My Overdue Thank-You Letter

My Overdue Thank-You Letter

Several years ago, someone told me a story about “discovering your grateful heart.” So, I decided to work on that. Over the course of the next year, I sent one thank-you letter each week to a different person who had positively influenced the trajectory of my life. These were people from many phases of my life – family members, co-workers, even a former girlfriend – who had helped me in some way or taught me a valuable life lesson.

But it occurs to me, there are still two individuals I’ve never sent a special thank-you letter to – my daughters. It’s way overdue, because they’re both grown up now (23 and 22) and have moved away, embarking on their own life journeys.

There is so much I would want to tell them. I’d probably start by thanking them for choosing their mom and me as their “forever” parents, as we call it in adoption circles. When they were infants in two different Chinese orphanages, what are the odds they’d somehow get paired with us? Some people say children who are adopted are “lucky.” I say Michele and I are the lucky ones.

I’d thank my daughters for the many evenings they snuggled on either side of me at bedtime as I read them Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Nancy Drew, and countless other books.

I’d for sure express my appreciation for all the handmade Father’s Day gifts, from their cement handprints to their macaroni likenesses of me. And how can I forget to mention the special breakfast in bed they prepared one year. Burnt toast, Raisin Bran, gummy bears, and maple syrup never tasted so yummy.

I’d thank them for all the times during elementary school they would make me laugh out loud as I chased them around the playground, chanting, “Must get Emmy” before suddenly changing direction and shouting, “Must get Rachel,” which always made them squeal with delight.

I’d proudly acknowledge Rachel’s efforts to help her younger sister with her spelling by quizzing her – like the time we were driving past our local grocery store (officially called Quality Food Center, but whose sign only goes by its initials, QFC) and Rachel posed the challenging question, “Emmy, how do you spell QFC? Don’t look at the sign!!”

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It’s Not Too Late to Prepare Your Child for the 2028 Olympics

It’s Not Too Late to Prepare Your Child for the 2028 Olympics

2028 Olympics - girl on balance beamWhile the recent Rio Olympic Games are still fresh in your mind, it’s a perfect time to start getting your own child ready for the 2028 Olympics. The final venue has not yet been decided. I hear it’s down to Buenos Aires, Budapest and Pidgeon Forge, Tennessee. (I hear you. Why on earth is Budapest on that list? Ridiculous.)

First the bad news: If your kid is over the age of twelve, I hate to break it to you, but you waited too long. With only 12 years left until the 2028 games, there’s not nearly enough time to get your teenager up to speed.

If you love your young child, don’t waste another day. First choose a sport. But before you get ahead of yourself and say “gymnastics”, slow down, mom. Unless you plan to starve your child so she tops out at 87 pounds and 4’ 10”, I should caution you – gymnastics gold is pretty elusive. Besides, I checked. There’s this three-year-old from China who looks unbeatable for 2028.

Take a couple minutes (but not more than ten) to think about which sports make the most sense for your child to compete in. Then throw them all out the window, because the only events that will ever bring your future Olympian serious Benjamins from sponsorships are track, swimming, and gymnastics (which the Chinese girl has already got locked up). When was the last time you saw a badminton Olympian on a box of Wheaties? Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw a box of Wheaties?

Once you’ve chosen your child’s Olympic specialty, it’s time to launch a rigorous training program. You’ll need a coach – someone who’s an expert in helping kids reach their full potential and crushing their spirit into dust if they make the tiniest mistake off the starting blocks. Choose your child’s coach carefully because he or she will replace you in your child’s life from this point forward. If at all possible, find a coach who bears at least a passing resemblance to you, to help remind her of the parent she once loved. Don’t worry. You’ll still be able to spend time with her every fourth Saturday and on Christmas morning until noon (after which she has to get back to her workout regimen).

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What we WISH we could say to our kids

What we WISH we could say to our kids

what we wish we could say - child with paintYears ago, I had this reckless notion that something was missing in my life which could only be filled by having kids. So we started a family – and got so much more: eight years of Raffi songs, 800 trips to sports practices (and the occasional trip to the ER), $6,000 in orthodontia bills, and a child-proofed house, every square inch of which perpetually resembled a FEMA disaster zone.

Don’t get me wrong – I love our daughters more than anything in the world – with the possible exception of bacon. But it didn’t take long to discover that despite the significant gap between my toddlers and me in earning potential, overall intelligence, and ability not to drool on everything with which I came into contact, I simply was no match for my kids. They routinely wore me out – usually by the time they dumped a bowl of Raisin Bran on each other – a daily 7am ritual.

As a parent of two boisterous young girls, I quickly came to two conclusions: First, the interior of the VCR makes an ideal place to hide daddy’s slice of apple pie; and second, being a parent was going to require Herculean levels of patience. Being a good parent means having the maturity to resist saying the first thing that pops into your prefrontal cortex when your eight-year-old microwaves your cell phone. You need to suppress the urge to blurt out, “Jesus Christ! What the hell were you thinking, spraying the cat with the purple paint, you little twerp?” Such an outburst could permanently damage your precious angel’s delicate self-esteem – much like my angel permanently damaged our precious leather couch with a stick figure etching of her daddy.

Shortly after our girls acquired rudimentary speech, I learned a valuable lesson: Never use foul language in front of young children. When my eldest was barely three, I caught her wielding my $500 Titleist driver into the trunk of our cherry tree, “just like George Washington, Daddy!” While she hadn’t yet mastered conjugating a sentence, she had, to my surprise, absolutely no difficulty reciting back to mommy the entirety of my panicked outburst – verbatim: “Mommy, Daddy said, ‘Holy shit. Look what you’ve done to my club!’ What does ‘shit’ mean, Mommy?”

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Encourage your challenging child – through POSITIVE parenting

Encourage your challenging child – through POSITIVE parenting

Patient Parenting - angry dad and sonIf there is one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that in the end, your kids will crush your dreams, ignore your advice, join a biker gang, and blame you for everything.

But if there is a second thing I’ve learned, it’s that you need to be positive. As you know, outside of my immediate family, I am considered a parenting expert. My latest book, A Positive Parent’s Guide to Loving Your Child, even if They’re an Evil, Twisted, Unmotivated, Narcissistic Demon Seed Hellion Who Will Never Amount to Anything is helping millions of frustrated parents around the globe deal with their challenging child. The key? Remain positive at all times.

This week, I dip into Dr. Tim’s Mailbag, to share how you can successfully apply my powerful patent-pending positive parenting process to help your own challenging child blossom to almost one quarter of their God-given potential.  Continue reading “Encourage your challenging child – through POSITIVE parenting” »

When it came to the journey of parenthood, I took a guilt trip

When it came to the journey of parenthood, I took a guilt trip

Guilty Parent - NapI have a confession to make. While technically speaking, I was raised in a Presbyterian household, I am sure that my parents secretly must have been practicing Catholics. Because for my entire adult life, no matter how hard I tried, I never felt my efforts were good enough. I’ve always felt guilty. Especially when it comes to parenting.

When our two girls were toddlers, I mainly swung between three emotional states: totally overwhelmed, utterly exhausted and constantly feeling guilty. That guilt was usually caused by my feeling so overwhelmed and exhausted.  When I became so sleep-deprived that I simply had to take a nap, I felt guilty for napping. I mean, a good dad would surely tough it out and watch a Sponge Bob video with the kids – for the 475th time. What kind of dad was I! For shame.

I felt guilty about my job in a dot-com start-up where for years I routinely worked 75-hour weeks. For some periods, I was essentially an absentee parent until the weekend arrived. And on those rare occasions when I was able to leave work before 6pm, I felt guilty because all the other managers (who were all 15 years younger, single and child-free) would still be there well past 8pm.

I felt guilty that my wife unfairly bore the burden of most of the household chores, not to mention the 4am feedings and diaper-changes. And by the time I finally got around to pulling my share of changing our girls’ diapers, I felt guilty that it took me so long to pitch in. I suspect that on some level our girls probably resented the delay in my efforts, too, especially because they were seven and six years old by that time.

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