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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We've Moved

We've moved to a new location on the world wide can find me at

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We're moving!!

We've got some big stuff going on, and I can't tell you all about it right now, but I can tell you that we're moving! The blog has been growing in a number of ways, and it's time for a new space. Think of it as my interpretation of spring house cleaning.

I'm going to continue to write regularly, hopefully at least three times a week, but I've got a couple of things in the works that might make this space go Boom! I have an awesome web guy, and he's working to complete a new site by week's end. I'm hoping that he and I are able to make that happen.

One other item, which I can't completely divulge right now, is I'm putting together a special event for Father's Day. I'll tell you more when I have all the loose ends tied up.

Please hang in there with me, it should be a smooth and short transition.

By the way, my daughter is pretty amazing. Less than two weeks after having her ACL completely reconstructed, she danced (with assistance) at her senior prom. I have a small lump in my throat as I write this because I see, everyday, what she goes through to try to stick to the doctor's orders. The surgeon said the first three months are the hardest, but he forgot to say how difficult it is just to get started everyday.

I played a sport every season almost all the way through high school. Played football to help pay for college. I know that I could never have handled what my daughter's going through as gracefully and as tough-minded as she is. She's determined that this bump in the road will not prevent her from enjoying the remainder of her senior year, nor keep her down as the summer rolls along. I'm very proud of her, and I hope that others take something positive out of watching her do her thing.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No Skin Showing

As far as Fathers with Daughters are concerned, one of the scariest times of the year is upon us.

Prom season.

Dads never get asked to go on the shopping trip when the daughter obtains the Prom dress. They never get asked to go to the hair appointment (which seems to last for days) nor to the nail salon. Hopefully there's no trips to the indoor tanning spa, and if there is, seriously, Dads need to knock that crap off. It's extremely unhealthy. Believe me, I've got four women with Irish and German blood in them, so I've heard the screams about pasty, white skin. Tough nuts. You're not supposed to be tanned in April or May, and you're not supposed to get artificial tans, indoors, from machines. It's scientifically proven to be bad for your long-term health.

I've often thought that the reason Dads don't get invited to the dress shopping spree, whether it be for Homecoming or Prom or whatever is because Dads most likely wouldn't let their daughters wear some of the things that Moms let them wear. Moms don't think showing some skin is a bad thing. Some crazy Moms think showing TOO much skin is okay. Responsible fathers have a different point of view on this.

It's more appropriate for my daughter to be covered from throat to ankle, and if that means she's a little bit warm on the dance floor, so be it. You could argue, however, that if she's warm, she might be more likely to 'loosen' up something to cool off. I'm not talking about dressing her in a parka for Prom (although anything that makes it difficult for the male date to get his arms around her to dance is fine in my book). But really, is there any need for a 17- or 18-year old girl to be showing off any skin?

Call me old-fashioned, but I vote NO. What's the point? The kids are going to be stuffed in a gymnasium or a ballroom in a third-rate motel, with bargain basement snacks and beverages, hopefully decent music, and, hopefully, MANY adult chaperons. In my opinion, the ratio of adult chaperons to teenage kids should be 2 to 1. Call me excessive, but when it comes to the well-being of my daughter and her girlfriends, many of whom are like adopted daughters to me, I'm not trusting it to some bundle of hormones in a monkey suit who wears his baseball cap sideways and his pants down to his butt crack.

Course, that kind if young man would never get very far in my hemisphere lest he be subjected to my staple gun and Louisville slugger.

The most important thing on prom night, Dads, is that our daughters are safe. We need to let them know that they aren't to get into a vehicle with someone who's been drinking. They need to know that we'll come and pick them up wherever they are at whatever time they need us, with no questions asked. If we need to, we can talk about it later... like the next day. Teenage driving fatalities will increase, across the country, over the next month because of the Prom and high school and college graduations.

As a father, and as a parent in general, we all hope we've had 'The Talk" about alcohol and substance abuse, and its impact on driving. We all hope it's sunk into our teenage daughter's (and son's) head. But teenagers are teenagers.

So make sure that after you compliment your daughter on how awesome she looks in her prom dress, and you wish her a good time (and after you let the boyfriend know that those camouflaged eyes in his rear view mirror are yours) whisper in your daughter's ear to remind her that if she needs you, if she needs a ride, it doesn't matter where she is or who's she's with. You only care about her returning to you in the same manner that she left.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It Wasn't the Chalupa

Most times I say things I wish I hadn't said. When it comes to inserting foot in mouth, I've been a master, usually all the way up to the kneecap. My heart is usually in the right place, it's just that my brain isn't fast enough to translate to my mouth. With four women under my roof, that can become a problem.

It's probably also a good skill to learn how to keep my mouth shut, and on the rare occasion that I actually remember to do that, it provides me with the proverbial 'Ah Ha' moment. Like, why didn't I do this more often.

Faithful readers know about my middle daughter's surgery to reconstruct her shredded ACL. Surgery was a week ago Monday, and she's had a difficult time sleeping, coping with the pain, and the frustration of an active kid who drives and likes to participate in life, not sit on the side and watch others.

One of the other frustrations, and disappointments, for her has been the fact that her so-called friends have yet to come and visit. The doctor has kept her out of school because of the medication she's taking for pain, so she's been cooped up in the house for nine days. Only two of her friends have visited. Neither spent a lot of time, but it wasn't the time, it was the fact that they made the effort that cheered my daughter's spirit.

So one of the things I said to her is, there are certain times in your life when you find out who your true friends really are. Now I can't be too hard on her friends because they are teenagers, many of whom are in their last month of their high school career. It's just that I believed more of them were more thoughtful and more mature than they've displayed.

So with that as a backdrop, my better half and I took advantage of our youngest daughter spending the night at a friend's house to grab some dinner with friends Saturday. We asked ACL daughter if she wanted to come. She did not. She said she was tired from being out two other times that day and just wanted to stay home. Fair enough, but I also noticed her spirit was considerably dimmer than it had been earlier in the day. I chalked it up to her pain, frustration, and to being tired.

I also asked if she wanted us to bring her home some food. She said she wanted something cheesy. Nachos. She really had her heart set on nachos. Well, the place we went to didn't have nachos, so I texted her from the restaurant to tell her that, and to ask her what her others choices might be. She said a Chalupa from Taco Bell.

I texted her back and said I don't eat at Taco Bell so will I know the right thing to order? She responded that she didn't know. So we swing through the drive-through at Taco Bell on the way home and we get one chalupa. It's 9:00 and I'm thinking she's not going to want to eat a lot at this time of night. I get home, I deliver the chalupa to her room and make my way to my bedroom to change clothes.

Then I hear the tears. I returned to her bedroom to find her crying and rambling about how she wanted the Chalupa Meal that included two chalupas (there's three choices and I still don't remember what the right one is) with a drink and some cinnamon sticks or something like that.  I told her that I had texted her to make sure this didn't happen. But she kept crying, and instead of talking, I just sat down on her bed and hugged her and let her cry on my shoulder.

I came to find out later that the friends that ditched her at Homecoming had also ditched her for the Prom, which is Friday. She's working as hard as her knee will allow her in order to be able to wear her dress and sparkling Converse sneakers with her knee brace Friday night. She really wanted to spend it with friends she's had since they were five years old in kindergarten. But her 'friends' again showed her that they either aren't as mature as we thought, or aren't really the friends we thought they were.

Luckily, when I went back into her room and sat down on her bed and let her cry on my shoulder, I didn't say a word. Kept my big mouth shut.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Top 10 Things NOT to Say to Your Daughter After Surgery

Had a long day in the surgery center this morning as my middle daughter needed to have her ACL repaired in her knee. I think the word the orthopedic doc used to describe her ACL was "mop ends." Not a good thing. Needed to take a graft from another part of her leg in order to fashion a replacement ACL.

Anyway, after getting up at 4:30 a.m. (had to be in the office by 6:00), and not returning home until about 2:00, with limited nutrition and lots of caffeine, I made the mistake of discovering the top 10 things NOT to say to your daughter after she has surgery.

1. Don't worry, your boyfriend likes you for who you are, not what you look like.
2. Do you want to take the stool softener before or after you eat some food.
3. The nurse said you did a good job keeping all of your vomit in the container she provided.
4. Well, you might have to wear stockings over those scars for the rest of your life.
5. We should adopt a salad diet until you're able to exercise again so you don't put on any weight.
6. Your pain is not as bad as you think it is, it's a figment of your imagination.
7. The doctor said you were pretty quiet during the operation, only something about Justin Beiber's boxer shorts.
8. Sure, they say you can't see through those stupid gowns, but it doesn't matter because they take it off during surgery anyway.
9. Don't worry about the patient they just wheeled back to the recovery room, he had a different doctor than you.
10. A year from now, you won't even remember that you couldn't dance at your senior prom nor had to use crutches to get across the stage to get your diploma.

I never said I was the sharpest pencil in the box.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Monthly Visitor

There's no delicate way to approach this subject. With four females under my roof, and all four 14-years of age or older, that "time of the month" could be every week for me. If the four of them want to be cruel. I know they could plan it that way. And there's some studies that say that females who live under the same roof for lengthy periods of time, their bodies eventually adjust so that they all experience that scenario at the same time. Something to do with pheromones, or something. Well let me tell you, it don't happen!

Some of my friends think I'm bald because it's just convenient. It is. No doubt. And it saves on hair care products. I've donated my hair care budget for the good of the cause.

But the real reason for my hair style is what I call, the Monthly Visitor. Some have nicknamed it 'Aunt Flo' and I'm sure there are less pleasant monikers, from both men and women. Now, the good thing is that I've learned from experience, and, at least on this particular subject, I've learned quickly.

It's almost too easy for me to detect when one of my women has hit 'the week.' Actually, if you're a perceptive male (and I am only because of the amount of the estrogen under my shingles), you know BEFORE it actually arrives.

You spot the moody attitude, the grumpy demeanor, the short, terse answers to even your most innocent questions, like, "can I get you some water to wash down those Motrin?" Slamming doors are not uncommon, raised voices and an occasional verbal altercation. Now, if more than one of the females is experiencing 'the week,' then all of the above escalates and all bets are off.

Thankfully, a number of my friends have finished basements with pull-out couches, full bathrooms and large-screen televisions. A mini refrigerator full of cold adult beverages never hurts.

So I read with interest a USA Today article  ( the other day that talked about parents actually using hormone treatment therapy for their daughters in order to "keep them a kid as long as possible." In other words, they're trying to delay their daughter's transition to puberty. The theme of the article was that the quicker a girl enters puberty, the higher the chances that she could encounter some serious physical problems later on down the road. Apparently, according to the article, the longer a female's body is exposed to estrogen, the greater the likelihood that she will develop any number of nasty female-specific cancers. Not to mention just plain old nastiness once a month for the rest of her life.

If that's true, and you know how skeptical I am about research studies, then maybe there's some merit to the parents' efforts. But let's get something straight. There is never a good time for a girl to go through puberty. In fact, if they could skip puberty and jump from innocent, carefree, loving 10-year olds to about 28-year-olds, that would be fine with me.

So if you want to raise free-range chickens, as did one mother in the article, because you want to provide a fat-free diet to your daughter, that's fine with me. Just make sure that your husband has someplace to go once a month for a few days to lay low. Because free-range chickens nor hormone treatment therapy can take away the wrath of the Monthly Visitor.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Drinking and Driving

My college roommate was arrested five times for DUI, and on the last one he killed an older couple driving in the opposite direction. How he got away with the first four DUIs I can't comprehend. He's spent some time in prison, and hopefully he's getting his life back in a positive track.

I was reminded of this when I saw a news report of a student at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. falling from a second story balcony over the weekend. He's 19 years-old, from California, and he's in Hershey Medical Center in intensive care. I'd hate to have to be the person who had to call his parents. Alcohol is suspected as a contributing factor in the student's fall.

This is on my mind because we are quickly approaching Prom season and with that, the parties that follow. I don't have a statistic of the number of teenagers who are killed or maimed in the spring every year from drunk driving accidents. Whatever the number is, it's more than it should be. It's preventable.

I admit that I had more than a few drinks with my roommate during our four years at college. I'll also admit that I most likely did some things that I'm not proud of, although if you pinned me down, I most likely can't remember what those stupid things were. I think I was a little bit lucky, and a little bit smart. At least that's what I tell myself.

I also admit that I'm not sure if I've done a good enough job with my daughters when it comes to having the 'drinking alcohol talk.' The schools our daughters attend have had various programs over the years, and I know that my wife and I have tried to reinforce those lessons. But those were at the moment discussions, and it's not been an ongoing dialogue in our house. We might have a conversation about it now and again, if something motivates that discussion.

I think, privately, we also pray that our actions, the peer group our daughters run around with, as well as other adults our daughters are exposed to, all make positive contributions to our preventive efforts.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is sponsoring "PowerTalk21 Day" on April 21, and it's an effort to motivate parents to talk to their teens about drinking and driving. You can find tips on what you might want to say at MADD's website.

I think kids are smart and, intellectually, they understand how dangerous drinking and driving can be. However, they are teenagers, so when you factor in emotions, peer pressure and the incredible feelings they will have if they are graduating from high school this spring...they are all powerful feelings that can alter the best intentions.

MADD's two best rules to discuss with your kids are: it's the House rules that there will be no consumption of alcohol until the child is 21 years of age. There is no research that supports some parents' thought that letting their underage children drink at home around them is helpful. It's not. The other rule is that your daughter (or son) should never get into a vehicle with someone, OF ANY AGE, who's been drinking alcohol.

We had an instance a few years back where one of our daughters reported smelling alcohol on the breath of a parent who was picking her up. That was the last ride she ever had with that parent.

Your teen also needs to know that if they are in a compromised situation, they can call you at any time, any place, for a ride home. Without the interrogation.

Anything to prevent them having the same experience as my college roommate.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Everybody's Different

I need to be reminded of things on a pretty regular basis. Drives my 'better half' nuts sometimes because she has a near photographic memory. Reads something once and it's locked in. Not me. I'm a list-maker. Sometimes, I think, if I didn't keep lists of everything I need to do everyday, I'd get lost wandering the mall and my ladies would have to send out a St. Bernard search dog to locate me. It'd work as long as the little barrel around the dog's neck has bourbon in it.

The need to remind me of things might also result from sharing my living quarters with four females, all four of whom think they know more and know better than do I. It's a fact of life I've learned to deal with. But I'm not going to tell that to them. It's bad enough I blame them for my shiny hairstyle. Course, that saves the family money because I don't require any hair care products. I sacrifice for the good of the cause.

But I learned a valuable lesson a couple years ago when I was working on my book, Final Four Leadership  I was recently reminded that I need to continue to utilize this lesson when it comes to my relationships with my daughters.

One of the questions I asked all of the coaches that I interviewed was how they dealt with team rules and with knowing how to motivate and criticize their players.

North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell was, what most writers would call, a 'good get.' She is a veteran coach who's well respected by her peers and she's won national championships and a bunch of other hardware most coaches would like to have.

Over lunch at Sutton's Drug Store on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill, Coach Hatchell spent a good deal of time explaining to me how she establishes relationships with her players in order to motivate them and to get the best out of them. She took time to provide to me a number of examples on how she'd dealt with players, both past and current. I was amazed by the amount of time she takes, every season, to get to know her players well beyond how well they can shoot, dribble and defend.

The important lesson that I learned from her is that every player she coaches accepts criticism in a different way. Every player wants to be rewarded in a different way. Some players can be screamed at in front of the group. Some players need to be called into the office with the door closed. Some players want a pat on the back everyday, other players might need a positive word once a month. She then recommended to me a couple of books, which I purchased and read right away. One book was recommended to strengthen the relationship I have with my wife, and the other (by same author) was to strengthen the relationships I have with my daughters.

The critical part of the message to me was that the rules are the rules for every member of the team (or family, as it were). Every member of the team has to be at practice at the same time; every member of the team is expected to sit in the first three rows of class or it's considered an absence; every member of the team is expected to say NO to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. If you violate team rules, there are consequences.

But team rules are different from how Hatchell relates to her players on a personal level. She has a process she uses (and shared with me) to determine how she handles criticizing and praising her players.

After returning from Chapel Hill, and after reading the books coach Hatchell recommended to me, I realized that each of my daughters is different. You see, intellectually, Dads understand that fact (most of them anyway). Taking action on that thought is a whole different story.

One daughter needs complete silence when she's doing school work, another has her iPod in her ears, the third might have the television on for background noise. One daughter likes it when I spend one-on-one time with her and share whatever wisdom I might have that applies to her situation. Another daughter hates it when I get 'all serious' on her with my worldly wisdom (I think I mentioned in my previous post that all four of my women question whether or not I'm wise or worldly). One daughter likes it when I write her personal notes in her lunch box or tuck under her pillow. You get the idea.

So the house rules are still the same for all three. No cell phone until you're in 8th grade. Curfew is the same for everyone (and it moves with age). Academics come before any other 'stuff,' and we expect the academic grades to be of the highest standard possible for that particular daughter (which is also different for each of the three). Respect your teachers and coaches as you would your grandmother and grandfather (kids seem to respect grandparents more than they do Mom and Dad, maybe it's the monetary gifts).

But I still have to remember that aside from the house rules, my relationship with each of my daughters is going to be a little bit different. One's not better than the other, it's just different. I was reminded of this lesson recently, saddened a bit that I'd forgotten it. But it wasn't on my list.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A New List

A couple of years ago, a high-profile women's basketball coach took a risk with an unknown author, and became an important part of that writer's best work to date. Of course, she didn't know it at the time, and neither did he.

When my oldest daughter was in her last year of high school and contemplating her college choices and her college field of study, I thought I would help her out. I went to Borders, because that's my favorite store, and because I was in search of books about successful females and successful female leaders. My thought was that I could pass those along to my daughter, not only for inspiration, but for guidance when I wasn't around to share my worldly wisdom with her (of course, none of the four women under my roof think I'm worldly or wise).

Much to my dismay, the selection of books at Borders was slim and none. So I figured I'd write the book myself. And I did. The hard part was trying to identify enough positive female role models to profile in my book. After banging my head against a wall (both literally and figuratively) I had an inspirational moment. Since I'd been writing a newspaper column about girls and women in sports for seven years, and since I'd written other books about girls' and women's issues, I determined that I'd profile the top women's basketball coaches in the country.

The hard part was narrowing the list down to a manageable number because I wanted to travel to visit these ladies so I could interview them in person. After banging my head against a wall, again (probably why my ladies don't think I'm worldly or wise) I figured out that my criteria for narrowing my list of candidates would be that they had to have led their team to the Final Four - at least once.

That gave me a pretty short list, and eight of the ten coaches I approached agreed to be part of the project. Final Four Leadership (5 Secrets Successful Female Leaders Use and You Should Too) made its debut just before New Year 2010

The first coach to commit to my project? University of Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. So it was with great pride and pleasure that I rooted for the Fighting Irish in the national championship game on Tuesday night. And it also was that night that I decided to embark on a new list.

Over the past several months, you faithful readers have been following my list of "Females We DON'T Want our Daughters to be Like." So far, Snooki, Heidi Montag, Diana Taurasi, Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, Lady Gag Me and all of the Housewives from the Bravo television series have adorned that list. You can check back in the archives to see why I selected those folks to be on that list of shame.

So I'm putting Muffet McGraw as the first person on the new list - Ladies We'd Like Our Daughters to Emulate. No one is perfect, but I will always try to explain my choices.

Coach McGraw has been at Notre Dame for 24 campaigns and she's compiled 644 career victories. The Fighting Irish won the national championship in 2001, and McGraw has guided them to the Final Four three times. Only seven other coaches have more Final Four appearances than does coach McGraw.

It would be easy to admire McGraw for her professional accomplishments, the most important one to me being that 100% of her student-athletes that have completed their eligibility in South Bend have earned their Bachelor's degree. But I admire her for some other things that I hope our daughters can copy.

McGraw remains married to her husband, Matt, since 1987. That's not easy in her profession, but it shows that women can be successful and stay married. I know it takes two sides to make that happen, and Muffet gives Matt a lot of credit for that. They've raised a son, Murphy, who's a 20-year old student at the University of Indiana.

There are a lot more aspects to coach McGraw that motivated me to start my new list with her, but I've already gone on too long. The fact that Notre Dame beat the Evil Empire led by Geno Auriemma to get to the national championship game doesn't hurt, either.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This Can't be True

There are days that I read the news headlines, and I say to myself, 'how can this be?' My daughters would use the expression, 'for real?' If I wanted to be a little less clean, I'd say something else, because that's how I feel about this news item.

I've never read any of Toni Morrison's novels, but I know how talented a writer she is and I know of her accomplishments. She's been lauded with both the Nobel Prize for Literature as well as with the Pulitzer Prize. Lofty heights. Her two most acclaimed novels were Song of Solomon and Beloved. She recently signed a contract to be the commencement speaker at Rutgers University this spring, and the deal is worth $30,000 for Morrison. Nice check for 15-20 minutes, but she's earned that.

What has my head upside down is news that Rutgers just paid Snooki $32,000 to offer to the student body her wisdom on fake tanning, fist pumping, drinking, and having casual sex with strangers. How do you pay a moron like Snooki $2K more than Toni Morrison? How do you justify that?

Whoops, I'm sorry, I said in my first post that I wouldn't call people names. It's just so hard when Snooki acts like a human pinata, just asking to be whacked with a broomstick, baseball bat, or whatever you might use to take a swing at such a hittable object. It's like the pitcher telling the cleanup hitter that he's going to throw a medium speed fastball over the heart of the plate. How can you decline to take advantage of the circumstances?

I know you could also accuse me of 'picking' on Snooki because I've taken her to task a couple of times previously

How can you pick on an individual who left the Rutgers University students with these well-thought insights, "Study hard, but party harder," or "When you're tan, you feel better." With those pearls of wisdom, it's no wonder parents of Rutgers students are flooding administrative offices with complaints that the Jersey Shore starlet was paid nearly $10K more than the parents pay in tuition, fees and room and board for a year.

A second news item is a little more encouraging. According to a recent study (I know, the skeptical research thing again) young adults might be less likely to have alcohol-related problems and to display impulsive behavior when the FATHER monitors their social interactions.

Apparently, most studies of parenting and its impact on children is primarily focused on mothers, and fathers are typically ignored. This study paid particular attention to Dads, and it found that when Dad pays more attention to what's going on - who are his kid's friends, their whereabouts and their social lives, there is a reduced chance of risky behaviors.

Furthermore, daughters who think their Dad is permissive and less aware of their social lives are more likely to be involved with alcohol-related problems.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Do I Say?

Having played competitive sports since I was seven-years old through college football, I've heard all the coaching cliches, good and bad. I use some of the ones I like a lot. I've also respected my elders over the years and have listened and catalogued some of their wisdom as well. I have a pretty good quiver of one-liners, motivational quotes and sage advice. Unfortunately, I don't know that any of that can help me right now.

Maybe you, my faithful readers, have an idea.

After several visits with orthopedic doctors since Monday, we learned yesterday that my middle daughter tore the ACL in her right knee. Shredded it is more like it. The doctor described her ligament as "mop ends." Only thing the doc can do is reconstruct it using two of her hamstring tendons to replace the ligament that's not there.

She was fortunate to be able to participate in the county all-star basketball game for seniors on Sunday night.  After having a nice all-around game, complete with some points, some rebounds, some assists, two blocked shots and two steals, she was bringing the ball up court with 18 seconds left in the game...actually left in her high school career, and her right knee went in a direction it shouldn't have.

She won't be able to dance at her senior prom, and marching in procession and walking across the stage to get her diploma will probably come with the assistance of crutches.

Her senior year of high school started on a downer because she discovered late last summer that her boyfriend was cheating on her. She cut him loose, and I was proud of her for that. Then she had a falling out with one of her best friends since kindergarten over some Homecoming stuff that grownups, most likely, could've worked out in an hour. But it lingered for many months. Then her senior year of basketball wasn't what she had worked so hard for it to be, but she kept up a good attitude and remained a good teammate and made the most of the time she got (did I already say it was less than what she deserved?). Now we've got the torn ACL.

I believe, in my heart, that one of the reasons she's going to college almost four hours away next fall is that she feels like she needs a clean break from her hometown and from her friends of so many years. I respect and understand that. I think she aspires to do great things in the field she has chosen to pursue, but I wish she could do it closer to home. Although I view myself as her parent and not her friend, to me, she is my buddy.

I'm not whining or complaining. If my wife and I knew 20 years ago that the three girls we are blessed with were our picks in the draft of life, we would've been ecstatic. And still are. We're not perfect, we have our flaws, but I'll gladly take my trio (and my wife).

But I feel like I should purchase for my daughter the book, "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People."
I want to tell her that she will grow and be a better person for all of these experiences her life has granted her this year, good and bad. I want to tell her that she's a participant in life, she's not sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else, and when you participate, sometimes you get hurt - either physically or emotionally. I want to tell her that her friendship will be restored once she and her friend are apart for the first semester of college and realize what they had. I want to tell her that her knee will be better than ever (once her 6 months of rehab is done), and I want to tell her that someday she will find a man who cherishes her for who she is (of course, if he doesn't pass MY standards, all bets are off).

So even though I'd like to tell her some of these things, she doesn't want to hear them. Despite the fact that this daughter is the one with whom I have the most communicative relationship, she doesn't like it when I (as she puts it) try to give her advice. So much for respecting her elders. Of course, if my neighbor told her these things, he'd be a genius!

So I see a short time window before my buddy goes off to college, and there's a lot I want to tell her before that. Just not sure how.

Your thoughts are welcome.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Boobie Boosters or Not?

I have to admit that I wouldn't mind if my daughters dressed in clothing that covered their bodies from throat to toe...all year round. All the better if flip flops weren't available and they had to cover their feet as well. The less skin they can reveal, the less stupid boys will be attracted to them for the wrong reasons. I want a boy to be interested in my daughter for all of the right reasons. Covering as much of her body as possible on a consistent basis is, in my mind, one of the better ways of accomplishing that.

Seriously, though, my Dad Radar caught a disturbing report the other day, and I had to check it out.
I sort of wish I hadn't.

One of the country's largest clothing retailers has introduced its spring line of clothing, and it includes bikini bathing suits with push up padding in the bikini top -- for 8-year olds. I wouldn't kid you about this.

Abercrombie & Fitch has a division specifically marketed to 8-14-year old kids (Abercrombie Kids), and the "Ashley" Push-Up Triangle is a triangular-shaped bikini top that comes armed with a fully padded breast enhancement feature. Of course, to a father of daughters, I don't see this as a "feature" as much as I see it as an evil marketing ploy aimed at seducing young girls into trying to look 'hot'.

In almost 50 years of life, I completely understand corporations trying to make a buck, and many of those corporations doing so without any conscience whatsoever. But I struggle with the question, "when will the insanity stop?" When will someone figure out that they've gone too far?

I also will admit that I leave the clothes shopping sprees to my wife. I have not interest in shopping for clothing for myself (my wife would say that's evident), let alone spending an eternity in a clothing store with a teenage girl who's trying to decide between 97 colors of the same shirt, at the same time attempting to match eye liner and footwear. All I want to know, when they return home with their goodies, is are they appropriately covered? The more covered the better.

So what's a Dad to do? There's little chance that fathers are shopping for bathing suits with their second-grade daughters. At the same time, Dads need to exercise their concerns about this type of exploitation of our daughters for the sake of a nickel.

Now, there are plenty of people who've taken A&F to task for this bikini blunder. Plenty of psychologists who've debated the self-esteem issues surrounding this type of clothing ploy. Other experts have chimed in with their concern about how this type of clothing can promote promiscuity at a frightening young age.

I understand all of those arguments, and even discussed some of them in a post last month

But there was an interesting analysis put forth by Shirlee Smith, CEO/Founder of "Talk About Parenting with Shirlee Smith." Smith said, and I quote from a Fox News article, "...I'm slapping the blame on moms for not seeing any further than their own breast implants when it comes to purchasing push-uppers for girls that don't, as yet, actually have breasts."

I'm not sure if that's what an attorney would call the, "you reap what you sow," defense or not. I can't help but think there's something to that argument.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Liar, Liar, Skirt on Fire

I was a terrible liar when I was a kid. Got better as I got older, but when I was younger, my Mom didn't hesitate to use the wooden spoon when I did something wrong, and my Dad was coerced, on occasion, to use his leather belt on my big butt. Never any fun. I would've hated to see what would've happened if I was a bad kid. In retrospect, I think the primary reason that I did lie is that I feared being punished.

I'm not sure when my lying stopped. I guess most of us might tell a white lie once in a while, and I also will admit that while I might not still lie, there are times, mostly professionally, where I won't tell the whole truth as I know it to be. As a professional communicator, many times a newspaper reporter or a television reporter might be intensely intrusive, and I have made the judgement to not completely answer a reporter's inquiry.

For example, if I were dealing with a crisis situation, perhaps the death of a student on the campus on which I was working, I always erred on the side of the student and the student's family. If a student died because he or she consumed too much alcohol, I might not disclose the cause of death. Or if the coroner beat me to it (which happened more often than not), I would at least try to conceal the blood alcohol content of the deceased. If a family lost a child, I didn't see the need to tell a reporter the BAC. What was the point?

Anyway, I was reading yesterday an article by Kim Painter in USA Today in which Painter tries to illuminate parents as to why teenagers lie. Painter insists that recent research indicates that 80% of teenagers have lied to their parents about something "significant." She goes on to share that 59% of teens admitted to cheating on a test in school and that 29% claimed to have stolen something from a store.

The one thing that bugs me about this article and its supporting survey is that it seems to blur the lines between a lie and withholding information. Now, I have three daughters, so if one of them chooses to NOT tell me about which boys and girls were swapping spit behind the school before sports practice, or which two factions of girls are fighting about something stupid at school, I don't consider that lying to me. With three daughters, I want to avoid as much DRAMA as possible, so if they don't share that with me, I'm fine with that.

If I tell one of them that they are not permitted to go to a party, and they create a ruse in order to get to the party, then it's game-on with the disciplinary branch of Dad. If I ask one of them how she did on a test, or if the homework is done, and they fib to me, I'll take their cell phone, iPod or ban television. Nothing caveman about that.

Another psychologist in that article actually gave me some hope. Jennifer Powell-Lunder said that the three main reasons teens lie are: to protect their friends, to do things you would forbid, and to avoid consequences. The thing that was reassuring is Powell-Lunder said that the biggest reason kids lie is that they really and truly do care about what their parents think, and they don't want to disappoint their parents.

Some pointers (from the experts, not me, because I'm not one): kids tend to be honest if their parents are honest with them; kids tend to lie less when they know the consequences of their actions as opposed to having some unknown punishment awaiting; and catch them when they lie to others, no matter how big a lie it might be.

One pointer from me, which is really hard for me because of my Italian blood - try not to make a big deal about everything.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fathers, Please Prevent Your Wives...

Sometimes you don't need a rule or a law to know that something is just plain wrong. Common sense or moral decency, more often than not, can be utilized instead of laws and written rules.

For example, recent news from television land says that the production company that has brought us the train wreck also known as "Jersey Shore" (see my post about Snooki ) is planning to unveil a new reality show that will feature daughters with their party-animal mothers. 495 Productions is about to open casting calls to identify mothers who party like it's 1995 (I know, dating myself). They also want mothers who dress provocatively and who don't mind being hit on by their daughter's boyfriends. They're looking for mothers and daughters who party hearty together, or daughters who are embarrassed by their mother's boisterous behavior.

If you find my news hard to believe, you can see for yourself at this link -

As a father of daughters, and as a husband who still worships his wife after 22 years, I find the idea behind this show disgusting. I've professed here before that I'm not a fan of the stupidity of reality television. I'm not naive that I don't understand that some people find reality television entertaining. Some more than others. I'm not judging. It's just not my thing. It insults my intelligence (what little I have left with three teenage daughters under my roof).

If you're a father of daughters and a husband who has a wife that might fit the casting call for this show, you obviously need an intervention of major proportions. Call Dr. Phil.

If you're a father of daughters and your wife does not fit the casting call for the show, congratulations. Now, explain to your daughter(s) and wife why this show is stupid and why it's not a good idea. Explain to them that, even though somebody chose to put it on television and some people make the decision to be on the show, that doesn't mean that it's a good thing. Or that it's acceptable.

You don't need a rule or a law to figure that out.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How Young is Too Young?

I spent all day Saturday surrounded by teenage girls, and, consequently, some of their fathers. Basketball consumes my family's time from November until June, because once the high school season is complete in February or March, the AAU season begins and runs until early summer. Was at a tournament at McDaniel College in Westminister, Maryland for an all-day tournament, with our last game not concluding until about 6:30 in the evening.

Now when I say I was surrounded by teenage girls, I don't just mean our girl's team of ten. I'm talking about about approximately 40 teams (maybe more) of girls and you can do the math. Hundreds of teenage girls. Which means that I heard a lot of things that made me want to say, "Beam Me Up Scottie." Now, please.

Of course there are some times during the day when you're not surrounded by teenage girls, and then Dads (sometimes Moms) get to hang out and discuss important stuff, like all the yard work you're not getting done, or how many fishing poles do you need on opening day of trout season? Or how many beers it will take, once you get home, to erase the memory of all you've seen and heard being around hundreds of teenage girls for approximately 10 hours.

One topic of discussion this Saturday was, how young is too young for a girl to have a steady boyfriend? My first answer (with my daughters in mind, of course) was 30 years old. A good question, though.

My wife and I have had a family rule that there will be no steady boyfriends until senior high, and even then, possibly not until 10th or 11th grade. The later the better. Our two oldest didn't have too many problems with that rule, and they both had a lot of group activities through their high school years where groups of 10-15 kids, male and female, might go the movies, go out to dinner or go play Laser tag. All acceptable on my Dad-meter. Fortunately, both girls are really, really smart and also pretty tuned-in people-persons. So they've both felt, through most of high school, that high school boys, in general, and the teenage boys at their school, in particular, are just plain stupid. Music to my ears!

Last year, the day after we dropped our oldest off for her first semester of college, the phone rang and she started telling her Mom about a boy in the next hallway who'd already lost his college ID and room key in the first day. Then she said, even college boys are stupid! Which made me almost want to open champagne on a Saturday morning. My 30-years old threshold was looking better and better.

Let's be clear on this. NOTHING good can come of a girl having a steady boyfriend before an appropriate age. In our house, that age is about 16 or 17 depending upon what we know about the boy and his family, and our judgement of our daughter's maturity for such a relationship.  That's our house, and you have to do what you think is best in your house. But the other key is that MOM has to be on board with this. If Dad imposes this rule (or any rule, really) without Mom's signing off on it, the rule is doomed for failure.

Research studies (yes, these are ones that support my position) indicate that the younger a girl starts to have a steady relationship with a boy, the sooner she is likely to have a sexual relationship, either with that boy or the next one. Other research indicates that 33% of teenage girls who have boyfriends are sexually abused, 1 in 16 have been raped, and 25% are subjected to physical violence such as being slapped, punched or beaten. Of course, the easy retort by a parent is either, "that won't happen to my daughter," or "Billy is a nice boy, he would never do that." Bullcrap!

Not to mention the negative impact that STDs and/or an unwanted pregnancy could have on our daughters. I even found, in a Google search, two books: "Sex Tips for Girls" and "Advanced Sex Tips for Girls." Both books written by the same author who happens to be female. Go figure. I guess people will do anything to make a buck.

Now, the women's libbers will most definitely object to my 'rules' and that's okay. That certainly is their constitutional right. However, if you try to implement a dating rule in your house, and you're met with some resistance, just refer back to my post on February 17, 'The Top Ten Lines to Scare your Daughter's Boyfriend.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Backwards Technology

I know I'm dating myself, but I don't care. Most people probably think I'm older than I am anyway. I still remember as a young boy picking up the rotary dial telephone in my grandparents house and intruding on the party line. That's when individual houses didn't have exclusive access to an anonymous dial tone, nor a personal telephone number. You had to ask the operator to connect you to an exchange in order to connect with the person you were trying to call. And there were usually other people on the line. Of course, that quickly evolved into everyone having their own telephone number, the rotary dial phone turned into a push-button device. If you had a push button phone while your friends still had rotary dial, you were thought to be neighborhood royalty.

I also remember, fondly, my Mom playing her big vinyl record albums on the greatest gift my Dad had ever given her - a stereo console with a record player, radio and speakers all in one unit, with enough room to store all of her big albums inside the cabinet. The turntable was constructed so that you could stack several albums on top of one another and they'd continue to drop and play (with a needle) for hours. My Mom always like to do that when she was doing housework. My Mom is most responsible for my eclectic musical interests because she would listen to everything from Johnny Cash to Herb Alpert (big band stuff) to Dionne Warwick. And of course the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Sinatra. If you were of Italian heritage, you had to listen to Sinatra, or you'd have to go to Confession on Saturday afternoon to explain to Father Anthony why you weren't.

My Dad filmed holidays, birthdays and other special occasions with an 8 millimeter movie camera, and colored photography was experimental. Just like the push button telephone, if you had a camera that took color photographs, people bowed at your feet. Television was black and white, and there were very few channels from which to choose. In New Jersey, we had ABC, NBC and CBS, and two New York stations, WPIX and WNEW. Of course, there was also the public television channel so kids could watch Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood.

When someone gave you or sent you a present or a card for your birthday or a special occasion, you wrote to them a thank-you letter on a piece of paper, folded it up, stuffed it into an envelope, wrote out the address, put a stamp on it and mailed it to the other person.

I've been hounded by some writing friends that I needed to be on Facebook in order to promote my books and other projects. So, my 8th grade daughter had to sit down at MY computer and set the whole thing up for me, as well as give me a brief tutorial. Whenever I have questions or challenges with my Facebook stuff, I ask my 8th grader.

Similarly, I was pretty resistant to acquiring a cellular telephone. I didn't see the need. I was happy putting coins into a pay phone if I was not home. When the girls started getting into a variety of school activities and requiring rides and car pools, we gave in and got the girls cell phones, but the threshold was 8th grade. Not before. Of course, the cell phone companies have ways of enticing the whole family to have their own phone, so we all got one. As is usually the case, the girls always seem to get the really nice, top-of-the-line number and the wife and I get stuck with the crappy, buy-one-get-one-free option in order to try to save some money on the proverbial family plan. When I have a cell phone challenge, like how do you take a picture with a phone? Or, how do you download a ringtone, I ask my high school senior.

Most recently, I was encouraged to start an account with Skype. This is a service by which you can have a telephone call, on your computer, with another person, and, through the magic of technology, you can see the other individual, live, while you're speaking to them. Now, of course, this could lead to lots of shenanigans. What if your laptop is sitting open on your bed, and someone rings you up on Skype, and you've just gotten out of the shower and happen to be standing in front of your laptop with nothing on but your birthday suit? Awkward. And who says I want to SEE the person I'm conversing with? I mean, sometimes it's bad enough that you have to answer the darn phone, now you've got to actually look at the person. Why? Anyway, my oldest daughter is way ahead of me with Skype because she's been using it for two years to talk to her college friends when they are home for the summer break. So guess who got my Skype account set up?

Did I tell you that my 8th grader showed me the other day that she can thumb a complete text message, correct spellings and punctuation - blind-folded?

Makes me want to go watch re-runs of I Love Lucy.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Less Sex is Good News

Music to my ears!
Best news in two weeks!
What father doesn't want to hear that teenage girls are having less sex than they did just five years ago?

I know, you're all going to remind me that I'm usually critical and skeptical about research studies. And I will remain that way till I'm planted under a big granite stone. But, when the research produces a result in which I can rejoice, then I, as a father of three daughters, and as a friend to many other fathers of daughters,  must do the only thing I can with such news. Celebrate!

According to a research study recently released by the National Center for Health Statistics, 29% of young women, ages 15-24 say they've never had a sexual encounter. Of course, raising three daughters whom I adore and love more than anything in the world, my first reaction was...that's slightly under one-third. It should be closer to 100%. I know that's not realistic, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be the goal.

The good news is that the percentage is up five points from the last time this research was conducted. So maybe my jubilation is in the fact that the number improved. Now five percent might not seem like lots, but the sample size of the survey was more than 13,000 people. Not a small number.

This study also gave me some hope because it delved into the inquiry with greater specifics than at any other time this study has been conducted. For example, in girls 15-17 years of age, 58% of girls reported having no sexual encounters. Of course, the percentages for the males in this study (all age groups) were all lower than the girls' percentages. Scum of the earth. That's why I keep my aforementioned baseball bat handy.

Of course, you'll always have some blithering, alleged doctor or scientist who has so spoil the good news. Or make just a completely stupid statement. How about this gem from Debbie Roffman, a human sexuality educator (if that job title doesn't send off any alarms, check your pulse). Ms. Roffman (notice no Ph.D. or MD after her name) says that, and I quote, "...more young people may be choosing to wait for a more quality sexual experience, knowing it is more likely to come with maturity..."

That's just what a father with daughters wants to hear. Utter nonsense. Besides, after working in higher education for more than 19 years, and having three teenage daughters, I've seen, heard and been around a fair share of young people. Stating that young people are delaying their gratification in exchange for a more quality experience is giving young people WAY too much credit.

Finally, I can't ignore the bad news in this report, and I also have to acknowledge a faithful reader who left a comment on a post last week. This report, because of its specificity, basically Bill Clinton-proofed itself. When the study was conducted, the researchers didn't give respondents a vague bail out, like 'have you ever had sex?' At which point, anyone who had done anything but strict IC could say, yeah, I've never had sex. Email me if you need translations of my abbreviations. This study defined sex as everything and anything: fingers, hands, mouth, toes, whatever. There were no vague statements as to what is the definition of sex.

Which leads to the bad news. One reason cited for the delay in having IC is young people (62% of the girls surveyed) are engaging in OS, which apparently satisfies those urges without (in the minds of young people) violating anything. Unfortunately, OS is a primary contributor to the growing cases of genital herpes in the USA. Other STDs are also spread through OS, and we know that STDs plague people for many years beyond that initial encounter.

So, to conclude, our teenage daughters are having less IC, but might be having more OS. Which means I will remind my fathers once again. If a young man comes to the door to visit with or take out your daughter, the pants are the key. If his pants are low enough that you can see the color pattern on his boxer shorts, or if his zipper seems lose or out of place, introduce him to your staple gun to make certain his pants remain appropriately attached to his body.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Housewives make the List

My Dad used to tell me, "just because someone says something is so, doesn't mean that it is."

For example, if the needle on your compass points North, but someone with you says you're driving South, you have the proof on your compass. If the opponent you're playing golf against hits his ball across the nearby road, it's out of bounds and he's going to lose some strokes. Even if your opponent thinks he can use his 'foot wedge' to get the ball back into play. Rules of golf. If you strike a match on certain surfaces, it will cause a flame that could result in a fire. Simple physics. Or chemistry...Or whatever science governs flames. I was never very good in math or science. But I do know there's a science to prove my point.

Which brings me to this weeks nominees for the list of Women We Don't Want our Daughters to Be Like. I've got to admit that I had a difficult time with this week's cast of characters because there are so many good choices. So instead of selecting one, I decided to have a group entry on the list for this week.

There is a series on Bravo called the Housewives can now fill in that blank with six different choices: Beverly Hills, New Jersey, Atlanta, Orange County, New York City and Miami. If you want to see who else has been on the list so far, I ran an update in last week's post (Lady Gag Me Makes the List, February 24).

As I've stated here before, I'm not a fan of reality television, because, in my opinion, it's not. Like my Dad said,  just because someone says it's so doesn't mean it is. I think reality television is a waste of time, and, to a certain degree, insults my intelligence. But that's a riff for another day.

I don't watch any of these Housewives chronicles, but if you've seen some commercials and some highlights on talk shows, you've basically seen and heard enough. Okay, you're wondering what I'm doing watching Bravo to begin with. You caught me. I'm a foodie. I watch Top Chef on Bravo, and I've got Food Network programmed on my channel changer. I love to cook, and I love to see what real chefs do that I might be able to use in my own kitchen. Without slicing any digits with those amazing Santoku knives.

But back to the Housewives. Listen, it doesn't matter which city you select from the menu, you're going to get the same recipe. About a half dozen women who may or may not have been friends before they got on the show (they usually aren't friends after a few episodes). They ride everywhere in limousines, they have parties at spas, they spend a lot of time drinking at parties and meandering through the night life of whatever city they are from (sometimes having too much to drink).

They spend more money on plastic surgery than I spent on my kitchen renovation, and their bling budgets are maxed out. Few of them work real jobs, some of them spend some time with philanthropic endeavors, mostly to make them feel less guilty about the botox and the bling. Some of them have faux careers, like the one housewife in Atlanta who's trying to start a singing career, but she can't carry a tune in a bucket. But she has money for voice lessons and studio time. Thankfully she has a lot of money for studio time because those sound engineers are earning every penny.

I don't think any of the six cities has a group of housewives who are not catty, controversial, jealous or petty. Or spoiled or bratty. Subtract the botox and collagen injections and implants and I'm not sure any of the housewives really have any assets that anyone would be particularly interested in.

But here's the kicker. On a talk show, and I don't know which housewife it was nor from which city she was, but she made the most outrageous statement. She told the interviewer that she didn't know what all the fuss was about. She said the that Housewives in the shows are not the exception, they are the norm. Really?

Then I have a question for all the Housewives from all the shows. What does a gallon of milk cost?

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friends with Benefits? Not at my house!

Some ideas just don't end well. No matter how well thought-out, no matter how reasonable or functional those ideas might seem at the minute of inspiration, it's just not going to turn out how it was planned.

Take for instance this craze known as Friends with Benefits. Or FWB to our sons and daughters. If you do a Google search, for example, and just type in Rules for Friends with Benefits, you'll get 2.85 million hits. NBC Television thought it was such a good idea they developed a half-hour comedy last spring titled, yes, you guessed it, "Friends with Benefits." Out-of-the-box creative folks at NBC, no wonder they're last in ratings.

It's such a popular topic that there have been not one, but two movies out of the left coast in less than a year. "No Strings Attached," was the original starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kucher. Funny because Kucher doesn't even know he's been Demi Moore's FWB for years now. Based on the smashing success of  "No Strings Attached" where it barely made enough money to pay the guys holding the cameras, "Friends with Benefits," starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake will premier in July.

If you're a lonely heart in search of a friend with benefits, there are plenty of websites to accommodate your needs. Many of them profess to be designed for married people who are looking for a little extra on the side.

Just in case some of you don't know what Friends with Benefits means, the definition is pretty simple. You have a friend. You are not romantically involved with her (or him), and are not supposed to have any romantic feelings for this person. The two of you simply have sex together whenever the mood strikes. No flowers and chocolates. No pillow talk. No dreaded discussion of 'feelings.' You get together, do your thing, and go your separate ways. Until the next time you want to do it. According to the one set of rules I looked at (for research purposes only), it is permissible to have at least two telephone conversations with your FWB during the week, since, after all, you are friends. But any more than that would most likely have your privileges revoked.

Now, I'm not going to pontificate about the moral ramifications, nor am I going to pass judgement. Plenty of folks have made the mistake of having what, back in the day, was called a one-nite stand. But I will say this. Fathers (and mothers) warn your sons. Should they ever try to entice one of my daughters to be an FWB, I will not hesitate to introduce him to the fat part of my 34-ounce Louisville slugger. My house, my rules.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Big Brother and Daughters' Cell Phones

Brityn Mykhail is a musician and a singer, and she's just 17-years old. She uses her cell phone to social network to promote her music. Most marketing experts would say that's a good practice. Unfortunately, when Brityn was 15-years old, she began receiving naked pictures from a man in his 30s. They had struck up a relationship via electronic devices, so the man could hide his age and his identity. The creep actually showed up at Brityn's school one afternoon. Not sure what he was expecting to accomplish.

According to a law enforcement official in Brityn's area, sex offenders are increasingly using cell phones to target their prey because computers are easier to track and easier for parents to monitor and to check with software.

So how's a father (or mother) supposed to protect his daughter against sexual predators on her cell phone? Bob Lotter has come up with a solution, but it's not without controversy. Lotter's company has created My Mobile Watchdog

I have not used the product and I'm not endorsing the product. Fathers can do that for themselves by following the link above. The product basically consists of two parts: one is the software that's installed on your daughter's cellphone and the second is the webpage for fathers to monitor their daughter's activity and control functionality.

My Mobile Watchdog can monitor phone calls, text messages, photos/videos, address book changes, calendar updates and task updates. Fathers can coordinate, with daughters, an authorized contact list. If someone who's not on the list attempts to contact your daughter, it's blocked and reported. A father can receive an immediate alert of unauthorized activity, and that report can be printed. The paper trail helps law enforcement officers catch predators.

I'm not trying to plug the product because I haven't used it. But as a father of three daughters, I worry about sexting, cyberbullying and other behaviors that are difficult to detect and difficult to control. According to law enforcement statistics, there are 700,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. Since My Mobile Watchdog was developed, law enforcement has used this technology to arrest 315 sexual predators, 90% of whom had no prior record and were not registered as sex offenders. The technology is being used by a minute sample, a dozen agencies, none at the federal level.

Which leads me to today's parting thought/question. If a father were to have this technology installed on his daughter's cell phone, is it crossing the line of invasion of privacy, or is it justified until the daughter reaches the age of, say, 21 and is no longer a minor dependent living under your roof?

I always tell my daughters that I trust them...I just don't trust other people.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

McDonald's Could Damage Your Kids Future

I've admitted a number of times before that I'm not a rocket scientist, and there are days that, by evening, I can't remember what I ate for breakfast. Having spent nearly 20 years as an administrator in higher education, I will, however, challenge reports and studies by lazy scientists who come up with bogus 'discoveries' that don't make any sense. Honestly, some days I wonder why I've never been able to land one of these 'research' jobs.

A team of researchers from the University of Washington, University of Virginia and Temple University recently published a report in the journal Child Development, that indicates that if high school students work more than 20 hours a week at a part-time job, it could have a number of negative consequences.

Huh? The study claims that if high school teens work more than 20 hours a week at a part-time job they are at greater risk for bad behavior and they are less engaged in their school and the school's activities. So, if kids work more than 20 hours a week at a part-time job, if I read the study correctly, they are more likely to be involved with substance abuse, risky behavior, bad grades, and hole up in their bedrooms, emerging only for meals and showers.

Like I said, I'm not going to be selected for the next space shuttle mission, but this just doesn't jive. I can't speak on a national basis, but my personal experience is pretty good. I've got my second oldest daughter about to graduate from high school, so I've seen my share of teenagers who've had part-time jobs.  A number of my good friends have teenagers who work part-time jobs. They flip burgers at McDonald's, buff automobiles at car washes and wait tables at restaurants. These kids are active in the school choir, the school theatrical group, varsity sports, and numerous clubs like SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions. Most important is, all of these kids that I know, are super kids. Teenagers you're happy to be around, and kids that you root for to do well in whatever it is that they do.

I can't believe that my sample is that much different from the so-called 1,800 kids that were interviewed for this study. But here's some other reasons why I think this study is bunk.

This new study did not conduct any interviews with teenagers in 2011. The study is based upon research that was done for a similar study in the late 1980's. Kathryn Monahan, the leader of the study, justified not conducting any new research by saying in a USA Today article, "Not much has changed over the last 30 years."

Yeah, right. Thirty years ago I had hair. Thirty years ago I was playing my music on a cassette player, watching three network channels on television, and putting money into a pay phone if I was away from the land line in the house. There were no iPods, cell phones, Facebook, text messaging, or Housewives of Beverly Hills. Come to think of it, there still aren't housewives in Beverly Hills.

Do our teenagers still flip burgers at McDonald's and collect tips waiting tables at local restaurants? Yes. But everything else about the life of a teenager has been altered. We can debate whether or not the changes are good or bad. But to put out a research study based on 30-year old data doesn't work for me.

After all, 30 years ago I was flipping burgers at McDonald's, and once I figured out the "one-bounce" rule everything worked out all right. I'm still alive and I've yet to spend any time in prison.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Do these Jeans make my butt look fat"

Honesty is the best policy. Most of the time. I don't advocate lying. But if your wife asks you, "Honey, do these jeans make my butt look fat?" Your response shouldn't be, "No, baby, your butt makes those jeans look too small." Personally, I'd recommend running down the street if confronted with that question, but honesty and diplomacy are important.

When it comes to our daughters and self-esteem, I think honesty can make a significant, positive impact.

In my post earlier this week about Second Graders and Makeup, there were many comments to articles on that topic, and many of those focused on self-esteem as it relates to how girls look...physically. Ever since I wrote a series of newspaper articles about women and eating disorders several years ago, I've been overly sensitive to girls and self-esteem.

Much of what I pen here today is based on a research study, "How to Raise Girls with Healthy Self-Esteem," by Anita Gurian, Ph.D. and I recommend that you look at its findings. It's not a long dissertation, and it's worth your 7 minutes to read and to digest.

Much of what I learned in this report I'd known from research I've previously done. A couple of things stand out to me. For example, 20-40% of girls begin dieting by age 10. By age 15, girls are twice as likely to become depressed than boys. 47% of 5-12th grade girls said they wanted to lose weight because of magazine pictures.

As usual, external factors play a large role in girls' loss of self-esteem. Think about the images, language, and actions our daughters are exposed to everyday on television, in the movies, in videos, in song lyrics, in magazines, on the world wide web and in product advertisements. To a certain degree, some greater than others, our daughters believe they should emulate what they see in these different mediums. They believe, to a certain degree, that what they see and hear is how they should look, act and speak.

This is where the honesty comes in for fathers (and mothers). So if our daughter says, "Dad, I think I look fat," your response should NOT be, "Yeah, you make Rosie O'Donnell look like a SlimFast commercial." It should be more along the lines of, "Daughter, I understand that right now you might not appreciate your physical appearance. But, your value as a person is not based on how you look. Second, if you are feeling that way, maybe we could start taking a bike ride a couple days a week or tryout for spring soccer. And we'll substitute an apple or a banana into your snack list instead of potato chips."

If your daughter says, "Dad, I don't know if I should sign up for Honors math for next year, it's a hard subject." Your response should NOT be, "Yeah, you couldn't spell CAT if I spotted you the 'C' and the 'T'." It should be, "Daughter, you're a smart girl, I know you can do the work, and your brains are going to get you farther in this world than anything else."

The good thing is the research study highlighted some ways that we Dads can help our daughters. It says that "girls with active, hardworking dads attend college more often and are more ambitious, more successful in school, more likely to attain careers of their own, less dependent, more self-protective and less likely to date an abusive man." How can you argue with any of that? Of course, if my daughter were dating an abusive man, I can't guarantee that the male in question would have full use of all of his bodily functions for very long.

The study also says, though, that Dads can make a negative contribution in the self-esteem department if we're always doing things for our daughters and protecting them instead of letting them try...and fail at things themselves.

Bottom line, Dads, is that we can make a positive impact on our daughters' self-esteem. We still have more clout than movies, television, music, etc. The study says so. So Dads have to make a concerted effort to counteract all the negative images to which our daughters are exposed. We need to continue to tell them that we value them for who they are, not for how they look or how much money they might have.

And if you're wife asks you, "Honey, do you like this new shade of lipstick?" Don't say, "Jeez, the last time I saw a mouth like that it had a hook in it." Instead, say, "Honey, I think the dog needs to go for a walk." Even if you don't have a dog.

Have a Great Weekend

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

P.S.S. At the bottom of this post you will find some buttons you can click to indicate what you think of the post. It'll take a second to click a box. If you want, you can also leave a comment for fellow readers to see and discuss. Don't be afraid to add to the conversation.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lady Gag Me is next on the List

For new readers who might not have been following along, about six weeks ago I decided to start a list, in no particular order, of Women We Don't Want Our Daughters to be Like. I don't have a predetermined criteria, but I've attempted to explain for each candidate, what it is that got them a spot on my list of shame.

Let's do a quick recap. Again in no particular order, here's the ladies on the list to date: Snooki, Heidi Montag, Diana Taurasi, Lindsey Lohan and Kim Kardashian. If you're curious about what landed those ladies on my list, you can look through the archives to find those posts.

I don't pay a lot of attention to awards shows nor to reality television. I know, it's all the rage and I'm showing my age. Perhaps. I look at it as a huge waste of time as well as a misrepresentation of what it is that my father and mother taught me about how to be a good person and how to be successful.

Anyway, I know the 53rd annual Grammy Awards were on last week, how could I not. I think all three televisions in my house were tuned to it. It was unavoidable. So even though I made a conscious decision to ignore the proceedings, I happened to walk past one of the televisions as Lady Gag Me was emerging from her egg. Rip off #1. Lady Gag Me claims to have been in the egg for three consecutive days leading up to the Grammy show. Truth is, according to experts, there was only about 30 minutes of breathable air in the egg. So either she has the lungs of a whale or she fabricated the truth a bit.

Second, I mean the whole egg thing is like most of what I've seen of her other performances. Everything is contrived. I hate phonies. It's like she says to herself, "okay, I can't sing and I'm not particularly attractive, so I've got to come up with a gimmick." Doing a knock off of Madonna, I guess, works because her audience isn't old enough to get it. Obviously, it's working because her songs and concerts are huge hits. I wonder what happens, though, when her fans have had enough and say gag me with Gaga.

Then on Sunday, the 13th, she did an interview on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper where she said, "I smoke a lot of pot when I write music." Ya Think!? Try telling me something I didn't know. She also claimed to consume large amounts of whiskey when she writes her music. She's doing a disservice to my beverage of choice. If she's drinking whiskey, she's not drinking the good stuff because I know for a fact that good bourbon would produce much better results. But I digress.

Add to that a gem I found when I was doing some research on this (yes, I do actually spend some time uncovering pertinent information before I write about my least favorite women). In an interview on with Bill Werde, Gag Me had the nerve, or stupidity to say this, "Gaga is not is not artificial." Okay, and I'm going to be the next astronaut on the space shuttle after I lead the 76ers to the NBA Championship.

Gag Me's real name by the way, given to her at birth and on her birth certificate, is Stefani Germanotta.

Finally, there is the matter of her performing in a raunchy video for Purple Magazine where she gropes herself, amongst other distasteful acts, while she has a young boy of about 3 or 4 years old on screen with her. The boy's parents should most likely have their rights taken away, but that's another topic. I'm not going to post the link, you can go to YouTube if you're really that curious. I didn't play the video, but I saw some screen shots, and it's not only questionable taste, but it's kind of creepy.

Please feel free to leave me a comment, sign up as a follower, and pass it along to friends and colleagues who have daughters.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Makeup for Second Graders??

The only thing I can remember about second grade was that I had a crush on my teacher, Miss Miranda. She selected me as the Handsomest boy in the class. I received an oversized cardboard ribbon for that honor. Of course, that was when I had hair, good teeth, no facial hair, and I didn't have to unsnap the top button on my trousers in order to avoid buying he next biggest size pants.

(I wonder if a teacher could get away with awarding such a prize these days?)

Now, I'll admit that somedays I can't remember what I ate for breakfast, but I'm pretty certain that there was not one girl in the second grade at Christ the King school in Manville, New Jersey who wore makeup. Not the silly, dress-up fake stuff that girls used on themselves and their Barbie dolls. I'm talking about wearing the real thing to school. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

I can remember when my daughters were eight years old, and I'd have to say that purchasing makeup for them was the last thing on my mind. Or my wife's mind. I might've been chaperoning a class trip to the Lake Tobias wildlife park, or trying to figure out how to affix training wheels on my daughter's bike without smashing my knuckles with the adjustable wrench. Maybe even taking that daughter to see The Lion King. But I don't recall makeup being in the mix.

Joel Carden is the executive vice president of Pacific World Corporation, and this charletan wants us to believe that in 2011, it's time for our 8-year old daughters to begin wearing makeup. Carden's corporation is partnering with WalMart to introduce this March the Geo Girl line of cosmetics for girls between the ages of 8-12.

Carden is trying to peddle the fact that this line of cosmetics is enviromentally friendly because it will be packaged in recyclable paper and renewable corn. (Can you eat the package after the cosmetics are extracted from it?). It's a full line of 69 products from blush and mascara to lipstick and anti-aging products. Now I might need some anti-aging assistance...course my wife would say, "who'd want to preserve that?"... but I'm not sure any 8-year old girls I know need that type of product for another 40 years.

Carden also stresses that the products are healthy products because they're made from natural ingredients, including cruelty-free honey (did they let the bees sting them before the asked for the honey?).

I'm sorry, this guy's a moron. In an article on, Carden claims that he wants to make it clear that the company isn't pushing for girls to begin to wear makeup at any specific age. He's then quoted that it's a decision between a parent and his/her child as to what age is appropriate for wearing makeup. He just wants to provide a quality product, just in case 8-year olds and their parents are in the market for it.

Yeah, and I've got a plot of land somewhere in the Everglades I'll sell you real cheap that has no alligators or snakes.

I saw this ploy when I last worked in higher education. After having been in that industry for nearly 20 years, we began to recruit high school students when they were in 9th grade. How many high school freshmen do you know that have any clue about college? But it was an attempt to begin to influence the decision-making of those students and their parents years before they were ready to begin the college search. The goal was to achieve TOMA, or marketing slang for 'top of mind awareness.' So that when they began to look for colleges in the second half of their junior years, we'd have already bombarded them with enough four-color glossy publications, emails and phone calls that they'd at least give our college a look.

Carden is using the same strategy. He's attempting to create enough TOMA so that even if second graders and their parents have the sanity to say 'No' to makeup, as the girl gets older, Walmart is there to serve her every beauty need, and Carden's Pacific World Corp. is positioned to gain financially.

I'll save the self-esteem theme for the next post, but I think when our daughters are in second grade, we should be attending their tea parties with make-believe guests, we should be reading them bedtime stories, we should be taking them to the park to swing on the swings, and we should be helping them figure out how to ride a bicycle. We can also begin to include them in some things that interest us, like maybe fishing or sports or another hobby.

We should also be telling them, when they're 8-years old, that who they are and what they become has everything to do with their heart and their soul and their brain. Not the color of the lipstick they choose to wear.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Top Ten Lines to Scare Your Daughter's Boyfriend

I try to be open-minded. Honestly. I do. I'd like to think that I will consider opinions that don't necessarily jive with mine. To a degree. If you're a blathering idiot, then all bets are off. If you're reasonable, maybe I'll listen. Maybe. Nearly half a century of lived life is tough to reverse. Especially when it comes to my theory on my daughters and boyfriends.

My Google alert popped up a blog article last night titled "43 Questions for Fathers to Ask Their Daughters Boyfriend." First of all, any Dad who thinks his daughter will permit him to interrogate her boyfriend for 43 questions worth, is completely detached from reality. If you're lucky to get in a 'how are you,' and maybe a firm handshake (breaking fingers if possible, cracking knuckles at minimum), that's about all the time your daughter might allow you to interact with her male friend.

But I had to at least take a glance at the 43 questions, right? Making an earnest effort to be open-minded. The writer, not clear whether or not it's a male (let alone a father with daughters) breaks the 43 questions into five categories: Job and Education, Residence, Relationship with his Daughter, His Parents/Family and Other Interests.

I have to admit, I tried. I really, really tried. But it was difficult to read through the list of questions more than once. I'll save you the insanity of reading the whole list and I'll attempt to rationally cover a few of them here.

For example, 'What do you like about my daughter?' What the heck kind of question is that. There is only one response, and that would be, 'sir, I worship the ground your daughter walks on. She is the beacon of light in my otherwise miserable existence.'

Or how about this prize? 'Are you good at home improvements? Plumbing?' Now what father in his right mind would ask a boy with raging hormones who's dating his daughter about Plumbing? Seriously?  I might show him my staple gun and demonstrate on him how it works if his pants are hanging low enough that I can see the design on his boxer shorts. But I'm not asking him about Plumbing!

Okay, one more and then I'll give you my pointers for interaction with your daughter's boyfriend. 'What is your favorite movie?' Again, we're setting the poor guy up here. There really are very few acceptable answers. Any John Wayne western, any Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" show, the Godfather trilogy or Hoosiers. If he's never heard of or watched any of those movies, he's most likely a sissy boy and we wouldn't want him around our daughter to begin with.

Listen, when you're interacting with your daughter's boyfriend, the first and most important goal is to instill fear in the young man. I think I shared with you in a previous post that my daughter told me her boyfriend was scared of me. That's a GOOD thing. Respect comes second, and should automatically follow the 'fear' part.

So here's my Top Ten list of Lines to Scare the Crap out of your Daughter's Boyfriend:

1. I'm not afraid to go back to prison.
2. Come on in, son, let me show you my semi-automatic gun collection
3. Bend over and let me attach this GPS tracking unit in the appropriate place
4. Did I tell you about the time I fought off an entire platoon of North Vietnamese without a gun?
5. Did you know that Brock Lesner is my daughter's Godfather?
6. If you behave in a manner unbecoming while you're with my daughter, the authorities won't find your body.
7. I love to cook, and one of my favorite utensils is this ten-inch bread knife with the serrated blade.
8. Things didn't turn out so well with the last boy that dated my daughter. People tell me that when they see him in public he's always glancing over his shoulder with this terrified look on his face. I wonder if it has anything to do with the family dinner we had with Uncle Vito and the boys?
9. We took my daughter's boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend of course, with us one time up to the cabin, but the doctors couldn't fix the injuries from his hunting accident.
10. Careful where you sit. Lulu, my pet Burmese python got our of her cage the other day and I haven't been able to find her. She doesn't take too kindly to strangers.

P.S. Don't forget to tell you daughter that you love her.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kim Kardashian is next on the List

Listen, I'm not against anyone utilizing their gifts in order to try to make a living. I'm working on doing that with my writing skills. Some people have a brain for numbers and make a fortune in stocks and bonds or real estate. Some people have empathy and bedside manner and lean toward the sciences and become doctors and surgeons.

Some people have other gifts that might not lend themselves to professional pursuits, so those individuals use those gifts in a manner that should make a father angry and embarrassed.  And yet they still manage to get ahead. When I was younger, it was said that actresses, aspiring female singers and women in corporate America had to 'sleep their way to the top.' Maybe it was worth it. I doubt it.

I could've put the three sisters together in this post, but decided to stick with Kim Kardashian as the newest addition to the Females We Don't Want our Daughters to be Like list.

I have a strong aversion to reality television shows. I think there's two classifications for reality TV. There are what I call the "That's nice, thanks for playing" shows like American Idol, that trick people into thinking that by winning a competition on television will result in a long-term lucrative career. Wrong! For every Carrie Underwood, there's five Ruben Studdards. Who's he? Exactly. Then there are the shows that are just plain STUPID! Or the people in them are stupid. Or both. Like who goes to a deserted island and eats crazy bugs, sleeps near predatory animals and does crazy stunts in order to try to win some money. I think that's the object of the game.

Anyway, Kim Kardashian is one of the players (I can't call her a star) on E! Entertainment Network's reality family dramedy 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians.' She's a member of an ensemble cast that includes her sisters Khloe and Kourtney and brother Rob (why doesn't his name start with the letter 'K'?). Her mother, Kris and her stepfather Bruce Jenner round out the crew. I think. I don't know if there's anyone else because I don't watch the show.

The only reason anyone knows who is Kim Kardashian is because of an explicit sex tape she participated in with some no-name rapper. Well, he does have a name, or had a name. It's Ray J.

Dads, if your daughter ever brings home a guy with one name, make sure your turn him around and show him the way out the door. Not gently.

Anyway, Kim had this tape made in 2007. One look on Wikipedia said the tape has been viewed over 2 million times. I don't know if Kim and Ray J are making any money off of that. Did anyone know who she was before that tape? Her only claim to fame to that point is that her mother married well. Twice.

Kim's biological father, Robert Kardashian (God rest his soul), was O.J. Simpson's lawyer in one of the most infamous murder trials in history. Her current stepfather is Bruce Jenner, arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time after setting the record for most points while winning the gold medal in the decathlon in the 1976 Olympics.

Sure, after the sex tape Kim dated Reggie Bush for a while. And one of her sisters is married to Lamar Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers. But you could argue that all of this fame is due to the dubious sex tape. Gives a whole new meaning to sleeping your way to the top.

The worst part is recently when Kim was on the new talk show of another pompous reality show star, Piers Morgan, she expressed to Morgan that she was embarrassed and shamed by her sex tape and that she didn't get where she is today because of it.

Yeah, and I'm going to win a million dollars on the next America's Got Talent.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Cowboy Code...for our Daughters

I'm not usually one to gloat, and hopefully none of you faithful readers will think me so. Hopefully you'll just think I'm accurate. If anyone saw Snooki on Letterman last night I think you'll agree that she was an appropriate member of the Women We Don't Want Our Daughters to be Like list. Additionally, the latest news about Lindsay Lohan makes her look like a pretty good selection for the list as well.

Which leads me to what's on my mind today. I will, in an average day, check out at least a dozen news sites, both on the net and in paper. It's part of my routine and it's part of my DNA. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I was a journalism major in college, and the other part is that I've always been interested in what other people write and how they write it.

So this morning I came across an article, on line, that makes me think there's a connection to why we even have the unfortunate circumstance of a Snooki or a Lindsay Lohan.

I'm not going to review the whole article for you, if you're interested you can check it out for yourself. The crux of the article is the fact that the Montana State Senate passed a bill the other day stating that it would adopt The Code of the West from the book "Cowboy Ethics" and make it the official Montana Code. The writer of the article, Patrick Dorinson, believes that there's a shortage of ethics and values in the USA, and that it wasn't a bad thing for the Montana Senate to pass this bill.

Dorinson goes further in his discussion of ethics and values, and went back to a study done by Rutgers University in 2002 that found that cheating in schools by our young people is a much greater trend than a parent or teacher might want to admit. But what struck me about that was not so much that cheating exists. I mean, who among us didn't, at least once, look over the shoulder of the smartest girl in third grade to see if you got the math problem correct?

There is a quote from a student in that study that pretty much sums up why we have Snooki, Lindsay Lohan and ridiculous shows like American Idol and that other stupid show where people go to compete to see who gets kicked off the island. I don't watch it so I don't know what it's called. I just know it's there.

The kid said, and I quote (to avoid any plagiarism claims) "I actually think cheating is good. A person who has an entirely honest life can't succeed these days."

Wow! Consider that this was spoken in 2001 or 2002, so right now this kid is probably your local mayor or state senator.

So anyway, I guess that got me to wondering what we're teaching our daughters about life. It's not something we give conscious thought to as we go through our daily routine. Maybe we hope that our daughters (and sons) will learn a lot of important things by observing what we do. I've always told my kids that I put a lot more stock in what someone does as opposed to what they say. So, at least I hope, that my kids pick up the good stuff that I do, and maybe don't always listen to the stuff that falls out from between my lips. I said in my last post that I sometimes go to bed at night wishing I could take back something stupid I may have said.

I think if you go read the article about the Cowboy Code, you'll think of some things for yourself. One of the negative lessons that our daughters learn from Snooki, Lindsay Lohan, and others of that ilk, is that MONEY is the most important thing in life.

While I admit that money is important and I would not turn down the opportunity for my next book to be a bestseller, I do adhere to a favorite saying by my second favorite Cowboy actor, Robert Duvall. In the movie "Broken Trail" he and his nephew are driving a heard of horses to Montana. There's a scene where they are discussing a variety of things, and his nephew (played by Thomas Haden Church) talks of money and riches. Duvall's reply is "Never judge your wealth by how much money you have."

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.