Building Father-Child Memories That Last

If we want to be remembered as good dads, we have to both put in the hard work of being a good father and also carve out time for fun, memorable shared experiences with our kids. Here are some ideas on how to maximize the latter.

Star Wars is one of our family traditions
Star Wars is one of our family traditions

Flying in an airplane is much safer than covering the same distance riding in a car. Yet, most people are more afraid of flying than driving. One of the main reasons why is “Availability Bias,” in which things that are easier to call to mind (like the rare plane crash that is all over the news) are given greater weight than things that are less memorable (like the thousands of car crashes a day).

Most of the time, the availability bias is a problem that leads us to make faulty decisions regarding risk (at the beach, we may be more concerned with shark attacks than skin cancer; after watching Law & Order SVU, we vastly overestimate the incidence of child abduction, etc.). But we can also use this quirk of human memory to our advantage.

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Fun Family Science Experiments (A Photo Essay)

Last weekend, Nick and I spent some time working on four short, easy and fun science experiments. Here’s a photo-essay.

Nick really enjoyed the science experiments in this book
Nick really enjoyed the science experiments in this book

My friend, Mike Adamick, recently wrote “Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments,” a follow-up to his best-selling book of kids’ projects. These science projects are easy to do, teach quick lessons, and were really fun. Here are some photos from our experiments. Enjoy.

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Former MLB Player Gabe Kapler on Being a Good Father (and Not Taking PEDs)

With Spring Training in full swing, I want to highlight a baseball-related fatherhood story–how one MLB player chose being a role model to his kids over the temptation of using PEDs.

I figured that ultimately I would be in a position in which I’d be forced to impart one of two lessons: “don’t do it like dad” or “follow in my footsteps.” I chose the latter. – Gabe Kapler

Gabe Kapler at Fenway Park
Gabe Kapler’s decision to eschew PEDs was made, in part, based on his concerns about being a good father and role model to his children (Photo: Wikipedia, creative commons license)

Gabe Kapler was a major league baseball player for 12 years. He was never a star, but was a frontline player for several years before becoming a role-player. In a recent article at Baseball Prospectus, Kapler wrote a fantastic, nuanced article about performance-enhancing drugs in baseball and his decision to eschew them. In his own words:

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A Little Help From My Friends: A Year of Awesome Guest Posts

Here’s a roundup of the guest posts featured at Fathers, Work and Family over the past year. Enjoy this incredible collection of fathers’ voices discussing work-family issues.

In blogging, just like in my college intramural softball days, I'm lucky to have surrounded myself with great friends
In blogging, just like in my college intramural softball days, I’m lucky to have surrounded myself with great friends

I Get By with a Little Help From My Friends

One of my goals in starting this blog was to build a community of busy, involved working dads who could share their experiences, insights, challenges and triumphs. In this way, we’d know that we are not alone in our work-family juggles, and that we could be sources of emotional and tangible support for each other.

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Beer Fire! Networking for Fatherhood (from the FWF vault)

Too many dads feel alone in their work-family struggles. If we spent the time on building informal support networks with fellow dads, we’d be better able to help each other. Here’s one way we do this in my neighborhood, and suggestions on how you can network for fatherhood.

Beer Fire! A fun a useful way to network with other dads
Beer Fire! A fun a useful way to network with other dads

(While I am away on a short family vacation, I thought it would be nice to post a favorite FWF article of mine from the very first week of the blog. Enjoy!)

My friend and neighbor, Francesco, who is a terrific dad, (and, more importantly, a loyal blog reader!), has a semi-regular tradition of inviting his local guy friends to hang out by the fire pit in his backyard with a cooler full of beer. We’ve come to calling this brilliant innovation BEER FIRE!

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4 Reasons Valentine’s Day Is Important For Us Dads (I especially like #4)

Hey Dads! Yes, it’s overblown, but Valentine’s Day is an important opportunity to emphasize romance with your wife and to role model positive expressions of love to your kids.

Valentine's Day reminds us of the importance of romance...
Valentine’s Day reminds us to cherish this relationship…
and to nurture this relationship
… and to nurture this one

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the wives*, moms and women out there. After all, we wouldn’t be dads without you. (I especially want to recognize my amazing wife, Amy, who brings me so much joy and with whom I am deliriously happy to share my life).

I’ve heard men, especially those who’ve been with their wives for a long time, criticize Valentine’s Day for a range of reasons:

  • It’s a “Hallmark” holiday
  • It is asymmetrical in that women get jewelry, flowers and chocolates and all we get is half of a dinner out
  • And, especially, that it’s dumb because we should recognize loving relationships every day, not just on some arbitrary date

To these, I say:

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From Father to Son- Passing Along Life Lessons

I learned many life lessons from my father, and I sure hope I’m passing these along to my son.

Last week, the fun lifestyle website DailyPlatofCrazy.com ran a feature for articles about men looking back at their childhoods with their fathers. Please click on the screencap below for my contribution to the series. It’s about baseball, Star Wars, and the values I learned from my dad and am trying to model for Nick.

My contribution to the Fathers & Sons series at DailyPlateofCrazy.com
My contribution to the Fathers & Sons series at DailyPlateofCrazy.com

What memories do you have as a kid that you are now sharing with your kids? What lessons are you trying to impart? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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Expert Perspectives: The Truth About Fathers from the Founders of the NYC Dads’ Group

The founders of the NYC Dads’ Group reflect on what they’ve learned from their members. Powerful stuff.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know I am a huge fan of the NYC Dads’ Group, a network of about 900 dads in and around NYC. The group hosts “new dad boot camps” and frequent social activities- providing many opportunities for dads to support and learn from each other.

Founders Matt Scheider and Lance Sommerfield recently wrote a great piece in NY Parent magazine reflecting on five things they learned about dads through their involvement with the group. Click on the picture below for the full story.

A screencap of Matt Schneider and Lance Sommerfield's article in NY Family magazine
A screencap of Matt Schneider and Lance Sommerfield’s article in NY Family magazine

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Old Dads, New Dads and Super Dads: Which Are You?

Sociologist Gayle Kaufman recently wrote a great book examining the lives of men balancing work and family, and describes three general categories of dads- Old Dads, New Dads and Super Dads. Here’s a discussion of each. Which are you?

"Superdads" by Gayle Kaufman
“Superdads” by Gayle Kaufman

Superdads: How Fathers Balance Work and Family in the 21st Century,” by Gayle Kaufman, is an excellent sociological study of the changing nature of fatherhood. The book is based on extensive interviews with a wide range of fathers–about their lives, relationships, parenting styles and work-family concerns. Kaufman finds that today’s generation of dads is more involved and more conscious of work-family demands and tradeoffs. In her analysis, Kaufman sees today’s dad as falling into one of three broad categories:

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A Fatherhood Lesson from Sam and Frodo

What can a Hobbit teach us about fatherhood? Here’s a quick lesson from my son’s favorite movie- The Lord of the Rings.

“I can’t carry it for you, Mr. Frodo. But I can carry you”

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Expert Perspectives: Erin Rehel on Fatherhood, Masculinity and Paternity Leave

Sociologist Erin Rehel conducted a fascinating research study on paternity leave and changing perceptions of masculinity. Here’s a Q&A with Dr. Rehel about her research and its implications for working dads.

Dr. Erin Rehel recently conducted a fascinating study about fatherhood, paternity leave and masculinity
Dr. Erin Rehel recently conducted a fascinating study about fatherhood, paternity leave and masculinity
  •  Tell us a bit about your study

My research examines the connection between fatherhood, work, social policy, and shifting ideals of masculinity in the United States and Canada. I conducted 85 interviews with fathers and their partners. I find that fathers today draw think differently about masculinity and fatherhood, but there are societal and workplace barriers that force many dads to fall back into less involved parenting roles.

In this particular study, “When Dad Stays Home Too: Paternity Leave, Gender, and Parenting,” (forthcoming in Gender & Society), I argue that when fathers experience the transition to parenthood in ways similar to mothers, through formal or informal paternity leave, they come to think about and do parenting in ways that are similar to mothers.

Paternity leave provides the space necessary for fathers to develop the parenting skills and sense of responsibility that allows them to be active co-parents rather than helpers to their female partners. This shift from a manager-helper dynamic to that of co-parenting creates opportunities for a more gender-equitable division of labor.

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Holiday Gratitude 2013

2013 was a very good year for Fathers, Work and Family. Thanks for making me feel like the Richest Man in Town, and for contributing to our important conversation about men and their work and family challenges.

Nick and I thank you for making FWF a success!
Nick and I thank you for making FWF a success!

The holiday season always makes me feel so grateful. I’m an amazingly lucky guy. Yes, I have worked hard and made some good decisions to get where I am in life. However, a LOT of what is good in my life is outside of my control. I was born into a loving family with great parents and a cool older sister. Nick is healthy and bright. I did nothing to earn that. I met Amy on a blind date- talk about outside factors shaping my life- and she has made my life so full and rich. I have a good job, with a good employer and good colleagues- I didn’t control most of that.

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