When Nutrition Guidelines Backfire

Dear Mr. Dad. A few weeks ago you wrote that parents shouldn’t try to force kids to eat their vegetables because it could backfire. I see the logic in having only healthy foods around the house and letting the kids decide how much they want to eat. But what are we supposed to do when they’re at school? Is there some way to get cafeterias and snack bars to serve only healthy foods?

A: Great—and very tough—question. Yes, it’s possible to get schools to serve healthy foods. This past summer, I read a great article about lunches at one school in France, where all the food is locally sourced and prepared (including freshly baked bread every day), the menus are reviewed by a certified dietician, and the only beverage is water. Unfortunately, attempts to nudge American schools in that direction have been both heavy-handed and unsuccessful.
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Dads: Don’t Let Your Kids Down

don't let your kids down

don't let your kids down

Fathers, if you don’t let your children work with you around the house and don’t slow down and transmit basic life skills to them, you are letting them down. Big time.

Which one is you?

Alex’s dad is busy all the time. He is a hard worker, a good provider, and can handle just about any household emergency that arises. Last week, the toilet clogged and threatened to overflow. Alex’s dad quickly lifted the float ball to stop the water, then began clearing the obstruction. Alex wanted to help, but her dad thought the job too messy and too urgent for a child. “Get back, this is important!” he yelled. Alex’s heart fell as she returned to watching television alone.

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What I Learned About My Struggle With Gambling Addiction

Contributed by James Kelly

I’m a gambling addict. What started as a simple after work activity with the guys from the office quickly spiraled into something that became an obsession. At the height of my addiction, I was gambling not only entire paychecks, but also taking advances on my future pay, selling things from my own house, and even borrowing money from friends and relatives. I was past the point of being able to call myself a recreational gambler. I was an addict.

I needed help. Luckily, I sought treatment. My wife and I started researching gambling rehabilitation centers, and decided on one based on its proximity to my home. It helped that it was a male-only facility with experts on staff that were well-versed in the nuances of addiction.

Here’s what I learned:

It’s a disease.
My wife, my friends, my family… they all thought that this was as simple as me stopping. What they didn’t realize is that the brain of an addict is wired differently from those that aren’t. If I had stopped going to the casino, I would have just sought out other means to fulfill the high that was brought on by gambling. It became something that was no longer fun, but instead a drug that I needed in order to get through my day-to-day life.

I couldn’t fix it on my own.
I didn’t just wake up one day and decide that I might have a problem. The problematic behavior was quite apparent for months before I ever sought treatment. In fact, I knew that each trip to the casino was a bad idea, but yet I rationalized it internally and went anyway. I was constantly telling myself that I had discovered a new trick, a strategy, or had a hot tip that would ensure success and that this could be the one that brought me back into the black for the year. I couldn’t stop, and there was no amount of self realization that could make me not place that next bet.

The gambling addiction was merely a symptom of an addictive behavior.
I was an addict. The gambling part was merely a symptom, much like an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or sex. I was seeking a high that only my problem behavior could facilitate, and if it hadn’t been gambling  then it could have just as easily been alcohol.

Support following my treatment was just as important – if not more so – than the treatment itself. 
After I finished treatment, I was at a crossroads. I wasn’t gambling anymore, but I was at a point where I was only accountable to myself, and that was a scary proposition. I quickly sought additional care through the form of group and individual therapy that would help me to make it through this trying time. I needed someone – besides myself – to remain accountable to, and I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. My post-sobriety treatment kept me accountable for my actions, and may have been the biggest overall factor in my recovery. In fact, I’m still utilizing group therapy to this day, even thought I haven’t placed a wager in months.

It’s been months since I’ve placed my last bet, and I know now that I’ll never be able to place another one… even casually. I know that there are triggers in my behavior and if they aren’t avoided one harmless wager can send me spiraling back into the exact life that I chose to leave. I’m an addict, and that will never change. What will change, however, is how I deal with my addiction. I’m on the road to recovery now, and I’d encourage anyone who may have a problem to seek the help they need, before it’s too late.

James Kelly has had many personal struggles with addiction over the past 6 years but is able to take more steps forward when he is open about it. Writing, blogging, and talking about his personal development has put himself into an all-time best position with his family and friends and being open has gotten James this far, there is no limit to how far he can move past previous mistakes to a happy future.

The New Rules of Boy World


Rosalind Wiseman, author of Masterminds & Wingmen.
Topic:
The new rules of Boy World.
Issues: Popularity and groups; body image; schoolyard power; locker room tests; girlfriends; intimacy; the emotional lives of boys (which are more complex that we’re led to believe; why boys are lagging behind girls in education; why boys are more likely to commit suicide than girls.

Balancing the Big Stuff + Masterminds and Wingmen


Miriam Liss, co-author of Balancing the Big Stuff.
Topic:
Finding happiness in work, family, and life.
Issues: The search for balance; balancing multiple roles; balance as a parent; balance at work; balance is for men and women; balance at home; societal barriers to balance; beyond balance.


Rosalind Wiseman, author of Masterminds & Wingmen.
Topic:
The new rules of Boy World.
Issues: Popularity and groups; body image; schoolyard power; locker room tests; girlfriends; intimacy; the emotional lives of boys (which are more complex that we’re led to believe; why boys are lagging behind girls in education; why boys are more likely to commit suicide than girls.

Nice Coverage of My Terre Haute, IN Talk on Military Dads

Brott, Military Father

Author Helps Deployed Dads with Home-Front Issues
Brott, Military FatherThis article ran on the AP wire and also appeared in The Military Times.
Oct. 2, 2014

By Howard Greninger
The (Terre Haute, Ind.) Tribune-Star via AP

Staff Sgt. Shawn Oxford of the Indiana Air National Guard said he knows what it’s like to come home after a military deployment.

“Things are definitely different when you come back, such as kids (initially) listening more to the parent who stayed at home. It does take some getting used to, but it is nice to know you are not the only one,” Oxford said.

He was among more than 50 members of the 181st Intelligence Wing Wednesday to hear a presentation from Armin A. Brott, who has written several books for dads, including his book, “The Military Father — A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads.” Brott is known as Mr. Dad.

Brott said he decided to write the book after he heard statements such as “my husband just came back from deployment and every time a door slams around here, he dives under a table. Or something from the mom or dad, that their 2-year-old daughter comes up from behind to give a hug, and I almost threw them out a window,” he told the Tribune-Star.

Brott served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1976 to 1978, entering the service at age 17.

In his presentation to the Intelligence Wing at the Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field, Brott said there are different challenges facing families in active duty and reserve deployment.

One is finances.

“Young enlisted guys, or girls, are not making a lot of money, and they tend to live on the base,” he said. The young enlisted, Brott said, also tend to be targets of predatory loans and have a high rate of bankruptcy. “The average credit rating for active duty is 592, while the civilian reserve has a 692 credit rating,” he said.

The guard or military reservists may have a good job in their civilian life, but have a lower rank and earning less in the military. “If they get deployed, they have some financial issues to deal with because there is a long stretch of time where they are not making enough money to make ends meet. There is also the opposite effect of someone who has a good military income, but low civilian income. If there is a deployment, they get used to having that extra money and start buying things on credit. But when the deployment is over, they have all those bills to pay, so (they) end up in the same spot with difficulties managing finances,” he said.

Military personnel today also are more likely to see combat. In World War II, about 15 percent of veterans saw combat, while in the Vietnam War it was closer to 30 percent. “In Iraq and Afghanistan, it was closer to 70 to 80 percent who saw combat,” he said. Yet, Brott said, that does not mean there is a bigger connection of those in combat to post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, especially when compared with another military problem of suicide, he said.

“Half of the people who commit suicide in the military, and it is a problem, were never deployed. Eighty percent of those committing suicide never saw combat,” he said.

Brott said active duty families often have support of being on bases and with people of similar situations. Reserve-duty dads, when deployed, go through feelings of shock, fear, anger and uncertainty, particularly before a first deployment. At the same time, their spouses can feel withdrawal and an emotional distance.

Capt. John Petrowski said he appreciated that Brott was able to show both sides of the deployed and a spouse at home. “Both face challenges and fears going into deployment. Plus the stress (of the spouse) at home with the kids. We have always said the toughest job is for the person who stays at home,” he said.

Petrowski said technology, such as Skype, can sometimes become too distracting to the person serving overseas, as well as a hardship on the person at home. “If the lawn mower is broken and you are in Afghanistan, it doesn’t do you any good to know that. Let’s just get the lawn mower fixed and not pass that on” to the deployed spouse, Petrowski said.

Brott said children react to deployment and returning from a deployment in different ways. “Yet all kids just want to know how it affects ‘me,’ your going away or your return, how will it affect ‘me.’ They have no other concerns, really and truly,” he said.

For infants, he suggests the deployed person record themselves reading stories. Toddlers do not understand time and can lash out verbally when a parent is gone. Pre-school and elementary children still have “the me thing going. We need to be reassuring that they understand what is going on. Give the child something to hold onto, something of value, so they feel connected to you and feel connected to what you are doing and your return.”

For children age 8 to 12, talking and listening to questions is important. For teens, “they can be sullen, can push you away or have behavioral problems, but the difficulty is being sullen or withdrawing or just being annoying sometimes is basic teen behavior. To separate out what is normal for a teen to what is normal for a teen with a parent who is deployed is difficult. Talking and listening is still important,” he said.

Senior Airman Anna Dennis said she appreciated the presentation. Dennis said that while she does not have children and could not directly relate to that discussion, “I didn’t think about the different ages of children and how they react” to a deployment, Dennis said.

The original article apppeared here.