Tuesday, January 29, 2013

President Obama Honors NBA Champion Single Dads


Associated Press
During a White House visit to celebrate the Miami Heat’s 2012 NBA Championship, President Barak Obama made special mention of Dwayne Wade and Labron James who “take their roles as fathers seriously[i].” Mr. Obama continued, "For all the young men out there who are looking up to them over time, for them to see somebody who cares about their kids and is there for them, day in, day out, that's a good message to send.[ii]"

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there were in excess of 1.7 million single fathers in 2009; 15 percent of single parents were men.

● 8 percent were raising three or more children younger than 18.

● About 47 percent were divorced, 29 percent were never married, 18 percent were separated, and 5 percent were widowed.

● 44 percent had an annual family income of $50,000 or more.

● 158,000 are estimated to be “stay-at-home dads.[iii]


Dwayne Wade's single father story was featured on June 15, 2012 in "Dwayne Wade's Decision: A Single Father's Story."
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[i] “Obama honors NBA Champion Miami Heat.” Stacy Anderson. Associated Press. January 28, 2013.
[ii] “Obama honors NBA Champion Miami Heat.” Stacy Anderson. Associated Press. January 28, 2013.
[iii] “Father’s Day Centennial: June 20, 2010.” U.S. Census Bureau News. June 20, 2010.




Friday, January 25, 2013

Single Dads: Now Comprise More Lone Parents in Canada

Apparently, the increase in the number of single father families is not just a trend in the United States. Canada has also experienced a similar development. It appears to be a trend in many Western countries because, according to the Toronto Star, “One explanation for the jump in father-led single families is that fewer mothers are granted sole custody following a divorce than in decades past.[i]

While single mothers “still comprise about 80 per cent of all single parent families in Canada[ii],” the number of single father increased by 16% in the most recent census, compared to only a 6% increase for single mothers.[iii] Since 1961, “lone parent families,” as they’re known in Canada, have nearly doubled from 8.4% to 16.3%.[iv]
Photo Credit: Vince Talotta/Toronto Star
One single father in Toronto laments, “The greatest challenges of his single-parent career, he says, have been finding the time to get everything done — 'there’s never enough time' — and raising two boys on one income.[v]

Concerns about time and money are a familiar refrain for both mothers and fathers in lone parent families. In many ways, time is money. Whether divorced, separated, widowed, or never married, there aren’t any easy answers to these issues. However, there are some ways to make life for the single parent a little easier. Here are a few:

1) Improve time management skills. (See “A Single Father’s Big Stones.”)

2) Use your head instead of your heart when making financial decisions in the context of divorce or separation. (See “Top 5 Financial Blunders Guys Make During Divorce.”)

3) Assign reasonable household responsibilities to your children. (See “Children & Chores in a Single Dad Family.”)

4) Give yourself a financial check-up/shop your service providers. (See “Single Dad’s New Year’s Resolutions.”)

For more ideas for successful lone father parenting, check out The Single Father’s Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball and visit The “Single Father’s Guide Blog” regularly. Together, we’ll make it through this chapter of our lives and contribute to creating a healthy, happy, and productive environment for ourselves and our children.


[i]“Census 2011: More single dads leading lone-parent families.” Toronto Star. www.thestar.com. September 19, 2012.
[ii]More Canadian single dads head rise in lone-parent families.” CBCNews Canada. http://www.cbc.ca/. September 19, 2012.
[iii] “Census 2011: The modern Canadian families.” CBCNews Canada. http://www.cbc.ca/. September 18, 2012.
[iv] “Census 2011: The modern Canadian families.” CBCNews Canada. http://www.cbc.ca/. September 18, 2012.
[v] “Census 2011: More single dads leading lone-parent families.” Toronto Star. www.thestar.com. September 19, 2012.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Boys Will Put You on a Pedestal So They Can Look Up Your Skirt

With a title he took from an old Steve Martin routine, Phillip Van Munching has created a very nice, if not just a little out-of-touch book of advice from a father to his daughters. With a foreward from Katie Couric and a back cover testament from Dr. Phil McGraw, Boys Will Put You on a Pedestal So They Can Look Up Your Skirt: A Dad's Advice for Daughters does a fairly good job with addressing tender issues about which the author would want his daughters to know his opinions just in case he was "hit by a bus tomorrow."

Out-of-touch is really not quite the right phrase, at least when it comes to the advice which I found to be sound, direct, and rooted in traditional common sense. That is not to say, however, Van Munching took the easy way out when he ploughs through on issues like sex or drugs or faith, for example. Rather than using the tired and increasingly less relevent argument that "the Bible says," or because "God made us this way," Van Munching generally uses reasoned rationale to explain the positions he has taken. For example, a young girl should not use drugs not just (or necessarily) because of the damage it can do to a young woman's body. Rather, drugs can make a girl lose her ability to make good judgments which, in turn, can lead to a series of other, rather significant and immediate problems.

The concern I have is more in Van Munching's accounts of his own experiences with each of his topics. The stories he tells are his own direct experiences with these topics, his own experiences (I believe) may be a little off-putting for the typical young girl reader. For example, to illustrate his experience with cynicism, the author uses the first Roberto Duran/Sugar Ray Leonard fight. I'm not sure any 13-year old girls will connect with that. On the other hand, if a father reads the book and then finds a way to share it with his own daughters - even if it is a way to break the ice with his teenage daughters relative to some meaningful or difficult topic, then Van Munching has done his job.


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Friday, January 18, 2013

Where Are All The Single Ladies?


So, the quote of the day belongs to Kate Zernike who wrote, "THE news that 51 percent of all women live without a spouse might be enough to make you invest in cat futures[i]."
I’d always posited that the attractive and intelligent women who grew up in rural areas found themselves without professional and social opportunities in the small towns like, for example, Buffalo Center, Iowa or Beavertown (no pun intended), Pennsylvania. So, those young women moved to the bright lights of a big city like Chicago or New York where there are jobs, intellectual stimulation, and an occasional gentleman with whom a girl can enjoy dinner, a show, conversation, and romance.

If you’ve spent any time on Chicago's Northside, single father, or if you’ve been a member of eHarmony.com in the Metro New York area, you can anecdotally attest to this. 
Image Credit: www.exp.lore.com

Based on Exlpore’s “Interactive singles map of the U.S.[ii],” there are quite a few more single men in western U.S. urban areas from Seattle to San Diego and from Denver to Dallas, which is opposite the trend observed in the east. So, what gives?
The “data suggested that single living was not a social aberration but an inevitable outgrowth of mainstream liberal values. Women’s liberation, widespread urbanization, communications technology, and increased longevity—these four trends lend our era its cultural contours, and each gives rise to solo living[iii].” While liberal values may explain the reason for the increase in the number of women delaying or rejecting marriage, it doesn’t explain the reason there are so many more single women than men in the eastern U.S. and so many fewer in the west. Perhaps, rural life in Colorado are different than that in Pennsylvania. One can't argue that women who live in California are any less socially liberal than women in New Jersey. Perhaps the talented and attractive single women in the western states believe that they don’t have to relocate to urban areas to find the intellectual and romantic opportunities their sisters in the east do. I've even argued with a couple of close friends that there may just not be in some parts of the country enough men who know how to treat a lady. All (or, at least, most) of the gentlemen are taken and the classy women, as a result, simply postpone or choose not to marry rather than compromise.
No matter the reason, single dads, the fact remains that there are significantly more single women who live in places like Atlanta, Cleveland, Hartford, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis than there are in Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. So, the take-away here is, of course, if finding a partner is a priority for you and if you have the means to do so, you have a better chance, or at least a larger pool of candidates, if you, “Go East, young man.”

[i] “Why Are There So Many Single Americans?” Kate Zernike. New York Times. January 21, 2007.
[ii] “An interactive singles map of the U.S.” Edited by Maria Popova. http://exp.lore.com. Accessed January 14, 2013.
[iii] “The Disconnect: Why are so many Americans living by themselves.” Nathan Heller. The New Yorker. April 16, 2012.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Zesty Citrus Immune Booster Smoothie


Photo Credit: Kathie Austin Photography
Just before the winter break, The Favorite Son was under the weather and, for the first time this year, missed a day of school. He had a  cough and a little fever and didn't feel very well, poor little guy. I'd picked him up from school early the previous day and, after waking up at his regular time, he went back to sleep for a few hours.

Of course, I think we generally eat fairly healthy stuff. However, when The Favorite Son got up again around 10:30 a.m., I wanted to give him an extra little boost of vitamins to help his immune system and his little body get over his cold. Of course, for his benefit and for mine, I wanted to get him back in school. Using the "lemon and honey" home remedy as a foundation, I concocted a healthy, zesty, citrusy smoothie for the little man and me.

Zesty Citrus Immune Booster Smoothie

12 ounces of sugar-free lemonade
3 peeled oranges
1/2 lemon, rind on
8 ounces of frozen strawberries
2 tablespoons of honey

Blend for thirty seconds or until ingredients are smooth. Makes about 36 ounces or about three, frosty, twelve ounce beverages, each of which contain 233% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C and fewer than 150 calories!
 
I don’t pretend to have the cure for the common cold, but The Favorite Son felt a lot better the next day and went back to school. His recovery was likely a combination of factors, including a relatively mild bug that caused symptoms and a little boy who has a strong immune system. Of course, the foundation for healthy kids includes a regular healthy diet featuring abundant fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and moderate servings of carbohydrate and fat laden foods is a good place to start.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

WGN Radio Interview: The Bill Leff Show


As promised, here is the link to the podcast for part of my interview with Bill Leff on WGN Radio in Chicago earlier this week:

The Bill Leff Show on WGN AM 720 in Chicago

Thanks again to Bill Leff, news reporter Paula Cooper, and producer Dan Sugrue.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Warwick Valley Life: What's good for the goslings is good for the gander.


Written by Lisa Iannucci and featured in the November 2012 edition of Warwick Valley Life.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Warwick Valley Living: "August Dream"

I wrote "August Dream" at the request of my friend, George Lane Nitti, the publisher of the online magazine Warwick Valley Living. He'd planned to publish a bridal issue on real paper, and wanted some content. I was reticent at first because I neither wanted to trade on the loss of my wife nor did I want to write a pessimistic treatment of life and marriage against the backdrop of what is one the happiest days in a person's life.

After talking with George about his vision for the article and talking it over with a close friend, I decided move ahead. "August Dream" is the true story of August nights, love at first sight, and a twelve year courtship.

Enjoy "August Dream - A Wedding Story" in Warwick Valley Living. (Click to link to the article.)

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Single Dads New Year's Resolution: Easy as 1-2-3

The Single Father’s Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball is based, in part, on Branch Rickey’s quote, “Baseball is a game of inches.” If baseball is a metaphor for life, then, both figuratively and literally, life is also a game of inches in many ways. In other words, small improvements that are made consistently year in and year out will have significant benefits over the course of a season, or a lifetime.

So, when you sit down this year to write your New Year’s resolutions, single dad, I strongly discourage including ill-defined and unachievable goals, like losing fifty pounds or earning $50,000 a year more. In their place, include items that can be both reasonably achieved and that will pay lasting dividends.

1.       Give yourself a financial check-up: Take a look at the outflows of cash in your single father household, from insurance to mortgage to cable/telephone/internet to garbage removal. Using your checkbook (or virtual checkbook) register, list all of the vendors to whom you write checks every month. Then, shop your services. If you can save$50/month by changing your communications provider or $5/month by changing your trash hauler, both of which I’ve recently done, then you reduce your expenses by $600 and $60 per year, respectively! 

2.      Pick one unhealthy food you buy, and replace it: Maybe, as you walk down the snack aisle at the grocery store every couple of weeks and, out of habit, you grab a jumbo bag of Doritos. Then, you and your kids eat them. This year, rather than buying Doritos, you buy a jumbo bag of mixed nuts. While the cost per pound of snack may be more for the nuts, the nuts contain better nutrition and are more filling that the chips. As a result, you tend to eat fewer nuts than you would have eaten Doritos, so the nuts turn out to be less costly. In addition, you reduce your calorie intake by, maybe, 75 a week. Considering about 3,500 calories adds one pound of fat to the body, switching chips to nuts will save a pound a year! This works particularly well with exchanging sugary drinks with unsweetened teas, water, and other beverages. 

3.      Choose one activity you can share with your children: The benefits of a shared activity are two-fold. First, you connect with your children in a constructive, non-routine way, which I believe will facilitate communication as your children grow older. Second, you and your children exercise and learn something. Whether it’s hiking – the Adirondack Trail happens to pass very near my home, archery – an activity one of my sisters has chosen to do with her family, or even bird watching – which anyone can do just about anywhere, each of these and other activities provide the benefits of creating memories, building a common experiences, regular exercise, and continuing education. My children and I chose Taekwondo as our activity, as I chronicled in Tae Kwon Do and The Single Father, and we’ve been at it for nine years!

It’s almost as easy as 1 – 2 – 3. Almost.
With this or any list of resolutions, it does take a little bit of effort by the single dad. It takes a little bit of time to shop around for a new communications provider or trash hauler or, if it makes sense, to refinance your home. It requires a little bit of discipline to pass up the Doritos and buy a bag of nuts. You’ll also need to make an effort to find an activity in which you’ll regularly participate with your kids.
Once you get started, though, the benefits roll in like dividends from a trust fund. Obviously, the money you save the first month from the financial review is saved every month. You probably won’t add $50,000 to your bank account, but it your effort could certainly be thousands of dollars a year. As far snacking purchases, once you make the decision not to buy the chips, you can’t eat what you don’t have. Once you get home, it’s a “no lose;” You can’t eat what you don’t have. Finally, if you expend just 100 calories more each week as a result of a shared family activity, you’ll burn 5,200 calories in one year. That effort, coupled with the better snacking, will yield a loss of nearly three pounds of fat each year.
Now, get started, but don’t do too much. Next year, when you’re three pounds lighter and have a few extra bucks in your pocket, we’ll kick it up a notch. In the meantime, Happy New Year.


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