J.W. Holland

If you evolve you never stop learning.

Archive for the category “Kids and Family”

In a World of Bullies, be a Real Man

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me. Indeed it has been a time that I continue to be disappointed in my fellow men. Not the generic word man as in “mankind” but the very specific “male,” variety of our species. I keep asking myself the same question, “when will we grow up?”

My oldest son has been dealing with a group of bullies at school for the better part of a year. They tease him with cursing and insults. Calling him a “fag” and telling him he isn’t good enough to go out for sports. They gang up on him in a group, like a pack of jackals circling a gazelle. This past week we made the decision to move him to another school that, from our research, seems to have a better handle on such issues.

Oh, I have heard all the jargon about this type of situation. “Toughen ’em up!” or “Let him kick their asses!” All that sounds great until you realize that, number one that isn’t how the real world works. Number two he was outnumbered and could have ended up in an even worse situation. My son is a good looking intelligent kid. He is an accomplished swimmer and an extreme extrovert. Yet, he was targeted.

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Bullying isn’t about just going after weaker victims; it’s also going after those you view as a threat. It’s a defense mechanism of the insecure and unproperly trained. Unfortunately, it begins at home and is fueled by parents who are either themselves bullies, or unable to see any fault in their own offspring.

I never really had a problem being bullied in school. Sure there was the occasional jerk you had to deal with but not to the extent I saw it happen to others, or to the degree that it happens today. I am well aware of those around me who had a much worse experience.

Social media is the new hunting ground for these predators.

We’ve not grown at all as a country in this area. No matter what we say this problem is increasing. Social media is the new hunting ground for these predators. Every picture posted, every status update, every tweet and opinion in public view open you up to attack from the faceless trolls who never grew out of middle school.

We live to attack those who are different from us, be it based on skin color, sexuality, religion, atheism, weight, political views, or even socio-economic status. This country seems to thrive on it. Go to a political rally, especially this year, and listen. Not just to the speakers but also to what is being said in the crowds. We have no respect for each other, and we have no restraint in voicing those opinions.

I have had an acquaintance who’s son committed suicide at 11 because of bullying. And seeing stories like this are becoming all too common. When a kid is left feeling that his only option is to “give up” and take their own life, it is an indictment on the entire civilization.

Bullying isn’t just an issue that is relegated to the male of the species either. Girls are victims and participants as well. We however rarely tell our daughters they should “suck it up and deal with it!”

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Then today as I am scrolling Facebook I see this article from David French, and I realized, we may never grow up.

French goes on a long diatribe about how we are a culture that is no longer raising men basically because we don’t enroll them all in gym memberships. That because we don’t make them change oil or build porches, they aren’t able to develop masculinity. He states that we should “never ever underestimate the positive effect that raw physical strength can have on a young man’s development.”

While all that sounds great, and it hits on the key points of a Trump testosterone driven movement. It’s bullshit!

To simply focus in on this generation and claim that we are in some extreme moment of de-masculinity is to ignore human history. It’s also an argument that has been used in previous generations. It’s an argument that again, says women aren’t equal and can’t compete. It’s an argument against education, technology advancement, and innovation!

Mainly it’s an argument used by bullies!

Do we tell someone that doesn’t do manual labor for a living, say a writer for the National Review, that he is less of a man because of his chosen profession? We shouldn’t, but apparently that is what we are supposed to do. Do we tell a physically challenged male that he isn’t really a man? I mean after all his grip strength may not be on par with a coal miner from 1935!

I would ask Mr. French to compare his requirements as a youth to that of his father’s. Then compare his father’s to his grandfather’s. They aren’t equal for a couple of reasons. Technology, and intelligence. Human’s are intelligent, we are constantly looking for better, and yes easier, ways of doing things. When is the last time you saw a farmer plowing a field behind a mule? When is the last time you heard of a logging company that only used axes and hand saws? They don’t because that would be inefficient and stupid! But according to French’s argument, using a chainsaw, or riding in an air conditioned tractor means you’ve been brainwashed by militant feminists, hellbent on putting you in a dress!

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French makes an argument against the instant oil change. While I do like to change my oil and my sons do help me occasionally, the argument has a problem. Who do you think is doing the oil changes at the local quick lube? It certainly, at least so far, isn’t done by robots. For the most part, it’s younger men, and yes some women, who are working entry level automotive jobs to learn a skill.

The article also ignores another fact of generational difference. Humans get smarter with the passage of time. I suppose we should harken back to a day when we died of chickenpox, but we could bare knuckle fight a bear.

What do bullies say? You’re not as strong, you’re fat, you’re slow, you can’t do what I can do! Those types of beliefs lead to things like 13-year-olds taking their his life because he didn’t think he could ever fit in. A belief he would never measure up to some trivial standard that “men” should reach.

It’s not only an incorrect argument Mr. French; it’s dangerous.

So while David French may not agree, I am raising men. Three of them. Men who will respect their fellow “man”. Who will judge people on the content of their character and not by how much they can bench. Men who will be secure in their masculinity enough to know that women in the workforce aren’t a threat if you’re willing to work and compete on an equal playing field. Men who can lay their heads down at night knowing that all they’ve received in life was earned, not because of their sex, but because of their drive.

Then I will be able to sleep at night knowing, in some part, I contributed to the betterment of society. Not just from my own actions, but through the legacy of real men that will follow me.

That, Mr. French, is what real strength is.

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Photo: Getty Images

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Five Ways to Tell You’re Not a Complete Screw Up as a Dad

Five Ways to Tell You’re Not a Complete Screw Up as a Dad

Most nights I come home from work and the house quickly erupts into chaos, if it isn’t in that shape before I get home. Three sons all under the age of 13 tend to bring that type of atmosphere. A full-time job and a wife that is heavily involved in the kids school and sporting activities means we are all busy and at times overwhelmed. Then add the fact that we are currently hosting an exchange student from Italy and you understand we are a busy family. Finding quality time for each other at times is hard, finding personal time for ourselves is a near impossibility.

Few nights go by that someone doesn’t cry, or go to bed upset. A lot of nights it’s me! So through all the chaos and hurt feelings, and occasional screaming fits, again usually me, I sometimes look at myself and my family and think I am a complete failure as a dad. It’s at these moments I really have to take a step back and look for things I am doing correctly.

So in those times, I have observed some things about my sons that give me hope that I am not completely and totally wrecking their lives. Hopefully others will be able to find these things in their own households. These are the five things that help me believe I am not a total screw up as a dad.

My kids tell the corniest jokes— They tell the dumbest most ridiculous jokes in the world, but they find them hilarious and so do I. There’s nothing better than an eight-year-old trying to tell a joke while laughing at himself because he knows the punchline. Sometimes it’s just a word that makes him laugh, usually it is something like booger or poop.

They have a firm grasp on sarcasm—This one tends to be more subtle but when you realize they are becoming students of the art of sarcastic expression, you can rest assured you’ve done at least something right. In a sick sort of way, I get a great deal of pride and pleasure when one of my kids cuts me to the bone with a sarcastic remark.

Negotiation skills are finely honed— You know that your job as a parent is progressing toward success when you realize that through the course of a conversation with your son, he somehow persuaded you to change your mind. This can be achieved in different ways usually depending on age. The two-year-old, just screams at us until we relent. The eight-year-old usually employs the sad face and the faux act of surrender by slowly walking away, slumped down with the occasional glance over the shoulder to see if we’re watching. The twelve-year-old, has developed a hybrid approach that include a combination of the skills learned at the younger stages, however now he uses his own brand of preteen logic to convince or simply confuse us into an agreement.

They love their mom— I as a dad find myself much more liberal in my approach than the generation that raised me. I tend to let things slide that would have found me sentenced to the Gulag. Those are usually things that in the grand scheme of life won’t matter tomorrow. One thing I wouldn’t tolerate is disrespect and especially disrespect to my wife. I am fortunate though that I have three sons that do their very best most days to show their love for her. I know that my kids love me, and I know that my relationship is different with them than with their mother. It does however warm my heart to see one of them curled up next to her on the couch or simply wanting to be near her while she is in the room.

They love each other—Sure they fight, fuss and scream at each other. They go out of the way to annoy each other to the breaking point. They live to torment one another, and each of them would rather die than allow one of their brothers a millisecond of peace. However the moments when they don’t know you’re watching, and you see the love, be it a kind comment, the sharing of candy or even the occasional I love you, I know that something has gone right, that day at least.

I know I have made a lot of mistakes with my kids, I’ve said things I shouldn’t have, I have ignored them when they needed me and I’ve been a general ass to them at times. Overreaction sometimes is my middle name, and complete freak outs have been heaped upon them. Many of us have made those mistakes, and while we can beat ourselves up about the missed opportunities or the mistakes, we should never forget to recognize the things we have done right.

With each passing year, it becomes painfully clear how little time I have to influence their lives. I know that soon they will be on their own and dad’s advice won’t be something they are required to follow. I can be encouraged now however when I see the positives and be that much more diligent in dealing with the negatives. I have to remind myself occasionally that I am not a dog trainer or a computer programmer, I am a parent. I can’t train them into obedience, and I can’t program them to be perfect. Many of life’s lessons will have to be experienced, what I can do is prepare them to be ready for those moments.

So when they are grown and hopefully making good decisions and living a positive life happy in who they are. I will be solidified in the knowledge that I did something right.

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Originally seen on The Good Men Project

http://goodmenproject.com/families/five-ways-ive-noticed-im-not-a-complete-screw-up-as-a-dad-kcon/

 

 

Good Men Article From Christmas #1

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/three-gifts-my-wife-didnt-deserve-kcon/

Good Men Article

Another article I wrote for The Good Men Project.

 

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/6-ways-we-let-our-wives-down-kcon/

 

 

Newest Article For The Good Men Project

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/5-things-i-wish-i-could-tell-my-dad-kcon/

 

A tough one to write, but it helped.

New Article for The Good Men Project!

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/five-ways-to-raise-a-son-of-character-kcon/

 

Please take a look and share with your friends and family!

The Challenging Child

Being the father of three boys, one becomes an expert in a lot of areas. Like where are the most likely places to find unexpected puddles of pee? How many times does the cat scream before it scratches someone? What does and doesn’t require stitches? Are Christmas ornaments digestible? After your second son reaches the age of four or five, you’ve pretty much got it covered.

Or so you thought.

With the first child, everything is new. You learn, you make mistakes, you overcompensate, you freak out over everything. You read every book, article and listen to all the bad advice that anyone and everyone is willing to give. You do ok, until they reach the teen years but thats another story.

The second child comes and you know what to expect in most areas. You probably have favorite brands of diapers and formula. You know what equipment is needed to make a trip to grandma’s, and you know how many stops it will take alone the way. The second child is what I like to call the set up.

You see with the first two children you and your wife have decided that you are somewhat experts on parenting. Everything that could be thrown at you has been, you know the secrets, you understand child psychology, and you have your game in order. You are such experts that you begin having conversations about how many kids you really want. Four, five, more? Heck lets become foster parents or adopt even more! There is nothing stopping the train of parenting that you are ready to unleash on the world.

Then it happens.

The third child emerges, the child you’ve heard about. The one that completely turns every thing you thought you knew about parenthood completely on its ear. This is the child that you’ve seen in the airport and stores that you assumed was just a product of crappy parenting. The one that you told yourself was out of control because it hadn’t been properly train. Who’s parents you looked sideways at and in that patronizing way said something like “looks like you’ve got a handful”. Yeah that kid, now its yours, or should I say now its mine.

We waited five years in between children, for various reason we just spaced them out that way. When we decided to have our third, it didn’t take long to become pregnant. The pregnancy went fairly well without any major complications, which was great because we did have some with our second child. So with a 10 year old and a 5 year old we were ready for the newborn.

Our third son was born in September of 2013, we had been in Arizona about six months so we had already had some life changing events. However nothing prepared us for what was coming. He was born, a beautiful blonde haired blue eyed bundle of joy. He rapidly turned into a blue eyed blonde haired ball of fury and flying spaghetti sauce!

In his first two years of life, he has given me at least two mild heart attacks a week. We didn’t have a human child we had a spider monkey with a bad attitude. There is no child safety device complicated enough, no counter high enough, no door lock strong enough to keep this kid in check. He climbs, he breaks, he destroys, he torments, he is… that kid.

His high pitched screams, tantrums, and anger issues have driven us into a life of seclusion, we no longer leave the house. Family events are now the older kids and one parent events, we dare not subject our other kids, ourselves, or society as a whole to the wrath of a two year old who no longer wants to participate.

We fear for babysitters, and we live in a constant fear of him doing serious harm to himself because of his curiosity and ability to overcome all security measures. We live our lives with a common mantra, keep him alive! He’s made some daring escapes, one including a trip down the street to play in the neighbors yard. Many tumbles and falls and injuries, all because he is the most determined, stubborn and intelligent kid I’ve been around in a long time.

He is simply a two foot ball of frustration, he’s committed to doing everything himself. There isn’t a task that he wants anyone to do for him, there isn’t anything he doesn’t believe he should do on his own. So as time has progressed, I have become ok with that. I can see he is simply developing into his own person, be it in a very different way than his brothers. I see what he is able to accomplish, and I try not to look at is as simple rebellion or bad behavior any longer, I try to see it for what it really is. A child wanting to grow, and learn and be self sufficient. As we progress through each new stage and the different challenges it brings, I see development, I see growth, and I see someone who cant be stopped.

While there are definitely places we as parents need to help round the edges, we must learn to accept that our children are going to be their own individual. We should want clones, and we cant expect perfection. So be happy with who they are becoming, and enjoy the ride. You’re not screwing it up.

As a dad I can tell you, we will make mistakes. We may miss opportunities, we will have things to regret. That’s ok, because no matter if its a challenging child or a child that occasionally challenges, our job is the same. Be there.

And keep em alive!

My First Published Article

This is the first article that Ive had published online by The Good Men Project!

 

Please take a look and share if you are so inclined!

 

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/being-a-father-while-battling-depression-kcon/

 

 

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