Insider Tips from Dads on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Click here to read about the history of Father’s Day.

Fathers are an important influence on a child life, no matter the age. Time is the greatest gift a father can give his child. Here’s the story of four outstanding fathers who share the joys of being a father every day, but especially on Father’s Day.

Darwyn & Jacob

“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.” “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys.”
– Harmon Killebrew
Darwyn leads his seven-year-old son Jacob by example in both his work and personal life, just as his father Leon did. He cares about role modeling a strong work ethic. “I want Jacob to know he can do many things if he’s determined, tries his hardest and pushes through adversity.”

Darwyn is self-employed and struggles with balancing work with the demands of a young family. “From my own dad, I learned that hard work does pay off in building a solid business for years to come. But, sometimes hard choices and sacrifices are required.”

Darwyn understands his son needs him to be there for him. So, he arranges his schedule to take him to athletic practices, play with him after work and go on hikes together. Jacob knows he matters to his dad; Darwyn follows through on his promises by showing up and telling him he loves him.

The two of them bond over sports and watching action movies. And, Jacob is always up for trying new things and giving them 100 percent. He’s taken up golf and baseball, often making his dad chase a long one down the street. He helps Darwyn fix things around the house “so we don’t have to buy new things every time something breaks.”

Jacob learns from his dad by watching him and spending time with him. He’s seeing how to treat others with respect, to own up to his mistakes and fix it for the next time and to be nice to his teammates on the baseball field, understanding everyone is there to learn the game.

The greatest lesson Jacob is learning from his dad, “Everything will fall into place if you know and serve the Lord.”

 Jim & Trenten

“The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty with the son who neglects them.”
– Confucius
Jim values time with his 12-year-old son, Trenten. “I hope he now recognizes the amount of time we spent together and the priority he is in my life.” The two share hunting, travel and dogs in common. The specific interest gives them time together to enjoy it while also talking about school, sports and life. Jim especially likes traveling with Trenten. “It’s amazing what I can learn traveling 8-10 hours in a vehicle with him.”

Jim learned a lot from his grandpa who spent time fishing and talking about farming and school with him. “He passed away in 1986, but there are many times I wish Trenten was able to meet him.”

Trenten, who comes across as shy, is described as funny and smart by his dad. Jim’s now speaking to him about growing into a man. Trenten’s learning not to make promises he cannot keep. He’s been taught his word is the only thing in life no one can take away from him. Trenten has seen that by working hard things will fall into place. He knows the world does not owe him anything and that he is capable of doing anything he wants, if he sets his mind to it.

Jim, a banker, teaches Trenten about money. “I like to present him with options so he understands real costs. Everything is about choices. For instance, if he buys something, what is he not able to do since he spent his money.”

At this age, Jim urges Trenten to have fun and find something in life he’s passionate about. “He will spend the rest of his life working and worrying. I also encourage him to make friends with everyone. One never knows when someone you meet might be in a place to help you out one day.”

 Michael & Noah

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
— Billy Graham, Christian Evangelist

Michael and seven-year-old Noah have rituals, like the donut shop. Every Saturday morning, they head out to eat donuts while talking and laughing. Usually they leave with some for the girls back home-mother and younger sister.

They have other notable rituals. Their daily drive to school starts with a prayer followed by a game of guessing what types of trucks will be in the gym parking lot as they drive by. They celebrate their appreciation of superheroes like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers with Friday night pizza and movie nights, mom and sister included.

Their shared enjoyment of music has them singing and dancing along to Christian Hip-Hop songs. They play catch football and shoot hoops and enjoy watching NFL games. Noah has attended a Nebraska Cornhuskers football game, his dad’s favorite team, but has started rooting for the Iowa Hawkeyes, to get under Michael’s skin.

Michael knows it’s during these shared activities and rituals that he will get honest feedback on what Noah is going through. Michael loves talking to his son. “Noah’s laugh and sense of humor are infectious.”

Michael wants Noah to know he works hard to be a great role model to him. Like his father, Bill, demonstrated, Michael wants to show Noah how to be a good husband by showing affection for his wife and doing nice things for her. “I let Noah be part of this process too. He has good insight and it’s a great teaching moment.”

Michael’s greatest wish for Noah is to know who he is and to love others as Christ loves us. He’s also teaching him:

  • We control how we react to situations.
  • There are consequences for choices made (good and bad).
  • It’s okay to fail, do your best.
  • Protect and lead your family.
  • God is the ultimate Superhero.

 Ken & Alex

“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.”
– Jewish Proverb

Ken’s son, Alex, at age 22, is a young adult. Much of the way Ken parented was role modeled for him by his father, Lee, who was “an extremely kind and respectful man with a very strong work ethic. He was a leader who taught me how to overcome adversity and take responsibility for supporting my family.”

Ken strives hard to role model ‘integrity’ for Alex. “I want him to do things with honesty, the right way and live by the Golden Rule.” He wants nothing more for Alex than for him to be happy and to live a fulfilled life-on his terms.

“I want him to make the most of his life doing what he desires and knowing that he can, and more likely will, make adjustments along the way.” Ken also knows that if Alex chooses to be a husband and father, he will need to compromise and serve others to experience a fulfilled life.

Ken’s done his best to prepare Alex for adulthood by teaching him to:

  • Be accountable for his actions. Take responsibility and own it.
  • Be a good role model for others.
  • Be appreciative and thankful for the blessings he has in life. Much of what one attains in life comes through the help of others. Do not take people for granted and express your genuine gratitude. Be willing to give freely of oneself without an expectation of something in return.
  • Have fun. Life should be enjoyed. It is up to you to discover your own passion and create your own happiness.

Through the years, Ken and Alex have created a bond and enjoyed life through sports, household and yard projects and business ventures. They share an obsession with Louisville Cardinals team sports and watching sporting events on television and at games.

The two have painted many home interiors together and enhanced yards through landscaping. They have created and implemented business plans, some successfully, others not.  They’ve jointly discovered their passions, had fun and felt a sense of accomplishment.

Ken feels he’s raised a genuinely good and caring son who has a “great head on his shoulders and makes wise decisions.” He’s proud that Alex has “stayed out of trouble” and shown he knows the difference between right and wrong. “I feel confident Alex has an extremely bright future ahead of him, both personally and professionally. It has been fulfilling and rewarding to be Alex’s father. He has brought more joy into my life than I could have hoped for. He is an incredible son whom I love so much.”

  A Dad is

Respected because he gives his children leadership.
Appreciated because he gives his children care.
Valued because he gives his children time.
Loved because he gives his children the 1 thing they treasure most-himself.

Happy Father’s Day to fathers everywhere.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

 

©Copyright. June 2017. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Raising A Brat? 10 Ways to Avoid It

A mom of two elementary school aged children reached out to me recently seeking guidance on raising good children. Her note ended by asking, “What is the secret to not raising a brat?” That’s a term I hadn’t heard in a while. I thought she must be doing a lot of things right already. She’s concerned about coaching her children to be good citizens. Few parents would have the courage to even consider asking this question.

parents-weekend-usd-2015-10-24-15-029She is right though. Our son, soon to graduate from the University of South Dakota’s (USD) Beacom School of Business, has never been a brat. He’s also an only child. Some would use that status alone to label him “a brat.” It doesn’t fit him. Never has.

I thought about this mom’s question for several days. I wondered if I was qualified to give parenting advice. I am a parent. I am also a child. I observe other parents and their interactions with their children. I listen to teachers and support staff describe child behavior in schools. I’ve read extensively about parenting. I decided I’m qualified to share how my husband, Ken, and I raised a son who has never been labelled a “brat.” Maybe our approach to parenting will guide her, and others, in raising their own good children.

Top 10 Ways to Avoid Raising a Brat

Parenting is not easy. We were hardly perfect. We understood our individual “being raised” experiences influenced our parenting Alex. We were in our 30s when he was born. Both our mothers stayed at home with their children. I was raised in a family of 11. Ken’s family had 4. Alex was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. All of this made us who we are as parents. Sorting through our 21 years, I consider these to be the  10 Ways Not to Raise a Brat:

  1. Choose the right partner. Parents who share similar parenting values and who support one another in terms of setting boundaries and household rules will more likely have better behaved children. The kids will know both parents will give the same answer and likely discipline in similar ways. There’s no pitting one parent against another.
  2. Thoughtfully consider when to become a parent. Life isn’t always planned. But, when one feels ready for the responsibility of parenthood alex-toddler-2-copyand welcomes the role, one will more likely cherish being a parent rather than resent it. You can’t take parenting back. It’s a lifetime commitment. Children need to be nurtured, not dropped into life to survive alone. Make the time for your children. Show them they matter and that you feel blessed to have them in your life. If you aren’t ready to do this, or simply can’t, consider whether you are ready to become a parent.
  3. Say “No” and mean it. It is always easier to give in than it is to say “no.” Parents need to stand by convictions. Kids are smart. They push limits. If you back down, your word is no longer good. You’ve shown you’re easily manipulated. Set limits and stick to them.
  4. Plan a Family Centered not Child Centered Life. It was, and is, our belief that a child should fit into one’s life not become the center of all’s life. As a simple example, I refused to remove breakable household objects when Alex was born. Instead, I taught him to respect these items and that there were consequences for not following through with that lesson. Of course, we latched cabinet doors with dangerous items. But removing breakables. Absolutely not.
  5. Place Higher Priority on Morals and Values Over Material Goods. My background taught me many lessons on being frugal and setting priorities. I role modeled these while raising Alex. For example, part of me wanted a designer nursery and designer clothing for him. The practical side of me, however, understood how little those items would be used in Alex’s lifetime. Instead, we started a 529 College Savings program and bought consignment furniture and clothing. We made trade-offs like this continually, placing greater emphasis on experiences than material goods and savings over spending. I helped him, when he was  a middle school student, create flyers to hand out to neighbors advertising his lawn mowing skills. He also paid us for the gas to support his early business. Of course, we could afford to pay for it. But where else do you learn that there are costs of doing business?
  6. Expect Good Behavior. Set the bar high. Despite what one sees in restaurants, church and other public places, it is not cute when a child acts out or is disrespectful. I wonder about a child’s future when I see parents allowing children to throw food in restaurants and then smile at adults who look at them wondering how they are allowing this to happen. It speaks volumes about the parents and their ability to guide their children to adulthood. How one’s children behave reflects parental values and maturity. We worked hard to make sure Alex behaved in public places so all there could enjoy the experience.
  7. Respect All, Always. Listen. Compromise. Ken and I continually stress the importance of ‘listening’ as a skill. We work hard to model that to Alex, even to this day. Following close behind that is compromise.
    Practicing listening skills
    Practicing listening skills

    Even as an only child, he was taught that he didn’t always get his way. Life doesn’t center around one person. It’s a give and take. Admittedly, this was sometimes challenging to teach because of his status. My thinking, as the only woman in our family of three, was that I was raising someone who may one day become a husband and father. These life lessons/skills are critical in those esteemed roles. Respect is another trait we value. Ken is especially good at role modeling equal respect for service workers and corporate executives. Referring to adults as Mr. and Miss, though some call this antiquated Southern etiquette, is applauded in our household. It’s an outward sign of respect. We value it.

  8. Work for What You Want. Ken and I differed on this concept often. Sticking to our parental core values on this topic was by far the hardest in raising Alex. I had to work for everything I’ve owned, even my education. We were in a position to offer Alex financial assistance with more than I received. He was very aware most of his peer group was given vehicles, allowances, vacations, spring break trips, etc. without working. At age 14 we required he get a part-time job. It taught time management, money management, work habits and how to get along with others in the workplace. I also knew it could teach him about how organizations were managed and places he’d like to work, or not work. I have no regrets about requiring he get a job. He’s had a job ever since. He’s also graduating debt free, which is to be celebrated.
  9. Appreciate What You Have and Receive. If you work for what you have, you appreciate it more. You have a better understanding of what it takes to get it and value it more too. Unfortunately, parts of South Carolina are quite poverty-stricken. Alex has seen those areas as well as been in third world countries. Our goal was to expose him to sites like this to develop an appreciation for what he has. Instilling the concept of appreciation and thanks has been drilled into him. He left home knowing a note of appreciation or thanks was expected when a gift or act of kindness was received. Not doing so would immediately stop future acts. It’s just that important in our house.
  10. Raise a Graceful Loser and a Humble Winner. I can still recall the feeling
    Graceful loser at state high school tournament
    Graceful loser at state high school tournament

    and sights of Alex’s first soccer match at age four. He scored every goal. The team won. No, he didn’t take his jersey off and wave it above his head as he circled the grassy field. Instead, after each goal, he mildly accepted congratulations from teammates and got back to the business of playing the game. I was breathless. That level of maturity and composure as a competitor escaped me. I played to win and to celebrate the win. That day I learned from him. I learned the value of how to become a humble winner and a graceful loser.

The Child Spoke

I suspect this young mother who asked me “What is the secret to not raising a brat?” would get different responses from anyone she asked the same question to. I was curious about how Alex would answer. I sent off a text. His reply, “Let consequences happen instead of intervening.” Enough said.

How would you answer the question? Comment below.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

 

©Copyright. October 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Faith Tested by Birthing Trauma

boyBirth announcements bring joy and smiles to most. Families high five and hug, celebrating the newest addition. Almost instantly social media announces the good news. Well-deserved “congratulations” pour in.

Labor and delivery is a medical procedure, yet to most families it’s also a celebration.

However, not everyone experiences a healthy pregnancy or a normal delivery. Some barely make it out of the birthing process alive.

Kristin fought for survival during and after childbirth and now shares her remarkable story of trauma and faith. Be forewarned. It’s emotion-provoking.

Early Pregnancy Days

Kristin and husband Mitch decided to leave their family planning up to God who blessed them with a pregnancy within a month of trying. Their decision was not unusual, considering she’s the daughter of a pastor, so faith was always part of her life.

24 weeksKristin was scared when she learned she was pregnant. The fear of the unknown was quite real. But once the first 9 weeks of nausea, fatigue and morning sickness passed, she felt the excitement of growing their family and the anticipation of joining the world of motherhood. Fortunately, she had a completely normal pregnancy with no concerns. She used this time to read pregnancy and parenting books, completely understanding that there is no way to really plan for the way one’s life changes when a baby comes into your world. She and Mitch also attended labor and delivery classes to get information on the birth experience and what to expect when bringing their baby home. But no book, blog or class could’ve ever prepared them for what they experienced at week 33 and beyond.

Abdominal Pain & Ambulance Ride

Kristin went to the emergency room (ER) at 33 weeks with extreme abdominal pain.   After several tests, she was told she was experiencing pre-labor contractions and given a steroid to help the baby’s lung development, should he arrive early. After a night in the hospital, Kristin went home on modified bed rest and took Nifedipine, a high blood pressure medication.

The pain reappeared exactly one week later. This time though she also was lightheaded and faint; pain radiated up her chest and into her right shoulder. She knew something wasn’t right as she dozed on and off throughout the night. At dawn she awakened Mitch and asked for help to the restroom. When he saw her colorless face and that she could barely move, he immediately dialed 911.

Rushed to Operating Room

What happened next felt like an out-of-body experience to Kristin. “Like I was on the outside looking in.” She recalls being poked and prodded and hearing EMS workers discussing difficulty finding a vein or a pulse. She remembers the blaring firetruck and ambulance siren sounds as they made their way to the hospital. And, she remembers praying, “Dear God, please just let this baby be healthy.” Today she still recalls the look on Mitch’s face as the door of the cramped ambulance closed. He was scared.

A team of nurses greeted the ambulance and rushed Kristin inside desperately trying to find the baby’s heartbeat. She saw the fearful look on their faces and knew something was terribly wrong. After painfully rolling around on the exam table multiple times so the nurses could get a heartbeat, it was found beating at 30 beats per minute (bpm)-well below a normal baby’s heart rate of 100+ bpm.

The doctor, who’d taken good care of her in the ER the previous week and whom she trusted, rushed in and immediately directed the nurses to prep her for an emergency C-section. Again, Kristin felt like she was in a movie. “This wasn’t really happening to me, was it? This wasn’t in our birth plan! Where is Mitch? I can’t do this alone; I need him by my side to protect me.”

Kristin saw Mitch out of the corner of her eye being told to put on surgical scrubs. She grabbed for his hand while hurriedly being wheeled into the operating room (OR). Code Pink was paged overhead, meaning an emergency concerning an infant, including a medical complication or abduction, was happening. Mitch knew it was for them, and he was now forbidden from the OR.

Not Breathing

Their baby boy was born not breathing at 6:09 am on Sunday, March 4, 2012, weighing 4 pounds and 12 ounces and measuring 21 inches long. He was greeted by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) staff and given CPR and a shot of epinephrine to get his heart going. His APGAR score was zero.

Kristin’s first memory after delivery was being surrounded by a team of fetal medicine doctors explaining to family what had happened and what HELLP syndrome was. She heard them say that her abdomen was full of blood when they took the baby out. Unable to find the source of blood, another incision was made up to her belly button where they found her ruptured liver-the source of her upper right quadrant pain. The only cure for HELLP syndrome is delivering the baby.

post birth mitchMom Holds Son-10 Days Later

Kristin spent 9 days in the hospital, two in ICU because of a risk of seizures. She was given several blood transfusions and there was concern her liver would rupture again. On day three she was transferred to another hospital better equipped to provide surgical services, if needed. Her baby remained in the NICU where he was born for 10 days on oxygen and with a feeding tube. The doctors were amazed at his speedy recovery and nicknamed him ‘Superman’. Later, he officially was named Owen William.

Because her body had gone through a tremendous amount of trauma, it was extremely difficult for Kristin to care for Owen. She was under medical care herself and unable to be physically present in the same room as her newborn, making breast-feeding impossible. She felt guilty about not being able to provide for her baby as originally hoped.

A great deal of scar tissue resulted from the emergency C-section and from digging around her abdomen trying to locate the source of her bleeding. Three months after Owen’s birth she was hospitalized again for small bowel obstruction. After a week’s hospitalization where the medical team hoped her body would heal itself, she had surgery again. “I remember holding Owen in the moments just before surgery and feeling scared I might not make it through.” She remained hospitalized another two weeks post-surgery. “I was devastated to be separated again from my then 3-month old son.”

The years of abdominal pain and bloating, fatigue and other physical ailments post birth don’t compare to the emotional toll the experience had on Kristin. “Being separated from Owen during the first hours and days of his life was devastating. When I switched hospitals, I remember feeling so anxious and worried about not bonding with him because I wasn’t able to hold him or even be in the same room as him. It was heartbreaking to me that others were able to hold and feed him before I did the first time at 10 days old.”

PTSD

Kristin exhibits symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Certain triggers cause flashbacks to Owen’s birth. Driving by his birthplace or hearing ambulance sirens cause a racing heart and emotional breakdown. Owen’s birthday, which should be reason for great joy and celebration, triggers flashbacks. Even the weeks before cause considerable anxiety. While she craves more detail about the moments leading up to Owen’s birth and the weeks thereafter, Mitch has repressed the memories. “In my mind, it was the hours and days I lived through that I don’t remember, and it’s difficult having those unknowns and questions.”

Because hers wasn’t a normal birth experience, Kristin often feels isolated and finds it hard to relate to other moms. Joining a group for stay-at-home moms was less than fulfilling. Mom talk about pregnancy, breast-feeding and  more children was hard to hear. When she shared her birthing journey, there was often dead silence in the room, making her feel awkward because no one knew how to react to a story they found super depressing, only causing her to feel more isolated. Being around pregnant women, baby showers, birth announcements and newborns is a struggle.

She saw a counselor post trauma and found it beneficial but still feels isolated when random triggers hit her. “I wouldn’t expect anyone to understand my thoughts or feelings when they haven’t gone through what I did.”

1 and Done, But Wait…

Kristin and Mitch will never experience pregnancy again. Blood tests after delivery discovered several blood clotting disorders, which automatically put her at a higher risk for miscarriage or birthing complications. All medical professionals have warned against another pregnancy, though it’s absolutely possible. “There is no way we would risk that now that we have Owen. The thought of him growing up without a mom makes me sick.”

Their early marriage family plan was disrupted but Spring 2016 finds them in the adoption process, which brings all great joy and hope.

Message to Pregnant Women & Obstetricians (OBs)

Kristin admits that even though she was academically prepared for pregnancy and childbirth, she was unprepared for their reality. Before pregnancy she was unaware of any type of clotting factors in her genetics. In fact, she was the healthiest she’d been in her entire life when she became pregnant. She tells pregnant women that no matter how much you plan; it may not go as planned. Additionally, she asks them to trust their bodies. If something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out. “If I had to do it over, I’d have listened to my body and gone to the ER sooner. But when it’s your first pregnancy and everything is new, you don’t know what is “normal” and what’s not.”

She advises OBs who have patients with HELLP syndrome to run a complete blood workup on them looking for blood clotting factors such as Factor V Leiden, MTHFR, or Lupus anticoagulant, which is what she has. She adds that patients with rare blood clotting disorders should be followed by a hematologist.

Faith & Family

This experience tested the faith of every member of Kristin and Mitch’s families, including them. In her unstable condition, Kristin “prayed without ceasing” and trusted that the God who allowed this to happen to her and their son would be the same God who would reveal His healing powers and get her out of it. Understandably, when she was re-hospitalized, she was angry at God. “For any Christ follower who’s gone through tough times, it’s a normal progression to question God and His goodness. For me, this was a necessary step to work through to get me to the place I am at today.”

Kristin hopes that their story will be used to bring others to know God. “Because the God that I serve is the same God who didn’t let me die; He kept me around for a reason.” Admittedly, Kristin doesn’t know the reason yet, but today she’s focused on finding that out and sharing her testimony with others. She counts herself in the group of people who need to “hit rock bottom” or be on the “brink of death” to let go of control and give it over to God.

family photo Mitch
Leah B Photography

Owen Today

Though there was concern about brain damage or developmental delays because he was without oxygen and not breathing at the time of birth, today Owen is a completely typical boy. He has one speed and that’s ‘full on’- always physically moving with a mind going a million miles a second. “We joke that it’s because of the steroid and epinephrine shot he received when he was born.”  No one would want him any other way.

Kristin & Mitch Today

They live differently today than before this birthing experience. Their faith was made real. Neither takes life for granted and each avoids fretting over little things. “Stupid arguments are just that-stupid.”

Kristin knows she’s a different mom than she may have been had she not had gone through all this. She owns her over-protectiveness of Owen and still struggles with feelings of guilt about her body putting him at risk. They’re both doing their finest to be the best parents they can be and to enjoy every moment while Owen still wants to “hang out with them.”

And, they cannot wait to see how God will use Owen.

Neither can we!

Click here for more information on  HELLP Syndrome.

  • H(Hemolysis, which is the breaking down of red blood cells)
  • EL (Elevated liver enzymes)
  • LP (Low platelet count)

How did you react to Kristin’s story and faith journey? When has your faith gotten real?

Leave your comments below.

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WOWT TV Story Aired May 31, 2016 in Omaha, NE

 

©Copyright. April 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.