PicturePhoto: http://lehighvalleyramblings.blogspot.com/
Being a dad is a great responsibility, so is being a member of the military. There are jobs where dads have to travel, and there are dads who have potentially very dangerous jobs. When you put the two together, you have a member of the armed services.

It’s very difficult to be a parent in the military, not only for the one who wears the uniform, but for the spouse and children. Many days are spent away from home, either in training or direct performance of duty. When those days are stretched out into weeks, months, or even a year, routines are changed, workloads increase, especially for the mother (and sometimes the father when the mother is deployed)!

Most often it is the dad who wears the uniform. When he is gone life changes for all! A year in the life of a child is an eternity. At first, it hurts that Dad isn’t there. Then another routine sets in, but he is still sorely missed. After a period of time, the child forgets what it is like to have Dad around, especially for younger children. Mom’s get used to doing things a certain way, and being independent is a way of life. When dad returns, it is absolute euphoria! The family is back together and everyone is happy, for a while.

When the euphoria dies, real life comes into play. There is a mom’s way, and a dad’s way. Both can be effective but they are different. When Dad returns, it can be confusing to the child and frustrating for the mother. Adjustments are necessary! This provides an extra tension that add to the normal tensions that come with a family trying to work together. Hopefully, after a while, things begin to smooth out, and just when they do, another deployment comes up. I know one soldier who has been on assignments away from his family five of the last 14 years!

What military dads need to do is be aware of the pitfalls. Very stressful deployments can change you, at least for a period of time. Failures in communication and frustration among all is normal and can be overcome. 

Some things to do and think about for a military father, back from deployment:

  • Be involved when you are home but don’t overdo it. Give it time.
  • Be patient with the fact your homecoming is full of emotion and confusion.
  • Be slow in restating your authority.
  • Be fun to be around as much as you can be.
  • Thank your wife for her sacrifices!
  • Tell your kids that they are special because less than one in a hundred sacrifice their needs to serve the country through their dad.
  • Watch habits and language that have become normal without family and children around.
  • Ask your family questions about any struggles that may have happened while you were gone.
  • When you have to blow off steam, go somewhere where it won’t affect loved ones.
  • Remember that what you do is difficult and mistakes can and will happen. Don’t punish yourself!
Three other recommendations!
  • Give a copy of my book to returning vets - "The Power of Dadhood". I’m trying to get it to Family Readiness Centers so it is available for free.
  • Get outside help if you need it. Listen to your wife and kids if they think you need it.
  • A wonderful charitable organization that will help the children of military families is “Little Patriots Embraced". Please click on their name and learn what they can do for you if you are a military family in need.

God Bless military families!

This is about families and how they could best work. But first I would like to discuss differences, choices, and balance--all of which occur in nature, logic, and even sports. These are also important aspects of parenting.

Can you think of something that doesn’t have an opposite? Opposites are usually necessary for balance and for choice. There is a yin and a yang, yes and no, off and on, a right and a wrong, a left and a right, an up and a down, a safe and an out, a back and forth, day and night, lost and found, man and woman, a mother and a father.

You can’t always say ‘yes’, that’s why there is a ‘no’. You aren’t always ‘on’ nor are you always ‘right’. There wouldn’t be a ‘found’ if there wasn’t a ‘lost’. In baseball, if everyone was ‘safe’, the game would never end. If everyone was ‘out’, no one would ever win. ‘Left’ is a choice because otherwise you could only go ‘right’ and, therefore, in circles.

Sometimes it just takes two! It takes two to play catch. It takes two to carry a stretcher. It takes two to play checkers. It takes two, a man and woman, to create a child. Isn’t it wonderful when we parent by twos? And it would be helpful if there were differences between the parents because each could supplement the other’s weaknesses and learn from their strengths? By differences I don’t mean disagreements. I mean different approaches, different personalities, and different relationships.

As an example, a mother is more likely to sympathize with a child while a father is more likely to challenge him or her. Sometimes one method works better, and sometimes the other method does. Relationships between a mother and her children are different than the relationships between a father and his children. For instance, look at this scenario of a son announcing that he is going to his prom.

“Hey Dad, I decided to go to the prom.”

“Well, it’s going to take a lot of charm to get a date with a mug like yours!” teases the dad.

“Oh yeah, well somehow it worked for you!” the son responds with a smile.

Fathers and sons with good relationships are known to tease each other. If a mother had given the same response as the dad, the son may have been stunned. Most moms will not tease like that or even think it is funny when the dad does it. Certainly the father could have been supportive in a traditional way. “That’s wonderful son!” But often dads let mom say that while the dad is more light-hearted.

Similarly, there are things moms can discuss with their daughters that would be quite out of place for a dad or awkward for him and his daughter. Each parent can fill different roles.

Too often, in our society, we raise our children with one parent missing. This is never a good thing for the child. Sometimes it can’t be helped due to uncontrollable circumstances. Most of the time, however, it’s a decision--will or will not.

1) Yes, I will be involved no matter what; or 
2) No, it’s too hard for me to be involved because ____________.

The reasons there are single parent families are many. Here are a few:
  1. Sadly, one parent may have passed away.
  2. One parent may be totally incapable of being a good influence.
  3. One parent may not like the other parent.
  4. One parent may not be interested or understand their importance.
  5. One parent may be afraid of the responsibility.

We need to eliminate the issues we have some control over to give our kids their best shot for a normal life and the tools for success. Most of us can agree it is best to have a pair of parents to parent (pairenting!) The intent of my book is to help with #4 and #5. I’m not sure what can be done about #2 and #3 except to prevent those situations from occurring in the future by raising good, rational people.

It takes two, baby! Me and you!

Photo by Kathleen Smith
The good news on this article is that there is no video to watch with my mug in it. I'm sure my daughters are happy about that. From their point of view, watching your dad talk where their friends can watch, is like sitting on pins and needles. "Don't say anything embarrassing Dad!", they are thinking to themselves. 

Embarrassing your kids is something they all worry about. I've been doing it for years! Even when my daughters and son and were in their twenties, I was sending words of advice to them. I'll give you a couple of bullets as examples.
  • When you are worried about something, imagine yourself on the moon, looking down on earth. Then you may have a different perspective on it.
  • When you fail you're failing towards future success.

In doing this, I was concerned they would think I was a little bit of a nerd.  I did it anyway. I have never stopped being a mentor and cheerleader to them. If they want to accept or ignore my advice, that's up to them, but they will know I care--and that may be more important than any advice I could ever give to them.

When you hug your teens, to them that’s more embarrassing than awesome. When you send your kids words of advice and wisdom, that’s something they keep to themselves. When you cry at graduations, they wish you wouldn't. When you try to be funny around your kids’ friends, that’s definitely more embarrassing for them than cool. When you recall your seven year old son hitting a rare triple, and tears come to your eyes, you are definitely an emotional dad. Weddings? Forget about it!

I was guilty of sending my kids little notes or lists over the years. One of those was called “If You Want X, You Must Y”, about the responsibilities you have to accept to get what you want in life. Another was called “What I Want for My Children”. I included both in my book, “The Power of Dadhood”. Just yesterday, I found the note that included the two bullets above. I had written it in 2001. Totally forgotten until it appeared in a stack of old papers, I reflected on what they may have thought about me and my notes.

Do it anyway!

It takes guts to be a nerdy father, meaning sentimental, caring, and affectionate, because it can be embarrassing, not only for them, but for you, the father. You’re not sure how your little notes or philosophies will be taken. Maybe they are silly, or too corny, or too obvious? But it is definitely better to take the chance than too refrain from being a nurturing dad. For instance, if you can’t handle the rolling eyes of a teen, then you have a lot to learn as a father.

Dads don’t casually talk about fathering techniques to each other. Surely most are involved these days, but there are other dads that barely talk to their kids. I was not privy to words of wisdom as a young man. It wasn’t until I had years of exhaustive reading, frustration, and self-learning that I became aware of these mentoring ideas, ideas that would have helped me in my youth. I wanted my son and two daughters to have a jump on me, not that they would understand all this advice right away, but because it would make them think.

Even simple hints like, keep your chin up, swing your arms when you walk, look people in the eyes, respect older people, hug your mom--are more than words of wisdom, they are signs that you are watching, and that you care. Don’t expect them to come up and say thanks for the advice. It usually takes a few years for that to happen. Besides, you don’t do it for any reason other than to help them to reach their highest potential in life.

Early Lessons – Early Results

There is a story about two brothers. One saves and invests $2000 a year for 10 years then stops saving for the rest of his life-and lets his investments grow. The second brother saves nothing for 10 years then starts saving and investing $2000 a year for the rest his life. They both live full lives yet the second brother never catches up with the first brother in savings. He learned too late how important an early start has as a multiplier through time. When young people don’t understand key lessons in life early on, they will be at a distinct disadvantage to those that have learned and lived by those key life lessons much sooner.

Think of Them - Not Yourself!

Risk the embarrassment of love and emotion. When your children grow older and l
ook back, they will remember how much you cared!

Click on image!
Interview Part 2: The Power of Dadhood

In this second half of my interview, I discuss mentoring, the importance of “being there”, and never giving up on your kids. Thanks to all of you who watched the first segment and the many kind words. It truly helps my confidence and hope for future interviews.

Now that Mothers’ Day is over, dads are on the “on-deck circle” — June 21st being Fathers’ Day. Now, when you compare Fathers’ Day to Mothers’ Day, it’s like comparing Groundhog Day to Christmas. It’s understandable! Moms have earned and deserve the attention and love they get.

My hope is that someday dads, as a group, will earn the same praise mothers receive. We men have plenty going for us, but unless you’re a real difference maker like Jonas Salk, Benjamin Franklin, or Abraham Lincoln, none of the good you do in this world will bring you the pride and admiration of being the best dad you can be for your family!

Click here for interview segment 2 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7c5g3e2lGA 

Thanks for everyone’s support. Nothing happens without it!

If you haven't scene segment 1, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYlQyHC5QDI 

Here is my first public interview regarding my bookThe Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Needs”. While I've had experience speaking during my military career, it was never about myself or issues personal to me. My experiences as a young man gave me insight into not having a caring father. To discuss those experiences is uncomfortable but necessary to the message of my book--the message being in the title. 

The base problem of most societal issues is not being addressed

The harm caused to children, and subsequently to society when parents are under-educated or even casual about raising their kids, is truly significant. Not addressing this basic social need more aggressively is one of the most basic flaws in our country! 

We tend to put band-aids on the results of poor parenting instead of addressing parenting itself! I believe, and research shows, that preparing parents and preventing issues early is more effective than trying to fix the individual and societal problems that perpetuate when children are raised without a fatherly influence. But to prepare parents, they first have to BE THERE!

Even the strongest of mothers can use help with the insights and love of another caring parent. Men who don’t have fathers very often aren't interested in fathering themselves. Women who don’t have fathers, often don’t expect much from the men who are the father of their babies. It's too easy to create a child but very difficult to raise one. Subsequently, we have more high school drop outs, more crime, more drug use, more lack of respect for authority…and on and on.

My Approach 

My book emulates the approach of an organization that helps at the basic level, preventing issues in the first place: Parents as Teachers (PAT)’. PAT works with parents just prior to birth and up to three years old, to teach basic skills to their children, prepare them for school, and to look for possible learning disabilities. PAT has been proven to have a very positive impact on the performance of children who have been in their program.

With my book, I want to give guys who may not have had a great role model some perspective that could help them to provide their children with a critical positive foundation of love and support.  I want men to have the desire and skills to raise healthy children before the opportunity is missed and troubles begin.

The Interview

So here is part one of my interview. Part two will come in my next blog.  Hopefully my passion shows through my inexperience and nervousness. Please share the video with anyone who could benefit from my message.

Segment 1 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYlQyHC5QDI

A Request

If you don’t need to buy my book for yourself, buy it for someone that may be able to get something out of it. Easily available on line or in Barnes and Noble bookstores. Locally, please try The Novel Neighbor on Big Bend near Laclede Station Rd. It's a beautiful, welcoming independent bookstore. I will also be having a book signing there from 4-5 PM on May 31st!

If you can’t afford it to buy a copy, write me with details at <mike@michaelbyronsmithcom>, and I’ll give you one at no cost--if you promise to share it!
April - Kathy - Rachel
This is a special, bonus post to honor the best parents in the history of the world--MOTHERS! 

I blog about fatherhood and wrote a book on the topic because I believe all children deserve their dad to be completely involved in their lives. Unlike women, however, men often need more coaxing and reminders. Not all men are like this, but the statistics show us that mothers are much more likely to be the faithful, present parent when there is only one.

PictureMy Mom with her great granddaughter Juliette, Rachel and me.
I think of my mother who raised six children on her own on a waitress’s salary and meager tips while my father ignored his responsibilities and thought only of himself. 

There was a time when I was a young boy, my mother had just come home from her waitress job. She dumped her tips, coins only, on her bed and started crying—something she didn’t do as often as she might have. I asked her, “Why are you crying Mom?” She tried to muffle her weeping, and said, “I’m sorry Mike. I just don’t know how I’m going to raise all you kids like this.” I was the oldest at twelve and my brother Bob was the youngest at 2 years old. 

I don’t remember if I said anything to her. I hope I gave her a big hug! It is the only time I recall my mom showing emotion for our situation, not that there weren't others. There were challenges, not only with money, but with the attention the six of us needed! And while there were many bumps in the road, we somehow all survived and are good people (most of the time). To this day, she never talks or complains about how my father abandoned us. My mom is my biggest hero!

I think of my wife Kathy, who places everything second to her family. She had a career she put on hold for twenty years to raise our children. She put them in situations to make them grow and learn. I learned how to parent from Kathy. Simple things like how to have routines, the importance of consistency and rules. I had never known consistency having being raised by one parent with six children. The only consistency we had known was moving two to three times a year, being one step ahead of creditors. 

I’m so thankful for Kathy’s patience with me. While I was passionate about being a good dad, I needed Kathy to show me the way. She was my parenting mentor. Kathy made life a new and much better normal for me, and allowed me to grow.

Now my two daughters are mothers, both with two children. Before she married, I always thought of my older daughter, April, as a career woman. But when her first daughter was born, I saw a natural mothering instinct come out of her that I didn’t know was there. She connects with her two girls at a very base level, eye-to-eye, listening to their constant chatter, and very involved in their social and mechanical development. She backed off from her professional career to work part-time, wanting to be there for her girls in their early, formative years. They are beyond amazing in the things they are capable of at their ages—happy and thriving!

My younger daughter, Rachel, was always a natural fit as a mom. She wanted to be one as long as I can remember. From the age of 12, Rachel was sought after as a babysitter for the entire neighborhood. All the kids she watched loved how she entertained and interacted with them. Surprisingly to me, she didn’t become a mom until she was thirty-one. After all, to be the best mom, it helps to find the best man to be the father. Rachel knew that! Today, she and her husband have a two year old boy and a one month old girl. There are no surprises here. She is a wonderful mother! Just as everyone expected she would be. 

I love how both of my daughters not only want, but expect Kathy and me to be involved in their children’s lives. And we have jumped in with both feet! I am surrounded by wonderful mothers!!

For all the mothers out there, BRAVO! Thanks for filling the gaps where we fathers often leave a void. Thanks for nourishing our children and helping fathers be dads.

“You can have anything you want if you stick to it long enough”
                                                                    ~ Helen Keller     

Let’s say you have a job to get done and you have two people from which to choose. One you know can do the job, but they don’t have much interest. The other you’re not sure if they can do the job, but they say it’s their intention to learn. Which would you choose? In whom would you have the most confidence?

Remember Robert and Dan, the entrepreneurs from my last post? When Dan was in high school, he got a college scholarship to play football. Dan was quick as lightning and a good receiver. But he never made the starting squad because he didn’t work hard enough in practice. The next year he quit the team because he didn’t want to play football, not really. He had the skills but not the drive to use them.

On the other hand, Robert wanted to be a Navy seal. He was small, shy, quiet and was raised under difficult circumstances. He joined the Navy after high school and became an electrician’s mate. He knew he wasn’t ‘Seal Team’ material yet, but kept his dream. He worked out, became an excellent swimmer, and ran every day. Finally, he volunteered to be a Seal. His Commander gave him a glowing recommendation because he saw the heart and desire of Robert. Seal training was very tough, doubts set in, but he earned his Seal Trident!

When it comes to football, Dan had the skills. It was something he could do, but he didn’t have the passion. Maybe he’ll find his passion somewhere else. Regarding Robert, no one ever saw him as a future Seal, but it was his intention to be a Seal. We don’t always do what we can, but we try to do what we intend. What made Robert’s dream possible was his passion and his persistence.

Intending to do something is stronger than merely being able to. Intention is an engine that puts you in motion even if you have doubts or weaknesses others don’t have. If you have a passion about your intention, then you will be persistent. Persistence is a protective bubble. It resists failures and setbacks. It wards off negative talk and fear. Persistence finds energy when you need it the most!  It finds your courage when self-doubt sets in.

But you must have the right kind of persistence!

The right kind of persistence requires three things:
  1. Passion
  2. Realistic, honorable goals
  3. The ability to fight through doubt.

Passion: We have already mentioned passion. Have passion or you’re wasting time! If you’re not passionate about a goal, your persistence will soon run out of gas like a Hummer with a leaky tank. Passion is an intense desire to be a part of something or reach a goal. Persistence is like rocket fuel that burns hot – persistence can overcome a lack of skill, or a lack of power. Robert had passion!

Realistic Goals: If you want to climb a mountain, then do so. But if you want to move a mountain, even persistence will fail you if you aim for Mt. Everest. Your goal can be tough, but if it’s realistic to you, it likely can be accomplished. Honorable Goals: Looking to get even with someone, and even having passion to do so, is not only nonproductive, it’s insanity! Chasing goals born from anger are not healthy and they take you away from worthwhile goals. Getting even or doing harm is are not honorable goals.

Fighting Doubt: Never allow doubt to take over. There will always be doubt, obstacles, nay-sayers and more. Obstacles can be never ending--but so can be persistence. Robert had many doubts, and obstacles, but he did not let them take over.

How I used persistence:

Persistence does not necessarily work fast nor efficiently. When I was 50 my youngest child was graduating from high school. I wanted to write down some things about being a father for personal reasons. I had witnessed firsthand the power of having two involved parents in a family as opposed to just one--usually the one is a mother. I decided I was going to write a book about fatherhood to leave to my children, nieces, nephews, and their children.

The Three Requirements
  1. To write about being a dad was more of a promise to myself than just a decision. Getting this message out was my passion! I has the passion for many years. I had obstacles but they just slowed me down, they didn’t stop me
  2. I knew the goal was honorable. After all, I wanted to help my family and others to be happy and healthy. But was it realistic? I decided it was realistic. I can think. I can write. The goal was not to win the Pulitzer Prize, but to pass on useful and encouraging information.
  3. Defeating Self–doubt is always the toughest thing to battle. Could I do it? Would I stick with it? Would it really help? Would it be good? And biggest doubt of all—would anyone ever read it?

It’s that last requirement that was my personal key to having the right kind of persistence. What’s yours? 

Do your children have passions? Are they honorable and realistic? Do they have excessive doubts? Can you help them in any of these areas? Have you even thought about this? 

It's good to remember that it is not water flowing over jagged rocks that makes them smooth, but it is the persistence of the flowing water that makes it so. A wave of the hand may shoo a fly, but it won't accomplish much else.

Thanks for reading!
Mike Smith
PictureI like the future for this child!
A Family Needs a Solid Foundation

“There are no adequate substitutes for father, mother, and children bound together in a loving commitment to nurture and protect. No government, no matter how well-intentioned, can take the place of the family in the scheme of things.”

—Gerald Ford, thirty-eighth president of the United States

Two men, Robert and Dan, were considering buying an old apartment building. It was inexpensive but needed some work. If done correctly, work done on the building would make it much more productive and valuable. The building needed plumbing work and the interior needed some redecorating. The outside needed painting and landscaping. But what worried Robert the most were the cracks he saw in the walls which suggested a foundation problem. When he mentioned this too Dan, Dan suggested “those cracks have been there a long time. We’ll just patch them up.” Robert was not so sure and thought they should have the foundation looked at, but Dan was afraid that would be too expensive, especially if something was found to be in need of repair that really wasn't necessary. Robert just pursed his lips to one side.

Robert and Dan got a loan and proceeded to fix the plumbing. They patched the walls, replaced some windows and painted inside and out. The landscaping put the final touches on what looked like a very handsome place to live. The neighbors were happy that Robert and Dan had invested in their neighborhood and improved an eyesore. 

Things looked like they were going to work out for Robert, Dan, and the building. Interest was high and Robert and Dan were praised for their efforts. Then the unexpected occurred. The earth shook! Not very hard did it shake, maybe a 4.5 on the Richter scale. The surrounding area had a mess to clean up. Some bricks fell, and some tree limbs fell on cars. Some shelves in the local grocery store collapsed and cans filled the aisles. The power company checked on wires and poles.

The neighborhood could recover, except for one building, Robert and Dan’s building! The weak foundation allowed the building to rock excessively. Walls cracked, pipes broke and water flooded much of the building. The panes in the new and old windows broke and glass was everywhere. The building was in much worse shape than when they had bought it.

The Eyes of Predisposition

When Robert and Dad bought the building, the plumbing did need repair and the money was provided to fix it. Redecorating and landscaping made everything look much better and the neighbors were impressed. But the main issue with the building had been ignored, that being the foundation.

Before the small tremor, Robert and Dan had visions of profit. Dan knew that if they discovered extensive foundation problems, the repairs would take away from that profit. Robert thought the same thing but was fearful of the consequences if the foundation issue was not addressed. 

Of course the plumbers thought fixing the plumbing was what the building needed. The painters thought they would provide the most bang for Robert and Dan’s buck. The landscapers knew the magic of how things look to others and made the curb appeal stand out. The structural engineers, however, were ignored.

What Does this all Mean?

Poverty, crime, civil disobedience, etc. are the broken windows, bad plumbing, and chipped paint of a society in disrepair. But in my mind, because I am a fatherhood advocate (similar to a structural engineer), the main issue of a society in disrepair is the breakdown of the family--and more specifically, the lack of a strong father figure in too any homes where society struggles.

So much money has been spent on housing people who don’t have the means to take care of the property. Food is provided for people who need food, but more food is necessary every day. Pregnant teens desire and get help after they are pregnant. No help is desired to keep them from becoming pregnant. If good fathers were around and involved, they could provide for their families, be good role models for their sons, and teach their daughters how they should be treated by men.

Therefore, the structural correction I would attack most fervently is efforts to keep families whole. Some social programs with good intent have ended up making it disadvantageous for a man to be in the home. Many judicial policies make it tough for men to stay involved with their children. Society, in general, doesn’t give men much credit as parents. Lastly, missing fathers create many more missing fathers. The common cure that would positively impact all of these issues is good ol' parenting with an involved mom and dad cooperating.


We try to fix the easiest problems, or those that are in our best interest, first.  We try to ignore what may be the most difficult thing to do, or that which would reflect badly on us. We all do this in some degree or another because we are humans. I think the problem is the breakdown of the core family. Others think it is a lack of education, a lack of jobs, a lack of money, etc. But we have spent a lot of money on all those areas without significant overall success. Those are all real issues, but to address them before we address the foundation of the problem is wasting our time, money, and lives!

We need the Roberts’ of the world to speak up more loudly and do the right thing!

PictureDrawing by Malia, age 6
Following is an excerpt from my book, "The Power of Dadhood: Be the Father Your Child Needs". 

The official release was two days ago (April 28, 2015). Everyone has been supportive and the reviews have been wonderful! Thank You!

This excerpt from Chapter 9 "Fathering with Love" is entitled:

Give Your Kids the Father They Really Want

“Children need love, especially when they do not deserve it.”
—Harold Hulbert

Kids don’t always know it, but they want your love and your direction.

They want to know what the limits are. Young brains cannot judge danger because kids feel invincible. Children need to know the rules to succeed in society and need to have principles to base their decisions on. Having principles contributes to their self-esteem.

Children must learn that when no respect is given, no respect will be received; when no work is accomplished, no rewards will be forthcoming. When they fight you on the limits, dangers, rules, and principles you teach, don’t interpret that as their desire for you to go away. They may think they want you to leave them alone, but if you did, they would be hurt deeply. Mostly, your kids need love and guidance, and you give them these gifts by being consistent and firm with them.

Too many times I have seen parents take the easy road and solve their children’s problems for them. It’s the easy way out for the parents because the issue goes away quicker and with less effort. What’s worse, it’s also the easy way out for the child because he or she is off the hook with little or no consequence and without learning life’s lessons.

If you want your children to be stronger, you don’t take them to the gym and lift the weights for them. If you want them to be smarter, you don’t go to class for them and do their homework. Similarly, if you want them to learn the rules of life, you don’t protect them from life. You must provide the way—give them a map and the rules of the road, but don’t take the journey for them because they will not get anywhere that way. There must be consequences or there is no learning, and there must be boundaries to keep them on the right path.

Dad Tip:

What is fathering with love? It means, of course, being there, but it also involves helping your children make their own decisions, teaching them how to choose wisely, putting your foot down when they make poor decisions, and letting them know you love them, no matter what.

PS: Thanks to my beautiful granddaughter Malia for the beautiful drawing and sweet message!

This is a very personal post about love, life, fear, and loss. We live every day at risk of a loss, but it does no good to think about that. We take precautions, or we should, then we should be thankful for each day.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks, especially for people I care for. An old friend passed away. My neighbor’s twenty-two year-old son died tragically on Easter. And the granddaughter of very close friends was just found to have a form of leukemia. These things happen somewhere every day, but usually they are distant. It’s always difficult to hear about anyone’s death or sickness, but when it gets close to you, it becomes personal and it shakes you.

My old friend’s death was a loss, but it was not sad. He lived a full and very productive life having lived a mostly healthy 94 years. He was successful, a war hero, a man who put himself in harm’s way for his country and lived through it. He loved life and lived with gusto, although he too had to suffer the loss of his son at a young age, and the death of his wife a few years ago. Nevertheless, his life was to be celebrated.

It’s different when a young man dies just at the peak of living and at the doorstep of a life full of accomplishments and memories. His family is stricken forever. We will never understand. I pray there is a purpose to it all.

Then a young girl is faced with a battle that even the strongest of warriors would never want to experience. To see her and talk to her, you would never think this would be part of God's plan. She is smart, she is engaging, she is pretty, and she deserves all life can bring to her. She is also strong and has a very supportive family. And with today’s technology and treatment, I am certain she can beat this--but it won’t be easy for her and her family. 

Happiness fills the bulk of our lives when we realize what we have. We can’t be happy if we worry about things that will likely never happen. You can’t be fearful of an unknown event or prepare for sorrow because you can’t practice that--and you certainly shouldn’t expect bad things to happen. Instead, love those around you today, and live life to its fullest. 

I reflect on these realities because, for me, it is a time of celebration, sorrow, and hope. Celebration of a life lived well. Sorrow for a life lost way too soon. And hope for a young girl in a very tough battle. Anything can happen at any time to any of us. This is why you must enjoy, love, and appreciate what you have this moment because life is ephemeral--nothing lasts forever. What you do and say today is very important to those you love and that love you in return. I often forget that. We all do. 

We also can’t take away the shock and sorrow when someone close to us has to deal with a tragic or earth-shattering event--but we can give them support. Caring with true sincerity is one of the few things that can help someone face what is difficult to face.

As for me:
  • I accept with celebration the loss of an old friend.
  • I accept with deep sorrow the loss of a young man whose life was cut way too short.
  • I give all my prayers, hopes, support, and strong belief of recovery for my friends’ granddaughter! I am optimistic! It doesn't make much sense to be otherwise.

So you got a traffic ticket and lost your wallet all within 12 hours. Not the best day, but not a bad day--not really. Today and each day, I want my friends and family to know that I love them; and I will be there when they need me as I know they will be with me when I need them. This is something you can do also. 

Thanks for reading!