Tag Archives: mentor

Effectively Bribing Your Kids (For Their Own Good)

Photo Credit: laurenaweiner via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: laurenaweiner via Compfight cc

Two dollar bills, novelties themselves, seem to do the trick.

A few weeks ago I discussed using the Leadership Design Group’s eight dimensions of life as a baseline for finding balance in my life.  As I have pursued improvement in these dimensions, I find myself wondering how to get my son (and stepsons) thinking about how they develop and mature.

Not one of the four boys in my home even shave yet, so I do not expect any of them to sit down with books by Dale Carnegie, Seth Godin, or Marcus Buckingham.  Your home may have older kids who might read those types of books, but I suspect not.

So what can we, as dads, do to help them take a more holistic view of their lives and their development?

First, we can model it for them.  They see us trying to eat well, get some exercise, study, write, read, engage in healthy relationships, and laugh a lot.  They also see us struggle to eat well, get some exercise, study, write…well, you get the idea.  Bottom line: we talk about being lifetime learners and becoming better even though we do not always get it right or stay disciplined (sometimes we just want to watch a movie).

Second, we can bribe them.  And it might just work.

For the past few years, I have kept all my notes in a series of Moleskine journals.  I do not “journal” on a consistent basis, but I do keep notes/thoughts/observations/ideas in my journals.  It occurred to me I could help the kids start a journaling habit while encouraging them to consume some quality content, not just Minecraft videos on YouTube and The Maze Runner book series.

So, I made a few kid-friendly modifications to the descriptions for LDG’s eight dimensions, printed them out, and taped them into the front cover of their own personal journals.  Then, we all sat down and I explained the concept of our lives having multiple dimensions and how we need to pay attention to all aspects of our lives as we grow and mature.

Then came the bribe.

I told them they did not have to do this at all, but if any of them wanted to pick out one of the eight dimensions and let me pick out a book, article, or video for them to consume, I would pay them $2 to do it and write down a few sentences in their journal about it.  As an added bonus, I would discuss the content and their observations about it at no charge.

The results have been mixed.

The two 10-year-olds seem kind of excited to learn something new and get paid to do it.

Just yesterday, my youngest stepson asked about putting money in the bank.  So, I told him we could parle this conversation into a journal entry.  Together we watched a short video on compounding interest, we discussed it, he asked several questions, and then wrote down a few sentences about what he learned.  And he did not hesitate to take “Jefferson” out of my hands.

Only one of the boys has not taken me up on the offer, but he just sat in on the compounding interest lesson, so he may not be far off.

The idea of being able to pick out lessons, stories, or videos (TED talks can be very effective…especially with older kids) from sources you trust is only eclipsed by the ability to generate a positive conversation between you and your kids while letting an “expert” be the one to provide the lesson/lecture.  It gives you the opportunity to agree with a trusted figure rather than lecture.

We all know how much kids like lectures from parents.

I would love your feedback about this idea, and I would also appreciate suggestions about great content for kids related to their growth and development.

Finding Balance As A Single Dad

A few weeks ago I wrote about the idea of recharging…especially during a time when you may not have your kids in your custody.  For me, I have those times up to 10 weeks of the year, with summertime being the longest stretch of eight weeks.

The first time I had an extended time away from my son, my reactions were easy to anticipate – fear, anger, sadness.  You know, the unpleasant emotions.  I was sending my son across the country to spend the summer with my ex.  The wounds of divorce and the pangs of guilt were fresh.

Photo Credit: congdongthongtincom via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: congdongthongtincom via Compfight cc

Over time, the sting of those negative emotions has diminished and been replaced with the realization about how much cooking, cleaning and laundry I do when my son is with me!  So, the “new normal” of a long stretch of time without my son has become familiar and far less stressful.

If you have similar circumstances or have a 5-2-2-5 or every-other-week custody arrangement, what do you do with those long stretches of time without your kids?  How do you recharge and stay healthy so you are ready to be the single parent again?

Just over a year ago, I began a journey to help me better understand how to approach life in a healthy way.  Long story short, I began a mentoring relationship with a remarkable man after we met at Donald Miller’s Storyline Conference in San Diego in 2014.

Wes is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Leadership Design Group – an organization focused on developing men to view life in a balanced and multi-dimensional way.

You can check out their website for more detail, but I love the way LDG challenges us to look at our lives in eight dimensions and encourages us to seek a healthy balance between each of them.

8 Dimensions_Octagon_(c)So, for a start, look at the detailed descriptions of a healthy, balanced life (see the detailed description on their website when you put your cursor over each symbol).  If you are like me, you can pretty quickly determine where you need to spend some time recharging/reorienting/repurposing.

For me, I needed to focus on the physical aspect, and I spent some time dialing in my diet and attempting to exercise consistently.  Physical fitness helped me parent better.

Taking a few minutes to look at the dimensions and asking yourself what needs some attention is a great first step to recharging and preparing to be the best parent possible.

So, take a minute and do it now.  And maybe consider what it could look like to have a mentor in your life…maybe an older, wiser dad or single dad.

Which of the eight dimensions could use some attention today?  What simple steps could you take to address an imbalance?

What To Consider Before Dating Or Remarriage

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

I sat down the two decaf Americanos from Lux on the round table in his office, just as I had several times before.  I buy the coffee and he gives me his time and good counsel at the end of his work day.

Photo Credit: - luz - via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: – luz – via Compfight cc

My friend and I had both experienced the pain of divorce, and while our stories differed we shared several commonalities.  His divorce happened nearly 20 years before mine and he was kind enough to walk the journey with me.

This meeting occurred after my divorce, and I had recently gone out on a date with a single mom – my first date since the separation and divorce.  I cannot say I was excited about the prospects of having to begin dating all over again, but I recounted the date and the woman with enthusiasm.

I described her personality, her background, her job with great care, not wanting to miss a detail, as if I intended to have my friend vote for her for some pageant or competition.

I can see my friend’s face as clearly as when we sat in his office that day.  He expressed some level of happiness just to see me so enthusiastic.  When I finished, however, he sat quietly.  He paused longer than I had expected.  Then he spoke words I would not forget and would repeat often to myself and others.

“No matter how wonderful she is and how different she is from your ex-wife, the most important factor in any successful relationship  you enter depends on how much you have changed and grown from how you were before.”

My friend knew every detail of how I contributed to my marriage’s failure.  He knew the pain and guilt.  He saw my progress.  He needed to remind me not to place the burden of a successful relationship on anyone else but me.

Both of us know it takes two.  But for me, dipping my toe back in the dating pool, the reminder was essential.

I needed to know exactly who I was in the relationship and not pretend a new face would ensure success.

Not long after, my friend moved away for work and I miss him dearly.  I want to thank him again for speaking words of wisdom and investing in me – it made a difference.

Did you begin dating again before you were ready?  How did you know when you were ready?  Who do you have in your life to give you wise counsel?

“Ts” Of Single Fatherhood – Thrive

I love zombie shows.

As a teen I watched George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Lucio Fulci’s Zombie.  I was hooked.

Photo Credit: whatsupbuttercup via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: whatsupbuttercup via Compfight cc

Something about those stories connect with me.  I do not subscribe to the notion of a coming zombie apocalypse, I am not a prepper, and I do not have a stockpile of crossbows, guns and knives.

But I connect with the raw notion of survival.  Preservation of life.  My life.  And my kid’s life.

Sticking with the post-apocalyptic theme, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road tells a powerful tale of a father’s deep drive to protect his son.  Survival.

Life as a single dad triggers the survival gene.  We want to protect our kids, and we also want to survive the sometimes-overwhelming experience.

I have a mentoring relationship with a tremendous man of faith and encouragement.  During one of our meetings, he declared to me his desire to see me thrive.  The word hung in the air.  Thrive.

Thrive: grow or develop well, prosper, flourish.

It had been easy for me to accept words of consolation for single parenting.  I let those words put me in a mindset of survival.

My mentor called me to thrive.

The late Maya Angelou said this: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”  Parenting – single or not – takes each of those…especially humor.

How do we pivot from surviving to thriving?

Do not live in fear.  Instead teach our kids about growing up, about what it means to be a man or woman, about responsibility, and about making smart choices.  I know I have made enough mistakes to teach and impart wisdom from experience.

Take the time to reflect on your parenting style – do you operate out of survival?  Do you consider the day a success if you did not experience any casualties – even if no one is growing or flourishing?  Sometimes we parent just to get to the next safe harbor and wait for the zombies to catch up with us.

I have been there.  More times than I want to admit.

So, today, I remind you and me to inject some passion, some humor, and some grace into our parenting.   Let’s thrive!

What parts of parenting feel more like surviving than thriving?