If you've been with us since the beginning of the year, you know we've provided readers with tips and tools for being the best dad in 2013! Now that "New Year, New Dad!" is coming to an end, we give you a few ideas to keep your goals this year! Here are seven tips for being a great dad, even after January!
1) A Great Dad Stays Focused
When you are at work, remember your goals you identified for what you want to improve in your family this year. By staying focused at work, you can begin to minimize time away from your family. Part of being focused is being in the moment and not being distracted. Determined for yourself that this is the year you keep work at work and when you come home, you keep working! By remembering your goals at home, you will be eager to work on them when you return.
2) A Great Dad Finds an Ally
Whether it's sharing with your spouse, ex-spouse, or another dad; be intentional about discussing your goals and any progress toward the finish line. By sharing what you want to work on, you can hold each other accountable.
3) A Great Dad is a Role Model
Pay attention to what you say and how you act around your children, even if you aren't directly talking to them. By being a good role model, you are teaching them how men should act and how they are to take care of their family. For dads with daughters, you are modeling, for good or for ill, how every other man should treat your daughter.
4) A Great Dad Makes Meals Important
Whether it is breakfast or dinner, sit down to eat at the table with your family and focus on connecting as a family. We know from countless research, but we also know from our own families, that there simply isn't a better time to connect as a family. It's a built-in time if we are intentional and use it as such.
5) A Great Dad Earns the Right to Be Heard
Take time to listen to your children's ideas and problems. Try to keep from answering questions and allow your kids to open up to you. The more you do this, the more you will learn about your family.
6) A Great Dad is a Teacher
Your child will look to you for guidance and direction. Take some time to teach your children about something you care about, either a topic you are intrested in or something they bring up. Use something from what they are already learning about in school as something you can use to expereince with your child. This will not only form a bond with you and your child, but will also peak your son or daughter's interest in a given subject. For example, as hard as it might be, don't sleep in on Saturday morning, but head to a museum wear you can be a part of making a school textbook come to life.
7) A Great Dad Disciplines with Love
One of a father's most important roles is to discipline his children. Discipline is about teaching and setting reasonable limits. Remind your children that there are consequences for their actions. Remember to affirm their good behavior, too!
What would you add to this list?
We hope you've enjoyed our "New Year, New Dad!" campaign. These are just a few of the tips we'll continue helping you with in the coming year, stay tuned for more tips and tools this year to help you be the best dad you can be in 2013!
Be the BEST DAD you can be in 2013 by connecting with other dads and sharing your tips for starting the year right. You can record a video, share a picture, or post a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor. Use #NewYearNewDad13 so we see your message!
Thanksgiving is here! Yeah, I can’t believe it either. It’s been a busy month and December is almost upon us. This month, we’ve shared ideas for raising a thankful child, showing thankfulness in your home, and now we have ideas for creating memorable Thanksgiving traditions! Check out our ideas and then read Thanksgiving traditions that NFI staff share with their family. After you read our traditions, tell us yours in the comment section!
Here are five ideas to get you started:
- Get Active: One of the things we often take for granted is our health and ability to engage in physical activity. Being active together as a family is a great way to create a memorable time together. You know you’re going to watch football at some point during the day. You also know you’re going to consume great portions of turkey and dessert. Consider getting outside and throwing the football during commercials or halftime to be little more active this year. You can always take a nap between games later!
- Get Creative: I’ve heard of families having their kids make handmade place cards for every person at the table or letting your kids act out a skit to say thanks to those who made the meal. The point here is to get creative and to get the whole family involved. Consider having everyone (parents and kids) draw a picture of the things they're thankful for this year and then post drawings in a high-traffic location. Make it competitive by offering two categories for best drawing awards; one for kids and one for the parents’.
- Get Alone: Okay, maybe this step is over-reaching, but if at all possible, try and get a moment to yourself…just to think! Yes, even if it’s only a few minutes, take time to reflect on what is truly important. Seriously consider the question: What do I have to be thankful for this year? If you can make this step happen, you’ll be ready to lead your family from a deeper perspective. Perhaps it’s your family’s tradition to spend a few minutes before or during the Thanksgiving meal to take turns sharing what you are thankful for or to express thanks for a specific person at the table. No matter your tradition, be sure you take time during all the busy schedules to be grateful!
- Get REALLY Traditional: There is no need to reinvent the wheel during the holidays. Keep it old school. You can learn a lot from your parents about traditions! What made the holidays special when you were a kid? Consider incorporating those traditions into your family’s list this year. Continuing traditions from the past is a great way to help connect your children with previous traditions that your kids may not have experienced.
- Get Your Mind Off Yourself: There’s no greater time than the holidays to consider ways you can serve and help others. Whether you spend time buying gifts or serving food, find a cause or opportunity to serve with your whole family. Serving as a family can make for a very memorable family tradition.
NFI Staff Answers: What Makes a Memorable Thanksgiving?
Now that you have five ideas for how to create meaningful family traditions, take a look at how some NFI staff answered the question, “What makes Thanksgiving memorable to your family?
“We take out a bit of our furniture and lay 3 long tables end to end to accommodate about 18 people (in my small house). Everyone brings something and it is quite noisy. Before we pray we go around simply to say what we are thankful for. Many feel a little embarrassed to share- but everyone is smiling when done. This year for sure - we will think of my mom and how we will miss not only her, but her cole slaw!” Ave, program support consultant
“The girls give the turkey a name and then break the wish bone together. Grandfather plays the piano and we sing hymns before sitting down to eat.” Kayla, project specialist
“Each family member has a wooden acorn at their place setting and we pass around a little basket for everyone to put in their acorn as say what they are thankful for. Mom often makes cinnamon rolls for breakfast and then we enjoy the traditional American thanksgiving dinner. Every year my family watches the Dallas Cowboys play football… another American tradition!” Renae, outreach manager
“Watching football. Roasting chestnuts.” Vince, vice president
“Sharing around the table what you are thankful for. Going to see a movie (Bond, this year) then dessert afterward.” Melissa, vice president
“We like to watch ET after the dinner is finished and everything is put away. Its a good family movie that everyone enjoys.” Connie, senior graphic designer
“Each family member has three kernels of corn at their seat and shares three things he or she is thankful for, putting them into a basket as they share.” Michael, programming director
“We have dinner, go bowling, come back for dessert, and then play a family game of Pictionary so that members of all ages can play.” Lisa, programming director
You can see by reading our staff traditions that creating memories means a lot of different things to different people! Whether it's the classic American festivities of food, football and movies, or something unique and special to your family, establishing traditions and creating memories are a great way to make the Thanksgiving holiday meaningful for you and your children. The most important part of the holidays is that you spend time together as a family. That's what will make the holidays memorable and special for your kids - time with you!
What traditions make Thanksgiving memorable for your family?
Visit our "Thanks, Dad!" page for more on how you can connect with your family and other dads just like you! Don't forget to say, "Thanks, Dad!" by recording a video, sharing a picture, or writing a short note on on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor. Use the hashtag #ThxDad to tell the world why the dad in your life deserves thanks!
photo credit: rustiqueart
It’s not easy being a dad. With juggling busy schedules at work and home, you can easily neglect yourself. How we handle our mental and physical health is vital to us and our families.
Your mental health affects your physical health. And your physical health affects your mental health. We know this, but it isn't something we consider daily. If you have a problem with your mental health, it will show up in your body. Likewise, if you have a problem with the health of your body, it will affect your mind and how you see the world.
Stress and its warning signs can take weeks or months to reveal itself. But, you can take steps today to handle stress better.
Here are 14 tips to help you handle stress:
1) Exercise: Oh yes, the "E" word. We said it. Working out increases your strength and stamina.
2) Eat Right: Stress and diet are closely linked. You know what you should eat. The key is eating it and not settling for unhealthy, fast foods. One Big Mac may not kill you, but a Big Mac every meal? It may be time to consider changing your diet.
3) Get Enough Sleep: Get at least six to eight hours sleep a night. Take naps during the day if you can’t get enough sleep. Even “power naps”—15 to 30 minutes of rest where you close your eyes—help reduce stress.Think you're too good for naps? Winston Churchill took naps. He claimed naps allowed him to get twice as much accomplishment in one day. Churchill said of naps, “Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces.”
4) Be Flexible: Be less rigid and competitive. Be more patient.
5) Get Real: Think about all the “shoulds,” “woulds, “coulds,” and “musts” in your life. Figure out which are worth keeping and which to get rid of.
6) Be Happy: This is easier said than done. Try to look at the good instead of the bad in the world. When you always look for the bad in everything, you develop an unhappy view of people and their actions. Don’t complain about stuff. Our words have power. Note to the complainer, a simple adjustment of our words could be revoluntionary to our happiness. Consider the one-word difference of this sentence: "I have to go to work today." or "I get to go to work today." The difference in this sentence is more than one word, it is a completely different mindset.
7) Laugh and Have Fun: Laugh and have fun with your kids. Laugh and have fun with others and yourself to reduce stress. This is a little different than being happy like number six. Truly developing a sense of humor goes a long way in how you think and see the world, but how others see you. Think about it: who would you rather be around? The complainer or the person who likes to laugh?
8) Communicate Better: Share your feelings when it’s safe to do so and don’t keep things bottled up inside. Getting problems out in the open, talking about them, and solving them reduces stress. At NFI, we have a principle that flows throughout our organization: Speak the truth with compassion. This changes how we interact with co-workers. Work to create an envirnoment with your co-workers and family that is one of love and respect; we are not talking about blatant disregard of others' feelings here. But we are talking about a true sense of honesty and being about to share what's on your mind, even at work, instead of bottling things up inside to take home to your wife and children.
9) Get Rid of Clutter: Life can get so busy that it gets out of hand. Make a list of things that need to get done and knock them out. Don’t worry about the small stuff. Leave it alone and focus on what’s most important. Recall the Stephen Covey strategy of "big rocks first." Clean your office, your garage, and anything else that’s messy. Don't wait for someone else to do it. It's your job as dad (I'm repeating this one as I write!)
10) Leave Work at Work: Get away from work and leave it behind. Bringing your work home is a sure way to stress yourself and your family. Keep in mind that you can bring work home in your head as well as your hands. Leave your thoughts of work at the door and focus on your family. Stop your car in your driveway or do something to separate your mind from work before jumping into the house. Home has it's own work. Once you're home, it's time to switch gears and focus on your family.
11) Date your wife: What's the saying? Happy wife, happy life. Well, this holds true for handling stress too. Think about it, if you want to add stress to your life, simply stop communicating and spending time with your wife.
12) Spend Time with Friends: Friends have a way of making things seem better. They can help you get real and tell you when you’re full of it. If you have a choice to spend a night alone or with friends, choose friends. If you don’t have a lot of friends, be intentional about making some.
13) Volunteer: Helping others is a good way to reduce stress because it builds self-worth. It also has a way of showing us that our lives are not as bad as we think when we help someone in worse shape.
14) Find a Hobby: A hobby can help you get away from life’s pressures and relax. A hobby helps you focus your time and energy on something you really enjoy. Consider prioritizing your hobby based on interaction with family and friends. For instance, one of my hobbies is photography. Some of my most relaxed weekends from work happen when I'm with my family out somewhere simply taking photos of our kids playing.
Consider these tips today, whether you are stressed out now or not. As a dad, it's not a matter of "if" the stress is coming, but "when!" It's how you handle the stress that will change everything, from yourself to those around you.
What is one way you handle stress? Share your tips in the comment section below; your comment may help other dads.
Connect with The Father Factor by RSS, Facebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.
This post was excerpted and adapted from NFI's 24/7 Dad resource.
photo credit: Amy McTigue
This is a guest post by Maury Wood. If you would like to guest post on this blog, email us here.
- ”If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.” --Bill Cosby
As National Fatherhood Initiative’s “The Dad Games” come to a close, it is time to step back, let out a deep breath, and say, “Whew!” It was tough, but wasn’t it fun? I can tell a difference in my household since the beginning of the games.
The first week, we were challenged to spend time with our kids. My son and I colored, went shopping for mama, visited my old college, played Batman and Joker, and many other things. Brighton is still talking about our coloring.
The second week we were to give our wives and mother of our children the time and attention she deserves. My wife is expecting our second child. Communicating with mom is very important because she needs to know you love her more than you did the day you met her, especially now that kids are in the picture. So many times, we both forget we were husband and wife before we were mama and daddy.
On our third week, we were challenged to Affirm our Kids. I am an English teacher, so I looked up affirm in the dictionary. I absolutely loved the definitions. The first one was, “state as a fact; assert strongly and publicly.” The second one was, “declare one’s support; uphold or defend.” Did you do that? Better yet, are you doing it now?
Since participating in the Dad Games, I have seen my affection and affirmation toward my son increase exponentially. Just today, we were lying on his bed and looking at his fish. He was on my back with his arms around my neck. He said, “Daddy, I love you,” and then he kissed the top of my head. Pretty sweet indeed.
We need to be sure we are affirming our children. We need to make sure we are expressing our love the way the second definition states…publicly. You can affirm your kids all you want in your own house and that is great and essential. However, doing it in front of people is a big deal to them. Brag on them. I am a school teacher, and bragging on my kids at school in front of other teachers makes their day and puts a smile on their face every time.
The Dad Games also challenged us to balance our family and careers. I think so many times, Daddy is looked at as the provider of the physical needs of the family while mommy provides the emotional needs. That might have been what you remember growing up, but you have to be a chain-breaker. You have just as much influence on your child’s emotional development as mommy does.
As a daddy, balance and communication is essential. Take it from my wife:
- "I don't ever feel like Maury takes anything out on me because of a bad or good day. I never know if he had a good or bad day unless he tells me. He has a good work ethic, which is bad at times. When he was in retail, he wasn't able to contribute anything at home because of his workload and his need to finish his job. That was one of the reasons he had to leave; he was out of balance as far as home and work. Since becoming a teacher, he is able to compartmentalize and balances family and work a lot better."
I used Bill Cosby’s quote to inspire you. I know being a daddy is intimidating and scary. If you are at least working toward the goal, messing up and learning will be a blast. When Brighton was born, I was scared out of my mind. Now, I am getting scared again with the next one coming. I tell my students one important thing. The only way you will have 100% failure is if you never attempt it in the first place. So, in parenting, dwell on the fact that you have a 50/50 shot of getting it right the first time!.
I see many kids in classrooms with absolutely no positive male role model. They have role models, but honestly, they are showing them what not to do. I knew a third grade kid that would come up to me at the end of the day and tell me bye, and stand next to me and then slowly make his way down the hall.
Finally, at the end of the year, he came up to me and said, “I wished I could go home with you.” It broke my heart. If it wasn’t for me, who would he talk to? Most men only concentrate on their world. Don’t be that dad. Consider how you can help other children in the community by being the father figure they may not have. Learn more about being a Double Duty Dad.
This is a guest post by Maury Wood. He and his wife, Karen, have a son and are expecting their second child in March. Maury is an english teacher and enjoys writing in his spare time. You can find Maury on his blog and on Twitter.
photo credit: faungg
Last week, NFIs Director of Military Program Support Services Tim Red sent out an email to our staff in where he bravely and candidly spoke of a moment shared with his oldest son, Travis. After attending the funeral of his sons good friend, it gave Tim and Travis a moment to reflect and reconnect the bond between father and son. Inspired by his bravery, I too shared a bit of my own fears and concerns regarding fatherhood with the staff and felt enlightened by Tims ability to open up about such a private matter.
When I think of devoted dads like Tim, I always imagine they have all the answers and because of his background, I expected that he handled tough times with flair. With 30 years of military service, I was certain Tim had seen it all. I originally asked Tim if I could share his story on our blog and he was gracious enough to allow me to do so. I called Tim last evening and what was initially meant to be a quick phone call turned into a 30-minute conversation that changed my life.
Tim and I had an honest and open discussion, which allowed me to learn that part of being a father is also realizing your shortcomings and showing vulnerability. To hear from Tim that raising his oldest child had been difficult for him just astounded me. I was listening to this strong man admitting that even after being a dad of 21 years, hes continuing to learn lessons about fatherhood.
I had to fight back my emotions hearing Tim tell his story of the trials he faced with Travis although I hung on to every word. Tims fearlessness inspired me to devote myself to what I do here at NFI, and to also apply the lessons he shared with me in my own life. Being an involved, responsible and committed father became an even greater responsibility to me by way of our chat.
Although tragedy had to happen in order for Tim and Travis to find a new way to reconnect, stories like this are precisely why Im proud to be a part of the National Fatherhood Initiative family. As I grow as a father and as a man, I can always look back fondly to the chat Tim and I had, realizing that you can never learn it all in one lifetime. Dealing with the ups and downs of fathering can make even the mightiest of us feel stretched thin. However, its good to know that we have an entire lifetime to get it right.
This is a guest post from Luke Swygard, Financial Representative with Northwest Mutual Financial Network serving the Maryland/Virginia area. He is a married father with two children and lives in Richmond, VA. Visit his website at www.nmfn.com/lukeswygard for more information about his financial services.
The most precious moment of my day is walking in the door and hearing my boys racing to the door to see who can be the first to jump into my arms. Wow, what a feeling! Yes my boys are at the age where me coming home is still a cool thing, and Im sure that will change over the years as it did for me and my father. Still today, I embrace excitedly some of the financial principles my father instilled in me and I smile each time I remember his wisdom.
The biggest principle he taught me is to never spend more than I earn
. Simple. To the point. Not so easy. We live in a world today that demands we please ourselves, our spouses, our children, and our image. Its a challenge to walk into Target or WalMart today and get through the store without your children looking at you with hopeful eyes that they might get something special
something that quickly finds its way to the bottom of the toy box. But how do we say no to that look, and better yet how do we teach them the value of an earned dollar and the power that it has to control us or help us?
Today I want to unwrap that power of a dollar and how we can teach that to our children. Its invaluable to know the difference between a need and a want
and talking with our children in simple economic principles. A need is food, shelter, and clothing. Moving forward from that
do we buy ramen noodles for dinner, or do we go to the finest restaurant in town? Do we rent a small apartment or do we live in a mansion on the water? Do we shop at Salvation Army or do we go to the fine clothiers in the fancy shopping center? Help your children define in needs and wants how to know what is prudent and what isnt is extremely important. Thinking through that from my fathers advice, its all based on your income. You make a little and you live on less. You make a lot and you live on less. Either way there is distance between your expense and income, and that distance is in your favor.
Practical ways to help your children understand your thought process when you purchase things is a really fun exercise. Surprisingly you start making better financial decisions when you have to justify it to your children. Say you are at McDonalds and you are trying to decide between the happy meal and the value meal and you explain that by ordering three items off the value meal (value fries, cheeseburger, and small drink) for $3.00 versus spending $4 on the happy meal, you have the power of another dollar still in your pocket. The next logical question is what is the power of that dollar!
It still amazes me the time value of money. Albert Einstein referred to compound interest as the eighth wonder of the world and it truly is amazing. Realize for a second that a dollar invested today is worth thirty two dollars just thirty-five years from now. (Average rate of return in the market is about 7% over that time period). I know it is not an easy thing to tell your son or daughter that you arent getting a happy meal with a toy, but if you help them understand that by you saving that one dollar and setting it aside later for them that when they are 40 it will be $32 or when they are 75 its $4,096. Truly a wonder. Just imagine if you didnt go to McDonalds and you got the ramen noodles!
In summary there are really two thoughts. Spend less than you make and save the difference.
If you do that youll find yourself getting ahead financially. Take your children to the grocery store and talk to them about why you pick one thing off the shelf and not another. Just last night I asked my five year old as we were looking at red onions which one was a better buy. He looked at the price per pound and promptly answered correctly. Have fun with your kids, do math in the grocery store, but never forget to tell them why it is important to know where your money goes. We worked hard for that dollar and we can make that dollar work hard for us, but if youre not careful, the longing for what the world tells us will creep in and well soon find we are strapped too tight or we dont have enough money left over each month to save.
I leave you with one last challenge, what legacy will you leave for your children?
A few days ago, I asked my father-in-law how he met his wife. He told me that he was in the Air Force stationed in San Antonio and a buddy invited him to go to dance. His wife, who was in nursing school, attended the dance as well along with some of her friends. He saw her. They danced. They talked. And, he was smitten instantly and they started dating.
He also offered that soon thereafter she finished nursing school and moved back home to live with her parents in a little south Texas town called Mission. Since he was still stationed in San Antonio, he would make the long ride to see her every weekend that he could. Well, after a few trips to her home, he received a long letter from her father, who he called, the Old Spaniard. Interestingly, the letter was written in Castilian, which is formal Spanish and, although my father-in-law was fluent in Spanish, he needed help to translate it. In any case, he told me that the letterdespite its lengthasked him a simple question: What are your intentions with my daughter?
He told me that he was not surprised by the question and, actually, he expected to be asked it at some point. Therefore, he knew that he needed to answer this important question well and quickly if he was to continue to see his beloved. So, on his next trip to Mission, he was on a mission, and he sat down with the Old Spaniard and told him that he planned to marry his daughter. And, he did.
Since this conversation with my father-in-law, I have thought often about the power and the purpose of the Old Spaniards question and how it forced my father-in-law to be publicly accountable for his intentions. The Old Spaniard wanted to make sure early that my father-in-law didnt think that his daughter was an amusement park and he had a free ticket to ride. Nope, there were not going to be any unintended consequences because admission to his daughters heart came with a specific price the needed to be paid in advance.
Sadly, today too many fathers arent Old Spaniards and I believe that their daughters and their sons are worse off for it. Consequently, if you ask dating couples about their relationships and intentions, they tend to use terms like were hanging out, chillin, or just kickin it. Or, they will say that we are just friends with benefits. One of the problems is that these benefits too often turn into children who need good parents with firm intentions about raising them. Just imagine how few unintended pregnancies and unloved children there would be if more fathers asked the simple question that the Old Spaniard did.
Case and point, a few years ago, I counseled a couple who had gotten pregnant as college seniors. They were having big problems because the father was essentially abandoning his responsibilities and moving on with his life, while the mother was at risk to not graduate. Not surprisingly, the mother was furious.
As I began having conversations with them separately, it quickly became apparent that there was not, and never been, an Old Spaniard involved. You see, they were having premarital sex. However, she always believed that the father was the kind of guy who would marry her and build a family if they got pregnant, but this was never his intention. And, he thought that she was the kind of girl who would quickly get an abortion if she got pregnant, but this was never her intention. Now, they were both in a difficult long-term parenting relationship that neither wanted--whether they intended to have it or not.
One of the first Bible precepts that I learned in Sunday School as a small boy was that it is better to give than to receive. Now, as a little guy, I wasnt a big fan of this concept, especially around my birthday and Christmas. In any case, a few days ago, I was thumbing through a recent copy of Forbes magazine and I came across an article by Michael Norton provocatively titled Yes, Money Can Buy Happiness
If you give it away.
Norton is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and he has been researching how changes in income impact well-being. For example, he recently asked 315 Americans to rank their happiness on a 100 point scale and predict how happy they would be if they made ten different incomes, ranging from $5,000 up to $1,000,000. So, for example, he found that those who made $25,000 a year predicted that their happiness would double if they made $55,000. But when he measured their actual happiness, the change was about 7%. Moreover, he found that once people reached the US median income (about $60,000), the happiness return on additional income was very small.
Ironically, he did discover one way to buy more happiness with your money: Give it away. He hypothesized that although making more money helps us accumulate more material things, it does little to give us what the research shows makes us happierquality relationships with others.
To test his theory, he and his team did a little experiment. They approached strangers on the street and gave them different sums of money ($5 or $20) and told them that they had to spend the money by the end of the day. But half were instructed to spend the money on themselves while the others were told to spend it on someone else. At the end of the day, Nortons team learned that those who had to spend the money on themselves bought stuff like coffee and food. However, those who had to spend the money on others did things like donate to the homeless or buy a gift for a loved one.
So, who was happier? Yep, those who gave the money away. Interestingly, there was no difference in reported happiness between those who had to give $5 away verses those who gave $20 away. I guess when it comes to giving, it truly is the thought that counts.
So, why I am sharing all this? Maybe because its fundraising season and NFI needs you to give to us until you are in a state of joyous glee. Good guess, but nope. (Although, we certainly need the support and you can donate here
. And, no gift is too large. :-))
Well, it is because I vividly recall that one of the early words that each of my kids uttered was mine. I seems that children are genetically wired to be self-focused and its a dads job to model and teach their children the joy that can be received from giving. And, you dont need to wait until Sunday to start teaching. That is, if you can spare $5 bucks.
There are at least two myths that are generally accepted as truth within the community of men. The first is amusing. Its that fantasy football is real. Look, I know some guys who prepare for the real fantasy football season with the determination, focus and secrecy of General Eisenhower planning for D-Day.
The second myth is that men have mastered the art of compartmentalizing their emotions so that they dont affect a guy's performance. Well, if you have been following Tiger Woods play recently, this myth is being dispelled before your eyes. Tiger is indeed in a "rough" and its going to take more than his trusty sand wedge to get him out of it. Make no mistake that men are whole people and what happens in Vegas never stays there. The consequences always follow you home.
That said, I think that the writer of this article makes some valid points when he suggests that Tiger needs to focus more on straightening out his fathering than trying to hit a straighter and longer shot from off the tee. Ironically, fathering is a lot like hitting a tee shot on the PGA tour. There are no mulligans. You only get one chance to get it right.
In 1970, the buzz in Hollywood was about the romantic movie Love Story
. The movie was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and made stars and household names of the young actors Ryan ONeal and Ali MacGraw. Even if you havent seen the movie or dont have it in your Netflix queue, you have most likely heard the famous line that MacGraws character uttered early in the film: Love means never having to say youre sorry.
Now, I was preteen when I first heard this line and even then it didnt sound quite right. Granted, I didnt know much about relationships and romance but I had done enough wrong to those that I loved to detect a flaw in the logicdespite the poetry of the line. Sadly, I must dispute the words of philosopher William James who once said: Theres nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it. Unfortunately, given the power of pop culture and pop psychology, I think that many have embraced this absurd and convenient retort, especially those who have trouble with mea culpa.
I was reminded again of this line a few days ago when I came across a book by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas called: The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationship
. You may be familiar with Chapman from his many books on the five love languages where he asserts that we generally like to receive love in one of five ways: acts of service, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, quality time or physical touch. The problem is that we usually give love in the manner that we like to receive it and this may not be the right love language for one that we are seeking to love. In short, its the receiver, not the giver, who determines if an act is loving.
In any case, Chapman and Thomas have developed a similar model for the language of apology. They argue, rather convincingly, that an apology, just like giving love, is not really effective unless its expressed in terms appropriate for the receiver. Below are the languages of apology that they have discovered:
- Expressing regret: Im sorry may be the first words expressed in this apology language but you will need to clearly express what you are sorry for. For example, if you inappropriately spoke harshly to one of your kids and this is their language, you will need to be specific and say, I am sorry that I lost my temper and raised my voice at you.
- Accepting responsibility: This apology begins with the words I was wrong and then explains what was wrong with your behavior. For example, you would say to your spouse that you were wrong for not planning well enough to get home in time to pick up your children from school.
- Making restitution: This apology language is focused on making it right. So, if you forget someones birthday, and this is his or her language, you cant just say that youre sorry. With a person who speaks this language, what they really want to know is Do you still love me? and making restitution helps assure them that you do.
- Genuinely expressing a desire to change your behavior: This apology needs to be linked to a plan to keep the behavior from occurring again. If this is a loved ones apology language, in their world, apologizing without a sincere desire and demonstrated behavior to change is not apologizing at all.
- Requesting forgiveness: For someone who speaks this language, the words Will you please forgive me? are critical. In their mind, if you are sincere, you will ask to be forgiven.
I really believe that Chapman and Thomas are on to something here. A love story without apologies only happens in the movies. Indeed, love means always
having to say you are sorry. Ironically, the title of the Love Story
theme song, which won an Academy Award for best musical score, is Where Do I Begin? If you want to restore and/or maintain relationships with your spouse, the mother of your child, or your children, I suggest that you begin with an apology.