Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Handling Surge on the Road and at Home -- Prime Driver, John Ogren

As the driver of an 18-wheel tanker hauling food grade products, John Ogren is familiar with “surge.” He might be hauling anything from liquid chocolate to grape juice to soybean oil; it doesn’t make much difference when he needs to stop his truck. At that moment, several thousand pounds of liquid in the unbaffled tank of his truck comes surging forward, shaking his cab in a dramatic way. (Check out John’s YouTube video at According to John, you can minimize the impact of surge with some driving maneuvers, but you can’t eliminate it. It comes with driving a tanker truck. 

John Ogren has been driving for Prime forthree years. Although he initially started as a long-haul driver, he quickly moved to driving a designated route hauling food grade products. Initially his schedule took him home mostly on the weekends. Since he’s moved to northern Indiana, he’s home nearly every night. “I only slept in my truck two times in the last month,” John claims. 

Life on the road as a long haul driver can be difficult, but life as a regional driver is not without its challenges. “I never know,” John says, “exactly when I’ll be called into work the next day. I find out my schedule the night before and I may discover I have to leave home at 4 a.m. This makes it difficult for my family to count on me to do most things any night of the week. I may think I’ll be home, but I can get held up in some way that puts me home later than I thought. When that happens, I have a short turn-around time before I get rested up and get back out on the road.”

Although he no longer drives over-the-road like he did when he first started with Prime, John does know something about trying to stay connected with his family when he can’t be there in person. This is especially important to him as the father of a 17-year-old daughter who enters her senior year in high school in August 2018. Like many dads, he wants to be there for her and her Betty, his wife of 20 years. 

John knows a thing or two about “surge” in his personal life—that unexpected force threatening to knock you down when circumstances bring you to an unexpected halt. He didn’t always drive a truck. He started out in radio and spent 17 years on the air mostly in the area of sports casting. When the Great Recession hit in 2008, John knew he had to do something different to support his family, so he got his CDL and began driving a school bus. He soon figured out he could supplement his income if he drove the charter bus to school athletic events and served as the sports broadcaster for that activity. Although he enjoyed using his talents in many ways, when John became aware of an opportunity to have one job instead of three, as a driver for Prime he jumped at the chance. 

Life can shake a person up at times in unexpected ways. John has found staying connected with his wife and daughter essential to staying grounded. He talks with Betty when he’s on the road and texts with his daughter Anna. He says he’s had to increase the data usage on his phone, but he sees this cost as critical to staying on top of communication with his family.

Just as you can’t prevent surge, you also can’t prevent the headaches and hassles of life on the road. However, staying in touch with what is happening and having realistic expectations make a big difference when it comes to minimizing the impact of surge and other times when “life happens.” 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

How Dads Make a Difference -- from The Boy Crisis by Dr. Warren Farrell & Dr. John Gray

When I recently spoke with the Care Managers at Jordan Valley Clinic about the importance of fathers to children's health, I was happy to have The Boy Crisis by Dr. Warren Farrell and Dr. John Gray to use as a resource. We're offering the book through our website and we are also featuring Dr. Warren Farrell in a "Part 2" podcast this week. If you want to know why we, at Good Dads, think this book is so important checkout material from Appendix B (pp. 403-407) below.

Why Dads Matter to Child Health and Behavioral-Health Related Outcomes

1.   Children with father loss have, by the age of nine, a 14% reduction in telomere length—the most reliable predictors of life expectancy. In addition, the telomere loss is 40% greater for boys than for girls.

2.   The more frequently a father visits the hospital of an infant who is born prematurely, the more quickly the infant is released from the hospital and the better the infant’s social-personal development and ability to adapt.

3.  The more interaction a boy has with his dad before six months of age, the higher his mental competence.

4.  Living in a home without a dad has a greater correlation with suicide among teenagers than any other factor.

5.   When dad has positive contact with children during the first two years, the children have fewer signs of unwanted and uncontrolled behavior.

6.  Dads tend to enforce boundaries. Toddlers whose dads set limits and enforced boundaries as the children explored had better social and emotional skills twelve to eighteen months later.

7.  When 172,000 children’s well-being was measured, through a combination of how well they did psychologically, socially, and with their physical health, children with equally shared parenting did much better than those in sole parenting or primary-parent arrangements, and almost as well as those in an intact family.

8.  Both boys and girls suffer after their parents’ divorce, but the greatest feelings of deprivation and depressive behavior were observed among boys.

9.  Only 15% of children living with only their dads had problems with concentration (e.g. ADHD), versus 30% living with only their moms.

10. Five- to eleven-year-old children living with their dads are less than one-third as likely to go to the hospital compared to those living with only their moms.

11. Among black boys, hypertension is reduced by 46% when dads are significantly involved.

12. Dad deprivation increases the likelihood of teenage motherhood.

13. Among preschool children admitted as psychiatric patients in two New Orleans hospitals, 80% came from homes without fathers. Similar percentages emerge among dad-deprived children in Canada, South Africa, and Finland, at ages from preschool through high school.

14. Worldwide, the amount of time a father spends with a child is one of the strongest predictors of the child’s ability to empathize as he gets older.

15. The more contact children have with their dads growing up, the more easily they make open, receptive, and trusting contact with new people in their lives. And the more contact an infant has prior to six months of age, the greater the infant’s ability to trust.

     Photos on this blog post are from a recent Good Dads @ the Zoo event. Our thanks to the 100+ dads and kids who participated. Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Director of Good Dads. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Becoming a Full-Time, Stay-at-Home Dad -- Herb Cody, Nixa Father of Three

Back in 2010, I married for the first time, at the age of 34. My wife already had two beautiful and amazing children of her own that she raised as a single parent. Once we got hitched, we had a little boy together. I was able to be the stay-at-home Dad, and take care of my son throughout the day. My wife worked full time, so I would get up with him during the night. I absolutely loved it.
My wife had gone through the baby thing twice, so she was pretty much an expert, while I was learning as I went. Things would have been much more stressful without her by my side. Every day was a new learning experience. What my wife could not answer, I asked my sister or mom. It never hurt to get many different opinions when it came to what that rash was, or why I couldn’t get him to stop crying or go to sleep. 

When my wife was able to start working from home, it was such a blessing. Not many kids are able to stay home with one parent each day, let alone both. The only challenge was trying to keep him from banging on the glass door which separated him from the room his Momma was working in. 

I was without a doubt, the pushover when it came to our youngest, but was the tougher one on the older two. Emily and I figured out our roles pretty quickly. We had the “good cop, bad cop” routine down. 

I have so much respect for those who are able to be single parents. It is hard enough raising kids with two parents present, and a supporting cast of family around to help. 

My baby boy is now seven. I was somehow able to navigate fatherhood, and help raise a pretty awesome little guy. As parents, there is nothing more satisfying, than knowing how great your kids are, and that it has a lot to do with ole Mom and Dad.
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

You can check out Herb's own blog at,

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Thoughts about "The Boy Crisis" -- Good Dads Founder & Director -- Dr. Jennifer Baker

I think most of us recognize that dads are important to their kids, but I don’t think most of us imagine just how critical they are. Recently, I read a new book, The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, by Warren Farrell Ph.D. and John Gray, Ph.D., that explains just how essential fathers are to the development of their children in many, many areas. I learned the following from their distillation of the most up-to-date research:

A study of ISIS fighters concluded that almost all male and female fighters had in common “some type of an ‘absent father’ syndrome.”

Father involvement is at least five times as important in preventing drug use than closeness to parent, parental rules, parent trust, strictness, or a child’s gender, ethnicity, or social class.

A study of boys from similar backgrounds revealed that by the third grade, the boys with fathers present scored higher on every achievement test, and received higher grades.

The more interaction a boy has with his dad before six months of age, the higher his mental competence.

Father absence predicts the profile of both the bully and the bullied: poor self-esteem, poor grades, and poor social skills.

Boys living with dads have better-enforced boundaries, leading to better impulse control and fewer discipline problems.
very 1 percent increase in fatherlessness in a neighborhood predicts a 3 percent increase in adolescent violence.

Absence of dad contributes to violent crime as much as absence of income. (pp.403-407)

Today, April 26, we’ll be recording a podcast with Dr. Warren Farrell, one of the authors of The Boy Crisis. (Watch for it to be posted next week, the first week in May.) You can order the book from our website at a 40% discount thanks to an arrangement we have with the author.

I’m obviously a woman, but I can see what Farrell and Gray talk about in their book. I see it in the men and boys I see in therapy. I see it through our work at Good Dads. I hope you’ll consider reading the book, listening to it on Audible, or tuning into our podcast the first week in May. You may not agree with everything you hear, but I bet you’ll have a lot to think about in terms of how important the health and well-being of men and boys is to our culture.

Dr. Jennifer Baker is the founder and Director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She can be reached for question or comment at

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Guardrails and Gatekeepers -- Kevin Weaver, Springfield Dad and Grandfather

Though our kids are grown and we now are starting to experience the joys of being grandparents, because my wife works in the field of education, I get to hear a lot of talk regarding the current “do’s” and “don’ts” in the world of raising young people. It would appear that teachers, often the primary adults spending time with our children throughout much of the day, face many of the same challenges that parents face. One such challenge is that of whether or not parents or teachers can be “friends” with children or students. Not only is this a hotly debated topic on the internet, one does not have to look far to find books completely covering or at least touching on it, as well.

Yesterday, my wife felt badly for a substitute teacher who had experienced a particularly rough day with students. First, it might be good for you to know that my wife teaches in, and absolutely adores, junior high. I love my brilliant, soon to be “doctor of education” spouse, but as to her love for working with this particular age group? Let’s just say that I would last about five minutes in one of her classrooms. The smells alone can make one’s eyes water. But, I digress. She didn’t mention names, and she remarked that the sub had a caring heart and really put great effort into her role. However, she also noted that the sub had stated that she really wanted students to know that she could be “cool,” and that she was their “friend.” My wife deducted that the latter greatly factored into the sub’s “bad” day.

Nobody loves kids more than my wife. Even though we had three, active, rowdy-to-raise sons in just under five years, she laments the fact that we did not birth or adopt at least two or three more. As grown men, I marvel at how much our sons want to spend time with us and how much they call for advice. This is especially interesting as we had more than a few years of each one of them thinking that neither my wife nor I had much insight to offer.

One thing we never made a big deal about, either way, was being their childhood “friends.” Did they know we loved them? Yes. Did they know we valued them? Yes. Did they know we believed in them? Would be there for them? Provide for them? Keep them as safe as humanly possible? Chase the monsters out of the closets? Yes, to all the aforementioned. My wife transfers this philosophy, in theory, to her students. They know she values them, believes in them, and will do her utmost best to offer a safe, caring learning environment in which they can grow. But, she also makes it very clear to them that she is not running for Student Council, or trying out for cheerleader. She is their teacher.

Kids need guardrails and gatekeepers. They don’t need someone yelling the rules at them, 24/7, but they do need to know the boundaries . . . and that the boundaries are in place to keep them safe and on their “roads.” They don’t need to us to act like prison wardens, but they do need someone closely monitoring what is allowed to come in and out of the “gate.”

When we parent or teach with our focus being the well-being of our young people as more important than whether or not we are popular, a very ironic thing often happens. A day comes when a young man or woman calls us up, or stops by a classroom, to tell us that not only are we “cool,” but that he or she now considers us and calls us “friend.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Helping Your Child Develop Friendships -- Nixa Father of Three, Herb Cody

I remember when I was a Junior High-aged teenager, growing up in a small town. It was hard to work up the courage to ask a girl for her parents’ phone number, then worry about calling the number, hoping her Dad didn’t answer. I worried about calling too late or staying on the phone too long. There was always the concern that someone was listening in on our conversations as well. 

Here I am, some 30 years later, and I have a Junior High-aged daughter of my own. So much has changed. Every kid has a mobile device and most teenagers have multiple social media apps to communicate with friends, family or strangers. These kids can call, text or even FaceTime, at any moment. 

I don’t want my children to feel like I’m smothering them, yet at the same time, I want to know what is going on. I want my kids to make their own friends and be able to use their own judgment when certain situations arise. I have basically told my daughter she can have a passcode on her phone as long as I know it, and she knows I may check it from time to time. I have read some messages between her and other girls, and wonder how they could be friends. I’ve also read a message sent to her from boys, and decided, “He will not be her friend!”

My kids are constantly wanting to spend the night with friends. I think it is good for them to get out and experience for themselves, the way others live. Sometimes they come home and really appreciate how good they have it, and other times they come home wanting a pony, or a game room. 

We have set up special emoji codes in case they are at a friend’s home and are uncomfortable, or just don’t want to be there any longer. My daughter is not a fan of clowns, so if she is someplace and wants me to come get her, all she has to do is text me the clown emoji. This has already been implemented once. Last summer she had a friend stay at our home. Everything went well, and they seemed to get along great. A few weeks later she wanted to go stay with the same girl at her home. I got the address and warned that the area of homes was not great. I dropped her off around 7 p.m., and around midnight, I received the “clown” text. I called the parent of my daughter’s friend and told them we had an emergency, so I needed to come get her. 

My daughter was unable to sleep because as she said, “Everything was dirty and it smelled bad.” We have had the same girl over to our house multiple times, and they continue to be good friends. 

As kids get older and begin meeting new people and making new friends, it’s best to keep an open line of communication with them. Talk to them about situations that may occur, and give them ideas of ways to handle them. 

I also share news stories with my teenagers, where kids were manipulated by adults posing as children of their own age. They have to know not everyone online or on social media is a friend, or are who they say they are. 

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

You can check out Herb's own blog at

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Women Behind the Men--Melanie Borden and Carolyn Mantor

You may have heard it said that behind every great man there’s a great woman. Perhaps that is nowhere more true than for men who spend much of their time on the road, away from home, in difficult conditions. It’s true for men in the armed forces. It’s also true for men who drive a long-haul truck. Our country’s economy depends on trucking. Successful over-the-road (OTR) drivers often depend on a supportive woman at home.

Carolyn Mantor is one of these women. Melanie Borden is another. Josh-the-Dad and I recently spoke at length with both of them about what it’s like for them to be in a committed relationship with a man who drives an eighteen wheeler. Carolyn and her fiancé have a blended family with 12 children between the two of them—three are hers, one is still at home. She has been involved with the transportation industry for eight years personally; and in a relationship with her fiancé, a driver, for two.

“You get made for this sort of thing,” she says. “Our relationship has grown very well even with the distance between us. You learn to communicate over the phone and get closer that way. You can pick up things from his voice and you learn to ask, ‘What’s the matter?’”

Melanie has been married to her husband for 40 years and he’s been driving over the road since 2004. She’s worked for Steelman Transportation since 2005. The couple has adult children and four grandchildren. “The honeymoon happens,” she says, “when he comes home. In between times, I can get my house clean and my life in order. Then he comes home and we have wonderful chaos.”

Both Carolyn and Melanie appreciate trucking for the good living it has provided for their families. They also recognize the difficulties. For example, the lack of respect accorded to drivers concerns them. Different gun laws in different states create some scary situations in which their loved one is very vulnerable. “You hear horror stories. They’re out there alone and there are some bad people there.”

They also note the danger of distracted driving, something their guys see every day. Both report their husbands see drivers on their phones almost constantly. “If you cannot see their mirrors,” they note, “they can’t see you. It takes them 500 feet to stop—don’t tailgate them.”

Staying Connected
Carolyn and Melanie also know how critical they are to their partner’s success on the road. It’s vital to their partners to have a strong person at home, a person who is also strong and able to manage in his absence. Melanie takes care of all her husband’s banking, paperwork, and contracts. She also takes care of the house but draws the line at climbing up on the roof or crawling under the house. She says she understands the transportation industry and does her best to do everything she can for him while he’s on the road.

“We talk every morning on my way to work,” offers Melanie. “We also touch base throughout the day. We are on the phone a lot.”

“It’s the same with us,” remarks Carolyn, “We’re on the phone all day long.” Apparently, those countless calls have made an impression on their kids, as Carolyn’s 19-year-old daughter has been known to say, “You guys are like teenagers; it’s ridiculous.”
“You’ve got to keep that sense of romance,” Carolyn affirms. “They’re alone out there and it’s hard. There are times when we don’t say anything on the phone . . . when there are just 10 minutes of silence, but he knows I’m there. That’s the important thing.”

When He Comes Home
Yes, there’s a “honeymoon” of sorts when he comes home, but it can be challenging to adjust to another adult in the house. A lot depends on your perspective. Carolyn describes her fiancé as “the glue” for their blended family.” When he comes home,” she says, ”he does a great job of trying to keep up with everyone. There are lots of family members nearby and he often goes where he’s told with lots of input from family. He makes the time even if it’s only for an hour . . . it’s a group effort.”

Melanie, her kids, and grandkids stay connected by video chat when her husband is on the road, but when he gets home they get together often. With four grandchildren and five dogs is a crazy time, but they love cooking out in any kind of weather and enjoying lots of good food together.

Advice to Wives and Sweethearts of Truck-Driving Dads
Melanie and Carolyn clearly know a thing or two about how to make a relationship with a truck-driving man a success, so I asked them what words of advice they would give to other women with over-the-road partners. Here’s what they said:
·         Stay strong with your own support system. Make sure you have girlfriends, your sisters, whomever to talk with and do things when your guy is gone.

  • Find ways to “romance” over the phone. Stay in touch. Talk often. Tell them you love them, you miss them, and you can’t wait to see them. Don’t expect to hear it back all the time.
  • Practice patience, patience, patience. Let them rant when things aren’t going well. Don’t take it personally.
  • Be there when they’re ready to blow up. Talk them off the ledge. Remind them that they’re exactly where they need to be and things will work out.

Melanie and Carolyn agree, “These are really good guys who are doing a hard job. They deserve our respect and support.” We, at Good Dads, agree and we know their employer, Steelman Transportation, agrees as well.