count on your word and that you’ll be there when you say you’ll be there. This goes double for divorced Dads who don’t get to see their girls every day.

So whether it’s a ride around the living room on your back, a ride to soccer practice, or when she needs a ride home from a party…be the one she can DEPEND on. (And don’t scrimp on the expensive padding for the carpet next time. Your knees will thank you.) Get more at www.ddtime.org/dadup.

P.S. Tornado was Zorro’s horse. You knew that one, right?

(At each of our Daddy Daughter Time events, we hand out D.A.D.U.P. cards to all of the Dads. It’s a way to help remind them to remain intentional in their daughters’ lives. There are five main components of the program: Dependability. Approachability. Devotion. Understanding. Patience. After each event, we post the message that was handed out here on our blog.)

D.A.D.U.P. – Devotion 7.18.17

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Most Dads would like to keep their daughters in a bubble of safety and peace. But we all know that at some point it can all burst and the world can come crashing in with trouble you didn’t see coming. (And sometimes she may be the one doing the popping.)

Make no mistake about it. Children are a lot of work. If you’re not in it for the long haul, you shouldn’t be in it at all.

Remaining DEVOTED to being a constant and reliable presence in your daughter’s life is a key factor of fatherhood. The DEVOTION to parenting her with purpose, without fail through good and bad, is the path you chose the moment you learned she was coming into this world.

Dad Up and stay true to being the man she can hang onto when things get slippery. Get more at www.ddtime.org/dadup.

(At each of our Daddy Daughter Time events, we hand out D.A.D.U.P. cards to all of the Dads. It’s a way to help remind them to remain intentional in their daughters’ lives. There are five main components of the program: Dependability. Approachability. Devotion. Understanding. Patience. After each event, we post the message that was handed out here on our blog.)