I served for several years as a lay religious leader and had the opportunity to work in a counseling mode with quite a few blended families in my local congregation. I learned during those years how much of a challenge a blended family was, and particularly in keeping a second marriage strong. The differences between a first marriage and a second one are stark and challenging. We bring emotional "baggage" from the end of the first marriage (either divorce or death of a spouse), unique parenting styles that might clash, and our own set routine that has to give way to new arrangements in a blended family.
Investing in the quality of the second marriage can be challenging when time is so short and emotions can be so strong. But invest we must for the benefit of ourselves, our spouses and our children. Learn more about the ten important things dads can do when entering into second marriages and blended families, and why we have to take a strong stand in defense of the new marriage and newly created family situation.
More on coping with divorce and remarriage:
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Every now and again I hear from a dad who is simply overwhelmed. His job seems to require more and more, the money seems to stretch less and less, and he knows that he is not doing enough for and with his family. One dad recently complained, "There just doesn't seem to be enough of me to go around."
Dads who don't take the time to take care of themselves will often find that they feel depressed, inadequate and stretched too thin. They don't take time to invest in themselves and thus there is a lot less of them available for the ones who count the most.
My late mentor Dr. Stephen Covey used the example of a man who was cutting wood and as he saw became more and more dull, his productivity dropped and he was cutting less and less wood for every hour of effort. A bystander asked him why he didn't stop and sharpen the saw. Our woodcutter friend said that he was way too busy and had way too much wood to cut to be able to take the time and stop to sharpen his saw.
The example sounds ridiculous but there is no question that we all find ourselves doing that from time to time. We don't take the time to eat right or to exercise, so our bodies are sluggish and inefficient. We don't stop to take time to plan effectively, so we are often wasting time on things that matter less, at the expense of things that matter most.
I recently wrote about ten things that dads need to do to take better care of themselves, and suggest that if you are feeling out of balance, pick one of two of these and do something about them today. You will be amazed at the difference that little steps in the right direction can make in the quality of your day's efforts.
More on taking care and finding balance:
- Self-Care for Men Going Through Divorce
- Fitting Fitness into a Busy Dad's Life
- Diet and Nutrition Tips for Fathers
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Fathers certainly come in all shapes, sizes and varieties. Some dads are big history buffs; others would love nothing more than 18 holes of golf or tinkering with the latest electronic gadgets.
For every dad on your gift list, there are some gifts that he will appreciate more than others. Check out a few of our gift guides for dads with different interests and see if something there jumps out as a great Christmas gift for your special dad.
Gift Guides for Special Interest Fathers:
- Gifts for dad's man cave
- Gifts for the golfing father
- Gift ideas for men who are into fitness
- Gifts for dads who travel a lot
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I get it that Thanksgiving was late this year, but even though there are less than 30 days until Christmas, I have a hard time with the Black Friday deals starting on Thanksgiving morning or evening. A fun family activity last evening was disrupted in our family as some of our family members headed out for the great deals. As my son commented, "Maybe Halloween will be replaced by Black 'Whatever' as the main shopping day of the year at the rate things are going."
Well, I don't know if it will go that far, but I am kind of one that likes to out shopping in its place and to ensure that the wonderful family aspects of the Christmas season don't get missed in the press of shopping! As Dr. Seuss reminds us, "Christmas doesn't come from a store."
As we embark on the holiday season, let's try to remember to keep some of the peace and family focus of the holidays and not just become mega-shoppers.
Holiday Season Helps from About.com Fatherhood:
- How dads can have peace during the holidays
- Great family Christmas traditions
- Handling the holidays as a non-custodial father
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As if traditional street drugs and illicit prescription drugs were not commonplace enough, the DEA is warning parents about a new drug that has become available to online purchases and that has been catching teens unaware.
The drug is called N-BOMe, is being considered by the federal government for designation as a controlled substance, and it is very dangerous. According to an article on KSL.com, N-BOMe is being sold all over the Internet and is quite inexpensive. It's low cost and easy accessibility is making it very attractive to young people. The article reports that toxicologists have said that the drug is as potent as LSD and methamphetamine combined.
Having conversations with our teens about drugs and drug use is as important as it ever was, and the availability of N-BOMe is a good excuse to have another visit with your teenager about drugs.
More on dealing with teen issues:
- Dealing with depression in teens
- Talking to teens about alcohol use
- Is your teen involved in a gang?
I heard a story once about a preacher going door to door many years ago when he came to a door and saw through the screen a little boy practicing the piano. The preacher knocked but no one answered. When the little boy paused at the end of a piece, the preacher called through the screen. "Excuse me young man. Is your mother home?" The boy replied, "What do you think?" and then continued with his practicing.
Many parents swear by the value of music lessons for their children; others can't see paying for something that their kids hate and that become drudgery in terms of getting to lessons and practicing every day.
But we all understand the value of helping children learn the importance of discipline, commitment and persistence, and music can be a great way of teaching those skills. Certainly academics and sports can also help children learn important life skills, but there are lots of parents who see music lessons as one of the best ways to help children learn skills and attitudes they need to succeed in life.
Learn what savvy fathers do to help their children learn from their music lesson experience and how to help kids find the positives in their music education efforts.
More on teaching children values:
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I recently visited with a pastor friend of mine who has worked with several families dealing with the incarceration of the father in the family. Some of the dads were involved in drugs or convicted of a second DUI. One was a white collar criminal and his family was totally blindsided by his crime, his arrest and his conviction.
I can't imagine the challenges that this family has had to face. Loss of a father at home is serious enough, but loss of income, social stigma, Mom needing to return to the workforce and the feelings of betrayal just seem overwhelming to any family.
My friend and others with whom I have worked offered some suggestions for supporting a family that has an incarcerated father. I really hope that this will be helpful to any of us that might be in a position to help family members who find themselves in such a tough situation.
More Challenges Faced by Fathers and Families
- Help Your Family Cope with Job Loss
- Dealing with Grief at the Loss of a Spouse
- Protecting Your Child from Sexual Abuse
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The Boston College's Center for Work & Family recently completed a series of studies of 1,000 fathers, most of whom work in white collar jobs at Fortune 500 companies, considering their attitudes about work and family. Check out these stats:
- 80% of them are ambitious at work and want to advance
- 86% said that being a father was their number 1 priority
- 77% wish that they had more time to spend with their children
- More than half said that if money were not an issue, they would be willing to be a stay-at-home dad
Washington Post blogger Brigid Schulte, citing these studies, suggested that,
When men become fathers, managers expect the same amount of work from them, Harrington's research has found. And social science has shown that men tend to get a "fatherhood bonus," because employers think they'll be even more committed and hard working now they have a family to provide for. At the same time, mothers who return to work are in a "Catch-22," Harrington said, with research showing that employers begin to think they're less committed, less promotable and even less competent.
It can certainly be tricky to try to find that elusive (and some would say impossible) work-life balance, and the difference between the perception of fathers and mothers in the workplace can make it even more difficult. But the good news is that fathers ar becoming ever more connected at home and willing to do what it takes to be a great dad.
More on work-life balance:
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I love coming up with creative activities for the family to enjoy together. I know lots of families go to movies or sporting events with the family, but sometimes the simple, inexpensive and creative activities are the ones our kids remember most.
Scavenger hunts are one such creative activity that creates fun memories and makes for an entertaining afternoon or evening. From scavenger hunts in your own neighborhood to doing one at a mall, these family scavenger hunts are amazing family activities that are fun for the whole group.
Few family activities are more memorable than a great family scavenger hunt. Find out how to plan and carry our a family scavenger hunt and enjoy time together.
More fun family activities:
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Now and again, I run into stories that inspire me about fathers, children and community service. The story of the Casey family and the Fort Calhoun Fire and Rescue Department is one of those stories.
Located in Washington County near Omaha, the Fort Calhoun Fire and Rescue Department is a volunteer fire department, and has boasted five members of the Casey family as volunteers. Brothers Jon and Joe Casey were volunteers on the department, and then their father Don, an Omaha police officer, signed on as well. And while Jon and Joe have left the department, their sisters Andrea and Amanda also became volunteers. Currently, only Don and Andrea remain, but the idea of community service has stuck with the family members, now living far apart.
According to the Pilot Tribune and Enterprise, Don is pretty excited about their family's tradition of service.
"I get so proud, my head gets so big and my chest gets so big that I have to turn sideways to get out of the door," Casey said when he thinks about how his daughter has followed in his footsteps.
Congratulations to the Casey family who exemplify community service and a commitment to excellence. They are heroes in every sense of the word as they volunteer to help their community be a better and safer place!