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How Do You Want to Be Remembered as a Dad?

Tony Dungy | September 22, 2022

We want to do our best in helping our kids become the best versions of themselves and live great lives.

How do you want to be remembered as a dad? As a former coach in the NFL, I’m often asked how I wanted to be remembered. But occasionally I’m asked how I want to be remembered by my kids. As dads, we want to do our best in helping our kids become the best versions of themselves and live great lives. We want them to remember the ways we sacrificed for them every day.

However, when I think about that question, here’s what I really want my kids to remember about me the most.

That I Followed the Lord

Since God created life, I believe He knows more about how to live than anyone. So I want my kids to remember that I when I tried to guide them in the right direction, I sought the Lord’s wisdom and will. I’ve tried to teach them how to stay focused on the Lord and how to follow Him.

How Special They Were to Me and How Much I Loved Them

I want them to know how important they were in my life. If in 20 years, my kids say that I loved them, that I taught them how to follow the Lord, and that I was there for them, I feel like I would have accomplished my goals as a dad.

Sound off: How do you want to be remembered by your kids? 

The post How Do You Want to Be Remembered as a Dad? appeared first on All Pro Dad.

Teaching Your Kids to Be Unifiers in a Divided World

David Lindner | September 22, 2022

I grew up in the heart of conservative USA. At 21, I moved to the Pacific Northwest, 20 miles from one of the most progressive cities in the country. It didn’t take me long to realize many people held very different political beliefs than I did. It wasn’t until I was immersed in a vastly different ideological context that I started thinking more deeply about my political beliefs—and more importantly, about how I portrayed them and interacted with those who believed differently. At first, I debated my beliefs. But then, I was fortunate enough to become friends with people on the “other side.” That changed me.

With recent major political decisions and the midterm elections right around the corner, it’s easy to see how divided our country has become. What’s scary is how much of that division has trickled down from parents to their kids. A drive through the parking lot at my kids’ school shows how entrenched many students are who my daughter and son are around every day. They hear chatter and see signs of partisanship. I’m sure you’ve seen it too. Without realizing it, we may be training our kids to be divisive. This means we may have to change our approach. Teaching your kids about unity is a great place to start. Here’s how.

If our kids think people who think differently are immoral, they probably got that belief from their parents.

Are you a divider or a unifier?

One thing I learned about myself was that I had inherited my political ideology from my dad, but I hadn’t thought very deeply about the issues for myself. I was more interested in proving my points than in the people I was debating. I was a divider.

Some people part ways with the political ideology of their parents, but a 2004 Gallup poll revealed that 71% of teens say their social and political ideology is the same as their parents’. If our kids think people who think differently are immoral, they probably got that belief from their parents.

The good news is, just as we can pass our divisiveness on to our kids, we can also pass down unity. Yes, it may require that we change how we talk and act. It might mean we have to stop watching so much news and listening to so many podcasts. But if it helps our kids grow up to be kinder humans, isn’t it worth it?

Talk about both sides of the issues that come up.

Can I be honest? I think I’m right about most issues. I believe that what I believe about any hot topic is the only correct point of view. And I want my kids to believe the same things.

It’s easy to only present your side of an argument, especially in your household. But one thing I try to do is honestly explain the point of view others hold on any issue. I do my best to present their argument without soiling it with my disagreements. Some topics are more difficult than others. But I’ve noticed that when I try to present both sides, it causes me to need to know more about why people disagree with my point of view—which usually makes me a lot more understanding. If I’m more understanding, my kids will be too.

Have a higher calling.

It’s easy to get caught up in fighting to win. Our brains love winning arguments. But have you ever won an argument and then regretted it? I have. Winning the argument harmed my relationship with that person.

Teaching your kids about unity has gotten lost. We have overly emphasized politics and underemphasized some virtues that have always been important to our country. Unity is one of them. The Latin phrase “E pluribus Unum” appears on most of our currency. Do you remember what it means? Out of the many, one. For me, living in harmony amid disagreement has become important. It’s a higher calling.

Another higher calling for me is human dignity. I believe everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, religion, or beliefs. That’s a higher calling. I won’t treat someone in a disrespectful way simply because they have a different ideology than I do. It’s hard to build unity when we elevate ourselves and belittle others because of their beliefs.

My kids are always watching how I interact with people. Not only do they notice how I treat people, but they notice when my treatment of people differs from what they see in other adults. What I hope they see in me is kindness contrasting the division they see all around them. I hope that’s what they pick up on and pass on to their kids. I hope the same for you too.

Sound Off: Do you think teaching your kids about unity is important? Why or why not? 

The post Teaching Your Kids to Be Unifiers in a Divided World appeared first on All Pro Dad.

5 Reasons to Teach Your Kids to Stand Their Ground

Scott Gulbransen | September 19, 2022

The phone call came like a bolt of lightning from a cloudless sky: My grade school son was in the principal’s office and my wife and I needed to go in immediately for a meeting. My heart sank and I wondered what my boy had done. “Your son put his hands on and shoved another student who fell,” the principal said. “But he was picking on my little brother,” my son said sincerely. “I told him to stop and then he grabbed him, so I pushed him away.”

At this point, I was ready to fight for my son’s right to stand his ground, even if it violated a school rule. As parents, we must teach kids to stand up for themselves and others. Not only was he defending his brother, but he was standing on principle. Sometimes, that’s not the popular thing to do. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, and kids succumb to peer or societal pressure. While teaching kids to stand up for themselves can be challenging, there are several reasons we need to do it. Here are 5 reasons to teach their kids to stand their ground.

1. Kids who stand their ground are honest.

Being honest isn’t always easy or popular, but teaching kids to stand up for themselves or others is at the core of living a good and virtuous life. Kids who stand their ground aren’t afraid to tell inconvenient truths no matter the situation. They learn quickly there is one truth and telling it doesn’t often have social or material benefits. But it builds character and keeps kids morally grounded.

2. Kids who stand their ground can face the consequences.

In today’s world, where our culture teaches a victim mentality, letting our kids experience the consequences of their actions puts them on a path to future success in school, work, and relationships. When our kids take responsibility, they learn to own the outcomes and the results of their actions instead of blaming others or denying reality. My son understood he’d be held accountable for laying his hands on another student, but he knew it was right to stand his ground, defend his brother, and end the bullying.

When our kids take responsibility, they learn to own the outcomes and the results of their actions.

3. Kids who stand their ground learn to be courageous.

Despite the looming punishment and scorn that accompanied being sent to the principal’s office, my son stood his ground. It took courage for him to do what he did—and we want our kids to be courageous. Throughout their lives, they’ll have reasons to assert themselves when it’s scary but necessary to do so. By teaching kids to stand their ground now, we equip them to have courage when the world around them might prefer that they cower.

4. Kids who stand their ground promote justice.

My son knew it wasn’t fair for someone to pick on his brother. In fact, we had a similar incident with him some months later when someone else was picking on a girl with special needs. Injustice happens every day, but kids who stand their ground are gaining skills to put a stop to it. By learning now to speak up when they see someone being treated unfairly, our kids are equipped for life to notice injustice and to do something about it.

5. Kids who stand their ground learn humility.

My daughter once came to the defense of a friend who had been accused of vandalism at her school. She spoke up for her, telling officials her friend could not have done it for a multitude of reasons. When it was revealed that her school friend indeed had committed the act, my daughter had to admit she had been wrong. She accepted that she had put too much faith in the belief that her friend couldn’t have committed the vandalism. She thought she could fix the situation by standing her ground and defending her friend but instead learned a truth about herself: Sometimes, her judgment is clouded. And she learned that even when you stand your ground, you must sometimes admit you’re wrong.

Sound off: What are some other ways teaching kids to stand up for themselves can be good for them?

The post 5 Reasons to Teach Your Kids to Stand Their Ground appeared first on All Pro Dad.

How Do You Motivate Yourself as a Dad?

Tony Dungy | September 19, 2022

As man, as a husband, and as a dad, I have a lot of things going on in my life. And I’m sure you do too. I have a job, a wife and a family, and I’ve often asked myself, “How do I spend enough time with my kids?” It’s a tough question. Finding motivation is the key to showing up day in and day out for your kids.

Here’s how I motivate myself as a dad.

Remembering My Dad

Whenever I need motivation as a father, I think about how my dad impacted my life. I wouldn’t be where I am without him. He sacrificed for us and it makes me want to sacrifice for my children. Twenty years from now, I want my kids to say the same thing about me. I want them to say, “He was really special. My dad was always around and involved. He helped me become the person I am.”

The times when we feel like going through the motions are the times we need to give our best.

When I Need Motivation

Whether I have some things going on outside the family or feel a little tired, those are the times when I know I need to make time for my kids and be helpful to them. In those moments, I think about my dad and what he would do. The times when we feel like going through the motions are the times we need to motivate ourselves to give our best.

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 5 Tips for Surviving the Storms of Life.

Sound off: Is finding motivation difficult? What motivates you?

The post How Do You Motivate Yourself as a Dad? appeared first on All Pro Dad.

The 5 Golden Rules of Criticizing Kids

All Pro Dad | September 19, 2022

A few years ago, my son had a baseball coach who’d never learned the art of criticizing kids—it was doubtful he’d ever even worked with kids. So, at times, he would overreact or criticize harshly. In one game, a batter hit a hard grounder to my son and my son bobbled the ball and overthrew first. “Bad baseball!” his coach yelled. “Bad baseball!” You could see my son physically wilt.

Child psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott says, “When a person is drowning, it is not a good time to teach him to swim … or to criticize his performance,” but as parents, we have to help correct our kids’ behavior and actions. So what’s the secret to criticizing kids the right way? Just follow these 5 rules.

When criticizing kids, first handle the matter at hand—calmly.

1. Give clear directions.

Picture this: Your son is goofing around and he knocks over a bottle of water that spills onto your laptop. You might be tempted to scream, “Look what you’ve done! Why didn’t you stop jumping around when I asked?” Instead, say, “OK, grab a towel; quickly, please.” When criticizing kids, first handle the matter at hand—calmly. Then address the issue. “Son, I had told you a few minutes earlier not to play around near my computer. This is why we do that kind of playing outside.”

2. Never attack the person.

Again, in the heat of the moment, or when we are extremely frustrated, we can feel the urge to sling labels at our children. “You’re so slow! Hurry! We’re going to be late!” Deal with the situation at hand and avoid personal attacks. If your child needs to speed up, give clear directions: “Grab your shoes and whatever books you need, please. I’ll be in the car.”

3. Stay in the present.

Don’t dredge up the past or predict the future. “How can I trust you to clean your room without my standing at your door and watching? You’ve never managed in the past. You know what’s going to happen to you? You’re going to be the messiest roommate in college and no one will want to live with you.” Of course, we can see the long-term ramifications if our kids don’t change, but putting that on them doesn’t help them learn better ways.

4. Problem solve.

Even if you are going to hand down consequences with the criticism, get your child involved in the problem-solving. I just left my child a note this morning that said, “We have a problem. I don’t like arguing about screen time. Please come up with your proposed solutions for avoiding this.” Later today, I will sit down with my son and tell him my expectations and the associated consequences for his not following through as I expect. But I will also bring him in on the problem-solving and listen to his ideas.

5. Avoid sarcasm or ridicule.

Dr. Ginott says, “There is no place for biting comments in conversations between parents and children. Sarcasm evokes hatred and provokes counter-attacks.” Our goal should be to set an example of how to communicate with our children while maintaining control over our tempers and our words. We can be firm and kind. Eventually, my son’s coach learned how to criticize his players respectfully. My son flourished and the team flourished. That’s the result careful criticism can achieve.

Sound off: How do you criticize kids with kindness?

The post The 5 Golden Rules of Criticizing Kids appeared first on All Pro Dad.

3 Ways to Validate Your Child’s Feelings

Frank Brennan | September 19, 2022

My daughter was frustrated at messing up the chords I was teaching her. She threw her guitar to the floor. “I can’t do it!” she said. I immediately went into my spiel about how I learned guitar on my own when I broke my leg as a kid, and if I could do that, she could learn a couple of chords. That upset her more because I was comparing her to me. It wasn’t until I told her it’s OK to be frustrated that she settled down. I told her I expected her to get it wrong at first because that is how she will learn to play. She took a deep breath after that and picked her guitar back up. 

Our kids have big feelings but don’t always know what big feelings mean. They will look to others to interpret those feelings if we don’t step in and validate them first. Here’s how to validate your child’s feelings. 

1. Communicate at your child’s level.

Use simple language when talking to your kids about their feelings. Start by labeling what they’re feeling: “I understand you’re angry.” “You seem upset.” “You sound frustrated.” If you get the label wrong, the good thing is they’ll correct you. “I’m not angry, just sad.” Tell your kid it’s OK to be sad. And then help figure out why he or she is unhappy.

Stay at your kids’ level of understanding. You may have to be super simple for your younger children and more rational with your teens. “Dude, that’s the worst.” That may all be all you need to say to validate your teen’s disappointment after a fight with a friend. Your young daughter may need a story to help her understand what she feels. But all kids need their feelings validated because it makes them feel seen and heard. Communicating at their level tells them you understand. 

2. Empathize with him or her.

If they are suffering, suffer with them. If they are rejoicing, rejoice with them. Whatever the scenario, enter into their emotions so they understand it’s OK to feel that way. If your son wins the big game, celebrate with him. I’ll never forget when I won a free throw contest at my school and nobody in my house cared. I brought home a trophy, but no one matched my excitement. It felt like I had lost. Don’t do that to your kids. By becoming attuned to your kids’ emotions, you show them their feelings are valid and that you genuinely care. 

We can’t validate our kids’ feelings if we aren’t truly listening to them.

3. Avoid distractions. 

I saw distractions as a serious problem during a game that involved my daughter pretending to be me. She picked up an imaginary phone, pretending to scroll through it, saying, “Oh look, I’m Daddy, and I have to always look at my very important emails.” That hurt. My excessive phone usage communicated to her that I wasn’t available. Distractions damage communication, and we risk being emotionally unavailable when our children need us. Put away your phone, don’t look at your watch, and ask good questions to stay engaged. We can’t validate our kids’ feelings if we aren’t truly listening to them.

Sound off: What other ways can you validate your child’s feelings?

The post 3 Ways to Validate Your Child’s Feelings appeared first on All Pro Dad.