5 Things My Dad Taught Me About Fatherhood

This one’s for the Dads — the generous, hard-working, unsung heroes of our day. And in honor of my own incredible father, I’m reprinting a post my brother wrote years ago about our Dad and the invaluable lessons he imparted:

Let me be the first to point out that I’m no parenting expert, psychologist or self-help guru. In fact, I’m not an expert on anything in particular. I’m just a regular guy who loves muscle cars and vintage motorcycles, and my loving wife and kids. Like most of you younger dads out there, I’m just trying to navigate through life while raising two daughters in this crazy world of ours.

Growing up the only boy in a family with two sisters, I quickly learned to navigate the unique peculiarities common to the fairer sex, and somehow I survived the confusing period of my adolescent years.

Luckily for me, my dad was a great role model who, among other things, helped me understand that one of the secrets to getting far in this world isn’t “figuring out” women, but rather knowing how to treat them.

Fast forward 20 years or so and I find myself in my dad’s position; surrounded by kids and a wife. I’m definitely thankful that I had a great role model to impart unto me some priceless lessons about being a father (of daughters) which I’ll impart on to you. Needless to say, if I had sons, these points would be on the top of my list of lessons to teach them as they ventured into manhood, as my father taught me.

Now consider these thoughts for a moment.

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Why Corona-schooling is NOT Homeschooling

A few days ago, I asked my husband how his teleconference went. “I only spoke to one person,” he replied. “Everyone else was busy trying to homeschool their kids.”

With an increasing number of school districts closing schools for weeks, and some for the rest of the school year, many parents now consider themselves homeschoolers. After all, their kids are doing school at home. However, truth be told, they’re not really homeschooling. They’re Corona-schooling. And there are some significant differences:

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25 Screen-Free Educational Activities for Kids

“Mom, I’m bored.” Have you heard that yet? It’s only been one week of closed schools… and it’s probably felt like a long one. Social distancing is tough on kids and tougher on parents. No school, no sports or extracurricular activities, not even playdates! How can we keep our kids occupied during this coronavirus season? Here are 25 (mostly) educational activities to keep your kids busy, engaged, and away from the screen:

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What St. Don Bosco and Hiroshima can teach us about COVID-19

Just a quick post today, because I really felt the need to share this with you. Many of us are feeling a lot of fear nowadays. As the coronavirus continues to spread, we worry about the physically vunerable members of our families, we worry about having enough supplies to last through a quarantine, we worry about being deprived of the sacraments.

As governments and institutions implement desperate plans to slow the pandemic, and as we isolate ourselves to do our small part in protecting the vulnerable, please keep in mind two very important lessons from history:

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Navigating the Teen Age Years: 12 Dos and Don’ts

This month it’s official: three of our kids are now full-fledged teenagers. I know the thought of having three teens in the house makes some people shudder, but I think teenagers get a lot more bad rap than they deserve. When my siblings and I were teens, we certainly gave our parents gray hairs. But on the whole we had a great rapport with them. They worked really hard on our relationships, guiding, supporting, and encouraging us.

We can expect the teenage years to be a roller coaster ride. After all, it is a time of rapid growth and development, so frustrations, disappointments, and misunderstandings are bound to happen. But this doesn’t mean the teenage years need to be as awful as many anticipate. I can honestly say I enjoy my teens’ company and conversation. And they are often a tremendous help around the house. Of course we have our moments. So to help navigate through them, I made myself a list of Dos and Don’ts, mostly gleaned from parenting books and wise advice. For those of you with kids age 12 and up, I hope you find it helpful!

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Kids and Smart Phones: Weighing the Pros and Cons

How many of you are thinking of getting your tween a cell phone for Christmas? Because we all know that in the eyes of a tween or teen, a shiny new cell phone under the Christmas tree is even better than Santa. And the pressure is on: everyone at school has a cell phone nowadays. It seems that all the kids on sports teams, scouts, and youth groups have cell phones. If you don’t get your kid a cell phone this Christmas, you’re a veritable Scrooge forcing your child to remain in the dark ages.

But before you jump on the cell-phone band wagon, consider the pros and cons:

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St. Don Bosco on the Education and Discipline of Youth

Last post, I shared with you St. Don Bosco’s secret to discipline.  Did you read how he could get 500 boys to sit in a hall and study quietly and diligently, without threats or punishment?   If you have boys, St. Don Bosco is the saint for you! He is a shining example for parents and teachers. Today I share with you some of his own words of wisdom on education and discipline:

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St. Don Bosco’s Secret to Discipline

One of my favorite saints is Don Bosco. Whenever my boys are particularly unruly, I think of him who dedicated his life to the care and education of the street boys of Turin. Beloved by his pupils, he transformed the lives of countless youth, giving them a Christian education and helping them to grow in holiness. For me, St. Don Bosco is a powerful intercessor. After all, if he was able to work wonders for the derelict raggamuffins of 18th c. Turin, surely he can do something for my well-meaning, but rambunctious boys.

Furthermore, St. Don Bosco is a shining example to parents and teachers. Researching his writings, I came upon this wonderful anecdote, which he himself wrote. I just had to share with you — St. Don Bosco’s Secret to Discipline:

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Helping our Children Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Happy September! Since we’re at the beginning of a new school year, I thought I’d share a little pedagogy with you. Specifically, I would like to draw your attention to the importance of developing critical thinking skills in our children. In fact, one of our goals as educators should be to help our students become critical thinkers. It’s not enough for our students to be able to memorize and regurgitate information. It’s not even enough for them to be able to understand and explain the information they have learned. Once students begin middle school, they need to develop even higher thinking skills.

Enter Bloom’s Taxonomy, a hierarchy of critical thinking skills laid out by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom in 1956. For decades educators have been using these six objectives to help students develop critical thinking skills. So it’s something homeschoolers need to know about. Here’s what it looks like:

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