A Letter to my Unborn Son

Dad and baby fist bump

I wrote this letter to my son over five years ago and recently came across it again.  I was moved to tears reading it because it is a beautiful outpouring of the unconditional love that I felt for my unborn child, and continue to feel.  Since this letter, we have had two more children and the words and emotions here are still as true as they were then.  This letter has been a great reminder of the things that I promised to him, and myself.  I hope you enjoy this letter as much I did.

It will not be long now before you enter this world, and change my life forever. I could not be more excited for your arrival, I also could not be more terrified, but that is okay as well, we will be terrified together for the first few days. Eventually, and very quickly, you and I will acclimate to the shock and awe of this new world. You will begin to discover that the booming voice you hear is me, and you will learn that the other voice you hear, the voice that is very familiar and offers you comfort, is the same voice you heard from inside your safe world before this one; it is the voice of your amazing mother.

You will discover that you have hands and fingers, and these will be the instruments in which you explore this cool new world, and the tools with which you will hold onto me. You will also discover that you have feet, and that, for some reason, they will be delightfully tasty to you for awhile. You will also learn that there will be a lot of people surrounding you, and they might scare you at first, because you were used to hanging out by yourself for 40 weeks, but do not worry, they love you, and your awesomeness will make you irresistible to others (this will also come in handy later in life).

In my time waiting for you, I have been thinking about things that I would like you to know when you enter this world, and hopefully remember as you embark on this remarkable journey through life. I hope you find them to be useful and I will continue to help you learn to get through this world, and you, undoubtedly, will teach me a thing or two along the way as well.

The first thing I want you to know is that you do not need to grow up too fast, nor do you need to take on the world too early. That is exactly why I am here. I will carry the weight of the world on my shoulders until you become a man and then I will pass it onto you so that you may do the same for your children. Your job will be to play in the dirt, laugh at all the things little boys (and grown men) find hysterical, watch cartoons, take things apart, dig up worms and enjoy everything your little heart could possibly imagine.

Do not be afraid to try new things, even if you do not do well, you may even fail at them. That is okay. The light bulb was not invented in a day. Every brilliant man and woman on this planet that has had success also has a long road paved with failures. The important thing is that you keep trying and you will find what excites you, and then excel at that; knock it out of the park.

You will find that sometimes life is not “fair”, and that there will always be people that enjoy being mean, people that will not want you to succeed and will hate you when you do succeed. Do not let these people bother you. Continue on in your pursuits with your head held high. The best way to silence a critic is to prove them wrong.

Be kind and treat other with respect. This is important. It does not mean that you have to let people take advantage of you. It is especially important to be kind and respectful to people that you lead or manage or people that others may view as “below you” socially and economically. The way you treat the less fortunate is a true indicator of the kind of man you will be; the way you treat them even if your peers are not treating them well, is an even better indicator.

Most importantly I will always love you. My love is unconditional and unequivocal, and it always will be, no matter what happens or which life decisions you make. This love will cause me to fight to the end of the earth for you, to hold your hand when you are lost, hug you when you are scared. It is with this love that I will read bed time stories, build Lego sky scrapers, climb into tree houses, turn it into a fort, and fight imaginary foes with water balloons and sling shots. I will be there for you with words of wisdom when you fall in love the first time, and again when she breaks your heart. I will be there when you find your true love and when you start a family of your own. I will be there for your triumphs and let downs, and through it all, it will be always be made out of love. This same love will also cause me to send you to your room or ground you. Do not mistake this as me being mean, it is the greatest love in which I do this, because without discipline life becomes much harder.

Those are some of the tips I have for you, and while they are not numerous, they are by no means exhaustive. They will get you started and carry you through for awhile, but always remember, when you are feeling lost and confused with what to do, I am your father, and I will not have all the answers, but it is always easier to figure it out with someone else helping.

Please leave your comments below.  Have you ever written letters to your children and then looked back at them later? Have things changed or stayed the same? Have you ever shared your letters with your children?

Thanks for joining us at Huddle!

Anthony

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Age Appropriate Chores for Kids

Age Appropriate Chores for Kids

My oldest child, the 5 year old, loves to be the helper.  Whether it is at home, or in school, he likes to have a job to do and he usually does it well.  His love of jobs is how I figured out that he is great at taking the empty garbage cans back from the curb, and that he is also great at gathering ingredients and stirring when I am making scrambled eggs.  Since I am proponent of a token economy to teach them how to earn and to teach that actions have consequences, both good and bad, chores are an excellent thing to add to a token economy.  Admittedly our token economy waxes and wanes but it is easy to institute it again, and in regards to chores, it is a fantastic way to have kids earn an allowance.

Chores do not have to be exhaustive and time intensive tasks that take all day long to complete, and at the younger age they really should be fairly quick and easy tasks, but things that still teach them responsibility, and lighten your load a bit.  Things like picking up their books ad toys, helping to load and empty a dishwasher, vacuum, etc are all great for school age children.

If you are looking for more ideas on age appropriate chores that kids can do, I found this post and graphic from Sports Mom Survival Guide which is a quick and helpful guide for what your kids may be able to help out with.

chore chart

 

What are some of the chores that your kids enjoy doing and what else can they do? Please give me your ideas in the comments!

Thanks for joining the Huddle.

Anthony

Parenting Without Yelling

I can hear the grumbling and see the eye rolling as soon as I wrote the title of this. Hear me out on this. I have already yelled this morning so I understand and this is as much an article for me as it is for you. Before becoming a Registered Nurse I worked in behavioral health wraparound services, and I try hard to utilize those techniques with my own kids.

You have told your children for the second time to stop hitting each other and to clean up their toys. Two minutes later Wrestlemania is ensuing and somehow the toys on the floor have multiplied. You can feel your blood pressure rising and you lose your cool, yelling threats to sell their toys and ground them for life. Emotions run high and everyone is frustrated. So what can you do?

Take a deep breath and make a mindful choice to not yell. Taking a few deep breaths, five seconds in and five seconds out, helps to lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels and prepares you speak calmly but authoritative to your kids.

Now that you are a bit calmer, speak to your children in a softer but firm voice. Your softer response sets the expectation and models the behavior for your children. Kids, especially toddlers and school aged children, can more easily listen and understand you when you are speaking in a soft but firm voice. Think about how you respond and how you feel when someone starts to yell at you. This is how children feel as well, except they are also not mature enough to process and understand their emotions, so the chances of them understanding you and following your directions the first time when yelling, is close to zero. At first, even speaking calmly and firmly may not get them to listen to you the first time, but like everything that we are trying to teach our children, it takes consistent and repeated modeling of the expected behavior.

Now that you are speaking calmly, it is time to set the expectations and the consequences. Again, concise, calm, and firm is the best way to convey these things, for example if I am talking to my son I could say “H, I want you to clean up your toys. If you don’t clean up your toys you can not have screen time”. I find that it can also be worthwhile to ask your child to repeat those things back to you, so there is no misunderstanding of what you want done and what the consequences will be if it is not done. It is also helpful to have your children working for something, such as what is in place in a token economy. In our house we use a sticker chart so cleaning up toys will earn a sticker and when you earn enough stickers you can have whatever you are working for. This could be a small toy, extra screen time, a lunch date, whatever fits into your lifestyle and is not necessarily a great big reward. This helps to teach your children that when they do their work as expected, they earn a “pay” for it, which is a great lesson to learn for later in life, and in childhood as well. At times I only have to ask my children that they are working for something for them to do what I want them to do. Again, setting expectations early and consistently will lead to you yelling less, and your children learning to make better decisions and follow your directions.

Remember, we are not perfect and neither are our children. Just as we have bad days where things just do not seem to be going right, so do our children. Unlike us though, our children may not know how to express and process those emotions. As parents, we can help our children to learn how to manage and express their feelings, which will set the ground work for them to be able to do that as they grow older and when they become adults.

Parenting without yelling is not always an easy task. We slip up, we yell, we are never perfect, and that is okay. Consciously practicing parenting and behavior techniques that reduce yelling and increase expected and acceptable behaviors not only helps you keep your sanity, but it helps your children as well.

Have you ever lost your cool with your children? Do you have other techniques that you use with your children? Share with me in the comments section!

Thanks for joining the Huddle.

Anthony