Breakout Session Three: It’s A Marathon and a Sprint, With Plenty of Hurdles

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Welcome to the Dad 2.014 Summit Live Blog, presented courtesy of Microsoft Surface 2. This is the live-blog session for It’s A Marathon and a Sprint, With Plenty of Hurdles.  When you conjure an image of a modern dad, you might think of a married 30-year-old with an infant strapped to his chest. But experienced fathers know that changing diapers is just the beginning. Real parenting starts when your kids get older, and life really starts to happen. Our panelists have helped their tween, teen, and adult children navigate the shoals of homework, bullying, discipline, and sexuality, as well as momentous changes in their own lives, and they’ll tell you how they lived to tell about it.

Panel: Paul Raeburn (@paulraeburn), Charlie Seymour, Jr (@grandsonlessons), David Stanley (@dstan58), Dave Taylor (@davetaylor), Al Watts (@homedadnet)

Taylor: This is really parenting after age 5. Parenting in not just about when they are cute and cuddly.

I have 17, 13 and 11 year old.

Gone thru hell with one child having eating disorder, pressures of high school. She goes to regular therapy. I can’t get in your head and fix this. All I can do is hold your hand and help you thru it.

Parenting not all about diapers. What about when your kids go to school and you are alone from 8 to 3?

Al Watts: President of National At Home Dad Network. SAHD for five years now. Youngest started school this year, so first time home without kids. Quickly realizing have to still be a parent now. Timeouts no longer work with older kids.

Seymour: Starting over with grandchildren now –

Raeburn: Author, 2 sets of kids, one in 20s and one ages 4 and 7. This time trying to get it right. First time operated mostly on instinct: tell kids you love them and spend time with them. But I found there are many questions that need to be answered this time around. First set of kids had bouts of depression in middle school. Am I going to go thru some of same things again with second set of kids? It’s tremendously gratifying to see them come through this, and they will come through this.

Taylor: Need to distinguish between things you have to solve, things you have to just get thru. One of challenges we have to face is developing this relationship with our own father to have a good relationship your kids.

Raeburn: I’ve always had a good relationship with my dad, an auto plant worker in Detroit. He was a part-time at-home dad, taking care of us after 4 pm when mom went to work at night.

Seymour: Dealing with mother in medical wing at retirement home and my own kids with diapers. My kids see me going to see my mom at home 3 days a week. Our kids are watching home we interact with our own parents, grandparents. Need to build this reaction.

Watts: I have OK relationship with dad. Rather than make same mistakes I seem to be trying to make different mistakes with kids then he did with me.

Seymour: We don’t just have to look at our own dad. With groups like this, we can pick other dad models to follow; other role models then those we had.

Taylor: We want our kids to engage with us, so we need to have them see us engage wih our own parents.

Audience Q: We’re so involved with kids as young, hard to deal with time to let them go there own way and give them space when they get older.

Raeburn: If you’re lucky it will come around, and they will come back to you.

Taylor: Sometimes you have to let the child fail, and they will learn and they will come back to you.

Taylor: Topic – talking to kids about sex. How do we broach this? Is it different talking to son vs. daughter.

Watts: I try to answer any of their questions in an age-appropriate manner. Sometimes that gets me in trouble. Don’t want to shield them but I don’t want to give them info that they can’t handle.

Seymour: Tried to handle sex talk in one sitting with teen daughter. Our session apparently was the talk of the school they next day.

Taylor: Kids see stuff on YouTube and they think they are the masters of sex, and they don’t want to have the talk with you for that reason.

Raeburn: Rule of thumb – if you think it is time to have the talk, it is probably too late.

Seymour: You have to be open, loving and supportive and hope they will come to you, and be willing to talk to you about anything.

Watts: Open communication is key to everything. Be able to have the conversation at the right time and place. Have to try to start when young and hope they will continue this when they become teens.

Audience: Important to pick hose key moments to have those talks. Technology is speeding up the growing up process. We have to be very careful, tech communications is fostering jealousy, meanness, abusive relationships.

How much does that little kid’s personality remain when they grow up?

Raeburn: For my kids, a lot has. Question is how to determine whether some of the questionable behavior when young is sign of more serious issue to arise later. If you are ever in doubt, go take them to a professional and find out. With son, we did that and within days he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was on meds and in hospital.

Seymour: If you can encourage young kids to do things their way and not yours, that those  personality traits will stay with them more when they are older. Encourage the things they got now and they will delevop.

Audience: Daughter just turned 13. I get feedback that I am setting bar to high with my daughter in terms of relationship with her. She will never someone to meet the standard I set.

Taylor: You can never set the bar too high. 15 boys are mono-focused and know how to get to their goal, so say – thanks for the feedback and keep doing what you are doing.

Audience: Challenge to manage expectations with kids – really, that’s the best effort you can put forth? Generational expectations are different.

Audience: depends on personality of kid. Certain things you can’t push them on, but find their passion, and they will find their way to be successful.

Taylor: Before adolescence, you are building a ship. When they hit, adolescence you are pushing the ship down the ramp and hope to God it floats.

Seymour: I don’t say to daughter that I’m proud of her.  I always tell her I’m happy for her when she succeeds because what would I have to say to her if she doesn’t succeed. She should know I am always proud of her, regardless of what happens.

Taylor: I wouldn’t go back and change things. It’s a journey.

Watts: I always think of things I would change.

Raeburn: Having been married twice, choice in partner is the one thing I would have changed. Hard to overcome the marital relationship going bad.