Getting kids to learn the value of work is no easy task. When you throw in a couple of parents who most likely were raised with varying views of chores, allowances, and the appropriate age to start working at an outside job finding level ground about teaching children about work and why it is important can be especially challenging. Instructing and modeling in this area of parenting–-though it will require some “work” from the grownups--pays off for our children, not just for the future of their respective finances, but also for the future of their respective character.
Though I was the oldest and my wife was the baby, we both were raised by hard-working parents. We grew up watching our moms and dads work faithfully and fervently at everything they did. However, when it came to what was required of us as children, that’s when things took a turn. As the oldest, my dad pushed me to work on my grandparents' dairy farm years before my teens. In addition, I had chores in and outside of our house, plus I was expected to earn money from outside employment as soon as I was of age. My teen years were spent doing all of the typical things from playing sports to making sure grades were up to parental standards, plus holding down various jobs.
My wife, while raised with high standards of manners and overall behaviors, was a surprise child and the only girl, arriving years after three brothers. Her parents would not tolerate poor attitude, disrespect, unkindness, or ungratefulness, but they felt that outside of an occasional babysitting job her primary “work” was related to school.
When our boys came along, three in rapid succession, we quickly found ourselves not at odds, but struggling to find our own rhythm in teaching our boys to be workers.
The first discussion we had regarding our own children and work, or “chores,” came when they were only two, four, and six. One night, my wife dumped a load of clean towels on the couch to fold. As I grabbed one, I said, “Hey, why aren’t the boys helping us fold these?”
She replied, "You want our gooey-fingered, booger-picking, Tasmanian Devil of a two-year-old folding your bath towel?”
I grimaced a bit and answered, “Well, maybe after we wash his hands.”
So, that night she called them in and gave the oldest the bath towels, the middle the hand towels, and the baby the wash cloths. It wasn’t long before the elder brother folded towels like the head housekeeper at the Ritz. The hand towels were so-so, but the wash cloths looked like an elephant had stomped on them . . . after someone had already used them.
At first, my wife refolded them, but finally came to the conclusion that if the boys always saw her redoing their work–-especially work they were proud of--it would defeat the purpose.
One time, when my in-laws were visiting, they watched my wife put away some not-so-perfectly-folded towels. My father-in-law asked my mother-in-law if she could have tolerated putting such poorly folded linens in the cabinet. When my mother-in-law answered, “No. I don’t think you or I could have,” my father-in-law responded, “Well, we should have.”
I realize towel folding is not a huge life skill that will bring in large amounts of money in our children’s futures, but it is a start. As the boys grow, both mentally and physically, they were able to take on more responsibility in and around our home. These tasks not only helped our family, but also gave them a necessary life skills and a sense of accomplishment. They weeded flower beds, hauled gravel, mowed lawns, cleaned baseboards (those young knees could take it far better than mine or my wife’s), split firewood, and eventually helped our neighbors and many others--all for free.
Though as adults we absolutely equate work with money, how we attain and do those “big people” jobs is greatly affected by our skill and attitude toward the “w” word itself. Skill and attitude are often acquired by learning how to willingly put all of our effort into doing something as small as folding a washcloth.
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 email@example.com.
Becoming a new father is one of the most wonderful life events a man can experience. But it can also feel overwhelming. Take heart. By gaining some practical knowledge, setting realistic expectations and creating healthy habits, you can be a great dad!
Here are 10 tips to help get new dads started down the right path:
1. Understand that you matter. Study after study has shown that when children have involved, loving fathers, they learn more, perform better in school and exhibit healthier behavior. Even when fathers do not share a home with their children, their active involvement can have a lasting and positive impact.
It's easy for dads to feel like they aren't needed when their children are newborns, but the opposite is true. Whether you are in a committed relationship with the baby's mother or will just be co-parenting, the relationship you start building with your baby in his or her first few months can positively impact your child's future for years to come.
2. Get to know your child as an individual. Just as every adult is a unique individual with our own temperament, personality, interests and habits, your baby is unique too.
Nurturing your child in a way that supports her individual tendencies helps her feel loved and secure. For example, some children are naturally outgoing and self-motivated, while others are shy and may need more encouragement to try new things. Also, understanding why your child behaves the way he does will also help ease your frustration when faced with challenging parenting situations.
3. Remember that all babies cry. Crying is natural and is a baby's first method of communication. In fact, infants will continue to cry to let you know about their unmet needs until they learn to talk. He may be hungry, wet or tired.
Instead of letting frustration and anxiety build when your child cries, try to reframe the experience as, "My baby is trying to tell me what she needs." It will likely take time for you to learn what your baby's different cries mean. So be patient with yourself too, and remind yourself that each time you try to meet your baby's needs in response to her cries for help, you are building trust and teaching her that the world is a safe place.
4. Be the best version of yourself instead of trying to imitate another dad. Babies don't care about your education level or career. The great news is they don't have the capacity to compare you to other dads, and they will love you for who you are if you are attentive and kind to them.
Just be present with your child and include him at age-appropriate stages in your hobbies and interests. If you like to spend time in nature, invest in an infant carrier or jogger stroller and take her with you. If you like music, play for him. If you like sports, take her to a game to take in the action. There are countless ways to include your child in your everyday life, and he will cherish the time with you no matter how you spend it.
5. Accept that caring for a baby is a full-time responsibility. Shortly after the birth of your child, you will likely realize that this is a 24/7 kind of commitment. That’s when the overwhelm can start to set in, and it's helpful to remember that parenting is done just like every other aspect of life - one day at a time.
Creating routines around eating and sleeping, while it can be hit or miss during the newborn stage, is helpful for making the days and nights go more smoothly. Safety proofing your home is another important part of helping to ensure your child is protected as she moves into the crawler and toddler stages.
6. Familiarize yourself with basic infant development. While it's true that babies differ in when they achieve certain developmental milestones, such as sitting up or saying a first word, it's also true that babies tend to develop in important areas along a fairly specific timeline.
Knowing how your baby might develop in four key areas - physically, mentally, emotionally and socially - can help you set realistic expectations and gain more confidence as a new dad. For example, if you know that most babies start sitting up on their own at about six months, you don't need to be concerned if your baby is still wobbly at four months. A class for expectant and new dads, like PCC and Good Dads offers, will provide this information and give you ideas for encouraging your baby's development. In a pinch, a Google search will help you with the basics too.
7. Take care of yourself too. Moms are constantly told to take good care of themselves, especially during pregnancy and in the baby's first few months. But what about dads? It's just as critical that your physical and emotional needs be met during this transition time too.
If paternity time is available to you through your employer, take advantage of it. But even if you can't take much time off, implementing some simple strategies can help a lot: Sleep when the baby sleeps. Keep meals simple to avoid extra time shopping, cooking and cleaning up. If you have help available, carve out some couple time to do something enjoyable together. Parenthood can feel all-consuming, so even a few minutes of time spent in a refreshing activity can rejuvenate your body and mind.
8. Don't equate a paycheck with love. While it's important to financially provide for your family, earning a paycheck will not translate directly as love to your child. It's been said that love is spelled T-I-M-E. Spending quality time with your child is an invaluable investment that buying more stuff can never compete with. Babies' needs are basic, and they are usually content with just a few developmentally-appropriate toys (or a drawer full of plastic containers!). So focus on giving your child the things money can't buy, and you will both be happier for it.
9. Recognize that all parents feel frustrated sometimes. Having a new baby means lots of changes to routine and can impact many areas of life - physical, relational, emotional, social and financial to name a few. Those changes, coupled with lack of sleep, can lead to feelings of frustration. This is completely normal and taking small steps in managing that frustration can keep it from escalating into full-blown anger.
Try to remember that your baby's actions, no matter how frustrating, are likely normal for his age. Make a conscious effort to relax by taking deep breaths or taking a brisk walk (even inside your house if you're the only one with the baby). Give yourself permission to take a break. Place the baby in a safe place, such as her crib, and give yourself a few minutes away.
10. Ask for help. Having a support system of family or friends - even if it's just one person - to help you during this time of transition can be a game changer. Don't be afraid to rely on them, especially in the first few weeks. Accepting help is not a sign of weakness; it demonstrates maturity in recognizing that you have limits. Having someone watch the baby so you can eat, shower or sleep can make a big difference in how you feel and function.
Lisa McIntire is passionate about helping families in our community and serves as the Executive Director of Springfield’s Pregnancy Care Center (PCC) and is a member of the New Pathways for Good Dads Council. The Pregnancy Care Center is a New Pathways for Good Dads Partner and a great community resource offering a fatherhood program for expectant and new fathers, which includes fatherhood-specific classes and one-on-one coaching with male mentors.
August is here, and unlike some, I’m actually sad that my kiddos will head back to school on the 13th. As a stay-at-home Dad, I’ve been able to stay up late, watching movies and series on Netflix with them. We have had some late night pool parties and junk food runs. Sure the downside, is they tell me they are bored constantly, and are always looking for stuff to do. However, I’ve always got household chores and yard work ready for them when this happens.
I used to think buying school supplies was a fair trade off for having someone else teach and entertain my children, while also feeding them lunch for me. Now, with two teenagers and an 8 year old, the start of school means constant practices and additional fees beyond the cost of paper and pencils.
My youngest, who will be in 3rd grade, has a $98 school supply list when you factor in back pack, ear buds etc. My High School kids won’t get their supply list until later, though I can expect to spend and additional $50-$60 on them.
My other son, will be a Freshman and in band. I had no idea, until now, that they practice so much. There will be morning practices before school, evening practices after school, plus I get to cough up about $300 for him to participate. He will run track in the spring, so I’ve gotta fork out an additional athletic activity fee of $45.
My daughter will be a sophomore this year, and is involved with softball, bowling, choir and track. I feel like I hardly ever see her once she starts school, and this year it may be less, now that she has a car. There are always a ton of expenses and fees that add up with her as well.
Over the next week, we will try to get the kids back on that school sleep schedule. Right now my daughter is up past midnight watching Netflix & listening to music while on FaceTime with her best friend. My oldest son is on Xbox playing while also on FaceTime with friends until I make him shut it all down at midnight. My youngest likes to lay in bed with me and watch Netflix or movies, then heads to the chair in our room to sleep. It’s always hard to get him to transition back to his own bed by the time school starts.
While my 8 year old will have a set bed time each evening, I’ll allow the two teens to take responsibility and go to bed and get up on their own. This has never been an issue for my daughter, but when I tried this with my son last year, he could not get out of bed. Even when we woke him up, he fell right back to sleep. Now that he is a freshman in High School, he will need to learn how to go to bed at a time in which he gets enough sleep, and can roll out of bed in the morning.
I have also warned my teens, that if at anytime their grades are at C, I will be on them daily until it’s at a B or better. If they should have a D, they will lose their phone and be put on a bedtime schedule. The great thing about our schools, is that I can get on an app and check their grades everyday.
Another issue we had in the past, was the kids getting the normal school lunch, then buying a bunch of extra junk and charging it to their accounts as if they have their own personal credit card for food. It’s always good to be able to monitor this situation online.
On this week prior to school beginning again, we will drop off school supplies and meet the 3rd grade teacher. Freshman orientation, pictures and class schedule will occur, while my sophomore will get her schedule, take pics and try to get a parking spot for the upcoming year.
I will be happy about getting back into some sort of a routine again.
Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa, MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can check out Herb's own blog at www.thecodylife.weebly.com .
Shawn Askinosie knows about heartbreak. When he was 12, his father was diagnosed with lung cancer. At 13, he learned to give his father the injections of Demerol required for pain management. When he was 14, his father died.
During the period of his father’s declining health, the leader of a well-meaning prayer group suggested there should be “no talk about death.” To do so, the leader said, indicated a lack of faith in their prayers for healing. After his father died, Shawn said he spent the next 25 years overcoming every obstacle in his path and accomplishing every goal presented to him as a means of dealing with his untreated adolescent grief.
The conclusion of a successful murder trial where Shawn served as the defense attorney, eventually led to a personal recognition of an “out of balance life.” The book Tuesdays with Morrie was also a big influence during this period. What occurred next is what Shawn refers to as a “time of physical and emotional reawakening.” Five years after the trial’s conclusion, he found himself choosing an entirely new life associated with chocolate. He also reports coming to see heartbreak, including his own, as a necessary ingredient to a full life.
“If you love,” he explains, “you will know the grief and sorrow of loss.”
Today Shawn is the CEO of Askinosie Chocolate, a small batch, award winning chocolate factory in Springfield, Missouri. Askinosie Chocolate has been named “One of the 25 Best Small Companies in America” by Forbes and featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, on Bloomberg, MSNBC and various other national and international media outlets. Shawn also serves on the board of Lost & Found Grief Center of Southwest Missouri, an organization he helped start to assist children in dealing with grief and loss.
Today Shawn sees heartbreak as a necessity for a full life. If this is so, then how does a thoughtful parent handle this tender topic? Shawn offers these considerations:
1. Avoid trying to inoculate or prevent all heartbreak for your child. Loss and grief are inevitable. Offer support and empathy, but try not to prevent or rescue.
2. Model healthy grieving. Allow your child to see what brings you great joy and deep sadness. A child who sees healthy grieving modeled by a loving parent learns to handle loss.
3. Help kids learn that broken hearts are meant to be tended, not fixed. Embracing a loss, versus avoiding or denying, helps children grow in compassion.
There was a time when Shawn Askinosie was a fearsome trial attorney. These days he speaks in a different voice, emphasizing and encouraging language of hope and compassion for our children and others.
by Dr. Jennifer Baker
This article was written by Dr. Jennifer Baker, Founder and Executive Director of Good Dads, following a podcast with Shawn. To hear the full interview, download part 1 and part 2 of his Good Dads podcast.