PicturePhoto and article from the 'Christian Science Monitor'
Mentors are our quiet heroes!! You would think there would be enough dads to go around. But there simply are NOT! Let me clarify. There are enough men to go around, but not enough dads! To fill the gap, we need mentors. Mentors can fill in when dads are missing to show a male example to boys. Girls also need a male example to know how to be properly treated by men. Providing male mentors for them, however, is a little more complicated so I'll save that for a later article.

The best mentor a boy could ever have is his dad! Unfortunately, too many men are not there for them. There are many reasons and excuses for their absense, but this article is not about that awful fact. Hopefully, an uncle or grandfather can fill in, but since 43% of families exist without a father at home, the void is too large to fill. There are some special men, though, that do special things. When men give of their time and themselves to help those who desperately need it, they save lives, literally and figuratively. Think about that for one moment. Is there any accomplishment that could compare to saving just one life, let alone many?

Enter Bob Hansman of St. Louis.
As the young man he adopted said, "He set an example. He showed me how to live. I was looking for someone to do that for me." 

Mentors like Bob Hansman are real heroes! Click here to read his story.


 
 
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To my wonderful readers,

Linked below is the first article I have written for Familius.com. Familius is a family-oriented publisher who has taken a huge risk on an unknown, first-time author because they feel the message, intended for fathers and their families, is so important to our most precious asset, our children.

I am that first time author and Familius will publish my book, "The Power of Dadhood" in the spring of 2015. Please visit their website and read my article about the importance of Dads by clicking on the photo, or the link below! It's entitled:
"When Your Child Looks Into Your Eyes"

Thank You for helping me with this project!


 
 
If every parent would say the words spoken above to their teens and pre-teens, and stand by them, would they not grow up to be better citizens? If anyone disagrees with this statement, I would like to hear from you. You are encouraged to comment! 

The reason young people do not get the structure, discipline and guidance they need today is twofold. For one, only 43% of families with children have a father living at home. That puts undue pressure on the mothers to teach values when they often struggle just to survive. The second reason is the namby pamby parenting of too many parents today! 

It's not easy to be parents. Our kids are always moving from place to place, activity to activity, or worse, we don't know where they are! They are distracted by friends who are too easily accessible. Parents are also busy and find it difficult to exhibit their values, establish rules, and to enforce them. And let's face it, some of us are just too soft with our children. If we lose any more backbone, we will no longer be considered mammals.

Kids still complain but it's less about being bored than in 1959 because we have spoiled them with smart phones, computers, video games, cable TV, etc. Now they are busier, but the majority of them are not mowing lawns or visiting the sick. Instead of washing windows, they're using 'Windows'. Teens, these days, are texting, sexting, gaming, instagramming, facebooking, tweeting and who knows what else?


Parents must be in charge! If you are not, then you are performing a serious disservice to your children. 

I challenge every parent of teens and pre-teens to take the 1959 article above, tailor the advice of this wise judge to match your families' rules and values, frame it and hang it on a prominent wall in your home to be seen and followed by all. As the last paragraph, state something like this:

"We're here to support, advise, and cheer you on my child, but your success depends on you and you alone. You'll find that the more you work to improve yourself, the more you sweat, the more you give, the more you plan, then 
the less help you will need from others. And others will WANT to help you because of your inspiring example."

 



 
 
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Dads are judged quite a bit (so are moms), both fairly and unfairly. Single dads, gay dads, absent dads, stay at home dads, too-busy dads, distant dads, new dads, dinosaur dads, and more, are often judged by others. We are not the same people so we can’t be expected to father the same way, but I would say we should all father in a loving, nurturing way.

“Passing judgment” is a tricky topic. On one hand, there are those that are critical of anything with which they are not comfortable. On the other hand, there are those that are critical of anyone who has an opinion different than theirs.

For instance, many in the gay and lesbian community are severely disparaged by often narrow minded people regarding their lifestyle. On the other hand, other narrow minded people jump all over those who speak against the gay lifestyle, not taking into account lifelong beliefs and religious teachings that can be very difficult to change or dismiss. The same dichotomy can be said for abortion, climate change, politics, gun control, tattoos, etc. What works for some people does not work for others, and it will always be that way.

Of course you should have a legal right to pass judgment, but the question is 'do you have a moral right' ? 'Passing judgment' is often just having an opinion. For example, I don’t happen to like tattoos, but I welcome those who want them, to get them. I complain about tattoos sometimes, only because I think they are generally unattractive and take away from a person’s beauty. I have a right to my opinion, but I would be wrong to criticize others who disagree with me. In short, I can dislike tattoos but I should not object to their right to have and boast about them.

There is a problem in that you can rarely get an honest opinion from anyone any longer! We are afraid of giving one for fear of retribution. That wouldn't be an issue if we could have a discussion without unfair criticism or undue sensitivity.

Mozilla fired its Firefox CEO for simply sending a personal check to a cause he believed in. It was a majority belief at the time (which I only mention to make the point that it was not a ridiculous cause) and it had nothing to do with his job performance. The company felt pressured to fire the CEO because of the complaints of an organization that had opposing beliefs. The important message here has nothing to do with what the CEO believed in. If you agree or disagree with him is not the issue. The issue is this type of action will, in effect, deny our free speech. Dissent will be viewed as a dangerous activity because someone will be offended and will want to punish you for your opinion. (I'm pretty sure that's the tactics of the Taliban.)

What has this to do with being a dad? A LOT!  You shouldn't have a home where your children are afraid to speak up respectfully. To do so restricts their growth and often contributes to their frustration and anger. It’s also relevant to have two parents with different opinions and approaches, no matter how small, for kids to be able to see various approaches to any problem, stance, or situation.

What’s worse? “Being unfairly judgmental” or “losing your right to have an opinion”. We don’t want either, but if I had to express my opinion about the lesser evil, I’d say being unfairly judgmental IS the lesser evil. However, I absolutely respect your right to have a dissenting opinion!

 
 
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Respect: (noun) the condition of being honored (esteemed or respected or well regarded).

Everyone wants respect! If there is anything in the world that you have to earn on your own, respect may be at the top of the list. A strange conundrum about respect is the fact that you don’t “try” to get it, nor can you ask for it. Respect comes to you through unselfish acts, wisdom, trust, and love for people.

The word respect can also mean fear of something, like the power of the ocean or the violence of a thunderstorm. But let me be clear, 


 
 
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What I learned from my daughter that shocked me!



 
 
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Would you rather play golf at Pebble Beach or go to your daughter’s dance recital? If you are an avid golfer, it may be tough to answer that honestly. If you chose Pebble Beach, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad dad. It would depend on the scenario. Some decisions, however, are much easier.   

I have a confession. As a young father, I let what was popular (to me) get in the way of what was important. The important thing I allowed to take a back seat was my family. What’s more important than that!? I’m guessing other parents have done the same thing at one time or another. It’s easy to do in the everyday humdrum of life and even more so when you are a rookie dad, like I was at the time. 


What I often did as a young father was listen to a sports talk show while we were eating dinner as a family. Although relatively harmless compared to some of the things unfit fathers do (or don’t do),
that was silly, selfish and is embarrassing to me now. This talk show was an escape for me, and since the internet didn't exist then, I couldn't tap into the conversation later. It was a lousy excuse then as it remains a lousy excuse today. Of course my wife complained, but I somehow rationalized to myself that it was alright. When I was growing up with my brothers and sisters, we did not have ‘dad time’. There was no model for me to follow, so while I may have known deep down that I was wrong, I wasn't shamed by an example from my youth.

This is just one example of how coming from a dysfunctional family reverberates into following generations. It is also why well meaning people make mistakes. We all need trusted mentors, examples to follow, that can show us the proper way. We usually parent as our parents parented - which can make us glad or sad! When a parent is missing, there is usually no example from whom to learn. Children need both parents of course, but specifically, a boy is lost without a male example and a girl is lost without a female example. 

In the same way, important topics like parenting and world issues are overtaken in media and conversation by popular topics like celebrity gossip, sports, and reality TV. This is not going to change any time soon. Perez Hilton and TMZ have top rated blogs based on gossip. As a society, we love and pay much attention to gossip. When Kim Kardashian or Mylie Cyrus sneeze, we know about it. I can’t explain it. I've never been a big fan of celebrity. But then I have issues others don't understand.

Of course, it’s natural and within our rights to have things we like to do for ourselves! We would be very unhappy and terrible to be around otherwise. If my daughter wanted my attention during the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series, I would have no trouble telling her to wait if the issue could wait - and it usually can. Just think about what’s the most important thing at the time. If there is any doubt, I hope you know what to do!

Society may not change, but you can change as a parent. Think about what you might be doing that’s popular instead of what is important, especially as it deals with your kids. Think, also, about fixing that if necessary!



 
 
PictureWould the real public enemy #1 please read this?
Forget those wanted posters in the post office. Public enemy number one in the USA is bad parenting! It is the root cause of so many issues.

John Dellinger, the depression area bank robber was once called public enemy number one, but he was just 'an ephemeral bubble of foam in the sea of miscreants'. In other words, he wasn’t the real problem. His view on life was formed as a kid with an inconsistent father and the loss of his mother at 3 years of age. There would always be someone to take Dellinger's place. Another miscreant.

President Nixon once called 'drugs' public enemy number one, but of course illegal drugs are harmless if ignored by the public. On the other hand, children are NOT harmless if ignored. Children are at risk if not loved and mentored by their parents. They are more likely to have social issues, drug dependency, or simple lack of confidence. There is, however, no training certificate required to be a mom or a dad. If we didn't have decent parents as role models, we react by the seat of our pants, which can lead to inconsistency. Inconsistency in parenting is like playing the lottery. The odds are your children will lose. The real way to being a good parent is the same as making a good living. You have to make smart choices and work hard!

The statistics are out there and they are staggeringly negative when both parents are not in the home. Just ‘google’ fatherless statistics and see what I mean. Here is just one example:

http://fatherhoodfactor.com/us-fatherless-statistics/

We will never wipe out drug use, crime, violence, mental illness, welfare, anger, mistrust, unwed mothers, etc. All of these are threats to our society but none of them are our primary threat.  When and if we ever concentrate, as a society, on improving parenting skills, with education and support, then the issues of drug use, crime, violence, mental illness, welfare, anger, mistrust, unwed mothers will be much more manageable.

A turn around in fatherless homes, in recycled poor parenting, can never happen in one generation. If done well, however, it would very likely turn our society around in three generations. We need to encourage fatherly involvement and find a way to teach parenting skills. Let’s arrest bad parenting now, for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren!


 
 
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As a Fatherhood Advocate, most of what I learn about being a dad is from totally unrelated areas. This past week I was at the Independent Book Publishers Association’s (IBPA), Publishing University. It was one on the most rewarding, and educational conferences I have ever attended! While I was there to learn about writing and publishing, I also learned lessons I can use to encourage better fathering.

Below are 18 things I learned, or were reinforced to me, at the IBPA Publishing University. They are from my scribbled notes and I could only attribute a few of these directly and some are just observations of mine. So, in mass, I attribute the following 18 lessons to the speakers, members and staff of IPBA.

  1. Being around people who share your passion is invaluable

  2. Encouragement is like rocket fuel

  3. You can always learn from others

  4. You always have something to contribute

  5. People are excited to help those who want it

  6. You must have values, a mission, and a plan

  7. You’re always fighting the odds, so you can’t be lazy

  8. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat

  9. Don’t squat with your spurs on (also a book!)

  10. You must have a platform (or you’ll never be found)

  11. Be with your audience

  12. Look into their eyes and be honest

  13. Look for people who want your success

  14. Maintain your position until circumstances change in your favor

  15. A professional is an amateur who didn’t quit

  16. Partner with experts

  17. Do what you have to, even if you don’t like it

  18. Share!

For the dads out there, are not these lessons useful for us as fathers? Even #9! 

Thank you IBPA!


 
 
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Parenting is such a boring word. Even when you break it down, it’s a boring word. ‘Pare’ is not near as exciting as ‘slice’. ‘Rent’ is never as desirable as ‘own’. And ‘Ing’ is an insurance company. Insurance is boring! 'Zing' is much better the 'ing'.


When you mention parenting to a new mom, you might get a head nod. Mention the topic of parenting to a young dad and he immediately nods off. So the reason we have so many bad parents might be because so few of us (especially men) want to talk about it. Except a few nuts like me.

Did you hear about the couple that was about to lose their house and had to find a way to make money – quick! So the wife sits down and writes a racy book in the vein of “50 Shades of Grey”, publishes it herself as an ebook, and sells over 100,000 copies by word of mouth alone. ‘Racy’ and ‘sex’ are words that will get attention – everyone’s! I can’t write about sex, however, because I don’t know enough about it. But I digress.

You may be surprised that parenting is a lot like sex.

1) Its better if you do it with someone else.

2) To be a parent usually involves sex, even if done clinically.

3) Poor parenting could result in frustration and loneliness, just like poor s-e-x.

Obviously a parenting book isn’t likely to do near as well as a racy book because it will assumed to be preachy and boring, making you feel neurotic instead of erotic.  So what do I do? I write a blog and a book about fatherhood, or “Dadhood” if you will.

Unlike sex, parenting is not a subject for which you will turn your car around if you forget it. (Who am I kidding? Guys never forget sex!) If you’re spinning the radio dial, you’ll stop if you hear the word breast, until you figure out it is a cooking show. But hear the word ‘parenting’, and you are hitting the scan button.

But seriously folks! Is there a more important topic for which to be informed? We can stumble our way through sex and still have a child. But if we stumble our way through parenting, we can lose a child. There are things you can pick up about parenting that will make your life easier and allow your kids to adapt to the world more successfully. You’re not born an expert dad - and it’s not easy at all.

When I was nine I remember my uncle, who was single, criticizing my Mom about how she was raising my siblings and me. He may have been correct, but he eventually had three kids himself. Then he found out how tough it was to raise kids! We can learn a few things by reading about it and discussing it.

Believe me, I’m not “Helping Fathers to be Dads” to make money. I’m actually losing about $1.65 an hour (wild guess) writing on ‘dadhood’. Multiply that by hundreds of hours and it gets a little steep. However, better fathering and parenting are important to me. If I can get the attention of a few dads and get them thinking about being better fathers, and how rewarding (and totally un-boring) it is, it will be way worth it!



Thanks for reading! 


 

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    Mike Smith

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