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It’s A Wrap!

I’m letting my books go.

In November I recommitted and now, in April, I reconsider. I’ve noticed, almost two months have passed and I haven’t shared a single parenting point. For years I was compelled to post, eager.

Since 2016 I’ve been sharing my /our parenting work frequently and regularly. It was exciting. I was excited!

Seems, I’m not so excited any more.

I can’t deny the decline in both enthusiasm and productivity, social media won’t allow it. The pattern is easily detected on an international public record, even if only detected by me.

Today, I’m not sure of my own truth. I can fool myself. Sometimes, I can justify even the shittiest decisions.

I’m not sure if it’s depression or evolution, quitting or finishing, self doubt or success. I’m not sure if it’s about a fiercely negative book review, a feeling of collective apathy or the progression toward a natural ending.

I’m not sure if I’ve risen above it or have succumbed to it.

It’s a kind of completeness, a closure, but maybe a defeat, failure. I’m not sure if I’m inspired or uninspired. Yeah, I’m pretty sure, I’m uninspired.

Although my truth may at times escape me, my feelings usually do not. I’m feeling done.

I’m putting my books behind me. With the deepest love, an endless appreciation and a big bunch of pride, I’m letting them go.

I’m also releasing myself of any further self-imposed expectations, goals, targets, responsibilities, marketing or promotional pressures. I’m closing a profoundly uplifting, empowering and cathartic chapter of my life.

I’ve said a lot.

Admittedly, my books aren’t perfect. Although imperfect, they are great!

I am proud to have given it my best effort and all the heart and dedication I could muster. I’m honored to add this work to my legacy of love.

It was a privilege to capture my thoughts and experiences, as well as those of others. I loved dedicating both books to my most special people. I love that Michael has “the record;” Seth and Owen will also have “the record.”

It was wonderful to share with so many life-changing women how they have changed my life. They will always know how much I love them.

My Dads too, so special! Remembering and memorializing the beautiful men, boys and fathers I’ve come to know and love, has been another great honour. I’m so proud of us!

I’ve cherished every piece of support. Every message, like, share, post and contribution. I’ve been lifted in ways I can never explain.

My wish is parents will enjoy, and find comfort in, these books for generations to come. I hope they will be shared with parents, parents-to-be, empty nesters and in all occassion celebrating parenting and parenthood. I hope my books help others. I hope my family, friends and all contributing parents are proud.

It’s been a privilege, a life’s highlight, to do this work. This experience will remain forever in my heart! 💕

With love and appreciation,

Doreen

PS – For moms looking for fresh content, new ideas and sprinkles of joy, check out East Coast Mommy. She hasn’t lost her steam a bit!

My Next SMART Move…

I knew I needed some guidance to determine next steps with regard to the promotion of my newly published books, 100 Moms & 100 Dads. I had an informal coaching session with an incredibly successful guy. I found my guidance.

He walked me through, felt like shoved me through, clearly and specifically articulating my goals in terms of book promotion. He asked all of the right questions, most of which I didn’t like. I felt myself digging through my own bullshit to provide honest answers.

Through the discussion I could feel my entire body resisting. I didn’t want to be “boxed-in,” accountable, on the record. I was viscerally reacting but contained it pretty good.  With his direct approach and targeted questions I began to be specific (S).

The conclusion of that conversation, to my surprise, my goal was not at all to promote the books. I discovered my goal was to share the work, not sell the books. This realization was a welcome relief. Being specific helped me to identify a much more meaningful and achievable goal. I do not like selling but I do love sharing!

I started to feel excited again. I now had to determine a measurable (M). 

Knowing what I wanted to do, why and how, I was ready to be “boxed in.” I was advised to set whatever standard I wanted. This was only to be measured by me.

I was reminded goals should also be attainable. I thought maybe I can go easy, but I want to feel good about it. I can do less than I’m humanly capable of, but enough that I’m feeling challenged and a sense accomplishment. 

I started to tire. I said, “This must be why people don’t set their goals.” He said, “No, this is why they don’t accomplish them.” I pushed on.

I asked myself, how much time and money can I realistically commit to. What is the standard I’m looking for? Do I want to over-achieve or just achieve?

I decided on a couple of measurables for my new goal:

  1. I’ll donate a minimum of two books a month to a group, or individual, working on the development of parenting skills. Please email any suggestions via Facebook page, “The Village.” I’ll report back on the recipients.
  2. I’ll invite others to share their parenting products or services on my Facebook page. I welcome suggestions. Please join “The Village” on Facebook and send ideas my way.
  3. I will accept all opportunities that come my way. (Not an official SMART goal, but a goal nonetheless.)

That’s good for now. I’ve reconnected with my intention, found new projects and a new-not-so-new perspective – just a little buried.

This plan is 100% relevant (R) to my goals. I’m so happy to have been supported in the exercise. I’ll be sharing parenting material again, now with an improved and adjusted focus. And, in true over-delivery fashion, my goal is even ready ahead of the resolution rush!

Thanks for following along, and thanks to my lil Buddy for helping me get my shit together.

The Importance of Setting SMART Goals

Rejection, Relaunch & Recommit

Five years ago, when I began collecting “The Village” I was bursting with enthusiasm. I was working steady on the development and the dream. I was exhilarated. I was going to write a book!

I flew to Chicago and spoke to the best and biggest in the publishing industry. There, while channelling Mary Tyler Moore and with the strength of a lion, I pushed through three days of fierce and unrelenting rejection. I got stronger and smarter. I, too was unrelenting.

I was featured locally, provincially, and nationally. I had my book on the shelves in chain stores and in small shops. “100 Moms” was available in Canada, in the US through Barnes and Noblel and across the world with the help of Amazon. Each step thought to be a long shot. They were all happening.

I did book signings, readings and was featured in several newspaper articles. I became an Author and a Columnist. I was sharing parenting content!

The ‘likes’ were flying in and the comments were full of encouragement. Deciding to write a second book was easy. 

In May 2020, my second book was published. Things were so different. There was no jet setting or book signings. No news releases and little give-a-shit. The accolades from others did not rush in and the fan fare had faded.

I worked to keep my spirits and efforts up, yet they waned. I could not find ‘it.’ The social, promotional pieces had left. The anticipated validation from others was scarce. The newspaper stopped production; my column ended. I discovered public approval, or the lack of it became a predominant force in my mood, feelings, and motivation.

I began to tell myself a lot of untruths. I decided the absence of growth in my social media indicated I sucked. It sucked. I gave up.

I held on barely, until August 2020. Then I dropped it. I told myself maybe my inactivity would boost my numbers because my consistent activity was not doing it. I forgot my intention. I lost my purpose.

My purpose was to share parenting content with parents. I was doing that. I was doing that by way of two published books, a weekly column, and frequent posts on social media platforms: WordPress, Thrive Global, Facebook and Instagram. I failed to realize that with each post I was continuing to achieve my goal. 

I began spending some time revisiting my original intention and connecting to my goals and to my purpose which, in the end, would be my legacy. All that said and done, I still did not change my behavior and was having little impact on shifting my thinking. 

Then I found myself in a discussion with a friend about on-line dating. She confided it was so tough out there, real tough. People are mean and the rejection is intense. I could see so many similarities in our situation.

She, too, was telling herself a great deal of untruths. Not only was she believing and feeling her untruths, but she was also collecting supporting evidence with every rejection and negative experience.

Although she has so much to offer the world and a relationship, the thoughts and opinions of others were somehow more believable to her; more believable than decades of evidence supporting her strength and power. It was then through her, I was able to recognize we were experiencing the same thoughts, the same feelings and the same patterns, even though our situations were different.

It was clear to me she was ascribing a lot of illogical, hurtful, and false conclusions about herself and her future. The vulnerability of it all was too much for us both. In her, I saw me.

As I attempted to encourage her to disregard the thoughts of others and push through the rejection, I could hear myself and the hypocrisy of it all. I had succumbed to both.

We sat in intention for a moment. We talked about the value of hope, the importance of playing, engaging, dreaming, and doing. We talked about having fun, exploring, and trying new things without the expectation of acceptance, popularity or approval. 

We talked about doing things we wanted to do, about what made us happy and why we wanted to chance being vulnerable, criticized, afraid and rejected. Why in the world would either of us want to be in such a potentially likely, hurtful world?

We concluded, we wanted to live, to try and to hope. Although rejection feels awful, and after literally hundreds of experiences myself, I can tell you – it has not gotten any easier. Rejection turns my blood to lava and my belly to a kaleidoscope which I just learned is the name for a group of butterflies. Each unreturned email or flat out critique does not bounce off me. I feel it all, even the typos, especially the typos.

Though I feel lava-blood and all the flutters, I also have been on the other side of that discomfort. I have felt the hope and the wonder. I have enjoyed the accomplishments and am proud of my legacy. As a bonus, I have a gained special affinity for each of the 199 parents that took the risk with me. I am honored to have lifted their voices as well as my own. I had forgotten that side of things. 

My friend and I made a pact: November 15th we would both jump back into the shark infested waters. We would focus on hope and possibilities. We would take pride in being back in the ocean and concentrate on our effort and our attitude – not the outcome.

So even though our voices quake, our knees might knock, and our blood runs hot – we are back!

To keep us focused and for anyone who needs it, I wanted to put something together to remind us why we try, even though we’re afraid and even though people will be mean. 

I came up with a top 10 list because I love top 10’s…

Why risk it, for me…Why risk it for her…
I know have a high-quality product, but it will not appeal to everyone.I know I am a high-quality person, but I will not appeal to everyone.
When I find the right people, my books will reach their hearts.When I find the right person. I know I will reach their heart.
I do not need a timeline.I do not need a timeline.
I like sharing what I’ve learned.I want to find my life partner.
Hope is better than premature, unwarranted resignation.I like being hopeful.
I rebuilt my life because others shared with me, I want to pay it forward.I see relationships work for others and I know I’ll find the right one for me.
I am building my legacy and accomplishing my goals with every contribution and risk.I am working toward my life’s goals and I’m going to stay in the game.
As long as I’m sharing material I’m achieving my goal.As long as I remain engaged in my life and my goals, I am where I want to be.
I will revisit my intention often and stop the untruths. I will have fun and keep it light.I will not measure my worth on the approval of others. I will focus on who I am.
I will maintain a high-quality product.I will maintain my character and confidence.

Wish us luck!

100 Dads – Camp Etiquette

Eric is a Dad to two grown boys. He’s a “neighborhood Dad,” ready-to-help in a moment’s notice. Eric is a hands-on Dad and a high energy guy.

With an old-school flare, respect was at the core of his parenting practices as well as his principles. Much attention was given to togetherness, family values and ensuring his boys were always looked after.

Eric, “Take them camping. Show them how to cook, clean, and leave wood in the camp when you leave.” Tip 3

Eric identified great parenting themes: teach, respect, help, try, coach and model; such a beautiful collection of words and love. This Dad was able to weave all of his themes through camping experiences.

Not a camper myself, I didn’t realize how valuable this outdoor adventure could be. I was never in a position to “leave wood in the camp,” so I’d never been given that advice. As soon as I read that tip, I recognized how this small piece of advice could be used literally, and also figuratively.

Eric clearly demonstrates how camping can be a solid training ground for life skills, as well as respect for others.

It’s wonderful for a Dad to emphasis and model some of those basic life skills. We, too, saw the value of ensuring Michael was well equipped when it came to life skills. After all we were raising someone’s partner, a man, a Dad, anIan employee. We wanted to be sure he was able to do it all!

At about age six, I told Michael, “It’s my goal that you be running this house by the time you’re 16.” He too was excited about that possibility.

Eric highlighting, “leave wood in the camp,” took teaching life skills to another level. Although meant literally, I also considered how that lesson might hold a deeper meaning in a practical way.

Leaving wood” not only teaches “leaving wood,” it also instills respect. This practice provides an awareness as to what’s been used, what needs to be replenished, and considerations for those who follow.

It’s an important to teach our kids to leave things in a respectful manner, replace what they used, and to think of others. We should all be aware of how what we do, and how we behave, can impact others.

This seemingly small practice of “leaving wood” could have far reaching implications, if your children learn the value of those to follow. Eric’s participating in this book is “leaving wood,” as is my participation and all 99 Dads.

I appreciate all Eric has given to his boys, and to this work. They were so fortunate to have such special memories, and a fun backdrop for important life lessons.

Thanks Eric!

 

 

46 of 100 – Student or Teacher

Michael M. is a poet and the facilitator of ‘Smiles through PocketM8,’ which is inspiring others globally.

He believes in giving and loving everyone, everywhere and has dedicated his life to doing exactly that. Currently raising three young children,  Michael enjoys the pure love most of all.

Focused on making a difference in the world, Michael hopes the same for his children. His dream is they will find fulfillment in doing whatever their hearts desire and will value the rewards in creating a environment of kindness.

Michael M., “See your child as the teacher. They are a gift given to you to teach you.” Tip 1

I’ve had no better teacher. As this Dad further states, “They are a teaching compassion, understanding and so much more.”

My son, Michael, has gifted me personal growth, compassion, understanding and, yes, so much more. I am everything I am either because of him or on behalf of him. Becoming his Mom gave me a will to live, a desire to succeed, the awareness that education would matter and employment was possible. I truly am all I am because of his love.

When I found out I was going to have a child, everything changed. I found purpose. I found love. My son began teaching me the moment that ‘stick turned blue.’

On that day, over 28 years ago I became his student. I was his guide, his life manager; but he was my teacher. He taught me how to love, how to be responsible how to care about myself. Through his eyes I gained an understanding that I was worth it, his Mom deserved better and so did he.

I returned to school, dropped the darkness and looked for light in everything I did. I turned my life around to honor him. I wanted to make him proud and to do the right thing. He taught me to care.

He taught me to be a respectable person, a reliable and loving Mom and now a responsible adult. His action continue to challenge me in more ways than he will likely ever know. He has become the type of person I hope to some day be.

He is confident, happy, healthy and makes deliberate choices. He finds time for family, friends and for fun. He is fully engaged in all he does. Michael is an example to me.

He is still my teacher, the best teacher I’ve ever had.

 

45 of 100 Dads – Brag

Rodger is a retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces.  He has raised two children, a boy and a girl, now in their twenties. Having been largely influenced by the love of his Mom, Rodger carries her legacy of hugs and encouragement.

His life’s joy is watching his children grow into interesting and well balanced adults. His dream is they continue to do so while enjoying a lifetime of healthy, happy and supportive relationships.

Having been a member of the Forces, time away from home was difficult. Rodger struggled with missing activities and accomplishments through the years. His tips demonstrate how even the little things can be meaningful. Despite departures, he was able to connect on many levels and continues to do so to this day.

Rodger, “Brag how well they are doing to everyone and anyone.” Tip 10

In his tips Rodger promotes a great mix of teaching and fun. I’m sure the memories of the outdoors, imaginary play and fort building will provide a lifetime of fond reflection for his children. What beautiful scenes they must have shared.

Having had a difficult childhood myself, there was no play, fun or forts. There was also no “bragging” as mentioned in Rodger’s tenth tip.

I’m proud to say, I was counselled in some of the parenting approaches Rodger is suggesting. Fortunately, parents did suggest fun and forts; also, fortunately Michael had other adults who too believed in fun and forts.

As far as “bragging” goes, I love it but try to restrain these days. Michael is now 29 and feels a little weird when I gush. I have much to gush about, so it takes great restraint.

I’m not sure why bragging is frowned upon by some. I find that confusing. I thought I’d seek a definition to ensure I wasn’t misunderstanding.

Bragging is defined as, “excessively proud and boastful talk about one’s achievements or possessions.” Maybe it’s the excessive part that is off putting. I can see that. Maybe it’s only when you do it about yourself, I can see that as well.

That said, when Michael was young, I did brag, excessively. I wanted him to hear what was important. I wanted to reinforce his achievements. I attempted to highlighted preferred qualities, skills, abilities, outcomes and accomplishments.

I used the technique deliberately and genuinely. I meant what I said. I didn’t want my praise to lose it’s luster or to sound insincere and to not be valued by him. I did brag a lot and I meant it a lot. I still do.

I told Michael he was great at saving money, he wanted to save more money. I told him he was a strong decision maker and he became more attentive to decisions.

Michael learned about himself through my eyes and my words. Michael only had positive messages in his world and his mind – positive in, positive out.

Bragging was effective in developing Michael’s self awareness, self esteem and family values. I’m not sure if it was excessive, or annoying to others, and I don’t care. I still don’t care.

Michael’s great! He’s a smart man, a kind, loving and thoughtful partner and a connected son and grandson. He’s a generous and attentive friend, an informed, caring and engaged father and a loyal and trustworthy employee. He’s a hard worker, ambitious, financially responsible and eager to learn. He makes healthy choices. He’s a great decision maker, a critical thinker and is active in his community. Michael has a kind heart, a beautiful mind and a strong presence. He’s more that I ever dreamed.

There, I said it! I hope Rodger will also continue to brag. I’m sure I will.

Thanks for supporting what I always knew, bragging is OK.

Here they are! 💞

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44 of 100 Dads – Read Signs

Billy is a much loved and soft-hearted Dad. He adores everything about being a Father and has a special appreciation for all the women in his life. Many of the women in his life have participated in the development of 100 Moms 1000 Tips 1 Million Reasons. He is the only Dad connected to four Moms.

In 100 Moms Billy’s wife, two sister-in-laws and his mother-in-law shared their parenting tips (Moms #37, 38, 39, and 40). I’m happy Billy’s agreed to join them and generations to come will benefit from their shared wisdom.

This Dad comes from a large and connected family, the most adored of which is his own Mom. Billy said his Mom is the most influential person in his life, forever adored.

Billy shares the wisdom with Dads that he has also ingrained in his children. Now that he’s a proud Grandpa, there’s no doubt he will be modelling and teaching his grandchildren each tip he’s shared.

When I read Billy’s ninth tip “never pass a sign without reading it” it really struck me, I never read signs. It’s so important to read signs, now that he has me thinking about it.

With a career as a truck driver, it makes good sense that Billy learned the importance of signs. I think that’s an important point for me to learn, but even more important to teach it to our children. It may sound funny, my life is a little easier after learning this tip, airports are a lot easier.

When I think about it, signs can come in many forms when related to parenting. Not only is it important to read road signs and airport signs, it’s worth considering in all areas of life.

If your baby has a red cheek, pulls on his ear, rips at his diaper – all signs. If your partner is cranky, if you smell smoke, if the roof leaks – more signs.

Having worked in the trucking industry I’m sure Billy meant it literally, “never pass a sign without reading it.” Initially, I took it literally. I recognized how many things I complicated by not reading sings. I became more aware of how many signs there are to read and the great information on them. I know it sounds funny.

In a more careful review of Billy’s tips I considered interpersonal signs, the signs we consciously or sub-consciously give about our well being, our health or even our happiness. All signs are worth a moment, a read.

At home it’s a good practice to not only read signs but to also question them. Is your ear sore? Are you upset? Can I help? You seem off?

With deeper consideration I loved Billy’s tip even more. In fact, the Moms in his life also suggested reading signs and questioning signs in their contributions to 100 Moms.

I like it! I needed to hear it in a literal way and in a more figurative application. I’m going to pay closer attention to the signs I may have been overlooking both at home and in the airport. I’m also going to make sure I teach our little grandson to read signs too.

Thanks Billy!

Thanks Billy! I appreciate the ‘sign.’

43 of 100 Dads – Be Mom’s Rock

Tyler is the partner to a special girl, I mean young lady, who I will always fondly remember and adore. I’m so pleased she was able to convince him to share his parenting tips, so I could carry a piece of her with me in this book, forever. “Hi Holly!

Together these young parents share their lives with a sweet baby girl who is the apple of their eye. Tyler has hearts in his eyes when he sees “her tiny smile light up the room.”

This self-described “Super Dad” loves his happy home and intends on ensuring it is forever full of laughter and love. He has a deep appreciation for his Mom and Dad and hopes to share their teaching and values with his little girl. Tyler’s goal is to make sure she’ll never be afraid to follow her dreams and he’ll be sure to support her in doing whatever she sets her mind to do.

Tyler, “Take care of their Mom. She has been through a lot. She will go through even more. Be her rock.” Tip 6

Of course, with love in my heart for Tyler’s leading lady, I was happy to see him highlight her importance in his sixth tip. Tyler states, “Take care of their Mom. Be her rock.” I love when Dads remind other Dads about the women in their lives. It’s great when there is an understanding that Moms need support and help along the way. Sometimes we Moms forget to mention that and sometimes it’s hard to ask for help.

My Mom didn’t have “a rock.” She carried the entire burden and my Dad as well. She was so heavy from this weight that she didn’t have much left over for herself or her kids. No one was looking out for her.

In my world, Big Mike was my rock and still is. Because I was able to share my life and my worries with him, I had a true partner. He helped me with things and looked out for me. He carried weight, a lot of weight. Whenever I found something to be difficult to manage, he would offer to take it on. He never made me feel like a bother or a burden.

His support allowed me to be a better Mom and a better person. I felt stronger. I was not heavy, as my Mom was. I had more room to think, to be and to become. I had space to do and to dream.

I am everything I am, have everything I have and achieved everything I have achieved because he loved me and, as Tyler suggests, was my “rock.” I’m thrilled Holly has a “rock” too.

Tyler also encourages Dads to take on a special piece of the day-to-day routine. For him, he and his daughter share the bedtime routine. That’s a beautiful idea providing a win for everyone. Holly, Tyler and his little girl will enjoy that soft addition to their day. This sounds like something a “rock” would do.

I know Tyler’s little girl will benefit on so many levels knowing she is treasured by her Father. I can imagine the sweetness this memory will bring. Sometimes if things become routine, we can take these times for granted. I hope Tyler never forgets all he is building by making time to be at his daughter’s bedside.

I recall Michael’s bedtime routine and can appreciate bed time isn’t always a Hallmark moment or a Rockwell painting, but what peace for Mom to know, even if there’s clanging and banging it’s being handled with love and attention.

This idea gives Mom a moment to catch her breath. She may finish something otherwise undone or consider something that might have escaped her. Perhaps she will just sit. Whatever happens for her in these few short moments, it’s no question this time will build a foundation for trust, security and self-worth in the heart of their little girl.

Tyler, on behalf of all Moms, thanks for the mention and on behalf of Holly, thanks for the moments. From my little girl’s heart to my tired Mother eyes, I know that your time is well spent and far reaching.

Hugs to you all.

Remembering Rita

In loving memory of the beautiful and unforgettable Rita Cameron (April 30th, 2019).

Rita is a special Mom for so many reasons. Her no-nonsense parenting approach and clarity of purpose has resulted in my connection to two strong thinking and independent women, her girls Susan and Gail.

Because of Rita’s diligence and dedication her girls survived the teen years and, with her guidance, they have successfully navigated the world of adulthood. Rita’s daughters are funny, well balanced, strong, thoughtful, caring and much loved. My life is better, fuller and happier because of her work. I love her for this.

Secondly, Rita’s work has also spilled into the next generation in her adored and beloved granddaughter, Marissa. Marissa is now practicing the skills and considering perspectives given to her by the preceding two generations; I know for sure they will serve her well.

Rita’s granddaughter has the advantage of the protective layers of her work, and the work of her girls. Marissa is surrounded by the wisdom of strong women. This gift of wisdom is second only to the sparkle in her eye, which is an obvious inheritance from her “Nanamo.” 

It’s no question Marissa will continue to recognize the strength of her “Nanamo,” who’s deep impact will forever guide her journey through life. this guidance, direct and indirect, has been firmly instilled in her Marissa’s heart. I love Rita for this too.

The third reason I love Rita is because she was my friend. She was a great friend!

Rita would message me to check in on me, sending compliments, encouragement and love. She was understanding. She was so strong. She was a fine example of a woman who loved women and lifted others up and applauded them for standing. I love Rita a lot for this.

It brings me great sadness to carry her message, as of course I wish she could carry it herself. It also brings me a heart load of pride that Rita trusted me with her thoughts, supported my efforts and celebrated 100 Moms 1000 Tips 1 Million Reasons right along with me. I love her and miss her.

Here is Rita’s section in 100 Moms, in entirety:

Rita’s first line in her response to me, was of no surprise, “The first thing I would like to say is I have two daughters, both I love dearly.” I could just feel the sincerity in that line. Her tenderness leapt off the page. It was almost as if one line had said it all!

Rita followed her first email with a few more, which I thought to be extra-special. Her time, attention and dedication to my request was an honor and testament to her parenting. Rita, not only accepted the challenge, she thought about it, and thought about it some more. Knowing, first-hand the quality of her ‘work’ I am thrilled she agreed to participate.

  1. I remember my Grandmother used to say–small kids, small worries–bigger kids, bigger worries. She spoke the truth. The worries, as they get older are usually much more serious.
  2. I learned nothing happening to you could hurt as much as if it happens to your kids. To this day, I still dislike any of their friends who’ve hurt them by words, action or immaturity. Maybe that’s just me.
  3. The most important thing to me, is to make them know without a doubt I ALWAYS loved them. Maybe on some days I didn’t like them but there was no question I loved them.
  4. When they are talking to you pay attention to them, not the phone, not the TV, (today it would be Facebook, iPhone, iPad). They need to know you are listening to them. If you ignore them they may never try to tell you things.
  5. When they are teenagers the real fun begins. All of a sudden you know nothing and overnight they are experts on everything. This is when you really start to develop your detective skills. I never was a believer in “not-my-kid.” If something happened at school and they were in trouble, I didn’t think, my little darlings could not have done that. The jury was out until I heard the whole story. As Judge Judy says, “How do you know if a teenager is lying? Their lips are moving.” Don’t think they never would lie to their Mother, they will in a minute. They will lie, so they can get you to let them do what they want.
  6. I tried to teach them to respect others. I also told them NOBODY was better than them and vice versa.
  7. I didn’t allow them to disrespect me.
  8. As teenagers, I would track them down. I didn’t care if I barged into a stranger’s house to get them. I needed to know they were safe. If they took a cab I would call the cab company to find out where they took them. If they said they couldn’t tell me, I said I was calling police because they were minors. They soon gave me the information. Teenage girls hate it when you act like this. They find it embarrassing. I say, too bad!
  9. I always told my girls they could do anything, if they wanted it enough to work hard. They knew I believed in them and they had my support. This is important.
  10. Don’t give them everything they ask for. They need to know the satisfaction of earning it themselves. You can’t buy their love and respect, you need to earn it.
  11. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Try not to make threats you are not prepared to follow through on.
  12. Try not to make promises you may not be able to keep.
  13. When they are teenagers and try drinking, they come home not feeling well; send them straight to bed. The next day get them up REALLY early, like 5 AM! Time for chores! Try not to think, poor little thing isn’t feeling well, I will let them sleep. They don’t remember that way. Better they learn this way. Every action has a reaction.
  14. Give your kids everything they need, and SOME of the things they want. The most important thing you can give them is your love and guidance.
  15. Be careful with your words. Once they are spoken you can’t take them back. I don’t think there is a Mother in the world who didn’t wish they could take back something they said. After all, we are human.

See, fabulous, firm, fair and fabulous!

Rita admitted, some days were very difficult. She said, “It didn’t matter how they tormented me, and tried to wear me down, no meant no! It is much easier to just give in and let them do whatever. You and your child will come to regret it in a big way. I am the same way with my granddaughter. It worked last time!!

Rita also advised, “Motherhood has the longest learning curve you will ever encounter. It begins the day your child is born, and continues until the day you leave this earth. It is both the most difficult and, at the same time, the most rewarding thing you will accomplish in your lifetime. Enjoy the journey.”

I loved Rita’s tip 11. Saying what you mean and advising against empty threats, so vitally important. Following just that one tip will minimize wasted time, aggravation and confusion. Saying what you mean promotes trust, security and love. I too made every attempt to be true to my words, and my threats.

I felt it was fair and imperative to announce the consequences as early as possible. We talked about issues such as drinking, drugs and peer pressure years prior to the threat.

I would often fabricate scenarios and ask Michael to consider how he might handle them. I think doing this established strong critical thinking skills at an early age.

At times, I would have Michael determine his own punishment for rule breaking. Surprising, he was harsher than I ever would have been. It is a great exercise for many reasons. It develops communication, understanding and skills in pre-planning. I also think it is unifying and respectful –  you’re working together to determine strategies and outcomes. You’re on the same page. One caution however, this does take significantly much more time than dictating.

A good example is our conversation on school grades. We had an “Average 85% Rule.” Michael determined above average was his desired goal. We landed on 85%.

Whenever I could, punishments were determined before a ‘crime’ was committed. This prevented us, as parents, from acting out of anger or disappointment. It promoted fairness and clarity.

In the school example, the punishment was predetermined should he go below 85%. We decided if that were to happen we, as parents, would determine his study schedule. Until then, he determined the schedule. Michael did not want us in control of him, really at all!

The same could be said for our “Dinner-time Rule.” In our home, we absolutely said what we meant, and meant what we said. Dinner at 5:30, meant five-three-zero, not 5:35. If 5 minutes was thought “no big deal,” then he could be home at 5:25 the next day.

It is challenging to parent this way. Why get ‘into it’ over five minutes? I’ll tell you why, if 5 minutes is no big deal, then why is 10 minutes a big deal? Nip it all in the bud. Rita was a nip-it-the-bud kinda girl too.

I realize, no one really wants to have the discussion at 5:35 when dinner is getting cold. I didn’t but did anyway. It was worth it. To this day, if Michael is running even 5 minutes late, you’ll hear from him or he’ll be racing in with an apology.

Rita and I both prioritized respect. We didn’t only expect it of our children, we expected it of ourselves. It’s a great governing principle.

Thanks to my special friend and a very special Mom. Her influenced has reached many and I’m forever thankful it rests forever in my heart.

Remembering you today and always,marisswith your legacy in our hearts.

 

42 of 100 Dads – Teach Them Everything

Written in loving memory of Aaron’s Mom, Gloria Mae Rogers (May 23, 1945 – February 21, 2020).

Published in loving memory of Aaron Todd, Jolene Lori and their beautiful, much loved little girl Emily Mae, all tragically lost April 19th, 2020.

Teach Them Everything!

Aaron was the adored and only son to a special mentor and beloved friend of mine, Gloria Mae. He was the apple of her eye. Gloria would have been completely elated about us working together in this way. I hope there’s a heaven.

In her memory, Aaron agreed to share a piece of his life as both a son and as a Dad. He’s equally proud of each role and was honoured to contribute all he’s learned in growing with his own family.

Dad to one teenage daughter, Aaron’s parenting focused largely on independence and respect. He was committed to ensuring his ‘little girl’ would not need to rely on anyone for anything. He wanted her to know she could handle whatever came her way.

Aaron said he was dedicated to raising a strong woman both physically and mentally. He exclaimed, “She’s ready!”

Having been largely influenced by his Stepdad, Angus, Aaron learned the meaning of the word “Father.” He said, “Angus was the best man I ever met, the best man in the world.”

He told a moving story of his release from jail stating, “When I got ‘out,’ Angus put a wrench in my hand. That changed everything. Together we worked on a Mustang. He gave me what I needed; he rearranged my world. Angus was the Father I always wanted. He taught me what a man should be. He taught me to cut the grass and fix the mower. He later put me in a small engine repair course. He was the biggest influence in my life.”

I too have enjoyed the influence of both Aaron’s Mom and his Stepdad, Angus. They were beautiful people who lived in meaningful ways.

Angus was a sweet, loving and gentle man. Aaron’s Mom was a giving and compassionate women. She provided me with a love and understanding strong enough to be the foundation by which I began rebuilding my own life.

It is an honour to carry their names in this book and to share Aaron’s parenting wisdom.

  1. Teach independence. Make sure your children value their worth and know they can handle anything.
  2. Teach them how to live off the land. Emily can build a cabin or a composting toilet. She can chop wood and run a chainsaw. She appreciates the land and can survive in the wilderness.
  3. Make sure they value themselves. I respect my daughter and treat her Mother the way a man should treat a woman, the way I want my daughter to be treated. I put Jolene on a pedestal, and I want the same for my ‘little girl.’ I want to her know she should always be respected and hope she will never accept anything less than the utmost respect from anyone.
  4. Expose them to music. Coming from the East Coast, I introduced Emily to fiddle music. She loved it and wanted to play. She learned very quickly and found she had a unique talent. She could play anything she touched. In no time she learned both harmonica and clarinet and even developed an ability to read music.
  5. Show and talk about affection. Start and end each day with “I love you.” I remember I always wanted to hear that from my Dad, but he never said it. I wanted to make sure my daughter heard it from me every day. I always hug her.
  6. Be truthful. I never lied to my daughter, even if she didn’t like the truth or when the truth was hard. When her fish died, I had to tell her. I think we have to teach about life and death.
  7. Don’t take life seriously. Have fun. We do a lot of fun things together. I love when we go off-roading together.
  8. Teach them what you know. She loves learning about the trades and customizing things. We’ve been working on a ’77 Pinto since she was three. She loved using a wrench as a toddler. She still loves learning about carpentry and welding. I love teaching her and enjoying how great she is.
  9. Deal with your child differently at every stage. They are always learning, changing and growing. Your approach should also be learning and changing and growing. Sometimes they need to learn things from their Dad and sometimes they need to learn things from their Mom.
  10. I try to be the Dad I always wanted to have. Angus came into my life as a teenager. He taught me how to be a Dad. I try to be like him.

Aaron’s closing note, “I try to be the Dad I always wanted to have,” really hit me in the heart. That was exactly my approach.

Both Aaron and I came from difficult backgrounds. We knew what we didn’t want in a parent and worked to be all the things we’d hoped for.

In some ways Aaron’s Mom, Gloria, gave to me a bit of what Angus gave to him. We both have much gratitude resting permanently in our hearts. The love of this couple reached our spirits and we’ve carried pieces of them and their teachings into our next generation. 

Aaron and I decided to do things differently. We’ve taken the positive lessons and the positive people out of experiences and with that we parented, in all the ways we knew how. 

Aaron realized love, hugs and time together were things that made a great Dad. He worked to ensure those things were present every day. He taught Emily all he knew and gave her access to what she was interested in, whether it was dirt bikes or instruments; together they found a way.

The dream he held for Emily was that she would never forget she could handle anything. Aaron hoped she would find a fun and fulfilling career and achieve a work-life balance.

He wanted her to be independent and move out, but to also never leave.

As his baby was to graduate months after our talk, the paradox of preparing for an empty nest while hating the silence of the empty nest, was starting to hit Aaron. I know that conundrum, it’s weird.

I’m sure Emily was, as Aaron says, “Ready!” We spoke about the days ahead, the Pinto Project, wood chopping and the many giggles and fun times expected a long the way.

In closing we talked about heaven. He said, “Let’s think like she {his Mom} did. Let’s pretend there’s a heaven.”

Thank you my friend, we could never have known. My heart is so very heavy.

Your family, your parents, your words and your devotion to your ‘girls’ will remain in my heart forever.

Aaron’s final Facebook post, April 18th, 2020.

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Rest together in love and peace.

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Emily, Aaron and Jolene