Easier Than You Think: The Pleasures of Home-Made Baby Food

baby eating baby food

Yum! Delicious! Photo: Alfonso Romero, www.creactionsdesign.com

Think you don’t have time to offer your baby nutritious home-made food? Think again!

In my never-ending quest to make the world a better place for hungry kids, I have asked my good friend, nutritionist Grisel Ramos-Trautmann, to share her wisdom with us. You’ll find more information about Grisel at the end of the post.

THE PLEASURE OF HOME-MADE BABY FOOD
Grisel Ramos-Trautmann

Making your own baby food is not nearly as time consuming as you might think!  You will discover that it is a PLEASURE.

The benefits of making your own baby food are enormous…

  • You know exactly what your baby is eating
  • You are sure that all the ingredients are fresh
  • You can tailor make your baby’s food to suit his/her preferences and needs
  • You will save money
  • It will be a great satisfaction for you and your baby

Solid food should be introduced when your baby is 6 month old.  In a younger baby, digestive and allergic problems are more likely to occur.  However, in some situations your pediatrician may introduce solids at 4 months.  In babies with reflux, starting solids may help prevent spitting and may improve weight gain.

Rice cereal is always the first one to be introduced.  This is because rice has less potential to cause allergic reactions. Each time you introduce a new food to your baby, you need to continue feeding your baby with that same food for at least four days.

 Don’t introduce two new foods at the same time.

A useful tip is to introduce new food in the morning or at lunch time.  If your baby suffers an allergic reaction, it will be easier to get medical help.

Giving your baby new food is exciting, but don’t rush things.  The end result will be… a happy, healthy baby, enjoying the food that is right for him!

Some ideal first food when introducing solids at 4-6 month include:

  • rice cereal
  • bananas
  • avocadoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • butternut squash
  • carrots
  • apples
  • pears

Bananas and avocadoes do not need to be cooked…making them ideal convinience foods for your baby.  All other fruits and veggies should be cooked.

Fruit and Vegetables should be peeled to prevent choking, remove pesticide recidues, avoid waxes, and make them easier for your baby to digest.

Carrots are a good first food for babies because – in addition to their many nutritious qualities – they are very easy to digest, rarely responsible for allergic reaction and have a flavour that babies find appealing.

BABY FOOD RECIPIES

Whole Grain Rice Cereal

  • 1/4 brown rice powder
  • 8 fl oz (1 cup) water
  • a little breast milk or formula
  • To make rice powder, grind brown rice in a blender or food processor.  You can use white rice if you prefer, but brown rice has more nutrients which play an important role in your baby’s diet.
  • Bring the water to boil.
  • Add the rice powder, stirring constantly.
  • Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Then stir enought breast milk or formula to give the consistency that’s best for your baby.

Carrot Baby Food

  • Slice or chop a carrot and either steam it or boil it in a little water until tender (this will take around 5 – 8 minutes… don’t overcook).
  • Puree with a baby food processor or hand blender adding a little breast milk or formula.
  • You can add olive oil and fresh herbs for older babies.
  • Enjoy!

Have you ever made your own baby food before? Do you have any recipies you’d like to share? Add them to the comments area — and let me know how how your baby food turns out!

Grisel Ramos-Trautmann, Dietician & Nutritionist

Grisel Ramos-Trautmann, Dietician & Nutritionist

Grisel Ramos-Trautman is an expert Nutritionist and Dietician. She holds a degree in Nutrition from the School of Medical Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico and is the Food Service Manager for the HIMA Hospital in Caguas, Puerto Rico. She is also a former Puerto Rico Innovative Nutritionist-Dietician of the Year — and she can cook! Not that old dietician stuff that’s good for you, but healthy food that’s actually delicious.

Follow her on Facebook .

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The Dad, the Girls and the Paparazzi

Facing the Paparazzi

Facing the Paparazzi

My friend Peter has two adolescent girls. They’ve been designing clothes for some time, and they seem very passionate about their designs. They tell my friend Peter that they want to set up a real business and sell their designs, so Peter is doing everything he can to get someone in the fashion business to take a look at the girls’s work.

From the little I know of the fashion business, it seems to be a tough racket, full of extremely aggressive — some would say backstabbing — people: not necessarily the type of environment in which one would want one’s teenage kids. However, Peter is set on helping his girls. He didn’t learn this at home.

Old School

“If I had told my father I wanted to be some kind of designer,” Peter told me, “he would have smacked me on the head and said, ‘What designer? Go design your dang homework, is what you have to do.’ and he would have sent me to my room.”

Many parents today would agree with Peter’s dad (I’m hoping you, gentle reader, wouldn’t agree with the smacking part). But Peter makes a good point: “If you look at today’s successful people, you’ll find that many of them got started young. Some of them,” he says, “were teenagers when they got started.”

Young Hot Shots

One of them is Glen Allsop . At 15 he built his first website. At 16 one of his websites was featured in the book, “Dj’ing for Dummies.” At 17 he was making thousands of dollars per month offering internet marketing services. At 18 he was recruited by a South African agency to work for brands like Nissan, Land Rover and Hewlett Packard. At 19 he quit his job to work on his own projects. At 20, he sold what was then the 10th biggest personal development blog in the world, one he build himself, for a respectable sum. Today he’s doing very well indeed.

Another is Ariana Pierce. This is from Gloss Magazine Online (GMO):

“Accomplishing goals and dreams at a young age is something Ariana Pierce, also known as Ari the Heiress, has done and is continuing to do. Her nail polish line, Superstar Nail Lacquer, was launched when she was 18 years old with her mother Dr. Stacia Pierce. She has written six books, hosts an annual teen conference in May and also has an online accessory store. Ariana shares her experience with GlossMagazineOnline (GMO) of being a CEO of a popular nail polish line and balancing her business while being a full-time student.” — Brittany Rodgers.

Want more? Check out Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30:

Yes, but…

Of course, there are good reasons parents adopt the attitude Peter’s father displayed. We don’t want to give our children false hope, because we don’t want them to suffer disappointment. We want them to be realistic. I hate that word. For me, when people say we have to be realistic, what they usually mean is that we shouldn’t aim high; that success is for other people. And the thing is, when it comes to assessing our children’s chances for reaching those crazy unrealistic goals they dream up, we stink.

We just don’t know.

We don’t know everything that’s inside our children. We don’t know what they can accomplish, with a little help from us. Sure, a dose of healthy skepticism is a good thing. Children, however, surprise their parents all the time. Some of the surprises have to do with messes in the kitchen, but others have to do with great grades, helpful ideas, and successful small businesses.

I don’t know if Peter’s girls will succeed with their business, but I’m glad he’s giving them his best shot.

What do you think? Parental support, or cruising for bruising?

How do you feel about your children’s big plans? Can you see your kids facing the paparazzi?

Or are you being more… realistic?

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Parents: Are You Misdirecting Your Anger?

Angry Mom

Why are you so mad? Photo: Martin Walls.

What are you so mad about?

Sometimes it’s easier to express anger at abstract, impersonal things than at concrete, specific, personal things.

For example, sometimes it’s easier to rile against a broad, amorphous thing like “the economy,” than to address our personal frustration about being unable to make more money for our families. We ask, “How can I care about my dumb job performance review when there are children starving in Africa?” We say, “I find it hard to concentrate in looking for another job with all that’s happening in the Middle East.”

Kids do this too. “School sucks,” they say. And if you haven’t heard this one, you will: “Why should I study Math (or History, or Grammar)? I’ll never use that in my life!” We hear that last one, specially, and say to ourselves, “Right, because schoolchildren know everything about what they’re going to do in their lives!” But this misses the point.

Don’t get me wrong.

There’s nothing wrong about feeling concern about starving children in far-off places, like Little Haiti. Realizing that we are all one family, that we make a better world for everyone when we help each other out, is fundamental. And having taught every level from Kindergarten to college, I understand that school does sometimes, well, fail to live up to our children’s expectations. However, it’s important to distinguish between reasonable concern for broad issues and the displacement of anger about more personal things.

Here’s why:

  • When we look beyond “the economy,” we might find more personal issues, like bad career choices, or the need for re-training — painful as that sounds.
  • When we look beyond the idea that all the problems in our country are caused by Party X or Party Z, we might find we’re in pain about a wrong turn in a marriage, or in a friendship, or some other personal unhappiness.
  • When we look beyond “kids today,” you might find you don’t want to accept that, as a single parent, you may need help.
  • When we look beyond “school sucks,” we may find a more personal issue, like a child who has difficulty with reading, or a bullying problem at school.

What we can do.

When we find personal issues like these, we can do something about them. We can take concrete steps to improve them, even if those steps are difficult or painful. Our concerns about those bigger issues may be valid, but our power to affect them is usually more limited, so we we’re better off if we give each type of concern its proper place.

We all do this. We need to help each other see when we’re doing it, and that includes our children. Our kids are a lot more like us than we want to believe. When we accept this, we start to get better at helping them.

How about you?

Have you ever found yourself focusing on a broad, impersonal issue in order to avoid a more personal one?

Are you doing it now?

Think. We all have our big issues. Are you using one of these as a smoke screen to keep yourself from looking at something more personal — something you could actually solve, even if it takes some work?

Do this:

Make a list of things that make you angry. How many of these are broad, abstract issues? How many of them are more personal? How many of these can you affect directly? Identify at least one of these personal things you can improve, and do something concrete about it this week.

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Hey, Mom and Dad! Don’t Forget to Breathe [Video]

This is Going to be Really Short.

It’s important to remember to breathe — deliberately, mindfully. When stess is rising, when tempers are hot, when time is short, breathe.

When you’re regretting yesterday, breathe.

When you’re worrying about tomorrow, breathe, and return to the present moment.

When you’re about to go flush an hour of your life down the drain in that meeting at work, breathe.

When those kids are driving you crazy… Yes, breathe.

I came across this video from the people at The Energy Project, so I snatched it up (thanks, guys!).

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Is That a Goat in Your Pocket? And a Sheep? And a Cow?

Teacher_Tilly_Educational_App_ScreenshotFor those days when you’re just too tired to take your toddler to the petting farm, now you  can bring the petting farm to your toddler.

Teacher Tilly’s Petting Farm is an educational app for the iPhone and iPad aimed at that young crowd. Created by an Aruba-born elementary school teacher with over a decade of experience in elementary school, it’s available now in English or Dutch in the App Store. See the demos in both languages below.

I had my Double Secret Agent for Software Analysis, 3-year-old Mademoiselle X, take a look at the app and report back to me. This is a translation of her report:

Double Secret Agent Mademoiselle X’s Report:

Mademoiselle-X, Educational Software Reviewer

Double Secret Agent Mademoiselle-X (or is it?). Photo: Ian Applegate, www.getatrowel.co.uk

The app has four places to visit: a pond with different kinds of birds, a pasture with cows and a bull, and two scenes with a barn and different kinds of farm animals. The scenes appear on a wooden sign, and one can swipe to see the options and tap to select one. Once you select a scene from the sign, you are presented with three icons: a hand, a magnifying glass, and a door.

If you choose the door, you exit back to the previous screen.

If you choose the hand, you can touch different parts of the picture and hear the names of the things or animals you touch, and a bit of information about each.

If you select the magnifying glass, you are asked questions that you can answer by touching the screen. If you can’t figure out the answer after a couple of tries, a red outline appears around the correct choice to help you out.

To exit any of the scenes, you click on the notebook page on the upper right. This was not obvious to me at first, but once you discover what it is, it’s easy enough to use.

Now I’d like my cookie.

Yes, yes… Thank you, Mademoiselle X.

Navigation and Animation

Navigating the app is simple. After I assisted Mademoiselle X with moving in and out of the different screens, she quickly caught on and was able to use the app without help. This initial help is necessary, though. This is, after all, aimed at kids who are still delighting in learning words and seeing simple animations, like apples falling from a tree.

The fact that this is an European app (the creator is now based in Holland) means the voice that you hear in the English version has a British accent, which may be a bit odd for American children, but it’s not anything they will not have heard from any number of characters in children’s movies or TV shows. The drawings are colorful and charming and the simple animations are just right for this age group.

Room for Growth

There are a couple of areas for which I would suggest improvements for future versions.

When you tap on the clouds in one of the scenes, you hear a comment about the clouds. In another scene, though, when you touch the cloud that is covering the sun, you just hear, “The sun.” In yet another, nothing happens when you touch the clouds. It would be nice if there were more consistency here.

Also, right now the app is available in either English or Dutch versions (see demos below). I would like to see a bilingual version that would give users the option of choosing one language or the other, for the many families who speak both languages.

Video Demos

You can see the English demo here:

The Dutch demo is here:

All in all, Teacher Tilly’s Petting Farm is a charming and friendly educational app for toddlers, full of colorful and fun drawings and animations, four different scenarios and a good selection of words to enrich and reinforce your toddler’s vocabulary — and at $1.99 at the time of this writing, the price is right. I look forward to future versions and to more apps from Teacher Tilly.

If you have a toddler in your life, you can visit Teacher Tilly’s web site, where you can see coloring pages, activities, crafts and more.

Check out the iPhone version. Click here.

Check out the iPad version. Click here.

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12 Parenting Superpowers You Can Get Overnight

Super Dad!

Super Daaad! Photo Illustration: Piotr Bizior/Roberto Lebron http://www.bizior.com

The joys of parenthood can bring along their own particular challenges. Have you ever felt stressed, overwhelmed, unfocused — unable to concentrate on anything, and just plain irritable? Have you bit your spouse’s head off in response to a casual remark? Do you wish there was a simple way to improve your parenting performance?

While there is no silver bullet, no magic pill you can take to become a better parent, there is one simple thing you can do to start becoming a better parent overnight. This one simple thing will get you on your way to developing the parenting superpowers listed below, and will produce even more benefits in your life.

This is no pie-in-the-sky, touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo. Scientific research has demonstrated that it works. You just have to do your part, which generally consists of lying down, closing your eyes, and going to sleep. Yes, sleep.

1. More patience

Sleep is not optional. It’s an active, crucial process during which our metabolism and our hormonal levels change. Our bodies are healing themselves and performing critical housekeeping functions. Those functions include our brains. Lack of sleep, also known as sleep deprivation, leaves us irritable and more likely to overreact to environmental annoyances, which from time to time may include children or spouses. Getting a good night’s sleep can help you be more patient and keep you from overreacting to little things. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per day. How much sleep are you getting?

2. Greater focus

Getting our full dose of sleep also helps us develop greater alertness and focus, so we can be more efficient in all the things we do, like giving our full attention to our children when they need it. “Our full dose of sleep” means that we do not depend on the alarm clock to wake us from deep sleep, reaching for that snooze button and wishing we could sleep just a little longer. How many times do you press that snooze button?

3. Greater creativity

Creativity springs from a rested mind. Whether we’re talking about creative ways to spend quality time with our kids during summer vacation or creative ways to handle our daily tasks so we don’t have to rush through our days putting out fires, we need a rested brain to be creative. Some people say they are most creative after working through the night on some project. This is an illusion caused by lack of sleep. Are you working through the wee hours?

4. Better performance at work

“Hey,” you say, “that’s not a parenting superpower!” Yes it is. Frustrations and problems at work can certainly affect you mood when you get home. This is specially true if you have to take work home and can’t enjoy what otherwise would be your family life. Lack of sleep leads to lower performance at work (see #2 and #3, above). It also impairs your ability to judge your own performance. Then your boss — or your client — call you to review your work and, surprise! Are you taking your job home?

5. Better weight management

“OK,” you say, “that’s certainly not a parenting superpower!” Think again. If you’re overweight, perhaps even obese, your weight affects your whole life. It affects your ability to play games and sports with your children, and it totally wrecks your Hide and Seek skills. And what does sleep have to do with your weight? Plenty. Researchers have discovered that the stress caused by lack of sleep affects the levels of certain hormones in your body, including hormones that regulate fat levels. People who chronically get less sleep than they need tend to gain excess weight. How fast is your waistline expanding?

6. Lower risk of hypertension

Called “the silent killer,” because it often presents no symptoms until serious problems appear, hypertension is related to stress, which can result from lack of sleep, and obesity, which is in turn related to lack of sleep, as we saw above. Though the way obesity and hypertension are connected is complex, and beyond the scope of this article, the connection itself is clear enough. As for the relationship between hypertension and parenting, it’s hard to be a good parent when you’re dead. When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked?

7. Lower risk of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can last from seconds to minutes. This condition, too, may in some cases be related to excessive weight. So… getting enough sleep can help you prevent weight gain that can lead to sleep apnea, which will disturb your sleep. Confused yet?

People with sleep apnea may not even know they have it, unless their spouses or others notice the episodes, but the effects can be substantial. They may experience fatigue, moodiness, depression and inability to concentrate. This is no fun for the individuals or their families. Are you fatigued during the day?

8. Lower risk of diabetes

Chronic lack of sleep is also related to an increased risk of diabetes. It disturbs the hormonal balance in the body, affecting how the body processes glucose, and, as we saw, can contribute to obesity, which is itself linked to diabetes. Diabetes is no fun, and can have serious complications, including blindness, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and nerve damage. Sometimes amputations may be necessary. All these complications can generally cramp your style with your family. Symptoms of diabetes include constant thirst and urinating very frequently. Do you have a history of diabetes in your family?

9. Greater safety on the road

Driving sleepy is like driving drunk. Every year, thousands of sleepy drivers crash, hurting themselves and others. Many of these accidents result in deaths. How will your family life be affected if you die in a car crash because you were driving drowsy? Even if you survive, what will be the physical and emotional effects of the crash? What if you have caused someone’s death — maybe the death of a member of your family? Are you driving drowsy?

10. Greater self-esteem

Having achieved all the above, you will naturally feel better about yourself, specially knowing that you have kept yourself from gaining excess weight. Furthermore, your well-rested, alert brain will be better able to resist depression and value your many wonderful qualities, such as the intelligence that led you to follow all this sage advice. Greater self-esteem will help you manage your children, and you will set a great example. Are you ready to shine?

11. Better sex

Being well-rested and healthy will help keep your libido strong, and a healthy physical appearance is one of the sexiest attributes you can have. Instead of falling on your bed like a bag of laundry, you’ll be able to entertain other possibilities. This will in turn improve your mood when you spend time with your little rascals. Are you ready to rock?

12. Heat vision

OK, you can’t get heat vision by getting a good night’s sleep. I don’t know how to get heat vision. This is upsetting, because I’d really like to get it. But you have to admit that “12 Parenting Superpowers” sounds better than “11 Parenting Superpowers,” right? Maybe you can think of another Parenting Superpower you can get with a good night’s sleep. Or maybe you know how to get heat vision. Either way, please leave a comment. Specially about that heat vision thing. That would be really cool.

 

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The Great Vaccine Debate (Infographic)

Medical Coding Career Guide
Created by: Medical Coding Career Guide

NOTE: Catharina from Just the Vax points out that “in the measles box, we went from 450 deaths/year in 1954 to 180 CASES/year in 2004 (not deaths at the later time point).” Visit Just the Vax for more science-based vaccine information.

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Guest Post: What My Children Taught Me, by Annie Fox

Today is a Special Dayfireworks

Today I have the pleasure of offering you a guest post by a wonderful blogger, teacher, and child advocate, Annie Fox. Annie has been writing for young people for thirty years, helping them manage the ups and downs of adolescence with compassion, humor and grace.

She regularly answers teen letter in her website and manages an anti-bullying community in Facebook; you can also follow her on Twitter. I have included those links and more at the end of the post.

Though we have never met in person, Annie reached out in friendship shortly after I made my first efforts on Twitter, and I quickly came to admire her for all the work she does for kids. Later I learned we share other interest, like yoga, meditation and baking, the three pillars of human civilization. I’m thrilled to welcome her to our corner of the web.

All in the familyWhat My Children Taught Me
Annie Fox

Every year on my birthday my daughter and son each write me a thoughtfully worded letter expressing how they feel having me as their mother. Touched I read their acknowledgement of what I’ve taught them and how I’ve shaped them. Of course I blubber through it all. They think I cry because their words are so beautiful and I’m a sucker for sentiment (both true). But mostly I weep over the Bigger Picture of one generation doing its best to raise the level of humanity through the next. I read my kids’ letters and see myself doing what I do because I’m a parent, and like all parents, it’s what I’m here for. The eternal dance is awesome. How can I not cry?

Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations and weddings all offer opportunities to acknowledge parents. These messages of thanks are as important for children to articulate as they are for Mom and Dad to hear. But every relationship is a two-way street and we rarely hear expressions of gratitude flowing in the other direction. Which is why I want to take this time to thank my daughter and my son for some of the many things they’ve taught me.

My daughter has taught me that she is not me and that her way of doing things is not my way. Different doesn’t need fixing just because it’s different. From this lesson I’ve learned that other people have their own way of responding to the world. When I allow myself to be open-minded and respectful there is much I can learn from their ways. I can even change my way of doing things if someone else’s works better.

My son has taught me that it’s good sport and a great mental workout to explore all sides of an argument. From this I’ve learned that when you can understand someone else’s point of view well enough to take that side and advocate for it (even if you don’t necessarily agree with it) then you can learn some important things about the way others perceive the world… and how they perceive you!

My daughter has taught me that fun can be had in pretty much any situation. You just bring your imagination and your sense of play. From this I’ve learned you don’t need a reason to tweak the ordinary into the extraordinary or the outlandish. Weird is it’s own reward. If it amuses you and brings a smile, that’s reason enough. So why not?

My son has taught me that talking about people in unkind ways isn’t the best use of anyone’s time or intellect. It’s hurtful and habit-forming. From this I’ve learned to watch my mouth and remember that just because I’ve thought of something smart, sarcastic or clever doesn’t mean I need to say it.

My daughter has taught me that organizing your time and your life helps you do more of what you want. It also helps you feel good about what you’ve accomplished. From this I’ve learned that you don’t have to choose between being creative and being efficient. You can be efficiently creative. You can also be creative in your efficiency.

My son has taught me that listening is a skill worth developing. From this I’ve learned that most words are superficial. When you want people to take you seriously they’re more likely to do so when you listen more and talk less. Also when you do speak you should always come from a caring place.

My daughter has taught me that setting boundaries is a good thing. From this I’ve learned that telling other people what you need makes it more likely that you’ll get it. You’ll also find out sooner rather than later whether someone is willing and/or able to be the kind of friend you want. If not, lower your expectations and you won’t be disappointed.

My son has taught me that everyone deserves respect as does their time and their endeavors. From this I’ve learned that just because I’ve got something I want done now doesn’t mean that my desires are a top priority for everyone else. And so I’ve learned patience from this one too.

My daughter has taught me there is great satisfaction and sense of accomplishment from going outside your comfort zone physically and emotionally.

My son has taught me that staying calm is usually the first step to resolving an unexpected challenge.

My daughter has taught me that accesorizing is fun because if life is a stage then the body is a canvas.

My daughter and son have helped me realize that being their mom is truly an amazing honor. Like, the best. Thanks so much, guys. I am eternally grateful.

Annie Fox is the author of The Teen Survival Guide to Dating & Relating: Real World Advice About Guys, Girls, Growing Up And Getting Along, Too Stressed to Think? A Teen Guide to Staying Sane When Life Makes You CRAZY, and the Middle School Confidential Books. She’s also the creator of  Be Confident in Who You Are: A Middle School Confidential™ Graphic Novel, available now for the iPad. You can follow her on Twitter (@annie_fox) and Facebook. Learn more at http://www.anniefox.com.

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Happy Father’s Day

Dad and kids.

Dad and kids.

Work Yourself out of This Job

As you enjoy your time with your families, remember, our job as fathers is to make ourselves unnecessary: to slowly work ourselves out of a job by helping our kids become independent and self-reliant. No human being is an island, but neither should our children become overly dependent on any one particular individual, not even on us. One of the best gifts we can leave our children is self-reliance. As Horace said, we must swear allegiance to the words of no master.

Question Authority

In the sixties, there were lapel buttons that said, “Question Authority.” We mus encourage — yes, encourage — our children to question authority. If we are confident in our own place in our family, we will not be afraid to do this. We can encourage our children to take nothing for granted, to accept nothing simply because it’s tradition, or because other people accept it, even famous and respected people. Teach them to ask themselves, “Is that true?”

If we, as fathers, rely too much on “Because I said so,” we teach our children to accept that answer from others, too. If this is what you want to do, get a dog and teach your dog some tricks. If you die first, the dog can find another master. Your children deserve more.

Girls, too.

To the extent that we do this, we tend to do it more with boys than with girls. It’s time to change this. The world has changed, and we must teach our girls that the story of Cinderella is a myth. Women don’t need a Prince Charming to be complete, fulfilled human beings and accomplish great things, and they must not be too dependent on the men in their lives.

Empower your children. Teach them not only to cooperate and be good citizens, but also to question, and to rely on their own counsel.

Do this, and then maybe — just maybe — you may earn that tie.

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I Almost Got Killed Yesterday

Country road in Florida.

What's your legacy to your children when you go?

When it was over, I came back to the old question: what are we leaving behind?

 

It happened in a flash.

 

I was driving down the highway when I saw a traffic light ahead. As the light turned yellow, I slowed down. As I approached the intersection the light turned red, and I stopped. I was first in line. On the lane next to me, a woman was chatting on her cell phone. Traffic ahead was light. It was another beautiful, quiet evening in Florida.

 

Then I saw it.

 

It was in my rear-view mirror: an eighteen-wheeler barreling down towards me at full speed. In a second I realized he was going much too fast to stop. I stepped on the gas and my usually mild-mannered Accord leapt ahead into the middle of the intersection and swerved to the side (thank you, Honda!). The truck never stopped. He ran the red light at what looked like ninety miles an hour. Had I remained where I was, I would have been killed.

 

Deja vu and a little luck, too.

 

In fact, last year my dear friend Susan Erben, a wonderful human being who dedicated her spare time to helping young people learn about music, was killed just that way, as she waited for a light to change.

 

After the truck sped away I looked at the woman who had been chatting on her cell phone next to me. She was staring at me open-mouthed, her phone still in her hand, a few inches from her ear.

 

I was lucky. Long ago I got into the habit of checking my rear-view mirror whenever I’m at a stoplight. I also leave some maneuvering room between my car and the car in front of me, just in case I need to get out in a hurry. In this case, there was no one in front of me, and traffic was light, so I didn’t collide with anyone when I drove into the intersection. It could have been worse — much worse.

 

An old story, new again.

 

This is something we wear often, but we push it to the back of our minds: our time is limited. According to all the information now available, even I will one day pass away (yes, shocking, isn’t it?). Furthermore, it can happen without warning — in a flash. People in the armed forces and civilians in conflict zones live with this reality every day, but many of us have the luxury of looking the other way, until something happens. Then we ask ourselves, “am I ready?”

 

I thought of my friends and family, but most of all I thought of my children. They almost lost me yesterday. I cannot afford to leave for tomorrow anything I may be able to offer them today: my attention, my time, my love, or the benefit of my experience. You see, they don’t belong to me. I belong to them, and it’s my job to give the best of me — while I can.

 

What about you?

 

What are you leaving behind?

 

What’s your legacy?

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