May 9, 2012

Top 10 Parenting Mistakes

Posted in Parenting tagged , at 8:18 am by Andrew

Three facts: 1) America loves lists. 2) There are millions of parents. 3) Parents make a slew of mistakes. So it’s only natural for DwyerTime to publish a list of the Top 10 Parenting Mistakes. Regular readers know this is a service-oriented web site, so I’m happy to help parents get back on track.

As you read this Top 10 list, you’ll notice an obvious trend: Most parenting mistakes stem from laziness. Parents generally know the right option in any given situation, but they’re just too weak to choose it. Why? Because parents use the difficulty of parenting as an excuse not to do the right thing. But quit making excuses, and start parenting!

So here are the Top 10 Parenting Mistakes. If you only make 8 of them, you’re way above average.

1. Talking baby talk.

When your toddler says “waw-waw,” and then you say “Here’s your waw-waw,” you know what your kid thinks? “My parent’s a moron.” Don’t you get it? A kid’s mind says “water” but his mouth can only say “waw-waw.” Quit modeling stupidity to your kid and speak like an adult.

2. Rushing in to pick up your toddler when she falls.

If you don’t want your kid to fall…don’t let her walk! Otherwise, let the kid deal with some struggles. Frantically picking up the kid as if she fell onto a bed of nails only teaches her that she can’t handle anything…ever.

3. Letting them watch TV.

Whether it’s a 3-year-old watching two hours of TV every day, a 10-year-old watching sitcoms seeped in sexual references, or a 15-year-old watching R-rated movies, it’s bad bad bad. Wake up and take responsibility, people! Are you really so ignorant that you don’t realize the negative effect on your kids? The material is inappropriate for children, but you’re just too laaaaazzzzzyyy to step up and take control. Shame on you.

4. Losing control of technology.

Again, there are too many examples to name, but here’s a sampling: 9-year-olds with unlimited texting, 12-year-olds with Facebook accounts, and ANY AGE KID with Internet access or a TV in their room. Seriously? Face it, you’re an absentee parent. Quit catering to your kid’s whims and say “no” more often. And don’t tell me “kids are tech-savvy these days.” Parents are failing their kids by abandoning them in an over-sexed, vitriolic media world…and there’s nothing virtual about the danger.

5. Failing to enforce bed times.

I don’t care if your kid is 2, 10 or 16…they need sleep…more than they’re getting…and you’re flat-out lazy or ignorant to think otherwise. Decades of scientific research (not to mention common sense) confirm the hazards of lack of sleep. From surliness to reduced capacity for learning, you’re doing your kid a disservice. So why do you do it? Because it’s easier on your schedule to let them stay up, and you’re too weak to enforce a bed time.

6. Holding your kid back in school.

Parents who wait until their kid is 6 to start Kindergarten should be ashamed of themselves. They’ll claim the kid is “emotionally immature” or “socially awkward” or “he’s just not ready academically.” 95% of the time, the real answer is this: “My kid’s fine, but I’m weak.” As mentioned in #5, decades of research prove a child’s brain is ready for kindergarten-level academia at age 5. You hold your kid back out of fear. You’re afraid he’ll struggle. And it’s just so darn easy to ensure “success” for your kid by holding him back. But quit kidding yourself – that’s not good parenting, it’s cheating. Then again, maybe your idea of “success” is an 8-year-old completing homework designed for a 7-year-old, or a 12-year-old running back blasting through a defensive line of 11-year-olds. After all, as the saying goes, “it’s not how you play the game, it’s whether you win or lose.”

7. Ignoring the caffeine facts.

Sure, let your 7-year-old drink caffeinated soda. Let your teenager drink Starbucks…because you’re a cool parent, and you and your kid are coffee-drinking buds. That’s so fun…and ignorant. You can bury your head in the sand, but facts are facts: adolescent brains don’t process caffeine well. But then again, the scientific research probably doesn’t apply to your kid…because he’s just so special.

8. Succumbing to the Sports Industrial Complex.

Youth sports have run amok. That’s not hyperbole, urban myth, or a quaint complaint from a throwback parent. It’s just a fact. Youth sports start at a very young age and accelerate rapidly until they command the majority of your time. Here’s a typical situation: A group of 1st-graders play a traditional soccer season, consisting of spring and fall. Then the coach or a parent suggests “we keep the team together” and play an indoor winter league. That’s how the treadmill starts, and it’s nearly impossible to disembark. Gone are the days of “football season” and “baseball season.” Instead, every sport involves a 9- to 12-month commitment. Any off time is filled with camps, clinics and endless practicing. We tell our kids to resist peer pressure, yet we parents follow along shamelessly as youth sports devour family time, dinner time, down time, and play time. There are very few phenoms in this world, but there’s no shortage of parents who are too weak to admit their kid is not one of them.

9. Dismissing parenting guilt.

Our society has become fond of the concept of “no regrets”…or saying “I wouldn’t have done anything differently.” You know what that is? Self-indulgent idiocy. Same goes for parenting. Parents are told not to blame ourselves or feel guilty. Poppycock! If you can’t shoulder a little guilt, get out of the parenting business. Parenting is hard, and we all make mistakes, but what happened to “learning from our mistakes”? Hold yourself to a high standard, admit your failures and do better next time. You let your kid stay up too late, you failed to enforce the rules, and you ignored what you know is right. Own it, regret it, improve it!

10. Not enough hugs!

Let’s end on a positive note, because this is the easiest mistake to fix. We need to hug our kids more. Sure, we hug our 3-year-old, but I’m thinking about the teenagers. Dads, hug your 16-year-old son…every day. Moms, don’t ever think your son is too old for a hug. You may be uncomfortable with it, you may think your son doesn’t like it, but you both need it. And of course, daughters of every age need hugs…especially from Dad…that last a minimum of 10 seconds, preferably 20. Granted, I don’t have research on this one, but are you really going to argue with me about hugs? Despite our best efforts and everything we do right, we also fail our kids routinely (thus this column.). So think of a hug as confession from someone seeking absolution. We’re all dopes – parents and kids alike – but a hug at the end of the day says “I love you and you’re special, and any troubles between us…they’re nothing more than a few clouds on a beautiful day.”


February 2, 2010

An Honor to be Nominated

Posted in Just Darn Clever tagged at 9:13 am by Andrew

The media only focus on the marquee categories, so you probably didn’t hear my awesome news this morning — my film was nominated for an Academy Award! I know…it’s awe-inspiring…and so humbling. Everyone says this, but honestly, I don’t care if I win because it’s such an honor to be nominated.

I’m a nominee in the category “Humorous Short of a Minor Relative and Family Pet in Bad Light with No Audio, Blog Post.” You may recall the film I posted here last year…in which our family cat swoops in to eat my daughter’s Ritz cracker, which has fallen on the floor. My daughter then turns to the camera and gives a precious befuddled look that I believe cinched our nomination. You just can’t teach that kind of acting, and as a director I’m blessed to work with an actor who really channels her inner muse and manages to find a thread within her character and just runs with it. She’s such a pro, and really, this nomination is for her, not me. I’m just glad she’s getting the attention she deserves.

I’d show you the video, but I sold the rights to a mid-major studio. (And you didn’t hear it from me, but it’s all over the Internet, so just look for it over there.)

I must say, I was impressed with the rigorous vetting these films received from the Academy. I was required to provide a birth certificate to prove my daughter is a “relative,” the “bad lighting” criterion was verified with a spectromeasurometer, and apparently they interviewed hundreds of film professionals before determining my film actually qualified as “humorous.”

As a director, I would have it no other way. We pour our souls into our work, so it’s refreshing to know some schmoe can’t just waltz into this category.

Anywho, the next month will surely be a daze, what with the endless interviews and comparisons to seminal blog video posts as “Baby Falling Asleep in High Chair” and “Man Takes Wiffle Ball to the Groin.” I’ll let others debate my place in history. My job is to stay grounded and remain committed to my work.

Thank you to all who support my art form. I’m blessed to be able to do what I love, and all the attention and fawning is just gravy.

See you at the after party!

January 24, 2010

40’s the New Awesome, and I’m Newly 40

Posted in Fun w/Photos tagged at 10:09 pm by Andrew

I turned 40 last month…and it was no big deal. I feel great, and Lord knows I look great. But any age that ends in zero is like New Year’s — an opportunity for self-reflection. So I self-reflected.

As you all know, I’m a humble realist…a worker bee…someone who achieves dizzying success on a daily basis but doesn’t seek accolades. (The accolades just naturally find me.) So to ponder this “turning 40” concept, I decided to seek out some peers…to learn from those who are walking my same path.

I interact every day with wonderful people in my age group. Mothers and fathers, friends and co-workers…salt-of-the-Earth souls who live life the right way…people who’ve shed delusions of grandeur and have tapped into simple happiness. So I decided to choose two such people…not so much as role models but as wingmen. People I can relate to. Fellow 40-year-olds who share my outlook and with whom I can share my thoughts.

I chose Brett Favre and Jennifer Aniston.

In addition to all of us being 40, I find I have a lot in common with Brett and Jennifer. And that’s the point — I don’t mirror everything they do, nor do they copy me 100%. We’re unique individuals with similar qualities.

If you’re not familiar with them, here are some photos:

Let’s start with Brett. Despite slowing down physically and needing more time to recover from our activities, we both continue to dominate athletically. I haven’t talked with him lately, because we’re both slammed at work, but it’s interesting to watch our careers arc in unison.

Brett’s tearing it up with the Vikings, and I’m with him every step. The only difference — he focuses on football, while I’m a multi-sport athlete. I was hitting my boys in stride throw after throw this weekend as they ran their posts patterns to the mailbox and fade routes to the sewer. And I pounded the strike zone all morning thowing BP to my 11 & under baseball team. I don’t know if it’s work ethic or love of the game that keeps me and Brett at the top of our game. It’s probably just exceptional talent.

As for Jenny…I have to laugh. Neither of us is particularly vain, which is fortunate, because it would be easy to get caught up in how beautiful we are. For both of us, life is about happiness, not attention. Granted, I’ve been happily married for 15 years while Jenny’s struggled with relationships, but that’s where I’ve been able to help her. And she helps me by keeping me abreast of the latest hairstyling trends. It’s a two-way street for Jenny and me — a strikingly gorgeous two-way street.

So if you’re approaching a milestone, I urge you to find a buddy…someone walking your same path. Maybe it’s the mail man, store clerk, or co-worker. But find a peer you can relate with…not aspire to.

Find your Brett and Jenny, and you too can age with the humble awesomeness that we have. Keep it real!

January 19, 2010

Haiti Loves Cell Phones

Posted in Just Darn Clever at 9:39 am by Andrew

A few thoughts on the Haiti tragedy:

San Francisco Perspective. If you’re looking for a way to help your kids grasp the magnitude of last week’s earthquake, consider this: The Haiti quake measured a  7.0; the 1989 San Francisco quake was 6.9 — essentially identical earthquakes. The death toll in Haiti is pushing 200,000. San Francisco’s death toll — 63.

That disparity and the many causes/implications there of are staggering. This is an opportunity to talk with your kids about the impacts of poverty…the benefits of a structured government…the role of building codes and inspectors…purpose of taxes…the evils of corruption…and the need for a world view.

Honestly, kids who are exposed to such conversations and concepts become the adults who can think with depth and creativity. The other kids will join the mass of dolts and lummoxes.

Media Coverage. I’ve heard several commentators and media outlets compliment themselves for their outstanding coverage of the relief efforts. I agree that the broadcast media are doing well. But that’s in relation to their generally poor coverage of everything else.

The role of media is to report news. Problem is, media  outlets wildly outnumber newsworthy events. As a result, they’re forced to fill their time with “analysis” — otherwise known as “poorly educated vapid opinion.”

So now we have an event that truly is news. The situation is very fluid in Haiti, and we need updates on the rescue effort, airport operations, looting, the wounded, death toll, costs, Haitian leadership, global leadership, and so on.

In short, news media are finally doing their job. And when we start hearing reports about “what should have been done differently”…we’ll know things have plateaued in Haiti.

Cell Phone Nation. For perhaps the first time in a decade, the existence of cell phones has had a positive effect rather than sapping society of decorum and common sense. The ability to text HAITI to 90999 and donate $10 to the Red Cross has been incredibly successful. According to the Red Cross, as of yesterday the texting program has raised $20 million. At $10/pop, that’s 2 million donations. Amazing.

And it’s safe to assume the majority of those texters are under the age of 30, a demographic that isn’t typically at the top end of charitable giving. So much of that $20 million represents “new money” in the disaster relief arena. Sure, some of these texters probably don’t even realize the $10 will show up on their bill…maybe they think it’s some form of text magic…or more than likely, they have no clue how it works. Ignorance and a cell phone is charitable bliss.

January 8, 2010

Terrorists Deserve Nicknames Too

Posted in Just Darn Clever tagged , at 9:21 am by Andrew

So today’s the court hearing for that guy who tried to blow up a plane near Detroit on Christmas. It’s getting a ton of coverage, as is the terrorist himself – Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. It’s similar to the coverage of Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s ongoing trials in New York City.

So I’m wondering — will the media give Abdulmutallab a cool nickname like they gave Mohammed?

Remember that? The media call him “KSM.” (Wall Street Journal did it; so do CBS and Fox.) It’s entirely too difficult to spell out…or even say…Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Couldn’t possibly expect journalists to spit all that out, and Lord knows we Americans can’t be expected to process such bizarre names. Farouk? Abdulmutallab? I’m confused already.

Plus, nicknames put a human face on these terrorists. So maybe Abdulmutallab will become known by his initials, “UFA.” We could call him “Ufa.” That sounds nice.

Or we could stop being so formal and just call them by their first names, Khalid and Umar. Terrorists have such a bad reputation — nicknames could help soften their image.

In fact, we could relieve much of the angst surrounding the whole terrorist concept if we gave them really cool nicknames. Like “Blaze”…or “Viper.” Wouldn’t that just be great!

So I’m excited to see how the media play up Super Fly’s trial….oops, that’s my nickname for Abdulmutallab. I don’t know if it will stick. Given that he carried the explosives in his underwear, I wouldn’t be surprised if the media call him something like “Farouk of the Loom,”…or just “Wedgie.” But that seems cruel.

We’ll just have to wait and see. Keep up the good work, media!

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