Poptism

inspiring fathers at every stage of life

Poptism - inspiring fathers at every stage of life

Don’t be a bystander in life

#Dads4Oren

#Dads4Oren

When someone gets hurt as a result of a violence that they were not a part of, they are often called “innocent bystanders” – and they are just that, innocent. But what about guilty bystanders? Is there such a thing?

I say yes. 

A guilty bystander is someone who sees and doesn’t take action. You can do this as a parent, co-worker, or friend. We see people in challenges all around us. It can be as little as a spilled drink on a desk and you just stand there and watch them clean it, to a stranger you slightly know who is fighting stage IV cancer.

In between, before and after those scenarios are a plethora of things we choose to not take action on. It is a real shame. We expect OTHERS to do it – or we think, “they don’t need my help” – but they do.

You do matter. 

A dad I know, Oren Miller, a loving dad who values fatherhood and community has been hit with stage IV Cancer. I could sit at home, sad for him, just “like” a post that asks others to donate, or even just share it. I could hug my kids tighter tonight and be grateful for my health. Maybe I will read a blog and comment – “you are in my prayers.” All good things.

But that is not enough.

Faith – without action – is dead. Look up the verse. So I take action, share, donate, write and pray. The option of being a bystander is not one I choose. It’s one of the reasons Poptism.org exists.

Don’t be a bystander. 

Don’t fall for the bystander effect and think “others will chip in” – that’s not what the world needs. We don’t need one hand reaching out to help others, we need every hand to reach out and changing the things we see in our local community, our family, our friends & neighbors – that’s where we can make an impact.

We also can’t be embarrassed to ask for help.

Today, more than ever, help is right there on the internet – waiting for you. Sites like GiveForward exist for you to give help to many people who just need a hand. People want to take action across the world – you matter.

Your prayers are waiting to be answered – if you just put yourself out there. You can use Giveforward, or countless other sites to get the help you need. I find it funny that some of us have more faith in Lotto than our fellow human being.

I think of the joke about the priest on a rooftop during a flood – he prayed and prayed for God to save him, a boat came – he turned it away, “God will save me” he said, then another, and finally a helicopter – until he drowned. When he gets to heaven he asks God – “why didn’t you save me?” – and God replies, “I sent you a boat, and a helicopter.” You see, God doesn’t work in mighty miracles, sometimes its just a simple hand.

Learn more here and take action: Give back to Oren.

 

Poptism’s 2nd Annual Baseball Game

Families enjoying the Poptism A's Event

Families enjoying the Poptism A’s Event

The reason we started Poptism was to bring families together, specifically dads and their kids. To help inspire men to be more connected and engaged fathers. The memories we create with our children are the one’s we will all cherish in future evenings as we recount the years gone by. Even longer then, when we are long gone, our children will remember glimpses of moments that were special in their youth. Like that time Stomper brought them a baseball, or that awesome all you can eat buffet, or the sweet toys that you got just for being a kid. Through events like this baseball game, we want to help make memories that bring the family together.

It’s hard in this world to raise a family, to stay together, to endure the challenges that life brings us from so many different directions. Bills, heartache, health, pain, love and loss will impact our families in some way shape and form. Some of the families today that joined us are going through difficult challenges, and we hope that today’s respite lightened the load for even just a few hours.

I witnessed families large and small today, dads, step-dads, uncles and friends out together laughing and making memories. Many thanked me, but I am not the one to thank. Thank you God for giving us the opportunity to bring some light out into the world. We hope it shines a little brighter today.

Go A’s! Check out photos on Poptism’s Facebook Page

Challenges of Being a Father

Bernard Jones

By: Bernard Jones

Ever since I was very young, I wanted to be a father. When I was three, my father left my family. I remember times when I wished my dad was there with me.  This lead me to dream about the fun things I would do one day, when I get the opportunity to be a dad.

About 25 years later I got the opportunity to experience fatherhood.

I remember the day my son was born like it was yesterday. He was long, with big feet and light-skinned. Hearing his first cry almost brought tears to my eyes. I was so proud to be a dad, so happy to be able to call someone my son and see him grow up and raise him like I wished my father would have raised  me.

I thought it would be very easy to raise a child. I remember thinking that I would always be emotionally available to help my son with all his challenges. I would always be there for him and never get angry, and never do the things that my dad did. I would never leave my family. I will be the best dad I could ever be and I wanted to have a son that was very proud of me. I never really thought about the challenges of being a father.

Then the unexpected happened.

My son was two years old when he went to a preschool and initially behaved very well. But then – the phone calls came. We received daily and weekly messages stating that he has a hard time sitting in class, a hard time focusing, and a hard time accepting  responsibility.

…and the calls kept coming, coming, and coming.

I was afraid to look at my phone.  I didn’t want to hear the school complaining about something he did in class.   I spent more time “checking out” at home and not engaging my wife or son. I turned to sports rahter then talk about my son’d day at school.

Facing the facts about my own behavior was very challenging.

It took some good friends to sit me down and talk to me about how I was truly feeling about the challenges I was having with my son. This intervention helped me face my son’s challenges head on instead of just wishing that they would go away. I never thought that I could be so sad and so down because of the helplessness I felt.

I couldn’t help my son face his challenges.

I would see him looking discouraged or down when he felt like he was in trouble. My poor wife, who carried the majority of the emotional burdens at the time, cried constantly when picking him up from school after she received a negative report.

With the help of praying, my friends and my family we made a decision to get some help for me and my family so we can face the challenges together. We were able to take him to a specialist that gave us some great tips on how to help my son with anxiety, sensory challenges and ADHD. The specialist showed us how to slow down so we can help BJ understand the things that he felt when he couldn’t sit still. We changed our entire family’s diet and ate less junk food and replaced them with more healthy meals and snacks.

My son’s school was very supportive and invested in our family. We were able to work with his teachers, who made classroom accommodations for him that provided a supportive learning environment.

Now in 3rd grade, he is an honor student with a love for math & arts.

These changes made a dramatic difference in how I faced my sons behavioral challenges. I saw my family transformed from running away from hard situations to facing life challenges and growing closer as a family. Every day we continue to grow as a family as we learn how to face challenges without running away from them.

Through these challenging times I realized that it really does take a village to build a family and it does take a village to be a great father.

– Bernard Jones

It has been a year – and now it is Official!

I started this process over one year ago – April 2013. It all began on a bus ride from Alameda. My wife had told me to, “do something good with my time” – I was literally reading the Bible thinking, “what can I do?” and I came across this verse:

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. (Ephesians 4:28)

In short, this means that I need to stop using my powers for evil, and using them for good. What “powers” do I have – well the gift of gab, sales, writing, leadership, etc. I use those all for my own personal gain, and advancement in life. It was time for me to turn that around and do something for others. That’s how Poptism was born. I recruited some friends to help make a leadership team; Ken and Bernard. Then I hired our attorney to help us prepare our application for 501c3 status – and then we waited.

And waited…

Now a year later, it is official! As of June 9, 2014 we are an official 501c3 non-profit! In this past year, I didn’t do everything I wanted, it was a year of exploration, reading, learning and meeting great people. Now we are about to host our 2nd Annual A’s game event for Bay Area families- and I am thrilled to do it as an official 501c3 organization. It means that we will be able to raise the funds needed to do more outreach and provide more services and training for at-risk youth and fathers that are seeking guidance.

Here is what we set out to do: Mission Statement

And now we can go forth and fulfill that mission. I believe it is kismet that today I am visiting a family shelter in Oakland to hand deliver 20+ tickets to families – families that don’t have homes. I am blessed to be able to bring them some joy and hopefully add wonderful memories to lives that so far have been full of challenges.

We are also giving away almost 50+ tickets to other families with single working parents, laid off fathers and mothers, and several other stories that all make me grateful for listening to my wife and that Bible verse over a year ago.

I have purpose. 

Families, fathers, and more need some hope, some help and some tips to navigate countless challenges. I don’t have the answers, no one does – but we will do all we can to ensure that we inspire fathers everywhere, but most importantly right here in the Bay Area to do the hardest job of all – being a present dad, leading a family and being a partner in parenthood.

Thank you and please keep in touch and let us know what we can do!

Bay Area Father’s Day Event – 6/21

Ahhh – June! My favorite time of year – especially as a dad. The weather is typically awesome around the Country, baseball is in full swing, summer vacation is getting started, BBQ’s, camping, nights outside with the kids – what could be better?

I’ll tell you what! Spending an awesome Saturday afternoon with fellow dads and your kids to watch the Oakland A’s take on the Boston Red Sox on June 21st – with FOOD INCLUDEDIN the Ballpark – one week after Father’s day. Hey – if your loved one gets a birthday week, then it’s okay for you to get a father’s week :)

And it gets better! All you can eat hot dogs, burgers, soda, water, chips, etc. The cost is only $30 per person, a savings of $5 per ticket – sponsored by Poptism. On top of that – we know it is a lot of money for some working families, and events like this can be a difficulty when you have kids. So we are giving away up to 50 tickets – you heard that right. Giving away 50 tickets based on financial need – we just need you to fill out the form on this page: http://wp.me/P3p1E7-2F

For those of you that want to attend and are not in a financial pinch – you can purchase tickets here, tickets will be at will-call, or can be picked up in person in Downtown SF, or mailed if bought at least 1 week in advance: http://poptism-baseball14.eventbrite.com

Simple details:

What: Poptism 2nd Annual Baseball game

When: Saturday June 21st – Game Time 1pm (Food starts at 11am)

Where: Oakland A’s Coliseum – East Side Clubhouse for food

Who: Dad’s, Father figures, single mom’s, etc. and their kids.

Cost: $30 ($37 face value) – and FREE for financial needs (pending review)

See you at the Park!

 

Connecting with your child as a working parent

image credit: Marcin Moga

It is a daily battle for me to connect with my kids. It is not an instantly obvious desire. My instincts when I get home typically revolve around self-preservation, so I need to work to be giving, and thoughtful towards my kids. Maybe for you this is not a challenge, and you come home ready to dive in to lego’s and playtime – then awesome, not sure why you are here.

But if you are a working dad, and you want to connect with your child, but don’t know how – or maybe you are just fresh out of ideas.  I hope this post can help. These are a few things I like to do – and I need more ideas too – so if you have any ideas, please share them in the comments!

Connect with your child during:

  1. Bath time!  Since my kids are just 14 months apart, I combine their bath times. It is a typically stressful experience, honestly. But, it is very valuable time together. I get to play with toys, talk to them. Make them laugh, and play in the bath. One of my favorites; trying to find the HexBug Aquabot as it swims under the bubbles – I get nothing for promoting this. I genuinely love the toy. Great for tubs that aren’t steel since it has magnets!
  2. Errand Runs: Kids love getting out of the house. It is easy to just run out and go grab something and not want to bring your kids along for brevity’s sake. However, a car ride together is great connecting time for kids. Sing a song on the way to the supermarket, or post office. Talk while you shop – take a moment to let them help you pick items that you need.
  3. Dadurday! I call Saturday, Dadurday. It is just an easy day to set apart time for your kids. After breakfast I love bringing my boys to this awesome park that has a fenced toddler area. Typically I run into many dads doing the same thing – connecting with their kids. Movies, ice cream runs, hiking, even your jog – these are all moments where your kids could be with you. Get ideas for Dadurday activities in the Bay Area here.
  4. Dedicated 1:1 time: look, I am no dad-guru, but at it’s most basic, if you work in a job you get 1:1’s with a boss, at least once a month if not more frequent. If you have multiple children, make one on one time so you can connect with each child. Each child you have is unique, and making time for each of them now, will pay dividends as they mature. If you give your children dedicated time and respect their individual needs, they will expect the same treatment from others as they mature and will know that their dad values them. It fills up their feelings of self-worth and you can never start too young. As much as I hang with both of my boys – I need to make sure I give them each dedicated one on one time.
  5. Digital connections: Text them, email them, FaceTime them, Skype, whatever it takes. Reach out to your kids. Don’t just call them. I personally hate VM’s – I love talking to my parents and love hearing their voices – but they always wait for me to call them. I wish they called me more. I have a son across the country, and I do my best to FaceTime him and connect at least 3X a week, besides my trips out East. Play video games together – be interested in them – that will teach them to engage with others and their interests – including yours.

It is hard when you have a Full-Time job, or two or more jobs, to make time for your kids. But you really have to make it a priority. These are connections that will pay dividends for years, not just for their lives, but for yours. You won’t ever wish you stayed at work for one more hour, you won’t ever hope that you got to send one more email – no. What you will wish for is one more hug, one more laugh and one more smile from the ones you love.

Make. The. Time.

Your kids may already be craving connection time. Try it out – and if you have tips or feedback, please come back and post it below.

Best,

PC

Top 12 Dad-Friendly Employee Perks

Father and son fishing

For dads, most jobs just meet the basic function of providing a way to be a good provider. Others, however, offer employee perks that strengthen a dad’s ability to take care of the home and family, outside of paying the bills.

Here’s a list of dad-friendly employee perks, and the companies behind them, from Business Insider’s list of 2013 Top 50 Employers.

 

These companies and perks are strengthening families through offering their employees parental superpowers.

Note: Click on the links below to search for open opportunities with these companies.


Created by Jovan Hackley

  1. Unlimited Sick Days and Free On-Site Health Care – SAS Institute

  1. Free Yacht Rentals for Family Relaxation – JM Family Enterprises

  1. 6 Paid Weeks Off – Autodesk

  1. On-Site Farmers Market and Veggie Subscriptions – QualComm

  1. Free Flights for the Entire Family – Southwest Airlines

  1. Paid Time Off for Field Trips, Parent-Teacher Conferences, and More – Mattel, Inc.

  1. Private Concierge to Help You Tackle the Chores – Johnson & Johnson

  1. Winter Recess and 12 Holidays – Boeing

  1. Fitness Centers for the Whole Family – The Hershey Company

  1. 3 Weeks of Leave from the Start – General Mills

  1. On-Site Doctors, Physical Therapists, and More – Cisco Systems

  1. On-Site Kindergarten and After-School Programs – Campbell’s Soup Company

If you’re a dad, these could be a few cool places to work. If you’re an employer, use this list to inspire adjustments to your perk list and benefit offerings to help strengthen dads and families.

Love – as defined by a dad.

dino_loveI love the way my little guys smile in the morning.
I love when they look up, arms stretched, reaching for me.
I love hugging them and knowing that love was the seed that made them possible.

I love the smile on all of our faces when someone is silly.
I love the sound of laughter and stomping feet through our house.
I love picking them up when they fall down.
I love making wrongs – right.
I love saying good night, good morning and hello.

I love seeing me and my family in their eyes, smirks, face, words and actions.
I love making things that you will enjoy.
I love taking you to out to explore nature and the world.
I love seeing you make your own discoveries.
I love teaching you things that will be with you forever.
I love seeing you grow and learn.
I love dreaming about your future – what kind of men you will all be.
I love the thought that one day, you will be a dad loving your kids even better than I loved you.
I love when you jump into bed to wake me up.
I love that you have a clean slate of life ahead of you – go for it.
I love when you cuddle in and get cozy on the couch.
I love tucking you in.
I love that you aren’t restricted by my reality.
I love how you inspire me.
I love when you teach me to love the moment.
I love – you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

tips for talking with your child

I think the first time I realized my kid didn’t speak english was when he was 2 or so.

Think about it – they are born, and we talk to them…. but they have no idea what in the world we are saying. We just sound pleasant. Our tone is nice, we can soothe them by humming or whispering – but the actual words we say – mean nothing. We literally sound like a Charlie Brown teacher – PWAH-PWA-WAH-WAH…

Eventually, they actually do start to communicate. Through trial and error, and by combining tone and facial expressions with actions they witness, suddenly they understand you!

Or so you thought…

Because then one day you say, “tilt your head back” – and they have no idea what that means. What does tilt mean? Did I ever establish this word in his life? And back? usually associated with their back, or give it back etc. So, you gently nudge their chin up, and EUREKA – “tilt your head back” is established. yet, I bet you $100 they have no idea what tilt means.

So you want tips – that’s why the mighty Google brought you here. Well, here is the best I have – and no I am not a language expert, I just have 1, 2 and 5 yr old children that frankly communicate really well these days. I don’t write these as an exhaustive list, just some tips, please add your own below in the comments.

Here are 7 tips for talking with your child:

1) Replace the action you want, with their perspective:
– “tilt your head back” changes to “look up”
– “swing your legs back and forth” changes to “put your shoes on the sky”

2) Ask for one thing at a time so as not to confuse them and build confidence.

3) Use shorter phrases and simple explanations

4) Get down to their level – ensure you have eye contact. Literally crouching down and speaking to them is really effective in establishing trust and building their confidence when they speak.

5) If you yell, they will yell louder. Use calmer tones – when possible, we all have our moments.

6) Don’t ask a question if you want them to do something – questions should always allow them to say “no” and mean it. If you ask questions just to be nice, then argue with them when they don’t do what you asked – don’t get mad:
– “Do you want to go potty?” vs. “lets go potty, or Please go potty now”
– “Do you want to go outside?” vs. “let’s go outside”

7) Offer a choice if a command is met with resistance:
– parent: “Please sit in your chair”
– child: “no.”
– parent: “Okay you choose: sit in your chair, or…”(no toy, it’s bedtime, timeout, etc.)

8) establish a pattern of consequence, and don’t deviate.
We like to use “1, 2, 3″ meaning – not our idea, it’s magic that we read in this book given to us and used by a bunch of our friends – it freaking works!
http://www.amazon.com/1-2-3-Magic-Effective-Discipline-Children/dp/1889140430

I hope these tips helps you talk with your child and have easier communication. If you have any things that work in your family, please share below!

I suck at fatherhood, and that’s okay.

I want to be an awesome dad. Yet chasing the ideal of fatherhood can be a supremely discouraging act – because in the end, no one is perfect.

So do I give up? Do I throw my hands up and say, “screw it, I am not going to try anymore!” Or do I wake up the next day, and go after it again?

I think this is the point that many men get to – (or maybe I am speaking for myself and it is just me. Either way, I shall go on...) I have a choice today and everyday:

– Face the truth of what I feel, talk about it, get it out of my heart and seek encouragement.

-OR –

– Stuff my feelings and hope they go away after a beer, some wine and some football, (insert random vice here)…

I think I bounce between the two, though frankly I turn to video games more than anything else.

Nevertheless, as we do this – as we deny the feelings of inadequacies, or the actual pressure we feel. We are slowly hardening our hearts to the emotions we feel and little by little the pressure of fatherhood can drive us to make bad decisions.

Decisions seemingly inconsequential,  from looking at porn, to the more serious infractions of cheating on a spouse (be it emotionally or physically), drug and alcohol abuse, or perhaps straight hand in crotch, Al Bundy style, disregard. Whatever it is we do and make excuses for, the root of it is avoidance and self-medication of feelings and past hurts.

To sum it up – it is quitting at the work of being a father.

What does quitting in fatherhood look like? Well, only you know the answer. It is not as obvious as literally abandoning your child, or leaving your family. It is different for every man. For me, it looks like a man engrossed in work, responsibility and just doing enough to get by. That may be good enough for some, but in my heart of hearts, I know I could do more if I just let myself make mistakes.

So how can we break through? Here are some things I try to live by that help me when I am down or discouraged:

  1. Be honest. When you mess up, just look at your kid and apologize.
  2. Talk to other dads. We have all been through it in some way. Join our Meet-up group for San Francisco Bay Area Dads
  3. Get a mentor. Maybe there is a dad out there that is good at X and you are good at Y – buddy up and help each other out
  4. Talk to anyone who will listen. Feelings of inadequacy can lead to a lot of bitterness and anger. Are you angry a lot? You need to talk about it, get it out.
  5. Vulnerability is good. There is much strength in weakness. This is when true growth can occur. When you share the truth and move on.
  6. Don’t quit (or stop quitting). Put down the “vice” or self-medication, and face the challenge that you are avoiding daily. You may surprise yourself and realize you can do it!

What I have learned so far with 3 boys 5, 2 and 1 is that there are good days and bad days. My actions, everyday, are creating traits and honing the characters of my boys. That pressure – is true. But I don’t need to be perfect, I just need to love them and be honest. Then they can learn that being perfect is not the goal, the goal is to run the race and come out better than when you came in. Victory through doing your best and not giving up, even when you fall down. (and no I don’t believe in medals for last place – but we are talking about life here, not a potato sack race)

This is a very personal post, and I make no apologies for it. But I am under the assumption that many men, feel the same way. Share your thoughts below – let’s have a dialogue!

 

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