Education – where do I begin?

There are so many differing opinions in regards to how we should educate our kids. As parents – it falls on us to decide what’s best for our little whippersnappers. I grew up in Northern Ireland and went to good old public schools and Lisa did the same in Canada. We feel like we got a pretty rounded education and don’t have a feeling that we got short changed academically. However, we work at a private school here in New Zealand so we get to see it from a whole new perspective. I feel that private schools have much better resources. Yes the teachers were trained the same as the public school teachers, but the resources seem to make the difference. 

Now .. we are told so many different things on what we should do with Finn. “Put him in private school education once he reaches high school as it’s a waste of money in primary school.” “It’s all about what school you went to in Christchurch, so pick carefully.” “Put him in private school for primary school and not high school as it instills good habits and academic skills from an earlier stage before they become teens.” 

The list goes on. But to be honest – there are so many factors we have to consider. Firstly of course is the financial commitment – private school is a little more expensive than a public school, actually a lot more. But can you really put a price on excellent education for your child? Next there’s the Finn factor. Where does he want to go to school? That has to be a huge deciding factor on where we enrol him. For primary he won’t have much inkling as to where he will want to go but for high school he will feel much more strongly about where he sees himself fitting in. We absolutely love the school we work at and think that Finn would LOVE it but I guess at the end of the day it will be up to him and what he wants for his life. 

The Happiest Kids in the World book reminds me that I shouldn’t put pressure on Finn to be successful at everything he does – it’s ok to not be the best at everything. And honestly, I see first hand, some students whose parents openly put pressure on them to be the best at everything they do. All too often these are the same kids who, in their teens, suffer from mental health issues, anxiety and some even rebel against their families. I’m a rookie at this Dad business, but I feel that teaching kids for 11 years has given me plenty of knowledge in terms of what not to do as a parent. The pushy, helicopter parent is not what I want to be. Don’t get me wrong, I want Finn to live a full life with lots of rich experiences but not at the cost of his happiness or our relationship. 

I’d be keen to hear from you parents and educators out there!

James

Your child. Online. Smart idea?

1234Ok, so we all know a friend who is obsessed with posting photos and videos of their kids on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and whatever other options are out there. Right!? That’s all cool, but have they really thought through the consequences?

From Day 1 (actually as soon as we found out we were preggers, and yes “we” were both pregnant as I also developed a belly and indulged in man-cravings) I have been pretty staunch on the online side of things with Finn. I am not keen on posting any photos of him online. And yes, I think he’s thee cutest little ninja that this world has ever seen, but I don’t feel that 2 billion people need to see him. None of us know the full extent of what actually goes on in the background with these social sites. Who owns the photos? Who can share it? Whose hands do your photos eventually end up in? Have you read the full terms and conditions of your FB agreement? I’d be surprised if you have.

Our children rely on us as their voice and as their protector. Why oh why do we feel the compulsion to disregard that responsibility and share them with an online community? Some people have said to me that they only have close friends and family on their Facebook profile. But how do they know their “friends” aren’t sharing these images. When a friend “likes” a photo, can their friends now see the post?

Here’s a question – what if your child turns around when they are a teenager and asks you why did you post a bazillion photos of them online? Worse, what if they have a digital stalker who has been following them online through your photos!?! Scary stuff, but it’s reality guys.

Where’s the tipping point between sharing photos for the enjoyment of your family versus outright narcissism? I often wonder how many times a parent has taken a photo to get the ‘perfect’ shot? Why does every photo have to be so calculated? Is it for more likes? Is it to make them feel good about themselves (which is often the case)?

Some of my non-parent friends often comment about how they absolutely hate the constant child photos from their friends and family. But they are too worried to say anything to their friends incase they offend them. So in the end, they just unfollow them. It’s true that we think the sun shines out of our little whippersnapper’s backsides but come on, do we really NEED to post a photo every single day? Gone are the days of creating moments and memories for your family. It seems that anything cute that happens, needs to be shared. Over and over and over. I can honestly say I don’t know more than two people who actually live through the lenses of their eyes instead of the lense on their iPhone. The two experiences are VASTLY different. Dads (and Mums!) really need to live in the moment more often. Living through your digital device so you can watch the moment back on a screen is just a false illusion. For those of us in our 30’s, 40’s and beyond – do you recall your childhood memories in the yard with your parents? Throwing a ball, splashing in the paddling pool, wrestling around, learning to bike ride? All of these special memories leave a last imprint on our minds and souls. Now picture the child of today. What is the one common factor that they will remember through ALL of these memories… Mum and/or Dad holding their phone. Yes its nice to have the photo or the video, but are you really considering the impact it’s having on those moments? I recall a Phillip Pullman book I read at school – it talked about humans having a “spirit” or “animal” being a part of their soul and it would follow them everywhere. It’s scary now that I think this sci-fi book is becoming a reality. How many humans do you see walking with their phone in their hand, looking down at their phone whilst they are driving, sitting at a bar with their friends with their heads glued to their phones?! This world is losing the ability to interact socially.

Have you done a google search on the dark world out there of the creeps that gather photos from Facebook and Instagram? It’s startling.

So my question to you is – I have started a Blog on being a Daddio, is it essential that I post a photo of Finn (my 9 month old)? As yet – there isn’t one photo of him on my FB profile or anywhere on the internet. Lisa and I have however set up a ‘secret’ Facebook group where we invite Finns family to see our cute photos and videos of him. We probably post once a week, sometimes less. But I feel more comfortable knowing that his photos aren’t out there in the public domain. Well at least Facebook tells me that they are safe in there. I wonder has Zucks got a wee disclaimer in there somewhere … Check out Facebook groups if you don’t know how to set one up.

Check out this amazing article about how parents are putting their desire for “likes” above the happiness of their child. It highlights how some parents even video their children crying when they lose a tooth, rather than consoling them. What kind of sick world are we in!?

Please share your thoughts on this topic. It’s a huge part of our current society and I would really love to know where you stand. Don’t just sit behind your selfie stick (AKA arsewand) – get your thoughts out there and take some ownership for what you post of your child.

Thanks Dads (and mums!).

James

Founder of ModernDad.guru

You the Daddy!

12I have thought about Dad-blogging for the last 9 months… but I just haven’t managed to take the step. Well, I figured it was time to man-up and get it out there. Actually, the wife gave me a swift kick up the proverbial to get my ass in gear. My son Finn is almost 9 months old and is keeping me on my toes! My wife Lisa is an amazing mum and has so many great resources online that cover everything about being a new mum. Forums, FB groups, FB chat groups, blogs, Vlogs. And the list goes on. It makes us Dad’s look useless, when I started looking at the same resources for Dads, I was utterly disappointed. There are a few options out there – but they are few and far between. And to be honest, I’d rather watch paint dry than read the majority of boring blogs.

Today’s world is so different than it was a few decades ago. The role of “dad” has also evolved and the expectations placed on Dads is ever-changing. I want to do my bit to share my dad-experience with any new dads by blogging, in the hope that I can establish a fun and engaging online community for Dads to unite, share, impart and most of all have fun. And I have to be honest, I stuff up often – so bear with me. I’m Irish too – so I’m not sure if that means I have another slight disadvantage lol.

I never imagined just how amazing it was going to feel to become a Dad. It’s seriously an awesome experience. That very first moment that I met my son was simply divine. My world changed forever, and no one could ever have prepared me for that. Now I have to be honest, it’s not all plain sailing. There are tough times, tired times, shitty times (literally!) and everything in between. But all of the trying times are far outweighed by the joyful experiences. Watching my baby grow into a little character is hilarious and exhilarating. And I am learning every single day! ModernDad.guru is my way of doing my little bit for those dads out there who care to go the extra mile for their baby and their partner. Otherwise, for those men who actually give a damn.

 

Please help me, help other dads, by sharing your experiences and getting other dads to join the FB group and subscribe to the blog. Being a dad is simply thee most important role a man has in his life. You get one shot. Make it count.

James

Founder of ModernDad.guru