respect

Parenting Frustration 101: Paralysis by Analysis


Being a father of three children is a lot of work.

Work that I love to do more than anything else in the world, but with this work comes the real hard work or the hidden work that gets little recognition, is not discussed at birthday parties between dads, nor does this work get or deserve high-fives among the dads at swim class.

The work I’m referring to is being consistent.

As parents we want our kids to be safe, and felt loved and supported and all that stuff, but if we don’t teach our children the right way to treat others and if we don’t set them up to be able to take care of their own affairs, then what are we doing for our kids besides providing food, shelter and love?

As the “helicopter generation” hovering over our children to keep them free from harm and protect them from a wanton stare from little Suzie or a mean word from little Billy, we do our kids no favours at all stuck to their sides.  We tell them to say please and thank you, and we correct them on everything they do that does not meet our approval but do they remember what we tell them?  If they did, why would we have to do it over and over again, so it seems, or why does someone in their class calling them silly crush them, but us telling them they behave poorly does not?

It’s because they hear our voices and they tune out.  No one wants to be corrected constantly, nor do they want to feel unloved, or disliked, so if our kids are in an environment where they feel any of these things, then we have to step up and act.  Not talk the talk, but walk the walk.

In The Urban Daddy household, we teach our children to stand up for themselves – without violence and without having to tell the teacher – to make sure that they are able to handle a situation now, in later grades, in business and in life. They don’t have to be mean, or demanding – they should try to be nice and use please and thank you, but they certainly do not have to take someone else’s bullshit or be picked on for no reason at all.  I believe we call this bullying.

Our kids have to be organized, and be part of a routine at school and at home.  Organization helps out our family unit and helps their teachers do what they need to do without my kids being a distraction or causing interruptions. Sometimes this is not possible as we are learning with 2 boys, but it is what is expected by us and taught to the kids.  If they are able to do this, they are expected to.  If they are unable to, then they will be taught it.  If they are still unable, they will be helped and hugged.  Never blamed.  Never made to feel bad.

But back to consistency…

Without consistency at home (and I struggle the most with this – always have) the kids get mixed messages and it throws them off.  When our morning routine involves a good morning, the opening of the shutters to let in the light, getting a glass of water to drink, a piece of fruit to eat, and then helping make breakfast and lunches, it messes up the children when the routine is fixed some days but not every day?

Even before the kids come down for breakfast they must get dressed, make their beds and on Monday’s and Friday’s made sure their bedroom floors are empty from toys they do not want to have stored in the vacuum cleaner.  So if they come down one day not dressed, they must be sent back upstairs to be dressed, so they understand the importance of following our routine.  Our consistency.

To be consistent is not something that can be accomplished in one day.  It’s a long-term challenge.

It’s also a long-term challenge when you work hard at home to develop a routine, have the kids buy-in, then be consistent with that routine, but when the kids go to school, or to extra-curricular programs the same does not hold true?  With different teachers, or teachers who do not understand the importance of organization and consistency, and that by putting in that effort in each and every kid, the benefit pays off ten-fold in the near future and for the rest of their lives.

Each and every year I sit down with my kids teachers to let them know what works for my child and what doesn’t. What should be brought to my attention and what should be handled by the child themselves. I do this so that the teachers know that we are on their side, we support them, and that while we check in often, it’s not out of concern for the children, but rather to ensure that they are learning, contributing and being good members of their classroom.

Imagine the surprise of finding out that one of these external providers of education are failing your child, and doing so in a big way.

Imagine the feeling of emptiness knowing that all that support and information your poured into the teachers and all the feedback you received was not worth the air it was breathed into.

I’ve been nice, and I’ve been kind and I will not give them the satisfaction of removing him from this situation and going out of my way to find him a new program to attend.  I’m going to fix this. We’re going to fix this, and at the end of the day, my kids are going to get the consistency, organization and respect they deserve and someone else is getting my hard-earned money.

The problem is that until all the pieces have fallen into place – whether we stay or whether we go – I feel like I’m in a state of paralysis by analysis.

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Things I Need My Children to Remember as they Grow up.


English: Pink colour

English: Pink colour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often, I see lists, like the one I am posting today, about things we want our children to know, learn, remember and respect, and these lists are often quite to the point if not a little on the comedic side.  My Thursday Thirteen, however, is a little different from the norm as I have provided thirteen things that I need my children – Linus, Stewie and Boo – to remember as they grow up.  On the bright side, if they ever forget (and I have not completely embarrassed them by the time I cease blogging), they can always find it here.

As parents it is our job to teach and shape our children so that one day when they begin to develop their own opinions they will be able to use what they learned from us to shape their thoughts on things they didn’t know – so they won’t hurt anyone (especially themselves) along the way.   To do otherwise by your children, would – in my opinion – be considered failure as a parent.

Here are the thirteen things I need my kids to remember as they grow up;

13. To my boys: Pink is a colour, much as red, blue, black and green. Liking pink doesn’t mean anything except that you like the colour. If someone tells you otherwise you have to remember that it’s their problem, not yours. At some point in their life, someone tied to colour pink to a negative stereotype which simply does not exist. It’s okay to buy pink items, pink clothes and paint a room pink.

12. All (My 2 boys and my girl): Your nose is NOT an appropriate place to stick your finger – and this rule always stands, whether you are 3, 7, 8 or 38. If you do visit there, in the solitude of your own room, or home, it is NOT okay to them put that finger in your mouth, on your bed, or on your clothes. If, however, you choose to pick your nose, then you must have either a kleenex or square of toilet paper for when you are finished and wash your hands after. Remember that if your hands are dirty and you place a finger in your nose (or mouth) you are putting germs in your body. You will get sick. In addition, people think it’s yucky. Don’t be that yucky kid that turns into the yucky teen, then the creepy booger-eating adult. Please.

11. All: Respect others’ personal space and belongings. There are written rules which need to obeyed when you are in a home and there are some unwritten rules which you must follow so that you will . You need to respect others and their possessions. I know children will be children, but taking, breaking, hiding or damaging something that does not belong to you is not at all what I have in mind when it comes to creating art or playful fun. Neither is it fun to touch, push, trip or get in the face of someone for any reason. In fact, this is a lesson in doing it all WRONG! If you did this to my belongings or got in my face, I would not be happy.

10. Accept others for who they really are.  In an age where bullying has taken centre stage among our youth, I hope I have taught you to see the value in differences. Race, religion, colour, accents, or dress, interests, hair style or colour, ability or disability… It doesn’t matter.  See past it all and realize that we are all humans on this planet.

9. It is okay to cry. Crying is a natural emotional response to feelings. We all do it. Men cry. Women cry. Children cry. If you begin to cry and someone calls you a baby just remember that they learned this at home and they are being taught to hold in their emotions. Feel sorry for them but don’t allow them to change how you act or how you feel.

8. Always be proud of who YOU are. You may not be the tallest kid, or the fastest, or have the best hair, but really now, who cares? As long as you stay true to who you are, everything else will fall into place.

7. Find your passion. Keep looking and searching. Never ever stop.

6. Love this planet we live on called “Earth”. Recycle, reduce, reuse.  Go as “green” as you can by being aware of how you live, shop, and of what you consume (and where that comes from).  Now go join your mother and I hug a tree.

5. Be a brother / sister. Be a friend. Be a protector. Always be good to your family, even when there is conflict. Always remember that you are all that you have. Spouses and friends are great but at the end of the day you should know and have the support of your brother/sister when you need it.  Just don’t take advantage.

4. Smart is cool. Never be ashamed of being smart or nerdy, having freckles or glasses, or loving science and math (or tax). Smart never goes out of style, it stays with you as you grow, and it will lead you down the most successful paths you can imagine.

3. All: Your body is just that, it’s your body. You can keep your hair any way or colour that you want and you can dress any way that you want, but you must remember that others will judge you and it will impact how others treat you. So long as you understand that, you may continue. Don’t let pop culture define you. I don’t know why, but today we let pop culture manipulate our youth and it’s killing them emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. From the early on fascination with princesses, to the ‘need’ for a boyfriend and big boobs, popularity, teen moms, and all the other garbage being thrown in their face – be confident going against the grain or you’ll risk selling yourself out.

2. Maintain your health. It’s life’s greatest asset.  Without good health you have nothing.  A positive approach to health encompasses physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Healthy lifestyle choices we taught you in your youth have already helped to lay a strong foundation for continued wellness throughout your adult life.  In addition, a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, stress management, self-motivation, and remaining positive will have a huge impact on your quality of life, health, and happiness.  Honourable mention: Never be afraid to laugh at yourself. Laughter is humbling. It inspires and motivates.  It keeps you real.

1. Wherever you are in life, you can come home. I will be here – always. ♥ Daddy. Remember children that you will all be my favourite children forever (and equally for your own strengths and inspirations). If you don’t believe me, ask Mummy. She will tell you the same thing.

Oh boy, open permit season causes all kinds of headaches, eh?


Welcome to the wonderful world of hiring a live-in caregiver through the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP). You’ve made your mind up that you need a nanny and you have done your homework and realized that a live-in nanny through this program is the cheapest way to go. You have moved past the idea that a complete stranger will be coming to live with you and raising, or helping in the raising of, your child(ren). You have met with, interviewed and assessed strangers, or sponsored from overseas – relying on the judgement of an agency (more strangers) and at the end of the day, this turns out to be the easiest part of the process. Who knew?

There is paperwork… Lots of paperwork and a really good agency will prepare that for you, or help you prepare it while at the same time educating you on the LCP and the same time preparing you for the interview with Service Canada, setting up the terms of the contract with the nanny, helping get your CRA payroll number in place and making sure all other paperwork is in good order.

The LCP, you see, has changed a lot since 2004 when we sponsored our first nanny and that is solely because people abuse the program and in turn they abuse the people that they have hired to look after their houses and their children. By forcing these nannies to work super long hours (the story goes that because in Hong Kong they are not treated well, in Canada they would not complain about a 12 hour day), or they treat them like prisoners not allowing them to come and go freely from the family home outside of working hours. Expecting them to be on call 24/7, or expecting them to look after your 3 children, and keep the house spotless and cook for the family. If you cannot do it, what makes you think they can? The abuses always make the news.

As a result, the Federal Conservative government has been tightening the screws on the LCP for the past five years, making the rules tighter on the employment side, requiring potential employers to provide contracts to the employees outlining overtime (after 44 hours worked per week) and the giving of 2 weeks notice (or payment in lieu) prior to termination. A lot of attention was paid to having these employees respected and treated accordingly.

Then came the attack on nanny agencies in effort to force out the illegitimate ones but also unnecessarily tightening the screws on the legitimate ones, requiring them to have lawyers and immigration consultants in their business’ as well. Driving up the costs to the agencies ultimately means it is more expensive to hire an agency and really are these people not seeking full-time nannies because they need to work in order to make ends meet?!?

Then came the regulation requiring the potential employer to pay for the airfare of the nanny to bring her to Canada. That has been a huge issue since in many cases, there is not a good fit between employer and employee and if the employee is released, the employer already forked out for their flight to Canada. Another burden to the employer, and potentially critical blow to the program. Or even worse when the nanny comes to Canada on the potential employer’s dime then they quit.

But the latest decision by the Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney just before Christmas and if you employ(ed) a live-in caregiver who had completed their mandatory 2 years in the program, you know exactly what happened there and you have most certainly had to deal with it already. Not only did it come out of no-where but it’s impact was far and wide on may people.

Back in 2004 when we first hired our live-in caregiver we kept her employed until she received her open permit and knowing this we worked with her to ensure she had a post-nanny career option, and we had time to work with our amazing nanny agency to help us sponsor a nanny from overseas to ensure there was no gap in care for our children. The time between the applying for the open permit and the receiving of it was invaluable as it gave us time to get moving on our post-nanny plan.

By 2007, however, the regulations began to tighten for the LCP and it was taking longer to get the open permit, now up to 8 months. Fast forward to 2010, and it was taking well over a year with no end in sight. There was a backlog of 10,000 cases and speculation that none of the nannies in the system were going to be granted their open permits.

This uncertainty made it very difficult for employers to plan for life after their nannies and for the nannies it delayed their planning for their life after employer. None of the nannies could take courses at recognized institutions since they would be deemed to be a foreign student and those students pay a lot of money to take classes which is not feasible on a $23,000/year salary. They needed to know when they could take courses so they could pre-register and employers needed an idea of when they might be leaving for potentially greener pastures.

Then without warning the Federal government granted open permits to everybody in their systems just before Christmas, whether they were waiting over a year, or just a week and within no time there was a lot of chaos.

Nannies, working long hours for low pay through this program, living in someone elses house – usually in the basement – became free agents and wanted more money, and a live-out job, and a Metropass (if in Toronto). Probably different by community, but in our nook in the city there is a going rate for live-outs, apparently, and it entailed more money, and less working hours.

These caregivers needed to earn more to pay for their rent and food, so they could go to school and begin to prepare for their life in Canada they dreamed about when they made the decisions to leave their families and come here.

Not entirely fair to the employer now is it? One day you have a nanny, the next day they are expecting a huge raise and to live out and if you cannot afford the higher salary you get 2 weeks notice, and 2 weeks notice is not enough time to find a suitable replacement, let alone time to sponsor someone from overseas.

Not exactly fair to the caregiver either, I’ll tell you.

You see, my family and our caregiver have really bonded. I mean she looks after the most important things in the world to me, my children and she also teaches them, keeps them safe, keeps my house clean and keeps them fed. Whew. It’s a lot, and in return for this, we pay her, but not just monetarily. We also consider her to be part of the family and in doing to we have always encouraged her to consider life after being a caregiver, life with an open permit and what she wants to do when she grows up.

In my opinion, far too many nannies jump at their opportunity to leave their employer once they receive an open permit and they leave a happy, loving situation to make more money but become more miserable and for what benefit? Nobody wins that situation.

For years now, we have been working with our caregiver on what she needs to do to succeed post-nanny so she doesn’t leave us to work at Tim Horton’s the rest of her life (unless she wanted to) or to be a caregiver for another family – still nowhere near her career goals and dreams. We had already cut back hours for education, recommended courses and locations, and we will do whatever we can to help her hit the ground running full steam ahead into her next career when she’s ready to make that next step, and I strongly feel that as employers we should all be doing this. I do it for my staff that report to me at the office, why wouldn’t I do it for her?

Since we took the time to get to know her and build a relationship with her, we can help her prepare for life after us, and hopefully keep her a part of our children’s lives. Also gives us piece of mind for babysitting.

So if this sudden influx of open permits has caught you by surprise and you have managed to sort through the process think about how you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes, or if you cannot, think about how you would want to be treated if you were an employee working in an organization. Would you want your employer to talk with you about life after that job, career development and opportunities, or would you want them to work you to the bone – content that they are paying you – and then waiting for you to be offered another opportunity and threatening to leave before getting that better offer.

I think we all know the answer to that.

Sidewalk Stress


Could you share the damn sidewalk, please.

As I probably already mentioned, I walk to the subway from my house in the morning on my way to work. It’s a 20 minute walk, and about 7 blocks. Normally I have to watch for cars at the 4-way stops who race through without stopping, and glare at me as I try to walk across the street, but in the last 2 days, my patience is wearing thin with people taking up the whole sidewalk.

Yesterday, a woman waiting for a ride was standing in the middle of the sidewalk… saw me coming towards her, but did not move. I ended up at the last minute veering around her, and grumbled under my breath. In hindsight, I should have said something or just walked into her. Sorry dear, this sidewalk does NOT belong to you and only you.

Just today, there were a bunch of kids getting into a minivan and a girl, about 13 was just standing there blocking the sidewalk clearly with no intention of moving as I approached her. She was standing beside her car, with the door wide open. All I could do to avoid running her over was to just brush by her, while having to walk on someone’s lawn while avoiding all the garbage cans. Again I cursed under my breath.

Later in my trek, I walked towards a couple and their dog, who took up the whole sidewalk. Did they switch to single file to let me pass? NO, I ended up on the grass again, grumbling.

And to make matters worse, I almost got hit by as woman in a car fixing her hair at an intersection. She was looking to make a right turn, and was watching traffic on the left. I was coming from the right. You would think since she had almost hit two women walking across the street not a few seconds earlier, that she would have looked my way before going but she did not. By the time she sped forward, I was 3/4′s of the way past her car and had to jump forward to avoid her taking out my back leg as I walked. I was filled with rage at this incompetence, but without turning around, just shook my head in disgust and made my way the next block to the office. Idiots. All of them. Inconsiderate. Maybe next time I’ll speak up, or start carrying a baseball bat… Or not.

How do you handle these situations?!?