My son has been sleeping in his own bed every night, all night since a new room “opened for business” in our house. Yes – he has his very own Spider-Man room, and it is the greatest solution to toddler sleep issues ever invented by a father, humbly speaking.
He is 3 now. From when he was an infant until about a year ago, he slept in his crib pretty much every night, but he never wanted to fall asleep in his crib. He would have to fall asleep on the couch with mommy and daddy nearby, or in our bed. Then when he fell asleep, we’d whisk him away to his crib. For the last several months, matters had been worse. Not only would he not fall asleep in his own bed, but when we would place him there, he would inevitably wake up in the middle of the night and come to our room, seeking a comfy spot right in the middle of mommy and daddy’s bed.
We didn't want this to continue. And I realized he not only didn't sleep in his room, but he never spent any time in there at all. He just didn’t like his room. We assembled it for an infant, with a soft yellow color and a nice Beatrix Potter mural on the wall. While relaxing for an infant, it just wasn't exciting to a three-year-old whose tastes have shifted to superheroes and Disney Pixar movies.
By far, his biggest fanboy obsession has become Spider-Man. Everything from the movies to the Disney XD cartoon, to books, to clothes, to toys, this kid loves Spider-Man. As a somewhat handy dad, I decided that I was going to convert our boring guest bedroom into our son’s very own Spider-Man bedroom.
I envisioned what I wanted the color scheme to be and that there would be a big Spider-Man Fathead® on the wall. It would be a regular Spider-Man bonanza and, in theory, he would actually enjoy spending time in his room, and thus, sleeping there.
Boy, was I right. This picture of his new Spider-Man room should capture the essence of what it is like. Hyper Blue and Real Red paint from Sherwin-Williams. Spider-Man Fathead® from Fathead.com. Spider-Man curtains and bedding ordered from various websites, etc. And, for old times' sake, my own bedroom furniture from when I was growing up – solid oak furniture that looks practically new at 25+ years old (my parents kept it well preserved).
Now, for the first time ever, Vinny actually asks to go to his Spider-Man room. He loves it there. The other day he said to me, “Look at my Spider-Man room, daddy. It’s so cool!” I was teeming with pride. Shows you what a little daddy ingenuity can get you...
Not only does he sleep in his own bed every night, he actually falls asleep in it. No more waiting for him to fall asleep somewhere else and then sneaking him into his room. And even when he wakes up in the middle of the night (which happens often, as we have to check his blood sugar due to his Type 1 Diabetes – another blog post on that soon), he seems so comfortable in his own Spider-Man bed that he stays there. No more wandering into mommy and daddy’s room at night seeking refuge. He has his very own superhero watching over him to keep him where he is.
These heroes really are pretty super.
What worked/didn't work in getting your child to sleep in his or her own bed?
NFI’s fiscal year ends on September 30 and we are celebrating the end of an impactful year by sharing stories of real-life dads and their children who have found second chances through our work in their communities.
Steven Gonzales of Sacramento, California, is one of those dads. Photographer Lewis Kostiner met him as he traveled around the country at his own expense photographing and interviewing dads who participated in NFI’s fatherhood programs in local communities. Mr. Kostiner shared his impressions of Steven’s relationship with his son in his book Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance.
Steven Gonzales worked fourteen-hour days, seven days a week. He lived amongst the ghosts of bygone eras of vintage cars. Steven was the owner of the body shop that consumed him. He also was a father who taught his children by example. He told me that he regretted not being home for dinner every night, sometimes having to run out to give an estimate. He told him his heart hurt when he had to do this. Steven and his son took me on a tour of the body shop. We visited the paint shop, rich in the aroma of the freshly sprayed paint. His son was so proud of his dad. My presence with the camera made the young boy feel important. He knew his father to be a very special person and that I was sent there to take this famous person’s picture. Steven and his son posed so proudly in front of the blue, beat-up Cadillac. I envied that boy and the life he had with his father. When I was done, they gave me a red t-shirt with the name “RED STAR California Original” [the name of the body shop] on the front of it. I felt as special as the son when I left.
NFI is active in communities like Steven’s, helping dads in all walks of life build their fathering skills and connect with their children. In some cases, the support and inspiration these dads find through our presence in their communities is the second chance they and their families need.
Your financial support is crucial to reach more families like Steven’s. As we end the fiscal year on September 30, will you make a donation to help us finish this year and start next year strong? We have almost reached our fundraising goal for the year, and your contribution will get us across the finish line and help even more dads and families next year.
As a special “thank you,” we will send a FREE copy of Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance to anyone who donates $100 or more. Of course your gift of any amount helps us reach our goal for the fiscal year and start our next year of work strong.
Thanks for your help!
Last week, my two-and-a-half-year-old son started asking me “Why?” “I have to wash your face.” “Why?” “We have to eat dinner now.” “Why?” “We can’t watch TV now.” “Why?”
I am not sure what to make of it yet, other than that IT’S REALLY CUTE!
But as someone who works for a fatherhood organization, I try to reflect on these mundane parenting situations to make sure that a) I am making the most of them as a dad, and b) I have something interesting to write about on this blog.
So, to kill those two birds with one stone, I began waxing philosophical about what my role is in answering the “why?” for my son.
I have often heard, and mostly agree, that dad’s primary role is teacher. In fact, you are your child’s first teacher. While mom is nurturing and loving, she is creating a “nest” to protect her child from the dangers of the world. But at the same time, a good dad is slowly and safely exposing his child to that same world and teaching him how to navigate it.
I am generalizing of course, but generally speaking, men and women approach things differently, and parenting is no different. In fact, another recent study confirmed this by showing that fathers stand further away from their children than mothers while the kids are playing in a playground. Moms want to protect, dads want to teach safe risk taking. Neither approach is better than the other; they are both necessary and important to child development.
So, my role is to start revealing the world to my child. When he is asking why, he is really saying, “I want to understand the world!”
Therefore, my balancing act is to give him just enough to understand the truth, but not too much to forego his using his own imagination to make sense of things. This can be tough, but I have to practice now while he is asking me “unimportant” things like why Spider-Man can’t come to the dinner table with us. Because one day, he is going to start asking things like, “Why do I have diabetes?” (he was diagnosed with Type 1 two months ago).
Then, of course, he will inevitably ask the King of All Why Questions, “Why do I exist?” (or “What’s my purpose in life?”). If I can help him answer that question, then I will feel as though I am a successful father – even if I give him terrible answers to his questions about Spider-Man.
Last Thursday night at around 7:30, my wife and I took our two-and-a-half year old son, Vinny, for a walk. It was a beautiful night, warm with a cool breeze. The sun was just starting to set.
We approached the neighborhood playground and Vinny asked to get out of his stroller so he could go play. His chubby little legs carried him over to the slide, which he promptly climbed and slid down. He was having a blast.
As twilight progressed, the evening took on a magical quality. The air had a golden glow, the fireflies were coming out, and a few stars began appearing in the sky.
I stood next to one of those spiral slides as my son started to climb it. As he came around the bend, he saw me standing there and a big smile came over his face. He said, “Daddy? Daddy?” I answered, “What is it, baby?” He sat down right next to me and looked me in the eyes, still smiling. He just wanted “Daddy,” not something from Daddy.
Under normal circumstances, this would have been a great moment for me as a dad. But that night, it became a “remember-forever” moment that almost made me break down in tears. Because just an hour earlier, my wife and I had left the hospital after a three-day stay in which my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Let’s rewind back to last Tuesday. It had been at least a week during which my son was barely eating, was always thirsty, was constipated, and was wetting his diapers like never before. He was usually in a bad mood. It had really hit me that something was wrong when he was lying down on the changing table and I could see his ribs protruding.
So, I took him to the doctor that morning to see what was going on. They began doing a series of routine tests to see what was wrong. One of those “routine” tests was a blood sugar test that returned a result of 565.
This was when I heard “the word” for the first time. Diabetes. You know, that disease that your Aunt Bertha takes pills for because she’s eaten a few too many of her own apple pies. But in a healthy two-year-old?
At that point, our doctor told me that I should take Vinny to the emergency room so they could do some tests to confirm whether or not it was diabetes. I called my wife, and we met at the hospital 20 minutes later.
After a very short period of time, he was admitted and the diagnosis was confirmed – Type 1 Diabetes. The kind of diabetes that you just “get” and does not go away. The kind where you have to do blood sugar tests and insulin shots every day for the rest of your life.
My wife and I were in shock. It sounds cliché, but we really did not know how to react.
But the doctors were amazing. They immediately began preparing us for the new routine we would have to establish every day with our precious son. We learned carb counting, blood testing, and how to administer insulin shots.
By Thursday night, our new endocrinologist was comfortable enough with where we were in our knowledge and where Vinny’s blood sugar was to let us go home.
I can’t remember ever being so nervous in my life.
We were leaving the security of the hospital and left on our own. What if his blood sugar dropped and he passed out? What if his blood sugar spiked and something terrible happened? My wife and I never paid so much attention to our son’s mood, facial expressions, complexion, and demeanor in our parenting lives… But that is where the magic came from…
One of the best pieces of advice the nurse gave us as we left the hospital was to handle everything in a matter of fact way so that our son wouldn’t get upset. So, to ease our nerves, we went for that walk to the playground where he, in his own little 2-year-old way, showed his affection and appreciation for daddy.
I believe children are wired to crave connection with their parents – God makes them that way. My wife and I both work full time. We spend a lot of time with our son, but never three straight days, 24/7, in the same small room, playing with him, feeding him, reading to him, watching Disney movies together. While our stomachs were churning about his new disease, he was delighting in the fact that mommy and daddy were spending so much time with him.
So when we went for the walk, he was as happy as can be. He didn’t know that mommy and I were bundles of nerves. He just knew we were there, and he loved us for it.
The next few months are going to be tough. We are going to continue adjusting to the reality that our son has an incurable disease that needs constant management. But the silver lining – which I learned about on the playground that night – is that I will become closer than ever to my little boy. And every time he smiles at me, I will thank God that I have been given the opportunity to be the daddy to this wonderful boy, diabetes and all.
National Fatherhood Initiative recently launched March Dadness: Tips for Coach Dad on Leading Your Team to Victory, inspired, of course, by the March Madness NCAA tournament. Here at the NFI office, we'll be turning in our brackets for the office pool. At home, my dad and three brothers are finalizing their brackets. I asked my dad (father of seven) to share some fathering perspectives on this annual event. Here's his thoughts...
March Madness is one of our favorite times of the sports year because it affords three weeks of friendly competition between my three sons and I. We're a basketball family - all my kids play it, I coach it, and we follow it on ESPN. From the Jeremy Lin sensation to Duke's buzzer beater over North Carolina to sitting in the stands watching my ten-year-old twin daughters compete on Saturday afternoons, to say we like basketball would be an understatement. This March, like every other March, we'll be filling out brackets and tracking teams en route to the Final Four and National Championship.
As a dad, I've found this to be one of the ways to connect with my kids in a friendly, competitive environment. This works for both the teenagers still at home and those who are far from home - my 23-year-old son serving in the Air Force in Utah emails his bracket to us and calls home to join the pre- and post-game commentary. My sons are pretty competitive when it comes to researching teams as they fill out their bracket. The Monday morning USA Today
newspaper with the full section on March Madness is passed around among the boys. My daughters, on the other hand, are more interested in watching the teams they like than in the bracket competition and will join their brothers around the TV at game time. (My 18-year-old daughter, however, did secretly make her own bracket last year.)
The lesson I've learned through this is that opportunities to have positive experiences with my kids, instead of always being in the mode of correcting attitudes and behavior, are valuable. Finding common interests and spending time together is important to building relationships, communicating love and value, and balancing the times when discipline and correction are required as a parent. It doesn't have to be basketball to successfully build an enjoyable experience between father and sons and daughters, but events that can be looked forward to and reoccur on a periodic basis (like March Madness) become a lifelong memory and something that both dads and kids can anticipate.Dads, if you want to institute a family March Madness competition with your kids, download a bracket here. Sign-up for the Dad E-mail to get our latest March Dadness updates!
This is a post from Michael Yudt, NFI's Director of Program Support Services.
My third son, Nathanael Wayne, was born on February 18th at 8:25am. When my wife (Kelly) and I went to bed on Friday, February 17th, I was thinking we would awake the next morning just like we do on a typical Saturday. However, this was no typical Saturday.
Apparently, Kelly tried to wake me up a couple times at night to let me know she was having contractions. I have no recollection of that whatsoever… I eventually woke up around 4am and had this feeling that I was not going back to sleep. I noticed that I was alone in bed and figured that Kelly must have made her way to the couch, which is typical for her during the last trimester (she finds the couch to be more comfortable).
With my mind racing about a number of things, I made my way close to where I thought Kelly was sleeping to find her wide awake and having contractions. It became clear pretty quickly that this was the “real deal.” As a father and husband, I knew my job at that point was to “spring into action” (a favorite phrase of my near-4-year-old son, Caleb)
Our youngest son at the time (Joshua, nearly 2) is an early riser and this day was no exception. He was awake shortly after 5am and with the excitement of the day we knew he was up for good. When Kelly’s parents arrived at our house, we finished getting everything together, said our goodbyes, and headed for the hospital. Before leaving, I told our oldest son, Caleb, “Today is the day the baby is going to be born.” He responded with a sense of great joy in his voice: “That’s right, today is the day!” Excitement was welling up inside of me knowing that this was the day we would hold our newborn baby.
Upon arriving at the hospital, I knew that Kelly was disappointed when we were taken to the triage room, instead of the labor and delivery room. It’s rather funny, but the unspoken truth at the time was we both were hoping for an even faster labor than the rather quick one we had with Joshua (4 hours). With Kelly looking at the clock, I knew she wanted the baby to be born before 8:30am and she got her wish. Arriving at 8:25am, Nathanael Wayne was 8 lbs 7 oz and 20 ½ inches long. However, that’s not what defined him at that moment. When Nathanael first appeared, my wife and I shared his name with the medical staff that were present. Kristin, one of the nurses, didn’t miss a beat in sharing her knowledge of the name when she remarked that Nathanael means “gift of God.” Indeed, that’s exactly what he is and will always be!
As fathers, our job is to cherish each of our children as a precious gift. And that doesn’t end after the emotional high of the child’s birth. That is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week role that lasts a lifetime. I wonder how our world would be different if we had more fathers that viewed and treated each of their children as a gift from God. Nathanael, just like my other sons, was a gift the day he was born, is a gift the day I am writing this, the day you are reading this, and he will always be a gift - each and every day of his life. My encouragement and challenge to all fathers is to look at each of your children regardless of how old they are (yes, even adult children) with the same sparkle that you did the day they were born. After all, every child needs and wants unconditional love from their father. And that is a gift that we can give our children that is truly priceless…
R&B singer Chris Brown burst onto the scene in the fall of 2005, and like the rest of America, I enjoyed his energetic dance moves and singing. Just 16 at the time, he was a fresh face poised for stardom. I knew some people personally at his label, and I rooted for his success.
His first two albums were full of puppy love talk, ballads, and up-tempo songs that captured his talent. In February 2009, however, my perception of Browns music and personality changed after the violent domestic dispute
between he and ex-girlfriend Rihanna. Then 19, Brown assaulted the beloved pop singer after attending a party together earlier that evening. Naturally, Brown caught the wrath of both the media and his fans. The images of Rihannas swollen face still haunt me.
At the time, Chris Browns biological father, Clinton, defended
his son, saying his son was remorseful. Chris didnt grow up with his biological dad as his parents split when he was young. His mother, Joyce, remarried and Donelle Hawkins became his stepfather. In 2007, Chris revealed that his stepdad would beat his mother and that the situation filled him with rage, saying he even plotted to harm him. Although Hawkins denied
striking Browns mother, he did confirm that it was a tense relationship.
Its no stretch to see that Chris Brown modeled behavior he grew up seeing. He wasnt given an opportunity to witness a man treat his wife with respect and honor. His violent reaction to Rihanna was reportedly sparked by an accusation of Chris sneaking around with other women, leading to the fight. It was nearly the same pattern of events he would have to endure between his mother and stepfather. Instead of learning to resolve conflicts sensibly, Browns propensity to fly off the handle continues to this day.
Brown has since gone into the gutter with his lyrical content. Moonlighting as a foul-mouthed rapper and morphing into a sex-crazed singer, he has lost all of the innocence in his music that once defined him. Another evolution of Browns character is his caustic
online persona. Gone is the man who was subdued and reflective after his appearance on the Larry King show months after the 2009 incident. On his popular Twitter account, Brown is often profane and pushed into rage easily once anyone mentions his violent past.
Rihanna and Chris Brown are reportedly together again; with some saying they never split officially. Disappointing fans and opponents
of domestic violence, they have also recorded new music together thats unfit for young ears. Rihanna herself lived with an abusive father in her native Barbados, who she has since forgiven. To his credit Brown has tried to address the issue but while he begins with his heart in the right place, he is easily moved to anger. Even entertainers on Twitter have pushed Brown to the edge and even challenging
him to fights.
Had Chris Brown been closer to his dad, a corrections officer, would he have received better guidance? Is it possible that Brown still needs a father figure or a mentor that can steer him away from this downward spiral? In other words, Chris Brown has a lot of growing up to do and may need a guiding hand along the way.
Although NFI is wrapping up its Innovation For Fatherhood
partnership with Nissan, Im really thankful to know that a car brand Ive loved for years has shown a deep commitment to being an automaker dads can trust. Although I wasnt a father when I made my first car purchase, I do want to share a story on how Nissan won me over thanks in part to my dads love for cars.
Im not exactly what you would call a car buff, but my father was a bit of a collector. One of his favorite cars was his Datsun 280ZX, which he called Tammy for reasons still unknown to me. I always liked the sporty look of the car, and I remember playing a lot of thats my car games with my brother whenever we saw one on the road. However, the car that first stole my heart was the 1988 Nissan Maxima.
When I finally got to high school and the reality hit that I could soon be driving, I crafted an ambitious plan that I was going to work at the local fast food joint, cut grass in the summer, and do house paintings in my neighborhood for money. I truly believed Id save enough money to buy a Maxima but the time I graduated from high school.
My dreams were dashed and car ownership eluded me until I was around 19 years old. The 90s were upon us and while the Maxima underwent a change into its third generation shape at the time, I still wanted the boxier 88 model. Luck would have it that a man who lived in my neighborhood was selling his sky blue Maxima. My father was skeptical, saying I shouldnt buy a used car but everything checked out.
I loved this car so much that I even learned how to do maintenance and Im not the handiest guy around. The engine was the same as another favorite car of mine, the Nissan 300Z, and it was zippy! I pushed the car to the limit, racking up well over 100,000 miles in five years. Because of my loyalty to the brand and a higher income bracket, I was able to upgrade my car to the fourth generation version in 1996. It was all black and it was customary to see me in the summer cleaning and waxing my car every weekend.
An accident some years later (which wasnt my fault) totaled the car and Ive missed it since. Ill admit that Ive owned other cars since then, but I still want a Maxima. Its amazing how sleek the car looks now in its seventh generation, coming a long way from its inception in the late 70s. Should good fortune shine upon me in the near future, I can say without hyperbole that a Maxima will be the car that Ill buy.
Image courtesy of Splash New
I became a fan of English actress Minnie Driver after her star turn in Good Will Hunting
in 1997. Drivers good looks and charm had her seemingly poised for stardom. She then starred in the box office flop Hard Rain
, and while she kept acting in smaller films and TV, nothing came close to the fame she gained working on Good Will Hunting
I read a story
from British newspaper The Observer
which featured Driver offering a revealing look into her private life. Before now, Driver had been mum about the identity of her three-year old sons father. She was still vague in her revelation during her interview, only opting to say there isnt much to the story.
"We weren't together and he wasn't directly in the business," she said. So I chose to protect him and not have a rain of publicity. I know, but it's ridiculous. He's not famous. There's no big story. I don't need to protect him anymore. He can fend for himself. He's a grown-up.
The unnamed mystery dad was a writer on short-lived television series The Riches of which Driver was a co-star. Driver shared some opinion of the fathers parenting duties. He's figuring it out. I mean, he hasn't been that involved; his choice. But he is now, she said.
Drivers cavalier decision to keep the father out of the limelight may be a manifestation of her own upbringing. Drivers father was a married man with a family who had no idea that Minnie and her sister existed. Although Drivers mother was her dads mistress, she doesnt seem to hold any ill will towards her father for his choices. She even compared herself to her father, neatly saying he lived his life.
For Minnie's son, Henry, one can only hope that his mom and dad will become effective co-parents and allow a relationship to build as it should. Driver has seen many mistakes up close when it comes to fatherhood. It would make sense for her to include her sons father in raising their child. While I find it curious that Driver shared the news after hiding the facts for three years, perhaps this is her attempt in giving Henry a chance to know his father in the best ways possible.Father Factor readers, what do you think about Minnie Drivers decision to speak openly about her son's father? Tell us in the comments below or tweet to us at @TheFatherFactor. You can also like and comment on our Facebook page by following this link.
Earlier this week, I came across
a news item that I am still trying to process days later. A four-year old boy Chinese boy by the name of Ho Yide was videotaped by his father (only known as eagle daddy) as the child shivered in freezing temperatures in his underwear on Chinese New Years Eve. I defy anyone to look at young Hos face and not feel sadness for the boy.
The eagle daddys assistant referred to this cruel treatment as training for the boy as the father claimed was born several months prematurely. Eagle Daddy says hes making Ho endure these trials in order to build up his physical and mental toughness. To make matters worse, Hos mother can be heard laughing in the background as he cries out from doing push-ups in the cold.
To the father, you should be ashamed of yourself. Not only are you crushing your boys emotional spirits, you also put him at risk for hypothermia and other illnesses as well. What father would take pride in toughening up their son by making them crawl around on a snow-covered New York street? Even on its cleanest day, no child should be walking on a city street without shoes and socks, no matter the weather. Take into account vermin and trash and whatever else hidden under the snow, it just makes the instance more heinous.
Eagle Daddy seems to care less what the outside world thinks. Hes already relayed a defiant message via his assistant that he doesnt care what others say. As his father, he has a right to voice to the public that what he does with his child is not our business. However, filming your son crying in the cold as part of a regimen to improve the childs heath makes Eagle Daddy an unfit father.
I happen to think Eagle Daddy is a bad daddy. This is my opinion and one Im sticking to although I doubt few will disagree with that assertion. This is not fathering, this is pure physical torture. Looking at the body of evidence, what of Ho Yides despair caught on tape displays the making of a good father? How does physical and mental abuse inspire greatness in a growing child?
I hope that the Eagle Daddy stops the abuse and realizes hes doing far more harm than good. For now, I pray that Ho doesnt grow into becoming a broken young man due to the cruel iron hand of his father. Ho Yide deserves better treatment from his father. It is truly too bad his daddy doesnt see the error in his actions.