Thursday, January 17, 2019

Prime Good Dad -- Daniel Skidmore



In February Daniel Skidmore was driving his truck in Illinois in when he got the call his wife, Kerry, was in early labor. Her water had broken and she was headed to the hospital. He quickly got on the phone with his fleet manager at Prime headquarters and was told he could bring his load into Springfield, Missouri and catch a flight out of the airport there. Jackson Daniel Skidmore was five weeks early, but he still waited just long enough for his daddy to arrive.


Daniel recalls, “I made it to the hospital less than two hours before my first born was delivered via emergency C-section. Prime is and will always be a family-first company, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. Who knows, in 21 years I might be training him how to drive with us."

Daniel has been driving for Prime since December 2015. He began his career with another company, but says he quickly changed to Prime when learned of the great benefits there. In 2016 he became a CDL instructor, something he has enjoyed doing for the past three years. He sees driver training as both an art form and skill set. “You can teach someone the skills necessary to pass the Missouri Department of Transportation test, but knowing how to drive under different conditions and a variety of settings—that’s an art form that can only be learned in real life situations.” This is what Daniel hopes to teach the new drivers he trains.

A native of central West Virginia, Daniel initially sought employment in manufacturing or warehousing when he moved Florida in 2015. The jobs available did not pay well. At some point, he started thinking about driving and consulted Kerry about the opportunity and possibility. He found both her and his parents to be both encouraging and supportive. “She wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and my driving allows it.”

Even though he’s on the road and Kerry is at home with Jackson, Daniel sees his wife’s ongoing support as vital to his success and happiness as a driver. “Kerry,” he insists, “is my emotional rock” and explains how he found talking with her reassuring while recently driving in wintry conditions.


“Today,” Daniel says, “I can’t imagine doing anything else. The view outside my ‘office’ window changes every mile. I like the challenge of driving—the multiple calculations I need to make with fuel, hours of service, and parking to be successful. It makes me think!”

Daniel typically drives four to six weeks before returning home for a break. In order to stay happy and healthy on the road he recommends the following:

1.  While on the road, find time for “you,” that is your own space even when you have another driver with you. It’s important to preserve at least some personal space.


2.  Plan “daddy days” when you’re home. For Daniel this means taking full responsibility caring for his son. “It gives my wife a break and allows me to bond with my son,” He explains. He acknowledges that Kerry’s help in making a detailed list and schedule goes a long way to helping him be successful in this regard.

3.  Help out your wife when you’re home. She carries the burden most of the time when you’re gone.

4.  Arrange with your fleet manager to be home for special occasions, e.g., Christmas and birthdays.

Although he can’t be home as often as he likes, Daniel still thinks a great deal about what he wants for his son. He has strong ideas about how he plans to train and influence Jackson. “He needs to know how to properly treat a woman. I want him to treat his partner with love and respect. I want him to know that home is a safe place, even when he’s made mistakes. Kerry and I will try to be firm and fair no matter what has happened.”

With an attitude, aspirations and support like this, it’s easy to see how and why Daniel is a Prime Good Dad.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Teaching Good Manners -- Nixa Father of Three, Herb Cody


 

I grew up with a brother who was less than two years younger than me. We were raised by our hard working, single mother, along with equally hard working grandparents. I never really remember being taught “manners.” We kinda just learned as we went along. My brother and I were the worst when it came to table manners while at home. We spent the majority of the time trying to entertain each other with constant toots, belches and jokes. We spoke with our mouths full of food and our elbows on the table. 

As we grew older, our mom remarried and our baby sister came along. We began to eat out more. This is when we began to learn how to act more appropriately while around others. Still, I don’t remember being given any speech about manners, just being threatened after we did something inappropriate in public. 


Now, here I am, an adult father of three . . . and in charge of teaching my kids about manners. My oldest daughter, now 15, does a great job at home and in public. I couldn’t be more proud of the young lady we have raised. I really don’t think I can take much of the credit; she just gets it.

My boys, on the other hand, are a work in progress. My fourteen-year-old makes conversation at the table as if he is trying to speak to a room of 200. I’m constantly trying to get him to bring his voice down. Rather than cut a steak or chicken breast with a fork and knife, he prefers to pick up the slab of meat with his fork and gnaw on it like a caveman. When he does attempt to cut something, he ends up sawing at it while other items on the plate go flying everywhere.

My soon to be eight-year-old is a complete mess at home, but somehow pulls it together when in public. At home, he spills a beverage at least once a week. When he puts something in his mouth he doesn’t like the taste or texture of, it almost immediately comes right back out onto his plate. Both of my boys love to burp and fart, and I get it. My brother and I acted the same when we were young. I constantly point out to them, if they were to do these things in public, it would be inappropriate and they would get in trouble.


For the most part, I allow them to be comfortable and free to be themselves at home, with the understanding they are to be respectful in public, or in other homes. Our only rules at dinner time at home are no TV or device use. 

Fortunately, so far, there have been no complaints, and I’ve actually had people compliment me on how well behaved they are. My children have seen other kids act out in a public setting, and understood how wrong and ridiculous those kids looked. I think I’ve just been blessed with kiddos that get it, and I’m very thankful for that.

Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at herbie05@yahoo.com.

You can check out Herb's own blog at, www.thecodylife.weebly.com

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Teaching Good Manner -- Crystal Roberts, Good Dads Board Member



When I told my husband, Tobi, that I’d be writing a blog about courtesy and good manners he immediately said, “I’m not reading that, I hear you talk about it every day”, and he’s right.  I’m a stickler about manners; table manners, physical manners, manners with communication showing respect for your elders, neighbors and friends and being a courteous person.  All three of our children know this all too well. 

When I was younger, my mother was adamant about table manners.  If we chewed with our mouths open during dinner then we would sit on our hands for the remainder of the meal and observe the manners of others.  We were allowed to eat after everyone else finished, but she wouldn’t force people at the table to be subjected to our bad manners if we were unable to behave after being warned.  At the time I thought it was cruel and unusual punishment but as an adult, attending dinners for business, I have been grateful.  But please . . . don’t tell my mother I said so.


I’m not quite as strict about table manners, but I regularly say, “Is your nose stopped up?” when I see or hear open-mouth chewing.  In our house, it is only acceptable to chew with your mouth open when you cannot breathe out of your nose and you may be unable to breathe otherwise.  This basic question has become such a regular occurrence that I no longer have to tell them why I’m asking.  I get an immediate apologetic look, and the “see food” at the table ends.  It’s a parenting win!

When Libby was young, we began manners simply by calling others by a respectable name, Ms., Mrs. or Mr. (insert first name here).  As she got older, we added more expectations when it was age appropriate.  We put our napkin in our lap.  We say "excuse me" after accidental “gas leaks."  We hold the door open for others.  We respect our elders.  We use utensils, without scraping our plate or our teeth, instead of fingers.  We use good manners in stores and at restaurants:  no screaming, no whining, no tantrums and we are kind to our waiter/waitress.  We talk about making good choices and the consequences of rude behavior.


We expected Libby to say please and thank you with her requests and to answer with "ma’am" or "sir" after her yes or no responses.   She caught on quickly to the difference between respectful and rude behavior and garnered attention from nearby ears when we were in public.  Libby was delighted in the positive feedback she received from being so polite and she continued on her own.  I was always surprised by how many people were listening to our conversations and how freely they offered their feedback of how I parented and how she behaved.

When our family became blended, and we added two wonderful little boys, the expectations continued, and they gladly complied as they loved the attention received for a job well done.  Children who have good manners get to make their own choices in every day tasks and they love “being big” and deciding things on their own!  Our children (Libby, Brady and Colin), have become so familiar with the expectations that when they ask for something and forget their manners we just wait until they realize what they forgot and they try again without being asked.  “I want milk” is ignored and within seconds it is followed up by, “May I please have milk?"  We are attempting to raise productive, caring and respectful adults and our most important job is to teach them the results of their actions so they will know how to make their own good choices.

Another area where we have been consistent since the children were young was with manners in public.  If we are in a store and the children ask us to buy them something, they will be told "no."  If they ask for nothing and maintain good behavior throughout the entire trip, we may talk about getting something special at the checkout.  It is a rare occurrence, but getting something not on the list at the store is understood to be a special occasion.

Teaching the children good manners isn’t an easy task. Some days are better than others, and everyone has the occasional bad day, but the most important thing is to be consistent.  Our hope in enforcing, teaching and expecting courteous behavior and good manners is that our kids will know what to do even when we aren’t there to provide guidance.  We believe that all children are good and can do their personal best if they just know why they should put forth the effort.

Crystal Reynolds Roberts is a mother to one daughter and a bonus mom to two boys, a partner in Pinnacle Consulting, CPAs, and a member of multiple boards, including Good Dads.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

"No Thank-You!" -- Dr. Jennifer Baker, Good Dads Founder



“No thank you. I’ve had an excellent sufficiency. Anymore would be a superfluous animosity. However, your cuisine would please the most fastidious gourmet.”

These are the words my father taught us to say when we had had enough to eat. We learned this expression when my sister exclaimed, “I’m so full I’m about to bust,” at the dinner table.

“Young ladies and gentlemen," he said, “do not express themselves in this way.” And then he offered the above alternative. We really were not certain what it meant, but we memorized and used it because it was a lot more fun to say—specially to extended family and visitors, than the “about to bust” declaration.

My father’s admonition was mostly tongue-in-cheek. He didn’t really expect us to use the “excellent sufficiency” statement on every occasion. After all, we were farm kids and dinner was hardly a formal affair. Nonetheless, my parents expected us to learn and practice good manners. Polite conduct, they believed, would help us make our way in life.
And so we learned how to sit at the table, the proper way to use silverware, to place our napkin in our lap, and how to ask for something we wanted. No one picked up a fork until everyone was seated and grace said. At the end of the meal, we requested to be excused before we left our seats. We were expected to eat at least a small bite of everything and express our appreciation to the hostess (typically our mother). Rude or rowdy behavior was strongly discouraged, but good conversation was welcomed. 


By today’s less formal standards, it might seem as though those farm family dinners were restrictive, but I recall them fondly. As the five of us (my sister, brother, mother, father and I) enjoyed a meal we all helped produce, we often laughed, talked and shared stories of our day. I’m sure I took it for granted at the time, but years’ later friends remarked to me about how much they enjoyed sharing dinner time with us. Good manners, that is, the courteous way we were trained, encouraged and required to treat each other, were part of this.

My husband and I also thought it important to teach our children good mealtime manners. We were familiar with the research on the importance of family dinner time to a child’s well-being (e.g., children do better academically who eat dinner with their families several nights a week). I’d like to say it was a joy to teach them table manners, but it wasn’t always fun or easy. Children, it seems, have many peculiar habits related to food, eating and “natural gas.” I’m not certain why belching and farting is such fun activity when the family is gathered, but this was the way of things at our house. We tried to get them to “squelch a belch” or “silence flatulence” and they told us they were about to explode. Eventually, we ceased our efforts to stop them, borrowed from my father’s creative instruction, and simply required them to do one of two things: 1) Go outside and run around the entire house three times while we watched from the window; or 2) Stand at the far end of the house inside and count to 100 loud enough for all of us to hear before returning to the table. Either way, the inconvenience of interrupting one’s dinner to exercise or recite greatly diminished the fun of farting at mealtime.


Today when our family gathers, there are six adults and eight children. Learning and demonstrating good manners is part of that activity. We enjoy each other’s company. We linger at the dinner table. We compliment the host. The adults are in pretty good form when it comes to courteous behavior; the kids have a ways to go, but they’re learning. It’s not easy to teach children how to conduct themselves at the dinner table. Sometimes it feels both frustrating and fruitless, but learning how to do so can go a long way to creating and increasing self-confidence in our young people. 

Think about how you want your children to relate to others. With what kind of people—adults and children—do you prefer to spend your time? Do your children have the skills to competently manage an enjoyable meal with others? How would you like them to behave?  Get together with your spouse or support system and talk about how you can work together to make 2019 a year of good manners.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Annual Christmas Crisis -- Part 2




“Why can’t you just help out with the wrapping?  I did everything else.”

“I don’t know why you have such a bad attitude about helping with the Christmas tree. This could be fun, if you weren’t acting like a big grouch.”

“Do things really have to be that perfect? Why can’t we just relax, order a pizza and have a good time?”

The holidays bring with them a unique kind of stress based on the expectation that things need to be a certain way in order for our celebration to be complete. This “way-things-have-to-be-so-we-can-really-celebrate” perspective is fueled by the rituals and traditions of our childhood, images promoted by marketing wizards of the media, and our Western culture in general. In many instances, it all adds up to conflict in the couple relationship. I know it has in ours.


One of Us is Working Much Harder than the Other
In past posts I have alluded to the annual Christmas argument my husband and I trotted out with regularity soon after Thanksgiving for the first decade or so of our marriage. I simply could not understand why he did not appreciate all the effort I expended to make gifts for our immediate and extended families and then put them in the mail in a timely manner. Moreover, he did not seem to care that I hand addressed all the Christmas cards and almost single-handedly decorated the house, wrapping all the packages with care and creativity. Never mind that this over-and-above effort on my part added to a growing resentment of how little he did to contribute our seasonal gaiety.

My husband, on the other hand, had very different holiday expectations floating through his head. He wanted a happy wife and relaxed home life. Given that his job required him to attend at least a dozen evening basketball games during December as well as two or three children’s Christmas programs, he had his share of work-related responsibilities. On the rare evenings when he was home, my festive activities were not his favorite fare. Rather, he longed for down time and easy living to combat typical work week stress.

Martyr – Abstainer Roles Typical
According to Dr. Bill Doherty, author of The Intentional Family, couples easily find themselves entrenched in the “martyr – abstainer dance” around the holidays. One person, often the woman, assumes the, “Alright, I’ll do it approach,” but does so with decidedly declining humor and good will as her exhaustion and exasperation increase. Noting her prickly nature and failing to share the same degree of excitement about Christmas tinsel and homemade taffy, her partner assumes an increasingly lower profile hoping to avoid additional conflict, only making the situation worse. A couple of weeks into the month the two are barely speaking and making merry as a couple is definitely out of the question as both grit their teeth, put on a happy face, and look forward to the end of the holiday season.

Change the Dance
Doherty suggests couples extricate themselves from an unhappy holiday hoe down by considering the following possibilities:

1)             Expect difficulties. In the early exuberance of the season, it’s easy to overextend one’s self, promising to do far more than most humans are capable of doing.  Trimming back expectations, remembering the complexities and conflicts of Christmases past can help couples to laugh about difficulties rather than argue.

2)             Plan for difficult moments. You probably already know what tasks and which family members have the potential of creating the greatest stress. Since you know they’re coming, plan ahead to work as a team to defeat them together.

It’s not always easy to have a “holly jolly Christmas,” but putting a priority on teamwork, remembering that every member of the team (including the one who wants less activity) is important. Honoring each other’s desires rather than insisting on our own can go a long way to creating peace on earth and peach at home.

Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder & Director of Good Dads, including Prime Good Dads and Good Dads OTR. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Setting Kids Up to Find Success . . . Even When They Fail -- Kevin Weaver, Father of Three



 We all want our kids to be successful. We all want our kids to be winners. It isn’t that we won’t love them, regardless, but we simply want them to be healthy, happy, and feel like they are living their best lives. When they are quite young, we give them support in every way possible, including in the most basic of physical needs. We bathe them, feed them, change them, and in doing so, these little people definitely change us. But, as they grow – physically, mentally, spiritually, relationally – we have to learn how to let them do things on their own.

In education, the process of gradually removing support, as a student is becomes stronger in supporting him or herself is called “scaffolding.” Some of the help we initially provide for our children becomes less and less necessary as our children grow into their “own.” The doesn’t mean they won’t always need our help in some way, but their constant need for us to be their guide or even guardrails will begin to wane. As it does, we want to be sure that we have done all we can to set them up for success. But, perhaps more importantly, we want to be sure we have done all we can to teach them how to find success, even in the midst of what seems to be life’s setbacks. I’ll have to confess . . . the rescuer in me found that very difficult to do at times. 

Some parents believe setbacks have “silver linings”—a philosophy they share with their children. Parents often strive to espouse the idea that no matter what bad may happen around or because of or to them, there is always good to be found. My wife and I have found this to be a precarious philosophy, as we have come to believe there are a lot of things in our world that are just plain bad. For instance, cancer is bad. No matter how you slice it. But, setting our kids up to find the best in themselves when they can’t find the best – (forget the superlative), can’t even find one ounce of anything that looks remotely good in something, can be life changing.

Struggles and failures will come. These challenges will range from not making a sports team, to being hurt by a friend, to consequences from making their own bad choices. But if we have equipped our kids to dig deep, remember who they are, and who loves them, they are more likely to realize they still have so much to live for. It’s easier for them to readily forgive, and to readily accept forgiveness themselves. It enable them to believe they still can find success.

Part of setting our kids up, a key platform in that structure of scaffolding, is helping them to understand the varying definitions of success. Help them define their own. Talk about it as a family. What does each family member think success looks like? Is it the pro athlete? Is it the Oscar-winning movie star? Is it the super model? Is it the CEO of a company? Is it the single mom down the street who works two jobs, but always has a smile on her face and somehow never misses one of her kid’s ballgames? Is it the classmate who has a disability, but eagerly tries everything everyone else does, and never asks for help or gives up?

Actually, come to think of it, maybe we should also discuss our definitions of failure. Is failure not making the team, or not having the best job, or not having all the advantages we think others have?

Or is failure letting all of those things keep us from doing all we can to be all we can be? My encouragement to you…take every advantage to be intentional about these important topics.  You kids will thank you for it! 



Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at 
kweaver@network211.com

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Annual Christmas Crisis -- Dr. Jennifer Baker, Good Dads Founder & Executive Director



Let’s face it. Celebrating the holidays can be very stressful and depending on your family’s background and traditions, the tension can last for weeks. Even if you are able to keep plans for your festivities reasonable, you still have to cope with the behavior and expectations of others. Just trying to find a parking place near your favorite store can be a hassle on December days when every space is taken. This kind of stress is peripheral to the pressure we may feel from family to perform in a certain way (gatherings, gifts, etc.) on specific days like Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Some folks I know spend a majority of their time shuttling their offspring between households of extended family regardless of weather conditions, sleeplessness and exhaustion because it is expected they will do so. A perfect storm of stressors begins to build for many families around this time of year and often reaches a boiling point right at the time we long to be “merry and bright.”
  
Christmas Amnesia
Because this “holiday hoe down” happens every year, we ought to be smarter about planning for it and preparing to alter the course of our behavior, but most of us don’t. Bill Doherty, author of The Intentional Family, refers to this phenomenon as “Christmas amnesia” and notes that it is akin to “women forgetting the pain of childbirth soon after delivery. It is an amnesia that helps to populate the earth and keep the tradition of family Christmas alive.” We could make plans to do things differently, to allow for demanding people and difficult situations, but we often disregard our discouragement, delay making plans to do something different, and delve back into the same dilemmas a year later. This year, why not plan to do something different.


Be Honest about Discouragements
There’s no time like the present to take a few notes about what discourages you most. You may not be able to extricate yourself from some holiday hassles this year, but the hope of doing something different next year can help sustain you. While the feelings and thoughts are fresh, write them down. This will be critical in March and April when Christmas amnesia is likely to set in. 

Plan Early to Do Something Different
You know that celebrating the holidays can have its anxious moments. You’re aware there are some people—often those to whom we’re related—who will be difficult. If you are the person in charge of seeing that the holiday happens for your clan (Doherty refers to you as the “Christmas Coordinator), then recognize you need help. The key to all these realizations is planning for changes before the season heats up and then letting others know early and often about the changes that will occur. What might that entail?


Developing Solutions for Old Dilemmas
If you are the Christmas Coordinator you’re very likely to assume a martyr role as the holiday approaches, doing more and enjoying it less, while your spouse and family sit on the sidelines and watch you work. Here are some suggestions to assist you in altering that behavior.

1)      Involve other by asking for help with specific tasks. 
         Instead of saying, “I need help with the shopping;” say “I need you to purchase the gifts for your brother and sister. I’ll give you the list at least six weeks in advance.”  Rather than bemoaning that you “always have to do all the decorating,” say “I need you to get all the boxes out of storage and set up the tree the day after Thanksgiving.” Others are much more likely to respond when they know exactly what they need to do to assist and how much time it might take.

2)      Respect the old, but try something new. As families grow they include others, e.g., a new brother-in-law or sister-in-law, who will have new traditions. Take the time to discover how they celebrate. Do they exchange names for gift giving versus buying something for everyone? Do they swap “white elephant” presents in lieu of something more serious? Consider how you might honor the traditions of new members while trimming back some of the old.


3)      Discuss gift exchanges and holiday travel well in    advance. 
        If you want to spend Christmas Eve or Christmas morning in your own home and this challenges the expectations of others, tell them early (e.g. in July) and often (repeated monthly if necessary) about your plans. Expect change back messages on the part of other when you do this, but hold firm.

It’s not easy to make changes in family routines and rituals, but it is possible. Challenge yourself to think about the memories you want both you and your loved ones to have as they recall Christmases past. Will what you’re doing now cause them to remember you more like the happy and fun-loving Buddy in the Christmas movie Elf or someone more akin to the Grinch who stole Christmas? It’s really up to you.

Merrily yours,

Dr. Jennifer Baker