Remember the “Occupy” movement — an overall rejection of greed in financial institutions, unfairness in pay and work, and self-interest in politics?

Same Old Same Old

From New York to Berkeley and in many cities in between, citizens demanded that their leadership (we used to call it “the establishment”) be more accountable, responsible, honest and altruistic. People grew tired of what they sensed was the same old rhetoric that spilled onto a teleprompter and out of the mouths of well-rehearsed and programmed politicians and advertisers and marketers.  Must we forever be subjected to the hackneyed promises that things will get better if only we give “our plan” a chance? How long do we wait for our elected officials to work together for the benefit of the people they serve? Isn’t there a better way?

The Great Divide

While many Americans are still waiting patiently for things to get better, the wealthy are getting wealthier, venerable institutions—banks, government and even universities—are showing signs of insensitivity, callousness, poor judgment, and formerly respected leaders are proving to be fallible or incompetent. Americans declare that they are growing tired and weary of business as usual. They not only want change—they demand a complete transformation in the way people relate to one another, personally and professionally.

Where this will end up, we’re not sure. While the “occupy” enclaves have been dismantled, the anger remains, the feeling of unfairness is palpable, and the desire for change is real.

Family Values

Another venerable institution we know something about is the family. Many people believe the family unit is not only following the other institutions down the tubes but is leading the way. Half of marriages end in divorce. Too many children are being raised in one-parent homes. Too often, kids are left alone between school and dinner. Too frequently, children exist in uncertain, unpredictable environments.

Unlike financial institutions and corporations, the solidarity of your family foundation is in your hands. We can make our family stronger. We can set the ground rules and create an environment where both freedom and responsibility reign, where fairness is balanced with discretion and compromise, where kids feel valued, listen to and care for others, and learn to think for themselves

Occupy Your Teens

It’s time to start an “occupy” movement at home. Choose to become a larger part of your teenager’s life. Stand for values and high expectations. Voice your concern for their welfare. Stage a sit-in around the dinner table and talk about an issue, a school assignment, a personal interest. Declare one night a week as a time to listen to each other’s concerns. Be an example to your children.


By dads2dads

Trust is Everything

Tom remembers that day long ago when the family went to a park. He climbed aboard a swing, put his older daughter, then about 4 or 5 years old, on his lap, and soon they were soaring through the air. Suddenly, the chain broke on the swing.  Tom clutched his little girl as they collided with the ground, with dad serving as shock absorber. He remembers clearly his daughter, more scared than hurt, looking into his face with tears streaming down her face and screaming, “Daddy, how could you do that!” An accident, yes. Still, Tom had betrayed her trust.

That same daughter was petrified of jumping into the swimming pool. Teaching her how to swim tested the patience and nerves of both mom and dad. Tom stood in the shallow end of the pool, arms outstretched, beckoning his little girl to jump. Instead, she stood on the side of the pool frozen in fear, convinced that if she jumped in, dad would drown her. It took weeks of coaxing to build that trust. (Interestingly enough, that same daughter took SCUBA lessons years later and became certified.)

We Are the Trustees

Our children have very little choice but to trust us. They invest their total feeling of security in us. There is no one else in the world to whom they turn for complete safety and assurance than to mom and dad. That’s why it’s so devastating when the swing breaks. In spite of the fact that dad held her tightly and all was right with the world, she crashed to the ground. And she let dad know that he let her down—and not so gently.

Our teenagers trust us, too. Yes indeed, they grow too big for their britches (Tom’s teacher once said that about him. What the heck does that mean?) They get mouthier, don’t listen, know absolutely everything, and they want to be left alone. Yet, despite the fact that most teenagers don’t trust many grown-ups, their trust in Mom and Dad remains as strong as it is silent. Grownups must back up that trust by being there for their youngsters—holding on tight, standing up, running interference, protecting—and they must do all of those things while letting go. Hold tight and let go. Some assignment, eh? 

Broken Trust Breaks Everything

Today’s news is a sad commentary on trust. Without going into specific examples or speculating on the guilt or innocence of anyone, it’s accurate to say that grown-ups don’t always come through for kids. We let them down. We turn a blind eye to them when we should be standing up, running interference, protecting.  The tragedy in these incidents is that a deep trust in someone who represented unquestionable safety and security may have been shattered. No one knows if that kind of unwavering trust—trust in anyone—can ever be fully repaired and restored.

Kids of all ages need grown-ups they can trust completely and unconditionally.


By dads2dads