Tag Archives: Dads

Celebrate Men

International Men's Day (IMD) was on November 19th this year. "Objectives of International Men's Day include a focus on men's and boy's health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. It is an occasion for men to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care while highlighting the discrimination against them." IMD recognizes the importance of men's mental health, addressing the suicide rate of men, and speaking to the crucial discussion of men's homelessness and poverty. The YW operates a 15-bed Men's Emergency Shelter for men and their children. We think it is important to celebrate them and their successes as well.

By: April

What if the very things that we dislike about men, are the very things that make them men?

Men fix things, or try to, even when we don’t ask.

Men step up and are good at things like being a dad when we ask, though often we don’t have to.

Men are logical sometimes before they are emotional, which makes them good at solving immediate problems, turning off their emotion for a time and having emotion later. Whether this is good or bad, right or wrong, they do it and they are good at it.

Sometimes they suffer for it. Sometimes they lose their life over it. Sometimes they become heroes because of it.

This month we look at Movember, which brings awareness to health issues specific to men. We look at International Men’s Day, the theme being Celebrate Men.

I have thought a lot about what to write. I even asked Facebook.

I had different ideas, thoughts about many things, but one thing stuck.

Men are beautiful.

Men are beautiful, and this is the absolute last thing they want to hear.

They are a kind of beauty that we forget about.

They are strong, but when they are weak and vulnerable, it brings tears to our eyes.

They are told their whole lives. Be strong. Toughen up. Get it done. Well.

As women, we expect men to be strong, because who doesn’t want a man with muscle that can make us feel protected, but then we want men to be loving and caring, at the very same time that we call their emotions, weakness.

If there was one thing that we could do this month, I think it would be this.

To the beautiful men of this world, you don’t have to be strong. Be weak, we understand.

Tell us your logical reasons and your illogical emotions, maybe we have some insight.

You don’t have to be afraid of how you feel, or what the outcome of your emotions might be, we love emotions.

We are sorry that we forget that you are human, not superhuman. But you’re still allowed to be our Superman, sometimes.

We love you, just as you are, beautiful and strong, all at once.

You are just as necessary to everything in this world; love, family..and we are sorry that we make you feel that everything you’ve been taught from the beginning, that you must provide for your family, is the very thing we shame you for the minute you come home.

In honor of men this month and every month, may we look to you for your knowledge, wisdom, strength; and may we recognize that love and care looks different to men than women.

May we seek to understand the things that the men in our lives do for us each day instead of wondering why they don’t do it the way we want them to.

May we recognize their heart, that their kindness often looks like doing things for us, when all we want is a hug. Or someone to listen.

May we honor their effort, may we acknowledge that maybe sometimes they need us to do things for them to.

May we recognize their emotions not as weakness but as beautiful strength.

May we be gentle in telling them what we need from them, knowing what we know now.

May we thank them for everything that they are, today, tomorrow, and always.

May we recognize that it takes both men and women, exactly as they are, growing each day, to make the world better.

 

Let’s Do Something, Not Nothing

101 Men: An Innovative Approach to Ending Gender Violence

By Inspectable Todd Gilmore

November 18th, 2016, St Catharines, Ontario.

Let’s Do Something, Not Nothing.

If this event was called Men 101 it might be a training event for women to better understand why some men exhibit harmful behaviour towards women. We learned during the training that women have always taken a leadership role in ending gender violence so that’s an event that’s probably already occurred many times over. Women’s leadership on this issue was easy to see at the event itself. Behind almost all the display tables of community organizations that work to end gender violence, stood a woman. As we also found out during the training, if this event was called Men 101 it could realistically be a training program that explains why not enough is being done by men to end gender violence even after men participate in this training.

I believe the group of men I was with at 101 Men Event in St Catharines, Ontario will show courage and do something, not nothing.

I’ll start with this article.

Let’s be clear the main problem when it comes to gender violence is men abusing women.  This abuse can take a number of forms including verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual. To end gender violence we learned this has to be a “men’s issue” and men in positions of power and influence, like the men with me at the 101 Men Event, need to step up. And punch up, not down, if required.

We learned that the best place to influence or intervene is by attacking language, attitudes, beliefs, and aspects of our culture that support abusive behaviour towards women or make it seem acceptable. By the time the gender violence occurs it’s too late and we’ve missed a ton of opportunities to address the root causes of gender violence that are so pervasive around us. It can be as simple as using active instead of passive language. Passive language says “how many women were raped?” while active language says “how many men raped women?”. You can easily see that using passive language takes men out of the equation when the opposite should occur and the men involved should be held accountable.

“Passive language takes men out of the equation.”

General Marsden of the Australian military said it best when he made a statement of action while dealing with inappropriate men’s behaviour in his own organization.  He said “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”

On Friday November 18th, 2016 I spent 8 hours with 101 Men, community leaders from across Niagara and the surrounding regions who were there because they want to take action. I saw an outstanding group of men who were there to make a change, to not walk past, to take ownership of a men’s issue and to create higher standards in their sphere of influence in order counter gender violence.

Join me in doing something, not nothing.

(Insp Todd Gilmore, OIC RCMP HNRD)

A Tribute to My Father

He was the first man I ever loved. He was wild and dangerous. He was exciting but scary. He had a disarming smile that barely disguised the vile temper that dwelled beneath it. He was a contrast of moods and temperament. He could be the most fun you ever had or your worst nightmare. He was a hard worker who partied even harder. He hung out with hard-core bikers but he also had a strong belief in God. He was either your best friend or your nastiest enemy.

There was never any middle ground with my father.

He was a combination of many personalities. He was a lot like Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa but with a twist of Elvis Presley thrown in. He was also very much like Ray Donovan with his secret life and violent streak. There was never any warning when someone was about to feel the sting of his wrath. He wasn’t a big talker so when he snapped and lashed out at someone they were usually astonished. Most times they didn’t even know what they had done to make him angry. It could be as simple and innocent as a look he perceived you were giving him to something someone said that he found disrespectful or distasteful. But then, there was also a side to him that was very much like Dominic Cooper in the new series on TV called Preacher. He tried really hard to walk the line of good and truth. But, then he would get bored or he would meet up with someone from the past and his wild streak would take over.

My mother left us when I was 14 and he took it really bad. They had been fighting for years and she decided she had enough. The problem was that she had left with his best friend. He was outraged by the betrayal and stayed out late at night trying to drink his feelings away. Within a few months we went to live with our mother and her new man. It was awkward and uncomfortable but we didn’t have any other choices. For the next couple of years my father went through women and booze like there was no tomorrow.

Then suddenly, he hooked up with a woman who belonged to the same cult that my parents had joined when I was 5 years old. When they got married a couple of years later, he dropped out of our lives. I tried to reconnect with him over the years but eventually I gave up when I saw how uncomfortable he was because of the way his new wife acted around us. She alternated between ignoring us and being outright rude.

Years went by without hearing anything from him. His family continued to tell him to contact his children and make amends before it was too late. But by then he felt too much time had passed and he was afraid we would reject him. He didn’t handle rejection well.me with jimmy and parents

The call that I had been awaiting for years came on a freezing cold day in February of 2008. We had been out riding on our Harley Davidson when we came home to a voicemail from my uncle and his wife asking me to call back right away. I told my husband that my father was dead. He said it could be a hundred different reasons why they were calling. But I knew! I knew in my heart that he was gone, I could just feel it. But, I made the call and sure enough she said he had died the day sometime during the night. I asked her if he committed suicide. She was horrified and could barely get out the words, “the Jimmy I know would never do that…”. I calmly responded with, “well, the Jimmy that I know, would!”. She gave me the name of the funeral home and quickly got off the phone. I was numb but I wasn’t shocked. I had been there the times he had tried to end his life. He would call me on the telephone and I would go to him, sitting beside him all night, making sure he didn’t die on me. He didn’t reach out to me in the end. I guess he thought it was too late. He must have thought that too much damage had been done for me to forgive him. He was wrong. If he had made that call I would have gone to him. I would have helped him get the help he needed. I would have tried one more time. I would have given him one more chance.

Later, I would find out that he died alone in a room he was renting from a couple who lived in a big house in the same city as me. He had overdosed on the painkillers and psychiatric drugs he was self-medicating with. He had been going to different doctors getting multiple prescriptions and then filling them at different pharmacies.

He was wrapped in a bunch of blankets but he was very cold to the touch. His beautiful face was bloated and distorted.

There was no funeral, no burial, no closure. I went to the funeral home to see him even though his ex-wife (the executrix of the will) said that he didn’t want anyone to see him. The funeral director tried to talk me out of seeing his unprepared body because he said it would traumatize me. I bluntly told him that after years of working in palliative care nothing would shock or scare me. I was taken to a back room (with my loving husband at my side) and he was there in a body bag on a stretcher. He was wrapped in a bunch of blankets but he was very cold to the touch. His beautiful face was bloated and distorted. I talked to him for a couple of minutes and then kissed him goodbye on the forehead.

He is at peace now. He isn’t suffering anymore. But I’m left with more questions than answers. We weren’t included in the reading of the will or given any details about his life leading up to his death. He was cremated and the ashes were given to my grandmother. He is going to be buried with her when she dies. Last year I contacted the Coroner’s office and I was told that I was legally entitled to know everything that was discovered during the death scene investigation. I received the package from the Coroner’s office and found a few surprises. I learned that he had 2 tattoos, which shocked me. He had always been adamant that tattoos were trashy and getting one was equal to defiling your body. Also, he had been under the care of a psychiatrist. Perhaps he had finally tried to slay the demons in his head. Lastly, he died before morning, as he sat on the side of his bed. The last phone call he made had been to his ex-wife. She told the investigators that she knew he was taking lots of different pills and had been depressed, but she denied knowing that he was suicidal. I also found out that he had been excommunicated from the dangerous, mind-control cult he had committed himself to years ago. He was also divorced from the woman who treated us like we were nothing and didn’t matter.  If I had known those  pieces of information sooner I would have absolutely reached out to him one more time. My biggest fear since I was 16 was that he would die before we could make amends. My worst nightmare became a reality on  February 2, 2008.

The only things I have to remember my father by are his cane, an old unopened Elvis Presley calendar and pictures from the past. His ex-wife gave away his belongings to her children even though my brother specifically asked her for his guitar that he carried with him since 1961. His family was outraged by the way we were discarded but were helpless to do anything about it. If he were alive to see all of the changes in the world and all of the corruption and scandals that are finally being exposed, I think he would have had an easier time adjusting to life outside a controlling cult that commanded and demanded that he choose them over his own flesh and blood.

My father’s death forced me to face all of the bad things I had suppressed and repressed for so many years. But, it also showed me who truly cared about me and my family. My father, James or Jim,  would be extremely happy to know how much closer my ties with his biological family have become.

Today, my life has come full circle.

I grew up feeling like an orphan from the time my parents joined a “doomsday” cult when I was 3 and they cut off all family ties to anyone who wasn’t open to joining too. Today, my life has come full circle. I was recently given pictures from my childhood that I have never seen before. It’s been very healing for me to have visual proof that I had lots of people who cared about and loved me when I was a little girl.  It’s great to have the images in my head match the pictures I’ve been given by a thoughtful relative who remembers when we disappeared from their lives.

Sometimes I feel my father’s presence and it comforts me. I don’t know if it’s wishful thinking or if there’s an afterlife but I’m keeping my options open…just in case I get one more chance to see him again and tell him everything I know.

 

An Open Letter To My Dad

Dear Dad,

Communicating with each other has never been a strength of ours, so I’ll just jump right in. We’ve had our fair share of disagreements and for the longest time, I was always the child who had to do what she was told. Sometimes, it’s hard for you to remember that I’ve grown up into an adult now and sometimes, it’s hard for me to remember that you only want what’s best for me. So, thank you. I don’t tell you this enough, but you amaze me. You are so talented with fixing anything around the house which, as a child, didn’t mean much to me. But you were able to use those skills to solve my problems like fixing broken necklaces and even shoes when I was younger! Now I’m able to appreciate your skills and your heart. We don’t say it and we rarely express it, but I am so grateful that you are my dad. I got really lucky. I guess all I really want to say is thank you for always being there, despite our disagreements and despite our lack of communication sometimes. Like most of our conversations, I’ll keep this sweet and short. Thanks dad and I hope you have an amazing father’s day.

Love always,

Evelyn

Trailblazing Fathers

There is something to be said about a dad doing things outside of the societal ‘norm’. These ‘trailblazing’ daddies who are out there starting hair schools so other dads can learn how to style their daughter’s hair. The ones rising to fame because a photo of himself with his infant strapped to his chest while brushing his daughter’s hair in the bathroom has baffled the world. The daddy bloggers who are fielding questions from other dads and posting about the often hilarious antics of their experiences with their children. The one posting letters to his wife on Facebook about his trials and tribulations with his young ones while she is laid up in the hospital (who subsequently gained thousands upon thousands of followers.) These daddies are showing men around the world that it’s cool to be an involved father.father-682663_1920

There is also something to be said about those same dads not really understanding why their actions are being praised so astoundingly when to them they are just being the best dad they can be.

We’ve recently been seeing a rise in men tossing aside the oppressive ideas that dads can’t be as involved or more in their children’s upbringing. We are seeing them shrug off the need to maintain the macho status as the typical absent father. And it’s so exciting to see how embraced those dads have been. How encouraged they are to ‘keep up the good work’.  “I feel like the kudos have made me a better dad,” he said. “When you hear ‘you are such an awesome dad,’ you start to believe it and let go of the mistakes you make as a parent.”

It’s gratifying to see moms posting blogs in defense of their baby daddy’s like this one about dumbass stuff we need to stop saying to dads and it’s comforting to witness this shift in society’s thinking. Women have been saying for years that we can do anything a man can do. So maybe we shouldn’t act so surprised when it turns out that men can do anything we can do too.

Kudos to you, you trailblazer daddies you!

Father – Daughter Interviews

With Father’s Day just having passed, we decided to celebrate and interview our fathers/step-fathers/father-figures. The fathers were asked to answer the following questions about what it is like exactly to be a dad:

  1. Tell us one thing you want everyone to know about being a Father/Step-Father/Father-figure?
  2. What would you love your daughter to know about you?
  3. Sometimes there are those not-so-perfect Fathering moments – what is one piece of advice you can give to help each other through those moments?
  4. As a Father, Step-Father, or Fatherly influence, what is your biggest worry?
  5. Can you share the best memory or moment – that made you realize….I’m a Father?
  6. What is the best or most useful piece of advice you can give a new Father of a daughter?
  7. If there was one thing you could tell your wife, or women in general that would make being the Father of a daughter easier – what would that be?
  8. Has having a daughter(s) changed you?  Can you share how?

Mark & Kaelyn:

What would you love your daughter to know about you?

pot picture
Kaelyn and Mark behind a pot Kaelyn worked on for months to give to her dad for Father’s Day.

I would love for my daughter to know that I think about her every second of every minute of every day when I’m away at work.

Sometimes there are those not-so-perfect Fathering moments – what is one piece of advice you can give to help each other through those moments?

Love unconditionally and don’t let unnecessary expectations rule your relationships.

As a Father, Step-Father, or Fatherly influence, what is your biggest worry?

Biggest worry: my child gets sick or hurt.

Can you share the best memory or moment – that made you realize….I’m a Father?

The first time I got to hold you and to this day each time when I get to hug or hold you.

What is the best or most useful piece of advice you can give a new Father of a daughter?

Teach her to smile and not to take her time so seriously.

If there was one thing you could tell your wife, or women in general that would make being the Father of a daughter easier – what would that be?

Share them equally at all times.

Has having a daughter(s) changed you? Can you share how?

Yes, I have had to look inside myself for better answers to this gift of life.

Gord & Jessica

Tell us one thing you want everyone to know about being a Father?

It is very rewarding when you see your children achieve something that they like.

What would you love your daughter to know about you?

I want my daughter to know that I always want the best for her.

Sometimes there are those not-so-perfect Fathering moments – what is one piece of advice you can give to help each other through these moments.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, things will always get better.

As a Father, what is your biggest worry?

My biggest worry is that my daughter won’t follow her dreams.

Can you share the best memory or moment that made you realize …I’m a father?

My best memory that made me realize I was a father was looking into her eyes the moment she was born.

What is the best or most useful piece of advice you can give a new Father of a daughter?

Even though you want to keep your daughter protected and close to you, you have to allow them the space and time to experience everything they want to in life.

James and Mei Mei

Michael and Candice Lee

Tell us one thing you want everyone to know about being a Father/Step-Father/Father-figure?

It’s very important to me as a stepfather that I always treat my stepchildren as well as I do my own.

Sometimes there are those not-so-perfect Fathering moments – what is one piece of advice you can give to help each other through those moments?

The best piece of advice I could give stepparents is to remember to be patient with their new family members.

As a Father, Step-Father, or Fatherly influence, what is your biggest worry?

I want ALL of my kids to be happy in life.

What is the best or most useful piece of advice you can give a new Father of a daughter?

Don’t be so overbearing with your children and stepchildren that you force them to run into someone else’s arms for love and comfort.

 

Dad’s Home!

Are Dads really all that important? Are they not just the ones who bring home the money so that Mom can do her job? This seems to still be a common stereotype in our society – bloggers Carli and Dana answered June’s Question Of The Month:

What’s Dad Got To Do With It?

Dana

I was driving down the street last week, and the car in front of me turned on his signal to make a left hand turn into his driveway. Awkwardly, there were a million cars coming the opposite direction so he had to sit there and wait, while subsequently creating a lineup of cars behind him. I didn’t mind, because I wasn’t in a rush and it was a beautiful day. As I sat there, with the windows down, I saw that this man’s children had come outside on the front lawn and were cheering, “DADDY’S HOME! DADDY’S HOME!” They were jumping up and down and non-stop screaming in pure excitement that their dad was about to pull in the driveway. It made me remember that my sister and I used to do the same thing when our dad came home from work. We would be cheering in the backyard waiting for him to open the gate and greet us. For some reason, I don’t remember ever cheering for my mom to come home, which is weird. It was always my dad. (Sorry Mom, I love you too!). There was just something really exciting about dad coming home.

This got me thinking about our theme for June: “What’s dad got to do with it?” Dads are interesting to me. Maybe because I’m not a guy. I will never know what it’s like to be a dad. I feel like it must be awesome, but also weird. I imagine being any type of parent is hard, but I could see dad being a particularly hard one. Everyone I know has a very different relationship with their dad, and each dad is a different “type” of dad. No two relationships are quite the same when it comes to dads (in my inner circle, at least). Even my relationship with my dad is very different from my sister’s. It’s odd because, although everyone’s relationship with their mother is different, there are some very common mom-child relationships. I think my sister and I have the same type of relationship with our mom. Dads always seem to be a little different, and I don’t know why. I mean, moms are there, taking care of you from the beginning like it’s no one’s business; and that maternal instinct is just so strong. I don’t know how dads feel or compare when it comes to their paternal instinct. Moms are tough to beat; maybe it’s because traditionally they have become more nurturing and loving?

My dad was a great dad. He wasn’t the most lovey-dovey dad, he was a pretty serious guy but was always there for my sister and I and always said I love you. It’s strange that a lot of people don’t get the “I love you” from a parent, more specifically from the father. He was very into athletics and health. He was busy and had a lot of things he liked to do: he was a rower and a rowing coach his entire life. He took my sister and I out in the coach boat every day during coaching season. He bought us snow cones after (if we were good), or donuts on Sunday mornings (again, if we were good). He drove us to our friend’s houses, gave us our allowance, and made us do our chores. He taught how to canoe, kayak, camp, and signed us up for art classes. He was hard on my sister and I sometimes. We got into a lot of fights during the teenage years. I remember I had some of my girlfriends over, and my dad had just finished a work out in the basement. He came up to get a glass of water in his tight spandex shorts, and nothing else. I WAS MORTIFIED! But once he went back downstairs, my one friend said, “I don’t think my dad even owns a pair of spandex shorts.” Once again, MORTIFIED. But hey, that was my dad.

As a female, I think it’s natural to draw away from your father a little more when you get older. I went from celebrating his coming home from work to having a more distant relationship. I didn’t need him as much; I was doing my own thing. I relied on my friends more for support because they seemed to understand me more. Looking back, all the “tough” times I’ve had in my life, it was my dad who gave me some of the best and brutally honest advice. I will never forget the things he has told me during my darkest moments. Recently I started #hardcoreadulting, and all these big life moments were happening, and it was all happening really fast. I was feeling overwhelmed, and the person I wanted to talk to and ask for advice was my dad. These things were happening, and I was making my own decisions, but I wanted my dad’s approval. I love my mom, but I knew I need to talk to my dad about this stuff. I needed his opinion. I know I will be relying on him a lot as this “adulting” continues, and I hope he knows how much I respect him and how highly I think of him. I may not be jumping up and down when he comes home from work anymore, but I’m very glad and extremely appreciative that he is always there for me. So what’s dad got to do with it? The answer is for me and my life, a whole lot!

 

Click here to read Carli’s take on our question of the month!

What’s Dad got to do with it?

Are Dads really all that important? Are they not just the ones who bring home the money so that Mom can do her job? This seems to still be a common stereotype in our society – bloggers Carli and Dana answered June’s Question Of The Month:

What’s Dad Got To Do With It?

Carli

This is a mentality that drives me a bit batty.

I’ve known men more eager to become a father than the woman is to become a mother.

I know men who are raising multiple children, on their own. Their children have structure, rules, ups and downs, highs and lows, laughter, fights, make-ups, time-outs, family outings and most of all know just how much their dad loves them.

I know men who are just as involved in the parenting as their partner. They work with mom to work out the best schedule for their child, and stick to it. They listen to mom’s fears and share their own. They make up rules and back moms. They cut up meals into bite sized pieces, make bottles, stroke their babies head while nursing, read to, sing to, bathe and dress their children. They are present and omnipotent.

Fathers-Day-Photos (1)I know a man whose love for me was so great, it automatically extended to the child attached to me. He’s a man who would do anything possible to ensure our son has a wonderful life. A steady, sturdy, safe and comfortable life.

Yes, there are those fathers out there who don’t make their children a priority. Fathers who don’t offer that same kind of protection and love, structure and balance—or any at all. There are the fathers who hardly get involved in decisions, upbringing, rules and playtime. But there are mothers as well.

I choose to believe my husband is just as capable as I am when it comes to making decisions about children. Partly because of how offended I get when I’m made to believe I’m not capable of doing something and partly because I see examples of a fathers love for his children all around me. Men deserve to be treated equally and with the same equality that women are treated when it comes to child rearing.

Today’s women certainly wouldn’t settle for anything less, now would we?

 

Click here to read Dana’s take on our question of the month!