Happy Dad Advice

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What is the Whole… The Family that Eats Together, Stays Together Anyway?

Last night while out to eat at a local restaurant with my son, I looked around and seen several other families eating together as one unit on a Friday night. Is this also strange to you or is this still normal now days for families to eat together? Nonetheless, have you bothered lately to have a look around your house or a restaurant and noticed yours or other families actually still eating and engaging one another in this day and age filled with technology, social media, and life stress(es)? (i.e. and I’m not talking about all those families or yours that sit next to each other but are completely detached from one another either). Notice how many of you do this but also take notice of how many of you actually engage your other family members not merely sitting together while each of you operate in your own world(s) on your own digital devices or watching television. Now I ask… “does the family that eats together, stay together?” Do you think that this old saying is still relevant today?

Connected or Disconnected Family: What is the Right Recipe?

By no means am I an expert in parenting but I truly believe that this (eating together but not actually communicating with one another) is growing problem in America and throughout the world. Does it make since if families have any chance of sustaining themselves long-term just like a business they need to spend more time together especially during dinner. When I was growing up, I can remember dinner was one of the few times that our family actually connected with one another because we didn’t have many distractions. Let’s face it who wanted to watch television in black in white anyway. Now as a single dad I wanted to address why eating together (and YES I mean actually talking to your other family members) is still important to your family’s long-term success). Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen I must admit if you follow this recipe you will not only put food on the table but you will be back on the right track of putting your family back together.

disconnected

Take stock of what you have

Each morning when you wake up the man or woman that you see in your mirror is actually you. I hate to tell you but YES that person is you! There are a million and one reason(s) why when you look in the mirror you continue to make excuses for the life you have created. However, if you think hard about the things in the past that have lead you to this point (whether you are happy or not), I bet you can equate almost if not all of your positive/negative feelings to a point in your life that involved other people… especially family members, YES? My point is, we are all far from perfect but if you surround yourself with others that positively affect you and/or your family, you can begin to take stock of what you actually have or what actually matters most to you. This is especially important if you have kids since they look or are looking for that special leader in their life. So, how can you have a positive effect on your children? This is as simple as putting down all those electronic devices and creating REAL conversation with your kids well sharing a meal together and not sharing a meal together while everyone in your family is engaged with others in the digital world.

the journey

A brief look back

It wasn’t long ago that I discovered that technology was/is changing the relationship I have with my son. This is both good and bad. Therefore, over dinner the last night I decided to take a step back to think about the days I spent with my family growing up to help shed some light on what I could do to be the leader in my son’s life much like my dad was in mine. My dad worked extremely hard when I was young mostly at night, so we didn’t get to see him that often and likewise with my mom but the only difference was she worked the day shift. Split parenting at its finest. However, one thing my parents did was make sure that we all came together (i.e. whether we had to go to my dad’s work) over a nice family dinner every night, which I can remember being special even to this day. Do you have any early memories? Do most of the things you remember about your childhood include dinner with the/your family?

How about grandma and grandpa…

Having lost all my grandparents at an early age (all before I was out of elementary), I am not 100% but I truly believe that children without any thought are given the natural ability to love and cherish the time they spend with their grandparents. Does that sound about right? In fact, grandparents in most families = a long time lasting memory regardless of how significant just like having dinner together. Yes again? Like I mentioned I lost all my grandparents early in life but I remember breakfast each morning cooked by my mom’s mother and other dinners cooked by my dad’s mom, especially Holiday dinners…. Boy, were those fun! One reason I believe that I remember these things (all before age 8) is because we were not engaged in our electronic devices but instead engaged with one another. Therefore, if you as a complete family unit or as a single parent if you want to disconnect the young’ins then I highly recommend calling in the grandparents as an added resource because more than likely they will tell REAL stories (extremely important over breakfast or dinner) not digital stories thus bringing your family closer together.

grandparents

The effortless approach

Some of you may or may not already know but late last year I lost my mother. Before she passed away, one thing my son and I did religiously was cook dinner for my mom and dad most Sunday afternoons, which allowed each of us the opportunity to share unfiltered stories with one another. Okay, maybe a lot of the stories coming from the grandparents were retold to me but not to my son. This/these stories and memories made these days extremely important since they created new memories for my son (he still talks about them over a year later and he is only 8), which made me realize  more that this was approximately the same age I can remember having similar memories over dinner with my own grandparents. As simple, as this may sound there is not any excuse for each and every one of us to help create these new memories with our own children over dinner even in this age of all the new digital communication. Even though it is just my son and I most evenings, the one thing that I have/continue to do is make sure that we have dinner together each night (without any television, internet, or other distractions), so we too can create long lasting memories. Even though my mother is gone now, my son and I still have dinner with my dad most Sundays. Yes my father still tells my son about all those things I did to piss him off when I was young but those/these times are about as valuable as gold is to most people/parents since the lasting memories continue on long after dinner or a visit has ended. As significant or as insignificant as this may sound, as my child grows older, I have to believe that these dinners (whether with me or the family) will become the ammunition for my sons own success because he knows how hard/long I work each day to have this time we spend together each night without interruptions. The moral of this story is that if I as a single dad can make time each night (i.e. on the weekends with my day) to connect with my son over dinner, while sharing real life experiences you too can provide these valuable life lessons to your family and children over dinner. So, back to the question at the beginning of this article…do you find it strange these days for families to eat together?  My answer just like 30 years ago growing up is no, since these dinners provide the memories and fuel more of us need to tackle present and future challenges. If you haven’t given thought or perhaps have forgotten have valuable dinner is with your family I encourage you to continue on with eating together with your families and continue on with the old saying…

“A family that eats together, stays together” my friends, as I am sure you won’t be disappointed that you did.

Recent Posts

Remembering a Great Man- Our Uncle

As many of you already know, last week on April 16, 2019 in Arizona our dearest Uncle Bill passed in his sleep. During his short time there, he was in the care of some wonderful family members talking about all the good times spent with each other throughout his and their lives.

memories

As one of Uncle Bill’s God Children, I never knew a time where he wasn’t part of my life. He did the best he could throughout this time and my life to call on birthdays, holidays, and other special events. He was there sharing in these good times and even in the bad times including the final days of my own dads life.

In fact, I think I was about 10 when I realized that Uncle Bill was more than my God Father. That weekend that I spent with him changing the landscape of his yard was the first time, I realized if there was something you could be proud at a young age was hard work pays off in the end with a finished product. From that weekend on, we continued to share memories and stories. Memories of family vacations, reunions, dinners, and other events of enjoying each other’s company. These events combined with others would also continue to define who I would become as a person when he and my Aunt Kay moved to Florida to enjoy their retirement, as I attended school at the University of South Florida. These memories were not a coincidence and it’s not just me being selective in remembering, it’s because Uncle Bill was a good man and a man that AGAIN helped shape me into who I am today!

Even in his final years, months, and days Uncle Bill made every attempt to do right by his family and friends. Sometimes that meant he would call, visit, or help in any way he could with advice, new perspectives, or financially. He was an inspiration to many with his contagious smile and enthusiasm for life. He made differences in the lives of almost everyone he came into contact with. He was an example of what a true man can be, what a family member can be, or what a friend can be. Now that he is gone we must all learn to grieve for a man that gave everything to all those who knew him. Grieve that he is now reunited with his mom, dad, wife, brothers, sisters, and friends that have went before him.

memory

Although there may be a hole left behind by Uncle Bill’s passing, he will never be forgotten because he filled mine and other lives with memories of happiness and joy. Grieving must remind us of how memories of how hard work pays off. Memories of how time never stands still. Memories of personal triumphs and struggles. Memories of how Uncle Bill touched each one of us and how he helped shape our lives in the past and in the future.

I ask for all of those who knew Uncle Bill and even those who did not that you remember him in your prayers. Let heaven accept this great man and reunite him with others who went before him. My heart is broken but on this Easter Sunday, I pray for Uncle Bill and all those others that I am lucky enough to have or had him as a friend or family member. Please tell those you love how much you love them because we never know when the last time will be that we have to say it. Continue to be strong and enjoy your time spent with each other, so when it is our time to go we know we have not left any stone unturned in our own voyage to the heavens. Give thanks for memories of your past and continue to make memories for the future. It is all these memories (good/bad) others will remember in the end when you are gone. Memories my friends and family are what we have to give, so never stop giving, never stop creating, and never stop telling others how much they mean to you. God bless all and RIP our dearest Uncle Bill!

From left to right “Uncle” William Albert Dandaneau, “Dad, Grandpa, Uncle” David Alexander Dandaneau & “Son, Nephew, Uncle” David William Dandaneau

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