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Bully: Cyber Shadow

LLM-kids-textingIn 1993 I was bullied by Sam. Sam called me fat, gay, loser… fill in the blank. I didn’t like it. I let Sam know by calling him fat, gay, loser… fill in the blank. Ultimately, Sam and I got into a fight. He was bigger than me, and I lost. But something happened that I didn’t expect- Sam and I became friends. Not immediately. Looking back, something happened during our confrontation. We were two boys, 12 years old, trying to figure out life. What it meant to be cool, respected and earn our place in the world. We were doing this face to face.

Fast forward to 2013 and bullying is now a hot topic, and rightfully so. Boys, and girls, are still trying to figure out their place in the world, only their world is much different today than it was in 1993. With access to cell phones, tablets and computers pretty much everywhere they are, our kids are using the internet and social media to practice social interactions. Face to face confrontation is becoming less and less replacing it with online bullying, or also known as, cyberbullying.

There are many cases of online bullying that have resulted in horrible outcomes: Rebecca Sedwick, Megan Meier and Tyler Clementi are just a few. There are tough consequences, as there should be, in many of these cases. But what is the underlying issues and can it be stopped?

Comedian, Louis C.K. is on to something. He comments in this video about how kids are mean because they are trying it. [Kids] will look at another kid and say, “You’re Fat!” Then they see the reaction of the other kid [sad, hurt, etc] and think, “Oh, that didn’t feel good.” When it comes to texting and social media; however, Louis C.K. points out that the same kid will write/post something, and without the other kid there thinks to him/herself, “Mmmm, I like that.”

Now, he is a comedian and it is not that simple, but there is something to be said about kids figuring out life, emotions and social connection through social media more and more while disconnecting during face to face interactions. This is resulting in a more vicious and vindictive form of bullying than any of us growing up pre internet era ever had. Cyberbulling is a symptom of the disconnect that kids are having with one another.

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Mandate a “Man Date”

My brother, Adam, told me about taking his boys on a “Man Date” and the profound impact that it has had on their relationships.  I asked him to write about his experience so I could share it with all of you.

~Adam Blair, Kick Ass Dad

Four years ago I began taking my 9 year old daughter out on father-daughter dates.  We’ll sometimes go to the movies or do an activity, followed by dinner and a dessert while my wife stays home with the boys.  I open the door for her, pull out her chair, compliment her, and make her feel safe by holding her hand while we cross a busy street.   These dates have been an excellent opportunity for her and I to bond, model behavior and build her self confidence.

Recently, my 6 year-old twin boys came up with an idea- a “Man Date.”  One night after my daughter and I returned from one of our father-daughter dates, my two sons greeted us at the door and said, “Daddy, why can’t you take us out on a date like Sissy?”  My first thought was to laugh and shrug off the silly idea of taking my sons on a date.  But, as I pondered the idea, I began to think of all the wonderful adventures I could take them on.  I could teach them chivalry, bravery and respect.  I could give them a chance to be vulnerable and talk about what’s on their mind.  I could also give them opportunities to just be boys and act wild and crazy as boys do.  Often times, we will build forts (with daddy’s tools… scary), make mud pies in the backyard, and roast marshmallows in our fire pit.  Once, we went fishing.  Living in downtown Houston, I think that the fishing trip was their favorite Man Date!  We always do a lot of crawling, jumping, rolling, and even some kung fu.  Yes, I do all of it too!

They desire to see me engage in their activities, however silly I look.  When the boys get tired enough to sit still, we will talk about what it means to be a man.  I teach them about chivalry and honor.  Equally as important, I teach and model that being vulnerable is a strength.  Of course, I don’t use that language.  I will say, “You know, when daddy is sad, sometimes I cry,  and it makes me feel better. You can cry too when you’re sad.”

I asked my boys, Alek and Elias, to tell readers what our Man Dates are like from their perspective:

Alek: Man dates are AWESOME!  We get to do whatever we want!

Elias: Yeah, they’re awesome!  We get to play with daddy’s tools!

Alek:  We get to damage things! (laughter)

Elias: We get to eat whatever we want and shove it in our faces!  Oh, and blow it out of our noses!  (Ugh)

Alek: Yeah, and We get to make fires and burn wood!

Elias: Oh, and eat marshmallows too!

Dad:  So, when we get done cleaning up what do we talk about?

Elias: We sit on the couch…

Alek: Um, we talk about feelings and stuff.

Elias: We talk about being nice to girls too… like mommy and sissy and our friends at school.

Alek: Oh, and we talk about crying and being tough at the same time!  (laughter from both boys)


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Sad Dad: Can Men have Postpartum Depression?

Six years ago my son was born.  What I had imagined to be the most joyous experience of my life was anything but.  This beautiful child was in my life and I was feeling like crap.

How could could this be?  What is wrong with me?  When around company, I spoke about the joy and stuffed the sadness deep down. I felt shame about these selfish thoughts in my mind around loss and fear.

“I have lost my wife’s love”

“I am going to screw this kid up!”

“Life will never be the same”

“How do I handle ALL of this?”

I never heard about men being depressed after having a child.  I must be crazy.

In 2010, the Journal of the American Medical Association recognized a father’s risk of suffering from postpartum depression.  At that time, they found that 1 in 10 fathers experienced depression after the birth of their child.

What doesn’t work

In my experience and talking with other fathers who have suffered from postpartum depression I’ve realized a few things:

  1. Hiding the pain/emotions: This will only intensify your depression.  You CANNOT move on until the feeling has flowed.
  2. Shame:  It’s okay to be angry.  Let me say it again, IT IS OKAY TO BE ANGRY!!! This is all new and your life is changing.  Anger and sadness can be a part of change.  You will not feel fully feel the joy of your new child if you are stuffing the fear.
  3. Withdrawing from your spouse:  Your wife will give attention toward the baby, but this does not mean that she does not have enough love to give to you.  I had thought, “This child is taking my wife from me.”  Your spouse has enough love to give to both of you– and here is the “mirror” for you: YOU have enough love to share with both of them too.

What can you do?

  1. Breath: Physically and emotionally, take a big breath. Share your experience- this will help you and other men to come out of the emotional bondage you’ve put yourself in.
  2. Get Support: It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Men’s Group Work, but you can also get help from professionals, family and close friends.
  3. Move Your Body: Get angry and let all that emotion go!  Exercise will do wonders to physically manifest and move tough emotional stress you are going through.
  4. Get Some Rest: This can get tricky- sleep is good, but I am not a fan of over the counter sleep aids.  Let’s face it, if you are not sleeping well, you are probably not following the first three tips.

Having a child will change your life.  It will bring up joy, sadness, anger and excitement.  You are starting a new chapter in your life and with all new things, there will be emotions and “stuff” to release and replace.

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Atonement to Our Children

I was inspired to write this post after reading One Women’s Atonement to Men written by Blair Glaser (a guest post on Owen Marcus’ blog).  Glaser was inspired by the Jewish heritage of Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement.  Now, I am not Jewish, but I love the idea and value in having atonement for one’s actions.

My intent is to write this on behalf of fathers to their children.  With that said, I am not writing under the assumption that this will fit all father’s relationships with their children; however, I hope that there are a few that connect and inspire your own atonement and self-reflection.

For the times we’ve unleashed our past pain and frustration from our own fathers onto you, we are sorry.

For the times we’ve punished you and overlooked your sweet innocence, we are sorry.

For the times we’ve said, “I’m busy” when all you desire is share your world and love, we are sorry.

For the times we’ve expected perfection, yet contradicted our own ethics, we are sorry.

For the times we’ve criticized your clothing and style, we forget that we were once young too, we are sorry.

For the times we have shamed you with disappointment, this world is not easy, mistakes are a part of learning, we are sorry

For the times we have missed your games/plays/concerts because work was a priority, we are sorry.

For the times you have worked so hard to make us proud and yet we still do not recognize your effort, we are sorry.

For the times we’ve projected our own lack of self-worth and failure onto you, and failed to see your wonderful gifts, we are sorry.

For the times we’ve ignored your point of view to try to get a point across, you are a unique person who deserves to be heard, we are sorry.

For the times we’ve found fault in your mother and spoken unkind words, she will always be your mother and you both deserve each other’s love, we are sorry.

Keep this list going- what is your atonement with your child?  We learn from making mistakes; we grow from correcting them.

Photo by: Matt Wardell “Atonement with the Father”



Toot to the Moon! Co-Creating with Your Children

“Hey Papa, wouldn’t it be so funny if someone wrote a story about a boy who tooted so big he went to the moon!?!”

My son burst out laughing at his idea.  So much so it was contagious and my wife and I joined into his joyous giggling.  I began asking him some questions:

“What would the boys name be?”

“What is the name of this book?”

“What things would he see on the moon?”


After responding with some wonderful answers, my son had created a wonderful silly story all his own.  Toot to the Moon!  By joining into the magic of his creativity and asking questions, his silly story idea was beginning to take form into his first book at the age of 6. I turned to my son and said, “Looks like you have already written this story.”  A concerned look crossed his face.  “Papa, I don’t know how to write.”

It hit me at this moment- I’ve used the same excuses myself.  When I began Remarkable Fathers I had great ideas, but I did not know how to make a website, write a blog… and who am I to create a dialogue around parenting?  But I had support and I knew that I would need help.

I sat beside him.  “What if I helped you write it?  You could tell me what to write and I can show you how to do it.”  His face lit up.  “Oh yeah, for sure I can do that!”

Our children are full of creative energy and ideas!  Co-Creating with them will increase their confidence, build a strong bond, and help them to realize their potential as important beings.  Allow your child to initiate and take the lead.  It is important to allow them the space to be the leader sometimes.  Allow their creativity to flow, and facilitate a space for them shine.

Please share how you are co-creating with your children or what you’ve done in the past.   When you share, we all learn and become better parents!

Here is a great link to fostering your child’s creativity 

Photo by: Francisco Alvarez Bao

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Become a Better Father and Join a Men’s Group- Interview with Owen Marcus

In an interview with Owen Marcus, co-founder of MenCorps.org and blogger of Masculine Emotional Intelligence, we explored how being in a men’s group can help improve the relationship men have with their children.  Owen outlines the simplicity of how connecting, healing and playing with other men can help be a segue into understanding and entering into the playful, innocent life  of your child.

Owen explains: “Being in a mens group can help a man to be a better father is several ways.  First, it helps them to be a better man… you’re not going to be any better of a father than you are a man… specifically, a men’s group can help a man by helping him connect with his own (inner) child.”  

Owen touched on something that many men have trouble doing (including myself)- Entering into a deep connection with my child through play.  It hurts me to admit, and I know I am not alone, when I say that at times I actively resist when my child wants to engage me into his world.  “Dad’s busy right now”… “uh huh, that’s great sweetie”… “In a minute buddy”.  These are all responses I have given that have disengaged me from my child.

When I first joined a men’s group 7 months back I actively decided to really feel into this resistance.  What am I actually resisting when I am invited into the world of my sweet child and I refuse their love?  Did I forget how to play and live in the innocence of the moment?  Being with other men who had similar experiences allowed me to open up and move through the emotions, beliefs and experiences that had kept me from being fully present to my child.

To learn more about men’s groups, please visit Owen Marcus’ blog at www.owenmarcus.com or www.mencorps.org