Biskek, Kyrgyzstan. The name of that foreign city went through my mind over and over as I lay in bed. Biskek, Kyrgyzstan. Panic gripped me as I kept wondering why I had applied for a job in a country about which I knew nothing.
Have you taken your kids for granted recently? Have your kids been getting on your nerves? Are you feeling like you don't have energy to carry out your fathering duties? Maybe you have better things to do? Maybe you feel like you put in a lot of time as a dad and you don't see the big payoff.
Nothing—not even the nasty comment of a meddling aunt—would keep Roy from claiming his daughter.
When Roy married his wife, she had a young daughter from a previous marriage. Roy adopted her as his own, and then, in what seemed like no time, the couple had five more children.
Playing with your toddler in a "sensitive, supportive and challenging way" will help him form closer, more trusting relationships with others later in his childhood and teen years. This comes from a 16-year study by researchers at the University of Regensburg in Germany. While observing 44 families, researchers gave high scores to fathers who talked to their toddlers in an age-appropriate way, stimulated and encouraged their children, made appealing suggestions for play, and refrained from criticism.
For many younger children, the language of their world is play. When fathers don't speak that language, but instead try to relate in an adult way, kids can't understand or relate, and may experience feelings of frustration, isolation, or ignorance. Sometimes fathers feel the lack of connection, too. But we can prevent it—and strengthen the bonds with our children—by learning their language of play.
Herb comes home from work, and young Mark and Grace are eager to go outside and play. He shakes them loose from his arms and legs for a minute so he can change clothes, and he takes the mail upstairs with him.
His five-year-old son follows, talking about what happened that day, overflowing with comments that draw from both reality and make-believe. It’s too much for Herb to follow. “Mark,” he says, “can’t you see that I’m trying to read the mail? Let’s talk about this later.”
Every month or so, we hear about someone else “retiring” to spend more time with his children. We applaud him and perhaps even hold him up as an example for all fathers. But in reality, these people are usually politicians, professional athletes or business CEOs. Not all of us are in a position to choose outright between work and family, but must somehow reconcile these often-opposing forces.
Should your job ever take priority over your family? Ever?
Bill is a successful attorney, but he’d tell you it’s much more important to be a successful father. But he didn’t always think that.
If you're a stepfather, you're part of the most rapidly emerging group of fathers in our nation. Recent estimates have placed the number of divorced mothers who remarry at around 80%. Every new stepfather walks into an emotional mine field as he tries to simultaneously recover from the wounds in his own past, build a new marriage with his wife, and settle into this new family situation with his wife's children and possibly children from his previous marriage. And all this takes place in the aftermath of your wife's ex-husband, who still seems to linger mystically—if not physically—in the shadows of this new household. It isn't surprising that a large percentage of abuse cases occur in step or mixed families.
"I'm at the park. I'll call you if I need you-over," says my nine-year-old son into one of three state-of-the-art walkie-talkies that I recently bought for our family of five. "Roger. Be back home in 15 minutes for dinner-over," is my reply.