Capturing Memories

Bill’s family recently moved and he handed some boxes to a boy who was helping out. They contained pictures and writings from his sons’ childhood. A handwritten Christmas poem, the drawing of Pandora and her troubles, the Christmas ornaments too delicate now to put on the tree, the book report on “Tanglewood Tales.”

There were favorite books too –”Benny Bakes A Cake” and “Goodnight Moon”, and a few misplaced photographs in Halloween costumes their mother had made that had lost themselves on the way to an album.

Bill heard the teen say softly, “I wish my mom had saved some of my old school projects.”

Bill was astonished. His family had always done that – captured memories.

For Tom, it was a garage sale that brought back treasured memories – Sunday school projects, school awards, old cassette audio tapes. (What are those?)

“Here’s that food-pyramid chart from 3rd grade. That was about the time she broke her tooth.”

“Remember this old hat? She wore it with that fake moustache when she went trick-or-treating.”

“Here’s her little white Bible. She got that when she started Vacation Bible School when we lived in Kansas.”

While the monetary value in many of those items is zero, the intrinsic value is priceless.

A child’s school project from the 1st grade, a faded drawing, worn doll or broken toy leads to connective memories of a family picnic, a vacation, trip to the zoo, the new bicycle or car, an open house at school, the new playmate who moved in next door, the broken arm or tonsillectomy—maybe even the new baby brother or sister. Those re-discoveries are open doors to entire chunks of family history!

Keeping Track

Memories inform our children’s sense of themselves. All of us have them. Some are saved in boxes like Bill’s, some are in our minds as we look back. Others are in neatly organized albums with careful notes about who, what, where, and when. Still others are loose in a box under the bed.

Think about the memories you’ve formed together. Try to capture these important reflections of life, relationships, and feelings. Freeze the picture for a moment, take in the significance of an event, remember the faces, and hold the words and images in your mind.

Getting It Done

Start now by taking school projects, photos, drawings, or whatever and pulling them together into a collection. If you don’t have much, start with what you have. If you don’t have anything, start making something together. Write a story, make an invention, cook a meal, try an experiment, take some photos.

If we’ve learned one thing, it is that time moves swiftly. As Helen Hayes, the American actress, said, “Childhood is a short season.”

We’ve all poked our heads and hands inside closets and boxes and recovered those irreplaceable treasures that trigger laughter and tears. Make some memories together. And think twice before you toss out those old items that “clutter” your lives. Some of that clutter just may rekindle cherished memories for every member of your family.

 

By dads2dads

Sometimes you feel like a flop

Spend a few minutes and think about a time when you really flopped, laid an egg, royally screwed up. To jog your memory, allow us to suggest a handful of examples taken from the annals of fatherhood (things we’ve heard from other dads).

Did you ever get caught sneaking a book out of the library in high school? Miss the shot at the buzzer that would have been the game winner? Drop the offering plate at church? Hit “reply all” when you didn’t intend for your sarcastic retort to be read by all? Keep one of those gems in mind and we’ll come back to it.

Teenagers feel like flops much of the time. It’s part of their youthful DNA. They try so hard to fit in. And they’re painfully self-conscious. If someone looks at them, they cringe with guilt. If they hear laughter and they’re not the ones laughing, someone must be mocking them. Nearly every move they make is accompanied by embarrassment because they are at an awkward age between adolescence and adulthood, and they flop in either role.

Driving the Point Home

Share with your teenager the story about the woman who holds the record for being the fastest person to fail a driver’s test. It took her just seconds to climb into the car, greet the examiner, turn the key and stomp on the accelerator instead of the clutch. (You may have to explain what a clutch is.) She plowed right through the wall of a building. And this was her ninth try! True story.

Fantastic Flops

Point out that a flop can be a stepping-stone to great accomplishments. Babe Ruth was a home-run machine—but he also had 1,330 strikeouts during his career, plus another 30 strikeouts during World Series games. The strikeout king is Mr. October himself—Reggie Jackson—with nearly 2,600. Most of Thomas Edison’s experiments were bigger flops than triumphs but he used them as learning opportunities. During the French and Indian War, a young Army officer gave up and surrendered his troops to the enemy. That same man, George Washington, went on to do pretty well.

From Flop to Fulfillment

Share your own “flop” story with your teenager. If you’re like us, you have a repository of them! Point out to your teenager that when a person flops, he or she is seldom a total flop. There are usually aspects of what went right as well as what went wrong. Tell your teenager to allow some space to be a flop. Replay the situation and see what could be done differently next time. There are many flops on the way to success.

That way your teen will also have room to try again and grow. Mistakes are stepping-stones to growth. Teens (and Dads!) who are afraid of making mistakes, never take that first step. And that would be the biggest flop of all.

 

By dads2dads

The World of Friending

More communication less community

With the prevalence of social networks, our teens live more publicly than ever before – certainly more so than we did when we were teens. They establish robust public profiles and broad personal friendships. They easily share what we would consider very personal thoughts and images. A level of knowledge is created among friends, some of whom barely meet the definition of acquaintance. We’ve developed a sort of over-sharing culture.

The need to unfriend

Sometimes teens need to “unfriend” someone who’s become obnoxious, threatening or less important in their lives. How do you do it?

The proper process for unfriending is a bit unclear. An article in The New York Times a while back quoted Michael Pilla, a marketing director. “In real life, friendships die a natural death: you simply stop seeing someone until both of you barely remember you were friends in the first place. On Facebook, that person you barely know or no longer can put up with is there, all the time, taking up space on your home page, filling you in on all the mindless minutiae.”

In the old days you could avoid an encounter or ignore a phone call. If you didn’t write it down, it only existed in conversation. Today with ubiquitous email, cell calls, texting and social networks, and image apps galore, opinions take on a different context; thoughts and images exist in a much longer timeframe; unfriending someone becomes a complicated task.  

Why do friends unfriend

Christopher Sibona, a grad student at the University of Colorado, surveyed 1,500 people on Facebook and Twitter and found that the top three reasons for unfriending a person are:

1) persistent, inane posts

2) posts about controversial topics like religion and politics, and

3) racist or vulgar posts.

To this we would add threats and offline relationship problems.

When and how to disengage

When online problems make teens uncomfortable or offline issues make an online relationship difficult, it may be time to call it quits. How to disengage? Perhaps we can offer some suggestions.

  • Be purposeful is creating a profile. Know the reason for your identity in the social network world.

 

  • Select individuals who can legitimately qualify. Focus attention on quality not quantity.

 

  • Be vigilant in culling lists of friends. Don’t leave someone on forever if you had just one conversation very late in the evening.

 

  • Be respectful of self and others in what is shared and what comments are made.

 

  • Don’t share everything. What is shared will exist for a very long time under circumstances that can’t be predicted.

 

  • Be careful whose invitations are accepted. Know who your friends are.

 

It’s always been a matter of quality, not quantity. It still is. It doesn’t matter if we write messages to one another on stone tablets or send them off into the realm of cyberspace. One real friend—one authentic friendship—is worth more than 10,000 faceless e-friends.

By dads2dads

The Independent Teen

Independence. It’s what we’ll all celebrate this coming Tuesday. It’s what was called for in July 1776 by 56 representatives in the General Congress. It’s what our teens strive for today. They clamor for more freedom. They plead for bigger responsibilities. They make a lot of noise about having more say-so over their own lives. Is it any wonder we celebrate Independence Day with fireworks?!

Those Feisty Rebels

We live in a society founded on the principle of independence. In fact, it is our children’s job to exercise freedom from us. It is not an easy task. Many teens feel trapped, burdened and controlled. Many parents feel surprised, resentful, angry and disregarded. This road can be marked by restlessness, rebellion and rejection. Teens can move quickly between a need to be part of the family and a rejection of its value. It seems their whole purpose is to be confusing, unpredictable and difficult.

Guideposts for the Journey

Ultimately, we want our kids to be independent, to be able to thrive on their own, to grow up and be successful. We can help this transformation along by remembering the following:

Responsible behavior begets increased responsibility. Many teens (and adults!) have not learned this.

Work, get paid; don’t work, don’t get paid. You may have heard Dave Ramsey say this and it’s true. You get rewards for honest, hard work. You don’t get rewarded very often for laziness and substandard contributions.

Be clear on expectations and consequences. Allow your teen to participate in creating rules — for staying out, going on dates, balancing study and social activities, using the family car and driving responsibly, among others. These need to be discussed and determined together. While teens can’t set all their own rules and consequences, they do tend to follow rules a little better when they’ve been involved in establishing them.

Teach your kids how to make decisions by considering options and thinking about how their actions will reflect on them and affect others.

Your teen is still an important part of the family and must work within the construct of the family. While resistance is normal, cooperation is essential. Excessive disregard of family members tears at the family fabric.

Be consistent yet flexible in sticking to the rules and the consequences for not following them

Expect some rebellion. Decide what to curtail and what to tolerate. Excessively strict monitoring of your teen’s actions is nearly as damaging as tolerance of all “independence behavior.”

Building a Bridge

Understanding the rules, having a say in their creation, and recognizing the impact that actions have on the family and others helps teens become successful members of a broader society. You can begin to build this transition to independence by the actions you take now and the respectful environment you build together.

 

By dads2dads