Each year about this time, our teenagers and young adults are pressing for the chance to leave town for the week long spring break party. What should a dad do to prepare his teenager or young adult for the spring break experience? I have compiled a list of recommendations for what to talk about and what to do before they leave and while they are gone.
More on Parenting Young Adults:
- When Adult Children Return Home
- How to Positively Influence an Adult Child
- College Kids and Non-Custodial Fathers
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I am starting to see lots of green pop up around our area in stores and other places; it is time to be thinking about having green clothes and green food for St. Patrick's Day! Just because it is a holiday built around Irish heritage and the color green, lots of dads get into St. Patrick's Day!
I posted a list recently of some great green food recipes for St. Patrick's Day that come from our About.com experts. I have to confess - I like mint brownies a whole lot more than green macaroni and cheese! But here are some other great St. Patrick's Day resources from my colleagues here at About.com that might help you get some good ideas for your families for this fun holiday!
- How to build a leprechaun trap
- Creative St. Patrick's Day snacks
- St. Patrick's Day homemade card ideas
- Make a paper mache leprechaun cap
- Make a treasure stone (or a blarney stone)
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Having been a father of two daughters (both now married and starting their own families), I know that hearing about some hormone laced teenager asking them on their first date struck fear in my heart! Knowing just when to allow my children to start dating could have been a big challenge if we hadn't established a rule early on about when kids would be allowed to pair off in dating opportunities. I'm not sure how I would have come to a conclusion if I were asked in the heat of the moment without having set a rule in advance .
Finding the right dating age and then planning for its enforcement is an important issue for fathers (and mothers) and one that has a big impact on the lives of their children. Too early dating can lead to problems such as rebellious behavior, premature sexual relationships and other challenges. But being too harsh or unrealistic can also damage your relationship with your teen. So I tried to put together some thoughts and some references to research about the appropriate dating age and how best to help your teen embrace your family's standard.
More on teens and romance:
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I read a fascinating article last week in the Deseret News about why some children whose parents fail them still succeed while others simply perpetuate the absence and abuse of prior generations. The article talks about the experiences of several children who were in foster care and the impact that excellent foster parents can have on children by modeling good relationship behavior. Other examples of good interventions for these children can be found in community involvement, religious training and service, civic organizations and organized sports leagues - these are situations where challenged children find good adult role models who teach them by their example and who offer hope out of the depths of despair.
So, are there lessons for fathers here? Certainly. First, we can all spend a little more time and focused energy on our own families and children. Preventing family break-up and abuse is far better than responding to it after it happens. Some good solid relationship maintenance can make a world of difference. Another important lesson is that we are all potential role models for children in need. We can make a difference in the life of a child not our own by offering help, hope and an example. Finally, we can expose our children to excellent adult role models beyond their own nuclear family by encouraging relationships with extended family members, coaches, religious leaders, and others to reinforce the concepts and values we hope to teach in our own families.
There is sure a lot of stuff for dads to do, but we have a fundamental responsibility to raise our own children to be responsible and resilient, and to influence children not our own along their own path to adulthood.
More on raising great kids:
- How fathers can help boys become men
- Raising your daughter as a single dad
- Four key promises of successful fathers
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I enjoyed reading a bit about Pope Francis' Valentine's Day message from the Vatican this year. On February 14, the Pope met with 10,000 engaged couples in St. Peter's Square. In the official report from Vatican Radio, the following is reported.
"It is important to ask ourselves if it is possible to love one another 'forever'", affirmed the Pope. "Today many people are afraid of making definitive decisions, that affect them for all their lives, because it seems impossible ... and this mentality leads many who are preparing for marriage to say, 'We will stay together for as long as our love lasts'. But what do we mean by 'love'? A mere emotion, a psycho-physical state? Certainly, if it is just this, it cannot provide the foundation for building something solid. But if instead love is a relationship, then it is a growing reality, and we can also say, by way of example, that it is built in the same way that we build a house. And we build a house together, not alone! ... You would not wish to build it on the shifting sands of emotions, but on the rock of true love, the love that comes from God. The family is born of this project of love that wishes to grow, as one builds a house that becomes the locus of affection, help, hope and support. Just as God's love is stable and lasts forever, we want the love on which a family is based to be stable and to last forever. We must not allow ourselves to be conquered by a 'throwaway culture'."
He continued, "A marriage does not succeed just because it lasts; its quality is also important. To stay together and to know how to love each other for ever is the challenge Christian married couples face! ... In the Our Father prayer we say, 'Give us this day our daily bread'. Married couples may also learn to pray, 'Give us this day our daily love', teach us to love each other, to care for each other. The more you entrust yourselves to the Lord, the more your love will be 'for ever', able to renew itself and to overcome every difficulty."
This is such powerful advice from a man who, while unmarried himself, has seen so much of pain and heartache from failed marriages and families. It is a good reminder about the need to show love, to make marriage and family paramount and permanent as each party in a marriage keeps the promises they made to each other.
More on stronger marriages:
- How to strengthen marriage and avoid divorce
- Affair-proofing a marriage
- Seven keys for growing intimacy in marriage
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I was visiting recently with a dad who was concerned about his family's consumer debt level and how it might impact his ability to save for college for his kids. We talked about the importance of setting family financial goals, establishing and living within a family budget and using the "snowball" concept to get out of debt as quickly as possible.
Fathers who manage their family's money will appreciate some tools and strategies to help with the family budget, savings plans and consumer debt. These resources from About.com experts can help families better manage their finances.
- Choose a Guardian for Your Children
- How to Help Your Family Cope with Job Loss
- Finding Money for College
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I was visiting a week or so ago with a friend whose family loves to go backpacking. Unfortunately, we are in the season where the nearby mountains are covered in snow and avalanche danger is at its peak right now. So, he was anxious for spring to get back out with the family for a backpacking weekend. He even said that he would take them snowshoeing (the closest thing to backpacking he could think of) but the avalanche risk was too great.
Many families, like my friend's, have strong family traditions around family hobbies. Our family's hobbies varied a bit over the years, from hiking to camping to gardening. But in every case, we tried to find things that our family enjoyed and to make them into a family hobby.
What is your family hobby? If you are thinking about finding one, here are a few ideas about how to choose a family hobby and a few creative family hobby ideas that you might consider!
OK - I guess sometimes I am way too sentimental when it comes to my feelings about fatherhood. So experiences like this one that reinforce how amazing fathers can be often make me think a little deeper.
When this girl graduated from high school, her dad handed her a familiar Dr. Seuss book Oh the Places You'll Go. When she opened it, she found a surprise. Since kindergarten, her dad had asked each teacher, coach, and principal to write in the book each year, all without her knowing for 13 long years. Read her reaction here and then think about what you can do as a dad to show love and respect for your children. What an amazing moment it must have been!
More stories about amazing fathers:
- Nebraska Fire Department a Family Affair
- A Coach Teaches Us About Teaching Values
- The Dads Doing Good Campaign
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Having been a big part of teaching five teenagers to drive, I can attest with millions of other dads that it can be a high stress experience! Sometimes I wonder about the public policy choice that puts a sixteen year old child in control of a large and heavy piece of equipment moving along a roadway at a fast pace. But I also understand that we want our kids to grow up and become independent, and that being able to transport themselves to school, job, and social activities is important.
There are some very simple steps that a dad can take to make teaching a teenager to drive a little more tolerable for dad and successful for the teens. And, if the stress gets too great, you can always consider "outsourcing" the training to a professional!
More on successfully working with teens:
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It is Super Bowl weekend, and many, many families will find themselves gathering around the television on Sunday to enjoy the 48th annual Super Bowl. This is likely to be one of the classic Super Bowls with the number 1 NFL defense facing the Number 1 NFL offense. Not being a huge follower of professional football (although I admit to being a college football junkie), I do have a lot of respect for Coach Pete Carroll, so I hope the Seahawks do well!
But if you find yourself with a child or a family member who has a hard time getting the basics of football, either for playing or for watching, our former About.com Football expert James Alder has an excellent series on football basics. If you need to do a little Super Bowl prep with your kids, this is a great resource!
So, if you are a Super Bowl fan, enjoy the game, the treats and the family time!
More on kids and sports:
- Succeeding as a youth soccer coach
- How to choose a sport for your child
- Fathers and childhood obesity
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