I believe strongly that any time you have an interaction with a child you are teaching. I don't just mean as a parent. I mean anyone. Children learn from everyone they come in contact with, including fictional people on TV. The trick is to guide them so they take away the right things from those interactions. I am no Dr. Spock, but I am a pretty good dad. I am as in tune with my children as I can be. Even when it appears otherwise, I am closely watching things that happen around them and their reactions to those things. When necessary, I interject my thought, advice, or guidance to those experiences so they have the right take away. I am as frank as possible with my children. I do not tell my daughter the injection the doctor will give her "won't hurt a bit." I tell her it will probably sting a little, but it will be over quickly and it will keep her from getting sick. I have told my son that even though he wants to join the high school baseball team, they will not take him. He is bad at baseball, does not practice (and shows no interest), and the other kids he will try out against have been playing for years. He likes the social idea of being a team, so I try to re-direct him into something he could be good at. (He could be very good at track, if he would train a little.) I do not intercede every time there is an argument between siblings. Many times, it is best to let them work it out for themselves. The trick is to know when to let them squabble and when to step in. I teach them to stand up for those who can stand up for themselves. Both my oldest (16) and youngest (10) sons have had experiences where they stepped in when another kid was being a bully. I teach them that you can't fight every battle. You have to pick and choose when the fight will have the most benefit. I teach them that being even tempered and calm, even when others are not, can bring you long term benefits. I teach them that some relationships are important. Sometimes it's better to accept something you don't like for the sake of the relationship. I teach them how to tell the difference between the important relationships and the unimportant ones. I am not sure I get everything right, but I am confidant that, on balance, they are getting the right lessons from me.
I am gay man in his 40's who was married for 18 years to a straight woman, who is still my very best friend. We have 4 children together. She is now remarried and we still want to be supportive of each other and make a stable family for our kids.
Cast of Characters
Jim: That's me
K: The wonderful woman I married in 1993. We divorced in November 2011, and she is still my best friend.
T: My ex-boyfriend. We were together from 2008 to 2013. He is still an important person in my life.
AJ: K's new husband. They got married December 2011.
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