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The Fatherly Guide To: Teaching Kids Healthy Financial Habits

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Fatherly  Guide To: Teaching Kids Healthy Financial Habits

 

WHY FINANCIAL LITERACY MATTERS

 

Every parent’s dream is for their child to grow into a healthy, happy adult. As it turns out, an essential part of achieving outcomes is teaching them how to have a positive relationship with money—living within their means, saving a portion of what they make, and investing prudently.

 

Talking to Your Kids About Money

Money management is one of the most basic life skills that a child can learn, but kids are too often left feeling their way in the dark. In part, that’s because financial education is a subject that many schools gloss over or skip altogether.

Only nine states require at least one semester of financial education coursework at the high school level, according to the nonprofit Next Gen Personal Finance. So it’s not surprising that 76 percent of Gen Z respondents to a 2019 study said they wished their school would have offered a fin-ed class.

That puts an even bigger onus on parents to help kids learn the basics like the importance of creating a budget and borrowing responsibly. “I ask parents to think about all the money lessons they wish someone would have taught them when they were younger,” says financial education instructor Monica Eaton. “Chances are, their kids will not get those lessons in school.”

That leaves kids to be taught at home, but unfortunately, lots of parents don’t know how to start the conversation. A recent survey found that 41 percent of parents expressed a reluctance to discuss financial matters with their children. That curtain of silence only makes it harder for kids to develop the financial skills they’ll need once they go off to college or join the workforce.

Rather than skirting the issue, experts say parents can use ordinary experiences—a trip to the mall or the bank, for example—as opportunities to talk about concepts like saving and spending. As with other aspects of life, kids will pick up on what they see their parents doing, too. Explaining the decisions you’re making to secure your financial future, whether it’s budgeting or building an emergency fund, can have a lasting impact.

“When they see mom and dad having more success in their finances, they’ll learn through osmosis,” says Samir Ahmed, a lead planner with the virtual advisory Facet Wealth.

“If you don’t teach kids at a young age, you can’t expect them to grow up to be financially responsible.”

Neale Godfrey, founder of Children’s Financial Network

Separating Needs and Wants

As parents learn early on, kids have a tendency to think they need every item that catches their eye, whether it’s a giant playset or a lunch box advertising their favorite cartoon. But if you want your kids to avoid dangerous spending habits later in life, you have to teach them that they can’t have it all. As the 47 percent of Americans with credit card debt can attest, learning that lesson is easier said than done.

Eaton says that performing simple, hands-on activities when your kids are still young can help them learn the critical distinction between needs and wants.

“Explain that money pays for both needs and wants,” Eaton, the author of the children’s financial literacy book Money Plan says. “Because money is a limited resource, needs come first.”

Teaching Needs and Wants


Start with the Basics

Collect a variety of different items from around your home, from articles of clothing and toys to personal items. Have your child call out whether each item is a must-have or a wanna-have.

 

Have a Deeper Conversation

Ask your child whether food is a need or a want. Then ask them which category a particular fast food restaurant would fit into. Soon, you’re having a conversation about what’s an actual necessity and what’s a luxury, a distinction that’s key to healthy spending habits.

 

Put It into Practice

Make it clear that you will pay for things your child needs (e.g. clothing) but not everything they want (e.g. designer jeans). If your kids want to spend their money on wants, Godfrey says, “It’s perfectly okay for them to earn the money to buy that themselves.”

 

Learning the Value of a Dollar

When kids still cling to the fantasy that mom and dad have a limitless supply of cash, the concept of saying no to a purchase is utterly foreign. If your last name is Bezos, that’s probably not a big deal. For everybody else, teaching children the finite nature of money can help prepare them for adulthood—and potentially save you from a lot of nagging in the short run.

One of the best financial lessons you can give your child is a sense of how much things cost, both in terms of the price tag and how much work goes into acquiring those dollars. Again, Eaton recommends turning it into a game to get kids interested. Take them along with you to a grocery store and give them a list of different items to purchase, but make sure they stick to a budget of around $10. Pretty soon they’ll be paying more attention to the cost of various items and prioritizing what ends up in your cart.

As your kids get a little older, you can expand that exercise into other purchasing decisions, nudging them to become informed consumers. Whether you compensate them for chores or hand out a weekly allowance, the key is to make your son or daughter pay for “want” items using their own supply of funds.

By having to work within those guardrails, kids are learning what it means to have a budget and determine how much they truly value different items or experiences. When kids know that a new video game will drain their account, for example, they may end up deciding to stick with what they have or buy a less expensive, used version. “They have to figure out if it’s worth it or not,” says Godfrey.

Illuminating the Importance of Saving

The sudden Covid-induced recession last year was a reminder of how precarious the financial health of many adults truly is. According to a Federal Reserve study conducted last November, 45 percent of laid-off workers were unable to pay their monthly bills or wouldn’t have been able to if faced with an unexpected $400 expense. In other words, the crisis exposed just how serious America’s savings problem really is.

So how do you get kids to understand the concept of delayed gratification—to put aside some of what they make now so they’re able to handle future needs? Eaton’s preferred method is to create a savings goal with your child and keep them focused on it. Have them select a product or experience they’d really like and help them research how much it costs. You can even create a “goal poster” with a picture of the item, its price, and an indication of how much progress your kid has made toward purchasing it.

“Talk about ways your child can earn money by completing chores around the house,” suggests Eaton. “Each ‘payday’ lets your child choose the amount of money they would like to put towards the purchase of their goal item.”

Godfrey recommends a slightly different approach: automating their savings so a portion of everything they earn is untouchable in the short-term. It could be as simple as creating different jars for spending and savings, although separating funds is considerably easier if you’re paying your kids through a family-friendly app like Greenlight, a debit card for kids and teens that can also be a valuable teaching tool for parents.

For instance, Greenlight users can transfer a fixed percentage of the child’s allowance to their “Spend Anywhere” balance and another portion to their “General Savings.” Parents can even divert part of their payment to the “Give” category, teaching them to set aside a portion of their income for their favorite charity.

 

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8 Big Signs Your Marriage Isn’t in Trouble

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, December 17, 2021

8 Big Signs Your Marriage Isn’t in Trouble

There's always work to be done. Taking a moment to realize how good you're doing is important.

By Jeremy Brown  Dec 13 2021, 12:54 PM



 

It’s easy to get caught up on the wrong side of self-improvement, isn’t it? To focus on your weaknesses rather than your strengths. This can be especially true of relationships. You know what you and your partner need to work on (because you talk about it, right?) but it’s easy to get so bogged down in the whole being-better-than-yesterday thing that you lose sight of — or don’t take the time to appreciate — the areas where you succeed. It’s a natural impulse (we humans are, after all, wired to focus more on the negative) but one to actively fight. Because in focusing on what works — whether that’s discussing each other’s points of view openly, making time for fun in your relationship, or being able to enjoy a quiet silence together — we’re able to live in the moment and enjoy the small victories. That’s a big win. So, in the effort of helping you focus on just that, here are some eight signs your relationship is doing alright. 

1. You Know You’re a Work in Progress (And You’re Willing to Do the Work) 

It’s easy to look at other couples and think Why aren’t we more like them? or to list out all the ways your relationship could be better. While comparison is the thief of joy, it’s good to have goals and keep in mind some points of improvement so forward progress can be made. Healthy couples understand that they haven’t reached perfection, and that they probably never will. They do, however, have a vision of where they want their relationship to go and are committed to doing what it takes to get there. “They understand the power of yet,” says Kathryn Ford, MD, a practicing psychotherapist and couples therapist. “As in, ‘We’re not good at offering positive comments — yet!’ The most important attribute of a good relationship is the ability to learn.” 

2. You Take Risks (And You Encourage Your Spouse to As Well) 

Trying new things, and supporting your partner when they are inspired to, say, take a new class, learn a new skill, or embark on a unique adventure, helps keep the marriage fresh. Importantly, it also provides opportunities for you to learn and grow, both independently and together. Healthy couples know to prioritize risk and to stretch beyond their comfort zone. “This means that you will fumble and make mistakes,” Ford says. “In a good relationship, you encourage each other to do this – rewarding the effort even when the results aren’t yet what you hope for.”

3. You Have Different Points of View (And You’re Open to Them) 

Healthy couples own and explore each other’s respective points of view. When you want different things, you don’t spend the discussion trying to get your way or digging in your heels on the opposite side just to spite your partner. Instead, you hear what they have to say, take it into consideration, and vice versa. Then, you compromise or relent based on whatever factors are involved. Will it be easy? No. But it’s a balance. “Treat all ideas offered as valuable,” says Ford, “and then both of you play with all points of view instead of owning one and getting into a tug of war about who’s right.”

4. You Don’t Always Talk When You’re Alone (And That’s Okay) 

Comfortable silences speak volumes. Healthy couples understand that not every moment alone together requires that the two of you have some deep and meaningful discussion. Sometimes just being together is enough. “No, you aren’t required by some command of the universe to get absolutely everything off of your chest the moment you feel it,” says Lee Wilson, a relationship coach with 20 years of experience. “That doesn’t mean that you keep everything bottled up or that you don’t have disagreements. It means that sometimes it’s a great thing after a busy day to be able to say nothing while simply resting with the one you love.”

5. You Don’t Tell Your Spouse Everything (Because It’s Unnecessary) 

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be honest with your spouse. You very much should. What healthy couples understand is that they don’t need to do is voice every concern, every flaw, and every negative trait that you see in your partner. “Your job as a spouse is not to make your spouse a better person. Your job is to love your spouse,” says Wilson. “People often become better versions of themselves when they feel loved and feeling that their spouse is overly critical often has the exact opposite impact.”

6. The Fireworks Have Dimmed (But You Have Something Better) 

The early days of any relationship are filled with incredible highs and almost magical feelings of bliss. This is a result of something known as “limerence,” a dopamine-fueled state that causes intense feelings of infatuation for another person. Limerence can be wonderful, but it always subsides and the couples that last are the ones who are still happy with what remains: commitment, companionship, and connection. “That doesn’t mean that there won’t still be occasional fireworks and highs — especially when you do new things together,” Wilson says. “But the highs of the early days of your relationship will fade and it’s not realistic to expect them to be permanent.”

7. You Apologize When Necessary (And Work Hard on Your Apologies) 

Things happen. We all make mistakes. To err is human, and so on. The healthiest couples understand this and, importantly, try not to let pride stand in the way of admitting fault or seeing the forest through the trees. They also work hard at making necessary apologies meaningful (here’s what all good apologies require) and accepting meaningful apologies from their partner. “It’s much more important to be quick to acknowledge mistakes and generous in forgiveness than to not make mistakes,” says Ford. “And attachment research shows that a good repair process strengthens bonds.”


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What Parents Need To Know About Permissive Parenting

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, November 16, 2021

What Parents Need to Know About Permissive Parenting

Permissive habits are grounded in virtuous characteristics, but they need some structure


 
Aug 27 2021, 9:35 AM

Most people would feel like they’d know a permissive parent if they saw one. According to the definition from American Psychological Association these are the moms and dads that are warm but lax. Their failure to set firm limits, monitor children’s activities closely, or require appropriately mature behavior, cultivates kids who tend to be impulsive, rebellious, aimless, domineering, and aggressive. In other words, kids that don’t respond to punishment or praise and who lack respect. 

 


But is permissive parenting so terrible? It turns out the answer is nuanced, and there are good ways to turn permissive parenting into something far more healthy for everyone. 

The Origins of Permissive Parenting

Unlike pop-culture parenting “styles” (see: helicopter, tiger, lawn mower), permissive parenting is grounded in the research of University of California at Berkeley psychologist Diana Baumrind. In her work in the 1960s, she categorized parenting into three different types: authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative based on the amount of demand and care a parent shows their child.  

Authoritative parenting hits all the right notes: High expectations accompany their consideration of each child’s individual needs. Authoritarian parents demand a great deal from their kids, but don’t consider their child’s needs and often pair expectations with the threat of punishment. And permissive parents? They cater to their child’s needs (they’re highly responsive) but demand very little. 

 

Dr. Leela R. Magavi, a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist, and Regional Medical Director for Community Psychiatry + MindPath Care Centers, explains that permissive parenting can reorient the parent/child relationship to look more like peer interaction. “ Children may perceive permissive parents as friends and may be more likely to confide in them,” she explains. “I have witnessed parents becoming much more permissive during the pandemic as they are afraid that their children are devoid of normalcy and will become depressed.”

It should be noted that while Baumrind’s work was grounded in academic research, her insights came almost exclusively from observations of white parents connected to Berkley. Later in her career, she would expand her studies into more diverse communities, and researchers who built on her work could continue and expand on that practice. Nevertheless, academics generally agree that her psychological styles do remain reasonably consistent in terms of outcomes.

Positive Traits of the Permissive Parent

While permissive parenting is unlikely to cultivate the most desirable traits in kids, it doesn’t mean that a permissive parent’s heart is in the wrong place. On the contrary, Magavi points out that permissive parents have some positive underlying traits. 

“Permissive parents tend to be empathetic and compassionate,” she says. “They identify their child’s emotional state and attempt to address their needs. Permissive parents tend to validate their child’s feelings and are more likely to listen to their children and address their needs actively.”

Those are traits that any parent should strive to embody, and they provide a solid foundation for permissive parents who want to add structure to their relationship with their children. Focusing on what parents do well and how those things can benefit their child can help them stay positive as they navigate the ups and downs of adapting to a new parenting style. 

“I advise parents to practice daily self-compassion and remind themselves that perfectionistic parenting could cause their children to perceive every shortcoming as a failure, which may lead to longstanding self-esteem concerns,” Magavi says.  

She also notes that parents may find it helpful to limit their time on social media to strengthen their self-compassion. “On social media, everyone looks like a perfect parent. Reframing thinking and identifying the good and bad in each individual and behavior helps decrease catastrophizing and rumination.”

How Can a Permissive Parent Add Structure to Their Parenting?

Adding the structure is a big adjustment for everyone. It can take time for a child to realize that these changes are intended to keep them safe and healthy. They may perceive more rules and structure as a raw assertion of power and respond negatively. 

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This is where the permissive parent’s strengths of empathy, compassion, and active listening come in to play. Magavi suggests utilizing opportunities for verbal support. “Providing love and support and encouraging open conversation while simultaneously maintaining house rules and safety protocols is of utmost importance,” she says. “I advise parents to create family rules and expectations and incorporate frequent validation and positive reinforcement.”

And, of course, getting on the same page with a partner or co-parent helps. Considering changes and making a coordinated effort gives a better chance for success and makes things easier on kids. “I recommend both parents share changes to rules and regulations to align their parenting, so children have some consistency and do not begin to perceive one parent as the ‘good cop’ or ‘bad cop,’” Magavi says. 

Helping Kids Adjust to Changes

A move away from permissive parenting is good in the long run, but it can be a tough adjustment for kids. They’re used to having things pretty good. So they will feel annoyed and maybe even abandoned when parents start expecting them to do something for themselves.

Magavi encourages parents to explain the benefits of following some rules and regulations. “This allows children to reframe their thinking and identify the benefits of rules. Subsequently, it is helpful to discuss family rules and the reason behind each one,” she says. “Similarly, it is important to explain the consequences of breaking the rules. Parents who were formerly permissive may find that their children are not taking them seriously, and it may take time for their children to conceptualize and follow through on rules and routines.”

NEW REPORT! CDF's The State of America's Children 2021

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Thursday, October 28, 2021

 NEW REPORT! CDF's The State of America's Children 2021

Since the Children's Defense Fund last published our annual State of America's Children report in February 2020, our children have experienced a year of unprecedented upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a racial reckoning year in the making. These shifts have impacted every aspect of children's lives more quickly than data can track; even the most recent available data sets do not fully encompass how this past year has shaped our lives. This, of course, includes our 2021 State of America's Children report. Because, as one element of the report makes clear, "Our Children are Not Immune."

 

A year marked by such dramatic change and drastic negative impact on children's lives must be followed by one of healing and restoration, coupled with bold action.  We hope this report will serve as a call-to-action to join us as we take the proactive steps necessary to fulfill our vision of a nation where marginalized children flourish, leaders prioritize their well-being, and communities wield the power to ensure they thrive

 

The report includes KEY FINDINGS BY POLICY AREA 

• Child Population 

• Child Poverty 

• Income and Wealth Inequality 

• Housing and Homelessness 

• Child Hunger and Nutrition 

• Child Health 

• Early Childhood 

• Education 

• Child Welfare 

• Youth Justice 

• Gun Violence 

• Immigrant Children


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What All Dads Need to Recognize About Modern Fatherhood

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Wednesday, October 27, 2021

What All Dads Need to Recognize About Modern Fatherhood

An excerpt from Fatherly's parenting book, Fatherhood, is available now for pre-order.


Oct 01 2021, 5:07 PM

 

The following is an excerpt from Fatherhood: A Comprehensive Guide to Birth, Budgeting, Finding Flow, and Becoming a Happy Parent, Fatherly’s first parenting book from Harper Horizon’s, an imprint of Harper-Collins.

Your father knew nothing. Well, next to nothing — at least, next to nothing when it came to the likely effect he would have on you or your life. At most, when you were born, he had an inkling of what his presence and participation could offer. You inherited that same inkling. You’re considering it now, an undistinguished mass like an uncut diamond. Your sense is that you can make something priceless of it, but even the first cut requires a decision you might not be ready for. After all, you don’t know the first thing about diamond cutting.


Maybe your father loved you, maybe he didn’t. Whether he was present or absent, understanding, or harsh, “good” or “bad” in your estimation, he was most likely unaware of what he held — because there was nobody to teach him to shape it.

Like others before him, he progressed through the experience of fatherhood, trying to refine the raw white stone, and trying to make it shine. Someone just needed to help him find the correct angles.

Since 1950, the U.S. government has spent roughly $600 billion on NASA programs, nearly $10 billion collecting data on mothers, and the $15 million in change it found between the couch cushions went to research related to fatherhood. But the bulk of that research has been conducted in just the last decade. Which is all to say that humanity knows more about Alpha Centauri than we know about whether your old man messed you up.

Want to know what will happen to you in the moment that your child is born? Not much. As birth releases an oxytocin flood to your wife’s brain, overwhelming her with feelings of love so profound she ugly cries into low-thread-count hospital sheets, you may very well be tempted to check the Browns score (spoiler: they’re losing). You may feel this runs counter to the favored sentimental and celebrity narrative — “The first time I saw that face, my whole world changed!” — but birth experiences are as unique and varied as the men that have them. Instant love may be the story but it’s not necessarily the norm.

So, when does Mom pass Dad the oxytocin? When she passes the baby. Men only receive the biological benefits of dad-status when they start taking care of their kids. Odd as it may sound, those initial dirty diapers become a gateway drug to care. You’ll want more. But only if you keep doing it. And it goes on like that forever; kid and Dad passing the good feelings back and forth like a joint until, if all goes well, the former delivers the latter a heartfelt eulogy. But Dad must start, because the kid’s hands are too small to roll one and because that’s the one thing that we absolutely know for sure, peer-review and all: whatever seriously good vibes are going to be, must start with you.

While your father might have known nothing, he was particularly in the dark about the things he did know — which was a lot. He was pretty much parenting all the time. And surprise, surprise, most of the time, he was probably doing fine. Roughhousing was parenting; watching television with you was parenting; talking to your mother at the dinner table was parenting. Fatherhood is only a state of being in that it’s the act of being who you are. Because the fact is that the person you are before you have a kid will not be appreciably different than the person you are after you have a kid. And that person is the template your kid will use to learn how to live in the world. So becoming a good father is about knowing yourself, and leveraging all that’s good in you towards raising someone who knows better than you. That’s love.


The Mental Health of Dads Matters

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Mental Health of Dads Matters

Why we need to include fathers in conversations about family wellbeing

By Charles Schaeffer, PhD for Psychology Today

In the last few years, we have taken a big leap in understanding and supporting maternal mental health and family well-being. But when it comes to supporting new fathers, we remain in the Dark Ages. Support for the changes and challenges new fathers face is largely absent from discussions of perinatal and postpartum health. For many men, this means the entry into fatherhood is confusing, painful, and stressful. In fact, some estimates reveal that more than 25 percent of new fathers experience depression in the first year – which is almost always undiagnosed and untreated.

Our lack of support for new dads is a glaring gap in our efforts to improve mental health in families and children. Thankfully a small, emerging group of researchers and clinicians has begun to shed light on the critical changes and challenges that happen to a man and his family when he becomes a father.

Fatherhood is a biological and emotional sea change
Becoming a parent is a major developmental milestone for both men and women. It brings a level of biological, psychological, and relationship changes not seen since puberty. And although health professionals educate many new parents about what these changes look like for a new mom, few people hear about a new father's transition. This is especially true about the biological and hormonal changes that have can have a large impact on a new dad's mood and behavior.

Starting a few months before childbirth, testosterone levels lower as prolactin, vasopressin, and other hormones increase, rewiring a man's brain to prepare him for fatherhood. Entire areas of a man's brain grow and develop in response to hormonal changes in the first year of a child's life, which equip him with crucial skills to care for a newborn. This includes an increased sensitivity to crying, a deeper capacity to bond emotionally, and a greater responsiveness to another's needs. Similar to the adaptive hormonal changes women experience, these shifts also increase a man's chances of experiencing clinical depression or mood disorders.

The psychological impact of parenting
Psychologically, men face some of the toughest developmental challenges they have ever faced as they enter fatherhood. According to Bruce Linton, PhD, founder of Father's Forum, a national organization of support groups for new fathers, the transition to fatherhood involves a series of very difficult psychological tasks. A man is required to resolve his own conflicts concerning his father, negotiate emotional uncertainty, learn to be dependent on others and let others be dependent on him, and find a community with other fathers. None of these tasks is possible without some level of support and understanding.

New fathers also face challenges and changes in the relationship with their partner that few fully anticipate. Suddenly the need to argue, negotiate, and resolve conflicts about parenting takes center stage in their relationship. At the same time, sex and relational satisfaction are not a priority. Many men who have relied on their partners for emotional support and intimacy are now left feeling guilty, resentful, and confused as they try to figure out how to support their partners while sacrificing their own support and need for intimacy.

Facing the fiscal reality of a larger family as well as their spouse's possible (if temporary) departure from the workforce, new fathers also often face a level of stress relating to their work performance and income they haven't experienced since their first job. It's no wonder that one of the biggest relationship changes men (and women) face at this time is the sheer volume of conflict in their relationship.

Involved and supported dads are good fathers
With help and attention from their spouses, fatherhood groups, and preventive mental health treatment (when necessary), new fathers who are struggling can find enhanced meaning, pride, and contentment in tending to their families while learning ways to cope with their own anxieties and doubts.

With this kind of support, fathers are immediately able to reap the emotional benefits when "the love hormone" oxytocin begins to flow through their bodies as they care for, play and interact with their children. A new sense of meaning and satisfaction also quickly arises as fathers begin to teach their children all about the world around them. The first few years are filled with powerful moments in emotional attunement where many men revisit their relationship with vulnerability and emotions as they notice how healing it can be for their children when they hold them, reassure them, and comfort them.

In places such as Sweden, Norway, and Finland where men are given extended paternity leave that is protected by law, researchers have seen big gains in men's confidence and desire to be caregivers, rather than just breadwinners and support personnel.

Involved and supported dads are good for families
Supported and involved dads benefit the whole family. National polls and census data indicate that having a genuine connection with an actively involved father may help protect children from negative life outcomes such as not completing high school or developing behavioral problems. And engaged fathers appear to benefit children in a number of cognitive skills including academic performance, problem solving skills, and intellectual ability.

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National Child Abuse Prevention Month – 6 Tips to Help Keep Children Safe

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, April 09, 2021

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

6 Tips to Help Keep Children Safe


April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Five years ago, we kicked off National Child Abuse Prevention Month with a series of child abuse prevention trainings across Delaware. We are now in 23 States doing the work that was so important to Beau.

During the past year, our lives have been turned upside down. For a child who spent the last year living and learning in a dangerous place – perhaps with their abuser, cut off from their schools and support networks – it has been a nightmare. Horrific situations like this along with the increased time children now spend online is the “perfect storm” for child predators.

It is critical that adults – parents, caretakers, families, teachers, counselors, and coaches – support and protect children emerging from a year of intense trauma.

Here are a few quick tips and resources for you to keep the children you care about safe.

  1. Ongoing and age-appropriate conversations with children and teens are key to their protection. Open and honest discussions about abuse, sexual abuse, healthy relationships, and online safety help establish and build trust. Maintaining that trust may lead a child in trouble to open up to you in the future. Just be sure to react calmly and responsibly should a child divulge their abuse or online interactions with a predator. Our free eBook – Seven Things You Don’t Know About Your Child’s Digital Life [link] – can help you get the conversation started.

FAST FACT: Most children are exposed to pornography by the time they are 11 years old.

  1. Find out what your child’s school is doing to protect children from abuse. Children have all been thrust into virtual learning environments and hybrid classes over the past year. It’s imperative that schools and youth-serving organizations that use video conferencing platforms to teach and interact with children adhere to best practices and a well-established and published Code of Conduct, specifically every organization must commit that all interactions with children be continuously observable and able to be interrupted at any time.  

The Beau Biden Foundation created an accredited workshop – Protecting Children in a Virtual Learning Environment [link] – that has helped schools across the country ensure teachers can assess a child’s safety in their online interactions with students. Ask your child’s school if they have training and policies in place that address this issue. If not – ask them to contact the Beau Biden Foundation.

DID YOU KNOW: Reports to Child Abuse Hotlines have dropped by nearly 50% while children and teachers were out of physical the classroom during COVID-19 restrictions. Why? Because teachers, counselors, and school personnel are among the number one reporters of abuse. Without seeing their students regularly, these frontline professionals could not recognize the signs of abuse and make the call to get that child the help they need.

  1. Know and check the apps children and teens are using on their digital devices. Potential harm can come from anywhere — social media and online gaming apps open doors to child predators. Knowing how children and teens spend their time on their smartphones or tablets (and with whom) is critical in keeping them safe. A list of 19 Apps Parents Need to Know is available on our site at [link] to help you navigate this ever-changing digital landscape.

DID YOU KNOW: Federal and local law enforcement agencies are working together to track down and apprehend child predators through popular social media and gaming apps. These joint efforts have led to thousands of arrests. Charges include: Luring a Minor; Attempted Child Abuse, Neglect, or Endangerment; Engaging In Solicitation for Prostitution of a Child; and Facilitating Sex Trafficking. These criminals range in age from early 20s to late 60s. 

  1. Know the acronyms children and teens are using in their chats  predators are using them, too. Learning and recognizing some of these critical codes and acronyms can save a child from a predator. You’re probably familiar with “LOL” (Laugh Out Loud) or “SMH” (Shake My Head), but there are many more acronyms that predators use to chat with children and teens to “KPC” (Keep Parents Clueless) when they “WTTP.” Read our blog – 30 Acronyms Parents Need to Know – to help familiarize yourself with these terms: https://www.beaubidenfoundation.org/blog/30acronyms/.
  2. Know the signs of grooming. Be on the lookout for requests for images, videos, personal information from a child, or to connect in a private chat. These requests, even seemingly innocent ones, could be a predator testing a child. Other questions to keep in mind are: Is the child often making a deal or exchange for game tokens/currency? Is the child being lured into a private chat? Are they keeping secrets or say they have a “special friendship” with someone new online? Does the child suddenly have new items like clothing, jewelry, or a phone that you did not buy for them? Our free eBook – Online Predators: What You Need To Know To Protect Your Child Today [link] – can help you recognize the signs of grooming and offers more advice on how to combat online predators.

FAST FACT: There are at least 500,000 child predators online each day. One in 5 children reports being solicited or contacted by a predator in the last year. 

  1. What to do if your child has already sent an explicit photo or fallen victim to an online predator or cyberbully? Call the CyberTipline: 1-800-THE-LOST. If the child is being cyberbullied, or if there’s an immediate threat or risk of harm – call 911, otherwise seek the assistance of the school counselor, make a report on the platform being used, and preserve any evidence (i.e. screenshot, save chat). If your child is being solicited to send personal information, help them to say ‘no’ and move on, and report the other user(s) involved. If the child has received a request for explicit photos or videos, report to law enforcement. As always, if you have reasonable suspicion of abuse, please click here to find the child abuse reporting line in your area and make the call.
As we often say, the keys to protecting children from abuse, both off and online, are not complicated. Adults need to continue talking to our children.  The tips above are a start in the conversations and one way to ensure children can grow up safe in a world free from abuse.

The Biggest Financial Mistakes Parents Make — And How to Avoid Them

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, April 09, 2021

The Biggest Financial Mistakes Parents Make — And How to Avoid Them

Financial planners told us the most common financial regrets parents have — and how to change course before it's too late. 

By Adam Bulger for Fatherly.com

 

Apr 07 2021, 5:52 PM

 

With its high levels of stress and few hours of sleep, becoming a parent is a surefire recipe for sloppy financial planning. Everyone, from neighbors to relatives to predictive algorithms for Facebook ads, wants to scare you into spending money.  Meanwhile, the bare necessities — diapers, clothes, cribs — are expensive enough on their own. 

While the stress of parenting mellows, the ad hoc approach to spending often remains. Parents spend years spraying a dollar hose at camps, sports leagues, after school activities and whatever else crops up. After decades of indiscriminate spending, they’re unprepared for major life events ranging from college tuition and retirement to disability and death. Financial regrets? Like the great economist Frank Sinatra, they have a few. 

But that regret isn’t inevitable. We asked financial planners about the biggest financial regrets they heard from clients who are parents. Many said their clients with kids wished they’d started financial planning sooner, which is unsurprising (honestly, only rich people start saving when they should). But they also shared counterintuitive advice about how to prioritize money over the long term. Here’s what you should know about the biggest financial mistakes, and how to change course before it’s too late. 



The Financial Mistake: Pre-Baby Spending Sprees

Louisiana-based financial planner and father of four Alajahwon Ridgeway notes that eager parents-to-be overspend before their baby arrives. After covering the basics — crib, car seat, diapers, bibs and clothes — they don’t know where to stop. 

“You never know exactly what you need and what is a luxury to have,” Ridgeway says. After a couple of months as a parent, though, it’s easy to see what’s collecting dust. “All the bottle warmers, newborn shoes, and baby bags were rarely, if ever used.”

How to Correct it: Ridgeway advises first consulting experts who have your best financial interests at heart. “Make a list of things you need by asking a trusted family member or friend,” he says. It’s better to react to needs as they arise than to try to predict them. “When the baby arrives, then buy any additional things as needed. I know a changing table sounds nice, but when you are in another room and you only got three hours of sleep, a towel on the couch will do just fine.”

As the head of a large household, Ridgeway’s bonus advice is to keep baby gear in good condition to avoid unneeded repurchases. “Babies grow out of things quickly, and you may just have four like me,” he says. “Which makes it easy to pass down old clothes that the baby wore for one Easter picture.”

The Financial Mistake: Not Starting to Save Sooner

With the money drain of diapers, daycare, and more, the early years of parenthood leave little wiggle room for savings. But as Michigan financial planner and father of four Paul Fenner says, parents who don’t find a way to start saving money early inevitably regret it. “The number one regret I hear from parents is that they did not begin saving earlier in their lives,” he says.  “Whether that is saving for retirement or college, they regret or second guess the decision not to get started planning sooner.”

How to Correct it: The best time to start making your money grow is 10 years ago. The second best time is today. So, start socking away cash. Now. Ask someone you trust about how to make your money grow over time and follow their advice as quickly as possible. As Fenner says, the first step is the hardest. “[Parents can be] afraid of taking the first step or that their ambitions were unclear to where they did not know where to start or who to turn to support their family,” he says.

The Financial Mistake: Going Big on Your Kid’s Wedding

Weddings set the tone for a marriage in more ways than one. Couples want to launch their new lives together with joy and celebration and parents want to help. “Weddings bring in the whole family, and are discussed for decades afterward,”  Ohio financial planner Curtis Bailey says. “Parents want the best for their children and offer to help foot the bills.” But joy and celebration don’t come cheap. “When the budget begins to go overboard, it is often the parents who continue to write the checks.”

How to Correct it: Don’t give your kids carte blanche for their big day. Be generous, but be generous with a single lump sum payment. “I have seen a few parents simply write a one-time check,” Bailey says. “That’s it. It sets the budget and gives the couple their first opportunity on how to spend it. Tradeoffs become more real for children when they write the check from their own bank account for wedding expenses.”  

The Financial Mistake: Not Maxing Out a Roth IRA

Anthony Watson, founder of Michigan wealth management firm Thrive Retirement Specialists,  finds that his clients often wish they would have funded a Roth IRA earlier in their career while both their income and taxation rates were lower. While contributions to traditional IRAs are tax-deductible and your earnings grow tax-free until you pay taxes when you start withdrawing from the account, Roth IRAs are subject to taxes while you contribute to them. “Plus, the ability to contribute to a Roth IRA gets phased out at an Adjusted Gross Income of $125,000 if single and $198,000 for couples,” Watson says. 

How to Correct it: After maxing out their employers matching provisions to their 401(K), prioritize funding a ROTH IRA. “High growth assets like stocks in a Roth IRA early in life can put people in a great position later in life by giving them a sizable tax-free income source to fund retirement,” Watson says. “Combined with qualified retirement vehicles like a 401(k) or IRA that get taxed at personal income rates when withdrawn in retirement, an individual can craft a superior tax-efficient withdrawal strategy later in life adding tremendous value to their retirement situation.”

The Financial Mistake: Investing too Heavily into Bonds Over Stocks

Watson finds that his older clients wish they earned better returns by holding more stock and fewer bonds in their portfolio.  

“Young people often naively hold bonds in the portfolio because they think it provides them with needed diversification,” he says, adding that the ability to work for steady pay and make steady contributions to an investment portfolio over time serves the role bonds would play in the portfolio. 

But, please note: This doesn’t mean betting on individual stocks in hopes of beating the market.  “While it is possible to have success occasionally timing markets or picking stocks, the probability of slowly and steadily growing your portfolio and allowing compounding to do its work is low,” he says.

How to Correct it:  Watson advises following a simple index-based approach to investing, saying parents will have better luck using low-cost, diversified ETFs rather than following the crowd and trying to time markets or hit home-runs through stock picking. And yes, Reddit dads, that includes Gamestop stonks. 

The Financial Mistake: Not Teaching Kids Financial Literacy

When kids enter young adulthood, they often struggle with financial concepts. Student loans, credit, and investing are elusive for them. “Many parents regret not teaching their children more about finance,” South Carolina financial advisor and father of three Charles H Thomas III  says. “The hesitancy often comes from parents who aren’t sure themselves.”

How to Correct it: It isn’t easy to tell your kids that you don’t know something. But Thomas says sussing out how money, debt and credit works can bring your family close together.  “Take it as an opportunity to learn together,” he says. “For example, if a bill comes in the mail, offer to look at it with your child and talk through what makes sense and what doesn’t. It will benefit everyone to talk it through.”

The Financial Mistake: Under-Spending on Life and Disability Insurance

Nobody likes paying for insurance. It’s a drain on your wallet that has no benefit the vast majority of the time. But when emergencies happen, which happens more frequently as you age, the cushion of insurance can make a vital difference for families. Megan Kopka, a North Carolina financial advisor specializing in advising families of children with disabilities, says that not having any or enough disability or life insurance can lead to major regrets. Often with disability comes large medical payments,” she says. “These two insurances are often overlooked or downplayed. In worst case scenarios, that can be the biggest regret.”

How to Correct it: Sign up for life and disability insurance. Pay the policy every month. Complain as much as you want when everything’s fine and pat yourself on the back when everything goes wrong and you were prepared. “If you are not on track for retirement and the kids are older and college isn’t covered then get life insurance in case your household income is decreased by disability or death,” she says.

The Financial Mistake: Prioritizing Kids’ College Over Own Retirement

Believe it or not, putting your kids first can be a huge mistake. Ohio financial planner John Bovard and father of four says his older parent clients frequently realize they erred in supporting their kids too much.

“Often, they were concerned about their kids going to a good school,” Bovard says. They worried about paying their tuition and making sure there wasn’t any student loan debt. And then they come to realize that they probably should have used that money for their own retirement.” 


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How to Teach Kids to Listen, Change Their Minds

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, March 09, 2021

How to Teach Kids to Listen, Change Their Minds

Listening is more than paying attention. It is about understanding the story being told.

By Matthew Utley Jun 05 2020, 1:41 PM

It can be hard to truly listen to other’s perspectives, particularly if they are far removed from one’s own experience or document pain that has been ignored for generations. But much of the pain and anguish displayed in cities across America today are the result of pleas falling on deaf ears, and ostensible allies dismissing the daily experiences of millions of fellow citizens because it seems so far outside their norm. It is a failure to listen and empathize with other perspectives. This is an oversimplification, but when people listen — really listen — and empathize, things can improve.

 

nd that makes it all the more important to teach children how to listen and empathize. Today’s children will still be sorting through these issues of justice when they enter adulthood, and the way a child is raised helps determine the kind of adult they become. So what can parents do to help raise kids who listen with empathy and emotional intelligence and can change their minds? It requires an ongoing conversation at every age. Here are some things to know.



 

Infancy: Be There For Your Baby


The seeds of empathy are planted during infancy, when neurological development is very sensitive to parental behavior. In fact, so many systems are developing in babies that even something as simple as changing a diaper reinforces socialization.

“A basic concept here is ‘neurons that fire together wire together’ – so when there is a diaper change, for example, all sorts of things happen: eye gazing, soothing speech, and relief of displeasure of a mushy diaper,” explain Dr. Brit Creelman, a licensed clinical psychologist at Allendale Association’s outpatient therapy clinic in Chicago.

Dr. Creelman adds that these social interactions happen in the context of needs being met, and regulation being supported, “with all this coming together in such a way that neurologically the brain starts to develop and become hard wired for well-regulated social interaction – the foundation building blocks for empathy.”

 

Early Childhood: Lead By Example, Focus on Empathy


Children in early childhood tend toward an egocentric moral position; they only understand the world from their own perspective, and form their moral positions based on what their family rewards as good behavior. This isn’t an indication of a bad kid — it’s simply how kids figure out the world. But it also presents parents with an excellent opportunity to nurture empathetic behaviors by modeling them. “The best way to raise empathetic kids is to do so by example,” says Dr. Lea Lis, a double board-certified adult and child psychiatrist and author of No Shame: Real Talk With Your Kids About Sex, Self-Confidence, and Healthy Relationships. Express emotions, talk about feeling sad, discuss making mistakes, listen intently to your kids and others, and your children will learn from watching you. Modeling is paramount. “Children often understand their emotional reality only in the context of others,” notes Dr. Lis. “They also understand if they will get into trouble, but have not really internalized why they must behave.” Parents, therefore, must model and explain why it is important to do the right thing, even if they won’t get into trouble.

Certain tools can help young children better understand empathy and the world in general. Reading fiction and discussing the feelings characters might have experienced during a particular moment. Feelings charts can help increase emotional vocabulary. Dr. Lis recommends social stories, which are narrative templates that allow children to run through various social situations and understand how to navigate them. Social stories often offer perspectives, discuss the feelings and opinions of multiple characters.  “They help children grasp social norms, routines, and expectations, like walking down the hall, using restroom facilities, following lunch procedures, using manners, using greetings, asking for help properly,” she says.

 

Grade Schoolers: Model Behavior, Validate Feelings


As children grow older and enter grade school, the social circle that influences their ideas of morality can expand. And while that can create problems, parents still wield an incredible amount of influence. Even older kids who are internalizing their ideas of right and wrong still watch parental cues. Moms and dads must therefore reinforce those cues by asking questions and genuinely listening to their children. Parents should make sure that listening includes allowing their children to feel their feelings, even if it is unpleasant.

Validating feelings is crucial, as brushing them off teaches kids to ignore and internalize them. “When a child is afraid, for example, it is probably more helpful to say things like ‘I see you are scared, tell me about it’ rather than glossing it over with comments like ‘Don’t worry you don’t have anything to be afraid of,’” says Creelman. “When a parent acknowledges and names feelings, this helps a child feel understood. Feeling this from others helps build the ability to do this when interacting with others later on, which is a foundational component of empathy.”

Adolescence: Get Your Kids Involved


Adolescence is often when kids start to address more complicated moral ideas, such as the concept of the ‘white lie.’ Once they are able to consider another person’s perspective, lying to preserve their feelings becomes a legitimate moral question. This is not the time to shelter kids. It is a time for them to read more, to get involved, to learn from experience. 


Great Communication Starts With Understanding Your Kid

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Great Communication Starts With Understanding Your Kid

The first five years are an explosive time in terms of development. Your little one understands more than you think. Here's how to talk to them.

By   


About DFFC

The Delaware Fatherhood & Family Coalition is an extension of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program and the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative created specifically to give a voice to fathers and the importance of their involvement for the well-being of their children.


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