DADS 4 CHANGE

changing the world one dad at a time

Connection Comes First (Then Do Whatever You Want)

Connection

Fact: We are all connected like so many dots. Be it blood, beliefs, social media, or carbon, we all share something special (elemental?) with one another. However, what each of us chooses to do with said connection tends to vary, widely.

We are connected by our similarities, but also an appreciation of what it is that makes us different.

Some draw lines, embracing the lowest common denominator of like-minded sameness rather than acknowledge the power in our differences; while some go even further, taking ink for blueprint and building walls upon it. This isn’t about them. Rather, I am interested in building upon the positive effects of connection between a world of unique individuals: love, respect, empathy and relations. The influences of said connection, for better or worse, often start in the home. Let’s concentrate on the better.

For instance, this image is currently going viral on the internet, and it is amazing:

On a real note, the diversity in this picture is what I love so much about NYC #subwaycreatures (@boubah360 @gildawabbit)

A post shared by SubwayCreatures™ (@subwaycreatures) on

Teaching our children how to better connect with the world, and the endless wonders living in it, is our responsibility. We owe it to them, ourselves and society. As parents we are many things: a filter, a dictionary, a sounding board, a safety net and the lack thereof. We are also an endless source of opinion and information, the hard part is to present both without allowing the former to influence the latter too far out of proportion. That is, most parents will quickly admit that we want/expect our kids to share our outlook on religious beliefs, political leanings, favorite bands and sports teams, and, obviously, to laugh earnestly at our jokes; but we should also allow for disagreement and the importance of developing their own worldview. Basically, if they follow their own path (influenced as it may be), but always laugh at our jokes (and not us), then we’re doing something right. That’s connection paying it forward.

Connection In the Home

A few months ago, I attended the #TalkEarly Summit in Washington, D.C., as a guest of Responsibility.org, to meet the team and learn a lot of important stuff that I will share in future posts (also, this happened). One of the speakers was Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of “The Awakened Family.” Dr. Tsabary spoke primarily about the “conscious parenting” movement and how each of us must work through the emotional legacy of our own parents, else we shift the weight thereof upon the shoulders of our children. As a concept, it makes sense; however, I found myself disagreeing with many of Dr. Tsabary’s statements, namely her presumptions regarding the family life of others and several (humorous?) dismissals of men as caregivers, suggesting that dads are incapable parents.

In fact, much of what she discussed was in direct contrast with my own parenting book, aptly named “The Parents’ Phrase Book,” which emphasizes empathy, empowerment, imagination and inclusiveness—but that is the beauty of it—in the Venn diagram of our respective philosophies, the largest overlap is on the importance of connection between parents and children. The fact that we both found our own way to get there does not diminish the work of the other, but only adds value to it.

We are connected by our similarities, but also an appreciation of what it is that makes us different.

Applying that takeaway, it is the time spent connecting with our children that is the most important part of any given day. The time we share, the examples we set and the conversations we have, are the building blocks our children will use to create their own version of adulthood, and it not a thing to take lightly, even if the individual moments feel (and hopefully are) otherwise.

For instance, on the subject of kids and alcohol, which, after all, is why we were there, Dr. Tsabary had a fantastic line that really resonated with me: “Have 60 one-minute conversations about alcohol, not one 60-minute conversation.” That is, don’t make the conversation harder than it already is/feels, but break it into smaller, digestible nuggets that will sink in over time via their collective weight, rather than one heavy talk in which no one wants to participate. Reinforce through example. Repeat—later—after homework, dinner, playtime and laughter. Then do it again tomorrow.

The more we connect with our children, through hugs and words, the better they will be, and the better the world for all of us.

Talk Early Connection

 

Top Photo: Don Rose III, via Unsplash

This post is in partnership with Responsibility.org and the #TalkEarly campaign. Our collective mission is to eliminate drunk driving and speak to kids about underage drinking; also to promote responsible decision-making regarding the consumption of alcohol. It is a good cause, and while I am compensated as a #TalkEarly Ambassador (like those pictured below), my opinions remain my own. Obviously.

Talk Early bloggers

Please learn more about Responsibility.org and #TalkEarly by connecting on social media:

Whit HoneaWhit Honea is the co-founder of Dads 4 Change and the Social Media Director of Dad 2.0 Summit. Deemed “the activist dad” by UpWorthy (and one of the “funniest dads on Twitter” by Mashable), he is a regular contributor to The Modern Dads Podcast and the author of The Parents’ Phrase Book—a family guide to empathy that you should totally buy.

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