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REAL Stories from REAL Good Dads

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Prime Drivers Heidi Kapinos and Anthony Eck: Team Work on the Road and at Home



Ask any Prime driver and he or she will tell you there are a number of ways to stay connect with family while gone from home. We’ve heard about Skype, Facetime, talking on the phone and special apps that make communication easier in remote locations. The important thing, they say, is to touch base on a regular basis.

Heide Kapinos knew she was signing up for a long-distance relationship complete with many forms of communication when she married her husband, Anthony. What she didn’t expect was to be sharing a cab with him as a long-haul driver herself. Although Anthony was positively encouraging about her ability to drive an 18-wheeler, Heidi resisted. However, Anthony was persistent and pointed out the many financial advantages of driving together, along with being able to avoid long separations. Eventually, she agreed to give it a try. She admits to some “tense moments” in training while she was learning to master many of the parking and backing maneuvers a driver must learn. Nonetheless, she made it happen and today spends nearly 24/7 together with Anthony in the truck.


Too Much Togetherness?
Heidi explains it is not like they’re together all the time. Although they occupy the same physical location, Heidi says their “together time” is really much less. “When I’m driving; he’s often sleeping and vice versa. Given this reality and the times we are loading or unloading, it really is much less.
Anthony and Heidi Eck have been together for four years. Together they have six children from their previous marriages. Anthony has three sons and one daughter; Heidi has one son, Hunter (20) and a daughter, Cheylee (18). Anthony’s oldest sons Tyler (22) and Colby 20) live with Heidi’s children in the same house. Anthony’s youngest children Savannah (11) and Carter (7) live with their mother.

Parenting from the Road
How do Heidi and Anthony make their over-the-road marriage and blended family parenting work?

It’s probably not surprising to learn that Heidi and Anthony use the typical technology (phones and web-based media) to stay in touch. It might be more surprising to learn they have cameras installed in their living room so they can observe what’s going on with young adult children. It’s their way to all be “together” even when they are geographically far apart.


The couple has high expectations for their four oldest children. “They pay rent to us if they’re not in school,” says Heidi. They are expected to have a job, pay their bills on time, including their cell phone bills.
The couple models good financial management themselves. They drive 6-8 weeks at a time before coming home for a week, and are open with their children about money-related matters. “We remind them about why we are gone. We are working toward goals from which they all will benefit.
With the “littles,” (what the couple affectionately calls Anthony’s younger two children, “constant communication” is key. Anthony calls every day before school and makes time for them a priority. Heidi says they often give gift cards to the “littles” for birthdays or special occasions. These are used when the younger two join their dad and Heidi on the truck for a few weeks in the summertime.

At home or over the road, Heidi says flexibility is key. When a driver comes home it can be both “difficult” and “lovely.”


“It’s wonderful to see them, but also difficult to have the routine disrupted,” she notes.

She encourages the at-home partner to remember the couple’s long-term goals and the importance of team effort. There’s little doubt that whether a couple is driving together or one partner is supporting the other from home, success is always a team effort.

Money Management for Kids -- Springfield Father of Three -- Kevin Weaver



Photo by Michael Longmire

Money. We live in a culture in which a vast majority struggle to properly manage money, so for parents in 21st Century America the very thought of trying to teach children how to be good managers can be overwhelming. As with all other things in parenting, modeling seems to be a top strategy for getting the concept of dealing with money across to our kids. How do we spend? How do we manage? How do we show our kids what's important to us when it comes to the monetary things in life? I once heard a wise man say, "If you want to know what is most important to a person, you need look no further than their spending habits . . . check book . . . bank account!" That would ring true for most of us dads, and the amount spent on housing, food, insurance, would most likely indicate that we greatly care about the well-being of our families.


Modeling
But, how do we practically start teaching our children how to manage money? Especially when they are very young and have very little to no money of their own? Perhaps it is truly more about what we value in areas other than those that are monetary that show our kids how to best manage what they earn or are given.

First, what do our children see and hear us do with money? Do we blow it on the frivolous and then complain about never having enough of it? Or, do they see us spending wisely, giving warmly, and being thankful with what we have, no matter how great or small?  Our attitudes will speak louder than we can possibly imagine. 

Checking Attitudes
After checking our attitudes, what about finding creative ways to show our children just how much things cost? When our three children were quite small, my wife would let them set up a "store" in our living room. They could take items from the pantry and set them around, then take turns playing "shopper" and "cashier." My wife "priced" items they could "purchase" with their play money. The "I'm rich" happy faces quickly turned to ones full of shock, once the little shoppers realized how quickly the play money could be spent. Just something as simple as this game fosters children with a more realistic grasp on just how far money goes (or doesn’t!) in the real world.


Kids, Jobs and Budgeting
As children age, in addition to the birthday and holiday monies they may receive, they also may acquire jobs in which they earn their very own pay. It is hard for a young person to fight the urge to spend every cent they have worked for on whatever they want. After all, they earned it, right? But, once again, this is a teachable time to step in for pointing out examples and talking our kids through smart ways to manage. If you have a budget, show it to your adolescent. Point to the times you have wanted something for yourself, but had to wait to purchase until you knew bills were paid, and savings were added to. 

Personally, my boys heard me say, on many occasions, “We don’t have the money,” regarding something that would come up. When the boys asked, “Are we okay? Are we out of money?” I quickly responded, “Look, guys. When I say I can’t buy something or we can’t do something, it doesn’t mean we have no money at all. What it means is that Mom and I have not allowed any money in our budget to go towards that particular thing. If we really want that thing, or trip, or experience, then we save for it. But, we don’t go crazy and purchase things without checking our budget, first.” After showing our kids that even their grown-ups have to stick to a budget, it is easier to help walk them through making their own. Theirs may be as simple as “Bank 25%; give 25%; spend 50%;” but it’s still moving them towards clear principles of budgeting.

Each kid is as unique as each adult. Our three boys were raised by the same parents, in the same house, with the same standards. However, they all started out with varying views on handling their finances. We had a “spender,” a “saver,” and a “I’ll just live off the land” Bear Grylls kind of kid. With time, modeling, and teaching when the opportunity posed itself, they learned to be more and more responsible in their own money habits. 


We all have live and learn stories, and so will our kids. I encourage you to stay the course in living and learning with yours, even when the subject matter is tricky and the times are tough. Maybe our kids will be better managers than any generation before us. It’s worth the effort.

Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at kweaver@network211.com

The Courage to be Ordinary -- Dr. Jennifer Baker


Photo by Lucas Lenzi

Ordinary – that’s the title of a book by Michael Horton about “sustainable faith in a radical, restless world.” Horton speaks primarily of spiritual matters, but I think what he says applies to so much of our everyday lives—work, leisure, relationships.  After all, who wants to work at an ordinary job, go on an ordinary vacation, or have an ordinary relationship?

Today words like “ultimate,” “extreme” and “awesome” are in vogue. In the workplace or business world we often hear that companies or organizations are “emergent,” “impactful” and “innovative.” Let’s face it, if you’re not “cutting edge,” you are nowhere on the power grid.  It got me thinking about how much many of us, me included, may be influenced by this not-so-subtle message of our culture. According to Horton, “ordinary” is “one of the loneliest words in our vocabulary today,” and he notes that no one wants a bumper sticker announcing to the neighborhood, “My child is an ordinary student at Bubbling Brook Elementary.”

Just to be clear, Horton is not talking about settling for mediocrity or just getting by. Rather, he is suggesting the never ending calls to greatness, e.g., “Be all that you be” and “Never settle” are exhausting on multiple levels. In the words of Tish Harrison Warren, many of us have never learned “how to be an average person living an average life in a beautiful way.”  We are continually pushed and prodded to believe there is something more we could attain or be, if only we pursued our dreams with more vigor.

Here’s the thing that concerns me . . . and Horton. We can make heroic efforts to do some great thing in our community or around the globe, but fail to be a decent human being to our neighbor. We may be innovative and impactful at work, but fail to demonstrate that same kind of energy on a day-to-day basis with our families. We make sure our children have awesome, memorable vacations, but fail to help them consistently demonstrate good manners or be content with what they have.


Photo by Jana Sabeth Schultz

Much has been said about “the greatest generation,” also known as the “silent generation.” What occurs to me now is that their greatness seems highly correlated with their willingness to be “ordinary,” i.e., to show up, day after day, doing their work with persistence and dedication. Perfect? No, but their faithfulness to the everydayness of life over a lifetime created some extraordinary legacies marked by courage and sacrifice.


Photo by Scott Umstattdt

As we begin a new season, I’m wondering if it might be good to consider more ways to be ordinary, draw less attention to ourselves, resolve to pay attention to people who don’t really benefit us in any way. Perhaps we could get to know our neighbors. Maybe we could resolve to be on time—early even—just so we could make space in our schedule to welcome others. Possibly we could worry less about what will make us happy and put more energy into how to make the world a better place for those within our circle of influence every day – small children, cashiers, service workers, those we supervise or report to. Small kindnesses, caring words and everyday courtesies don’t seem like much in the face of world hunger. That’s why it takes courage to pursue them on a daily basis. As the saying goes, “Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes.”
  
Becoming more content with being ordinary may be just what is required for a happy, healthy life, rich in community. 

It Happened "On Accident" -- Dr. Jennifer Baker

Jilbert Ebrahimi Broken Glass



Betty Clendening was a force to be reckoned with and our son was experiencing the full extent of her indignation. The two of them stood in front of my desk – Mrs. Clendening with her hands on her hips, Andrew red-faced and sheepish.

“Tell your mother what you did,” she demanded.

“I didn’t mean to. I did it ‘on accident,’” he stammered. “I was trying to kick the soccer ball over the school roof and it went through a window.”

“On accident.” There’s a phrase I knew wouldn’t fly with his father.  According to my Main Man, very little really happens “on accident.” Rather, while you don’t actually want something bad to occur, due to impulsivity, force of habit, or poor judgment, something you didn’t really intend, does.

I thought of our son’s long ago incident while preparing for a presentation I was making on “Living with Purpose.” It occurs to me many of us fail to live a considerable portion of our lives with intentionality or “on purpose.” Rather, much of what materializes seems to befall us “on accident.”

But does it really?

For instance, many people complain about being “too busy.” It causes me to wonder, are our schedules slammed from stem to stern because we were thoughtful about our choices? Or did we, perhaps, fail to say “no” when we should have? Did we graciously decline without the “maybe-if-you-push-me-hard-enough-I’ll-say-yes” in our voice? Do we contain our children’s schedules, or allow others to make us feel guilty when we limit our commitments?


Photo by Michael Heuser

Richard Leider, author of The Power of Purpose, identifies three key skills for those who want to be more intentional about their lives. First, living on purpose or requires reflection on our current situation or choices. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Who am I trying to please or make happy? What am I afraid of? Whose life am I trying to live, mine or someone else’s?

Secondly, living on purpose requires courage—not the kind of courage needed for sky-diving or white water rafting. Rather, it necessitates the sort of bravery associated with being more real, vulnerable and authentic with others. It means letting others know who you really are.


Photo by Mikito Tateisi

Finally, living on purpose means answering questions like these: Who am I? Why am I here? What do I need or want to accomplish? When I think about living with purpose, I’m encouraged by advice from a cancer patient.

You must stop and reassess your priorities and values. You must be willing to be yourself, not what people want you to be because you think that is the only way you can get love. You can no longer be dishonest. You are now at a point where, if you truly want to live, you have to be who you are.
If we are to live this kind of life then we will have to make choices. We will need to be intentional. We will need to sort and sift through our options.

What happened to our “on accident” son? The window cost about $200 to replace—a lot of money for a 12-year-old of limited means. Fortunately, the school had a lawn measured in acres, something that allowed a young man with few resources to do a lot of thinking while walking behind a lawn mower. No doubt the experience allowed him plenty of time to reflect on his actions and plan the future with greater intentionality. He certainly never tried to kick a soccer ball over the school roof again. 

Staying Connected With a Traveling Man -- Dr. Jennifer Baker



Photo by Guillermo Sanchez on Unsplash

It’s not easy when a good dad travels for work. He misses his family and they miss him. Yet, millions of dads travel or work away from home for extended periods of time. Some must travel as a requirement of their employment. Many like what they do, they just wish it didn’t require them to be absent so often. Those who do it successfully often credit the importance of their “home team,” i.e., their wife, their significant other, or the caregiver for their children.

Experts tell us that couples who go the distance together have a number of important characteristics. These include making the couple relationship a priority, taking the long-term view, making healthy sacrifices for each other, and preserving time for fun and friendship. After all, you didn’t really get married to solve problems—though that is part of life. You got together because you had fun, talked like friends, and enjoyed each other’s company.

At Good Dads, we have a special heart for husbands and fathers who travel and “dad at a distance.” We recently reached out to a number of women whose husbands drive over-the-road to ask about how they stay connected as a couple. What follows are words of wisdom from women who live the life and are happy to share what they’ve learned with other “home team” women.


The Importance of Regular Connection
Staying connected as a couple can be a challenge, but Melanie Borden says technology made it easier. Even so, establishing a regular routine is important. She notes that she and her husband, Paul, “talk every morning by phone, sorting out the day’s business and touching base to make sure everything is good. We will usually talk or text a couple of times a day and we Skype with the dogs and grandkids on the weekends, when he is not home. We weather the ups and downs of marriage and always end a call with a laugh or something upbeat.”


Brandy Howe, married for eight years to her driver husband, reports something similar and stresses the importance of making each other a priority. She says, “This is the most important to us. We start and end our day with each other. We talk first thing in the morning and end the day talking. No matter how crazy my day gets, I always stop and call at certain times throughout my day just to say ‘Hi’ and ask how his day is going. He’s the first person I talk to and the last person also. No matter how stressed or busy we get, we always make each other our top priority.”

Some technology may work better than others, especially in remote locations. Theresa “Alika” Radloff says her and her husband, Alan, prefer to use the phone app, Duo, to stay connected. She says, “Duo is a phone app that has a better video/audio as far as video chats go. We talk on that at least once a day so that we can see each other and somewhat feel like we are together under the same roof.” Sometimes this approach extends to a three-way Skype video call between Alan, her and the children who live with their mother in another state. This way all of them can communicate as a family.

Alika has some health challenges which interfere with spontaneous conversation, so she texts Alan about times when she will not be available so that he does not worry if she doesn’t answer the phone.


Be Creative
Brandi urges couples to “be unique and creative in finding ways that work” for them. She and her husband enjoy very similar interests, so while he is away they share links to videos or articles about hunting, archery and other interests. He listens to podcasts when he is driving, so they have conversations on the phone about what he has learned about upcoming elk hunting, archery, and other topics. Sharing interests and staying connected through those interests plays an important role in their successful marriage.

Solving Problems Together
One of the more difficult aspects of being apart from each other involves handling problems or potential areas of disagreement together. Some suggest these kinds of conversations take place in person, face-to-face, but when a driver is gone for several weeks at a time, this may not always be practical. Couples may also want to avoid using precious home time for handling potential conflict. For this reason, Alika recommends email. She says, “When there is something of importance that needs to be addressed, then we email each other. We do the email or text thing for two reasons: one, it’s in black and white; and two, if we need to go back to check on something that was said, neither of us can forget. Silly, I know, but it works.”

The Home Routine
Finally, Brandi underscores the importance of establishing a routine for when her husband is home. They typically have one full day a week together, so having a routine helps them “make the most of every hour. She says, “I know about what time he will be home each week, so I will be there to greet him and have made it part of my routine.” She says the couple also makes a practice of having a once a month date night or date day.

Love the Man Who Loves His Work
It might be easy for a woman to be angry or resentful when her husband is gone from her so much of the time. However, we didn’t find a shred of bitterness or self-pity from these “women of steel.” Perhaps Alika summed it up best. “I have been asked time and time again why does he leave me home alone while he stays out on the road all the time. The answer is simple. He has his dream job and I would never take him from that, at least not unless I am completely handicapped where I cannot do anything on my own. I know not many people nowadays get that opportunity. He is one of the lucky few able to achieve his dream before he is too old to do anything at all. I am proud of him and will stick by him through this adventure of life. We will always talk and keep in touch with each other no matter what part of the USA he is at the time.”

"We Bonded in the Kitchen" -- Springfield Dad, Chad Carleton



Not every stepfather is so lucky. Chad Carleton admits he’s a blessed man, but he thinks some of the magic may have begun in the kitchen. “We bonded,” he said, “when we started cooking together.”

Chad got to know Jewel, his step-daughter, when he started dating Emily, her mother. She was 12 when they married; today’s she almost 16. Any parent will tell you, the pre-teen and teenage stages are not always easy. For step-parents they can be particularly difficult. It takes time to get to know each other, to learn what to expect. The biological parent, who has been around since birth, usually has an edge. That’s why Chad so values his relationship with Jewel as they work side-by-side in the kitchen, preparing meals for the family. He sees it as an opportunity to build their relationship and enjoy time together. He sees it as “incredibly rewarding” to be a positive, significant role model in a child’s life.

Chad is very candid about the importance of being intentional about the relationship with a potential stepchild. He insists, “Any man pursuing a woman with children should recognize the significance of the children out of the gate. You can’t come and go out of a woman’s life because it has a dramatic effect on the children.”


Chad explains, “I knew I wanted to be with my wife and I knew she had a child, so we were very intentional about me building that relationship. Over time it became less intimidating and it didn’t take long before I wanted another (child).” That child is their eight-month-old daughter, Isla, who loves to wheel her walker close to her parents and big sister when they gather in the kitchen.

Working together is especially important because Chad and Emily are co-owner of Everything Kitchens, a primarily on-line store for almost anything a person might want in his or her kitchen. Chad credits his wife with the store’s success and praises her ability. Given that Chad grew up in a family of all boys and admits to having very little experience with the female perspective, his understanding of how to be important in the lives of the females in his life if commendable. Though he’s young, we could all learn a lot from dads like Chad.

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