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Sunday, February 27, 2005


Jamie Foxx

Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for Best Actor tonight, but what impressed me more is what he said about fatherhood during his interview with Barbara Walters. A couple of quotes:

"I never want my daughter to look up and say my dad's not here."

"The only responsibility you have is your family."

It's nice to hear a Hollywood star talk about his real-life role as a dad (and sound like he actually means it).

Friday, February 25, 2005


Parents and TV

Jane Eisner writes about parents and television in the Philadelphia Inquirer. She points out the hypocrisy of many parents who cry out about "wardrobe malfunctions" but turnaround and let their young kids watch CSI and Desperate Housewives.

Parents moan about the gratuitous sex and violence on shows aired on what was once the sacrosanct 'family hour,' but how many allow their kids to watch that stuff? Nearly two-thirds of children in this country have a television in their bedroom, and I doubt it got there because they saved their allowance.

"What we say we want and what we actually consume as a nation are two different things," says Robert J. Thompson, founder of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University.

Our TV is downstairs, in the family room, where it can be controlled by the grown-ups. My kids understand that watching TV is a treat to be earned. But they can't just watch anything. They've never seen an adult sitcom or drama, and they rarely watch programs with commercials. Their favorites are Crocodile Hunter, Arthur, Between The Lions, Zoboomafoo, Mister Rogers, Scooby-Doo, Johnny Quest, and anything by Disney.

I don't turn the TV on for myself until well into the evening after the kids are asleep. My wife and I watch most of our shows on DVD, like CSI, Alias, and Firefly. It's amazing how quickly popular shows are appearing on DVD. It's just another level of control that we have over the television set, not only for the kids but for ourselves as well.

Control is really what it's all about. It seems like most parents don't want to make the small effort to control what enters the minds of their children. You don't have to completely censor the TV, just filter what appears on it. As Eisner writes, Television ought to be something that is mastered and enjoyed, not feared.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Cleanliness Is Next To Kittiness

I noticed my 3-year-old with her thumb in her mouth. I said, "Aren't you a little old to be sucking your thumb?"

She replied, "I not sucking my thumb. I cleaning my face like a cat."

And then she proceeded to wipe spit all over her nose, cheeks, and forehead.

Well, okay... Just as long as she doesn't start using the litterbox.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Overheard in the First Grade

My kids are better.... My son is back in school today. I walked up to the classroom with him to drop off his Family Tree project, a small posterboard with pictures of his family pasted onto a colorful tree that he drew and colored. The kids in his first grade class had two weeks to do this project. One of his classmates came up, looked at the poster, and asked, "What's that?" My son replied, "It's my family tree." The other kid's eyes grew wide, he put his hand up to his forehead, and said, "Oh crap! I forgot to do mine!"

I wonder where he learned that from.

Monday, February 21, 2005


Down A Sunny Dirt Road...

Now that's a treehouse!

Sunday, February 20, 2005


Stuffy Noses

Sick Kids = No Blogging

Thursday, February 17, 2005


A For Effort

A psychology professor at Florida State University has realized that high self-esteem is not the key to success.

"It's been one of the biggest disappointments of my career," said Dr. Roy Baumeister.

New studies show that focusing solely on boosting kids' self-esteem, especially through empty praise and protecting children from failure, can cause more harm than good. We now have an entire generation of young adults who have trouble accepting criticism and fall apart at the slightest setback.

My kids' school teaches the basics, and rewards students for their achievements, not merely the effort. There is a clear distinction between those who participate and those who succeed. My kids know that if they want the rewards they're going to have to do the work to earn them. Sometimes they'll win, sometimes they'll lose. Mostly I just want them to do their best and learn to do better. The self-esteem will come as a result.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I'm A Happy Slave

Here's my new t-shirt...

The wife approves.


Putting Family First

Russ at The Daily Yak has a powerful post about his experience with the Family and Medical Leave Act. Just more evidence of the anti-parent culture that exists in this country, from corporate boardrooms to Congress. The health of our families should always come before the health of our corporations. But all I ever hear from our leaders is pro-family rhetoric followed by anti-family policy.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is near, and my thoughts turn to love songs. This Beatles tune is my earliest favorite, and would place in my Top 5 Love Songs of all time. I'm teaching it to my kids.

Covered in 2004 by Walter Clevenger...

Listen: Walter Clevenger - "I Will" MP3
Buy it at:


Name That Baby!

Selling naming rights to your baby on eBay? Disgusting.

Of course, this has been going on for hundreds of years -- people naming their kids after a wealthy grandmother or uncle...


The Womb Card

The other night I said to my wife that I'm surprised she doesn't play the Womb Card more often. You see, I'm still blown away by the whole pregnancy and birth process. It amazes me... No, it's downright miraculous to me that my wife carried two children inside her. And I'm quite honestly surprised that she doesn't use that as leverage when she wants to win an argument or choose a restaurant or get control of the remote. All she'd have to do is whip out that fuzzy picture of the ultrasound and I would defer to her every whim.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Different Standards, Part 2

Last week I wrote about my son and his friend from school wanting to get together for a playdate. The other boy's mother had told me just to pick him up from school and take him home with me. Mind you, she had never met me. I was aghast. I told her that we should at least meet at the school since she comes there to pick up her daughter, who is in kindergarten. That was fine with her. Last Monday I'm waiting as usual outside my son's first grade classroom. The mother is nowhere in sight. The boys come out, ready to go. No mother. I call her home and there's no answer. At this point I'm not about to just load this boy into my car without at least meeting one of his parents!

Finally, after five more minutes of waiting, she arrived on the scene. She appeared to be a normal, average mother-type, driving an expensive SUV and wearing fashionable clothes. She was obviously in a hurry to move me along so she could get to wherever she was going. And I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt on her parenting skills.

The boys had a great time at my house. My son was so excited about showing off his swing set, bouncer, Star Wars figures, and other toys, that I had to pull him aside at first to calm him down. His friend was very polite, friendly, and careful with my son's things. I was feeling a little bit better about his mother and how she was raising her son.

But then, at the designated pick-up time of 5 o'clock, no mother. No phone call. Thirty minutes later, we're in the front room and see her pull into the driveway. The first thing I noticed is that her five-year-old daughter was sitting in the front seat, with no car seat and no seat belt. And the last thing I noticed was her son getting into the back seat without buckling his seat belt. I didn't even think there were still people who let their kids ride around unbuckled. Again, the different standards of other parents is troubling to me.

She'd better not be surprised when my kids NEVER go to her house. I can just imagine the games she would have them play: "Pin the Tail in the Electrical Outlet," "Hide and Seek in the Old Fridge," and "Tag the Angry Neighbor Dog."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Eating Nemo

Jim Hill writes a hilarious review of Disney's new seafood products. "Hey kids! Who wants to eat Nemo for dinner?" Next we'll see "Piglet's Bacon Rolls" and "Chicken Little's BBQ Mini-Wings."


Hard-Core Porn

Do you support the hard-core porn industry?

If you are a customer of Adelphia or DirecTV, or any other cable or satellite service, then, yes, you are putting money into the hands of hard-core porn producers.

If moral values mean anything to you, call up your cable or satellite company and cancel your service. Tell them that you do not want to support a company that supports the hard-core porn industry.

Monday, February 07, 2005


Kids and Privacy

Robert Jamieson, a Seattle newspaper columnist, writes about the Washington Supreme Court decision that a mother violated her daughter's privacy by eavesdropping on her phone conversation.

I agree with Jamieson when he says "Parents who do not snoop become moot."

It still bugs me that the parents of the Columbine Killers professed ignorance to the fact that their sons were building pipe bombs and buying guns. In that case the parents never even ventured into their kids' rooms. If they had, alarm bells most certainly would have gone off.

My own kids are already learning about privacy, especially as each of them wants to get into the others' toys and banks. But they're also learning that privacy is a privilege, and that their mom and dad have their eyes (and ears) open.

If we aren't aware, it means we don't care.

Friday, February 04, 2005


The Naked Nanny

I wonder how much time it took after this incident for the mother to hire another nanny. After all, she's got a tennis game that needs to be improved! Never mind that there are kids that need to be raised... You can find a stranger to do that for you. And then your 4-year-old child can watch Die Hard and touch naked people.

Sheesh, I'm going to hurt my neck from shaking my head so much.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Different Standards

My 6-year-old son made a really good friend at school and the two of them hatched up a plan to get together at one or the other's house. "That's not the way it works," I explained to my son. "Plans have to be made through your parents. You can't just invite your friend over by yourself. Your mommy or your daddy has to call his mommy or daddy and arrange a time when we're all not busy." That's our stated family policy, and my son understands it now.

So, I called this other boy's mother to compare calendars for a future playdate. Her response was surprising. "Why don't you just take Tyler home with you after school on Monday? The boys can play at your house."

Huh? You want me, a complete stranger, to take your 6-year-old son home? Really? I absolutely do not understand the mentality of a parent who would hand over their child to someone they do not know. Obviously, if they did know me then there would be nothing for them to worry about. But they don't know me, and they are not worried. To me, that is not only surprising, it's downright troubling.

As a parent, part of my job description is to protect my children so that they can play, learn, and grow without fear. I see too many parents who seem to be shirking this responsibility. And when you point it out to them, they aren't concerned. I had initially explained to her that we don't allow my son to go alone anywhere, so she knew where I stood on that point. And still she suggested that I take her son.

This is just one of many examples of low parenting standards that I see all around me. I do not believe my standards are ridiculously high. I believe I am simply doing what is right for my kids. Why more parents don't want to do this is beyond me.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Ben Stein Discovers Idaho Fatherhood

Actor, writer, game-show host Ben Stein is a frequent visitor to my neck of the woods here in North Idaho. In this 1999 American Enterprise article, Stein talks about some valuable lessons he learned about fathers and sons while vacationing in Sandpoint with his son Tommy. As he writes, "It’s great to be a dad anywhere, but it’s better in a small town."