Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Engaged Fathers Good for Dads & Business -- Dr. Jennifer Baker, Executive Director



You probably know that father engagement is good for kids. You’re probably not surprised that it is also good for dads. But I wonder if you were aware that engaged fathers are good for companies and their bottom line?

According to a 2015 study in the Academy of Management Perspectives, “the more time fathers spend with their children on a typical day, the more satisfied they are with their jobs and the less likely they want to leave their organizations. Further, they experience less work-family conflict and greater work-family enrichment.” (Study surveyed nearly 1000 fathers working an average of 46 hours/ week).

In another study, Forthofer, Markman, Cox, Stanley and Kessler found that nearly $6 billion a year is lost in decreased productivity stemming from marriage and relationship difficulties. Included in those relational difficulties are the children impacted by less contact with their fathers.

 
Beginning Tuesday, September 13, Good Dads will offer a six-week series of Tuesday noon lunches focused on helping dads be more engaged with their children. This fall’s theme, “Helping Your Child Succeed,” includes lively, interactive topics by Dr. Jennifer Baker with “take home tools” to help fathers be relationally better with their kids. Each week will also include an inspirational talk by a local community leader about the difference a dad makes.  (Watch for more details.)

This fall’s line-up includes the following:

Sept. 13 . . . Brandon Beck, KY3                                                
Sept. 20 . . . Dr. John Jungmann, Supt., SPS
Sept. 27 . . . Paul Lusk, Men’s BB Coach, MSU    
Oct. 4 . . . .  Paul Williams, Springfield Police Chief
Oct. 11 . . . . Doug Pitt, Care to Learn Founder
Oct. 18 . . . . Dr. Carol Taylor, President, Evangel

 How can you be involved in this program that will benefit Dads?

  • Make them aware of the Good Dads Lunch Series. (We can provide flyers and weekly-emails.)
  • Take time to attend the one-hour lunch on Tuesdays from September 13 through Oct. 18.
  • Sponsor a lunch. (Lunches are provided at no cost, but we do benefit from business sponsors.)

If Tuesday lunches don’t fit your schedule, Good Dads is happy to work with you to develop a program to benefit the dads you work with or employ, as well as the dads you serve. It’s a win-win for your dads and the places they work. Want to know more? Please contact us at Jennifer@gooddads.com or call (417) 501-8867.

Dr. Jennifer Baker is the wife of one dad, the mother two adult children, and the grandmother of eight. She had a great dad herself and is committed to helping more dads be engaged with their children. She can be reached at jennifer@gooddads.com.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Making the Back-to-School Transition: Springfield Dad Kevin Weaver


I recently saw a cartoon that compared and contrasted a young man’s first day of kindergarten to his first day of college. In the first frame, the child was hugging a tree and yelling, “I don’t want to go!” while the mom tugged at her son, trying to ensure he made the bus. The second frame showed the same yard, same tree, same mom, but with a grown child walking to a car at the curb, packed to the gills for a trek to college. The mom was running after her son and yelling, “I don’t want you to go!” Talk about a contrast.


As a parent of grown children, I get this. School changes a lot of things for not only kids, but also entire families. Whether it’s preschool or a year to study abroad, when our children leave our homes and begin to spend the bulk of their days with others, from classmates to instructors, we face times of transition.
 


When thinking of what our kids faced in heading back to school, my wife and I always relied on the theory that we all, in a sense, were going back to school. Other than our first son’s first day of kindergarten, when my wife hauled our younger two sons with her to stake out a spot across the street from the playground in order to spy on the oldest boy to make sure all was well, we typically haven’t gone to school with our kids. But, in addition to the physical backpacks and supplies our kids carry, they take with them a figurative backpack, one we have helped them pack for their entire lives. More important than the right pencils, paper, flash drives, and markers are the right behaviors, attitudes and overall life management skills. As we help our children choose and pack the right supplies, we also have to keep in mind that they are constantly watching us pack and unpack our own “backpacks.”  The modeling, the investment of time, the love, all of these things contribute to that “little voice” of ours that gets to go back to school with our kids.

 
In the hustle and bustle of the back to school rush, remember that the effects of transition trickle both down and up in a family. While parents and grandparents readily admit feeling these effects, we often overlook the fact that siblings are also affected. When our eldest went off to kindergarten, our younger two had a hard time understanding why their big brother wasn’t around to play with throughout the day. Likewise, when our eldest went of to university, the younger two had a hard time settling into a routine in a home that seemed “weird” without their big brother around.

Back to school or off to school, whatever you call it, is a transitional time in life we all face as parents and families, sometimes on an annual basis. Some of us will experience the phenomenon for years to come. Take heart and remember, while you are out rummaging through the college-ruled paper bin looking for wide ruled paper, you can also work at filling that figurative backpack. Whether kindergarten or college, our kids need us to “go with them.” 

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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rhythms of Life by Sid Whting, Springfield Father of Three


Adulthood gives parents the benefit of being able to look back over decades of life and see patterns.  It may seem like a repetitious cycle: wake up, eat, go to work, eat, come home, eat, tuck the kids into bed, go to sleep.  Rinse and repeat tomorrow.  Just so with the rhythms of life that are the school year.  Whenever change comes, we plunk it into a place in the overall pattern as best we can and move along.

A Kid’s Perspective: 
My kids are all in elementary School.  To young kids who have only a few years of experience, transitions can be a challenge.  They haven’t had many chances to settle into a pattern.  All they know is one morning they are at home in their jammies playing Nintendo, and the next morning Mom and Dad are harping on them, “Get up.  Now!  Yes, NOW!  Eat your cereal, brush your teeth; how many times do I have to tell you to get your lunch out of the fridge?” 

How do I, as an aspiring Good Dad, help my kids handle the change from starting the day whenever it feels good to getting back into a precision routine without acting like a Marine Drill Sergeant?


Taking it Slowly
My wife and I use gradual transitions whenever possible with our kids.  They tend to be less messy and noisy, and there are fewer chances for short-tempers to blow up.  We’ve already started moving out kids’ bedtime to earlier, from the lazy mid-summer time of 9:30-ish back to 9:15, then 9:00, and now 8:45-9:00.  Next week school begins on August 15th, and by that time we ought to be back to our traditional 8:30 bedtime.  It sounds cliché, but tired kids aren’t as prepared to manage change as well-rested ones.

Focus on Friendship
One thing we have on our side is the kids looking forward to seeing school friends again.  When I was younger, I tried to stay in touch with some of my friends over the summer, but since I was at the mercy of wherever the bus routes would take me I was confined to only seeing two or three of them on a regular basis.  We’re trying to get our kids thinking about their school friends whom they haven’t seen in almost three months.  After all, in elementary school your friends are one of the most important reasons you go to school.  Subjects like math and language are just there to provide an excuse for getting together.  I’m joking a little, but not much.  As much fun as I had learning, the real reason I enjoyed school was getting to be with friends.  We start offering tastes of those good times again by meeting up with friends at a park or a pool in early August so the kids can start looking forward to seeing their school friend again.

Being Part of the Process
Oddly enough, my kids enjoy shopping for school supplies.  I don’t understand this at all because when I was growing up it was pure torture.  I think it’s because my Mom made me try on two dozen pairs of jeans, and I never was into fashion.  But my kids like to be involved in the process.  Whether it’s the latest style in Magic Markers or a new pair of shoes, they get a thrill out of picking out the materials needed for a successful school year.  We embrace this and give the kids a chance to participate.  Letting them chose a stylish yet inexpensive pack of pens earns a lot of goodwill.

Hunt the Good Stuff
Our lives revolve around routines.  Even as adults, transitions can be hard, which is why my wife and I believe it is critical to teach our children at an early age how to approach changes with a positive attitude.  A phrase I borrowed from military resiliency training is learning to “hunt for the good stuff” whenever something disrupts our routine.  A new grade, a new classroom, new friends, and new subjects: we win when we find the good things that fit into the rhythm of our lives.

Sid Whiting is the father of three and the husband of one. He lives with his wife Gail and their children in Springfield, Missouri. He also enjoys real estate investing, serving in the 135th Army Band as a percussionist and bass guitarist, and plays in the Praise Band "Soul Purpose" and the "Hallelujah Bells" hand bell choir.  He can be reached for comment or question at sid.whiting75@gmail.com or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WiseSteward).

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Change Happens and You Can Handle It


When my boys were small they took up the sport of hockey.  This was hard for me.  I knew nothing about hockey.  To me, hockey was for thugs who had got kicked out of figure skating class.    

I was not alone in my perception.  Many people close to me were curious about my enrolling my children in a sport known for aggression and fighting.  Why not soccer, or basketball, or football? 


We are all responsible for the image we portray.  If the game of hockey is known for aggression and fighting, then hockey is responsible for its image.  I am learning, however, that hockey is not the only place where aggression and fighting break out.  Look around you.  The changes in our lives breed anxiety; anxiety breeds anger; and anger vents itself in aggression and fighting.  This takes place in all kinds of places from hockey rinks to church meetings, the dinner table, and wherever people do not get their way.  

If we want our children to be able to navigate change and transitions with grace and dignity, it is imperative that we learn to handle change and transitions with grace and dignity, too.  We all can learn to relax, lighten up, and settle down.  We must teach our children that they will not always be on the starting team or in first chair in the orchestra.  Classes will drop at the worst times.  Professors do make mistakes and some coaches are jerks.  We must teach our children that change happens – and they can handle it!      



In 2007, the National Hockey League initiated the “It’s Just a Game” Campaign.  The campaign was designed to teach the hockey world that hockey is “just a game.”  The National Hockey League was committed to changing its image.  Hockey is not about aggression and fighting.  Hockey is about teamwork, skill, and sportsmanship.    

In 30-second television ads children and others were portrayed in everyday situations, but acting like a “perceived” hockey player.”  Fights would break out in absurd situations.  The ad then concluded, “It’s just a game.”  In other words, “Relax.  Lighten up. Settle down.”   



In one campaign, a policeman pulls a man over for a traffic violation.  The man’s 12-year-old son starts yelling, “This call stinks, you moron! Are you kidding me? Where are your glasses!!”  The boy then starts yelling at the Dad, “Are you going to take this Dad?  Stand up for yourself.”  The campaign ends, “It’s just a game.” Clearly, bad behavior is ridiculous at hockey games and everywhere else.  [cf. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxduazZp7bo]. 

My boys loved hockey.  They were never in a fight.  They learned life lessons of teamwork, sportsmanship, and respect for authority. 


Our children will face many changes in life – especially as they head back to school.  As dads, we can help our children face these changes with grace and dignity.  We want our children to know that change does happen and they can handle it!

Jeff Sippy, a Dad-In-Training, is the father of three young men and the husband of Cindy. He enjoys sailing every chance that he gets. He is the senior pastor at Redeemer Lutheran in Springfield, MO and can be reached for question or comment at jsippy@rlcmail.org  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summertime


For kids, summer is that magical time of no books, no assignments, no early mornings and no state assessments. They come into this blessed season, anticipating sleeping in, swimming all afternoon and if they wish really, really hard, going on some fabulous trip to some fabulous place. All expenses paid by the parents, of course. 

For dads, summer can be that not-so magical experience of little time off, little reprieve from assignments, little chance to sleep in, and little chance of not feeling constantly assessed. We always question our parenting, but never more so than during the good old summertime. The pressure is on to keep up at work, and provide memorable experiences for our children, as well.


While there may be times in which we can take our kids on what we deem “real vacations,” there are many other times when that may not be possible. Of course, a trip to see Mickey Mouse is going to stick in your child’s memory, but so is a water fight in the backyard. Some activities are dictated by geography, I am well aware of that. My family lived all over the country, and even in the Republic of Panama, so we had times where a trip to the beach was a cheap and easy memory to make. Other places we lived, just getting to a small lake was both time and money consuming. As our boys grew older, time, money and geography were joined by Little League and camp schedules. Planning “ultimate summertime experiences” became anything but, "fun in the sun."



I don’t envy the young parents in this age of social media. Scrolling through endless pictures of endless summer bucket list check-offs can be depressing for the father who is working 60-75 grueling hours a week just to put a hot dog on the rusty, 20-year-old charcoal grill in the overgrown backyard. But, a $5, half-hour water balloon fight in that weed-filled grass could provide a memory for your kids that sticks with them as long as any meet and greet with The Mouse. Now, there is nothing wrong with taking a lavish trip when given the opportunity, but don't forget that lavish love is really what our children crave the most. And that, fellow dads, is truly magical. I encourage you, today, to take the opportunities that are right in front of you - whether big or small - to make summer memories that last a lifetime, for both you, and your kids. Oh, and don't forget the sunscreen!

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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Fun for Dads and Kids


Summer time: school’s out, the kids are home.  It’s time to travel, take vacation, hit the beach or swimming pool, and see a few ball games.  Iced tea and lemonade tastes better when served 1 degree above frozen.  The air-conditioned dimness of a bowling ally soothes you on a glaring 95-degree day.  Barbeque smoke drifts around the neighborhood on the evening breeze, and fire works blossom in the darkness from late June thru Mid-July.  We each have different visions of what “summer time” based on how, where, and when we were raised.  But for everyone I know, there’s something about summer that says let’s have a great time by relaxing and doing something different.

Summer slows us down and gives us more time to connect.  Rather than seeing kids dashing around in the morning getting ready to head out for the bus, I watch as they leisurely meander in still wearing the same pair of old shorts and a t-shirt from the night before.  Even PJs get a break when you stay up late watching a movie because there’s nowhere you need to rush off to the next day.

Summer is a great time to learn a new skill or hobby.  One of my twin sons is trying to grow squash from seedlings he received as a parting gift from school.  It hasn’t died yet and a few flowers are opening up to welcome any passing bees. 


In early June, I finally finished teaching this same son to ride his bike.  The last time we tried, he fell off, got scraped up pretty badly, and has been reluctant to try it again since.  This time, it took less than 5 minutes before he was sailing along effortlessly as I ran alongside to keep up.  I was glad to see him easily get the hang of it, and he quickly left me behind as the sheer joy of speed overcame any last doubts about crashing.


July is a great month to remember our nation’s birth.  This year I gave my boys an assignment to read the Declaration of Independence, and each of them had to pick out several words or phrases that didn’t make sense so we could talk about them.  It did me some good to brush up on it as well.  One of my best teachers always said, “You’ll never understanding anything as well as when you try to teach it to someone else.”  True enough.

August’s dog-days are just around the corner.  We’ll beat the heat indoors playing games together.  My daughter’s recent favorite is Twister.  Part of being a Good Dad has been staying limber enough to keep up with this game.  I try to set a good example and can’t whine too much when my ankle ends up beside my head because all the easy-to-reach red dots are taken.


Being a Good Dad is a lot of work, and one of the greatest rewards of the job that I’ve found is spending more time with my family, my kids in particular. I don’t have any profound or secret advice to my fellow Good Dads other than to remember that Summer is the season for kids to be kids, and I’m blessed that there are plenty of excuses for me to join in the fun.

Sid Whiting is the father of three and the husband of one. He lives with his wife Gail and their children in Springfield, Missouri. He also enjoys real estate investing, serving in the 135th Army Band as a percussionist and bass guitarist, and plays in the Praise Band "Soul Purpose" and the "Hallelujah Bells" hand bell choir.  He can be reached for comment or question at sid.whiting75@gmail.com or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WiseSteward).

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Another Dad with a Dream of Freedom


The earliest founders of America had a dream for their children, their grandchildren, and for you and me.    In 1776, five men were appointed to draft the Declaration of Independence setting forth this dream.  They wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights -- that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” 

Almost 200 years later, Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of freedom, too.  Martin Luther King Jr. was many things to many people.  Foremost, he was a Daddy with four children.  In his 1963 March on Washington Speech, he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I am another Dad with a dream for my children.  What about you?  Do you have dreams for your children, too?


For all my teasing, I am not dreaming of a bigger, newer sailboat with a roller furling jib, wheel steering, a pressurized water system, and things like this.  I am not dreaming about a sailboat.  I dream about my children.  I dream about their freedom.  I dream about their hopes. I dream about their future.  I am a Dad with a dream.   

I dream for my children to have a deep understanding that their freedom does not come at the expense of someone else’s freedom; nor does their hope come at the expense of someone else’s hope.  I dream for my children to be happy.  I also want them to assist others in their happiness, too.  My children’s freedom is not just about them.  My children’s freedom comes in the context of community, in the context of other people, with an understanding that we are all free together. 
      

For me, freedom is not the right of my children to do whatever they want whenever they want.  For me, my children’s freedom is the power and ability to do what is right and to do what they ought.  I want my children to know that when their freedom or right encroaches upon the freedom and right of someone else then they are no longer free.  Then they are slaves who are oppressed by their own selfish, self – centered and reckless attitudes that will, in time, erode and destroy our community and world.   

I believe my children’s dream begins with me -- without blame of others, complaint, or excuses.  My children’s freedom begins in a home that is free of anxiety and anger, blame and complaint.  My children’s freedom begins with me and an understanding that we are all equal and these rights belong in balance and to all of us, not just a few, or some, or the elite. 

This is my dream and it begins with me.  But a roller furling jib would be nice, too!

Jeff Sippy, a Dad-In-Training, is the father of three young men and the husband of Cindy. He enjoys sailing every chance that he gets. He is the senior pastor at Redeemer Lutheran in Springfield, MO and can be reached for question or comment at jsippy@rlcmail.org