With Father's Day coming up, we at Kids These Days! thought it the perfect time to explore the role of fathers through history. How have dads changed, and how have they stayed the same through wars, civil rights movements and shifting economic times? We'll learn about the growing Alaska Native Fatherhood Movement and the groups that advocate for an active, engaged father (or father figure) in every child's life - and why it matters. Join us for this discussion that spans decades, cultures and a country as we look at dads in the USA, then and now.
IN-STUDIO GUESTS: Joining host Shana Sheehy to discuss all things dad are two special guests - both fathers, these professionals have made it a focus of their careers to focus on the topic of fatherhood.
• Patrick Anderson is the father of three children, Ashley, Alexander and Austin. He is Tlingit Indian (Eagle moiety, Thunderbird Clan, from Yakutat) and Alutiiq (from Cordova). His Tlingit name is Daakudein. He is the Executive Director of the Chugachmiut Native corporation, and considered one of the founders of the Alaska Native Fatherhood Movement. Read more about Patrick here.
• Dr. Ralph LaRossa is father to two sons, Adam and Brian. He is professor of sociology at Georgia State University and an internationally-recognized scholar who has written extensively on the history of fatherhood in America from colonial times to the present. His most recent book, Of War and Men: World War II in the Lives of Fathers and Their Families (University of Chicago Press), examines the effects of the war on the culture and conduct of fatherhood and the diversity of men's experiences throughout the war and after. He joined us from the studios at WABE-Atlanta. Read more about Ralph here.
LINKS FROM THIS PROGRAM:
- Fatherhood Movements in Alaska - Search the internet for “fatherhood” and you come up with a lot of efforts aimed at keeping dads more involved in their kids lives – the National Fatherhood Initiative, the National Center for Fathering. It all adds up to a Fatherhood Movement. KTD Contributor Jessica Cochran set out to find out about what Alaska's fatherhood movement efforts look like.
- Dads on TV Through the Ages - Since the 1950's we've seen all kinds of dads on television. Good or bad, these characters have helped to define what the American Father looks like, acts like and how he treats his family. Those who study the influence of pop culture say that it does matter how dad is portrayed in the media - and for a very good reason. KTD Producer Sarah Gonzales spoke with the National Fatherhood Initiative's Vincent DiCaro to learn more...
Josh Shipp grew up in foster care and now travels the country helping teens make good decisions
A LOT CHANGES during adolescence - the brain is evolving, puberty has taken hold, and something else that's shifting is an adolescent's sphere of influence - sorry mom and dad, you're no longer the number one voice of reason. Anyone who has parented a teen knows well the communication gap that starts to widen right about middle school, but there are ways to continuing connecting.
Josh Shipp is a 30-year old teen behavior expert, author and TV show host whose work is all about "getting through to teens". He's been called "Dr. Phil for teens" and the "teen whisperer".
He shared some of his "getting through" strategies with KTD producer Sarah Gonzales on a recent one-day visit to Anchorage.
OVER THE PAST 18 years, I've been told (and have told myself) that I have the strictest parents out of anyone I know. Of course now I have that wonderful thing called perspective, I know they were acting in my best interests. I may not have been able to do everything my friends did, but now I know that most of those things weren't as cool as they seemed.
The discipline started from as early as I could remember. In elementary school, we didn't have an "English Tele" (my and my brother's word for cable TV). All of my friends had cable, but my parents, acting like a very good PSA for standing up to peer pressure, didn't cave. Looking back, I kind of wish they hadn't ever relented, because 95% of the things I watch now are a waste of time.
Strangely enough, I was only ever really grounded once - but that lasted for the better part of four whole months. What'd I do? Well, I was caught not five minutes after I snuck out of the house in August, and I didn't get my privileges back until after Christmas. That swift and unyielding response showed me that the four hours I was planning to spend out of my house wasn't worth the treat that was waiting for me when I got home. My parents didn't mess around.
I remember my mom telling me the importance of structure in a kid's life, and I'm exhibit A. I can't remember a time where I was punished for something I didn't know was wrong. Everything was always clear punishment wise - this is why you're being punished - I just did it anyway.
From what I've thought about parenting, it seems to me that their main job (besides letting us live another day) is not letting us kids get ahead of ourselves. We want to stay up later, drink before it's legal, and do countless other things before common sense and science says we're ready. It's the parents' job to keep them from trying to act like an adult in 7th grade, because that wouldn't be pretty. I'm really glad to say my parents did a good job, even though at the time I wished they wouldn't be such good parents.
THE AFTERNOON MY oldest son turned eighteen, I cried. Nose-running, chest-heaving crying, with wretched tears that froze on my cheeks as I ran across snowy trails near our Anchorage home. It was a day that I had dreaded with uncertain anticipation. Suddenly, it was here, and I was still not ready.
My son, like so many children, suffers from and fights with an autism spectrum disorder frequently referred to as Asperger Syndrome. Characterized by an overdose of impulsive behavior and an under-dose of social skills, my son, MJ, is nothing if not the Weirdest Kid on the Block, a label his stepfather and I have mostly been able to shield him against with all our parental powers.
At eighteen, MJ and thousands of Alaska children are considered officially “adults” in an academic sense. They can vote, boys must register for the Selective Service, and a flurry of college information fills the mailbox. It is a time of independence, either real or perceived, and our son is no different in his zeal for all the honors and benefits of finally becoming “old enough.”
But MJ has no idea what “old enough” really means. A resident of an out-of-state treatment facility since 2008, MJ has struggled to learn the most basic of social skills; from merely parroting a “Hi, how are you?” phrase, to practicing regular hygiene and grooming habits. It is an agonizingly slow process, filled with false starts and backward steps, and little, tiny inches forward. Staff at his current residence are infinitely patient, yet firm; they know better than we how the world sees young adults like MJ, and they want him to get this right.
It was almost easier to manage MJ as a young child; at least then I could reinforce with the authority of a typical Aspie Mom. But at eighteen, a difficult decision awaits parents of children with disabilities. Along with figurative independence also comes the literal and legal meaning of the word, and MJ, for better or worse, was now able to make decisions regarding his health and well-being. He could, in effect, sign his name on the dotted line of discharge forms and go about his business in Denver, Colorado with no one lifting a finger to stop him.
The decision to establish guardianship was made shortly before his birthday, after hours of conversations and meetings and prayerful discernment. Guardianship was granted shortly after his birthday, with little resistance but not without confusion on the part of MJ, although we explained over and over our reasons for wanting to keep him healthy and safe. What we didn’t tell him was our intention of saving him from himself, because for a young man today to appear “odd” or “looking funny,” statistics of violence and police intervention almost immediately stacked the deck against our 6-foot, two-inch tall young adult.
To his credit, however, MJ is finally pushing back at the darkness which has threatened to consume his soul as a younger teen. He sees, if however tenuously, the connection between how one looks and acts, and how people treat each other accordingly. He will graduate from high school with a fairly high grade point average, an amazing feat considering he has had so little success in other aspects of his life. Our family is working with a team sent from heaven at The Arc of Anchorage, who do not shake their heads in the negative when I mention potential roadblocks. Arc staff will teach him how to ride the bus, be successful at a job, go shopping, exercise and be happy with who he is.
With so much left to learn, I sometimes look at this man-boy during our internet face time and wonder how he has managed to hang on for so long. Perhaps it is my husband and I who need to step back, recognize his courage, and allow him to own his future, instead of asking ourselves for the millionth time, “Why did this happen?”
One of my literary heroes, Norman Maclean, author of A River Runs Through It explained it perfectly to me one day in his book, as I sat on an airplane, whizzing through the sky after a particularly meaningful visit to MJ:
“...And so it is those we live with who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding.”
Perhaps this journey of maturation has not only occurred in our son. Eighteen is, after all, only a number, and we have a lifetime yet in which to grow.
NOT TOO LONG ago, sex-advice columnist Dan Savage visited Alaska. He took a few minutes out of a busy day to talk with Kids These Days! Savage told us about topics near and dear to him, like what got him started writing his internationally-syndicated column, Savage Love and what caregivers should know about the teens in their lives who may be questioning their sexual identity.
Host Shana Sheehy spoke with the columnist at UAA.
NUMEROUS STUDIES HAVE looked at the relationship between how much couples share household duties and how much they have sex. Generally speaking, more sharing of housework leads to more frequent sex, less contentious marriages and partners reporting being more content.
Now, there’s a certain segment of the population that doesn’t believe those studies: back in 2009 when the Wall Street Journal published the findings of one of them, several commenters complained that the studies couldn’t control for all factors, or that they must have been paid for by feminist groups.
But the whole idea kind of makes sense to KTD! contributor Jessica Cochran. So when she spied a book on the grocery store shelf titled Equally Shared Parenting – Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents by Amy and Marc Vachon, she bought it.
It's a fact: parents of all-age kids sometimes feel overwhelmed or maxed-out. Finding time to yourself to “re-charge those batteries” can seem daunting - yet another thing to squeeze into the day. But for parents, self-care is just as important as child-care.
At a recent “parentTalk” meeting held by thread, parents shared their tips for sneaking some "me time" into the day - they tell us it can be something as simple as walking to the mail box, putting on makeup or getting to the gym.
What do you do, mom and dad? Let us know in the comments below...
Our regular contributor Jessica Cochran spoke with the guest-presenter and some of the participants to share those tips with our listeners.
It may be hard to remember a time when Google, Facebook or Wikipedia weren't at the ready to supply us with information and to connect us to others. These days we can look up any ailment or join a support group just by using our smart phones, but a few years ago when Susan Kushner Resnick was experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression she couldn't find anyone who'd been through it and who'd survived to tell their story. She wanted to feel less alone.
So after she survived her postpartum depression, she wrote a memoir all about her experience - to let others know that it gets better.
Producer Sarah Gonzales recently spoke with the author.
A new baby is a reason to celebrate but the time after birth can bring with it a wealth of conflicting emotions that sometimes go beyond typical "baby blues". What does everyone need to know about recognizing and treating postpartum mood disorders and supporting those who are suffering?
DID YOU KNOW? These are the signs and symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder (including postpartum depression):
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, you can get help by visiting Postpartum.net, or in Alaska, by calling the Crisis Line at: (907) 563-3200
- One woman's story of Sleepless Days - A few years ago when Susan Kushner Resnick was experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression she wanted to read about another woman who'd been through it and made it out okay - but she couldn't find anything. So after she survived PPD, she wrote a memoir, Sleepless Days: One Woman's Journey Through Postpartum Depression, all about her experience and to let others know that it gets better. She spoke with Sarah Gonzales. (Read an excerpt of her book here.)
- A father's perspective on PPD - The partners of those experiencing postpartum depression will not only support their partners during a very hard time, but they will most likely have to take on more household responsibilities while mom gets better. Steve SueWing's family recently weathered PPD, and we asked him to share with our listeners why dads need support, too. (Steve's new blog - "Capitol Letters: Notes from a Juneau Dad" - starts Thursday here at KidsTheseDays.org!)
- Parents talk about self-care - At a recent “parentTalk” meeting held by thread, parents shared their tips for sneaking some “me” time into the day – even if it’s just in 2 or 3 or 5 minute doses. Jessica Cochran spoke with the guest-presenter and some of the participants to share those tips with our listeners. (Thank you to thread and Wells Fargo for supporting this story from our our Early Childhood Desk.)
For more discussion on this topic, check out a recent episode of Line One: Your Health Connection with Dr. Thad Woodard on the topic of Maternal Mental Health.
Family members living under the same roof will no doubt accidentally intrude on each others' privacy from time to time - walking in on one another, discovering your kid playing doctor with the neighbor kid or overhearing something from behind closed doors.
So how can caregivers best handle a sexually awkward situation with the least amount of embarrassment or shame? This week's guests, Katherine Huffman and Chris Reynolds, answered this burning question many parents have as a special feature just for the web!