Tag Archives: DAD

Surprise Kids with Quality Time

Mommy was out of town, so I and boys Braden (4) and Cullen (1.5) were on our way up to the Shoreview Community Center, which is our favorite place to blow off a bunch of pent-up little boy energy during the winter months. We like to go the big indoor playground since he gym is usually full of too many stray basketballs to make it safe for Cullen to play freely. The boys were getting excited as we drove, and then we passed Flaherty’s Arden Bowl.

“Look Dad, it’s the bowling alley,” Braden observed.

“Yeah…” I started to say and then an idea hit me. “Would you like to go bowling?”

“Do you mean now?” He said, not quite sure what to make of this novel idea.

“Yeah, we could go bowling for a little bit and  then go up to the community center.” Braden was kind of shocked in good way. He couldn’t believe I was being so spontaneous. He has only been to a bowling alley once, with all of his older cousins, so the experience still held a lot of wonder and excitement for him. After putting on some cool looking shoes and being given a special 6 pound kid ball, he was ready to go.

We had a great time. Sure, it took his ball a good 5-10 seconds to get down the lane, but he still did a little happy dance every time he knocked a few pins down. Because there was too much room and two many heavy, toe busting balls around to let a one-and-a-half year old go free, I had to bowl with a toddler in one arm and swing a 15 pounder (ball, not kid) with the other.

My score was only slightly higher than Braden’s, but there’s nothing better than having your four-year-old yell, “NICE SHOT DAD!” and give you a high five.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 2, 2011 in Stories


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Downloading positives with extended family

Over the last month, my boys got to spend a lot of time with their cousins at the family cabins. There was fun and games in abundance as well as all the foibles and fumbles that happen when families get together for extended periods of time. Even slightly differing values around parenting and guidance approaches can make for interesting dynamics.

If things are getting a little crazy and you’re feeling the need to intervene but don’t want to make things worse by correcting another parent’s children, there is something you can do that almost always has a positive effect. Begin to download positives into the situation using “When you _______ I feel _______ because” as a script.

Here are some examples:

  • “I really appreciated it, Jeff, when you were careful to with the little kids during that game. It made them feel safe and they had a lot more fun.”

You can say this to Jeff even if it would be good for him to be a little more gentle, because it will help reinforce in him his prosocial skills.

  • “Jane, it was nice of you to give your older cousins a break. It helps them have more energy to play with you later when you give them a little space.”
  • “Steve, it made Buddy feel really special when you took special time to do that activity with him. Thanks a lot.”

It’s important to download the positives especially when things are getting tense. It helps to refocus the situation and bring a breath of fresh air. Grab the smallest possible positive thing you can find and maximize it. Sometimes we need to “create” a positive by mentioning one that isn’t quite manifesting yet. It’s amazing how powerful this can be at transforming situations.

One thing that was really important for Braden and I over the 4th of July weekend was to take regular father-son breaks. For us, these were imaginary hunting trips with his toy bow and arrow. It gave him a break from the competition with his cousins for attention and status. When he came back from his safaris, he got to tell his uncles about the animals he had bagged. Great fun for both of us.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Quality time and community service

For many fathers, thFather and Son Workingeir faith community is the best resource for intentional time with their sons. Dad and son breakfasts, camping trips, softball games and retreats are just a few of the excellent opportunities available at Twin Cities congregations for quality time.

Besides recreation, however, churches are one of the best places for dads to teach their sons about service to others and the community. This is important because boys who engage in service have a stronger sense of identity and belonging, especially when they serve with their dads. They learn about the intrinsic rewards of altruism and can begin to develop a personal ethic of responsibility for themselves and their community. If that doesn’t make it worth it, many stories provide anecdotal evidence that serving others helps prevent depression in boys and can even pull a depressed kid out of the doldrums. For more information and ideas follow this link to the Minneapolis Dads and Sons Examiner page.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Punch Pizza for quality time

I just published an article about a great father/son quality time idea in the Examiner, an on-line publication. I’ll be a regular contributor for them, and they have given me the title, Minneapolis Dads and Sons Examiner. Browse on over and check out my article for some great suggestions on how to make a trip to Punch Pizza a great outing.


Tags: , ,

Being the Angry Dad

I was talking with a friend about the effects of anger on kids. This is an important topic for me, because I have been the crabby daddy. When I saw the effects that my anger was having on my family, I knew something needed to change.

Most of us know what it’s like to get angry at our children once in a while. That’s just part of being a parent. In fact, many of us can remember times when our parents got angry with us. We can also probably remember times when we knew we “had it coming.” No, I’m not attempting to justify parents losing their temper. What I’m getting at is that most of us pushed our parent’s buttons a little bit to see what would happen, and most of us have also had our buttons pushed by our kids. That’s a  normal part of kids learning about boundaries and emotions.

However, there are some of us who also know what it’s like to live under a dark storm cloud of parental anger that’s always there and always threatening to burst into a full blown thunderstorm of raging tantrums. We’ve had to walk on egg shells to try to keep the wrath from coming, and we knew that no matter how careful we were, it would eventually come anyway. There are some of us who know the physical impact of out of control anger.

One parent told me, “I lose my temper once in a while, but even though I get angry a lot, it’s usually under control.” This statement hit me hard, because it’s how I used to try to fool myself into thinking that my anger was “under control.” I realized that, at least as far as the impact on my kids and my own health is concerned, it’s not possible for me to be “angry a lot” and still “under control.” Being angry a lot means that our anger is controlling us and hurting those around us, especially the ones we love.

Here’s what brain science tells us about anger and how it affects kids. When I’m angry at my son, he feels like it’s his fault. Even for older kids who rationally know better, this is true. When I get angry, even if it’s not directly at him, it creates a brain connection to fear, guilt, and shame. The more often I’m angry, the more that brain pathway is fired and reinforced until it becomes almost an automatic response. Kids will learn to cope with and compensate for this in different ways. Some will seem to do fine. Others will develop anxiety disorders, hesitating personalities, or even post-traumatic stress. Regardless of how well a child learns to cope, the negative brain highways are still there.

This is where I often hear people say, “Wait a minute! I don’t want my kid to grow up being a wimp. He needs to know that when he does certain things, it’s going to make people angry. And he needs to learn how to handle it when somebody get’s mad at him or he won’t be able to take it when his boss lays into him when he’s grown up.”

It’s true that kids need to understand the consequences of doing things that can make people upset. It’s also true that all people need to learn to deal with anger expressed by others. However, trying to teach emotional intelligence to our children by getting angry at them is like trying to slice thin deli meat with a chainsaw: It doesn’t doesn’t get the job done very well and makes a pretty big mess in the kitchen.

I go into some very powerful and effective ways to help kids gain emotional intelligence in another post. I’ll also explain very clearly what we can do to help repair the damage done by out of control anger. We can build positive brain superhighways that are so smooth and nice that the negative pathways created by our anger won’t get any traffic.

1 Comment

Posted by on April 15, 2010 in Stories


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,