Thursday, June 13, 2013

Proverbs, Axioms, Credos, Dictums, Mantras and Manifestos...Parents Bravely Replacing Poisonous Pedagogy With Critical Consciousness

As often happens with me (anyone who has heard me in person will testify) I get focused on a topic, then research it, then something in that research captures my attention...(repeat several times), until I've basically played The Telephone Game all by myself. I start with one sentence but by the time I'm done feeding, altering, and feeding new, exciting facets of information into my squishy gray-matter, the final landing place is rarely near the simple thought that turned my initial query into a quest.

This time, where I started doesn't strike me as important as where I landed. I landed on a blog called UnTangled by Kelly M. Flanagan, PhD. Immediately I saw important work being done and I wanted to share with my family & friends. Here are two posts I'd like to share. You'll find the link to each original post in each title in case you might like to read more of his work or even if you're curious about the comments from his readers.

I'm so inspired by Dr. Flanagan that since I wrote letters to Cale when he was a baby, I plan to post one too. Maybe in a week. Then I wondered if this might be a cool opportunity! So, for family, friends, or my 6000 unidentified blog readers who haven't actually committed to follow me...which is cool, because I haven't actually committed to write, drop me a few meaningful words to your kids or whoever, and I'll post it with full credit to the writer (unless you specifically ask me not to identify you).

Happy Father's Day!

A Daddy’s Letter to His Little Girl (About Her Future Husband) April 17, 2013 — 410 Comments

Dear Cutie-Pie,

Recently, your mother and I were searching for an answer on Google. Halfway through entering the question, Google returned a list of the most popular searches in the world. Perched at the top of the list was “How to keep him interested.”

It startled me. I scanned several of the countless articles about how to be sexy and sexual, when to bring him a beer versus a sandwich, and the ways to make him feel smart and superior.

And I got angry.

Little One, it is not, has never been, and never will be your job to “keep him interested.”

Little One, your only task is to know deeply in your soul—in that unshakeable place that isn’t rattled by rejection and loss and ego—that you are worthy of interest. (If you can remember that everyone else is worthy of interest also, the battle of your life will be mostly won. But that is a letter for another day.)

If you can trust your worth in this way, you will be attractive in the most important sense of the word: you will attract a boy who is both capable of interest and who wants to spend his one life investing all of his interest in you.

Little One, I want to tell you about the boy who doesn’t need to be kept interested, because he knows you are interesting:

I don’t care if he puts his elbows on the dinner table—as long as he puts his eyes on the way your nose scrunches when you smile. And then can’t stop looking.

I don’t care if he can’t play a bit of golf with me—as long as he can play with the children you give him and revel in all the glorious and frustrating ways they are just like you.

I don’t care if he doesn’t follow his wallet—as long as he follows his heart and it always leads him back to you.

I don’t care if he is strong—as long as he gives you the space to exercise the strength that is in your heart.

I couldn’t care less how he votes—as long as he wakes up every morning and daily elects you to a place of honor in your home and a place of reverence in his heart.

 I don’t care about the color of his skin—as long as he paints the canvas of your lives with brushstrokes of patience, and sacrifice, and vulnerability, and tenderness.

 I don’t care if he was raised in this religion or that religion or no religion—as long as he was raised to value the sacred and to know every moment of life, and every moment of life with you, is deeply sacred.

 In the end, Little One, if you stumble across a man like that and he and I have nothing else in common, we will have the most important thing in common:


 Because in the end, Little One, the only thing you should have to do to “keep him interested” is to be you.

Your eternally interested guy,


This post is, of course, dedicated to my daughter, my Cutie-Pie. But I also want to dedicate it beyond her. 

I wrote it for my wife, who has courageously held on to her sense of worth and has always held me accountable to being that kind of “boy.” 

I wrote it for every grown woman I have met inside and outside of my therapy office—the women who have never known this voice of a Daddy.

And I wrote it for the generation of boys-becoming-men who need to be reminded of what is really important—my little girl finding a loving, lifelong companion is dependent upon at least one of you figuring this out. I’m praying for you.

A Father’s Letter of Apology to His Boys (For Father’s Day) June 12, 2013 — 6 Comments

Dear Boys, 

Today, I arrived at my office door, my mind spinning with countless concerns—house repairs and my therapy clients and blog comments and how to convince your mother I was right about something completely inconsequential. I found myself lost in the crowd of my various identities—homeowner, psychologist, writer, vindicated husband.

But then I found my office keys and the keychain you made me for Father’s Day and the three big, brightly-colored letters you inscribed upon it:


I got ambushed by my most important identity—Father. And I realized for an entire morning, like so many mornings before it, I had gotten distracted from my most sacred role by all of my perfectionism and sense of duty and fear of rejection and desire for affirmation.

And something inside of me cracked. 

I think it was my ego—the voice inside telling me if I want to be good enough I have to look perfect, take care of everyone, win everybody over, and be right all the time.

Boys, I want to apologize for my fierce but fragile ego. 

Boys, I want to apologize for all of the ways I let my ego prevent me from being the kind of father of which you are completely worthy:

I’m sorry for every time you’ve needed an embrace and I gave you something less because affection requires time and presence and vulnerability.

I’m sorry for every time the projects in my life have been more important than the people in my world.

I’m sorry for every time I’ve demanded respect, instead of earning it.

I’m sorry for every time I’ve said, “No,” simply because I can.

I’m sorry for every time I’ve told you to be humble and then turned around and acted like losing was the end of the world.

And I’m sorry for every time I didn’t say, “I’m sorry,” because they are, I’m learning, two of the most important words a father can say.

But mostly, Boys, I’m sorry for all the times I have communicated in subtle and not so subtle ways that your worth is conditional upon my approval or my mood or the consent of my fragile ego. 

Boys, don’t let anyone—including me—convince you that your worth is rooted in anything so transient as another person’s opinion of you. 

Your worth is conditional upon nothing.

You came into the world with infinite value and you will leave it in the same way, regardless of what you do or don’t do in this life. I know this seems too good to be true—in fact, many people will tell you it is a recipe for entitlement and narcissism—but if you can learn to trust it, you will be free.

Free from the game of ego inflation in which so many of us are constantly embroiled.

Free to live what is written on your souls, rather than what other people have written upon you with their own brokenness and wounds.

Free to love yourself—and therefore others, as well—without condition and without limit in a world that places every kind of condition upon love and belonging.

Free to create beauty and abundance in a world that seems to be threatened by both.

Free to become portals of grace in a world that thrives on shame and condemnation.

Boys, instead of placing conditions of worth upon you, I want to become a reflection of your worth—I want to mirror the awesome beauty I see in both of you, so you can begin to see it in yourselves. 

In the end, Boys, I hope you can spend your lives knowing who you are, instead of constantly proving who you are.

With deep admiration for who you are, all the time, wherever you go, whatever you do,

After my last letter, an interviewer asked me what words I would have for my boys. My first thought was, “Just two words: I’m sorry.” Because those two words have the power to undermine the ego game in which boys and men are so often encouraged to compete. 

So, I wrote this for my boys—because I want them to be free of the game. 

And I wrote it for the men who have had the courage to sit in my office, to feel broken, to let their egos die, and to discover who they really are

And I wrote it as a permission slip to a world of fathers who have an opportunity to fundamentally change the way our world works, by freeing the next generation from the game we play, one father and one son at a time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Natural Selection

I was surfing the internet today [cue song: Wipeout here] looking for suitable ad space and I ran into this picture. What a great start to Sunday! It's nice when someone can simplify Darwin's theory of Natural Selection, isn't it?

Of course, I think the artist might be slightly "off" on their interpretation. Everyone knows that to be slimming, the stripes would have to be parallel to the spine...not perpendicular. It's like they never even read Darwin at all.

And Loafdog? How cute/funny/strange is this???!!!

Here's where I found the pictures in case anyone wants to see more!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Woo Hoo!! Halloween...the one day of the year when I can fill my front yard with tombstones, old bones, fire and rotting fruit, and I can lure innocent children to my front door and offer them candy, and no one calls the authorities! Muah ha ha ha!!!

Caleb wore a giant black neck-tie with a skull and cross bones and a big fuzzy purple hat.

Kelly, Mer & Nai stopped by with a friend. Mer was an adorable pixie, Nai was a fairy princess, Kelly was...Kelly but with a black & silver wig. The friend was a scary bride of death. Oooooo...

Beau was a hot dog and Bella was a banana split--the kids LOVED it!

Myttens was a court jester again this year. She's never wants a new costume. I suppose that's okay since she's not very social anyway. She does, however, love treats.

I was a devil kitty tiger creature thingy. That's what happens when I shop for a Halloween costume in my own attic.

Happy Halloween!

Cale, Mer, Kelly, Naija and I carved pumpkins last night! This is a Halloween tradition in our family, and by happenstance, beginning to carve at 10:30pm has also become a bit of a tradition. My Dad's birthday is October 30th, which falls the day before Halloween every single year {weird how that happens} so the carving starts after Dad's party.
We'd carve our pumpkins before Dad's birthday, but we've discovered the hard way that the squirrels consider our pumpkins food rather than the art they clearly are, and we only get a day or two before the nibbling starts.

On this particular October 30th, we didn't have pumpkins yet. Mer had one from Ka (a friend of Kelly's who actually grew a pumpkin just for Mer!) but the rest of us didn't.

Hmmm...where to find a pumpkin at 10pm??? Kelly, Mer & Naija went to a roadside pumpkin palace and discovered that they were still open and wouldn't close while Kelly was there. So she called me (still driving back from my Dad's) and told me to hurry while she milled around indecisively scouting. I'll bet it was 15 minutes from the time she started til we got there...they must have thought she was out-of-her-gourd! (no groaning from the peanut gallery!)

It took us past midnight, but we carved our pumpkins. The kids did an amazing job! Here's Mer with her creation.

Note the word BOO carved into to jack-o-lantern's face.

Here's Cale with his. I can't believe the creepiness!!! I wonder if the squirrels will be too afraid to bother this one?

And mine: A simple little ghost. I'm just glad this wasn't a competition!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pay It Forward

Today, Cale and I had a million errands to run...the first of which was to stop at Caleb's school and get his locker ready and do a walk-through to see his classes for Tuesday. Sometimes comfort-food is in order, and he wanted Burger King.

When we got to the pick-up window, the nice lady at the window said "the car in front of you already paid for your order." I asked her why. She said that the car in front of me paid for my order because the car in front of him paid for his order because the car in front her paid for her order!

I have no idea how long that chain went on. In the optimistic part of myself I'd like to think that it kept going like that all day til they closed their doors. That of course would also mean that only the very last driver actually got a break on their order, but still...everyone's heart was in the right place.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Was That Hammering?

Cale's friend Blake is spending the night. Cale has a double bed and he keeps a twin mattress under the bed for when friends spend the night. By 2am, Blake was getting sleepy (poor kid...really, who can keep up with our crazy summer sleep schedule?). I told Cale they needed to get in there and set up the extra bed for sleepy Blake.

Within the next few minutes, I begin hearing laughing. I think to myself Heh heh, funny sleepy silly boys and keep working online. Cale calls out from his room.
"Can I use some sheets?"
Of course you can use sheets.

The laughing gets a little goofier and I mentally pat myself on the back for being such a cool mom. When I was a kid, my parents would've come in yelling at my friends and I to be quiet. I keep working on the computer. Cale comes in holding my red stripe sateen sheet.
"Can I use this sheet?"
"Ummm...sure." Why does he want my sheet? Never mind. I call out and remind him that whatever sheets he uses he has to wash and put away after Blake leaves tomorrow.

The laughing is crazy silly now. Honestly, (he might kill me for saying it) the sound of mischievous boys laughing is ADORABLE!!! I can't help but enjoy it!

A short while later...What? What was that? Was that hammering? Do I really want to know what I'm hearing? I decide no...not so much.
The hammering stops. The sleepy laugh-giggles continue.

A few more minutes pass, then "Mom, come see our fort!"

Wall to wall sheets! Tied to and from various points of furniture and nailed into the bulletin board! How fun is that?!? I have such great memories of my friends and I making forts when we spent summer nights at each others houses.
It doesn't matter what generation you're looking at, does it? Whatever clothes are trendy, whatever games are popular, at the very heart of it kids are always kids.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I created a brand new youtube channel called LuckyDuckFilms. The first video uploaded is my brother and sister-in-law's wedding!