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Are Father’s Important? Seems Obvious

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are father's important
If you have to ask

Are father’s important?

Are father’s important? It was once said to me “If you don’t want to be with me then I am going to make sure you never see your daughter again, she only needs me,  she won’t die without a father”

The above statement is wrong on so many levels it is almost impossible to fathom that the words could come out of any parents mouth. Common sense and morality tell all decent people that no matter how you feel about your ex, children should never be thrust into the middle of it. Obviously, this is a practice that is often ignored with very damaging results to children.

Do you really have to ask?

The obvious answer to the question, are fathers important, is a very simple yes. In an ideal world every child would have two loving parents whether they are together or separated, unfortunately, the world is not ideal and utopia doesn’t always exist.  It might be factual that a child will not die without their father, however, the intent of that quote is one of the most ignorant comments and or beliefs I have ever heard.  There really is no need to go into the statistics of divorce or the effects it has on children because first I don’t buy into the notion of single parent homes leading to a troubled youth and second this article is about my personal experience being a father and growing up without one, not an educational piece.

What if the parent really is bad?

As I have mentioned in previous posts I was raised by an amazing single mother who did everything to provide for us and raise us to be good moral adults.  My father was not in the picture for what amounts to the great majority of my life.  Without getting into details he was a very bad man, a fact that was never told to me by my mother, as should be the case I was allowed to come to this conclusion on my own. It did not take me long to determine this, kids are much more perceptive than adults like to give them credit for.  My mother did not talk bad about him to me, keep him from me or use me a weapon against him.

Should I be grateful?

I do not harbor any anger towards my birth father, in fact, I almost feel the need to thank him for staying out of my life. I truly believe I am a better person and father because I was raised by a single mother but this does not mean I think its ideal for all children. In my situation, my father was abusive both physically and verbally to my mother and that can be much more damaging for a child to grow up witnessing then can be caused by not having a father.

I was fortunate to grow up around other “father figures”, it takes a village and I was lucky to be a part of an amazing village that forever changed my life and helped turn be the great father I am today. I learned three very important traits needed to be a good father:

SACRIFICE:

John Coyte. Everyone who knows me is aware of the profound effect the life of this man had on me. (R.I.P.) Now that I am older I realize he was only a child himself. He literally sacrificed so much to help my mother and give me a positive role model. He sacrificed college, time and in my opinion ultimately his life. All to show me what a man should be. A future article will be created with the complete story of John. It will include movement in his honor  but for now, we focus on what I learned about parenting from him.

What is sacrafice?

I learned that if you are a good person being a “father figure”  will come naturally. No one is perfect but you don’t have to be perfect to be a good parent. You just have to be filled with love.  Sacrifice is huge as a parent,  especially a single one. You most likely have to give up a lot of your free time, social time, hobbies and you pretty much never get to be a priority again. To any good parent this is not seen as a sacrifice but as an honor. However, to choose to do all this for a child that is not yours through blood or marriage takes an absolutely amazing human being. Especially when you are still so young yourself.

Discipline/Structure:

Roger Thomas – oh Roger the jokes we use to make about you and your rules. I still can’t cut across a person’s lawn without being in fear ..LOL.

Roger had a rule for everything and there was no breaking them! My mother was definitely was no slouch in this department. As previously stated she did work two jobs and couldn’t always be there so Roger stepped in to help. When I did something wrong he treated me no different than his sons expressing his anger and disappointment in me. Roger was a typical man’s man as they say. A mechanic, provider, disciplinarian he loved his action movies and wrestling not exactly one to share his feelings if you understand what I mean.

Structure is love

I realized as I grew older that he took great pride in being a father and filling his role. I realized that providing structure and discipline was his way of showing his love for me.  Structure is the most important gift you can give a child. It something that stays with you for your entire life and into fatherhood. All kids are made to feel safe because of structure we just don’t acknowledge it until we are older.

There was always rewards for the good behavior. Ranging from movies to vacations or just simple fun things kids love to do. I never got the chance to express to Roger how much he meant to me. To tell him the profound effect he had on me as a child and as an adult. It will always hurt me a little to know he didn’t get to meet my daughter. He didn’t get to see the great father I have become. My daughter will grow up knowing about him through my many stories and lessons. I pass on to her the bits of wisdom I learned.  R.I.P. Roger and thank you for everything.

COMPASSION:

Jim Snyder – Words can not describe the enormous effect  had on an entire community literally generation after generation. His name is synonymous with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization in the capitol district of New York. He was an amazing dad, role model, and community leader.  It would take all day to list every person whose life is better because they met Jim. He is a father and friend to everyone who has ever crossed his path. He literally shaped generations of men and women who went on to in turn effect communities all around the country. Whether it be as parents, athletes, political figures, teachers, medical workers the list goes on and on.

Without a doubt I never met a man whith more compassion and understanding for life than Jim Snyder. Intelligent, funny, understanding, and genuine are exact traits I take pride in as a father. A lot of that  is a direct result of Jim’s influence.

So grateful

I was always treated as family and included in all family activities when it came to the Snyder family. That will always mean so much to me and although I think I was taken in a little more then most because of my friendship with his son, there are thousands of people out there who will attest to everything I am saying.  My daughter got to meet Jim a couple of years ago when I was visiting NY. However brief it was I was very proud of that moment. I was proud Jim got to see that his words were not lost on me and that I took in everything he said and am now passing it on to my daughter.

Happy Kiara got to meet him

Kiara was too young to understand the effect the man she met that day had on not only me but her life a well but one day when she is older it will become evident and the cycle of influence Jim has had on the world will continue with her.  Because of Jim, I am a better person because of Jim the world is a better place. Thank you, Jim from the bottom of my heart.  R.I.P.

 

 

Leave your children out of the fight

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children
keep kids out of it !

Putting our children in the middle of fights is abuse

One thing I am eternally grateful for is the fact that my mother never once spoke badly of my  “father” or as I like to refer to him my sperm donor in front of me. No matter how psychotic he was she Left it up to me to form my own opinion of him. I was never used as a weapon in their split and I never heard anything negative about him. For the couple years that we actually had contact with him, she dropped us off with no incident. It is very clear to me now that it must have taken incredible will power to avoid such temptation and mask such deep feelings for the benefit of her children.

The realization

As I grew into adulthood it was very clear to me the level of low life he was. I have no anger as he simply does not deserve even that, however, I also have no doubts of my feelings towards him because I was the one who determined what he is. Most parents give into the temptation to speak negatively about the other parent in order to gain what they think is the upper hand in a divorce and an in hope of being the favorite. Putting down your child’s other parent may seem harmless but you are fooling yourself and quite frankly damaging your child because at some point your child will grow up and begin to question if you had bad intentions.

The damage

Remember a child may believe everything you say but the long term effects will include distrust, lack of respect, anger and much more. If you’re doing this simply because you’re angry the relationship did not work, do you really want to possibly deprive your child of a bond with their parent?  How angry will they be when it is realized they lost a mother/father for no reason but selfishness? If physical, psychological or sexual abuse is an actuality then you should have a professional speak to your child because odds are you are not qualified.

Eventually, the time is right

I don’t remember my exact age but I  was in my 30’s before my mother ever really spoke to me in depth about some of the horrific things he did to her and his family did to us. The majority of what I was told I had kind of figured out on my own, definitely not to the extremeness, but I saw so much emotion in my mother’s eyes and heard so much relief in her voice that night. I was home on a visit after a couple glasses of wine I guess she just decided it was time or maybe it was the questions I asked.

The truth

I heard things that made so many childhood memories make sense. Things I would not wish on any woman or child. It is not my place to speak of the details. However, because I came to my own conclusions I had no doubts about what my mother was telling me. In fact, I still believe she was holding some things back.

True Strength is doing the right thing

For how strong I always believed my mother was, I realized how wrong I was. She is much stronger than I ever imagined she was or truthfully thought I could be. Now that I am a father in a similar situation I  realize I am that strong. Like any good parent would be, not because  I was taught or told but because a good parent just knows that their love for their child will give them the strength to do what is best for them even if it hurts us.

I do believe it turned me into a good parent. Instinctively I would do what is best for my daughter no matter what. It also taught me that no matter how difficult or painful it maybe to watch your child have to discover a dark truth on their own there is light at then end of the tunnel. The end result is the unbreakable trust, love, respect, and loyalty of your child.

In my case

My situation differs from my mothers. Kiara is subjected to nothing but negative things being spoken to her about me on a regular basis. She is told I am evil, I am abusive, I am a liar as well as other horrific things. As hard it is to hear those things at least I  already know taking the high road has paid off. The bond we share is stronger than most. Her trust in me is so incredible it is almost too much pressure to handle. I take solace in the fact that I know she knows I will never betray that trust. For that, I have earned her never ending loyalty.

Loyalty

When she is told she has to lie to police, dcf, doctors etc… she always tells them the truth. Despite the psychological abuse used to try and make her lie. Even though I am not the abuser she is absorbing it to protect me and return the favor.  For that, I may never get over the guilt. No matter how strong people say she is I know the truth. I see the hurt inside but I also see her doing it to protect our relationship. Kids are much more observant then parents tend to realize. A child can sense negativity, a child eventually realizes that they can not trust you if you are always trying to make them hate someone or choose someone over you.

When Kiara comes home saying bad things I always bite my tongue. I tell her she is too young to be worried about those things and even defend her mother to an extent. She knows I am holding back. She knows I am not abusing her trust in me by corrupting her childhood with the truth. I can see the appreciation in her eyes, I also see that it takes some of her sadness away.

Am I lucky? It is a tough situation.

I am lucky in the sense that I know my ways are benefiting Kiara, my mother had to wait years. I still don’t know how she did it but I am forever grateful.

 

Encouraging Your Kids to Exercise

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Encouraging your kids to exercise can be fun for the entire family!

Despite what some might believe encouraging your kids to exercise is one of the easiest tasks as a parent. The difficult part is motivating parents to become more involved. If you are not into fitness chances our your child will not be. Not saying you have to be a gym buff or a fitness freak but it takes very little effort for you to become a child’s fitness role model. Exercise does not have to be your old school gym class push-ups, jumping jacks etc.. Playing is just as if not more effective for children. Playing tag, swimming, going for a bike ride are just some examples of excellent exercises for young children.

I do believe that no matter how much you preach to your children about exercising if you do not practice what you preach it will fall on deaf ears or as Kiara says blind ears. Some parents are too lazy to bring their children to the park so they rather have their child play video games or watch TV. In our house, besides everyday exercising, we take a day a week to go to the park for a day of fitness. We pack a healthy lunch bring a football, soccer ball, volleyball, tennis equipment, and even a fitness trampoline. We don’t necessarily play those games as we usually make up our own. Most parks nowadays have some type of fitness trail so we usually do half that to start the day off and in between activities there is a race or two.

Gym Routine?

I myself do go to the gym regularly. When I was choosing a gym it was important for me to find a gym with a kids club. You pay a little extra but the benefits are worth it.  I  wanted Kiara to see that I went 5 days a week. Wanted her to grow up thinking it is part of life no different than working, eating, spending time with family or any of our other daily routines. I wanted her to think it was something everyone does, I wanted her to understand how important health is. The kids club was also a place for her to socialize and meet new friends and as a result, she, wanted to go every day so it also motivated me when I didn’t feel like going.

Every question she had about the gym no matter how annoying was worth it. As it eventually led to her asking when can she start using the machines(children should not be encouraged to “work out”).

Kiara now believes it is part of your daily routine and proudly participates. She would always ask why are you going to the gym and I would always have the same response…..because I care about myself and I love you and I want to live a long healthy life for you.

What if it Raining?

Sometimes if it is raining we simply build a little indoor obstacle course. To keep her interest I always have her design the course. Obviously nothing extreme but just something to be active and have fun. Making dance videos is another fun indoor exercise for children.  On a nice day, we might make an outdoor obstacle course or just play on the trampoline. The possibilities are endless with just a little imagination and more importantly a little fatherly involvement.

As a new group, Fathers’N’Kids, has a goal of eventually offering exercise meet-ups, recipes, tips and a weekly web show to assist in making our children healthier.

CHILDHOOD OBESITY IN AMERICA IS AN EPIDEMIC

http://www.livestrong.com/article/358542-physical-benefits-of-exercise-for-children/

Caprese Salad – Easy Kid Friendly Recipe

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caprese salad
an easy tasty version of this classic

Not typically an American child’s favorite but preparing Caprese Salad this way I found my daughter loves it.

THIS IS A VERY EASY CAPRESE SALAD RECIPE YOU CAN MAKE WITH YOUR CHILDREN

Forget sliced tomatoes – children think they look gross and they eat with their eyes as much as their taste buds (I still do this). I found Kiara loved eating cherry tomatoes as if they were fruit (skip the comments I know they are actually a fruit but children do not make that association) so I began to use these in my recipe for Caprese Salad.

I take cherry tomatoes red, yellow and any color I can find and cut them up into smaller slices usually 3 or 4 per tomato. Then I cut an onion into small slices, I preferred but if your child will eat onions most likely it is white or yellow. Next, I take fresh mozzarella and add small pieces to the mixture of tomatoes. I usually make a second bowl but use Goat Cheese instead. The final thing I add is fresh Basil cut into little pieces. Finally, I then drizzle Balsamic Vinaigrette ( I use Bolthouse Farms, you can use whatever brand you prefer ) over the mixture, stir and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Admittedly Kiara only eats the tomatoes and cheese but it is a start.

Safety Tips: If your child is young do not allow to use a knife to cut tomatoes or supervise. Use your best judgment on this one. Mini tomatoes are soft so a kid friendly butter knife can be used.

What you will need:

  1. Cherry Tomatoes ( every color you can get)
  2. Fresh Ball of Mozzarella Cheese or Goat Cheese if you prefer
  3. 1 Bundle Fresh Basil
  4.  Balsamic Vinaigrette
  5.  Love For Your Child

 

 

Kiara practicing her evil villain laugh

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Kiara practicing her evil villain laugh?

Kiara practicing her evil villain laugh. Not quite so evil sounding maybe a little more Nickelodeon/Disney channel oriented. Possible star on their next preteen show?

Kiara Enjoying Hotel California Like Only She Can

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Kiara enjoying hotel California

From her interpretive dance series. Except for this time she was too lazy to stop eating and get up from the table. We present for your entertainment Kiara enjoying hotel California!

Barack Obama’s Fathers Day Speech

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Barack Obama’s Fathers Day Speech

Best Father’s Day Speech Ever?

All politics aside this is an amazing speech by one of the most powerful speakers of our generation. Barack Obama’s Fathers Day Speech is one of the most inspiring calls to action I have heard. You can hear the passion in his voice due to the love he has for his kids. And also the admiration he has for his parents.  I can say I was moved 100% by his words.

http://fathersnkids.com/are-fathers-important/

http://www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood-data-statistics

 

Super-Strains of Lice found in Florida!

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super-strains of lice
Sorry for the graphic image but it is what it is. Lice are not pretty !

super-strains of lice??

Super-strains of lice (and 24 other states): Great news for all those Fathers out there who have daughters with long thick hair a new super strain of lice has been found in Florida! This is the news we have all been waiting for! How this day in age America does not have a vaccination or some kind of pill that can prevent lice is beyond my beliefs. Is there no Scientists in the world who have had children?? Perhaps while they were doing studies their spouses were left to deal with the lice so they don’t appreciate the magnitude of this situation?

The Dreaded Discovery

In all seriousness lice is something that eventually every child will encounter, if you live in Florida this will most likely be more than 1 time! At some point you will get the dreaded letter sent home from school advising you of a lice outbreak and at just that moment you will look over and see your daughter itching her head and then the fun begins.

The Removal

Everyone who has been through it knows the process all sheets, clothes, blankets, pillows and stuffed animals need to be washed in hot water or sealed in a garbage bag for a month. All furniture needs to be sprayed, everyone needs to be checked and then the removal of the lice begins. There are many techniques of removing lice online including using olive oil. I will post some of the articles below. Most people can agree the at home kits can be effective but avoid the ones with toxic chemicals in them. DO NOT TAKE SHORTCUTS one egg left behind will create the problem to start all over again. I can only speak for south Florida but there also plenty of companies that specialize in the removal of lice and they are generally mobile. Prices for treatment are about $200.

Let’s talk prevention.

There is no full proof method but here are two of the most common tactics I see around here. The First has been around for years and is pretty simple. Before leaving the house make sure your daughters hair is back and up. Using hair mousse pull her back as tight as possible into a pony tail. Preferably turn that pony tail into a bun. Once her hair is back, up and covered in mouse spray hair spray around the areas of the pony tail and the ears as well as back hair above the neck as these are the areas lice generally starts in.

Does it Work?

The theory of this method is that the hair is to sticky/greasy for the lice to attach too and of course with her hair pulled back and up there is less surface area for the lice to jump on. Although not full proof this technique is effective, cheap and easy to do. Many parents are tempted to cut their daughters hair short as prevention – this will not work! Shoulder length hair actually makes the prevention more difficult because it is harder to put all of it up especially if you layer it.

Tree Oil

The second method is Tree Oil. Research shows that lice do like the smell of Tree Oil so they will not jump on to it. There are many articles online in regards to tree oil its uses, side effects and effectiveness. The smell of this is also pretty strong and not in a good way. Thankfully they do sell kids shampoo and hairspray made with tree oil. These products use safe chemical free ingredients to disguise the smell. You do not need to use both products.

It should be noted that as in this story I also believe you should teach you children about personal space to avoid head-to-head contact.

What method do I use?

Both of course, I am not foolish, I try to eliminate as much risk as possible. I use the first technique with the exception that after her hair is moussed and up in a ponytail I spray all of her hair with the tree oil hairspray. I also use the leave in conditioner. Personally I use the Fairy Tale brand. It is reasonably priced and available at cartoon cuts as well as many other retail stores. I have seen it online as well. Here is their website http://www.fairytaleshaircare.com/  google the products for best price. Please note I do not work for them or profit from their sales just trying to spread some information.

Can Coconut Oil Help?

As a side note I have also heard that lice do not like the smell of coconut so I wash her hair with coconut scented shampoo just in case.    It should also be noted that there is a prescription the Doctor can give you but they will generally not do it unless the problem is severe and reoccurring.

You should do your research and choose what the best method is for you and your precious lice infested daughter.

Here are some articles I found:

http://www.oliveoilsource.com/article/olive-oil-one-best-ways-combat-head-lice-its-fact

http://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-head-lice.html

http://lacetoleather.com/ridlice.html

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20641598,00.html

http://www.beyonddisease.com/home-remedies-to-get-rid-of-head-lice

A Video Tutorial I Found

Homemade Chicken Tenders – A Healthier Version

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homemade chicken tenders
Healthy Food Healthy Kids

As any busy parent knows time is a precious commodity, the more efficient you become with your time the less stress you will have. For this reason I like to bulk cook whenever possible. For instance if I am making homemade chicken tenders I make 3 or 4 times the amount needed. The left overs I simply freeze in individual servings for later use. It may add a few minutes but will save you hours down the road. Other times I do this is with macaroni and cheese, meatballs, soup and pretty much anything else.

Today we are Talking Homemade Chicken Tenders

Every kid loves them and every restaurant loves to make them as unhealthy as possible. There is no need to buy frozen and there is no reason to fry. In this example I will be using Panko bread crumbs however please note that they can be replaced with crushed corn flakes, plain special K or any similar cereal even crushed almonds. The substitutions are just as good and you more then likely have in your house already, also usually cheaper.

How to

First thing I do is place the skinless boneless tenders in a large bowl filled with plain Greek yogurt. If possible let them marinate overnight but if you do not have that time it is OK. The yogurt not only acts as a batter but it also will make the chicken moister. In the yogurt I add Italian seasoning,  garlic powder (not garlic salt) and basil to taste. I also squeeze the fresh juice from one lemon and then mix together.

Second I pour the bread crumbs of my choice on a plate and roll the tenders until covered completely. For a crunchy coating follow the instructions below. If your child does not prefer a crunchy out layer then place the chicken.

NOTE: Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs which are larger than standard breadcrumbs. Nowadays they are available in all major supermarkets, usually in the Asian section, and cost just a fraction more than ordinary breadcrumbs.

It is well worth using because the breadcrumb pieces are bigger so they create a far better “crunch” than standard breadcrumbs.

FOR CRUNCHY: PAN FRY the breadcrumbs with a bit of oil.

Finally I place a rack on a baking tray, not critical but bakes more evenly, and bake for 12-15 minutes at 375 degrees. Chicken should be 165 degrees and cooked thoroughly.

DIP: I use a packaged seasoning mix usually Ranch and make it with Greek Yogurt instead of sour cream. I use Hidden Valley

Family Activity?

This is also a great recipe because my daughter can make this with me. There is nothing to cut  or dangerous to do. Of course I do not let her use the oven but all the prep work can be done together. Its a great for bonding time and gives her a gift for life –  the ability to cook.

*always teach your kids kitchen safety including washing hands thoroughly  after touching raw meat

 

Healthy Dips Lead to Healthier Snacking

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healthy dips, greek yogurt

Healthy Dips

Kiara was eventually introduced to and fell in love with (like her father many years prior) potato chips and dip. There is not much you can do to avoid this unavoidable relationship especially when grandparents are involved. As a recovering dip addict myself I could not let Kiara go down that dark road. Addiction of any form is difficult to overcome. And yes bad eating habits overtime can prove to be very tough to break. As we grow older we lean on food to give us comfort and enjoyment but not necessarily nutrition.  As much as my addiction was to potato chips it was equally to the dip. I decided the only way to prevent her from this life long struggle would be to trick her into thinking she was getting a treat as I had done so many times before (Don’t judge me!).

Plan of Action

Knowing the severity of her dip addiction. My plan of action was to tell Kiara that she could have dip anytime she wanted just not with chips. The chips could be for special occasions as long as she maintained a healthy way of eating. But Zachary dip is bad for you! I know trust me I know. Back in the day I would eat a  tub of dip along with a bag of chips late night. How could I do this to my daughter you ask? Why would I encourage such an unhealthy act? Simple I lied (I mean tricked her) as most good parents do. The next part of the plan was simple I made the dip homemade using plain Greek yogurt. Yes if you read enough of my recipes there is a pattern of using this stuff for almost everything.

She wanted the dip so bad she started using cut up carrots and celery (victory for daddy!). She would also use a small scoop to dip her breakfast fruits in.

Dairy?

Yes, I try to avoid giving Kiara dairy due to it being processed and poisonous to the human body. I also do not buy kids yogurt due to the excessive sugar.  I will post recipes on how to make your own at some point. Plain Greek yogurtcan provide a great source of calcium and protein without the fat and sugar for your child.

Side note: Making the dip is a fast and easy activity you can share with your child. It is very simple if, you do not want to mix your own seasonings, use a packaged dip mix. Substitute the yogurt for the sour cream.

http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2013/06/26/new-study-kids-eat-more-veggies-with-dip/

 

 

 

 

 

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