TELL YOUR KIDS A STORY

There may be many dads out there who appreciate the value of story; that is, they can tell wonderful tales about their dads because they spent time asking questions and listening to the ol’ man on golf outings or fishing trips. What a remarkable gift it is to hold and preserve those personal stories and to pass them on to our sons and daughters.

A Stranger Named Dad

Tom and his brother have spent several years trying to uncover those stories about their father. In their search, they have been reminded again and again of an unsettling reality—they really never knew their dad. The elder Tozer was a private, stolid clergyman who delved into the lives of his parishioners but remained guarded about his own history. Tom has often said he wished he would have taken more interest in coaxing boyhood stories out of his dad—stories of shenanigans, of black sheep hidden in the branches of the family tree, of loves lost and found, all that juicy stuff!

Another reality, however, is that when we are adolescents or even teenagers, sitting down and interviewing our parents may be the last thing on our to-do list, if it even makes the list. Family histories, those rich stories of our past, become more important as we grow older and have a greater appreciation of place, tradition and connection.

If Only …

So Tom and his brother pore over historical records in the county archives, look for old-timers in the area who may have foggy-at-best recollections of the family name and search for distant relatives here and abroad who may offer clues that might connect some of the dots. How many times the brothers have said … If only dad were still alive, we would mine his 98 years of history.

Stories Connect Us

One of the greatest joys of writing this column is the camaraderie and sharing of family history that we enjoy. From our many conversations over cashew chicken and gyro salads, we have shared the Tozer and Black stories of being young and expectant fathers, rearing children, establishing careers and coping with growing older. It may well be that Tom knows Bill better than he knew his own dad. The sharing of stories—of roots and recollections—face-to-face, up close and personal—truly brings people together.

Pass It On, Dad

So, dads, share your stories with your children. If you find it difficult to get an audience with your kids, then write down your stories and put them in a cool, dry place. Who you are and who you were will one day become gold nuggets that your son or daughter will discover and treasure. Your stories need not be dramatic or exotic, just genuine and real. Your children are who they are in large part because of who you are—and were. Your history is a precious gift for your children. Don’t take it with you.

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By dads2dads

The Increase and Impact of Sexting

A local high school teacher was added to the sex-offender registry after sending suggestive messages to two students. Nude photos and sexual messages are too common in the inboxes of teenagers. Police report dealing with an increasing number of cases.

According to a survey by the National Campaign to Support Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 20 percent of teens have sent nude or semi-nude photos of themselves to a boyfriend or girlfriend, or posted them online. And 39 percent have sent sexually suggestive messages.

Patricia Dailey Lewis from the Delaware Department of Justice wrote,

“The number of teens and children who engage in inappropriate sexting and texting is shocking. These behaviors can be evidence of sexual exploitation, harassment, bullying and teen dating violence. The results of this teenage behavior can be devastating and have lifetime consequences.”

What it is

Sexting involves tweens or teens sending sexually suggestive photos via cell phone or social networking site. The image a teen takes and sends to one friend can easily be forwarded to a few others and end up on the Internet. Cases are difficult to handle, hard to prosecute and impossible to control.

It is an exploding phenomenon. Ludacris, the rap artist, even wrote a song about it. And with the development of some private sites, it can be done easily and anonymously.

What you can do

Even if they don’t do a lot of talking on the phone, teens can be involved in sexting. Whether you view it as high-tech flirting or child pornography, these images can easily appear in a broader arena, and teens caught sexting can be prosecuted under very serious charges. Some states have discussed legislation to deal with sexting and some have already enacted laws.

Watch what’s going on

Review your teen’s phone on a regular basis. Parents who start early can have this accepted as a regular parental responsibility. Your teen won’t like it … but you’re the parent.

Talk to your teen

Discuss the dangers of sexting, how images can get out of hand, and the legal          consequences of participating.

It’s not private or anonymous

Forty percent of teens say they have had a “private” suggestive message shown to them, and 20 percent say they have shared such a message with someone. And even if someone only knows you by your e-mail address or online profile, he or she can find out a whole lot more with a little effort.

It doesn’t go away

Things you send or post can stay out there for a long time. Others, including college recruiters and potential employers, can access the images or information you post.

Don’t give in.

Peer pressure is a big reason why many teens engage in sexting. It’s not a good enough reason.

Do not underestimate the level or seriousness of sexting. It can have legal and psychological consequences. Negative consequences preserved in cyberspace can last a lifetime, affecting the quality of one’s life and diminishing a promising future.

 

By dads2dads