Tag Archives: Parenthood

Just because I wasn’t there doesn’t mean it wasn’t worthwhile!

I have guilty parent syndrome.

The challenge of fitting 4 weeks annual leave into 16 weeks of school holidays every year leaves me thinking that my boys have missed out; that their holiday experiences have not been worthwhile.

It’s not that my wife or myself do not spend time with our boys during the school breaks, it’s just we simply cannot spend ALL the time with them. We tend to assume to role of holiday program coordinator for when we’re not available – arranging incredible people to hang with them and for visits to friends. This often includes park trips, movies, swimming, sleepovers, theme parks, sport and for one of our boys this recent holiday, even a speed boat adventure!

So on the face of it, I reckon our boys thoroughly enjoy their holidays. And they enthusiastically (well, mostly…) proclaim they do.

It’s just that if I’m not there, I tend to think it wasn’t worthwhile… guilty parent syndrome.

Whilst my presence changes the dynamic and is certainly important, my absence does NOT equate to a lack of value. And this is something that seeps into other areas of my life. It’s almost as if I’m suggesting that without my direct involvement, something isn’t as worthwhile for all the other participants. This is more about my insecurity than anything else.

I need to have confidence in the plans I have developed, the people I have engaged  and allow them to create an experience with their touch. This then allows for those times when I am directly involved, for experiences to be flavoured by me, a genuine point of difference!

Whether it be family or work or anywhere else, we need to ascertain when we can be directly engaged and those times when we can’t, or perhaps, even shouldn’t. Empowering others should make an activity more worthwhile, not less.

Let’s create an experience-rich environment for our families and colleagues, with and without us!


Do you celebrate the win?

We have now celebrated both of my parent’s 80th birthdays. Gathering friends and family for these momentous occasions created fantastic memories for all concerned and highlighted the incredible impact my parents have had on many lives. These events have really shown me the value of celebrating the win.

The win may be big and obvious, it may be small and relatively nondescript. It may be personal or it could be public. Regardless, a win is a win and it is incredibly important for each of us to celebrate them.

Celebrating the win does a few things. It…

  •  rewards the effort required in securing the win,
  • identifies the impact and influence the win has upon others,
  • acknowledges all those who have journeyed with us,
  • encourages ourselves and others to persevere, and
  • shares the joy.

The win for my folks our lives well-lived and the many people whose lives are richer for having a relationship with my mum and dad. Having the opportunity to recognise their influence surrounded by their close friends was personally rewarding and satisfying.

An 80th birthday is a magnificent milestone but I am sure you and I have smaller milestones that need celebrating. Once we’ve scaled the mountain or we’re sitting atop the mound, let’s stop and reflect on the achievement before pressing on.

Let’s take the time to celebrate the win.


Image credit: iprostocks / 123RF Stock Photo

Don’t sell out to the stuff

Having recently returned from a fabulous one week break with my family, I am experiencing a mild case of the post-holiday blues. Being free of serious commitments, no pressing emails and a very fluid schedule was very attractive for us all. I reckon one of the keys to this holiday bliss though was the noticeable lack of “stuff”.

The holiday apartment was mostly clutter-free, with only the essentials (albeit in relative luxury!). We had few gadgets, only a handful of toys and just the clothes we needed. Apart from less physical stuff, I was certainly carrying less mental stuff. I had decided beforehand that this holiday I would leave behind the emails, the thinking and the planning and simply enjoy time with my family, laissez-faire style!

This freedom enabled me to focus my energy on the family, becoming fully engaged with them and our activities. I had sold out entirely to the family.

It begs the question then, how often do we allow both the physical and mental stuff to consume us, removing our attention from the present?

How often do we unconsciously prioritize the “stuff” ahead of our family and personal well-being?

For me, the uncomfortable answer to these questions is too often. I have resolved to more effectively manage the stuff, both physical and mental. It should not take me being physically removed from my location via a holiday to get a handle on this. I have resolved to determine what is urgent, what is important and what can wait and then act accordingly. Will you join me?


Image credit: dragonimages / 123RF Stock Photo

Stuck in the middle

It seems as a dad I am often in the midst of conflict between one or more of my four boys. I’m not refereeing a contest but rather negotiating a truce or facilitating the previously agreed peace plan!

Learning how to effectively manage being stuck in the middle is a key aspect of fatherhood. If I bring my impatience to the conflict then I only reinforce the behaviours my boys are probably exhibiting. If I bring a reactionary negativity then I am not empowering my boys to problem-solve.

As well as managing our role in the middle, it is important for us fathers to be mindful of when we need to step in and when we need to quietly observe from the sidelines. There have been many times when my boys have worked out their disagreements themselves and continued playing. There have also been many times when parental intervention was necessary!

Learning to distinguish between these very different scenarios will create more proud parenting moments as we witness our children successfully resolving conflict. It will also reduce the risk of us parents being seen as interfering!

Let’s use our time in the middle well.


Photo: Royalty free image purchased via 123RF Stock Photos

5 things I’ve learnt from my children

I’ve learnt many things from my four boys including that coins will pass safely through the digestive tract of a 2-year-old!

Yep, the lessons have been many and varied, however I have sought to capture just 5 of the more important ones for now.

  1. Kids need acceptance.  In spite of the circumstances and whatever may or may not have happened, my boys actually want to know that they are still right with me, regardless of any trouble.
  2. What walks in me, runs in my boys. If I’m impatient and cranky with the world, then this will not only be replicated in my boys it will be magnified (now this is scary!).
  3. Imperfect is better than ok, it’s normal. If I cannot meet expectations I place upon myself than my boys certainly won’t attain those lofty heights either. Let’s just get real – nobody’s perfect, so let’s set expectations accordingly.
  4. Sometimes the answer is TIME. Kids see through cheap stunts and whilst gifts are readily accepted they won’t solidify a relationship long-term. However, hanging with the kids where the purpose is simply to spend time is many times the simplest answer.
  5. Find the kid in YOU! Run around half-naked or whatever silly things your kids love to do – crazy songs, dress-ups, silly games – it’s all about letting the kid in you connect with the kids around you. Just have fun!

Now this didn’t make this list (and thanks to my good twitter-friend @JamiePentsa) if your child makes you a macaroni necklace with papier-mache flowers, wear it – you’ll make their day!!


Photo: Royalty free image purchased via 123RF Stock Photos

Are your kids ready to rumble?

As a dad, I want to instil in my boys attributes such as courage, confidence, honesty, hope… But underpinning this, I desire them to have the will for a fight. I’m not talking school-yard scrapping, but the life-defining quality of standing up for your beliefs and the wisdom of picking the right fight.

I think many of us parents and therefore our kids have become complacent, willing to roll-over to have our tummies scratched when we should be taking guard, defending our homes. As parents, we allow things to enter and to happen in our homes because the challenge to change this is difficult. We accept behaviour and attitudes because the confrontation that may result from us standing firm is ugly.

Now, we are most definitely called to head up our homes with grace and love. Inherent in “love” though is creating an environment that sets our kids up to win and this will occasionally deliver conflict. We must remain true to the bigger picture of creating empowered and confident young men and women capable of being world-changers, whilst providing a nurturing, secure home with clearly defined boundaries and expectations. Above all else, our children must know they are loved and accepted.

I’ve had several, mostly tongue-in-cheek, conversations with my older boys about their “rights”. I am all for them asserting their rights as long as they are also willing to accept the responsibilities that accompany them. This often cuts the conversation short!

If we want our kids to realise their potential, then they must be willing to fight for it. They must also know that we’ll always be in their corner. But first, though, our kids must see their parents step into the ring.


Photo: Royalty free image purchased via 123RF Stock Photos