Category Archives: General

Full-Time Dad Update

For everything there is a season, and this blog has entered a new one.

Photo Credit: kuddlyteddybear2004 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: kuddlyteddybear2004 via Compfight cc

Since my first post nearly two years ago, I have shared my experience as a full-time single dad, and you have journeyed with me all the way through re-marriage and blending a family.  What a journey it has been!

With some additional responsibilities on the personal and professional front, I have decided to try changing the frequency of my blog posts from weekly to monthly.  This, too, may be for a season.  We’ll see.

I want to thank each one of you who has consistently read this blog, who has encouraged me, who has commented and shared their experiences.  It has enriched my life and made me a better father.

And isn’t it all about becoming better dads?

In the meantime, do not hesitate to reach out to me at with your comments, suggestions for new posts, and anything else you may want to share.

I look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you in a month or so.

Quotation Mark Parenting

My son and stepsons have heard me talk plenty.  I try to share life lessons and give good, wise instruction.  I even admit areas where I have made mistakes and regrets.

You may do the same thing with your kids.

You may also find your kids have the ability to tune you out at times.  Voices other than yours can become quite loud – friends, celebrities, random people on the Internet.

So, how can we as fathers give solid input to our kids without directly giving it?

All you need is a chalk-board, chalk and Google.

This week (our first week back to school) marks the beginning of the weekly (or semi-weekly, or daily) quote of the day.  Many of you may have already done this, but it is new for us.

lou-holtz-lou-holtz-do-right-do-your-best-treat-others-as-you-want-toLong story short, I picked a Lou Holtz quote for the first week – it has some extra meaning to my stepsons.  Coach Holtz said something i would like to tell all four boys, but coming from him it may have some additional impact.

If you were to look at the actual board in our home, it would have my crappy handwriting and no frills.  Just a simple message and a potential conversation starter.

I found this by picking a public figure, typing his name and the word “quotes” into Google, and letting it rip.  For the graphic in today’s post, I did the same search in Google Images.

You could simplify and write out or print out a quote and tape it to a bedroom door or mirror.

You could put it on a Post-It note in a lunchbox.

You could save it as the background image on their phone or tablet.

Just mix it up,

My hope is my son and stepsons will respect me and listen to my counsel.  But I also know they need a variety of messengers, and we can pick who some of those people speaking into their lives are and what they have to say.

Have you ever had a quote board in your home?  If so, which quote has elicited the greatest reaction from your kids?

FLASHBACK – Sex, Drugs, Violence and Dirty Words

In one week, my son will return from his summer visitation with my ex.  For the next couple weeks, I will post some of my favorite posts and then resume with new content.

In the meantime, please do me two favors: 1) please forward a link to to any of your friends who you think would benefit, and 2) please send an email to if you have any topic suggestions – I’m always anxious to hear from readers and get input.

Enjoy the end of summer…

My son and I sat down to watch a classic movie with a PG rating – Beetlejuice.  

Photo Credit: Muotoilla * via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Muotoilla * via Compfight cc

I had fond memories of the 1988 movie – the Tim Burtonesque feel, the comic genius of Michael Keaton, and the Banana Boat Song.  And it was not even a PG-13 film like Iron Man or The Avengers – both of which he saw and I had no problem with.

I had forgotten a few critical scenes, words, and concepts my son might not have been ready to take in.  I had forgotten a PG rating in the 1980s could be just this side of an R rating.  Watching it again, I wonder if Beetlejuice should have been rated PG-13.

I began talking with other dads about this.  There was the one who showed his son The Bad News Bears having forgotten about the amount of language and drinking in that PG film.

We have also talked about our tendency, especially with our boys, to afford more leniency with violence than we do sex and nudity.  How can we show them Braveheart and The Patriot because of the overarching story and message and turn our heads at the brutality, violence and blood?

I have another friend who will allow for a moderate level of violence in the media his son consumes, but draws the line when the story involves the mistreatment and disrespect of women.  But even those story lines can provide great opportunity for conversation about the consequences of being a jerk toward women.

So, what is the right answer?  Do we let the Motion Picture Association of America decide what our kids can watch based on their age and MPAA guidelines?  Do we say “no” to everything with adult content?  Do we shelter our kids as long as we can?

I do not have all the answers and, frankly, have quite a few questions.

Even if I censor the content at home, my son still goes to school, still visits friends (with older siblings), still rides in the car and sees billboards for local adult boutiques and Captain Morgan Rum.

I want to hear what you think, but here is my attempt to develop some boundaries:

  • Stay engaged in your kids’ lives and know what media they consume.  This seems like the first, logical step.  Ignorance is not bliss.
  • Educate yourself on the content they want to consume.  I routinely use sites like IMDBKids-In-Mind, and Common Sense Media to get reviews and recommendations about the content my son consumes.  He usually knows which films I will say “no” to, but often I need more information – especially if I have not seen it before and want a sense about what he will see.  Some of the sites even give you topics to discuss following the movie.
  • They probably know what you watch, so do not be surprised if they think the same content is OK for them.  In the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do category, our kids take cues from us, so if you do not want them watching horror movies, you may want to reconsider your Friday the 13th movie marathon.  They can see the “recently watched” shows on Netflix just like you can.
  • Engage in the discussion with your kids.   I remember watching a movie called Phantasm at a friend’s house when I was in late elementary or early junior high.  For whatever reason, I could barely go get the mail in broad daylight for several days after seeing it.  I was just waiting for the Tall Man to jump out from behind a tree or show up behind me when I looked in a mirror.  I have told my son about that experience, and it may have tempered his desire to watch a horror movie…for the time being.  Be honest about why you set boundaries on the movies they watch and let it be a conversation, not just a lecture.

What limits have you set on movie/TV content for your kids?  How do you approach the subject with them?

Father’s Day Without Kids

I read an interesting post on Facebook yesterday.  A friend of mine posted how, despite loving his kids deeply, he really wanted to be left alone for Father’s Day.  You could feel the guilt he felt bleeding through the monitor.  But he still posted it for all to see.

I get it.

As dads, we relish in those moments of peace and quiet where we can get outdoors, watch the game, read a book, work on a project, or do absolutely nothing without interruption.

Photo Credit: JasonTuno via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: JasonTuno via Compfight cc

For those of us who are or have been the primary caregivers, moments of peace and quiet are few and far between.  Just when you get the kids down for a nap, you remember laundry must be done.

Based on our custody arrangement, my son is always with me on Mother’s Day and always with his mom on Father’s Day.  So, I’m always without my son except for a few moments on FaceTime.

But I am OK with it.

My perception of holidays has changed in the several years since the divorce.  Instead of focusing on the day the calendar (or Hallmark) tells me to focus on, I have a more holistic view.

I place high value on the moments I am with my son.  They pass much too quickly.

I place high value on the time I have without him…time where I can take care of myself, invest in my wife and stepsons, and pursue interests.

I place high value on knowing the holiday is not as important as the moments in between.

Let’s make those in between moments count.

What holiday/special day would you most miss spending with your kids?

When Custody Handoffs Go Wrong

My son was booked on a flight home from visitation with his mom this past Friday.

After a series of unrelated texts, I realized my son was not enroute and on a layover, but was instead still at his mom’s house.  Packed and ready to go.

Photo Credit: Frank Spee via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Frank Spee via Compfight cc

My ex apologized for the oversight (looking at the departure time from the layover city instead of origination city) and I started the rebooking process.

Fortunately, American Airlines quickly rebooked him for the following day and I did not have to pay any additional fees.  He arrived safely on Saturday evening.

How would you have reacted in this situation?  What would you have texted or emailed to your ex?

Within moments of finding out my son would not be home Friday evening, I cycled through several emotions, but once I caught my breath, the logical side of me kicked in and I went into problem-solving mode.  How do I explain this to the airline?  Will I need to use more miles/pay a fee?  What if he cannot get home until Sunday or Monday with all the holiday travel?

The emotional response quickly gave way to problem-solving.

Unless your ex habitually violates custody agreements (in which case you should reach out to your parenting coordinator, lawyer, therapist…whoever can help remedy the behavior), it is best to go through your emotional response before unloading on your ex.  Doing so would only add to the stress for you and your kid.

For the occasional hiccup, remember parenting (and co-parenting) is a marathon and showing some flexibility will diffuse a bad situation rather than escalate it.

Again, if your ex has a habit of doing this or does so with malice or no remorse, I would recommend seeking outside counsel to correct the behavior rather than go it alone and risking an emotional escalation with no custodial resolution.

Has your ex accidentally or deliberately violated your custody agreement?  What have you found to be the best way to approach these situations?

The Power Of A Thank You

Writing a post about thanks on Thanksgiving Week seems cliche, and most certainly is.  But, thank you for indulging me.

Yesterday’s sermon at church reminded me how much Jimmy Fallon has changed the nature of the thank you note, and it reminded me about the importance of remembering those who have been generous with their time, talents and resources.

Photo Credit: meri_rose via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: meri_rose via Compfight cc

After the divorce, I became a full-time dad while already filling the role of a full-time employee.  I was blessed with many friends who lent a hand or word of advice.  My family traveled to help me out when work took me out of town.  A friend gave generously when it came to helping me get my son to visit his mom in another state.

Think about your situation.  Who has helped you be the best dad you can be under difficult circumstances?  Who has watched your kid when she was ill and you had to go to work?

Make a list of those people.

Get a box of simple notecards.

Start writing.

You will make their day.

Discovering Unforgettable Father-Child Experiences

If you look up the word “hunter” in the dictionary, you will see my picture on that page.  That is because “hungry” is on the same page.

You can buy this sign from

You can buy this sign from

I have harvested my share of birds and an elk here and there, but am not a great hunter.  At the end of the day, I love being outdoors.  My son shares the same love for the outdoors and wildlife.

This past week, my son and I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night, all-day Saturday, and a half-day Sunday at a hunter education class sponsored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  I took the same basic class when I turned 10…over 35 years ago.  For anyone who has taken hunter education, no matter which state you live in, rest assured the movies have not been updated.

Photo by author...and proud dad!

Photo by author…and proud dad!

In all, we shared 5 hours in the car driving to and from Ben Avery Shooting Range and nearly 20 hours getting hands-on and classroom instruction.  We shared lots of laughs, had some serious ethical conversations, and I learned more about what he likes and does not like about the outdoors and hunting.  And he learned more from me.

I am not suggesting each of you need to take your kid through hunter education (by the way, lots of moms and daughters took the class), but you should seek out something your kid enjoys and find a way to take a deep dive with the subject.

In particular, find free or low-cost opportunities offered by organizations with the same passion.  Hunter education courses receive funding from several public sources and the instructors volunteer their time…and their passion can be contagious.

Maybe your kid enjoys the outdoors.  Find an opportunity (REI, Bass Pro Shops and many others offer no/low cost classes).

Art?  Check out your local art museum or community college for a workshop or class.

The list of interests and opportunities could take pages to exhaust.

Your job: ask your kid what subject she would like to dig into.  And do it with her.

I promise both of you will grow closer to one another…and you might just learn something.

I am going to brush up on my aim.

Do you know what interests your kid?  Do you have ideas about how to help them learn in a way you can also participate?

Another Birthday…Already?? Making Memories Without Going Crazy

“When I was a kid…”

We have all said those words since having our own kids. My birthday parties in the 1970s and early 1980s seemed awesome – several friends came over to my house for some games and cake and ice cream. And I got presents – especially awesome in 1977 when the original Star Wars came out. The action figures made sweet gifts!

These parody action figures were created by Walt Crowley from Rancho Obi-Wan.

These parody action figures were created by Walt Crowley from Rancho Obi-Wan.

Now, many birthdays have become expensive two hour events at party factories – cycling in group after group for 75 minutes of play and 45 minutes of cardboard pizza, soda, cake and presents. All for a mere $300.


Some of you may have pockets full of Benjamins, but most of us try to watch our money closely.

So, how do we make awesome birthdays without destroying the budget and spending another two-hour block at the bounce house gymnasium?

1 – Ask your kid for two or three options.  You never know what they will come up with as options, and you may be pleasantly surprised they want a simple swim/video game/sleepover party at your home.  Granted, those can be exhausting, but make great memories.

2 – Budget for it…even if it is at a party factory.  No matter what, build birthday parties and gifts into your personal budget.  If you do not have a personal budget, set a goal to create one.  Little things at parties can become quite expensive…one time I tried to make fancy gift bags for 15 kids and just about went broke buying cheap plastic crap.

3 – Come up with a DIY party at home.  So, pretend your kid does not come up with any great or realistic ideas.  Make up your own themed party.  For boys – nothing beats water balloon and shaving cream fights in the back yard (or the yard of a good friend or relative).  For girls – buy some cake mix and have them do cupcake decorations and then rent a karaoke machine.  This process also helps you learn more about your kid’s interests.

4 – Plan a one-on-one event.  One year my son kept asking me to take him fishing.  So, I surprised him with a fishing trip and told him it would replace his 8th birthday party.  We have some incredible memories and he never missed having a party – instead we both got some amazing quality time and some great fish stories to tell.  This could end up costing some money, so do not forget to budget for it.

This year, we celebrated my son’s 11th birthday with family in the mountains and had a small gathering the following weekend with a couple of his buddies.  Again, we shared many memories from both events and managed to keep spending under control.

What unique spin on the usual birthday party do you want to try this year?