Being the Dad You Want to Be

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their … children than the unlived life of the parent.” — C. G. Jung

Although I’m writing this before Father’s Day, this won’t be published until several days after June 20th. How seriously we think of fathering is something I wanted to consider.

Traditionally, our patriarchal culture has promoted men to be the head of their families, to be the strong protector, the dominant one in relationships. Yet, the outdated stereotype of fathers is not helpful to children and can often be damaging. The good news is that many more dads are now sharing the valuable role of raising their children. They continue to be important figures in their children’s lives, both in intact as well as divorced families.

Of course, not all father-child relationships are created equal. As much as many dads embrace their relationship with their children, there are indeed differences in how men view their role. Much of this depends on their family of origin, childhood trauma, and their ancestral patterns of fathering. Typically, boys learn very early to be strong rather than to feel. Between the ages of 4 and 6, they can easily be disconnected from their feelings, as they experience shame with emotional expression. As they mature, their need to fit in with peers becomes more important. Admitting vulnerability, sadness, or defeat can quickly bring rejection or the withdrawal of support from their peer group, compromising their self-confidence.

The pressure for boys to always be strong is demanding — as such a large part of life experience is about hurt, sadness, frustration, disappointment, and many other vulnerable feelings, boys miss out on developing their emotional intelligence. We can’t expect men to seamlessly transform into emotional partners or nurturing fathers if they haven’t been raised to be tender, open-hearted. As boys grow older, any “recovery” must happen in private, rather than risk shame. When they finally emerge from isolation, having suffered in silence, those feelings have been internalized. Thus, parents might only witness the withdrawal, without understanding the reasons or the distress signals. It’s important to change this pattern by responding differently to boys. Providing a safe environment in which they remain in touch with their feelings, we need to also be aware of our shaming reactions to our boys. The unconditional love and acceptance of them, regardless of their behavior, builds healthy self-esteem.

In thinking about how all this relates to fathers, boys ultimately grow into the men who become the next generation of husbands and dads. What expectations do we have? Women want soul mates, intimate friends/partners. We observe their interactions with our children through a critical lens, expecting emotional nourishment, close connection, warm engagement. Some dads can easily provide this, while others fall short of meeting those expectations, spending much of their parenting years being reminded of their shortcomings, retreating from any emotional connection. Yet fathers play such a valuable role in their children’s experience, offering a different lens on the world.

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Does Your Child Hate Soccer? Here are 28 Hobbies for Kids You Haven’t Thought Of

Does Your Child Hate Soccer? Here are 28 Hobbies for Kids You Haven’t Thought Of

Hobbies are skill-building activities that relax and inspire you on the regular. In fact, a good one is downright therapeutic for kids and adults alike. If the young person in your life is spending too much of their free time sitting passively in front of a screen , a new interest is likely the only intervention they need. Of course, you can’t pick a hobby for another human, since the ones that really stick are those that speak to a person’s individual interests, but chances are you know your child pretty well. If you’re hoping to give your kid a gentle push in the right direction (i.e., away from Roblox), plant the seed by suggesting one of these unique and stimulating hobbies for kids.

1. Gardening

Aside from the obvious appeal of a hobby that allows kids to get their hands dirty, gardening is also an excellent activity for mindfulness , so it will calm your kid down while providing a physical workout to boot. Bonus: You don’t even need to have an outdoor space of your own for your child to put their green thumb to work, because time spent at a community garden can be equally rewarding.

2. Volunteering

Regular volunteer work is a crash course in compassion that teaches kids the importance of giving back to the community. It’s also a fun way for kids to make new friends and meet interesting people from all walks of life. Plus, given the huge variety of volunteer opportunities available, this hobby will never get old.

3. Chess

This classic game of strategy provides a stimulating challenge at every level of play. The critical thinking involved in chess also has major brain-boosting benefits and kids can join chess clubs and compete in tournaments for some friendly competition as their skill-level increases.

4. Yoga

Yoga is a well-known and widely practiced activity that strengthens muscles, improves physical fitness and calms the mind—and it’s not just for grown-ups. Yoga classes for kids are an excellent option for young people who want a hobby that involves physical activity, without the competitive component of most other sports.

5. Photography

Older kids can nourish their creativity with photography as a hobby. Of course, you’ll have to provide the camera and your child will need to put some effort into learning the skills that go into getting a good shot, but the process of exploring their surroundings in search of new subjects is sure to inspire budding artists.

6. Scrapbooking

Any kid who’s old enough to work with a pair of scissors can take up scrapbooking—a hobby that encourages self-expression and creativity, while producing pieces of art that will continue to inspire pride any time […]

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Get Happy: The Science Of Emotions And How To Harness Them For Happiness

Get Happy: The Science Of Emotions And How To Harness Them For Happiness

It’s been 16 months of turmoil and chances are you’ve had plenty of emotions roiling within. From frustration, grief or anxiety to relief, elation or anticipation, you’ve likely felt a range of sentiments throughout the pandemic—and this will continue.

But beyond just having all the feels, understanding, monitoring and managing your emotions contributes significantly to happiness and success in life . It’s more important than you might think, and there’s science to prove it.

Consider all the ways emotions matter and can help you move forward as you transition back to something closer to your pre-pandemic life and renew, refresh and (perhaps) reinvent your approaches. Don’t Judge

Our happiness can be negatively impacted if we judge our own emotions—whether they are “correct” or whether we should be feeling them. Sometimes we evaluate ourselves harshly: In a sad situation, we may believe we should be more wrecked, or in a joyous setting, we may believe we should be experiencing greater jubilation. Or we may think we’re more stressed than we should be. In fact research with 2,324 people across eight countries and published by the American Psychological Association found when we negatively evaluate our emotions, we are more likely to feel depressed or unhappy. Undergoing a range of emotions is natural and our experiences are unique. We can benefit by not being too hard on ourselves about certain ideals or how we think we “should” be feeling.

It’s also natural to believe we should be happy all the time and this too, is a myth. Additional research published by the American Psychological Association finds stress and anxiety aren’t always bad. Sometimes they alert us to danger or to something we need to change. Of course, if they become overwhelming or damaging, we should seek help. But it’s normal to feel ups and downs in life. When you worry about being worried or feel depressed about feeling depressed, it only exacerbates negative feelings. The concept of happiness inflation (or scientifically, “hedonistic adaptation”) describes the belief that our happiness should be constantly increasing, but this isn’t realistic. Life ebbs and flows as do our reactions to it. Accepting this natural course contributes toward overall happiness by removing the pressure to be always-positive or constantly-content. Be Authentic

The ability to be yourself and express yourself fully also is critical to happiness, and many believe the pandemic has shown a light on emotional health. As my colleague Marianne says, “Now, we’re allowed to start talking about how we feel.” In fact, a study at National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found children in families which were more expressive […]

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How Physical Activity Helps Children Do Better in School, Life

How Physical Activity Helps Children Do Better in School, Life

Experts say physical activity can help children with self-esteem and task management as well as provide an outlet for emotions.

Parents are encouraged to schedule exercise for children as if it’s a daily classroom assignment.

Physical activity in childhood can help youngsters develop their emotional and behavioral regulation skills, which play a crucial role in their academic achievement.

That’s according to new research from the United Kingdom that analyzed the Millennium Cohort Study, a longitudinal study of 4,043 children.

Parents and teachers completed questionnaires to measure the emotional and behavioral components of the children’s self-regulation skills at ages 7, 11, and 14. Children’s physical activity was measured by factors that included intensity, duration, and enjoyment.

For 7-year-olds, physical activity positively predicted emotional regulation skills, resulting in higher academic achievement throughout early primary school.

For 11-year-olds, physical activity was linked to behavioral regulation and positively affected academic achievement. After accounting for socioeconomic status, these associations were even more pronounced.

“Physical activity is linked to emotional regulation in early childhood and behavioral regulation in middle childhood,” the study authors wrote. “This relationship predicts academic attainment, suggesting that early and sustained physical activity is an important element in children’s development and schooling.”

The authors also highlighted the importance of ensuring children have access to forms of physical activity, particularly for children from lower socioeconomic settings who may lack the resources or opportunities to participate in organized physical activity.

Dr. Jake Kleinmahon , an American Heart Association volunteer expert and pediatric cardiology director of Pediatric Heart Transplant and Heart Failure at the Ochsner Hospital for Children in Louisiana, explained how physical activity helps children with emotional or behavioral regulation.

“Physical activity is well-known to improve rates of depression, anxiety, and emotional well-being in children,” he told Healthline. Mechanisms that can explain this, according to Kleinmahon, include: Children involved in sports learn time management, communication skills, and receive feedback from coaches. Physical activity allows children to express emotions through movement in a productive manner. Organized sports provide structure for children, teach teamwork, and allow children to feel belonging. Improving one’s physical fitness, training, or competing come with emotional challenges that children learn to work through. Natural endorphins are released during exercise, causing a feeling of well-being. “All of these skills help in the classroom and improve brain development,” said Kleinmahon. “Conversely, the inability to regulate emotions may hinder learning, lead to disruptive behavior, and may negatively impact their life.”

Team sports offer children the advantage of consistent schedules and physical activity, playing with peers, and furthering social skills. Nonetheless, all types of physical activity are beneficial.

“Generally, when children feel better and better about themselves, they have an easier time regulating their emotions,” said Kleinmahon.

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Sandy Hook Promise Sounds the Alarm for Adults: The Kids Are Not Alright

Sandy Hook Promise Sounds the Alarm for Adults: The Kids Are Not Alright

Staying in a bedroom for 20 hours a day. Being constantly plugged in online. These are just a few of the stressors that youth have faced over the last year due to the pandemic, leading to heightened anxiety and depression, among other new or worsening mental health struggles. This emotional situation can give rise to various forms of youth violence — not just shootings, but also suicide and self-harm.

News. Social media. Online classes. Teenagers are plugged into bad news and challenging learning environments. Social media, which can be a positive place to connect, may spark feelings of isolation and low self-esteem. Learn how to help them unplug by knowing the signs at

The kids are not alright. Learn the warning signs to prevent a tragedy. Tweet this To help adults better understand the “powder keg” of turmoil threatening the lives and well-being of kids right now, Sandy Hook Promise released a new PSA campaign today, ” The Kids Are Not Alright. ” Created with BBDO New York, this series of three short videos reflects the anxiety, isolation, pressure, boredom, and incessant information overload that teenagers are experiencing. It is a national call to action for parents and other caring adults: learn the signs of a child in emotional distress and get help before it’s too late.

“We may think kids are resilient, but the truth is — the kids are not alright,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “More youth are struggling with mental health issues and heightened depression and anxiety as a result of the pandemic. And it’s our responsibility to listen to them, support and protect them.”

Recent studies show more than 70% of teenagers are struggling with mental health concerns, and one in four has considered suicide. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among teenagers — and these tragedies can be preventable.

Even as we begin to reopen, we’re a long way from going back to normal. When schools reopen in the fall, social distancing will still be required. Students will have to deal with the stress of a new school year combined with adapting to the new school environment. Many will be returning to school after suffering the death of a loved one during the COVID crisis. Their stress will continue to mount and those who already suffered trauma will be at even greater risk of suicide and self-harm.

Research groups are predicting that there will be more “deaths of despair” related to drugs, alcohol, and suicide, as we continue […]

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Study: Asians Perceived To Lack Charisma

Study: Asians Perceived To Lack Charisma

Why do we see fewer Asian Americans in senior management positions? In the first study on Asian Americans and perceptions of leadership, researchers found that Asians are seen as having less charisma when compared to their white counterparts — a trait that’s often synonymous with leadership in Western societies. Host Michel Martin discusses the findings of this new study with lead author, Thomas Sy, of the University of California, Riverside.

I’m Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, my weekly Can I Just Tell You commentary. That’s in just a few minutes.

But first, you may have heard the phrase model minority used to describe Asian-Americans. That’s because they are popularly perceived to have strong study and work habits, behave with discipline, and willingly adopt American culture. But that stereotype, favorable as it may seem, is not helpful when it comes to being viewed as leaders.

A new study says that Asian-Americans, when compared with white Americans especially, are thought to be lacking in charisma and thus lacking in leadership ability in business and the board room. And these results may help explain why we see a smaller percentage of Asian-Americans in top management than whites, the researchers say.

To learn more about this study and how the results might be used in real life, we’ve called the lead author of the study, Thomas Sy. He’s an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California Riverside. And he’s with us from NPR West in Culver City, California. Thanks so much for joining us.

Professor THOMAS SY (University of California Riverside): Thanks for having me, Michel.

MARTIN: So I’m going to ask you to try to explain as simply as you can what was your methodology.

Prof. SY: Sure.

MARTIN: But the basic core question is, is there a stereotype that Asian-Americans are technically competent, but somehow not qualified for the top job?

Prof. SY: That’s a fairly accurate statement.

MARTIN: So how did you go around testing that idea?

Prof. SY: Sure, sure. So we provided them with an evaluation of an employee. This description gives fairly basic information. And all participants get the same type of information. The only thing that we varied was race itself. For our Caucasian counterpart, the description of this employee was John Davis. For our Asian counterpart it was Tung-Sheng Wong. In addition to name, we varied it by providing with demographic information. We literally told them: race, colon, Caucasian or Asian. And a third variable, we actually provide them with a picture. So this picture was either a picture of a Caucasian individual or an Asian individual.

MARTIN: So you surveyed business undergraduates because you were interested in future leaders. But you also surveyed groups of […]

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