Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Go For Weirdness

Today it is normal to:
-Have credit card debt.
-Live paycheck to paycheck.
-Be unfulfilled with your job.
-Be overweight.
-Keep up with the Jones.
-Read less than one book a year.

According to the book "The Millionaire Next Door" the average millionaire:
-Reads one book a month
-Shops at Walmart
-Never buys a new car
-Lives in a modest house
-Has a spouse with similar financial goals and is smart with money.

I read the following from Steven Pressfield's blog today: 
"Are you ambitious? If you’re reading this blog, you must be. Do you want to do something great? Do you feel a secret power inside you? Do you hate being ordinary and normal? Do you refuse to accept that?
I do. I hate that s!*^. I don’t believe anyone’s ordinary or normal anyway. An oak litters the earth with ten thousand acorns, and inside every one is the drive to grow to be as mighty as its daddy. Every lion cub, every fledging eagle carries in its DNA the will to be king of beasts and lord of the air. That’s nature’s law. Why should we humans expect to be different?" 

Well said Mr. Pressfield!  To read the full blog post click Here

Be weird, be ambitious, you have the ability.  I can accept that you may not want to be weird and ambitious.  But that you don't have the ability.  I don't buy that for a second.

I write this blog for others, and myself.  Today this post was more of a reminder for myself.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Who needs parents?

How much influence do parents really have on the lives of their children?  How big of a factor have your parents played in your life?

In our community education programs, we literally see all the different styles of parenting.  Through our Adult Basic Education (A.B.E.) program we see young adults who struggle in life because their parents never show them the value of determination, creativity, or hard work.  Instead, their parents show them how welfare works and how to blame others for their dire situation.   Its a vicious cycle that few are able to break. 

My father is one that broke that cycle.  The oldest of eight children, he and his siblings grew up in a humble three bedroom house under the rule of an alcoholic dad and a saint of a mother.  My grandmother did the best she could to provide sanity and love to her children.  Unfortunately love and sanity wasn't enough for all her children.  My grandmother's strength held the family together.  That strength, coupled with my father's desire for a better life, has provided me, my brothers, and my young children a different life. My father was able to break the chain of alcoholism, but the same can not be said for all his siblings.  Two years ago my dad's brother died, after many years of struggling with alcohol.  The choices Grandpa Warden made (grandpa also had an alcoholic father), in my mind, was the biggest factor in my uncle's death.  Today, the family does not talk much about my late grandfather.  Judging from the silence, that's probably a good thing.
On father's day this year, my mom told me I am at the age she was when she lost her father to cancer.  She recalled that her father was always there for her, supporting her.  No matter the circumstances, he was her rock.   My mother's childhood was much different than my fathers.  She looks back upon her youth and sees a hard working, supportive father with unconditional love.  Her face changes when she talks about her dad.  She misses him.  I look at my own daughter, and hope she remembers me, like my mom remembers grandpa Kaster.  That's motivation to be a better dad.   

Two fathers, two different families. 
Your impact on your children is huge. 
Of the men I admire:
John Wooden credits his success to his parents - (he mentioned his father often in his writings).
Colin Powell credits his success to his parents.
Seth Godin credits his success to his parents.
You get the point.  I could go on and on with a list of people who have done great things in their lives.  The one constant in the people above - they had parents who constantly supported them and told them they could accomplish their dreams.  Think about it...  if you always hear that you can accomplish your dreams, by the time you reach adulthood you'll believe it. 

If you struggle with how to raise your children right, the best advice I can give is to lead by example.  They already look up to you, undoubtedly they will follow in your footsteps.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Raising Children

Raise your hand if you love your kids!  Are you like me - where you know you'll always love your children, but sometimes, they drive you crazy?

This blog post is aimed at keeping you sane and allows me to share some of my fatherhood stories.

On Saturday nights in the summer, I moonlight and work as a bartender for weddings at the local golf course.  It's a great gig, providing many interesting tales to tell my wife the next day.  However, I generally don't get home until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.  2:00 a.m. isn't bad if you get to sleep in.  Unfortunately, in my situation I typically have one or two kids who love to jump (knees first) on me come 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning.  Which is funny because they never seem to jump on me when they have to go to school on weekdays - it's a conspiracy to ruin my sleep people!  My kids seem to know that I tend to give in when my bones are weak and tired.  "Yes Jake, you can cut your sister's hair."  Or,  "Yes Winona, you can use Pepsi instead of milk on your Frosted Flakes.  What's that, you want cotton candy for dessert?  Sure, why not?  You'll lose your baby teeth in a couple of years anyway".

Ok, maybe I don't give in that much when I'm tired.   On those Sundays when I'm worn out, and my wife is away working, I have to push myself to do my most important task in life.  Raising my children.  Yet sometimes, I still fail at fathering.  Because it is hard.

It's hard to keep your composure when at the grocery store and your child is having a meltdown
It's hard to make choices that benefit the family but not yourself.
It's hard to know if you're doing the right thing.
It's hard to sacrifice time with your career, personal interests, friends, and spouse.  
And the list goes on.

Many times you want to give up.  You must persevere.  Even when you have failed, try to correct your mistakes and keep going.  Yes, you long for a regular life - but that's not what you have chosen.  You can do this.  Don't give up.  Their future depends on it.

How do I persevere?
-I think about how much of a gift they are.  If taken away, there would be a hole in my heart that would never be healed.
-During tantrums and meltdowns
  • I recognize my elevated anger and frustration, then set those feelings aside.
  • Try to act as if my actions and my child aren't being judged by others.  
  • I realize that the meltdown is an attempt to manipulate me.  Giving into the meltdown means future tantrums.
-When my children cross a boundary I've set, I follow through with the consequence.  No exceptions.  I don't know for sure, but I bet this works for all ages.
-Time is flying fast.  I Try to slow down and savor it.  Empty nesters tell me only of the great family vacations they took, the quirkiness of their children when they were young, holiday stories, and how their kids grew up so quickly.
-When in a difficult stretch, I try to remember that it will pass.  Every winter has its spring.

My best advice:
If it hasn't happened already, someday your children will tell you that they hate you.  And it will hurt.  Don't for a second believe them.  A fourth grader in one of my after school programs is losing her father to cancer.  All she does is draw pictures of him.  She doesn't want to forget.  A kindergartner in the same program lost her mother to a car accident four months ago.  That kindergartner is so devastated that she hasn't spoken to anyone since the accident. 

Your children love you.

It makes dealing with the difficulties of parenthood worth it.