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Our children’s Upbringing is Not Our Own

Our children’s Upbringing is Not Our Own 1440 810 Jason Stadtlander

Fifteen years ago, I saw my son emerge into the world and it was the first time I can really remember getting choked up at the emotion of an experience. Here was this tiny living person that I had helped create, someone that was part of me and part of someone I loved. A tiny person that could not even feed themselves, had yet to learn to walk or speak. Activities that his mother and I had the responsibility to teach. Elements to living that we would not even realize we were teaching, things like compassion for others, learning to pet an animal gently, or showing respect.

Among the more interesting things have been hiking, biking, learning to swim, and learning to climb. Being able to live my own childhood again through my children’s eyes. Sitting on a deck while drinking coffee as they chase a duck down by the pond and remembering my own years of sneaking up on a turtle or trying to pet a rabbit. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your child’s childhood, to want them to experience everything you experience. I’ve taken my children on trips all over the United States and tried to show them things that I experienced.

A few months ago, I asked my son some of his favorite things we had done. He rattled off places like Cape Cod, Maine, Montana, giving specifics of going to beaches and going on whale watches and it got me thinking. I have strived to always take him to places that I loved while growing up, like Ohio, Lake Erie, and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Don’t get me wrong, he enjoyed Mammoth cave and liked some of the things I did as a child, but they were not his favorite. For a moment I got a little upset, I didn’t let him know it, but I was very annoyed that he didn’t enjoy the things I did as a child.

One of the most rewarding experiences about being a parent, especially beyond the elementary years is not having your children relive your own experiences, but watching them live through their own.

How could he not absolutely love the Air and Space Museum in Dayton? As strange as it sounds, it was the first time that I really stood back and realized that it was because he was living his own childhood, not mine. My son was his own person and was experiencing a childhood through very different eyes than mine.

Some of my greatest experiences have not been things that my parents taught me, but have been discoveries I’ve made on my own. Like traveling the country, the world, and my own inner journey to understand myself better. Sure, my parents laid the foundation and that was critical, but I am the one who stepped off our shores and found out just what the rest of the world sees in America and what part I can play in this whole thing called the human experience.

This led me to another line of thought, what part was I to play in this? My oldest son may be fifteen years old now and I tend to be a little slow to come to realizations on things, but I do think I still have a big part to play. My job in being his father is to expose him to as many things as I can. Not things that I have personally experienced, but things that are new for both of us. Teach him to explore his own world and experience his own discoveries. This is a problem I have seen with my own father and many other parents – trying to force your children to love the things you loved instead of embracing the uniqueness of their own lives and experiences.

One of the most rewarding experiences about being a parent, especially beyond the elementary years is not having your children relive your own experiences, but watching them live through their own. So I will endeavor to help my children face their own future, make their own discoveries and I will strive to realize that their experiences are their own, not mine and there is nothing wrong with that.

Our Legacy and What We Leave Behind

Our Legacy and What We Leave Behind 1707 1280 Jason Stadtlander

The movie “The Road” starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee is a movie based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy’s book, “The Road.” For those who haven’t seen the film, it is an extremely powerful film about hardship, the love of a child and survival instincts. The book is also an incredible read, but difficult.

That movie – and my novel, The Steel Van Man – have made me wonder about the connection to our children and families, and to ask myself what lengths I might be willing to go to protect my family.

I can attest to my own experiences and feelings toward family, children and the overwhelming need to protect them.

A Family to Live or Die for . . .

protect-the-childrenFor those of you who do not know, I have two children of my own, and I can say without thinking about it, I would kill to protect them. When I am gone from this world, all that will remain of me will be the words I leave behind and my children. Although I hope my writing endures, my children are paramount in all that I do, see, breathe and speak.

In The Road, a father is trying to guide his son to safety, and in doing so,  shows him what is right and what is wrong. At one point, attempting to protect the boy, the man steals the clothes from another man who has just robbed them. The boy later encourages his father to return the clothes to the man and leave behind food for him, showing the father what it means to retain a level of humanity during a time of distress and societal collapse.

At what cost do we allow humanity and society to influence our families? If you have children and are at home reading this, look at your children right now. If you are at work reading this, look at a picture of your children – I’m sure you have one around. What are their lives worth? What is their safety worth? Looking at your child playing on the floor or smiling up at you from that photo. You know that you will do absolutely anything to protect that innocent life. Your needs are (should) be secondary to theirs. You will carry the world on your shoulders, plow through any obstacle and face any challenge to help that little person – that little human who is part of you and someone else. You will help them to become someone special, to be more than you are right now.

Now, look at this from a different perspective. Times are constantly changing, rules of society changing. Some rules for the better and some not. How far will we allow humanity to dictate the final outcome of our children? How much do we allow society to control and skew the perspectives of our children for the betterment of society?

We as a species fight all the time over politics, race, gender classification, and religion. Your race doesn’t matter; neither does your class, gender classification, your spiritual denomination or your job. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true. It matters to you, but in the great scheme of things none of this matters when it comes to the responsibility of raising your child. Hell, none of them really matter even when you don’t have children. In the end, when you are gone from this world, you are gone for good. Take control of the world around by starting with yourself and your family. Concentrate on what you can change in the immediate, then focus on what seems impossible to change.

Complicated Times – Simple Rules

family-time-is-most-importantWe live in an age of over-stimulation, an age of instant information, social media and media overload. These access points are constantly trying to change our perspective on the world around us. Worse, they are trying to change the perspective of our children, parents be damned.

In our home we have five (primary) rules:

  • Treat others with respect
  • Expect respect, but fight for it if you don’t get it
  • Eat dinner with no television, computers or phones while sitting AT the table – every night
  • Never hit someone, but know how to defend yourself
  • Never, ever lie to those you love

The most important thing to take away from all of this is; Believe in yourself and what you feel is right deep down in your heart, and what you know will guide your child in the right direction.

Because in the end. . . they are what we you leave behind. Our children are what we all leave behind.


Where the Wild Things Are – Punishing Children (and keeping your sanity)

Where the Wild Things Are – Punishing Children (and keeping your sanity) 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

Boy having temper tantrumMy son runs to me in a sing-songy voice screaming “Daaad, he just hit my eye with the baaaaallll!”, clearly not injured. To which I look at him and casually say “Really?” and he runs off back to play with his brother.

A few minutes later things escalate and one boy hits the other or takes something away or [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fill in the blank].

At some point, as a parent you reach a breaking point, where the desire to grab both of their heads by the hair and slam them together becomes overwhelming and you know you need to step away. It can be even more stressful when you’re the only parent around and you are trying to take care of chores around the house that you would much rather assign to your children.

I will admit to having moments when I’d rather just let them battle it out. Hell, my siblings and I did. Many a cut, scrape or bloody nose I can attribute to my little sister and little brother. That’s just all part of being kids. Do I love them any less or regret our fights? No. They have made us stronger and who we are.

(Here come the five famous words) When I was a kid, if I didn’t watch my mouth, obey my parents or if I was (caught) beating on my brother or sister, I got a hand to the backside. That’s right, a spanking. I know, crazy huh? Even more crazy is my father was never thrown in jail for child abuse and my mother never served a day in court due to taking a brush to my behind (I guess her hand hurt to spank?).

Girl having temper tantrumAm I less a person for being spanked or being handled more physically? No, absolutely not. Did my parents ever abuse me? No, absolutely not.

Now being a parent myself, there are times that it pains me that I cannot (in today’s society) spank my children. To date, I have never given my children a spanking, but there have most definitely been times they deserved it. Not many, my kids are overall very good children, but everyone has moments that they are out of control.

I am not saying that you should be able to go out and beat your child. Beating and spanking are FAR different.

Part of the problems with today’s society is:

  • You have a group of people governing laws and methodologies that don’t even have children themselves. What gives them the right to say what is a proper way to parent or what is not?
  • People expect you to “reason” with children. And yes, when they are over the age of 7 or 8, you absolutely can most of the time reason with them. Then again, there are some 14-17 year olds who you can’t reason with at all. But you can’t be expected to have an adult conversation with a four year old who is throwing a temper tantrum, I’m sorry it’s stupid, plain and simple.

That being said, what do you do when the “Wild Thing” comes out in your child? Well, there are several well accepted and proven ways that I have found to control children:

  1. Time outs – they work wonders, especially when forced to sit on a time-out chair or time-out step.
  2. Standing in a corner – Nose to the wall, unable to move and must stand still until you are told you can get off. If the child steps away, then tell them they just earned another minute. (And keep a real timer going starting around 2-5 minutes) Yes, they will whine and cry and maybe even wipe their nose on the wall, but that’s life.
  3. Take away privileges – Grounding. Very good, but you MUST hold to your guns. If you say they can’t touch iPad for a week. Then do it, don’t cave in! Now, after the grounding has had some time to think in, there is nothing wrong with “earning” back the privilege by reading, doing chores, etc. It both gives them the ability to get their privileges back and it helps them gain responsibility.
  4. Ignore them – This is really only effective in 2-5 year olds. If they are screaming that they want your attention, turn away. You can turn back long enough to tell them that you will talk to them when they can talk to you like a big boy /girl.

My biggest piece of advice as a parent: No matter what your relationship is with your child’s other parent (Married, Divorced, etc.), Never ever contradict their punishment (as long as it is adequate). It not only disrespects and undermines them as a parent, it shows the child that they can control one of you.

What are some methods you’ve found that fit today’s day and age?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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