Self Care: Tired of Being Tired?

“Everybody’s working for the weekend,” says the once-popular 80s song by the Canadian rock band Loverboy. Come Friday night, many people are exhausted from work. Then, on Saturday, yard work, car washing, and endless household chores. Come Sunday, there’s often more to do; then, it’s back to the grind the next morning. So, we are working for a weekend that includes very little true rest.

Today’s blog post is related to last week’s work/life balance article and focuses on the need for quality rest.

Are you among the tens of thousands of American workers experiencing burnout? Studies suggest it’s quite common, with statistics ranging from:

  • In a 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association, up to 79% of workers reported experiencing work-related stress.
  • A separate VoiceNation survey indicated that 70% of respondents claimed to have experienced workplace burnout.
  • In yet another survey, 79% of employees reported experiencing work-related stress in the past month.

This is a serious issue. These figures highlight widespread burnout, which can significantly impact many aspects of workers’ lives, far beyond work. This includes marriage and family life. Here’s how:

  • Reduced Emotional Availability:
    • Burnout’s core symptom is emotional exhaustion. This leaves the burned-out spouse with less emotional energy for their partner and family. They might become withdrawn, less patient, or struggle to connect meaningfully.
  • Increased Conflict:
    • Exhaustion and frustration can easily turn into irritability and resentment. Simple disagreements can escalate due to a lack of patience and emotional bandwidth.
  • Neglect of Family Responsibilities:
    • Feeling constantly drained can make it difficult to fulfill household chores, childcare duties, or participate in quality family time. This can create feelings of burden and resentment among other family members.
  • Strained Communication:
    • Burnout can make communication suffer. The burned-out spouse might become withdrawn or short-tempered, leading to misunderstandings and a communication breakdown.
  • Reduced Intimacy:
    • Burnout can significantly decrease a person’s libido and interest in physical intimacy. This can be a source of frustration for both partners and further strain the relationship.
  • Impact on Children:
    • Witnessing a parent experiencing burnout can be stressful for children. They might feel neglected, confused by the changes in their parent’s behavior, or even take on some of the emotional burden of the suffering parent.

Overall, burnout creates a negative ripple effect within the family unit. It can lead to feelings of isolation, disconnection, and dissatisfaction for all members.

Recovering from Burnout

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all cure for burnout. Recovery involves addressing the root causes and rebuilding your resilience. Here are some key strategies to consider:

Address the Source:

Reflect on what’s causing your burnout. Is it work overload, lack of control, a bad work environment, or personal struggles? Once you identify the stressors, you can start tackling them.

Set Boundaries:

Learn to say no and delegate tasks when possible. Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life to avoid constant work encroachment.

Seek Support:

Don’t bottle-up your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or counselor. Having a support system can be crucial for recovery. Consider joining or starting a Fathering Strong virtual group. (more about that at the end of this post)

Lifestyle Changes:

Consider if there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce stress, such as spending more time in nature, engaging in hobbies you enjoy, or pursuing social activities that bring you joy.

Reevaluate Your Work:

Sometimes, the best solution might be to make changes at work. Talk to your manager about your workload, explore opportunities for flexible work arrangements, or consider a career shift if necessary.

Professional Help:

If you’re struggling to manage burnout on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in stress management and burnout recovery.

Prioritize Self-Care

Focus on activities that nurture your mind, body, and soul. This might include getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing. Prioritize getting enough rest.

Rest

Rest is essential for our well-being because it allows our bodies and minds to recharge and repair themselves. Just like a machine needs downtime for maintenance, so do we. Here’s how rest benefits us:

  • Physical Health: During rest, our bodies rebuild tissues, strengthen muscles, and repair injuries. Adequate sleep is crucial for this process. It also helps regulate hormones that affect metabolism and weight management.
  • Mental Well-being: Rest allows our brains to process information, consolidate memories, and improve focus. When well-rested, we experience better emotional regulation, reduced stress, and a more positive mood.
  • Immune System: Rest strengthens our immune system, making us less susceptible to illness. Chronic lack of sleep can weaken the body’s defenses.

Overall, prioritizing rest is an investment in our health and happiness. It allows us to function physically, mentally, and emotionally at our best.

Work from Rest, Not Exhaustion.

There’s a world of difference between working from a place of rest and working from exhaustion. Here’s why approaching your work from a rested state is far more valuable:

  • Enhanced Focus and Productivity: When well-rested, your brain can concentrate better, absorb information more easily, and think critically. This translates to fewer errors, better decision-making, and more efficient task completion.
  • Improved Creativity: Rest allows your mind to wander and make unexpected connections. This is where creative ideas often spark. Exhaustion hinders this process, making it harder to develop innovative solutions.
  • Greater Resilience: Feeling rested makes you better equipped to handle challenges and setbacks at work. You’ll have more emotional stamina to deal with stress and maintain a positive attitude.
  • Stronger Motivation: Even the most interesting tasks can feel like a burden when you’re chronically tired. Approaching work from a rested state allows you to find the energy and motivation to tackle your day enthusiastically.
  • Better Physical Health: Working while exhausted can affect your physical health. It can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness, and contribute to headaches, muscle tension, and other issues.
  • Reduced Risk of Burnout: Constantly pushing through exhaustion is a recipe for burnout. Working from rest allows you to maintain a sustainable pace and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Overall, working from a place of rest allows you to be a more effective, engaged, and well-rounded employee. It’s an investment in your overall productivity and well-being.

Prioritizing Rest

Daily rest is critical. Experts recommend that most adults aim for between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. This range acknowledges that individual needs can vary slightly. Some people may function well on as few as 6 hours, while others might need closer to 10 hours to feel their best.

To prioritize rest also means setting aside one day a week—for most of us, Sunday—as a day of rest. Commit to doing no work to allow your body and mind to recover from the previous week’s toll and be strengthened for the week ahead. Plan to attend worship service to restore your soul and spirit. Rested and rejuvenated on Sunday, you will have the strength to carry you through the week.

Make Rest a Family Commitment

Talk with your household so they understand the importance of quality rest for each family member. The sooner your children commit to adequate rest, the healthier they will grow to be as adults.

Remember: Prioritizing rest is an investment in our and our family’s health and happiness. It allows us to function physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually at our best. Approaching life and work from a rested state empowers us with the energy and motivation to tackle each day enthusiastically.

Here are some resources you can explore for more details on sleep and rest:

National Institutes of Health (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/sleep-health)

Sleep Foundation (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898)

Inspiration from the Holy Scriptures

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Join

We invite you to join Fathering Strong, a new and growing community of fathers. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, engage in conversations with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Click here to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.

The Dad Dilemma: Navigating Work, Life, And Family

Work, Work, Work!

For many dads, there never seems to be enough time for family life or life itself. You’ve heard the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” That old proverb suggests that a person who spends his whole life on his work is both boring and bored. Not only that, but he is also probably lonely due to having invested no time into relationships outside of work. That includes not having built strong bonds with a spouse and children.

One of my all-time favorite tunes is a ’70s folk rock song by Harry Chapin. Cats in the Cradle tells the story of a father who has no time for his son while the father is building up his career. When the father is finally ready to spend time with his son, his son has no time for him. When the father is old and longs for his son to spend time with him, the son has his own life and children and will not spend time with his father. Listen here:

It is a sad song, but it has a very important warning for fathers: “Don’t let that happen to you!” Pursuing success in your work can cost you the most important things in life if you don’t find the right work/life balance. Work/life balance can be difficult to achieve and maintain, but it is worth every effort. What follows are some suggestions.

Five Tips for Navigating Work, Life and Family

1. At Work: Set Boundaries and Optimize Work Time

Set Boundaries

  • At work, let your colleagues know your work hours and stick to them, avoiding overtime and after-hours emails.

Optimize Work Time

  • Maximize Efficiency: Minimize distractions at work. Focus on completing tasks during work hours to avoid taking work home.
  • Communicate Needs: If flexible work arrangements are an option, talk to your employer about them. This could include remote work options or adjusted schedules.

2. At Home: Communicate

  • Explain your work schedule to your family so they know when you’ll be unavailable. Make every effort to stick to the schedule you promise your family.
  • Make a commitment to your partner to share childcare responsibilities as much as possible.

3. Plan and Delegate

  • Make a weekly schedule that includes work hours, childcare, family meals, and quality time together. Even if you just hang out.
    • Evenings and weekends are precious!
  • Schedule weekly dates with your spouse and each child.
    • Treat these dates with the same or greater respect as work appointments.

4. When you are with your family members, be present!

  • Put away your phone and focus on connecting with your family members.
    • Power off your phone and computer games and remove all distractions.
  • Create a mental and physical separation between work and family life.
    • This is especially important if you work at home.

5. Embrace imperfection.

  • There will be days that feel out of balance. Don’t beat yourself up – recommit to your goals and move on.
  • There will be days that lean more towards work or family. The key is to strive for an overall balance over time.
  • Open communication with your employer and partner is essential to achieve and maintain a workable balance.

Remember, balance isn’t about a perfect 50/50 split every day. It’s about finding what works for your unique family and adjusting as needed. By implementing some of these strategies, fathers can create and maintain a more balanced and fulfilling life for themselves and their families.

Achieving Holistic Balance

Beyond working for work/life balance, make it your goal to achieve total life balance. The basic idea of holism is the understanding that human beings are multidimensional. You are a spirit who has a soul that lives in a body.  To be truly whole, each part of us must be healthy.

David Diga Hernadez[i] offers a straightforward and keen insight into what that means. He says in his July 16, 2021 blog titled Body, Soul, Spirit: Simply Explained[ii]:

  • Body:Your body is your “earth suit.” Your body is your connection with this world. Your body is the vehicle through which you experience the natural realm. Every single interaction that you share with others is through your body. With the body, you speak and communicate. With your physical being, you see, hear, and touch the world around you.
  • Soul: The soul is the realm of decision. In the soul lives your mind, will, emotions, and personality. Your mind—what you imagine. Your will—what you want. Your emotions—what you feel. The soul is the neutral ground between the body and the spirit. It is the place where free will is exercised. The soul is eternal, and everyone has a soul
  • Spirit: Your spirit is your connection with God. It is the innermost part of your being, the center of you, the source of your identity. Your spirit is the deepest part of you, and your spirit knows perfect fellowship with God.” 

The goal is to be holistically healthy in body, soul, and spirit. That requires healthy consumption and regular exercise.  That includes:

  • Eating nutritious, well-balanced meals and exercising the body through regular physical activity.
  • Regularly feeding your mind accurate and uplifting information and healthily exercising your will, and your emotions.
  • Receiving and maintaining a strong connection with God through the consistent exercise of spiritual disciplines, including prayer, Bible reading, worship, and fellowship.

This results in what the Bible calls abundant life (John 10:10).  May you achieve and maintain a healthy holistic life balance as you continue your fathering journey.

Inspiration from the Holy Scriptures

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. – 1 Thessalonians 5:23, NLT)

To see other blogs focused on becoming a better dad go to our index of blog post by clicking here.

Join

We invite you to join Fathering Strong, a new and growing community of fathers. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, engage in conversations with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.


[i] David Diga Hernandez is an evangelist, healing minister, author, and TV host.

[ii] https://www.davidhernandezministries.com/david

Making this Mother’s Day Special

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Yes… I know. Every day should be Mother’s Day. I agree. After all, there would be no fatherhood without motherhood. But have you ever wondered about the origin of Mother’s Day? We’ll discuss this today in The Fathering Strong Blog and offer some suggestions for making your celebration special this year.

The History of Mother’s Day

Interestingly, a childless and unmarried woman started the tradition in the 1900s. Following her mother’s death in 1905, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day to honor the sacrifices mothers made for their children. In May 1908, Anna received financial backing from John Wanamaker, a Philadelphia department store owner, and organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. Wanamaker, obviously a savvy retailer, also held an event at one of his stores in Philadelphia that same day. Thousands of people showed up.

With that success, Jarvis set about making sure her new holiday was added to the national calendar. In a massive letter-writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood, Anna Jarvis argued that American holidays were biased toward male achievements. Thanks to her efforts, by 1912, many states, towns, and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. For more details, go to History.com

The Commercialization of Mother’s Day

But there was a problem for Anna. You can guess what happened. It was not long before florists, card companies, and other merchants capitalized on its popularity. The American way, right? Disgusted with how the holiday had been commercialized. Anna Jarvis began to denounce the commercialization of Mother’s Day and urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day flowers, cards, and candies in protest. Her campaign against the use of the name “Mother’s Day” for profit, which included numerous lawsuits against retailers and charities, cost her much of her personal wealth. Eventually, Jarvis disowned the holiday altogether, and by the time of her death in 1948, she had been actively lobbying the government to remove it from the American holiday calendar.

Mother’s Day in the USA

Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world in one form or another. In the United States, Mother’s Day continues to be celebrated by presenting gifts and flowers to mothers and other women. It has become one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending. Families also celebrate by giving mothers a day off from activities like cooking or other household chores.

Other Ways Mother’s Day is observed in America

The holiday is more than just gifts and a day off. Mother’s Day has also been a date for launching political or feminist causes. For example, in 1968, Coretta Scott King, the wife of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., used Mother’s Day to host a march supporting underprivileged women and children. In the 1970s, women’s groups used the holiday to call attention to the need for equal rights and access to childcare.

Making This Mother’s Day Special

Here are some ideas for Dad’s to make Mother’s Day special.

Relaxation and Self-Care

  • Breakfast in Bed: Whip up some pancakes or waffles or grab her favorite takeout breakfast. Include a flower or a handwritten card.
  • Spa Day at Home: Draw a warm bath, light some candles, and give her a massage. Offer to paint her nails or give her a facial.
  • Book Her a Massage or Salon Appointment: If she enjoys a professional touch, book an appointment for a massage, facial, or haircut.
  • Take Over Chores: Let mom take a day off from housework. Take care of the cleaning, cooking, and errands so she can truly unwind.

Quality Time Together

  • Plan a Picnic: Pack a basket with her favorite foods and drinks, and head to a park or scenic spot for a relaxing lunch outdoors.
  • Take a Hike or Bike Ride: If she enjoys being active, plan a hike or bike ride on a trail she’s been wanting to explore.
  • Have a Movie Marathon at Home: Pick out a few of her favorite movies, make some popcorn, and cuddle up on the couch.
  • Plan an Activity Mom Enjoys: Does Mom love reading or going to museums? Plan a day out doing something she truly enjoys.
  • Picnic in the Park: Pack a basket with finger foods, sandwiches, fruits, and a bottle of wine or sparkling cider. Find a scenic spot in the park and enjoy a relaxing afternoon together.

Creative Ideas

  • Make a Coupon Book: Create coupons for things she’d like, such as a back rub, a night off from cooking, or doing chores she dislikes.
  • Plant a Flower Garden Together: This is a thoughtful gift that keeps on giving. Pick out some flowers she loves and plant them together in a pot or garden bed.
  • Write Her a Song or Poem: If you’re musically inclined, write her a song. If not, a heartfelt poem will do.

Involving the Kids

  • Get the Kids to Make Breakfast: Have the kids help you make breakfast in bed for Mom. They can also make a card or pick some flowers from outside.
  • Family Craft Project: Get the kids involved in creating a handmade gift for Mom, such as a painting, a piece of jewelry, or a decorated photo frame.
  • Homemade Card or Coupon Book: Get the kids involved in making a heartfelt card for mom. Older kids can create a coupon book filled with coupons for things like massages, back rubs, or breakfast in bed.
  • Framed Artwork or Poem: If your kids are creative, encourage them to make a piece of art or write a poem for mom. Frame it and present it to her on Mother’s Day.
  • Help Mom Plant a Handprint Tree: This is a unique and lasting keepsake that Mom will cherish. Paint the kids’ handprints on a piece of fabric and plant it in the ground with a small tree.

Consider Mom’s Preferences

  • Think about what mom truly enjoys. If she’s not a fan of crowds or fancy restaurants, a spa day at home or a picnic in the park might be a better option than making a reservation at a trendy new spot.
  • Pay attention to the little details. Does mom have a favorite flower or type of dessert? Does she love taking long walks or reading quietly in the morning? Personalize your plans to show her you care about the things she enjoys.

Most importantly, make sure mom feels appreciated and loved on Mother’s Day. A thoughtful gesture, no matter how big or small, will go a long way.

Inspiration from the Holy Scriptures

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

– Prov. 31:28-31 NIV

Join

We invite you to join Fathering Strong, a new and growing community of fathers. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, engage in conversations with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Click here to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.

Five Principles for Raising Kids Free from Addiction

Most of us fathers have seen the awful consequences of substance abuse. Some of us have firsthand knowledge because of our own addictions. Others have seen the struggle of loved ones and the devastation up close and personal. We are determined to save our children from the heartache of addiction.

Youth substance abuse is a widespread problem. While researching for this blog post, I came across the following statistics from the website of American Addiction Centers. (https://americanaddictioncenters.org/addiction-statistics)

According to the 2022 United States National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH):

  • 46.8 million (16.7%) Americans (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in the past year.
  • 10.5% of Americans 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder in the past year.
  • About 27.2 million Americans 12 or older (9.7%) reported battling a drug use disorder in the past year.
  • That same year, 8 million (2.9%) of Americans 12 and older struggled with both alcohol and drug use disorders simultaneously.

What can dads do to help their young ones avoid the scourge of addiction?

Dr. Aletha Solter, PhD, offers five basic principles to remember. What follows are highlights from the article Raising Drug-Free Kids.[1]

First Principle: Spend time with your children.

“A major finding that has emerged from research studies is that the root cause of most behavioral problems, including substance abuse, is not a lack of discipline but rather a lack of connection,” the article reports.

  • I know that sounds like a broken record (Ask an OG what a broken record is.)  We often recommend spending the maximum amount of time with your child. Here again, that proves to be great advice.
  • Children who lack a close relationship with at least one loving parent are at risk for substance abuse, no matter how much discipline you impose on them.
    • Close relationships with children are built through maximizing time with them.

Second Principle: Use A Democratic Approach to Discipline

A non-punitive approach to training children is more nurturing and less likely to cause rebellion. This does not require being permissive; it just requires being less authoritarian and gentler as a disciplinarian.  

  • Dr. Solter states, “Researchers have found that children whose parents used verbal reasoning rather than punitive consequences when the children were five years old were less likely to be involved with any of the “gateway” drugs (tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana) by age twelve.”
    • The last thing a loving parent wants is for his child to rebel against him through substance abuse because of having been too harsh of a disciplinarian.

Third Principle: Accept Your Child’s Emotions

News flash: Children have feelings, too!  Seriously, though, we don’t want our child to accumulate unhealed hurts, unresolved issues, and unmet needs. This emotional baggage can lead to seeking relief through substances. Could their crying, raging, and otherwise “acting out” be expressions of painful emotions?

  • “Be alert for signs of stress, anxiety, or depression in your children, and don’t assume that time will heal all wounds. If necessary, look for a competent psychotherapist to help your family through difficult times. Allowing your children to express themselves freely and heal from stress or trauma is one of the most important steps you can take to strengthen their resistance to drugs.” – Dr. Solter

Fourth Principle: Be A Good Role Model

“Do as I say, not as I do!” We may never speak those words to our children, but does our behavior say it? Children naturally tend to mimic what their parents do, eventually.  If you have an addiction, seek help through a treatment program. Whether you are addicted to alcohol or drugs (including prescription drugs), it is imperative that you seek professional help.

  • “If you are the child of an alcoholic, you may find it difficult to be the kind of parent you want to be because you lacked good role models. Look for a support group for adult children of alcoholics, and seek other parents who are struggling with the same issues that you are facing.” – Raising Drug-Free Kids
    • The curse of addiction can end with you. Seek help today.

Fifth Principle: Give Your Children Age-Appropriate Information

Dr. Solter recommends, “When your children reach the teen years, the best way to convey information about drugs and alcohol is through “teachable moments”. For example, if a car accident was caused by someone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, mention it to your teen and invite an exchange of feelings. Another effective approach is to role play real or imaginary scenarios and invite your teens to practice saying “no” to their peers. Remember to keep it fun!”

Additional suggestions for talking to your kids about addiction

For Younger Kids (Elementary School Age):

  • Use Everyday Examples: Explain addiction through things they understand, like eating too much candy. Our brains can get used to things, and sometimes it’s hard to stop.
  • Focus on Feelings: Let them know addiction can make people feel sad, lonely, or grumpy.
  • Open Communication: Let them know they can always talk to you if they have questions or see something that worries them.

For Older Kids (Tweens and Teens):

  • Start with a Conversation: Ask them what they already know about addiction. This helps gauge understanding and opens the floor for discussion.
  • Be Honest and Direct: Provide factual information about addiction as a disease that affects the brain.
  • Address Peer Pressure: Discuss the challenges of saying no to drugs or alcohol, and offer role-playing scenarios to practice refusal skills.
  • Focus on Support: Let them know there’s help available for people struggling with addiction, and that recovery is possible.

Additional Tips for All Ages:

  • Keep it Calm and Non-Judgmental: Addiction is a serious issue, but avoid lecturing or shaming.
  • Listen Actively: Pay attention to their questions and concerns, and answer them honestly.
  • Use Age-Appropriate Language: Tailor your explanation to their level of understanding.
  • Make it a Continuous Conversation: Addiction is a complex topic, so revisit the conversation as they grow older.

Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers. If your child has specific questions about someone they know is struggling with addiction, you can seek out resources together, such as websites or support groups for families.

Instruction from the Holy Scriptures

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age… – Titus 2:11 – 12 NKJV 

Join

We invite you to join this new and growing community of fathers, Fathering Strong. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, engage in conversations with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Click here to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.


[1] http://www.awareparenting.com/drugfree.htm

Empowering Fathers: A Guide To Nurturing Intelligence And Love For Learning In Children

It’s important to remember that intelligence is a complex concept, not just one-dimensional. There’s no magic formula to guarantee “smart” kids. There are things that parents can do to foster a love of learning and to prepare them for a lifetime of academic achievement.

Here are some actions fathers can take to support their children’s cognitive development and foster a love of learning:

Early Years (0-5):

  • Nurture Curiosity
    • Encourage exploration and questioning. Patiently answer their “why” questions.  Yes, your child’s incessant “why” questions can get on your nerves, but do your best, lol. You may discover some of their genuine interests. Engaging their interests could be what cements your relationship like nothing else.
  • Read Together
    • Make daily reading a routine, exposing them to different voices, words, and stories. Have fun with it!
  • Restrict Screen Time
    • Pediatricians generally recommend that children under 2 years old should have zero screen time, except for video chatting with family or friends. 
    • 2 to 5-year-olds should have no more than one hour per day co-viewing with a parent or sibling.
  • Sing and Play Games
    • Singing songs and playing interactive games stimulate language development, memory, and problem-solving skills.
  • Provide Learning Experiences
    • Take them to museums, libraries, aquariums, or zoos. Engage in age-appropriate science experiments or art projects.
  • Model a Growth Mindset
    • Show them that learning is a journey, not a destination. Embrace challenges and encourage them to do the same.

School Age (6-12):

  • Support their Education!
    • Be involved in their schoolwork, attend parent-teacher conferences, and offer your child help when needed.
  • Encourage Independent Learning
    • Help them develop strategies for research, organization, and critical thinking.
  • Read Together
    • Maintain a daily reading routine.  When your child is ready, encourage them to read to you.
  • Offer Diverse Activities
    • Expose them to different hobbies, sports, and music. Learning a new instrument or practicing a martial art can enhance cognitive skills.
  • Limit Screen Time
    • Encourage outdoor play and limit screen time to promote creativity, imagination, and physical activity.
      • Experts recommend no more than two hours per day of screen time for children in this age group, except for homework.
  • Celebrate Effort and Progress
    • Focus on praising effort and improvement, not just achieving perfect grades. This fosters a love of learning for its own sake.

Teenagers (13-18):

  • Open Communication
    • Discuss their educational goals and career aspirations. Guide them towards resources and opportunities.
  • Challenge Their Thinking
    • Engage in respectful debates and discussions, encouraging them to analyze issues from different perspectives.
  • Value Life Skills
    • Teach them budgeting, cooking, and other practical skills that contribute to their overall well-being and independence.
  • Lead by Example
    • Show them the value of continuous learning by pursuing your own hobbies and interests.
  • Promote Healthy Habits
    • Ensure they get enough sleep, eat nutritious food, and engage in regular physical activity. These habits support cognitive function and well-being.
  • Screen Time
    • In an upcoming episode, we will share the latest information on the hazards of excessive screen time for teens.  We will offer suggestions for involving your teen in setting boundaries.

Remember, fostering a love of learning is more important than chasing specific academic metrics. By creating a stimulating and supportive environment, celebrating curiosity, and encouraging their natural desire to explore the world, dads can play a crucial role in helping their children reach their full potential.

Inspiration from the Holy Scriptures

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

– Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

Join

We invite you to join this new and growing community of fathers, Fathering Strong. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, engage in conversations with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Click here to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.

Did you miss last week’s post on “The Father’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids?” Click on the link to take a look.

The Father’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids

Loving parents are concerned about raising healthy children. Even before their child’s birth, fathers play a crucial role in their baby’s healthy development. It continues from there. From fostering a strong connection with them to supporting mom’s well-being, these early months offer numerous opportunities for dads to make a difference in their children’s lives.

CARING FOR YOUR CHILD’S PRE-BIRTH WELLBEING

Fatherhood starts long before the baby arrives. By actively engaging with your partner, nurturing early bonds with your child, and prioritizing mom’s well-being, you set the stage for a healthy and happy start for your entire family. Want ideas for giving your baby a strong start? Check these out:

Build Early Bonds

Starting in the second trimester (months four through six), your baby can hear, and by the third (seven through ninth), he or she can recognize voices.

  • You can sing, talk, and read stories, creating a familiar and comforting presence for your little one. Do it, dad!
  • Gentle belly rubs and massages soothe mom and help your baby get used to your touch.
  • Attending prenatal appointments together allows you to actively participate in the journey and witness your baby’s growth on ultrasounds. This shared experience strengthens the bond between both parents and your child.

Support Mom’s Health

Pregnancy can be physically and emotionally demanding.

  • Dad, you can be a champion for healthy habits, encouraging balanced meals, exercise, and stress-management techniques.
  • Helping with household chores and errands shows you care and give mom time for self-care, contributing to a calmer and healthier environment for your developing baby.

Be Informed and Involved

  • Actively seek information about pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care.
  • Attend prenatal classes together. This equips both of you with knowledge and skills, fostering confidence and reducing anxiety.
  • Participate in discussions about birthing plans and newborn care choices. This empowers you and makes certain you feel included in important decisions.

ENSURING YOUR NEW BORN’S HEALTH & WELLBEING

You can play a vital role in safeguarding your newborn’s health and well-being from day one. Here are some important you can make a difference:

Share the Caregiving Load

Sharing diaper changes, feedings (if bottle-feeding), and soothing duties isn’t just helpful; it’s crucial. This allows mom to rest and recover while fostering a strong bond between you and baby.

  • Don’t underestimate the power of skin-to-skin contact – kangaroo care, where you hold the baby bare chest to bare chest. This regulates the baby’s temperature and heart rate and promotes bonding.

Be a Sleep Superhero

Newborns, and by extension, new parents, are sleep-deprived warriors.

  • You can take night shifts, rocking, or walking your baby to ease fussiness.
  • Additionally, you can help establish healthy sleep routines by putting your baby down drowsy but awake and creating a calming bedtime environment.

Advocate for Wellness

You can be a champion for preventive healthcare.

  • Attending well-baby visits with mom ensures timely vaccinations and allows you to ask questions and voice concerns.
  • Learning newborn CPR and basic first aid empowers you to handle emergencies calmly and confidently.

Support Breastfeeding (If Applicable):

While breastfeeding mothers do the heavy lifting, you can be incredibly supportive.

  • You can research breastfeeding benefits, learn latching techniques, and help position the baby.
  • By fetching pillows, burp cloths, and water, you and mom become a team, making the process smoother and less stressful for mom.

Champion Mental Health

The transition to parenthood can be emotionally challenging for both parents.

  • Be an attentive listener, providing emotional support and encouragement.
  • Talk openly about feelings and seek professional help if needed. This is essential for everyone’s well-being.

NURTURING YOUR TODDLER’S HEALTH & WELLBEING

Toddlers are little whirlwinds of energy and curiosity, and their health needs constant attention. You play a crucial role in ensuring their well-being beyond just playing games. Here are some important ways you can contribute to your toddler’s good health:

Build Healthy Habits

You can be a powerful role model for healthy habits. Here is how.

  • Engage in active play together – walks, bike rides, dancing. Doing this sets a positive example and promotes physical activity for the whole family.
  • Include your toddler in age-appropriate chores like setting the table or picking up toys. This fosters responsibility and healthy routines.
  • Similarly, involving them in preparing meals allows them to explore nutritious options and develop an appreciation for healthy eating.

Nurture Emotional Wellbeing

Toddlers experience a range of emotions, and you can be their anchor of security.

  • Offer comfort during meltdowns, validate their feelings, and practice calm communication to demonstrate emotional intelligence. This helps kids learn to manage their own emotions.
  • Read bedtime stories together to create a soothing ritual and provide opportunities to address fears or anxieties. Moreover, you can encourage empathy by helping your toddler identify emotions in others and respond with kindness.

Ensure Safety and Hygiene

Toddlers are naturally curious and can sometimes get into risky situations.

  • Set clear boundaries and supervise playtime effectively, focusing on preventive measures rather than reactive corrections.
  • Teach basic hygiene practices like handwashing and toothbrushing in a fun and engaging way to empower your toddler and ensure their physical well-being.

Advocate for Medical Care

Be a proactive partner in your toddler’s healthcare.

  • Attend regular checkups, ask informed questions, and follow the doctor’s recommendations. In this way, you contribute to early detection and prevention of potential health issues.
    • Additionally, staying current on immunizations and being prepared for emergencies empowers you to handle situations calmly and confidently.

Foster Positive Development

Playtime isn’t just fun; it’s crucial for cognitive and social development.

  • Engage in imaginative play, encourage storytelling, sing songs, and build with blocks. Interactive games also develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
  • Read together. This exposes toddlers to new words and concepts and builds the parent-child bond.
  • Do simple tasks together, like sorting laundry or counting toys. This activity sparks learning through everyday life.

SUPPORT YOUR PRE-TEEN’S HEALTH

Pre-teens navigate a challenging transitional phase – physically, emotionally, and socially. As a father, your involvement shapes their health and well-being. Here are some suggestions of ways you can contribute:

Physical Health

Be a Partner in Activity – Encourage and participate in physical activities your pre-teen enjoys – bike rides, sports, dancing, or walks together. Make healthy movement a family priority, setting a positive example.

Fuel Their Bodies – Involve your pre-teen in meal planning and grocery shopping. Guide them towards balanced choices, encouraging fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit sugary drinks and processed foods.

Sleep Support – Teens often struggle with sleep due to hormonal changes. Establish consistent sleep schedules and quiet routines before bed. Create a technology-free zone in bedrooms to promote undisturbed sleep.

Open Communication about Body Changes – Puberty brings physical transformations. Initiate open conversations about body changes, addressing anxieties and ensuring they feel comfortable asking questions.

Advocate for Medical Care – Encourage regular check-ups and open communication with healthcare providers. Address any concerns they may have about physical or emotional health.

Emotional Wellbeing

Be a Safe Space – Encourage open communication and active listening without judgment. Create a safe space where they feel comfortable expressing their feelings, concerns, and experiences.

Build Confidence – Celebrate their achievements, talents, and unique qualities. Offer constructive feedback and encouragement, motivating them to overcome challenges and build self-esteem.

Manage Stress Together – Discuss healthy coping mechanisms for stress, such as exercise, hobbies, relaxation techniques, or spending time in nature. Encourage positive outlets for frustration or anxiety.

Navigating Social Interactions – Pre-teens often face social pressures and conflicts. Discuss healthy friendships, communication skills, and empathy. Help them navigate conflicts peacefully and develop resilience.

Positive Role Model – Show respect and kindness towards others, modeling healthy relationships and emotional intelligence. Lead by example, fostering a positive and supportive environment.

Additional Tips:

  • Stay involved in their interests.
  • Set clear boundaries. 
  • Show unconditional love and support.

Remember, being a supportive father during each stage of your child’s development sets the foundation for their future health and well-being. You will make a significant and lasting impact by actively engaging in their lives from pre-birth forward, modeling healthy habits, and providing a safe and nurturing environment.

Inspiration from the Holy Scriptures

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. – Psalm 127:3 NKJV

Join

We invite you to join this new and growing community of fathers, Fathering Strong. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, engage in conversations with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission and help support this important mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.