Things I’ve learned as a parent, or want others to learn.
It’s been a hell of a summer, hasn’t it? Between ongoing quarantine and COVID scares, missed friends and canceled plans, social unrest and political nonsense, it’s been a hot mess of struggle and stress for a whole lot of folks. Typically, the last days of summer meant the excitement (for kids) and relief (for parents) of back to school. Again, with the challenges and disappointment!
With all of these factors — combined with the unknowns of the new school year AND an increase in socially distant socializing — there are more and more occasions to enjoy a cocktail. Or two.
I’ll admit it’s been a struggle for me not to stress drink. Or drink out of boredom. Or just reward myself for making it through another day. Serendipitously, I’ve had the privilege of working with Responsibility.org this year. They’ve been a great resource when it comes to enjoying alcohol, well, responsibly.
Here are a few tips from Responsibility.org to help you toast the last days of summer — whether enjoying cocktails at home, hosting outdoor gatherings, or venturing out to restaurants.
As a gay dad of a 10 year-old boy, it’s important that I raise my son to be both educated and open-minded about sex, sexuality and gender. One resource that has helped me out with this is Amaze.
Amaze.org is a terrific place for parents and kids to learn about sex and relationships in an honest, positive way. Their videos are funny without being too silly; smart without being too clinical. They address the “mechanics” (like puberty), as well as more complex topics like gender identity, coming out, consent, etc.
Below are my top five most amazing Amaze videos. It was hard to narrow it down — they have so much great content!
Transitioning from school year to summertime can be a pretty challenging process. Throw in a global pandemic with ever-changing levels of quarantine, and it can be downright traumatic. So, what’s a parent to do?
Even under typical circumstances, families are dealing with a looser schedule and fewer restrictions. While kids might think that’s an amazing set of problems to have, the truth is we could all probably use some guidance.
I recently sat in on a conversation with 2019’s School Counselor of the Year, Brian Coleman, hosted by the helpful folks at Responsibility.org. Brian had a lot of great tips for parents and caregivers for navigating this exceptionally uncharted journey. Below are some of the tips he shared as we embark on a summer with so many unknowns.
When we told our 10-year-old we wanted to attend a local Black Lives Matter protest, his initial reaction was one of anxiety and fear. His questions and concerns were numerous: “Will the police be there?” “Will they use rubber bullets?” “Can you die from teargas?”
Like many other families, we’d already been having discussions about the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent, worldwide reaction to it. So I was honestly a bit surprised by my son’s response to attending the protest. He’s always been such an eager activist, whether related to racism, the environment or LGBTQ rights.
Maybe we’d had the news on too often, or allowed him too much YouTube time. Questions and concerns came to my own mind: Was it okay that our child had heard about police firing rubber bullets point blank at protestors? Or that he’d learned of kids being teargassed? Or seen a man his Grandpa’s age being pushed to the ground, bleeding from the head, as dozens of cops passed him by?
I’m excited to once again work with Med-IQ to help raise awareness about obesity and the misconceptions surrounding it. After reading my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.
When it comes to managing weight, the most difficult obstacles can be internal. Self-conversations. Inner dialogue. The voices in your head. Whatever you call them, if you’ve spent years (or a lifetime) dealing with overweight or obesity, you’re familiar with how powerful the messages we tell ourselves — both positive and negative — can be.
Now add to this a months-long quarantine due to a worldwide pandemic. Between an increase in stress and anxiety, separation from friends and other support, and limited access to fitness and nutrition routines, it’s a recipe for a misstep on your weight loss journey.
I’ll admit it’s all been overwhelming at times. Yet similar to the last time I blogged about obesity, writing this post has given me the chance to reflect: on how far I’ve come, where I’m at now, and what things I can do to ensure I stay on a healthy path.
A lot of my success comes from the things I tell myself and the external input I subject myself to. I got some excellent input recently when I participated in a conversation with a couple of experts on obesity and weight management. Between their insight and the things I’ve learned on my own, I’ve come up with a few conversation starters to interject some truth into those internal chats about weight.
I rarely give parenting advice. I’d much rather doodle a superhero or share cute pics of my kid than try to tell another parent how to do their job. But hey, it’s a pandemic, and I figure us parents can use all the help we can get. So I thought I’d share some extremely helpful information from the folks at Responsibility.org, with whom I recently partnered.
We’re about a month (or is it two?) into quarantine, and I’m sure we all have stories to tell — both humorous and harrowing — about how all this has affected our families. Early on I found my son sorting through his stuffed animals, putting some into a separate pile for quarantine. And while parents of multiple kids have my undying respect, having an only child has its challenges as well — the primary one being no one to play with. And the issues my ADHD son and I have had with “distance learning” are too numerous to list.
So how in the world do we as parents respond to our kids’ struggles, questions and emotions in the midst of something none of us were even remotely prepared to deal with? Below are a few helpful parental do’s and a don’ts that might come in handy.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
I love a good before and after photo as much as the next person, but seeing my own is a whole extra level of amazing. When I look at these images, I not only see a slimmer, healthier version of me, I see the months and months of hard work and lifestyle changes that went into it.
But now that I’m a year out, what motivates me to keep going?
I previously worked with Med-IQ on their campaign about depression. I was excited to work with them again, this time to raise awareness about obesity (and obesity support) and to share my own story. After reading my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end. This is a sponsored post — I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.
Over the course of the last six months I’ve lost more than 85 pounds, and it’s been truly, literally life-changing. I achieved this through gastric sleeve surgery, radical changes to my diet, and regular exercise.
But I couldn’t have done any of this on my own.
A while back I wrote about my obesity journey — the ups and downs of my life and how that affected my weight and health in general. Now I want to focus specifically on how support from others helped me along the way — to where I am today. And where is that? Happier and healthier than I’ve been in… well, longer than I can remember.
Again, the details of all the words can be rather cumbersome and tedious, so I’m employing my doodling skills once more to share my experiences and drop some knowledge. See whimsical graph thingies (and important data) below.
Support = Science = Success
Studies at the Mayo Clinic show that identifying and connecting with supportive and understanding relationships improves long-term success with weight management.
This graphic shows some of the different ways I’ve found support for my own health and well-being.
2019 is a fabulous year to turn 50.
The list of things, events and people hitting the half-century mark this year is staggeringly impressive — but not in a commemorative “remember when they were cool” kind of way. Five decades in, and they’re still making an impact, affecting change, and knocking our socks off.
For example… Sesame Street continues to gently teach children us all to understand and include everyone, regardless of gender, race, disability, or fur color. • In the spirit of the original “Peace, Love & Music” festival, Woodstock 50 boasts a lineup of talented, activist artists partnering with charities dedicated to the environment, gun violence, and vulnerable youth populations. • The Stonewall Riots kicked off the modern LGBTQ rights movement — which is still going strong, and still very much needed.
Famous folks turning 50: J Lo just got engaged to A-Rod, and hosts nearly every reality show competition. • Gwen Stefani hosts the rest of them. • Jay-Z gets to stay married to Beyoncé. • Peter Dinklage is an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning star on the most epic TV show of all time, which is gearing up for its final, most epic season of all time. • Paul Rudd is a freaking Avenger.
A few honorable mentions go to the Moon Landing (let’s see how this Space Force stuff plays out), The Internet, Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Tic-Tacs.
There are lots of ways to teach children about diversity… and not just during Black History Month. Certainly it’s important to introduce your kids to African-American culture through leaders like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Dr. King. But I’ve found some of the most effective lessons are those integrated into everyday life.
As a family of gay fathers and an adopted son, it’s vital our child feels visible, included and loved. Beyond surrounding ourselves with other queer and adoptive families, we also make racial diversity a priority. This has informed all aspects of our lives — from where we chose to live, to the friends we make, to the school our son attends. It also factors into the books, TV shows and movies we expose our son to. And of course that includes superheroes.
For those new to the blog, I’ve been creating superhero lunch notes for my son since preschool. They’ve been a great way not only to send him a bit of encouragement (or remind him to flush), but also a fun tool to introduce him to a wide array of heroes. And since this is Black History Month, I thought I’d highlight some of the awesome black characters I’ve doodled for my kid over the years.
I’ve listed family-friendly sources under each note so you and your kids can learn/watch/read more about these heroes. Feel free to copy or print the notes for your family’s lunches — be sure to send me a photo if you make your own!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
This is the black superhero everyone now knows, thanks to the record-breaking, history-making Black Panther film. WAKANDA FOREVER! GOOD LUCK AT THE OSCARS!
FUN FACT: Black Panther was originally conceived by artist Jack Kirby as a character named “Coal Tiger.”