XYZ huh?

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The stork is gone…

stork_baby
I have a confession. When I first started I treated my little ones a lot like a new high tech gadget.
I used to be obsessed with high tech gadgets. I can remember more than once waiting with great anticipation to receive the latest toy. The day of delivery coming and my shiny new package dropped at my doorstep. The Fedex man became my best friend. Unwrapping the box gently to not tear any of the precious wrapping, and at long last unveiling the prized object of my affection. Playing with my new found love, figuring out by trial and error how things worked until I hit that one snag. But have no fear I always could rely on the instruction manual. Even if it was lost or damaged I could jump online and everything I needed was right there.

So naturally when I became a father, I continued this learned pattern, until I hit a snag and then much to my shock and awe I was told by loved ones and everyone around me there was no instruction manual! It wasn’t missing, there simply was no such thing.

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Actions Speak!

I want to take you back to this past weekend. For several weeks my fashionista in training and myself have been planning a playdate with one of her friends at school. There were a flurry of emails back and forth and discussions with Grace pertaining to this very important moment in her life. Finally we arranged to have the playdate in a bounce house and because I know Grace’s passions, in a MALL to boot!

Grace was at her mom’s for the weekend.  As per the usual,  I avoid being time-boxed by anyone, and my ex-betrothed was supposed to drop off the kids by 3pm.  I texted their mother a couple of hours before with a simple “What time are you dropping them off?”

I was actually enjoying a nice chat with my mom at the time.  I can still remember the sting of the text that came back.

“Hi Daddy, Momma is taking me to the mall”

I immediately felt disappointed and angry at the same time.  I had spent quite some time planning this with Grace and intentionally rearranged my schedule because she had said she wanted me to be there.

In these situations, I have a three step process I use to combat these types of situations.

  1. Best way through a feeling is to feel the feeling
  2. I clarify what I am hearing
  3. Use my emotion to take action in a positive direction

I said aloud I am angry and disappointed about this development.

I drilled out a few words on my phone “Which mall is that?”

Grace insta replied with “The mall for my playdate”

I let Grace know how I was feeling, “I am super disappointed and angry right now”

Which led to a series of excuses and she didn’t understand why.  Ultimately she decided to ask her mommy if I could join them.

Grace came back and said her other parental unit said that was fine and to meet them there.

Now it was time for action.  I felt my schedule and the time and effort I put into this were being brushed aside.  I was furious and as I have learned I felt that fury and let it fuel my plans for the day.

At that moment I decided not to discuss the situation anymore, words were not working. I let Grace know I was going to go enjoy myself somewhere else and immediately emailed the mother of the other child in the playdate with Grace’s mother’s details and advised her of Grace’s decision to change the plans.

Grace was dumbfounded by my reaction and had no qualms about stating her position on the issue. She bellowed that nothing had changed, I was invited and chose not to go therefore it was ALL my fault.

And then I took off for the next best thing on my “Better than list”

Calls flooded in, which I ignored.  Texts from my ex, now she wanted to talk.

I had an amazing day and enjoyed myself immensely.

I received a video call from Grace while I was out gallivanting in which she said she was so sorry and loved me.  I told her thank you for the sentiment but she knows how to show me she is sorry.  She sadly said “Actions speak.”

When I returned that night, the sitter told me that there had been a lot of drama about my exit.  The kids mom had told the babysitter that I was acting like a child and she didn’t see the big deal I could have joined them at the mall.  That’s OK, I can’t control her feelings, so I focus on what I can, my own actions.

The next morning at breakfast, after I told Grace I love her and that would never change regardless of her behavior, Grace mounted her counter-attack.

“Mommy said that it was your choice not to come to the mall and you made a big thing out of a small thing, and I agree with her”

“Mommy didn’t see the big deal and neither do I”

“It was your fault”

I was not mad, this was a teaching opportunity!

And I began a story….

“I want you to imagine Grace that for weeks you and your best friend Cadie have been planning a playdate with a new kid at school.  This was so important to you that you gave up tickets to the local amusement park just to spend the time with Cadie ”

“Uh-huh”

I could see Grace picturing her and her best friend giggling and planning on a playdate with a new kid, Grace is the ambassador for new kids at her school so I knew it was personal for her.

“The plan is for Cadie to come over to your house and then you two to go and meet Janey (the new kid) at the mall.”

Grace nodded.

“The day of, you text Cadie and ask her when you should expect her.  She replies that Raina (Cadie’s other besty) is going to take them to the mall to meet Janey.”

The color was visibly changing in Grace’s face.

“How would you feel Grace?”

“I would be furious!”

“So you tell Cadie you are furious and she says she doesn’t understand and she’ll ask Raina if it’s OK if you meet them at the mall-”

Before I could finish my sentence Grace interrupted, “Oh no she didn’t”  “There is no way I am spending my time with her when she treats me like that”

I understand how you feel sweetheart.

“Now remember you still have those tickets to the local amusement park, what do you do?”

“I am going to that amusement park.”

“But you could still join them.”

“Pfffft that’s not the same I wanted to spend time with Cadie without Raina that is why we spent all that time planning!  The nerve of that girl!”

By this point, realization spread across her face and Grace ran to hug me tightly.

As I often do I stopped the story there, and Grace got ready for school.  I know Grace needs the time to process and am happy to give it to her.

Three or four days later I asked her what she thought of events of the previous weekend, if she had it to do over again how would she do it.

“First, I wouldn’t tell Mom she could take me because you and I had made plans already and, she was not involved in it.  I would be more empathetic towards your feelings when you expressed them to me.  And if I was going to change plans, I would not do it the last minute.  Instead of thinking about how you would feel and telling Mommy no, I went with her suggestion last minute.  I would not accuse you of making a big deal out a small thing because now I know how it feels and it is a big deal to me”

I could have argued with Grace but I have found my actions are far more effective than giving a lecture.  This story would not have worked if Grace didn’t first understand how upset I was about this whole ordeal.

 

 

Our thoughts on Dancing with My Daughter

father-daughter-dance

Recently an article called “Dancing with My Daughter” by John Pavlovitz came to my attention. I must say I admire the writer’s willingness to admit his own shortcomings as a father within the article and I think the article puts a light show on some of the common misconceptions in parenting. In this post I am going to go over the article and share with you what I have found is effective. Grace and Noah have also agreed to share their opinions on the matter (Don’t miss their insightful interview at the bottom of this post!

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Good Job Kiddo

When I first became a father I remember thinking about what my little ones would become. A doctor who saved lives, a lawyer who helped people defend themselves or maybe an entertainer who spilled joy to their audience. What never crossed my mind is a teenager in a gang! How exactly does a bright eyed precociois toddler become a gang member or a lunch money stealing bully?
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The Ultimate Battle

This post is for every parent that has to be at work in an hour but their toddler is throwing a major tantrum and refusing to get dressed. I have felt the frustration pouring down my face in the form of tears as I try desperately to get what I want from these meanie mes. Begging them, just this once be ready on time, give me a break. Well as an XYZ parent I stand here to tell you there is HOPE. The battles that I used to know are now few and far between, but have been replaced by a much greater one.
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Why XYZ parenting?

The best way to tell you why I became an XYZ parent is to describe how I previously felt as a fear-based parent.

As I have mentioned before I was a fear-based parent when the stork first dropped off my children. If you are anything like me then the first thing that comes to mind when I say fear-based is that fear is wielded to discipline your toddlers. This is a common misconception and why I now use the term ABC (Afraid Beyond Control) parent, which I will elaborate in another post.
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