Reconnect With Your Spouse

It’s important for new moms to remember that new dads have their own share of stress, most keeping full-time jobs in addition to helping with the new baby at home. Both parents should attempt be sympathetic to the other’s needs. One vital need: Time with each other! Consider the following ways to keep your marriage strong.

1. Make time for just the two of you- Finding time to spend together alone is always harder than in seems. Strive to make a date at least once a week for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate- in every way possible. Schedule a time to talk about subjects other than the baby. Speak on the phone, and send text messages and emails throughout the day.

3. Play! Take up a new hobby together. Always wanted to go antiquing or learn to play golf? Whether you bring the baby along, or utilize caregivers, do it together.

Real Life Solutions With Dr. Linda Mintle

Q: My sister tells me I am too uptight about getting my toddler to sleep every night. She allows her three-year-old to stay up late, sleep in the next day and take naps if he is tired. She does not have him on any sleep routine. What do you think of this?

A: When you talk to sleep experts, they will tell you that a consistent sleep routine is important for a toddler. Sleep actually helps a baby’s brain grow! A study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that inconsistent sleep may contribute to obesity later in life. The study also noted that napping does not replace the benefits of nighttime sleep. According to the CDC, three to five-year-olds need 11-13 hours of nighttime sleep. So, yes, a toddler needs a regular bedtime. Since a lack of sleep can create problems opt for the regular bedtime routine and be patience. A toddler may need help to wind down by reading a book, taking a warm bath or doing something quiet before bedtime. Of course, parents need to avoid chocolate, sodas and even juices before bedtime. A warm cup of milk is calming. Then, make sure there is a consistent wake up time as well, as oversleeping and prolonged napping can create sleep problems. The atmosphere should be quiet and peaceful. Some toddlers like a little music to relax them as well. Even small things like keeping the room temperature comfortable and the house quiet can aid a good night’s sleep. And you are setting habits for the future. Most of us do best with a regular sleep routine as well.

Resource: Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens by Owens and Midell (Marlowe & Company, 2005.

Real Life Solutions With Dr. Linda Mintle

Q. I am a new mom and love to be out in the sun during this time of year. A friend of mine told me to be more careful and cover up my baby from the sun. Is this really a big deal?

A. Absolutely. Most sun damage occurs in childhood. Sun exposure builds over the years and can create problems later in life. Babies can get sunburned and their tender skin can’t handle the harmful UV rays emitted by the sun. A baby under the age of six months should not be exposed to direct sunlight. And even though it is hot, cover your baby with light cotton clothing to protect her skin. Limit her exposure to the sun during the peak hours of ultraviolet rays—10:00a.m to 4:00p.m. Shade her whenever possible. Most baby carriers have sunshades built in, car shades can be use when she is in her car seat and umbrellas, baby tents and other shading devices can be used as added protection. Use sunscreen designed for infants with at least an SPF of 15, even on hazy days. Apply the sunscreen at least an hour before going out and reapply it often. Hats are also a good way to protect the face and they look really cute! Keep in mind that if you live in a high altitude, sun exposure is greater. If your baby gets sunburned and is showing blisters, fever, chills headache or appears ill, contact your pediatrician immediately. Sunburn can lead to dehydration and is treated like a serious burn. So yes, your friend was right. It is a big deal!

Resource: Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice For Your Baby’s First Year by Denise Fields & Ari Brown M.D. Windsor Peak Press; Fifth Edition, Revised, 5th ed. edition (September 1, 2011)

Richard’s Surprise by Carey Casey

A son makes a simple yet meaningful gesture, and it impacts his father for eternity…

The dad’s name is Richard. He had always been an active and committed father. He poured his time and his energy into his kids; he was very devoted to them. But he had never truly embraced God as his heavenly Father. He attended church and he would tell you that faith is very important, but he was never fully committed as a believer.

Richard’s son, 23 years old at the time, played pro baseball for a minor-league team. As he worked his way up the ranks Richard naturally followed him as best he can. He traveled to some games and went online to keep up with what happened when he couldn’t be there.

One evening Richard was checking out the results on his computer, and he found a highlight clip of his son making a great play. What a thrill to be able to see that online! Then, after the play, his boy stood still just for a moment, took off his cap, bowed his head for a short prayer, and then pointed to the sky.

It’s what you see players do sometimes, right? Well, for Richard it was no ordinary thing. He was moved almost to tears. He had no clue that his son’s faith was that important to him.

Richard felt some regret to a degree, because he knew that equipping his kids in their faith was an area where he had fallen short. At the same time, he was humbled that in spite of all that, God still worked in his son’s life to bring about the kind of faith where he could openly give honor and glory to God for his own success.

That experience has had a long-lasting influence on Richard. Today, he is taking his own walk with Christ much more seriously, and he’s paying more attention to the spiritual lives of all his children. What do they believe, and how much does it matter to them? How can they bring glory to God with their lives? Best of all, he’s become a better example of a sold-out, fully devoted disciple of Christ.

Dad, if you’re like Richard used to be, you might be comforted in knowing that God can get through to your children in spite of your weaknesses. But then, why take that chance? Get close to God, and lead your children there as well.
 

careycaseycasual2007Carey Casey is Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas City-based National Center for Fathering and author of the book Championship Fathering: How to Win at Being a Dad.

Through his work across the country, Casey has earned a reputation as a dynamic communicator, especially on the topic of men being good fathers. He’s known as a compassionate ambassador, particularly within the American sports community.

Be a Father by Carey Casey

In ParentLife this month, I wrote about dads who deserve to be honored, and the idea of making “sacrifices” for our children. It occurs to me that another great point to make is that there are dads out there who pretty much define that word “sacrifice.” So I want to add a salute to dads who are committed to meeting the needs of their kids—no matter what.

This is expressed by dads in many different challenging situations, but I have one group in mind specifically.

Some years ago, my bride Melanie and I came face-to-face with the difficult truth that our son had a mild learning challenge. It wasn’t anything major, and he has nearly overcome it in the years since. But at the time it set me back for a while. Our family is not perfect by any means. Still, it seemed like the kind of thing that just didn’t happen to us. My three other children have their unique strengths and weaknesses, but they didn’t have this specific challenge.

So I started asking questions I’m sure are normal for these kinds of situations: What caused this? Was it something I did—or didn’t do? Did we miss something that could have made a difference?

But it wasn’t long before those more self-centered thoughts turned to love and concern for my son. No matter what happened in the past, what can I do now to help him? My consuming thought was, Hey, this is my time to step up. I have to be a father. I need to be there for my son.

If any of you dads listening today have children with even more challenging issues—like autism, Down’s Syndrome, or something else—I know you’re very familiar with those thoughts and emotions. It’s often dads like you who set the mark and help us to define what it means to be a committed dad. When the needs of your child required some extra sacrifices, you stepped up. You put your child’s needs before your own, and you’ve never regretted it.

Those dads deserve more recognition for what they do.

And this message may be more for the rest of us who face the routine rigors of being a dad, but aren’t facing the overwhelming exhaustion of raising a child with extreme disabilities. I would say, “Dad, take a page from the playbook of the most committed dads you know. Make the radical decision to sacrifice your own desires and goals for the sake of your children.”

And then my other thought would be this: no matter what your children’s gifts, abilities, and weaknesses may be, cherish them for who they are. Be flexible, and grow with them. Let them teach you what it means to be a committed father.

 

careycaseycasual2007Carey Casey is Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas City-based National Center for Fathering and author of the book Championship Fathering: How to Win at Being a Dad.

Through his work across the country, Casey has earned a reputation as a dynamic communicator, especially on the topic of men being good fathers. He’s known as a compassionate ambassador, particularly within the American sports community.

When Everyone Isn’t Happy In Your Re-Marriage

My friend Denise was a beautiful bride. She was in her early thirties when she married Matt and took on the challenges of stepparenting Rylee, his 10-year-old daughter. To others, it seemed like a seamless transition. Denise had been an assistant leader in Rylee’s Girl Scout troop. She had taken special care to make sure that Rylee was often included on her dates with Matt, and she had even spent many “girl days” with Rylee for some one-on-one time. Even Rylee’s biological mom had a good relationship with both Denise and Matt.

But sometime between the wedding kiss and the limousine ride to the reception, Rylee had a meltdown. Running to Denise, she buried her face in her new stepmom’s arms and burst into tears—loud, heaving sobs. Everyone was baffled and wondering, Why? What’s wrong?

A newly married couple is floating on the high of marital bliss, excited to have finally found the right person. Unfortunately, many parents assume that their biological children are as happy as they are about this new marriage. “When divorced parents remarry, they see it as a gain, but a child sees it as another loss,” Laura Petherbridge, author of The Smart Stepmom, explains. “The reason stepfamilies are so complicated is because whether death or divorce has occurred, there has been loss. With loss come grief, fear, depression, and discouragement.” Families take those emotions with them into new relationships. While Mom or Dad may think they have had time to heal, they don’t realize that children tend to be about two years behind adults in the grieving process.

Years later, as a young adult, Rylee explained the emotions behind the tears on that wedding day. Once her daddy was officially remarried, she realized there was no way that he would ever go back to her mother. Sure, she liked Denise, in fact, she really loved her. But as a child, she had long been fantasizing that one day her father and mother would marry each other again, and her home would be put back in place.

“It’s wise for a stepparent to recognize that they need to move very slowly into the life of the step child,” urges Laura. “It takes approximately seven years for a step family to bond. The mistake is when a new couple thinks that since they are happy, the children should be equally as happy.”

Rebecca Ingram Powell is a wife, mother, author, and national conference speaker. Connect online at www.momseriously.com

Real Life Solutions with Dr. Linda Mintle

My son seems to have the idea that he should always get what he wants. I admit that we do tend to spoil him. His toy closet is full of toys that he rarely plays with once the novelty wears off. Last night, he pestered me for something at the store and I said, “No.” He threw a fit and would not stop until I gave in. I’m worried that I might be raising a child who feels entitled.  

 

Your concern is warranted. We have too many kids who feel entitled because of well meaning parents who overindulge. By nature, children constantly ask for things, but when they regularly get whatever they want without any work or stipulation, they can develop a sense of entitlement.  For example, instead of doing chores as part of contributing to the family work, children are paid. It is not true that giving more stuff to your children makes you a better parent. Yet, parents often feel pressured by media and advertisers to provide the latest phone or technical device, the best designer clothing and expensive shoes that will be outgrown in a few months. It’s time to pull back and look at the bigger picture. By giving your child whatever he wants, what are you teaching him? Start setting limits. When my daughter wanted a cell phone at an early age, I said, “No.” I could afford it and many of her friends had one, but she didn’t need it. She didn’t get it and that was an important lesson. Also, create opportunities for your children to earn rewards. All of this requires a shift in your thinking as a parent. Your child is not a co-equal, doesn’t make his own decisions, needs to learn respect for money, things, and you, and should be refused when arguing or being disrespectful. You are in charge, so stop allowing your child to bully you into giving him things. These may sound like tough words, but you will thank me later!

 

Resource: The Entitlement Trap: How to Rescue Your Child with a New Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership by Richard and Linda Eyre (Avery trade 1, 2011).

Heroes on the Home Front by Rhonda Hensley

Each year thousands of men and women deploy leaving their spouse and children behind.  Just as those men and women are to be referenced as heroes so are those who battle the struggles of taking care of the home front.

A Call to Duty

Daniel has served in the U.S. Army for over eleven years. He is proud of the opportunity to serve our country. He believes that it his duty not only to protect our country but to provide freedom for his own family. His wife Jennifer and their three children are proud of Daniel’s service to our country but it is not without a cost to the family. Jennifer states, “the most challenging part of the military life is the time our service members have to spend away from us while on a mission or deployment.”

Aiming High

Being a military family for over ten years, the Hall family has adjusted to having dad away most of the time. Chad is a member of the U.S. Air Force and his service requires him to be away on an average of 200 days out of the year. Andrea and her two children have learned to aim high on the independence scale and lower the expectation of having dad around. Andrea states, good friends that become like your extended family help the most during the absence of your military spouse.”

Always Faithful

It didn’t take long for Shaina to gain an understanding of the commitment and dedication it takes for military families to remain faithful. Shortly, after she and her Marine husband, Chad wed, she was sending him off for duty. He witnessed the birth of their daughter via Skype. Shaina expresses that the most challenging part of being a military wife is feeling like a single parent and not knowing if your loved one will return home safely.

Galatians 6:2 states, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” One of the greatest ways we can lighten the burdens of our military is by caring for the heroes they leave on the home front.

 

Rhonda Hensley  is a writer, speaker, Bible teacher and avid photographer which all provide ample opportunity to share her life experiences as a pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother. www.kingdomjewelsministry.com

Passage Weekend by Carey Casey

Just a few years back, my son Chance turned thirteen years old, and yes, I’m seeking your prayers. He’s a good kid, but the teenage years are always interesting.

When my older three kids turned thirteen, I took each of them for a one-on-one trip with Dad—a weekend away where we could talk about “rites of passage” kinds of issues.

Chance is much younger than his siblings; he’s almost like an only child, and we have talks all the time. Plus, being our youngest, I’m probably more relaxed with him. So, leading up to his birthday, my bride reminded me that it’s still important to get away for some one-on-one time. She said, “You’re his dad, and those are the times that will help him grow up. You can’t miss this opportunity.” She was right, of course.

So, Chance and I went to a hotel about an hour away, and we just hung out as guys for the weekend. We played in the pool. I picked him up and threw him up in the air so he could make a big splash—things he would be embarrassed to do if his buddies had been there. It was just a fun time, and he knew he could open up and trust his dad.

Maybe more than anything, it was good to get away—just the two of us, like a private vacation. I could focus my attention all on him. And even though it cost a few pennies, by getting away some good things happened that otherwise would not have happened. Driving back home, Chance told me, “Dad, I didn’t know I was going to have this much fun.”

We had fun together, but I also wanted to speak truth to him about some big issues. That’s part of our coaching role as dads. There are good resources out there about some of the different approaches to rites of passage, and I hope you’ll use them. My approach was to simply speak from my heart on five key issues, and I want to give those to you today.

Now, let me say that you should revisit these over and over; don’t drop them on your kids in one shot from the fire hose. They learn best through consistent reinforcement as teachable moments come along. Briefly, here are five things I shared with my son—each worthy of a good conversation:

First, give information about physical and emotional changes—the “facts of life” a child of his age needs to know. I was glad, and a little surprised, to see how much my son knows. The dude is down the road a bit on this stuff.

Two, make sure to bring God into the picture. Open the Word and show him that these changes are part of God’s design. He made all of us with great care, and He has a purpose for our lives—even when it comes to sex. Talk about the blessings of marriage, and the positive impact of following God’s way. Tell him you’re praying for the girl he will marry some day.

Next, how to handle temptations. Shoot straight about the things he could see on TV, in movies and on line. Some of that might look good, but “it isn’t God’s best for you, Son.” Give him specific strategies how to handle it.

Number four: relating to the opposite sex. With my son, we talked about how are women to be thought of and treated, and how that should show up in our actions. And dad, make sure you are modeling that yourself.

And finally, the issue of trust. As I gave my son a vision for what Mom and Dad expect of him as a young man, I also told him, “Son, no matter what, you can trust your mom and pop. You can trust your dad. Come to us. Ask us about any situation.”

Those are the things I shared. Adapt them to your own approach. And make the most of that time when your son is starting the transition to manhood. Be there to coach him.

I hope you’ll make time to do this occasionally with each of your kids. Every father-child relationship needs those fun, focused times to bond you closer together.

When New Daddies Get Stressed by Brian Dembowczyk

Dad's Turn
source: abennett96

Here are three common causes of stress for new fathers and tips for handling each one.

Sleep deprivation

No one gets much sleep with a newborn in the house. Without the rest you need, you will find yourself running on fumes and easily prone to being stressed and irritable. Be creative to find time for you and your wife to rest. Consider taking turns during nighttime feedings (if your wife is nursing, she can pump milk into a bottle for one of the late night feedings), allowing one of you to get at least a few hours of sleep. Take naps, or at least rest, when your baby is sleeping during the day.

A crying baby

This is perhaps the greatest cause of stress for fathers. Not only can a newborn’s cry be draining, men tend to be problem-solvers and fixers and sometimes it is quite difficult to soothe a crying baby. Here are six tips for soothing your crying baby.

  1. Swaddle her. Newborns feel secure when they are bundled up securely.
  2. Calmly and gently shhhh her. Babies like repetitive sounds, plus it makes you feel better to say it.
  3. Gently rock her. Try swaying back and forth to create motion.
  4. Change the way you are holding her.
  5. Give her a pacifier.
  6. If all else fails and you feel your blood pressure rising, walk away and pray. Crying never hurt a baby.

A crowded schedule

Life instantly gets hectic with a baby in the home which often leads to stress. Learn the art of prioritizing and clear as much off your calendar as possible. Allow the house to be a little messier than usual. Don’t worry about mowing the lawn as frequently. Prepare simpler meals. Forgo your hobby for a little while. Don’t make any commitments or appointments unless absolutely necessary.

What suggestions do you have for dads with newborns?