ParentGuide News Publishes Jeremy’s article for Father’s Day

ParentGuide News published one of Jeremy’s articles for their Father’s Day special. The article, called The Father-Child Connection, focuses on how Dads can connect with their children even if they are working away from home every day.

Jeremy started with noting one of the most informative research studies he has ever read.

What I found most interesting were findings relating to which parent a child chooses to soothe him or her when hurt or awakened in the middle of the night. The study found that even when the mother worked full-time, 80 percent of the time the child would choose the mom to meet a physical or emotional need. But with a stay-at-home-dad, the children in the study were just as likely to go to the mother as they were to the father. This tells me that despite working full-time, mothers are able to develop bonds strong enough to soothe their children when they are upset— even when mom is away during the day. This made me wonder, “How can we working dads develop similar bonds with our kids?”

If Moms can do it, so can Dads.

Jeremy wrote about how he became the Night Watchman for his kids and how that changed his relationship with them tremendously, and his confidence as a father.

He ends the article with 5 tips for bonding with babies as well as other tips for building a strong connection with your children.

Additional Tips to Foster Father-Child Bonds

  • Change into “at-home” clothes after work. This sends a message that you’re in dad mode, not work mode.
  • Take over bath duty. Play with your kids while they’re bathing. Then dry them off and get the kids ready for bed.
  • Handle all diaper changes when you’re home.
  • Feed your children. If they no longer need your help eating, fix their plates, then sit, eat and talk with your kids.
  • Take over “tuck-in time” at bedtime as many nights as you can. Develop special nighttime routines that involve reading, singing or cuddling.
  • Be the one to soothe kids back to sleep when they wake up in the night.

The Kids Are Away and Conflicting Emotions Are in Play

My Okapis are away (at their grandparents) and it is time for the parents to play.

If only it were that easy.

For my wife, it is very hard for her to be away from our kids. The same kids she gave birth to at the same time. The same kids she spent all day with for the first 4.5 years of their lives. The same kids she has taken to school (or camp) and picked up almost every single day since. She loves our children with every fiber of her being and the downside is when they are not around she feels an ache of missing them.

For me, the guy that has had to work away from home ever since they were born, it is not as hard. I am used to putting my family in a special place and locking it up so it doesn’t make me as sad when I am not with them. I wouldn’t be able to function if I felt the ache of missing them every day. In fact, I get excited, not that they aren’t around, but that I get to have more time with my wife. She was my first real love and everything good in my life started with her. It is so easy to have our husband and wife roles consumed by father and mother roles and it is nice we can get back to us.

Obviously, I love my Okapis, but I really enjoy the time when they are away (and even feel a little guilt writing that down for people to read). The truth is coming home at night is easier and less stressful (no worries over dinner and showers and getting them to bed on time). Getting ready in the morning is ummm…easier and less stressful. Basically, without our kids life is easier and less stressful.

Last night we went out with a good friend and had dinner and drinks at one (kind of crappy) place and then had more drinks and dessert somewhere else (that was much better). Wonderful conversation, good friends, tasty margaritas (at least at the second place) and delicious desserts (fried Oreos!). Then Gem and I came home and we watched another couple of episodes of Battlestar Galactica (we just started it over the weekend and are really getting into it). The whole evening was relaxed and lovely.

Then we went to bed and walked past their empty room and even I felt the ache of missing them. They’ve only been gone less than 36 hours, but I’m a jumble of emotions. A sense of freedom. We can do anything we want without worry. Go out to dinner, have drinks, stay out late, go into New York City. ANYTHING! But they’re doing stuff and experiencing things I don’t know about. I am missing more of their lives and that is sad for me. Are they okay? Are they going to sleep without us? How are they feeling?

My Okapis are gone and conflict is in the house. My wife is torn between her ache and her wanting to enjoy the time with me. I am excited about the time with her, the freedom, but feel a guilt about enjoying time without them, as if parents don’t need their own time. As if, when we pick them up this weekend, I won’t be one of the happiest men alive to see them again.

In the meantime, however, I plan to have a lot of fun with my wife and our friends, coming home whenever we want and making as much noise as we want.

Dancing My Heart Out

By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT

I danced my heart out last night. Dancing is like therapy for me, expressing pent up feelings, revealing my true self, being the truest me I know how to be. Last night was our annual holiday party and we spent two hours dancing. But the dancing comes at a cost. A cost that only hit me when I was walking down the steps after getting off the train at 11:00pm last night.

This was the first time I have gone out, on my own – without my wife – in probably about a year. I did play basketball for three nights last spring but that is about it. My wife probably goes out a few times a month. But it’s easier for her to go out. One, she spends much more time with our three-year old twins than I do – she is home with them everyday while I am away at work. Two, after we get them ready for sleep her day is over; I put them to bed every night. It is supposed to be my special time with them, though it can be challenging. So if she isn’t home when they go to bed, it doesn’t really change much for them, but if I don’t come home at night, it changes their routine. It’s bad enough I am away all day, if I don’t come home at night and don’t put them to bed what kind of message does that send them? As a result, I have been coming home every night for months and months and months.

I’m good at seeing my physical health as vital to the health of my children and to my role as a father. If I am physically well, I can better take care of them and am less likely to bring home a bug that would get them sick. I can see that I have to fight the fight against depression which dominated my life for so many years, but has only been a memory for the past seven years or so; if I am depressed then I can’t be the kind of father that I want to be. I can even see that my wife and I need special time together – even if it means leaving our children for a night or two – because our marriage is the core of our family; if our relationship is not well, our entire family suffers. But when it comes to seeing the importance of time for myself, of having fun, of doing the things I love and enjoy, it is a different story. For instance, I have made exercise a priority in my life, but I will not take time away from my children to do it. I have placed my practice as a priority in my life but I see clients at lunchtime and I write on the train so I don’t take time away from my children. I haven’t made having fun, doing things I really enjoy as a priority and thus, they don’t happen. Somehow, I’ve never been able to convince myself that it is ok to miss time with my children to do something fun. I’ve never been able to convince myself that I can place my own pleasure, enjoyment over being the father my children need. Of course, I understand on some level that if I am not a whole person, if I am not taking time for myself to have fun, I won’t really be a good role model for my children. I am so driven to prevent them from dealing with all I dealt with in my childhood that I have swung too far in the other direction.

The thing is, I desperately needed to dance, to release my emotions in a positive, healthy and enjoyable manner, to express myself in public. Being the kind of Dad I want to be has been more challenging, more exhausting and more draining than I ever imagined. I really do need some time for myself, to let go. Yesterday morning I had told my wife that if there wasn’t dancing I would probably be home in time to put them to bed myself. But if there was dancing, I wasn’t coming home until the music stopped. There was and I didn’t.

For some reason, my focus had been all about whether or not I would be home in time to put my children to bed. This is a responsibility and a pleasure I take seriously. I am their Daddy and I get to put them to bed every night – not many fathers are anywhere near as lucky. My wife is incredibly understanding and supportive about my desire to build a strong relationship with each of my children, to spend as much special time with them, to be the primary caretaker for them whenever I can. When I am not able to fulfill this role, to be the kind of father I expect from myself, I feel very badly about it. But in focusing on whether or not I would be able to put them to bed, I forgot about something even more important, the real reason why going out at night is so hard for me.

Yesterday morning, like most mornings, I crept out of the house while my entire family was still asleep. I didn’t think much of it because it happens almost everyday now. At 5:00pm, the time I usually go to catch my train to be home in time for dinner, I started getting a little anxious, but pushed it away and went to the party. At 6:30pm, I called my wife to let her know I wouldn’t be home in time to put them to bed. From 7:00 – 9:00pm, I danced and danced and danced. I caught the 10:07 train home. At 11:00pm, I was walking down the stairs after getting off the train going through the same motions I do everyday until I remembered what time it was and then it hit me. I wasn’t going to see my children tonight because they were already asleep. A whole day of not seeing my children and I stopped walking for a moment. Somehow in my worry about whether or not I would be able to fulfill my responsibilities as a father, I lost the fact that my children wouldn’t see their Daddy, and just as bad, I wouldn’t see them. It feels like a high price to pay in some ways and I found myself torn about going out and having fun.

Fortunately, this morning my kids woke up earlier than they have in months and I got to see them. I walked into their room and my son, Lucas, screamed out in excitement, “Daddy!” and Dorit started getting out of bed to give me a hug. I had missed them so much! And they seemed so happy to see me, it felt so good. Maybe my being away doesn’t hurt them or disrupt their routine too much. Maybe it allows us to miss each other, to realize how much we love each other.

Maybe, just maybe, there is room on the dance floor for me after all.

Somehow This Was Forgotten In Parenting Class

By Jeremy G. SChneider, MFT

I have been sick (yeah, sick enough not even to write) and knew I was starting to feel better when for the first time in a week, a post began to write itself in my head last night. Lately, I have been thinking more and more about the benefits of being a parent – especially a father – because so many men only hear about the negative effects of becoming a father without hearing the positive ones, the little moments that make being a parents so special. Unfortunately, the last couple of nights we experienced one of those moments of parenting that makes it so difficult. We listened to Lucas cough and cough and cough.

He has been fighting the tail end of a cold for several weeks it seems like. If it wasn’t for the cough, he seems perfectly healthy – no fever, no congestion, no aches and pains. He has been running around and having a great time – except for the cough that won’t go away. Frustratingly, in the past couple of days the cough has gotten worse – even though he still seems to feel fine. But it means he has been having a lot of trouble sleeping. This for a boy who doesn’t, under the best of circumstances, like sleeping in the first place.

We’ve been drugging him up at night the best we can; we’ve been giving him prescribed cough syrup with decongestant. But his cough has been getting worse at night and, of course, if he has trouble sleeping, we have trouble sleeping. The lack of sleep also worries us that he could get more sick and is also causing Dorit to have less sleep, making her more susceptible to catching something herself. The constant cough also means we are nebbying (nebulizing) him 3-4 times a day, which is no fun for any of us.

Last night, his coughing woke him up again and after I had given him more cough syrup and some Benadryl, Gem and I laid in bed listening to him cough.

“Poor little boy.”

The thing is, he has been such a trooper about the whole thing. He hasn’t fought us on taking any of the medicine or all of the nebbys. He isn’t even complaining about the fact that he is coughing so much. I am certain his throat is starting to hurt because his cough is ripping it up, yet he is not complaining. He has been going about his day the best he can and trying to get as much sleep as his cough will let him. One night earlier this week, he was coughing so bad, I went in to check on him, but he was completely asleep. He was coughing but somehow it hadn’t woken him up.

Hack hack.

“Maybe I should lie down with him,” Gem suggested.

But when we’re in the room with him, he gets distracted and doesn’t sleep as well. She knows that. I know that. But we’re desperate to do something, anything, that feels like it would help him.

Lying in bed, listening to your child cough and cough, hack and hack, knowing he needs sleep, knowing his sister across the room needs sleep, knowing we’ve done everything we can for him and we just have to wait for the medicine to kick in enough to knock him out, is one of the most helpless and frustrating feelings known to humankind.

I know it is so difficult for us parents because we love our children so much and that is such a wonderful thing about becoming a parent – realizing that you can have so much love for someone so small while your love only seems to grow as they do.

But there are moments, like last night listening to him struggle with trying to go to sleep while coughing, that the powerful love we feel foments into frustration and helplessness.

I think that is something all non-parents can probably wait to find out on their own.

Maybe It’s Time For Special Mommy Days?

By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT

“Okay guys, it’s time to get ready for bed,” one of us says.

“Is Mommy going to take us?” one of the Okapis has begun asking.

“Is it night time? Who takes you to bed at night?” one of us responds.

“But we want Mommy!!” They cry out in unison as if they had planned it earlier in the day.

“You know Daddy takes you to bed at night. I already took you to bed today,” Gem will say.

“But we really, really, really, want Mommy to take us!” the boy will respond in his most desperate pleading voice as if me taking them to bed is akin to certain kinds of torture outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

Why do they not want me anymore? I can’t help but wonder.

This is not the first time I have been through this. Heck, it is not even the second or third time, sadly. In fact, you can read about several of those other times if you want (Part-time Daddy, Second Fiddle, Mommy Do It!). But this is different – even if the pain still feels the same.

It is clearer to me than it ever was before that this is not about me. In the past, when my Okapis have been like this it has been more like a test, a challenge to see if I was really up to the task of being their Daddy (thus why I call it the “Mommy Do It Test!”). Could I do the job as well, if differently, from Mommy? With my constant absence they needed to know if I would stick around when things got rough and when I did, the “Mommy Do Its” disappeared. Now they are back, but not because of something I have done or not done. They are back because they miss their Mommy.

Our Okapis started camp a couple of weeks ago and all of a sudden, after having spent 3.5 years with Mommy and only Mommy, three hours a day, three days a week they are without her and they miss her (who wouldn’t really?). They already have to leave her three mornings a week and then to have to “leave” her again at night (when they go upstairs with me) is too much for them. This is, I believe, where their calling out for Mommy stems from.

One of the things to help them deal with camp and the three days a week concept was to explain that they have a four-day weekend. They know I have a (ridiculously measly) two-day weekend where I don’t have to go to work. Now they have a four-day weekend where they don’t go to camp. I’ve started referring to the Mondays and Fridays that they don’t go to camp as Special Mommy Days – days where they get Mommy all to themselves. Actually, when I told them about it last night they immediately started to feel better (I know, I know, marketing is 75% of parenting, that’s what I’m saying). This way their extra long weekend includes two Special Mommy Days (of course, when they start pre-school in the Fall they will lose one of those days, but we’ll worry about that then). Gem and I have also started trying to figure out if maybe she should put them to bed on Mondays and Fridays (to end Special Mommy Days) or Sundays and Thursdays (to start Special Mommy Days – we are Jewish after all and days begin at sundown the night before in Judaism). Thankfully, my wife understands how important taking them to bed is for me and my relationship with them and she doesn’t want to upset that in any way. It certainly makes it easier to balance all of the competing issues – their needs, her needs and my needs – particularly my losing the only special time I have with them.

Right now I put them to bed at least 6 nights a week and several of those nights can be very challenging to say the least. But last week, Gem put them to bed on Sunday night. When I put them to bed the following night, there was a sense of excitement in them, a pleasure at having Daddy take them to bed again, as if the one night respite renewed their appreciation for me guiding them through our nightly ritual.

Before I was a father, I had no idea how complicated it is being a parent. Just when we get into a routine, we realize that we need to make adjustments so it better meets their needs (or ours). Constantly having our feelers, our sensors monitoring how they are doing, how we are doing and then determining what our sensors are picking up (an aberration? a bad day? something more than that?) assessing if/how we need to handle it and then figuring out a solution if necessary. No wonder parenting is so exhausting.

If we make our adjustments and I end up losing a couple of nights with my Okapis, but the nights I do have become more special, more intimate, that’s totally something I can handle.

Especially if it means they feel better connected to both of us.

You Are the Foundation for All Who Come After You

By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT

Many fathers are breaking new ground by becoming more active, more involved in their family – especially with their children. Previous generations defined fatherhood more in terms of providing the economic necessities families need. But this generation, more than any other, has determined that their role as a father does not end with providing economic security, but continues to building a strong bond with their children.  Unfortunately, so many of these fathers don’t have role models, don’t have a blueprint to follow in terms of what being involved in the lives of their children actually looks like.

January is National Mentor Month and that seems a perfect time to make sure all of these trailblazing fathers understand that while they may not have a role model for the kind of father and man they want to be, they are transforming themselves into the role models they never had. Today’s involved fathers, in their quest to be a better father, to better meet the needs of their own children, are ensuring that their children will never be without a wonderful fatherhood mentor.

Most dads know they want to give more than they received. They want to see their children more than their fathers saw of them. They want to feel more than their fathers felt with their family. They want to know their children. They want to witness their child’s firsts – first crawl, first word, first step, first throw, first hug, first everything. They want to be there to soothe when their child is upset. They want to help ease their fears and also make them laugh. They want to be more than just the disciplinarian – they want to play and have fun. They want to be a central part of their children’s lives and not just a play a supporting role. They want to be more than just a one-dimensional parent. They want to develop a three-dimensional relationship with their children. The trail this generation of fathers is blazing will make it so much easier for their own children to follow.

This blazing a new trail can take enormous effort. It involves pushing ourselves past our own limits, past our own fears so as not to inflict or impose those fears, those limits on our own children. It involves surpassing the model of fatherhood we grew up with, learning what we wanted but didn’t have and what we had that we want to pass on to our own children. This process of growth can be an incredible process, a process that is challenging, daunting, but phenomenally rewarding.

Every step we take in our personal growth as people, and as parents, gives our children a head start. The growth in ourselves we’ve worked so hard to achieve actually becomes part of our children’s foundation, giving them one less obstacle to overcome. If we men begin to break the “tradition” of distance, then our sons will have an easier time being involved with their children. If we men break the “tradition” of lack of emotion from fathers, we make it easier for our sons to grow up believing it is healthy and important to experience their emotions. We also  make it easier for our daughters to find a man she can be truly emotionally intimate with. Every foot of path we clear on this new trail – even if we only partially clear it – creates an easier path for our children.

Because it’s not just about being a good father, about being a good mentor or role model.

Our children define so much of themselves based on who we are. Our sons build their definition of manhood based on us, on what we do, on how we are, on who we are and how they see us. The healthier they see us and relate with us, the healthier they will be, the better chance they will have at having strong, healthy relationships throughout their lives.

But our daughters also define manhood based on who we are, on how we act, on what we do. They develop their ideal partner based on their emotional (and sometimes even physical) profile of us.  Their sense of self, their self-esteem is so intimately wrapped up in our relationship with them. And, of course, their ability to attract and be attracted to healthy men is based on how they view us, on their relationship with us. If we have taught our daughters they are special, unique, beautiful and intelligent, they will expect men to treat them that way. If we don’t…

National mentoring month is a good time to congratulate all of you trailblazing dads, to remind you of the incredible work you are doing to not only improve your life, but to improve the generations that will follow you in this world. You are the foundation for all that comes after you and that foundation looks pretty strong from where I’m standing.

More Than Just A Stroller

By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT

It seems like such a little thing. The double stroller for my children, 3-year old twins, is sitting in the basement taking up valuable space, but I just don’t know what to do with it. It has been in our family for over three years now and somehow shoving it in the garage doesn’t seem a just ending for this device that has been with us for so long. It used to live in the back of our Outback and was there when we needed it. It has been to Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Florida and even Ecuador with us, not too mention the mall, the park and hundreds of other places.

I can remember shopping for double strollers, still shocked that we were having two babies instead of one. When we registered for items, I went along with my wife, but I deferred to her most of the time; I just got to use the UPC gun which they developed solely to get us fathers involved. But when it came to a stroller, I felt like I wanted a much bigger input into our final purchase and became more actively involved. I remember checking ours out, comparing it to other double strollers, calculating their strengths and weaknesses in order to figure out the best one to buy. I even remember buying this one because I actually had to do it myself since my wife was on bed rest at the time. I don’t know how many times I called her from the Buy Buy Baby in Manhattan worried about whether I was getting the right sheets or diaper genie.

After our kids were born, it was too cold, and they were too small, to take outside for anything except doctor’s appointments. But when the weather warmed a bit, I remember the first time we took them to the park, in their double stroller, all bundled up. Dorit slept the entire time, but Lucas was wide awake and one of the best pictures we have of him is from that day, with an incredible smirk on his face. We knew then he was going to be a pretty good looking child.

I can remember anytime we went somewhere together that I always wanted to push the stroller, partly to give my wife a break, but also because there was something about pushing them that helped me feel like I was doing something important for them, that I was doing something fatherlike. That was a big deal for me because I didn’t feel much like a father in those early days and thought that meant there was something wrong with me.

But the best part of the stroller for me was the incredible sense of pride I felt pushing the stroller – especially when I was by myself with them, while everyone would stop us to admire how cute our little twins were. “Yup, I’m their Daddy.” In the beginning those were some of the best feelings I associated with being a father.

I remember when we moved to the suburbs and put the stroller in the back of our car. We never took it out (even when we needed to like when we went to Costco and had too much stuff). That double stroller sat in the back of our car day in and day out for over a year, always there when we needed it.

I remember, once our children had started walking, that my wife and I would ask each other if we should bring the stroller? Ironically, she often wanted to and I often didn’t. I felt it was cumbersome, a burden. Let’s let our children run free now that they can, I believed. I also felt it was so hard to relate to them because we would be pushing them from behind and couldn’t see their faces or hear them when they talked.

One day, in the past few months, one of us took the stroller out of the back of the car and it never got put back. There is no way to tell the date of when we last used it or even thought we needed our double stroller, but its days are over and it sits in our basement like an old racehorse put out to pasture with nothing to do, no longer able to serve its purpose, to do what it was built to do.

Considering how much I wanted to stop using the stroller, I find myself particularly surprised at my reaction. Shouldn’t I be happy it is no longer an issue? But to me the stroller symbolized my children’s babyhood, a difficult time in my life as a father, yet also a time that will never return. Our children are getting older and older every day, but it is only moments like this when we really notice. For my wife, it is every time they outgrow their adorable clothing. For me, it is no longer needing or even being able to use the double stroller, the first real twin purchase we made, the first real admission that we were getting two instead of one. Now the stroller sits where my wife and I spend our time together after our children have gone to sleep, intruding on our time, reminding me of how it is all moving so fast.

Where does the time go? How can I make it slow down?

Pee and Poop…There, I’ve Said It!

By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT

While I have written many articles on what it feels like to leave my three year old twins to go to work or the challenges I’ve faced in helping them to sleep on their own during the night, I have been avoiding one particular subject that is a major part of our lives. The main reason I have avoided the subject is that I am so uncomfortable by the whole discussion. I have actually handled helping our twin 3-year olds learn to use the potty better than I thought I would – especially considering the issues and major levels of discomfort I feel, but that doesn’t mean I like talking about it.

In my family, no one ever went to the bathroom. In fact, in my own mind, if people knew that I went to the bathroom (as if they don’t already), they would see me as less of a person, as if going to the bathroom is a weakness, a flaw in my being, as if the whole world doesn’t do it every single day, too. I have worked hard to get comfortable actually going to the bathroom and trying not to care whether other people know or not. But talking about it with other people, well, that’s a whole other issue.

If it wasn’t for my wife, I would probably have made essentially no progress on this issue. Ironically (or maybe, fortunately), I married a sexuality educator and she has no issues about this stuff whatsoever. In fact, she has the opposite of issues in this area, she has strengths and skills that she is (unknowingly) teaching me. Of course, there is also something about changing diapers every day that is like trial by fire – you either get used to dealing with poop and pee or you crack under the pressure running and screaming to the nearest mental institution. In the early days we were always feeding and changing diapers, about every three hours or so (yes, that was about 12-14 diaper changes a day). The only way to stop changing diapers was to stop feeding them and, as you can imagine, we didn’t think that was a good approach to the problem.

Of course, as our children get older I am constantly challenged to grow as well. Once I got used to changing diapers and talking about pee and poop, then we had to talk about what kinds of poops they were. How many times a day is it happening? Then we started with helping our kids understand that we don’t use diapers, we use the…toilet. Ugh, I hate the whole terminology of this. Really. I am cringing as I write this – my fingers are afraid to touch the keyboard since I wrote that word.

The women in our family, their mother, Tia, Nana, and Abuelita, all would let our children into the bathroom with them to help show them how people use a toilet. It took me a long time to be able to do that. Long time like months and months, not weeks. I’ve tried to never let anyone know I actually go to the bathroom, to let someone (really two someones) come with me and watch was so far beyond my comfort level it made me anxious just thinking about it.

As in all of these situations, what helped me was the idea that my role as father is more important than anything I feel as a person. My children need to see their father go to the bathroom, too, that both men and women use the bathroom and that men use it differently than women. Who else is going to show that to my son if not me? I have to rise to that challenge even if it makes me terribly uncomfortable, because it is not about me, it is about them.

Interestingly, despite our best efforts, our children had refused to participate in toilet education. They didn’t really mind diapers (though they hated having them changed – if it was up to them, they would just wear them all day regardless of whether they were wet or dry, empty or full), they didn’t care about how they looked in them, they didn’t have much interest in being like us. We tried so many different techniques, including flat-out bribery and nothing was working. Finally, on the same day, but separately, my wife and I concocted a new plan (in case you haven’t noticed, parenting is so much about problem solving – one of the things I actually like about it). We were going to let Lucas off the hook since he often doesn’t respond well to pressure and focused on Dorit since she does and she likes the limelight, likes challenges and rewards. This approach worked and once Dorit got it, Lucas came along shortly thereafter.

Of course, with Dorit using the potty, I find myself sitting next to my little girl while she is peeing and/or pooping, encouraging her, congratulating her, helping her to clean herself, and even cleaning out the potty (more cringing) after she is done. How did this happen? What have I become?

I have become a man who understands that to be the kind of father I want to be, I need to be more than I am, I need to be what they need me to be. It is even more important because I don’t want them to carry my issues about this subject. I don’t want them cringing or uncomfortable about something that they will do several times a day. My children need their father to help show them how to use the toilet, they need both of their parents to show that using the bathroom, talking about pee and poop and toilet are okay, they are just words like any other.

What’s amazing is the more I say them, the more that becomes true.