Morning mist on a pond in eastern Missouri.
Less is more. Really?
Okay, if you're not into wordplay, you don’t want to read this article. You may have to concentrate a little and who wants that? Just read the title for a quick summary. However, for those who like playing with words, here we go. I don’t know if it was an ad-man, a philosopher, or a tree-hugger who first said “less is more”. But it is a crock! That’s like saying ‘fat is skinny’, or ‘dumb is smart’. They are not giving you the whole story. They are leaving things out. I saw a Lexus Ad today which stated ‘more is more’. Now that is truth in advertising!How you should say the phrase is, ‘less fat is more skinny’, or ‘less dumb is more smart’, or ‘less Taco Bell is more healthy’. It’s all about voids! See the difference? When something is missing, something else fills the empty space. That’s why some boys join gangs when they haven’t a father to reassure themselves of their maleness. It’s why some girls are easy sexual targets for boys when they haven’t a father - to get the male acceptance they long for, but don’t have. I can tell you this, less parenting is not more parenting. "But wait”, you say, “some parents are helicopter parents, always hovering over their kids. Wouldn’t less be better?” Yes! But what we are really stating here is ‘less bad parenting is more good parenting’. Continuing:
So let’s be clear for those who have suffered through this.
- Less love is not more love. ---- Less 'smothering' love is more 'effective' love.
- Less attention is not more attention. ---- Less attention 'on what’s wrong' is, hopefully,more attention 'on what’s right'.
- Less discipline is not more discipline. ---- Less discipline 'may require' more discipline.
- Less time with your kids is not more time with your kids. ----Less time with your kids is more time with your kids 'in the principal’s office (or worse)'.
Less 'less' is more 'more'!.....Now that is truth in advertising!
- “Less bad stuff is more good stuff!” and, of course, vice versa!
- And “Less time spent writing this article is more time to write a better article!” ;)
I spend a lot of time and energy writing to men about their responsibility to their children. What their failure in this respect does to families and our health as a nation is a shame. But the majority of men are very responsible fathers. It is with this in mind that I was taken aback on one of the Sunday morning political talk shows. This time, I'd like to defend men rather than challenge them.
I was watching ABC’s “This Week” yesterday (4/20/2014) and being Easter, the conversation revolved around religion with a pinch of politics and a dose of personal opinion. It came around to parenting and what’s the best situation for kids. The comment that struck me was stated by Cokie Roberts who said regarding families, “If we got better men we’d be in better shape”.
Everyone, including the religious leaders on the panel, agreed. So do I. This statement by Ms. Roberts, associating fathers and the health of families, is the one and only reason I write this blog, and it’s why I wrote a book on fatherhood. It’s personal to me because I have seen the pain and results when a father is not involved with his family. Where and how do we get better men? Are men solely to blame?
Why “better men” was singled out is interesting. The conversation was not about men, it was about adoption, gay couples, Russian children, and Vladimir Putin. When I single out the abandonment by some men of their families as a huge factor in the decline of the classical family unit, it's because that is what I know and focus on. However, families would be in better shape if a myriad of things were better!
Better and more available parenting education would help. Better sex education and education in general would help. Better relations between mothers and fathers would help. Counseling would help. Many more mentors would help. Organizations focused on keeping families together would help. And yes, even better women would help!
The evangelists on the show were not too convincing, but they stayed on topic. They opined that gay couples adopting kids was not the best scenario for raising children. For the record, who in their right mind would not choose a loving gay couple over an orphanage for a child? The evangelists were quietly gay bashing (not so surprising) while Cokie Roberts was not so quietly bashing men. What will no doubt be discussed by water coolers is the gay parenting issue. That’s not what caught my ear!
By the way Ms. Roberts, if we had better journalists there wouldn’t be so much bad reporting going on. But to be fair, you and other journalists are not the only problem:
Better and more available journalism schools would help. Better ethics education would help. Better relations between reporters and editors would help. Counseling would help. Many more mentors would help. Organizations focused on fair reporting would help. And yes, even better editors would help!
It wouldn't be fair of me to single out all journalists for the faults of a minority.
What do you think is the toughest job in the world? What is the most important job in the world? Could they be the same job?There was an article on adweek.com that advertised a job that had ridiculously tough requirements. Some of which were,
• Standing up almost all the time
• Constantly exerting yourself
• Working from 135 to unlimited hours per week
• Degrees in medicine, finance and culinary arts necessary
• No vacations
• The work load goes up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and other holidays
• No time to sleep
• Salary = $0
Only 24 people applied, maybe because of the tough requirements! But I think many people, as I, could see it was a fake add for a mother. (The fake company’s name was Rehtom, Inc. - get it?). I agree with the point being made. Being a mother is no doubt one of the toughest, if not the toughest, jobs in the world. Done well, it is also one of the most satisfying!
I’m guessing there are tougher jobs when it comes to the satisfaction aspect. Port-a-Potty sanitary engineer, nursing home orderly, department store complaint dept., prison executioner, you get my drift. So a mother’s job requirements, while very tough, are acceptable and necessary because when a mother’s kids become successful in life, she can look back and think it was all worthwhile!
I kind of wish the name of the fake company was Stnerap, Inc. But it’s nearing Mother’s Day and I understand the timing and target audience. I also don’t argue that, in the home, a mother’s job is most likely tougher than a father’s. Women have a sixth sense for raising children that most men do not have. That’s why men are more often the primary breadwinner. Not because men are better breadwinners, but because in my opinion, most women are better at raising kids.
Nonetheless, we men are comparatively ignored in the world of parenting - and it is likely our fault. There are no father magazines that I know about (not that we would read them). You will have to look hard to find stories, blogs, advice, and attention about dads. I don't expect a similar Ad when Father's Day approaches. Hallmark does not make near the number of Father’s Day cards as they do Mothers’ Day cards. Long distance phone calls on Mothers’ Day are near the point of crashing communications systems. On Fathers’ Day, not so much!
Let’s give dads some credit, however. We are critical factors in the success of our children! I’ve stated statistics in many of my previous articles that prove fathers are critical in the success of their children. Therefore, I found some requirements to be a good father with which I agree. They may not be as tough as a mother’s requirements, but they are just as important for a dad to understand and master. Maybe fathers can be deemed as having the second most important job in the world? Please read: Requirements for being a good father.The only job clearly more difficult than a mother's, is the job of a mother without a father involved!
Photo 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.
Click on photo for the article
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."
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!
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,
What I learned from my daughter that shocked me!
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!