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This Christmas what are you going to give your kids?

Presents or presence?

Are you going to work extra hard so that you can afford that expensive toy or gadget that they want?

Do you feel so guilty about how little attention you give your little ones all year that you grant them whatever is on their list for Santa?

Do you buy more stuff for yourself to fill a void in your life and feel compelled to do the same for your children?

Or during this holiday season, will you give them the time and attention that they deserve?

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Since the middle of the year, our 6 year-olds, Logan and Madison, have been going to gymnastics.   They absolutely love it and can’t wait for their weekly lessons.

Last week, they were being assessed on their progress on certain apparatus and with certain exercises.

One of the challenges was to see how many sit ups they could do.  I asked their coach what the expectation was and she replied that anything between 2 and 40 would be fine.

With that in mind, I sat down with Logan and he began his sit ups.

He started out OK and when he got to 15-18 started to struggle a bit, so I thought that he was about to finish.

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I know I’m biased, but I think that my daughter, Madison, is beautiful.

I tell her all of the time and we are very close.

However, I’m also conscious that I don’t want her self-esteem to be solely attached to how she looks.

I’m also very aware that like all girls and women, there is much more to her than how she appears on the outside and I have a responsibility as a father to ensure that she doesn’t just fall for guys who compliment her on her appearance, but who appreciate every aspect of her.

So, here are 10 alternatives for fathers if they want to praise and encourage their daughters: Read the rest of this entry »

Anyone who knows me well, will tell you that I am very proud of my children.

Before I had kids, I always said that I wouldn’t be one of those parents who prattled on about his kids, but alas, that’s what I’ve become and my three awesome children, Hayden, Madison and Logan are my favourite conversation topic.

I love them each unconditionally, but there are some moments that stand out more than others.

This week, my oldest son, 8 year-old Hayden had an extraordinary game of soccer.

He’s a reasonable soccer player, but is certainly not as technically proficient or natural at the sport as some other children.  He has scored a hat-trick in the past, but in this particular game everything seemed to go right for him and he ended up scoring 9 goals!

It was one of those games and you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face afterwards.

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Do you want your children to cry when you deny them sugar-laden snacks, cake and cola?

Or when they struggle with childhood obesity, juvenile diabetes or issues with their body shape?

Do you want your children to cry when you make them do their homework and reading (even during school holidays)?

Or do you want them to cry when they don’t know the answers in class, are embarrassed that they haven’t handed in their project or can’t find a reasonable job in the future?

Do you want your children to cry when you follow through on consequences for their poor behaviour?

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Logan, Hayden and Madison

Logan, Hayden and Madison

Frederick Douglass once said, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Being a dad is one of the biggest challenges of my life.

I have three awesome kids, Hayden (aged 8), Madison and Logan (both aged 5) and raising them to become adults who are able to confidently make a positive contribution to society isn’t always easy.

They didn’t come with a manual and whilst I want to be the best dad I can be, I know that I fall short of my own expectations far too often.

One statement that I used when the kids were very young was that “we’re not raising children, we’re raising 25 year olds.”

The idea is that when I focus on the short-term, I can become reactive and make decisions that suit me at the time.  But when I think about the long-term consequences, I discipline them better, give them more attention and help them to become better people.

As I said earlier, I don’t always get it right, but there are 10 things I want my kids to know when they’re older.  If Karen and I get these right, we’ve done OK: Read the rest of this entry »

Hayden and his cello

Hayden and his cello

My oldest son, Hayden, has started to learn the cello.

Every night, he carefully gets his cello out of its case and begins strumming the strings.

I won’t lie, it’s not pretty.

Whilst he’s getting better every day, he’s a long way from becoming the next Yo-Yo Ma.

This led me to wonder what Yo-Yo Ma was like the first time he played the cello.

Of course, we now know him as one of the most extraordinary artists in the world, but I’m sure that when he first tried, he wasn’t much better than our Hayden.

I’m not suggesting that Hayden is going to one day take the classical music world by storm, that takes great talent and years of diligent training. But he’s got to start somewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

After our oldest son, Hayden, comes home from school, I ask him how his day was.

Most days, the response is a perfunctory, “Good.”

If pressed for more information, he will often respond, that he can’t remember anything.

It’s very frustrating for Karen and I as we have a genuine interest in our kids’ lives and want to be involved in their world.

I’ve laughed about this with other parents (especially of boys), who relay their similar experiences, so you can imagine my delight when our school newsletter came through with 10 great questions that are designed to start slightly more interesting conversations with our children.  These questions originally come from the excellent and helpful site, and you can be sure that I’ll be trying them out over the next few weeks: Read the rest of this entry »

I admit it.

There are times when I just want to sleep in, but my kids won’t let me.

Or times when I just want to watch a football game without having to answer a hundred questions.

Or just be able to go to the toilet without someone yelling “Daddy!” and interrupting my fortress of solitude.

There’s no doubt that my kids can be a pain at times, but if that’s all that I focus on, what a miserable person I would become.

They may be an inconvenience sometimes, but being a dad is an enormous privilege as well.

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My kids love all things digital.

They love computer games, watching DVD’s and playing on their Nintendo DS’s and Wii system.

The twins got their own CD players for their birthdays and it’s not unusual to hear Coldplay’s “Paradise” blaring from Logan’s bedroom.  He sings along and knows every word.

Such gadgets keep them occupied, keep them entertained and keep them quiet (most of the time), and for that we are occasionally grateful.

However, for all of the technology that our kids are immersed in, they still love board games.

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