Helping Your Kids is Hurting Your Kids

If you’re helping your kids, you’re hurting your kids.
This is a hard lesson for me. I totally screwed it up for the past 15 years, because I have always been so eager to teach them what I know, and to help them as much as possible. I did not realize that I was making them dependent upon me. No need to think too hard or look too deeply because I was readily available with instant answers and eager help. I am now 3 and a half years into my 3rd kid and I am trying my best to not repeat any mistakes.
One of those mistakes I am consciously working to not repeat is helping out too much. Instead, and against his mother’s wishes, I allow him to fail, crash, cry, get hurt and struggle. That statement can sound terrible, so let me clarify: I do not let him get into dangerous situations. I let him run and fall. I let him try and fail. I answer questions with more questions. Things like that.
You want it, boy? Ok, work for it.
You know, doing that has revealed some wisdom to me: when he fails, I console him; when he wins, I congratulate him. These two situations are better opportunities for teaching than providing answers and swooping in to help. The strength gained by learning how to deal with failure, and the pride in thereafter winning, are tools that he can take with him when I am not there.
And that’s why I am not helping my kids so much anymore. The earlier you start, the easier it is to build these values, so give it a shot and see for yourself.

They Are Only Little For a Short Time

Last night my boy, almost 3, woke up and came to our room talking about Mamá. He was fully alert, but we put him in our bed with us hoping he’d pass back out because it was close to midnight. He was too awake to fall back asleep quickly though. As he laid there trying, he would pop up suddenly start talking about his deep, random thoughts. I feigned sleep to encourage him to keep trying, and to my surprise he did keep trying.

After some time he started sitting up, looking around the darkened room, laying back down, then sitting up again to feel for me. When he found me he leaned forward and kissed me. He first got my shoulder, on the blanket, then he tried again and got my shoulder on my skin. He laid back down and continued feeling around for me. He found my beard and rubbed it so gently for a moment, then sat up and kissing me on my cheek. I couldn’t help it; I grabbed his head and kissed him back! I thought he’d really start talking now that I had enthusiastically confirmed that I was awake, but he just laid back down and put his hand on my shoulder.

A few moments later he rolled away and then I passed out.

This is the sweetest child I’ve ever met. He never fails to impress me.


I Want to be an Air Cadet, too!

Royal Canadian Air Force Rank Badges
Royal Canadian Air Force Rank Badges


MAN I’m jealous of my kids in that that I cannot be an Air Cadet, too!

Seriously. Look what they can do that I cannot:

I can’t get a free (and nice) uniform that instantly commands respect.
I can’t take part in free weekly training in musical band.
I can’t take part in free weekly training in drill routines.
I can’t take part in free weekly training in marksmanship (rifles).
I can’t take part in free weekly training in aerospace technology.
I can’t take part in free weekly training in Meteorology.
I can’t take part in free powered and non-powered glider training.
I can’t get my pilot’s licence for free (high achievers get this sponsored).
I can’t go flying for free, twice per year.
I can’t go to free summer courses that PAY ME to learn new skills.
I can’t decorate that uniform with pins that signify my membership in a world class respected organization.
I can’t decorate that uniform with patches for completing challenging courses.
I can’t decorate that uniform with rank badges that signify my hard work and dedication.
I can’t do all these things during my (long gone) teen years earning me tremendous respect from my family and community, leveraging the opportunities that this generates into a fulfilling future.

No, I can’t. They can.

What I could do is join the armed forces —giving up my ability to earn money — to enter training, be away from my family until that’s completed, then move away to a new city to complete mandatory placements. Someone has a better deal here and you’re damned right I’m jealous about it. I didn’t learn anything important until it was too late. The Cadet program would have made me so much better, so much sooner.

The good news is that my girls will not follow my poorly chosen footsteps.

UPDATE, 2016-05-02: I learned from a trusted source that there is a way for me to do quite a few of those things that I complain so maturely about, above. So interesting to see how this unfolds now…


Effective Speaking

Effective Speaking

Effective Speaking

It’s over.

I literally FORCED my daughters to join the Effective Speaking program in their Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron. One of them was easier to force than the other, and one of them was more persistent about getting out of it, once in. –Nah, I’m not gonna say which one that was. Despite the challenges they brought to me, and that they faced, I am proud to say that I’m impressed with their performances.

My eldest urged everyone in the room to become the best version of themselves with a motivational speech about her first time piloting a plane at 12 years old, which was another thing I forced her to do, lol. Her younger sister brought a pair of tears to my eye with her heart-penetrating speech about the importance of becoming an organ donor, finishing it off with an affirmation that she has already decided to become one herself.

They pushed themselves way outside of their comfort zones, and made two very passionate speeches in front of 11 cadets (2 of whom are Warrant Officers, 2nd Class), 2 Officers (one of whom is a Captain and an actual pilot), the SSC’s treasurer, and a single set of parents. At the end of it all the speakers received feedback from the Captain and their Squadran WOII, making it a great experience for me, and likely the cadets, too, whether they realize it or not.

Today I learned, yet again, that there is always –always– so much more to everyone we meet than what we think. These 7 kids prepared and delivered 14 great speeches, revealing insights into how their minds work,, how they perceive the world they live in, and demonstrating the time and effort they put into them. Despite public speaking being one of the biggest fears for most people, these kids all wanted to win. They all wanted to do well. They all wanted each other to do well, too, which I was really impressed by.

The cadets running the event were not paid to be there. The SSC’s treasurer was not paid to be there. And none of the officers were paid to be there. How many kids, adults, accountants or professional pilots do you think would give up their Saturday to operate a speaking competition and give their sincere advice – for free? These are the kinds of people I want my kids to associate with. These are the kinds of people I want my kids to be inspired by. This selflessness in community service is what the Air Cadets brings to our lives, and I am grateful for them.


Discussing Terrorism with a 12-Year-Old


Each of my kids are chatter-boxes, but they’re each completely different in how they chatter and what they chatter about. I like hearing what they have to say about the world around them, and how they perceive it, so I often engage with them about world events. Sometimes I get literally nothing out of them, and other times I get more than I bargained for when they tell me something that I wouldn’t agree with or didn’t see coming. Then there are times when it becomes abundantly clear that they’re listening and processing in those moments of silence.

Over this weekend I had trapped one of them in the car with me as I running her around town. As always, when there is no sibling competing for attention –or air time– the chattering starts up. This is always the best time to jump in and see what kind of thoughts are bouncing around their minds. This time I had Paris on my mind and I wanted to get her take on it.

Of course this event was not on her world news radar as this particular kid (12) is more into gaming than social media, so she had no idea what I was talking about. I simply said that terrorists attacked Paris, in multiple locations, killing more than 100 people. There was some silence after than, in what I thought was a lack of interest, but she started to ask a few questions about who the attackers were and why would they do that. I provided the limited answers that I could, and after a while she started to make more sense than most people in any government.

For the sake of simplicity, and because I am not one known for a perfect memory, I’ll paraphrase what my 12 year old had to say about war:

“I think it’s stupid for people to be so one-side about war. The people they’re killing aren’t the bad guys – they’re just people who have families too. And THOSE people think WE are the bad guys, too. It’s just a point of view – we are all just people. They think we are bad, we think they are bad, but none of that matters. It’s just killing and it’s stupid.”

I should point out that she added angry emphasis onto “stupid,” as she is known to do when things are stupid (in her point of view).

This didn’t really strike me at the time. I was proud of her for thinking like that and I told her that she is absolutely correct. I pointed out that so many people haven’t reached that level of thinking yet. But, since it was just so like her to say that, I didn’t come back to it until I drank a cup of my Facebook news feed this morning.

A friend of mine wrote, “If you feel so strongly about sending people over to other countries to kill people, just go yourself.” Yea, he is right, and after reading that I was reminded of my daughter’s point of view, and so I posted it there as a comment, just to add some strength to the sentiment, and as the day went on I realized that she had a point strong enough to warrant repeating (thus this posting).

To be honest, I’ve had the same train of thought before as I pondered American patriotism vs Canadian patriotism. I’m not a fan of the Canadian military just because I’m Canadian, which I’ve felt is the default American point of view. I’m not a fan of a war just because Canada has sent its military there, either.

I mean, what would you say war is, if a little kid asked you? How do you avoid telling the kid that war is when two or more countries can’t agree on something so strongly that they start a big fight where the purpose to destroy their land and kill as many people as needed to make them stop defending themselves? That’s what happens: mass killing and destruction, then total submission. After the submission, then what?

She’s right, it’s just killing and it’s stupid.

Praying for Humanity isn’t going to do a thing. What we need to do is think and act more like lives actually matter.

NSFW & NSFK – Astonishing Parenting Fails

I thought this was going to be a cute video full of silly parenting mistakes. I was so wrong. This video shows some of the worst parenting moves out there. Don’t watch it at work, nor in front of kids.

7 Small Business Ideas for Teenagers & Kids

Teen business woman


While starting a business isn’t easy, it will change your life for the better. You will learn to think on your feet, overcome tough challenges, be creative, manage finances, be diplomatic, and lead your team.

Good Business Ideas for Teenagers

Thanks to the Internet, the resources to learn a brand new skill are at your fingertips. Just be sure, regardless of what business or skill you wish to study, that you find a qualified online source to learn from. The Internet, though invaluable, has a vast amount of misinformation to be wary of.

Here are a few business ideas to consider:

How to Make the World a Better Place


It’s about being the kind of person that we wish everyone else was.
In doing so, we leave the world a little bit better off.

10 Things that Immature peeps do, that Mature peeps don’t

  1. Let fear control them.
  2. Do things to please others.
  3. They idealize romance.
  4. They don’t trust their partners.
  5. They hold grudges.
  6. They obsess over their appearance.
  7. They don’t keep family close.
  8. They let themselves get bullied.
  9. They don’t take decisive action.
  10. They let their ego win.

1. Let fear control them.
Simple: Mature peeps don’t let fear decide for them what to do or not do. They don’t let fear stand between them and what they want. They know that success is up to them, and fear is a weak excuse.

2. Do things to please others.
Mature peeps know that making other peeps happy is a good thing to do, but they also know that it the happiness of others is not their responsibility. Mature peeps let others manage their own happiness, but they do contribute to it.

3. They idealize romance.
Love is different each time you experience it and comes in so many different packages, and mature peeps totally get that. They may have fantasized when they were younger, but not anymore. They understand that love is a process, is complicated at times, and it changes as you change.

4. They don’t trust their partners.
Mature peeps expect that their thoughts, ideas, and actions will be respected and they give that same respect to their partners. They don’t always question their partners’ decisive actions.

5. They hold grudges.
Holding a grudge is like drinking a poison and expecting the other person to get sick. Mature peeps realize that a burned bridge isn’t any use to anyone. They like to keep a door open, just in case.

6. They obsess over their appearance.
Mature peeps care how they look because they have self-respect, but they don’t let their appearance define who they are nor allow it to determine their value in the world.

7. They don’t keep family close.
It is a normal developmental stage when humans want independence from their parents so that they can prove themselves to themselves, but as we mature we come back around to the family we have. Those who don’t have family members build new families out of good friendships.

8. They let themselves get bullied.
Adult life is so full of actual consequences that bullies run the risk of losing their job or even their freedom. But that doesn’t stop negative people from being negative. Mature peeps learn to identify the negative people and eliminate them from their lives.

9. They don’t take decisive action.
Mature peeps are careful to balance their choices, but they don’t sit around waiting to make a decision. Time is too important to waste, so they are quick to make choices and act upon them.

10. They let their ego win.
Mature peeps know their strengths, but they don’t let their ego make choices for them. Ego allows us to think too highly of ourselves, which leads us down the wrong path. Part of our maturity is knowing our weaknesses and working at getting better.

Waiting for Daddy

Once upon a time there was a very excited young girl of 13 who one night found herself sitting with her family, happily watching TV. She was also  anxiously awaiting the answer to a most important question she asked of her father. A question that would determine the fate of the child’s beloved. An answer with the power to forever change the course of her  life. A single one-word reply delicately held the balance between chaos and calm. She knew that her daddy would be the one to swoop in and save the day for her. He’d do anything for her and she just knew it; he was the best daddy ever (there was ample proof of this for when she was little she would frequently present him with hand-crafted awards attesting to this fact).

When her most wonderful and beloved father finally arrived he was –in her adoring eyes– riding a pink unicorn that burst into the house atop its very own magic rainbow. Father was dripping with sparkles and spraying intense beams of sunshine into the room. She sprang to her feet with a glorious leap that would render the most proficient of kangaroos acrimonious with envy. She squealed with glee at the moment of truth: father was here to grant her wish at last!

And he knew of the intense pressure that had been placed upon him before his arrival. He had known that when he was to next see his delicate little princess she would be on the verge of experiencing every single positive emotion she’d ever felt, all in a single moment; a nuclear tween blast 13 years in the making. Fathers know these things, don’t they?

First he went into the kitchen to address his hunger and thirst, as well as to give her the chance to discuss the matter. Things of this magnitude are not to be taken lightly. She followed and watched, patiently – an uncommon trait for her. He slowly prepared a tea and then un-boxed some cold pizza, offering her some of course. He knew she didn’t like pizza; he knew she didn’t want to do anything except cross the bridge to the answer she had been so patiently waiting for. The elephant in the room was crushing her, but she didn’t want to risk asking again for fear of jinxing it. Did he bring it up? No, he didn’t, and he wasn’t going to either, but she didn’t know that. She filled the uncomfortable silence by excitedly talking about how many things would be set right in her world in only a few moments, hinting desperately to him that she was on the edge of the cliff.

As he should, he had more patience than she. He calmly moved his tea and cold pizza into the living room to join the rest of his wonderful family. This family was not the typical family as it was both split and mixed at the same time. This beautiful young lady was his oldest child born to a woman with whom they did not live, but rather they shared her. Father was remarried now, to a great woman who fully captured his heart, and together they gave her a little brother – her ONLY little brother. No one ever did learn how she felt about that little brother, but it was most certainly clear by her actions that this little boy held higher status than that of her closest younger sister. For a splendid 15 seconds he held the world in his palm for he had everyone he truly loved in one room, and they were all happy. He sipped his tea and it was the perfect temperature. His cold pizza wasn’t anything special, but it served its purpose. He soaked up the minute details of the moment and inwardly wished that this was normal. Moments like this don’t come along often, they’re rare, in fact. One might say that they should be cherished. Maybe that’s true, but not for this father. He marches to a different beat.

His little princess finally broke down and asked one more time, trying to sound as upbeat as she could, “Daddy, can you put the internet on my iPhone, please?” This might sound like such a simple question to most, but for her it was a gateway to a new beginning. She had only received this magical device mere hours ago, from her mother no less. Her mommy was so cool, and so kind, and so giving! Her first iPhone 4S, in white, packed with her favorite songs and WiFi access, but no cellular. Her mother was wise enough to give her time to prove that she could handle the device before allowing her to fully experience all of the joys that the magical iPhone offers.

Even though she asked politely, he did what only came naturally to him. “I don’t think I want to do that,” he said flatly. He wanted to grant her wish, he really did. He knew that there would be consequences to saying no, but he also knew that there would be greater consequences to saying yes.

With those 8 words he managed to shatter every single one of her hopes and dreams. There would be no recovering from this one. He was supposed to save her, but he didn’t. He ripped her rainbow colored heart out and threw it on the ground where he could apply all the force his 205 pound body could direct into a size 13 foot. How could he!?

The light of the rainbow flickered just then. She grasped as the harsh reality began to sink in, “how will I talk to mommy?” The depth of his uncaring heart was finally revealed as he calmly replied, “not putting internet on that changes nothing. You can carry on as you did before you got it.” Had she not been able to reach her before now? No, of course she could. It was a poorly formed negotiation on her part, the devastation in her heart was preventing her from thinking clearly or she would have been able to come up with a much better argument.

He was a stone cold –maybe even evil– man. They were right, they who warned her of him. She hadn’t believed before and now she could not deny it.

Reality delivered one of its harshest blows. Sadness. Unbearable sadness. No, not sadness, emptiness! Her head fell parallel to the floor. She was defeated. Alone. Empty. Her dreams gone, her daddy had stolen them from her. She slowly and quietly crept out of the “living” room, silently slid up the stairs and retreated to the darkness of her bedroom where she could finally be safe. Where no one would notice her. Where she could at least hide under the blankets if that venomous warlock of a man ever tried to enter. It was the most secure location she had available to her, and it would have to do for the next 3 days until she would be able to make her escape to the land of WiFi access and the caring embrace of BFFs and anonymous Instagram likes.

Did her father chase after her or try to talk to her? Hell no! He finished his pizza and drank that tea! It was the perfect temperature and it’s only like that in a very short window of opportunity. He realized that he could have done without that pizza though, and he was regretting it before he finished it. He only took it because it was slowing him down and it gave him an opportunity to offer her a slice – it was a deliberate distraction at best. He did listen closely to her retreat though. He heard her close her window and flick off the light. He surmised that his refusal to put the internet on her precious new white iPhone 4S resulted in a complete withdrawal from society to the point where the only remaining option was sleep.

Time passes with such ease during sleep, and there were only 3 days left. Just 3 days until she could connect to the people who matter most, to the endless stream of memes, selfies and likes. Only 3 more days until she could reconnect with an endless supply of “other,” more caring people who could really understand her struggle with a father like that.

Little did she know, her father only wanted to have a short chat about how to properly make use such a device. She didn’t know that he just wanted to ensure that she would be responsible with it. She didn’t know that he just wanted to feel confident that neither of its two cameras would see things a camera should not see. She didn’t know that he just wanted to hear her explain how she would not do anything that could harm her, or anyone else. She didn’t know that he also wanted to know if she knew how to use its features like connecting to WiFi networks and how to make an emergency call. She didn’t know the most important thing: he just wanted to make sure that his little princess was going to be safe, as all daddies do.

She didn’t get that chance to spend that time with her daddy. He was too mean, he could not understand her, and now she couldn’t even stand to be in the same room as these people who claim to be her “family.”

The struggle is real.

3 more days.