Social Media Can Bring Dad and Teen Together

Tom is too old to be embarrassed anymore. He’s secure enough to admit that he is a techno-idiot when it comes to emerging social-media trends and developments. And he’s just crotchety enough to doubt the effectiveness and longevity of any of it. Remember Andy Rooney on Sixty Minutes? He’s beginning to sound like him. He still pines for his portable Underwood typewriter that got him through college, which then was replaced when an IBM Selectric was foisted upon him. It had its own “erase” key! What in the world was Tom to do with all his bottles of Wite-out! Then came his first word processor. He thought processors chopped celery and made juice! He just wanted to write—not process words.

Your teen as teacher

We’ve written before about how social media has created a lot more communication but far less community. Well, we’re here to admit that this may just be the perfect opportunity for dads and teenagers to relate to one another.

If Bill’s sons were starting their teens again, they would already be head and shoulders above him in social-media literacy. What great teachers they would make—and dad would be their pupil. They could patiently instruct him about writing on walls, snapping,  and “friending” or “unfriending” someone. He would be learning from his sons, and he and his sons would be involved in constructive (if not humbling) communication.

Work in a life lesson

So, dad, let go! Admit that you’re a bit behind your teenagers in Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, and YouTube, not to mention those thousands of apps. By the way, Wikipedia currently lists over 200 social network sites. Ask your kids to help you get up to speed. At the same time, you can be learning all the caveats of the social media craze—the pitfalls to knowing and seeing all. Grown-ups don’t have to be techno-whizzes to understand how this kind of open access to people’s lives can be harmful, even devastating. So while you’re learning from your teenagers, you also have the opportunity to teach them to be careful, to be smart and not to allow social media to steal their privacy and degrade their humanity.

Exchanging knowledge and wisdom—a darn good deal

Quite frankly, that’s the beauty of this tutoring arrangement between parents and their offspring. Today’s kids can open worlds with a click, a swoop, a link, an up or download. They know the mechanics. They can make A, B, C and D connect, interact and go viral! Mom and dad can offer some wisdom in what should and shouldn’t be copied, pasted and plastered throughout cyberspace. Parents have been around for awhile. They have experienced such unvirtual and sometimes unvirtuous monsters as accountability and consequences … those avatars that materialize as the result of acting without thinking.

Sounds like a win-win arrangement!


By dads2dads

Teens Can’t Weight

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), obesity among pre-teens climbed from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. Researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that 20% of young adults have high blood pressure. Thirty percent of young people are obese today, according to Suzanne Steinbaum at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. She says, “We’ve usually thought of this population as being healthy, and these are people who shouldn’t be sick and they are.”

The Problem

Obesity is on the rise and our kids are at risk for hypertension, diabetes, gallstones, sleep apnea, kidney complications, loss of bone mass, high blood pressure and heart disease.

This is an issue of critical importance and it is our responsibility as parents to help stem the tide.

An article in the March 9, 2011 issue of JAMA states that childhood obesity affects approximately 12.5 million children and teens in the U.S. (17%) Obesity tripled in the 1980s and 1990s. Twenty years ago, Type 2 diabetes in teens was virtually unheard of. Now, it is estimated that 15% of new diabetes cases among children and adolescents are of this type.

U.S. adults, on average, weigh 24 pounds more today than they did in 1960, and they are at increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Approximately 9% of all medical costs in 2008 were obesity-related and amounted to $147 billion, twice what it was 10 years before.

The Causes

Greater access to fast food, less available time, more sedentary activity, lack of self-discipline and increased marketing of fattening food to children have created an environment conducive to obesity. The ability to eat whatever, whenever, is everywhere. Emphasis is on quickness not quality.

What Parents Can Do

Serve more fruits, vegetables and whole-wheat products. Cut down on highly processed and high sugar foods and drinks. (Did you know that a 12-oz. Coke—considered a small size today—contains 9 teaspoons of sugar?)

Decrease time spent sitting and viewing and encourage more activity.  Place limits on television and video time.

Engage your kids in physical activity. Play ball, take an evening walk, go swimming or ride bikes.

Encourage child-care facilities and schools to provide healthy foods and drinks. Policies should promote the health of our children instead of providing high-sugar, high-fat products that harm our kids.

Resources for Action

A good resource for talking to your kids and for approaching your school is the School Health Nutrition Guideline list from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention <;.

Michelle Obama started the move to healthier kids with her “Let’s Move” Initiative  which called on parents and kids to eat healthier and move more. The USDA has revealed MyPlate < > which replaces the food pyramid.

You can make a difference. Take an active role in your child’s health. Help clarify the critical importance of food to current and future health.  It’s an investment in your child’s future.

By dads2dads

The Depth of Beauty

A dad wrote recently that his daughter, Julia, was upset because she overheard someone at school criticize her looks. She was quite hurt since she had considered that person a friend. The dad told her “Beauty is only skin deep.”

The fact is, “Beauty is only skin deep” is a skin deep saying. 

What is beauty?

We say it without really thinking. What we are saying isn’t really what we mean to say (we think). It’s with the best of intentions that we utter those five words. The implication is that we need to look beyond the surface to discover a person’s core value. Yes, precisely. And therein lies a person’s real beauty! It isn’t quite as poetic-sounding but what we actually should say is, “Beauty is deeper than skin.”


It’s not only inaccurate to judge beauty by the exterior covering—it’s impossible. Real beauty isn’t skin-deep at all. What’s on the outside of any of us is simply the covering on our bones. It’s our wallpaper. Real beauty is the character and composition of the inner person.

But try explaining that to your teenager. Good luck! The more you think about the meaning of that statement, the harder it is to put into simple words and have it make sense to a young person whose world, in many ways, is based on superficiality.

A Wallpaper World

When do teenagers not worry about blemishes that are the result of body chemistry and can only be slightly controlled with lotions and medications? In this country we are obsessed with wallpaper. It determines, in many cases, our friendships, associations, memberships, and, certainly, special recognitions and honors. Wallpaper meets the eye first, and often it becomes the gauge for evaluating the total worth of a person. In the social quagmire of a teenager’s world, what you think of me, based on my wallpaper, is how I feel about me— all of me. Sometimes Mom and Dad don’t help because they, too, can easily get caught up in the popularity game living through their kids.


So how do we teach our sons and daughters not to be concerned about the wallpaper but instead the infrastructure? Ask them what qualities they look for in a lasting and meaningful friendship. Hey, son, if you were in a difficult situation and needed someone to talk to, who would it be? Hey, daughter, if you reached out your hand and needed to be pulled to your feet, whose hand would you want to grab? If you needed a shoulder to cry on or someone’s ear to listen to you, whose shoulder or whose ear would you most wish for? The importance of wallpaper diminishes, perhaps disappears.

Dad and Mom, try answering those questions yourself. We think you’ll discover what your teenagers will also find when trying to answer — a glimpse of the depth and complexity of what real beauty is.

As beings who are human through and through—we often look in the shallows for those things that reside in the deep.



By dads2dads