Posts tagged ‘Parenting’

April 4, 2014

How to Balance Technology in the Home

Contributed by Eva Fleming

kids and technologyEach generation of parents has their own unique challenges and ours is clearly the excess of technology our children are being bombarded with. The problem is so new that the wisdom of the past generation has little to add when this highly addictive behavior is exhibited in their presence. What can we do with this monster that swallows our children’s time, creativity and energy? Instead of falling into despair or admitting defeat, let’s try to find solutions to improve our possibilities of raising healthy children that live in this reality without having to rely on cyber space to find happiness or peace.

To curve our children’s insatiable appetite for technology consumption the first thing we should do is clarify our purpose for their future. What type of people do we want our children to be as adults? My desire is that my children learn how to live a balanced life. I would like them to actively seek to develop all aspects of life: that they would have friends, that their bodies would be well taken cared of, that they would be outstanding students, that they would develop love and empathy for those around them. But a child that doesn’t know his or her world because he/she lives in an alternate reality, cannot achieve these goals. If this your problem, I suggest you become more involved in your children’s daily activities.

It’s important in our technologically driven society that children get opportunities for exercise. This can be achieved through organized sports, spontaneous play between siblings, or activities deliberately planned by a parent. A child’s body needs physical movement, no matter what season of the year it is. In my house I keep a BOSU ball so the children can jump while they watch TV. This ball comes in especially handy those days we can’t get to the park due to bad weather or difficulty in the day’s schedule. During those days, you can also help a child exercise by making them a list of items they can bring from one side of the house to the other. You can say, for example, run and get your laundry basket and bring it to the laundry room in less than two minutes.

In addition to physical activity, children should spend time doing school work and chores. During homework time, don’t allow your children to get distracted with TV or radio. Of course this is easier to achieve if they are younger in age because once they are teens, their habits have been formed and they are difficult to challenge. But while they are still young and you have control of their electronic devices, you can easily put them away during homework time. During the long summer months, or any other special vacation days when they don’t have homework, insist that they spend time reading or practicing an instrument so they don’t neglect the habit of feeding their mind. Chores should have the same importance. There’s a variety of things children can do to help them in their growth, like setting the table, picking up clothes from the floor, putting toys away, helping with gardening, etc.  I give my seven-year old a couple dollars every time he fills up a bag of weeds during the summer months. So I’m not only introducing him to gardening but also I’m teaching him the connection between work and money.

After children have gotten exercise and you know their homework and chores have been completed, then you can allow them to use their electronic devices using your judgment.

Don’t forget to include social activities in your children’s week.  Social activities can be limited to a family dinner where everyone has the opportunity to interact, table games like Monopoly, building LEGOS or playing dolls with friends, as long as the games are supervised. Social interaction is important to teach social-emotional skills. They create an emotional connection that bring personal satisfaction.

In regards to electronic games it is important that you don’t buy your children all the video games they want. You can, for example, buy them an electronic game in the summer, one during spring break, and maybe one during winter break. Limiting them to three games per year will ensure that once they have finished the cycle of each game, they are left with free time to develop other interest. The logic is to do everything with moderation; since excess is never healthy.

As parents, we should always keep in mind that we are raising adults. What kind of adults would we be raising if we allow our children to live only in a cyber world? Begin to train your children in the way they should go so when they are old they don’t depart from it. Begin to take control of the technology your children consume so they don’t become slaves of it. Think that one day they will be somebody’s husbands and wives and that a balanced life is the best gift that you can give his or her future family.

March 31, 2014

Listen With Your Heart

Contributed by Omaira Gonzalez

listen-with-your-heartI remember a time when my daughter and I were getting ready to attend a women’s conference. She had been asked to perform a dance that day. As we were getting ready, I spent moments earlier holding her in my arms consoling her from a heartbreak she had experienced, drying her tears. I didn’t know what to say that would make things better or make the pain feel any less. I remember mumbling words hoping something I would say would stick or would work like Tylenol and ease some of the pain. It felt like a hopeless attempt every time. We arrived at the conference and she put on her strongest face, smiling though you could still see pain piercing through her eyes. I smiled and chatted away, trying to distract everybody from the obvious question everyone wanted to ask. The moment finally came when my daughter had to perform… but how do you do it? How do you give it your all when you are hurting, your mind is foggy and you feel like a part of you is crushed? She stood there and with all of what was left, she gave it her all. It was one of her most memorable and best performances ever. She took the pain inside and used it to fuel her to dance while tears rolled down her face.

This experience brought me to an important realization… When your kids have a  cold, you give them cold medicine; if they struggle with school, you help them with more tutoring; if they fall, you place a band-aid on them. However, what do you do when your child has had a traumatic experience in his or her life? How do you help? No band-aid can fix it, no tutoring or cold medicines can give pain relief. You may even feel a bit frustrated because you don’t have the skills, insight or resources to deal with it at the moment.

Today teens are dealing with more than a heart break. They are dealing with suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, sexual identity, divorce, loss of a friend or loved one, and substance abuse, just to name a few. How we respond to this is as important as knowing when to get professional help when necessary. As a parent, our influence is very important. We need to be prepared to talk to them and walk them through their crisis with wisdom, compassion and the tools to help them heal. A friend once shared with me this advice: “Listen with your heart.” That was one of the best advice she could’ve given me when dealing with my teens and some of the crises I came across. I was so used to always using my head in dealing with their issues that many times I left out the most important part – my heart! I forgot that when you listen with your heart then you begin to connect with them emotionally, instead of trying to figure out the problem and search for quick solutions. I realized that once I started listening with my heart, I had better results. We connected better, because I understood them more and started to see where they were coming from and what they really needed.

Hopeless times may come when your teens face some of the most difficult moments in their lives. Remember that wisdom, compassion and most important— to “listen with your heart”—will help you get through those hard times.

January 7, 2014

Stuck inside? Don’t lose your parenting sanity…

Contributed by Dr. Alicia La hoz

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If you have children, your patience may be tested as you enter into a second day of school closings due to the weather – not to mention having them for the holiday break.  And even if you super bundle-up your kids, it’s even too cold to take them out so they can burn off some of their energy.  Just like the enchantment of the Christmas toys have begun to loose their entertainment value, your children’s sporadic cute phrases and adorable smiles are not helping to taper off your frustration with their tantrums, boredom, and demands for you to entertain them. Besides popping in videos or letting them spend  endless hours on electronics, here are some additional ideas to entertain your kids and to keep your sanity:

  • Make edible art.  Take out your crackers, cream cheese, peanuts, carrots, jam, jellies, peanuts, etc. and let them decorate crackers making shapes, faces to their hearts desire. Then everyone can eat his or her work of art.
  • Take out the board games. Board games can be a fun way to pass a couple hours while also helping to teach your children some helpful skills: to think on their feet, to think strategically, to learn to lose.
  • Work on a challenging puzzle.Puzzles are great for the brain and they also provide endless hours of quiet entertainment. The human mind has two separate hemispheres or lobes –  right and left-brain – with each one dealing in different functions. Right brain deals with emotions and performs tasks holistically while the left-brain functions in linear fashion. When you are able to use both the sides of the brain, you will find that as you try to put together a jigsaw puzzle, you harness both the brain powers.
  • Listen to an audiobook.  Having a book read to you is a great pleasure and helps your children with comprehension, listening and your non-readers may even begin to appreciate books.  There are great audiobooks (many you can rent for free via your public library) that the whole family can enjoy.
  • Dance. Turn on the radio and blast on some fun music and have your kids go at it. Make sure to join them.
  • Work on an album.  For older kids or adolescents, have them help you put together an album of the holidays, birthday or season. You can even do this electronically in websites like shutterfly.com.
  • Happy Crappy App.  Download our Happy Crappy app and work on the activities suggested with your kids.  Download gloo here and check out Happy Crappy.

 Additional Parenting tips:

  • For younger children, keep a room clear of toys and have them bring one toy or activity at a time, as this helps them to focus and will play longer with their toy.
  • Help your get started on an activity child for a couple of minutes. This will help them become interested in it and they will be less demanding of you throughout the day.
  • Instead of just saying “No” to things, try to get in the habit of redirecting them to what you want them to do or how to act.

What other ways or things are you doing to survive being cooped with your children?

June 4, 2013

Sibling Rivalry

Contributed by Eva Fleming  |  2013

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The Olsen twins are the most famous siblings I know. When I see them I make two observations: They like high-end fashion and complement one another like fudge on ice cream. I don’t know if this is the reality behind the camera but it is the impression that I and most outsiders get. However, not all siblings share the same genetic origin, and unfortunately for mom and dad, not all siblings have synchronized needs and wants.

After a day of school, the children under my roof are never in agreement. Fighting constantly out of jealousy and competition, they require the services of a referee to help them resolve their conflicts. As summer arrives, I will be among the many parents bracing themselves for the 24/7 squabbling and bickering that children engage in to fill their newfound free time.

There are many different opinions about what to do with sibling rivalry. The opinion that tickles me the most is the ‘don’t get involved unless there’s physical harm’ theory. I think NOT! My suggestion is exactly the opposite: Get involved! Children don’t know anything about relationships and have no idea how to compromise, communicate, negotiate, and consolidate.

The best way to approach sibling conflict is to get involved in the lives of your kids. Being present helps eliminate a sense of competition if your kids are in fact vying for YOUR attention. Your presence helps model peaceful behavior, gives your kids the parental attention they crave, and fulfills you as a parent because you know you’ve done your job. If you are busy when a conflict arises and can’t play referee at that very moment, keep one of the children next to you. I tell my 6-year old when he comes to recount an offense and I can’t deal with it at the moment: “Stay with mommy, she would never be mean to you.” He stays with me for 20 seconds before deciding that what I am doing is too boring for him, and goes back to play with his brother with the mindset that if they don’t get along he will be forced to sit with a loving but boring mommy all day. Somehow learning to get along gets exciting for him fast.

Here are two things you should never do when your children quibble:

  • Assign blame! It takes two to tango.
  • Remove your love and attention from your children.

Sibling rivalry is an element of life. Learn to deal with it rather than dread it.  Just remember to engage with your kids, play and spend as much time with them as your schedule allows. You don’t play children’s games? You don’t have time for all that nonsense? Well, in the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.” So go ahead, bring out your inner parent and love your children through their sibling rivalry.

March 6, 2013

Truth is…Raising Kids today is a Challenge

FamBrid_0251That’s the plain truth according to parents from the Chicagoland area. Whether raising an infant, toddler, preteen, or teenager, the role of a parent or caretaker has become a much more complicated task. Dealing with issues like tantrums, long working hours, technology-absorbed children and adults, teens that think they know it all, and the increasing loss of values, many times parents find themselves wanting to escape from the task at hand. But even then, most parents are willing to face the challenge of raising their children, with everything that comes with it.  No matter what, the love for their children makes parents want to take on this Love Challenge!

We went out and asked real parents and caretakers two questions: What is the biggest challenge of being a parent? And, What is the best part of it?

This is what they had to say, and I’m sure we’ll all be able to relate to at least one of them.

Many parents can feel overwhelmed by what they see as their responsibility to their community. Take for instance Juana who says: “Being a parent is a challenging task. We have to raise kids which are going to be a part of our society in a positive way.”  Maria also expressed: “If only they came with a manual. Our job (as parents) is not just sending them to school and feeding them, our role as parents goes way beyond that.”

Others tackle the daily learning experience of the “new parent” and the effect it can have in the marriage relationship. Luz shared: “It’s not easy. (It’s) fun but stressful, joyful, and each day brings a new challenge that sometimes goes beyond just the kids, but also into our marriage. This is the hardest career one can have because of the many surprises that will come with it.” She encourages parents, “Do the best you can to enjoy your children and show them your love.”

Others deal with matters of the mind and heart of independent and outspoken teenagers. Juan says: “One of my biggest challenges is being (very) patient, especially when they think they know everything.  It’s hard!  But at the same time it’s beautiful because God gave us the privilege of being parents to our kids and to guide them the best way possible.”  While many, and I mean many, deal with the “busy lifestyle” and the fact that technology has come to reshape the way we live and interact with each other.  Catalina said this about her biggest challenge: “Playing catch-up with our own children due to our busy lives. As well as making sure to engage with the kids in this technological world! No iPad, iPod, cell, text, Netflix, Wii, leapfrog or anything else!”  Ana shares a similar view: “It’s very difficult with a 15 yr old and a 12 year old and today’s technology. I wonder what awaits me with my youngest kids who are 4 and 1 yrs old.”

Elizabeth brought up another important view: “(Raising kids) is a blessing. There are so many kids being raised by grandparents, relatives or society and not by parents.”

Benny shared a challenge that many face, “The most challenging for me as a single mom in this economy, is the amount of time I spend away from my boy working everyday crazy hours to bring enough (money) home to pay the rent and cover the bills. But the best is when at the end of the day I get hugs, kisses and ‘I love you’ from my precious angel.”

Another challenge parents expressed was when it comes to beliefs and values. This is what Esmeralda had to say: “Being able to adapt your morals to today’s changing world/society; being able to raise your children to be open-minded and respectful of others while teaching them to be firm in their beliefs and have some kind of spirituality in this many times Godless world. The best part is, knowing you are raising adults with empathy, who will be productive, happy members of society. That’s my goal at least.”

Karina mentioned another challenge: “Setting a good example.” Susana supported that statement saying: “It’s impressive how they learn from our own actions. Parents, let’s set a good example because they’re watching us.”

Juan shared something that seemed to resonate with most parents: “We weren’t born knowing how to be parents, but that was the challenge we accepted when we decided to become parents. It’s a wonderful blessing.” Rayo summed it up to: “It’s difficult, crazy! But I wouldn’t change it.”

In conclusion, being a parent is definitely an every day challenge.  It’s not an easy task, and there is no such thing as the perfect parent.  But we can all learn and strive to be better parents! There are no manuals, but there are tools available to us. So take on the challenge and invest in who matters most.

If you’re up to the challenge, we invite you to participate in our Love Challenge Family Conference on Saturday April 27 from 9am to 3pm, at Carpentersville Middle School in Carpentersville, IL.  Enjoy a day of fun and learning with engaging speakers, dynamic workshops, games, food, and much more! There are separate activities for teens, children, single adults, parents, and couples.  Admission is FREE, with tickets you can get by registering at www.familybridgeschicago.org or 877-412.7434. The conference is delivered in both English and Spanish.

Enrich the relationship with your spouse, family, and community.  At the end of the day, it’s what really matters!

October 15, 2012

How much activity is enough?

Contributed by Eva Fleming

How much activity is enough? Some of us carry our daily activities to a controversial and even harmful level. We are so busy trying to achieve our goals that our disquieted spirits take us from one activity to the next without time for tranquility, intimacy and reflection. We don’t pause to listen – I mean really listen to the people around us. Our children scream: “That’s not fair!” and our answer is prompt: “Well, you know life is not fair, get over it!” We quickly dismiss their concerns because we don’t have time to stop and acknowledge their frustrations.

If you are that person, would you stop today and think about ways you can dedicate yourself to the realities of life that are not cultivated through tasks, work and/or projects?  I have a prescription for you: Take the day off and sit on the couch with a blanket to read books and discuss life with your children; play board games and go for a long walk by the lake holding hands with your loved one. Quiet your spirit, recognize that life is passing you by and smell the proverbial roses.

But there’s another side equally harmful, the person who is extremely inactive. Do you realize no benefits exist without change and effort?  When you allow life to go by while you sit in the sidelines watching television and reading novels, while your children gorge in front of the television and video games, you are feeding yourself and them a big dose of poor self-image. To you, my challenge is: embrace a project that requires your effort and sacrifice; teach your children a skill or encourage them to have a hobby, go for a bike ride with them, take up carpentry, get in the kitchen and together prepare meals for the family or the needy.

You see, both excessive activism and disproportionate idleness are harmful for your growth and the well being of your family. It’s important to find a balance. You must set some boundaries on your activity levels or you will be handing out baggage to the next generation. The key to making good decisions regarding your activities is clear boundaries. Boundaries can only be set when you recognize the need for self control. Stop, check yourself, adjust, and go. Do this a thousand times a day until it becomes second nature. Don’t let your activities or lack thereof rob your children of the most important gift they can ever get, YOU.

May 16, 2011

Raising Confident Children

Contributed by Brittany Mershon, MA

One of the questions I am frequently asked as a therapist is, “How can I help my child to be more confident?”  Confidence is a multifaceted concept to address. First, confidence is not a feeling, it’s a commitment. Confidence is not the absence of fear, but rather a commitment to seeing a decision through in spite of fear. Raising confident children can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Here is a list of tips to help you through the process:

  1. Model Confidence. Children mimic behavior they observe from those around them, especially their parents. Parents who show confidence, even in the face of fear, will help their children learn to do the same.
  2. Embrace Failures. It sounds counter-intuitive, but children who fear failure are more likely to fail. Children and adults alike who are successful learn to overcome failure early in life. They learn that fearing failure causes one to act more cautiously and fear taking risks that might cause unsuccessful results. Celebrating their best effort and modeling mistakes can be learning experiences that will help confidence to grow.
  3. Embrace Success. Fear of success is a common fear that can cause children to focus on the negative aspects of doing well. Success could mean more responsibility or increased expectations. It is important to share with children the benefits of success.
  4. Embrace Change. Many children are creatures of habit. Much like many adults, the threat of change can be intimidating. Even if the ‘change’ is positive, children often fear the unknown. Seek to understand what it is that is ultimately holding your child back from embracing change, and then work to help them overcome or work around it.
May 11, 2010

A myth of moms who “have it all”

Contributed by Nadia Persun, PhD

Two weeks ago I received a call from a local newspaper. After a brief introduction, the reporter named Jane said, “I am thinking about writing a story about professional working women who are good at multi-tasking their family and work lives.” Cheerful and enthusiastic, perhaps in her twenties, Jane added, “You see, I want to talk to someone who has it all: family and career, and write something motivational for young women desiring both of these things. Are you willing to share your secret with other women?” Jane explained that she has heard me presenting at a local speaking engagement on issues of marriage and parenting, while also learning that I am a psychologist working full time and raising two preschoolers.

As I was listening to her enthusiastic introduction sprinkled with compliments of my ability to multitask, I was looking out of my office window through the fuzzy fog of my outgrown bangs that began covering my eyes and looked more unkempt than casual trendy. “Gee, I must get a haircut,” the thought ran through my mind. I began thinking that it will take a few days to make the appointment and another two to three weeks to get there. My distraction was ended abruptly by hearing Jane ask to meet for an interview to get my “expert” opinion on how women “can have it all.” I promised to call her back next day to give an answer.

I’ve noticed that while I was talking, I’ve received several new voicemails and emails. I began sorting out these new “arrivals” immediately, because in ten minutes I had to see a patient. Then, I have to immediately leave the office to make it on time to pick up my children from childcare. No matter how hard I try to be there early, they seem to be always the last ones to get picked up.

I’ve decided to think about the interview later. First, I finish my work day, pick up my kids, and drive back home in a rush hour, persevering my hour commute on an always congested road animated by a never ending fight between two toddlers who refuse to get along and express their frustration by screaming and banging their little feet against my driver seat. I come home, change their clothes and wash their busy little hands, cook and serve them food, and mediate a couple of loud disagreements before they refuge to bed for the night. This typical evening routine of mine occasionally gets diversified by such additions, as stopping for groceries, home supplies, or diapers. Or cooking an “adult” meal when my husband and I are sick of eating frozen food and children’s leftovers. Or doing a few loads of laundry and other things of this nature.

So, I will think about my secret of “having and managing it all” at about 10 p.m., when it’s finally “my time”: read other than kids’ books, watch other than children’s TV programming, and talk to my husband uninterrupted. When in bed that evening, my thoughts returned to meeting with Jane and answering her questions. What would I say about being a full time working mom? I could give some “smart” answers or I could simply admit that it is far from perfect. Being a mom is much harder than I could ever imagine. It is a lot about living in a survival mode, working hard, trying your best and making lots of mistakes along the way.

“Wow,” I thought to myself, “It is not a very inspirational beginning of a motivational story for other women about “having it all.” Jane, my imagined girl in her early twenties with neatly manicured bright pink nails, well styled hair, wearing a tasteful “Banana Republic” outfit, might get scared by my narrative. She might decide not to breed at all and advice others against it. I imagined Jane’s face expression change from the curiosity and anticipation of an exciting story with good advice into expression of pity. My story, saturated with sense of stress and chronic fatigue, is far from inspirational. I don’t know much about “having it all” but have learned some basics of coping with many demands and stressors of a very busy and never ending day of a working mom. A job that is very demanding, far from glamorous, and the one in which, I believe, no one gets qualified as an expert.

I called Jane next morning declining the interview. “Due to my busy schedule,” I tell her. “Due to my relative ignorance in the subject matter,” I say to myself. I know now that I certainly don’t know much about “having it all.” I feel a sense of achievement and pride building a carrier that I truly enjoy and having a family that I love.  It gives me countless emotional rewards. But synchronizing these things is hard. Most of my exercise these days comes from biting my nails and distressing strategy from biting on a bar of chocolate. I have attained many things and circumstances that I’ve dreamed about in my teen and early twenties but they did not come with a dreamlike feeling I had once.

I am familiar, however, with moments when I feel like I “have it all.” These are spontaneous, transient times filled with sense of joy, happiness, pride, or just with some calm and peace. It’s when I am watching my boys give each other hugs or laugh uncontrollably. When I am surprised by new things that they’ve learned. Or when I stop for a moment to admire my husband’s ability to apply a firm yet gentle touch of discipline to help when I lose my cool. I get stunned every time when I notice a new growth spurt: my little boys getting taller, leaner, losing their baby features, and turning into little men.  I like also watching their little heads from the back, as they walk in front of me when we are out for a walk, with a little clouds of golden spiky hair and walk together holding hands. These are the moments when I feel like have it all, no quotation marks.

Being a mom is experience that can only be felt and lived, not described or imagined. My admiration and prayers go this mother’s day to all moms out there, who perhaps like me, not the experts, but are good enough handling their busy and imperfect lives. They get up every day like brave soldiers to face and handle never ending business of their days, aimed to give their best to their families. The wonderful, brave, busy women who desperately try to “have it all,” and fail sometimes, and try again. I wish them to better learn to accept “good enough” and be kind to themselves. Happy Mother’s Day and bless the path of all moms continuing to persevere in figuring out how “to balance it all” and give their best to the people they love most.

April 14, 2010

All About Dad

Children and adolescents are the ones who bare the brunt of unhealthy marital relationships. Fathers, in particular, who are in supportive relationships tend to be more sensitive and attentive and less hostile and negative with their children. (Click here to see Responsible Father Spotlike Facts).

While at one time or another you may parent an adolescent who slams the door at you and screams with passion “I hate you” when you enforce a rule or deny them a privilige, if this is not a one-time occurrance but a sentiment that is felt on a continual basis, it may be worthwhile to explore how the father-mother relationship is faring. If you feel isolated from your children and can’t seem to connect with them, don’t just assume that it’s an adolescent hormonal stage, evaluate your marital relationship. Children and adolescents have an uncanny ability to pick up on parents’ distress and may resort to assuming passive aggressive attitudes and acting out behaviors that can test your patience and all of your established boundaries. They feel the tension in the home and this spills over to their school work, social relationships and coping skills. 

It’s interesting from the statistics noted that it’s not only adolescents and children that may feel like responding in a rebellious way, but fathers as well. When fathers do not feel connected with their partners, the tendency is for them to pull away from their children. So now you have fathers who alienate themselves from their children and children who respond aggressively and in negative ways.  Why do you think that fathers do this? That when their marital relationships suffer – commonly they also pull away from their children’s lives? Why is that even though, children are not at fault, they are the ones that pay the penalty for unhealthy marital relationships? Whatever the reasons, what we do know is that fathers who have healthy relationships are more responsive to their children. This is a HUGE reason for why we need to invest in healthy relationships – ultimately we are investing in the lives of our children.

February 23, 2010

And the beat goes on…

Contributed by: Andrew Lyke, Arusi Network

I’ve been a father for almost 28 years. Entering into fatherhood was perhaps the most stabilizing event in my adulthood. Prior to becoming a father I was married to someone I adored and enjoyed being with. But there remained in me a nagging sense that there is something more out there for me. The prospects for me remaining married were good for the short run. Yet, “forever” seemed too much for me to grasp. I could promise Terri tomorrow, next week and maybe next year. But I really couldn’t promise forever.

After about five years our daughter entered our life and changed just about everything. It’s not an outlandish notion that we raise our children into adulthood. However, the truth is that our children raise us into adulthood. I wasn’t grown – not really – until I became a father. After cutting the umbilical cord I took her in my arms and bathed her. She then opened her eyes for the first time and seemed to look deeply into my soul. And my whole life at that moment became anchored. It was the most stabilizing moment of my life – a moment that resolved in me so much of what I would do and what I would not do in my life. It was in that moment that I became. It was a defining moment that shaped and directed me. From that moment I knew who I wanted to be and with whom I would live my life. All lingering doubts about Terri and me receded, if not vanished. For I knew that the greatest gift I will ever give my daughter is to love her mother and anchor our family with a healthy marriage.

Now in the empty nest stage of family life, we are bracing ourselves for grandparenthood. Our son and his wife will give birth to a baby girl in early March. I marvel at my son’s enthusiasm and revel in his precipitous maturation as a husband and soon-to-be father. Like it did for me, fatherhood is raising him into adulthood. Perhaps the baby girl he will hold in his arms in a few weeks will give him the anchoring that fatherhood gave me. And the beat goes on.

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