Thursday, October 12, 2017

Handling Homework Hassles -- Kevin Weaver, Springfield Father of Three,




Oh, the joys of sitting around the table with your children, as they independently complete their homework assignments!

I hope you hear the sarcasm of that statement.

Having raised three, very different learners, the idea of homework has represented many, entirely different things in our house. And most of those things, not so good. Even with the loving, ever-helpful presence of my school-teacher wife, evenings spent around the old, oak table, often resembled something Stephen King should have been writing about.
Our eldest was a classic firstborn. He could full-on read at four, missed his first spelling word in third grade, skipped 5th grade altogether, and rarely said a thing about homework. He just did it. Somehow, somewhere, we guess. His grades typically reflected that fact, as they were typically good, without too much help or meddling from his parents.

Then, along came the second child. Our second child turned out to be an almost obnoxiously over-achieving adult, one with little patience for others who are not equally committed to always doing and bringing their best to life. But, in third grade? He didn’t even remotely resemble the ridiculously self-starting, self-disciplined person he is today. As a matter a fact, my wife received a call from his teacher one day, and our child was missing 34 math assignments. 34. After school that very day, my wife and I visited our child and his teacher in the third grade classroom. My wife asked permission to dump our son’s desk on the floor, and the teacher graciously obliged. A Mount Saint Helen’s lava-like flow of paper, eraser pieces, and broken pencils poured forth. Found in that pile were almost 30 math assignments not only started, but many actually completed. Rumpled, but completed.


The teacher told our humiliated, wide-eyed son that he could have a week to get all caught up. Now, some of you might be thinking, “Wow. You guys and that teacher . . . and your kid . . . you’re all losers. How on earth do you let a kid get 34 math assignments behind?” I understand your bewilderment, but there truly was a crazy story behind it, one involving a teacher change late in the year. Make that two. So, it had been a weird year for our little guy, and everyone else involved. It happens. Life happens.

But, no matter. We had work to do. For the next week, every night, at that big, old, oak table, our son tearfully cranked out the math. He whined. He stomped. He threw his head back in despair. One night, he resorted to wailing like a paid mourner at a funeral in some Dickensian-type novel.  It was ugly. And exhausting. No matter how many parenting books we had read, no matter how intentional we had been with our parenting, I’m pretty sure we resorted to, “We already went to third grade, Mister! This is your rodeo! Get to it!” Not our proudest parenting moments.

And yet…the math was completed. And . . . our kid felt a since of accomplishment and pride we hadn’t seen in him before.

His third, 3rd grade teacher of the year, was a strong, multi-talented, semi-retired man, and had been pretty stern at the turned-over desk meeting. But, when our son appeared with all of his completed work, he was met with praise that annihilated any painful memory of the dumped desk day. As the year passed, we still had a few rough nights around the old, oak table. But the perseverance fostered around that table, fueled by a tough, but tender teacher, helped build character in the man we are so proud to call our Army Ranger Officer son, today.


Do I have amazing tips? Well, being organized, staying on top of things at school – especially with the apps and technology offered by so many schools, now – all help. But, maybe this blog today is not so much about tips regarding homework. Honestly, most of us know we need to be organized and on top of things, in addition to nurturing patience and perseverance. Maybe this blog merely serves as an encouragement from an older, battle-tested dad, with three, grown, non-bitter, productive members of society, to let you know that you’re not alone. Hang in there, fight the good fight, love them and lead them. You’ll all get there.

I hope you are encouraged. If not, there’s always our third kid I could tell you about. The one who nightly informed us that he didn’t need to learn to read or do homework. He was going to play baseball and fish for the rest of his life . . . 

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, October 11, 2017

Sticking with Homework Hassles -- Nixa Dad Herb Cody


About ten years ago, I was a single, 31-year-old bachelor. I had never been married or had kids of my own. A new show came out that year, hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, called, "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" At the time, I thought it was the most ridiculous idea for a show ever! I mean, come on, of course adults are smarter than the average grade school child . . . right? Then I watched an episode, and soon realized, a lot of the stuff I learned in school, had been lost over the course of 15 to 20 years. All of the information these 5th graders were learning was fresh on their minds. In some capacity, these children were smarter than me.

Fast forward, ten years later, and here I am with two junior high age kids, whom I adopted when I got married. We soon added my biological son, who is now in first grade. It's sad to say, but I have no clue how to help my teenagers with their math homework. I think it was about 4th or 5th grade, when the math I knew, completely changed. I remember trying to help my then 8-year-old with some division problems. I wrote it all out on paper, and he looked at me like I was doing trigonometry. He said, "Dad, this isn't how we do it at all." He then showed me some of his work, to which I'm pretty sure it looked to him as if I were trying to read abstract algebra. That was my first experience with common core math. Pretty much everything I was taught in school, was now different. It's not like I was a math genius in the first place. I was average to slightly above average back in the day. 

My daughter, now in 8th grade, struggled her first semester of 7th grade in a few classes. I tried to help where I could. I quickly realized, the best thing to do was communicate with her teachers and set up extra time where she could get one-on-one sessions with them. Her grades eventually went up. My oldest son, now in 7th grade, is struggling mightily in math, science and social studies. Again, I've tried to help where I can, including the use of Google and YouTube, but it doesn't seem to be enough. My son also has ADHD, so I've had to adjust his medication, because he has not been focused enough to get his work turned in on time. I've been in contact with his teachers to let them know my plan, and for them to try to monitor his behavior and to keep me posted if things don't seem to turn around. As a parent, you have to know your children, you have to know their strengths and weaknesses, along with your own. It's also good to know what motivates them and what doesn't. Sometimes incentives can help your child try just a little harder. 

The homework I most look forward to, is when my daughter has to practice singing for her choir class. I could listen to her voice echo throughout the halls of our home for hours. With that harmonious delight, comes the exact opposite. If given the choice of listening to a feline in heat, claw at a chalkboard for an entire day, or my 7th grader practice the flute for 30 minutes . . . I'd choose Fluffy all day long! Obviously I'd never let him know how I feel, but I do try to schedule my showers, lawn mowing or other outdoor chores to align with his flute practice.

My six-year-old, who I thankfully can still help, has to be reminded each day that his work must be done before he can play on his iPod or play video games. He will normally do his work while I cook dinner. He is the type of kid who thinks everything looks better with stickers on it, including homework and books. I constantly have to remind him it's not appropriate on his schoolwork. 



Last week, while making dinner, I was trying to multitask and fold laundry as well. My youngest brings home index cards with sight words on them. He is supposed to write those words multiple times on each card. On this day, while I was in the laundry room, he decided to decorate his work with some stickers he found in a drawer. He was so proud of what he had done, that he brought them to me to show off. Unfortunately, the "stickers" he found, were actually a book of "Delicioso" Forever Stamps. We then spent the next 20 minutes trying to salvage $10 worth of "stickers". 



Homework can be stressful for both the student and the parent, but there are far more resources available today, than what we had 25 years ago. Don't be embarrassed if you don't know the answers. Most teachers are willing to spend extra time with your child, if you just communicate with them. Stay on top of their grades and make sure work is being completed. Keep an eye on their mood and behavior throughout the school year. Most importantly, keep the cool looking postal stamps, out of reach from young middle school children.

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, October 4, 2017

Homework Hassles -- Springfield Dad-in-Training Jeffrey Sippy


When you were a child doing your homework did you ever wonder, “When am I going to use this stuff again?”    

For instance, when was the last time you referenced the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945? 

The Japanese Surrender demonstrated the strength of the allied forces and effectively marked the end of WWII.  This will be on the test.    

Held in Tokyo Bay on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri, representatives from Japan and the Allied Nations signed a formal document of surrender. Thousands of Allied planes flew overhead. 

Ready for the test?

True or False. Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945.
True or False. Japan’s surrender demonstrated the strength of the allies and the end of WWII?
True or False. Japan’s surrender took place on the deck of the USS Missouri. 
True or False. The point of this illustration is that Japan surrendered and you are not! 

Homework can be a hassle, but we are not surrendering.  We are Good Dads and we are in this together.    



Good Dads, I have good news for you.  I am a survivor.  My children are 26, 24, and 22.  My two oldest sons have graduated from college and my youngest son is well on his way.  It wasn’t always easy, but it should never be a fight.  I did my homework.  You can, too.        

My oldest son was 12 and he absolutely would not do his homework. He wouldn’t budge.  So I pulled out the artillery.  Like President Truman ordering the atomic strike on Hiroshima, my son was going to surrender or get blown off the map.  I got in his face.  I yelled.  I threatened.      

My middle son jumped between the two of us and yelled at me, “Will you shut up?!”

There was two of them and one of me.  I felt like General Lee facing the Union armies at Gettysburg. I fired back:  “Me?  He’s yelling, too!”  “Yeah!!”  My middle son exclaimed.  “But you are the Dad!!” 

Yes. I am the Dad.    



Here are three suggestions and one encouragement I learned in battle:    

·      Don’t insult or berate your children’s teachers or coaches under any circumstance.  You are only fueling your child’s notion that this is a waste of time.  Support and encourage your children’s teachers and coaches.
 
·      Don’t undermine or make fun of the homework assignment.  Make it into an adventure   to accomplish together

·     Don’t think of the end product as the end product.  You are not just doing history or   math.  You are spending time with your child and helping them towards their future.



Your assignment is to love and nurture and encourage your child.  The goal is not an “A” on the paper. The goal is assisting your child become the person he or she will one day be.   


True or False, Homework can be hassle but spending time with your children and helping them towards their future is worth it all.  

 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, September 26, 2017

Influencing Unlikely Friendships

As parents our focus is often on ensuring our children have the right kind of friends. We arrange "play dates." We sign them up for teams and activities where they can interact with other children we deem suitable playmates. We talk with our child's teacher to see if he or she is getting along with other children in the class. We worry if we think our son or daughter might be spending too much time with questionable characters. 
These are all worthy pursuits, but I wonder if we might also consider how our kids can be a "force for good" in our neighborhood. How might we help them set the tone for how things go when a group of children get together? How can we help them be leaders rather than followers? I learned a few things about this from our son and daughter-in-law.
Our daughter told me about a scene she witnessed when our son corralled a number of the neighborhood children in his already busy-with-four-of-its-own front yard.
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From what she described, it appeared at least two of the neighborhood children felt more comfortable in his yard and house than in their own. Apparently no one was much concerned about their whereabouts, even at supper time, so they often lingered looking like they’d like to be fed.
It seems as though he took the lead in suggesting that perhaps his family had a role in welcoming these boys. Your sister-in- law agreed. Observe Baker house rules they must, but welcome they were to play at his house and occasionally be fed.
As a psychologist, I’m all for healthy limits and boundaries. You can’t always take on the parenting and nutritional needs of the neighborhood. A chat with the boys’ parents may be appropriate.
That being said, I was impressed by our son's kindness and generosity. His days are crazy busy; his evenings are filled with classes or kids. He has every right to insist on peace and quiet on his own turf. Many men do.
bakerboyssnlfh
Yet, he seemed to realize these children needed something they may not be getting at home. It’s hard to say what that may be, but they obviously had their own reasons for wanting to be part of the little community of neighborhood kids often occupying his yard.
Before we cross certain kids off our child's "friend list," I'm wondering if we might also consider the opportunity we have to influence children other than our own. Perhaps we can help our child demonstrate compassion to someone with fewer friends. Maybe we can model leadership in setting the tone for how we will be with others. It's not a strategy many parents employ, but if and when they do, I'm betting there will be benefits.
Dr. Jennifer Baker is the founder and director of Good Dads. She can be reached for question or comment at jennifer@gooddads.com

Monday, September 18, 2017

Making New/Good Friends -- Springfield Father of Three -- Kevin Weaver


Friends. Regardless of what any human of any age, from any walk of life might say, they’re kind of a big deal. As parents, when it comes to navigating the waters of friendship with our children, it can seem like an even bigger deal. Outside of our relationships with our offspring, the relationships they forge with peers often prove to be the most influential. Many of us parents bring our own memories of being everything from last picked for recess kickball to being bully-like King or Queen Bees. All of our experiences tend to greatly shape how we want to get in, or possibly even avoid, the entire process with our kids.  

In this age of mind-blowing technological advances, easy computer/device access, and social media, merely drawing personal relationship realities from our own growing-up years may prove to be a bit lacking. We may find ourselves having to add to our “how to make and keep the right friends” toolboxes. On the 21st Century side of things, it is wise to be as aware as possible of cell phone activity and any involvement your child may have on the internet. But as we stay in tune with the “friend” environment, a greater concern may arise in, “What should we be most concerned about when it comes to our children interacting with other people?”


I know some may be thinking, “Wait. Is this all there is now? I get that tweens and teens are ‘friending’ in some ways we parents didn’t. But, I have very young kids. What about them? In addition to that, what about all of the elements of friendship that don't involve electronics? Those still have to exist. Right?”

They do. And we know this because they exist in our own, “big people” relationships. Just as our children are unique individuals - some outgoing, some more reserved - the attributes of our human expression in developing friendships as adults are much the same. At times, the answers to the questions we have regarding the types of friendships our young make and keep, can be found in our own. As with all things parenting, modeling behaviors is a powerful thing. What kinds of friends do we have as parents? What kinds of friend making and keeping skills are little eyes watching us exhibit? Do we have healthy friendships? Do our kids observe us being good friends? Do we allow ourselves to enable adult friends? Do we allow ourselves to be pulled into full-sized drama? We love to roll our aging eyes at 12-year-old girls and their dramatic relationship antics, but sometimes we have to stop rolling our peepers long enough to understand that many junior high issues don’t always get resolved in junior high.  One thing that I have discovered as a dad is that I can never give my kids something I don’t already possess myself.  So, if my own, current inter-personal interactions with the people in my life don’t reflect healthy friendships, it makes it pretty hard for me to guide my children along their way.



What kinds of friends do you want your kids to make and keep? What kinds of friends do your kids want to make and keep? How can you be on the same page in this crazy digital world?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Talk to your kids.
  2. Listen to your kids.
  3. Share your own experiences with your kids.
  4. Be involved in and aware of the things involving the technology component.
  5. Set the example of what healthy friendships look like.

As a parent of now-grown children, I will have to say that there is another benefit of working hard to model healthy relationships for your young. After all of those years of committing to “being dad,” it is a joy to also now be “friend.” 
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

Monday, September 11, 2017

Helping Your Child Make Friends -- Nixa Dad, Herbie Cody


As a parent, for the most part, we have the ability to help and protect our children as they grow. We can make sure they don't go running in the streets, stick things in the outlets or consume toxic items. We can safeguard the home in which they live, so as to give them a safe and secure environment as they get older. We can try to protect them, by talking about "stranger danger" and the risks of the World Wide Web. 

When it comes to helping our kids become socially adequate as they learn to make friends and understand how to be a good one, we lose some of our protective capabilities. I have three children, two boys and one teenage daughter. All three of them have their own personality, and definitely interact with others in their own way. 

My 14-year-old daughter has always been a bit reserved. She will sit back, observe, and wait for others to approach her. Once she gets to know someone, or a group of people, she breaks out of her shell and becomes very outgoing. The thing about girls, it seems, is they can have a best friend one week, and the next week, that bestie is a mortal enemy. The one thing I try to instill in all my kids, is to be nice to everyone. If they see someone struggling to make friends, I want them to be the one that approaches that person, regardless of what their friends may say or think. 

My twelve-year-old son struggled to make friends early on in school. It wasn't until we figured out he had issues with ADD, that he was able to turn things around. Before he began taking medication, he had a short fuse with kids his own age. He was also very spastic, so not all kids knew how to take him. When children would refuse his friendship requests, he would resort to threatening them. On one occasion, he told a young boy he was gonna stab him with his pen. I'll never forget the time I was called by the school, because my son got angry with one of his peers, pulled his pants down on the playground, and tried to pee on the poor kid. That was pretty much the last straw. We knew we had to see a doctor. Once he was diagnosed and began taking medication, he made friends much easier, and was able to deal with his emotions in a better way. 


My youngest, who is six, seems to be doing fine when it comes to making friends. The problem is, he doesn't seem to understand how to differentiate from the way he and his older brother act and speak to one another, compared to the way he should interact with his friends. Just this evening, while at Mighty Mites football practice, he found out a friend from his class was on the team. I watched as they did drills together and laughed and had fun. The lady standing next to me noticed and started talking to me. She happened to be the grandmother of my son's buddy.

The boys were doing tackling drills on a dummy, when my son suddenly took his mouth piece out and yelled, "Hey Dad, this is my friend, and well . . . he . . . he . . . just watch him . . . he really . . . uhhh . . . " As he struggled to come up with the words he wanted to express, in my mind I was thinking, "Please say something positive, please say something kind, please tell me how awesome this kid is!"

Instead, I got, "Dad, watch him . . . he really SUCKS!" I didn't wanna overreact, but I also didn't want him to think that was ok to say. I immediately pointed at him to come to me. He saw the look in my eyes, and knew he had made a mistake. I explained to him how inappropriate his comment was and demanded he apologize to his buddy and his Grandmother. 

The best advice I could give to a parent regarding their child's ability to make friends, would be to set up play dates with different kids when they are young. Be there to observe and coach them. As they get older and meet new people in school, be available when they are ready to talk about any issues that may come up. Also, if you have a young daughter, the complex world of female teenage drama, is a never ending discussion. 


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

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Making New Friends -- Jeffrey Sippy, Springfield Dad-in-Training


Our dog’s name is “Wilson.”  Wilson is to me the best dog in the world.  And if a dog is a man’s best friend, then Wilson is about the best friend I have ever had.

Wilson likes to go for walks.  Wilson likes to listen.   Wilson likes me the way I am. 

Wilson never judges me.  When I come home at night he greets me at the door, wags his tail, and licks my hand.  Wilson is a good dog and my best friend.   


We named our dog Wilson for two reasons.  One, “Wilson” fits our family pattern of names ending in “on” – like Clayton, Aaron, and Jason.  Second, Wilson is the name of the volleyball in the 2000 Tom Hanks epic adventure “Cast Away.”  The movie is a great portrayal of how each of us needs a friend. 

In the movie “Cast Away” Tom Hanks plays the role of a UPS executive whose business flight crashes into the ocean.  Tom Hanks is the only survivor and becomes cast away on an uninhabited island.  One of the items from the plane crash that washes up on the island is a Wilson brand volleyball.

In one scene Hanks injures his hand and is bleeding.  Lashing out, Hanks hits the volleyball with his bloody palm.  The bloody palm print forms what looks like a face on the volleyball.  Hanks puzzles over the volleyball and the face.  Hanks makes a new friend. His name is “Wilson.” 

Wilson is a good friend to Hanks.  Wilson listens.  Wilson is always there.  

Each passing day of isolation makes Hanks crazier and crazier.  But Wilson accepts Hanks just the way he is.  Wilson does not belittle Hanks or bully him.   Wilson does not judge Hanks or anything like that.   Wilson may not be real but he is a good friend.

As exciting and necessary as friendships are, they can also be difficult.  A Good Dad will be there to patiently guide and coach his children. Friendships take kindness and understanding, energy and forgiveness.  People are people -- not volleyballs.  People are complex, demanding, and make mistakes.        


As a Good Dad you have a good positon to teach your children to be a good friend.  Children need to be taught how to be a friend, how to listen, and how to be kind.  You can speak honestly that bullying, discrimination, and unkind words are always unacceptable.


Everybody needs a good friend, someone who will listen, someone who will always be there, and someone who will accept you the way you are.  I used to tell my children that if you see someone in the middle of the cafeteria they are not looking for a place to sit down.  They are looking for someone to sit with.  Help your child be the kind of person who welcomes others to his or her table.

 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