21st Century Dad
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Non-Resident Fathers Can Still Make a Positive Difference

June 30th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad
Father and Child

Photo: mrhayata

Before fatherhood, I used to look at my friend Dan and think, “oh cool. He only has to see his daughter every other weekend and on Wednesday nights.” After fatherhood, I think, “He only gets to see his daughter…”

Whatever the real numbers are, we see more single parents today. In such arrangements, the father’s role runs the gamut from total deadbeat to being as involved as possible.

Fatherhood is being redefined. Men are balancing traditional expectations and taking a more active role in parenting. This is true, even with non-resident fathers. These men have to make the most of their every-other-weekend and one night a week arrangement.

As a resident father, I enjoy the constant presence of my children, annoying teenage habits nonwithstanding. This affords me quantity and quality, but what about non-resident fathers? They too can offer the same, and some additional benefits.

According to Garret D. Evans and Kate Fogarty, non-resident fathers who are involved in their children’s lives still have a positive impact. These children:

  • tend to get higher grades than those without involved fathers.
  • seem to have better social skills. They can make friends more easily and handle difficult social situations better.
  • tend to have fewer behavioral problems. In fact, even when not living with their children and their children’s mother, fathers who were actively involved with their children kept them from getting involved in problem behaviors as teens
  • have fewer mental health problems as adults (especially true for daughters).

Fathers today recognize the benefits to their children and to themselves. This is still true for the non-resident father. He may even be more acutely aware of it due to the limited time he has with his children. He needs to make the most of every other weekend and one night a week.

Further Reading:

Dads, Be a Hero

Father Involvement After Divorce

Co-Parenting and Father Involvement

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Happy Father’s Day

June 15th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Due to an oversight on my part, this article was not posted as scheduled on Father’s Day.  -Elliott

Renee, Elliott, Austin, and ArianaI’m on break, but it would be wrong if a dad blogger didn’t acknowledge Father’s Day. I have a freelance project that will take up a good part of my time this next week. I don’t want to be wrought with guilt on Thursday when I still haven’t posted. Yes, I’m on break. For real! This is worse than quitting cigarettes.

Father’s Day is a quiet day around here. I decided that instead of being treated like a king, it’s my day to reaffirm and reflect upon what it means to be a father and be the best dad I can be. Today is the day to do what you normally do, but better. Show your family why you’re the best dad ever:

  • Call your own father and wish him a Happy Father’s Day.
  • Say an extra “I love you” to your spouse and your children.
  • Put extra special effort into a meal you prepare for your family. Save the shells ‘n’ cheese for another night.
  • Help out around the house.
  • Play video games and let your kids win… as if that doesn’t already happen!
  • LISTEN to your children.
  • Give your children one more hug.
  • Laugh with your children.

I received a pleasant surprise yesterday. Chelle from It Might Be Love sent me 250 Entre Card Credits! She won Dance of Motherhood‘s Dad Blog contest. Her first act of kindness was to nominate my blog. Then she upped the ante by giving me a share of her winnings. Thanks!

Here’s a shout-out to all the cool dads I’ve met in the blogosphere. I did the same thing for my favorite mom bloggers on Mother’s Day. Not all of these dads write parenting blogs, but each is written by a cool dad:

I’m on break (much of this post was composed a few weeks ago), so posts won’t come as frequently. Subscribing to my RSS feed is the best way to find out when I stop in to say hello again. You can still browse the archives. I left a hidden gem for you to find somewhere on this site.

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Happy Father’s Day!

Teaching Teens How To Use Public Transit

May 12th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Riding The BusPublic transit provides relief from high gas prices. It also gives mom and dad’s taxi service a break. I’ve always lobbied for Au-Teen to learn how to ride the bus, and now he’s on board.

The usual response was a look of indifference. This is the default smokescreen for adolescent insecurities. What he doesn’t understand is, I’m not here to exploit the insecurities for a cheap ego boost. My goal is to help him overcome them. He doesn’t always like my methods. Depending on the circumstances, I have R. Lee Ermey, Wayne Dyer, Mr. Miyagi, or any combination of the 3 rain down on his ass.

Learning how to read the route map and timetables would address some developmental needs. An understanding of time is one of those needs. I thought I had the perfect package to wrap this lesson in.

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Happy Mother’s Day

May 11th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Happy Mother’s Day 2008!

Twilli and her MomWhen I started writing this blog, I somehow knew that a lot of moms would read it. Take a look at the comments here. Many moms stop by.

Au-Teen had a sleepover on Friday night. His best friend T came over. I swear, the two of them are like star-crossed lovers. (I’ll tell you more later. The relationship dynamics between Au-Teen and his friends is entertaining.) T lives 20 miles away in Au-Teen and mom’s old stomping grounds. That might as well be 100 miles to two boys without easy transportation at their disposal. We dropped T off at his house this morning so we could all continue with Mother’s Day plans.

Mom wanted to find a nice place to eat and enjoy being out and about. We indulged her in some window shopping at the Shops at Midtown Miami. Strolling through Target would break down our frugal defenses far too easily. Furniture is not, and should never be, an impulse buy. We were safe at the West Elm showroom.

Renee in front of a Britto installationThe Shops at Midtown Miami is yet another micro-mecca of American consumerism. Despite the debt-bloating potential of this place, it’s a great outdoor setting for spending leisure time. If a courtyard has art by Romero Britto, it has some cred with me.

We took advantage of some gorgeous north light in our bedroom to take some photos. Taking photos in front of a large window with sheers is some of the most gorgeous natural light to photograph in. Such a large diffuse light source can make anyone look good. You do not need a fancy camera to get great photos in this setting. With a little help from a Nikon SB600 flash unit, I supplemented the natural light with some diffuse fill light bounced off the ceiling.

Happy Hapa Girl

Priceless Moment #807,200,730,801,112,873

Funny Face Girl

Sometimes a picture falls 1000 words short of the old proverb. I’m speechless.

chocolate cake. mmm mmm .. goood

Finally, I baked a cake for Renee. The shortest path to her heart is through the pastry section. I called upon some seldom-used skills and baked a cake. Most of my work in the kitchen has more nutritional density, but hey, it’s mom’s special day. GeekMom, are you paying attention? 21st Century Dad can bake cakes too.

This mother’s day tribute cannot be complete without a nod to my own mother. She raised 3 children and ran a business. I have no idea where she stored all the energy in that 5-foot-nothing-90-pounds-soaking-wet body. I think I turned out OK, and so did my sisters. Without moms, none of this would be possible. Happy Mother’s Day.

21st Century Dad - 6 days old

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Has it Really Been 9 Months?

May 8th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Twilli - then and nowRenee posted about Twilli reaching the 9 month mark today. We acknowledge this milestone on the 7th of each month.

Every expectant couple hears, “it goes by so fast.” Sometimes it’s followed by, “take lots of pictures.”

To commemorate the milestone, I used to set up the whole Strobist rig and dress her in a nice outfit. I haven’t done that this month… or last month. The number of photos I take of Twilli is on a downward trend. Maybe I just get a higher percentage of “keepers.”

Our video coverage has been spotty. It will have to step up soon. Twilli is quickly approaching the day she will take her first real steps. Just like we were ready with the “baby bag” during the last month of pregnancy, we must keep a video camera in a high state of readiness.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve neglected my family duty by not taking more photos. I have more digital imaging horsepower at my disposal than most of my peers. Now I realize I’d rather have a few great photos of my children than a bunch of mediocre ones.

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