21st Century Dad
One Dad's Thoughts, Ideas, and Feelings.
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Taking a Quality Time Time-Out With The Baby

May 2nd, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Twilli and Mommy model the new podaegiWhile I have some time between daytime contract jobs, I decided to spend most of the day yesterday with Twilli. We had a blast hanging out together all day long. I even helped out Renee by taking pictures of her new podegi baby carrier (pictured here). Yes, that can be considered working on the blog, but it was still time I spent with the baby. Today, it’s back to work full force!

Twilli is incredibly fun to be around right now. As she approaches the 9 month mark, her awakening to the world around her continues at an alarming rate. She is recognizing more within her surroundings. She is using her newfound, albeit limited, mobility at every chance she gets.

I learned a lot just by indulging a little in her. It felt great to spend an extended period of time with my daughter. I have to work a little harder today, but it was worth it.

Regardless of your schedule, make the time to be with your baby. I tell people all the time, “she’ll only be a baby once.”

The quality time I spend with Twilli is a spiritual and emotional boost. How many of you remember the old computer game F15 Strike Eagle? There was a glitch in the game that allowed you to continue flying even though you’ve run out of fuel. Pressing any of the number keys 1-9 and the “A” key (for afterburner) made the engines fire a short puff of propulsion. The smile, a moment of discovery, a squeal of delight as I make a goofy face, or a funny moment is like those little puffs of propulsion that I need just when I think I’m totally out of gas.

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Teen Saved From The Pitfalls of Poor Communication Methods

March 11th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Poor Listening SkillsCommunication is central to every relationship. I dare say it’s the foundation. I touched on this briefly in a guest post over at 21st Century Parenting. The article addressed one of my pet peeves – people talking through walls and around corners.

Au-Teen does this all the time. As he’s walking out the door to go hang out with friends, he announces his intention in that sing-songy tone, “I’m going to hang out with Joel for a while.”

In our average sized home, he’s somewhat audible when he does this, but it’s a BAD habit. This isn’t communication. This is a teenage boy flapping his mouth under the assumption he’s been heard.

It almost bit him in the ass this past weekend. He went to the park with his friend Gabe. He announced this as he was walking out the door. I held him up.

“I was talking to mom.”

“No you weren’t. She’s not here. You need to address us face-to-face and get acknowledgment that your message was received. I’ll have none of this talking as you walk out the door crap please. See you later.”

I was more diplomatic in my guest post. We ran out of sugar, so you’re taking this one straight. I absolutely HATE IT when people try to have a conversation through walls and around corners. It’s one of the most annoying things Au-Teen does. Maybe it’s that sing-songy tone. Maybe he tries to weasel his way out of accountability when he’s called out for poor communication.

It’s often said, “pick your battles.” I’ll let him throw his dirty socks on the floor in his bedroom, but this one deserves a parental counter-attack of significant magnitude.

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Your Baby at 6 Months

March 7th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Feed MeFeed Me!

Observing the milestones is one of the joys of fatherhood. On an objective level, you’re sticking a rubber-coated spoon filled with bland cereal in a child’s mouth. That doesn’t sound too exciting now, does it?

Letting Twilli try solid food for the first time was my big thrill for the day. She had been watching us intently at mealtime for the past month. We took it as a signal that she was ready to transition to solids.

Imagine my delight when Twilli grabbed the spoon and shoved it in her mouth! Okay, fine, many of baby’s actions aren’t 100% intentional. She dropped an f-bomb a couple months ago. (I swear that’s what it sounded like.) We made 1’s and 0’s out of the event (the feeding, not the f-bomb). I did so with my Nikon D80 and Renee captured video on the LX1.

Baby Milestones

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that it’s not a contest. These are just generally accepted guidelines based on years of observations. Each child is different. Your child isn’t developmentally challenged or behind just because the book written by the experts says she ought to be doing something. Your baby may be doing some or all of these things by the 6th month:

  • Rolling over – she’s not really interested in doing this autonomously.
  • Recognizes people – at least her immediate family.
  • Passes items from one hand to the other – she’s a little early with this one.
  • Sits up – with a little bit of help. Watching her fall over face first is actually comical.

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Bad Grades. No Job For You! Melodrama Ensues.

February 29th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

melodramaNo matter how sincere you are when you say “he’s a good kid,” they still frustrate you at times. Teens aren’t concerned with making the right choices. They want to make their choices, even if it means doing something to their own detriment. The worst consequences of such choices are far more preferable to them than saying, “Mom. Dad. You were right.”

Au-Teen has been chomping at the bit to get a job. To a teenager, money = freedom. However, we’re not going to allow him to get a job while his grades languish in sub-mediocrity. Indignation is the ineffective weapon he has chosen to fight this. He’s getting totally creamed in this battle and he doesn’t like it.

His long-held belief that any idiot can get a job bagging groceries is being challenged by two people who supposedly know nothing about life as a teenager. If any idiot can get that job, why should he have to earn better grades in school?

As responsible parents, we cannot allow it. No reasonable adult, with or without children, will refute our stance. Why are we at an impasse? We’re not dealing with a reasonable adult here.

Renee and I backed off just a little to gain some ground. In lieu of tutoring or getting extra help at school, he angrily answered the challenge of improving his grades through independent study.

We usually see reruns of Au-Teen’s histrionics. Today, we saw a new episode. He stormed up to his room and proclaimed, “Alright! You win! I’m a nerd now!”

It’s always exhausting when dealing with teenage melodrama. This time, I couldn’t help but laugh.

When Mom Has to Raise Dad

January 22nd, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Would this blog be complete without any discussion about my own father. We didn’t have the best relationship growing up. I point to the language barrier as the reason we never got really close. As someone who values the power of effective communication, that stands out. Even if I could speak Korean fluently, it may not have been any different.

During and shortly after my parents got divorced, my mother told me just that she raised a 4th child (I have 2 sisters). I thought my father was the only father like that. I saw my friends’ dads as much more involved in their lives. As my own knowledge base increased, I learned that my father’s disposition isn’t so unique at all.

Most of you reading this are part of a new generation of fathers. I say most because I’ve found out that women read my blog. Mothers and fathers are equal partners in the parenting experience. Is this a backlash against generations of aloof and detached fathers? Are we fighting back against the negative portrayals of the father figure in the media today? Whatever it is, I’m just enjoying my role as the father of a new baby girl.

When we broke the news to Austin about the pregnancy, he seemed nonplussed. He furtively shared some glee with a close friend, but there wasn’t much mention beyond that. He doesn’t talk about the baby much at all.

Immediately after Ariana was born, Austin adamantly declared that he would not do diapers. He keeps his distance from the baby and has made no direct effort in the care and feeding of the baby. His contribution to household chores is minimal to nothi on par with most teenage boys.

I found myself growing frustrated and bitter. Two members of this household are shouldering additional responsibilities and one member’s neglect has reached new lows. I started to feel empathy for the women married to loafing husbands, past and present.

My brain connected the dots. A congruence was emerging before me. Austin’s detachment and aloofness paralleled the stereotype of the father from generations past.

I started connecting more dots. I thought about my interactions with other adult males. Many have characteristics that aren’t remarkably different from adolescent males.

  • Poor listening skills and poor communication skills in general
  • Doesn’t read instruction manuals
  • Can’t stand to be told how to do something
  • Likes playing with consumer electronics
  • Constant need to one-up other males
  • Smells like the inside of a hockey skate

The years of critical thinking skills drilled into me via prep school will never go away. Yet another hypothesis emerged. Many men halt their personal and emotional development during adolescence.

These men enter adult life, get married, and may or may not have children. The wife grows weary of having to be a parent to the man-child instead of a partner. Divorce rates soar.

It’s beyond common sense. I have become driven to become the best father I can be. I loved this child from the moment the little blue plus sign appeared on the home pregnancy test. The first ultrasound image, the trickle and ultimate deluge of gifts, my wife’s ever expanding belly, and finally the fateful day brought it all together. My heart broke for all the fathers who would never know the joy of being totally immersed in their child’s life.

Generations of distant and aloof fathers don’t have to guide your actions here. You really can do it all except breastfeed.

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