Monthly Archives: April 2006


An article over at Minti called Parenting as Leadership Training got me thinking about how becoming a Dad has changed me.

The article points out that new Dads who work for Telia (a large Swedish telecom) are given the option of taking between 3 and 6 months off work with pay to stay at home with their kids because Telia believes that being a “stay at home dad” develops emotional intelligence and leadership ability.

Wouldn’t it be great if more companies took this approach and saw Dads staying at home with their kids as not only good for the family (and society in general), but also good for the corporate bottom line? Not only that, but staying home with the kids promotes family unity and harmony and I am a firm believer that the happier a person is in their home life, the more productive and effective they will be in their work life.

The article makes the point that men who stay at home with their kids:

…can also learn to develop more robust self-esteem by:

  • being able to put others first without feeling disappointed
  • learning to feel good about themselves even though they aren’t at work
  • reassessing their values–what is truly important to them?
  • learning the value of feelings and relationships, not just things.

I can relate. One of the big changes I have noticed about myself since becoming a Dad is how much my confidence has grown.

I imagine that I was like most first time Dad’s. When my wife first told me we were pregnant I was very naive about what that meant, not really knowing what to make of this news. I mean, I was ecstatic since this was what we were trying to do, but the whole thing seemed unreal. And then wham, reality hits you: Dude, you are a Dad. For me it happened about 3 months before our due date when I began dismantling my office and making way for the baby’s room.

At this point, I became a mess – indecisive, nervous, uncertain and doubtful that I could pull it off the Dad thing. For the next few months I doubted everything I knew – doubted my abilities, hedged my bets, and constantly reevaluated and second guessed decisions. Breast fed or formula? Cloth or disposable? What’s that rash? Should we go to the Doctor? What does the website say? Really, what about the book? Exactly the opposite….great. Am I stimulating my kid? Is she bored of me? Can I give my child the intellectual and emotional stimulation she needs or is she going to become a pumpkin? It was a living hell spending so much time and energy continually doubting yourself and your abilities.

Now, with a couple of years under my belt, I feel much more confident in my abilities as a father and I am finding that this is spilling over into my “non-Daddy” life. I feel like I can tackle things that I never thought I would be able to do and succeed at them.

I guess that is how you build confidence and self-esteem: by successfully doing something you doubted you could do, and then transferring that feeling of success into other areas of your life. And I guess that is what forward thinking companies like Telia are betting on; that once their Dad’s come back to work with confidence in their ability to tackle one of the biggest challenges life throws at them, they will have the confidence to tackle any corporate challenge.

Works for me.

Raffi Rocks!

Congratulations to children’s performer Raffi, the 2006 recipient of The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s “Fred Rogers Integrity Award”.

Named for the host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the award honors a public figure whose efforts to protect children from harmful marketing best embody Mr. Rogers’ long-standing commitment to nurturing the health and well-being of America’s children.

Raffi steadfastly refuses all commercial endorsement offers, and his company never directly markets to children. He is a passionate advocate for a child’s right to live free of commercial exploitation. In 2000, he wrote an excellent article for the Globe and Mail newspaper in which he justified his decision to pull out of a major children’s festival because he felt it had become too commercialized. In the letter he said:

Advertising aimed at children is so prevalent in our lives that many people think it’s okay. But child-development experts for years have said that ads on kids’ TV shows, for example, constitute an unfair assault on impressionable minds that aren’t old enough to appraise the sales pitch. And yet, every day, with the help of psychologists, big businesses wage media campaigns that target children from birth as consumers. We need to understand that this serves no one. It’s wrong, and it must stop.

Well said.

If you are not familiar with Raffi, he is a wonderful kids performer. His CD Baby Beluga is definitely in The Girl’s All Time Top 10 list and in high rotation on our CD player.

Toy Advice Part II

In my quest for new toys for the girl I’ve stumbled upon something very interesting at our local Y – a toy library – and wondering why the heck I haven’t heard of this thing before.

The concept sounds great. Kick in $35 a year and, just like a regular library you get to sign out new toys for a set amount of time and let your kids take them for a test drive.

We’ll see if the execution is as good as the concept. I have to admit, in my mind I keep having visions of a 20 year old metal pedal car with twisted rusty metal bits jutting out from the bumper or a doll missing one arm. Hopefully, the toys are quality and in good shape. We’ll see on Saturday.

Toy Advice

Hey Dads…I’m looking for some toy recommendations.

The girl is 27 months old and seems to be getting bored of her toys. I’m looking for something to spice things up for her and am looking for suggestions. What toys have worked for you and what would you avoid?

We’re heading into summer, so in addition to some good age appropriate rainy day toys, I am looking for a few more outside toys. Being that I am a bit of a Footie Fool we’ve already got soccer covered (Christine Sinclair beware!) And, being that I am Canadian, we’ve also got some hockey gear, although the roofer’s dog had a bit of a chew on one of the sticks so I’ve got to replace them. I’m thinking one of those little basketball hops, but maybe that is a bit beyond her right now.

Any suggestions?

Monsters Under Bed

Easter passes and, like at Christmas, I can’t help but wonder how much I am messing with my kids psyche with tales of mysterious beings that can magically appear and disappear inside our house without anyone knowing.

Is it any wonder some kids become afraid of the monsters hiding under the beds or in the closets when we keep telling them that Santa and the Easter Bunny can creep about their house in the middle of the night while they are asleep? I mean, if Santa and the Easter Bunny can come in undetected and leave things, then what’s to stop some nasty thing from coming into the house and taking things?

And don’t even get me started with the Tooth Fairy. It’s bad enough Santa and the Easter Bunny can come into your house without anyone knowing, but to have someone come right into your bedroom, stick their hands under your pillow and get your tooth without you waking up and realizing they were there? Armed with that kind of knowledge is it any wonder that kids don’t want to go to sleep at night?

Why, oh why do we parents subject our kids to this insane torture? It can’t be because our kids laugh with abandon, get giddy with excitement and bubble over with anticipation at the merest hint of the imminent arrival of these beings? It surely couldn’t be the joyful flutter we parents get in our stomach as we faintly hear 6 am footsteps creeping down the stairs, knowing full well that the next few minutes will be filled with nothing but awe struck wonder that there is such a thing as magic in this world. Oh no, it surely couldn’t be that.

Corn Starch & Vaseline

Okay, I have no idea why this works only that it does.

The girl has had a bit of an unknown rash on her face. Nothing serious – it looked like a touch of excema around her nose. It had been hanging around for awhile being more of an annoyance than a medical problem. We hummed and hawed about going to the Doctor for such a minor thing.

Then a friend said to take some corn starch, mix it with some vaseline and apply it to the rash. The results were fantastic. Within a day the rash had visibly gotten smaller, and after a couple of days it is almost completely gone. Go figure.

Chalk one up for folk remedies!

Speling is Kule!

Is it just me, or has spelling become cool? Our local newspaper has been following the progress of a local girl competing in the Canadian national spelling bee. The journey of the girl has been front page news, competing side by side for newspaper space with our local junior hockey team’s playoff run.

Perhaps it all started with Spellbound, a fabulous documentary that followed the journey of 8 kids to the U.S. national Spelling Bee. And it looks like the spelling bee may be getting another mass media shot in the arm with the upcoming release of Akeelah and the Bee, a big budget feature starring Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishbourne .

Whatever the reason for the spelling bees rise to pop culture prominence, I can’t help but think it’s a great thing when brainiacs get a chance to be cool and have movies made about them. Certainly beats some of the dreck role models (like, oh say Bratz, who used to have a tagline which said “Don’t theorize, accessorize”?) that kids seem to have.