Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Big Boost from NBA Star Dwyane Wade!

Yesterday was one of those magical days where things all seem to come together!
On Wednesday of this week, I wrote and posted on the blog an article entitled NBA Star Dwyane Wade's Got His Priorities Straight. In that article I shared my admiration for Wade and his role as a father.
I live in Miami and let's just say Wade owns the town - some actually call Miami-Dade county Miami-Wade county! Since I'm local, I hear about much of what occurs in his personal and professional life.
He recently went through a divorce but remains as close as ever to his two sons. On his Twitter account under his bio it says, "...I'm a father first and everything else after that."
The fact that the article was about him didn't go unnoticed by our readers. It was one of the most read posts in our brief history. Well, this next point is simply magical!
I thought that I would send the article via Twitter to Wade to let him know that I recognize him as an Upbeat Dad. I did so yesterday morning and what ensued is more than I could possibly ask for!
Wade not only responded saying thanks for noticing that he has his priorities straight but he sent the article to all his followers on Twitter - over 700,000! That was a very humbling gesture for me - that he not only acknowledged the admiration but that he shared it with his Twitter fans.
Since he shared the article yesterday, the Upbeat Dad blog has had more hits than at any point since we launched October 1! That article is now by far the most read of all those that I have written. People from all over the world - in the hundreds per hour, have been reading!
This is quite gratifying to a writer who is simply seeking to impact the world in a positive way. 9 years ago at this very point in the year, I was at the beginning stages of the worst personal crisis of my life - my divorce and custody battle for our 3 year old daughter. The divorce was finalized in July 2002 but the custody issue went on for close to a year after that.
That chapter of my life closed with my daughter virtually unscathed. She's loved by both her parents and today she's a well adjusted 12 year old. And as an honor roll student, she has a great future ahead!
But I vowed after my experience to establish an organization to encourage fathers to lovingly care for their children regardless of the circumstances that arise. I got a harsh dose of reality when I saw what occurs to many families in the family law system. Children are often the collateral damage when a happy home becomes a broken home.
Today, I'm happily remarried with a newborn son. And my daughter lives with my wife and me while she remains close to her mom. Things have turned out just fine. My mission through this blog is to help create more stories with happy endings - for the children, in particular!
If you're a new reader to our blog, I welcome you and encourage you to become engaged in our conversation. Do post your comments on the blog and on our Facebook page. Also follow us on Twitter.
Come back soon and come back often! There's always something positive, refreshing and new going on here!
For a bit more information on the mission of The Upbeat Dad, read our posts The Story Behind The Upbeat Dad, Looking for a Few Good Men and A Sneak Preview of Where We're Going. I also encourage you to nominate your dad or any dad who you believe we should recognize in our weekly feature, Upbeat Dad of the Week.
I'm so appreciative of Dwyane Wade's gesture yesterday. With this increased readership, we have a greater potential to impact the world with the message that "The Upbeat Dad is for all who believe in the positive influence fathers can have on kids!"

Have a good weekend! And if you have children, try to do something fun with them! They'll love and appreciate you even more!
The Upbeat Dad

Friday, November 19, 2010

Upbeat Dad of the Week: Melvin Thompson!

Melvin Thompson and daughter
Last week Friday was our inaugural Upbeat Dad of the Week spotlight. We began this feature to highlight the dads who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to be there for their kids. Would you believe that that post was the second most read one in our brief history  – second only to The Story Behind the Upbeat Dad?
This feature has struck a chord and I believe it’s because it’s a big encouragement to each of us to learn of the practical application of the concepts that I write about each day. Too often we hear of the fathers who aren’t there for their kids. On The Upbeat Dad we like to applaud those who put their love into action by being great dads.
This week’s Upbeat Dad of the Week spotlight is about someone whom I have come to know recently. We correspond periodically on my personal Facebook page where we comment on each other’s posts and on the posts of mutual friends. Since the launch of The Upbeat Dad, I have learned that he’s not only a single dad but that his story is a powerful one. I trust that you would be moved by it as much as I have.
Our Upbeat Dad of the Week is Melvin Thompson (pictured above with his 16 year old daughter). He is a single father of 3 daughters – 23 year old twins and a 16 year old. He was not always a single dad but life has a way of throwing us lemons - and faced with his lemons, instead of dwelling on the bitter taste, he opted to make lemonade. Here’s the story:
Originally from Jamaica, Melvin is a Manager Trainer for Retail Companies. He is also Certified Tax Preparer and Real Estate Agent.  10 years ago, he was a happily married husband and father with a young family living in New York. In a moment, that all changed. In November 2000, his wife was killed in her native country, the Dominican Republic. That certainly was a curveball thrown into the midst of the life of a growing family.
This tragedy marked the beginning of a new phase in his life – from happily married with 3 wonderful daughters to a young widower with a hurting heart. But as they say on Broadway, the show must go on. His daughters were in school and needed continued guidance. Raising 3 girls can be a bit much and given that situation, many loving fathers would see the task so great that they would have had the girls go to live with other relatives, while continuing to love and support them. But Melvin embraced this new role of being a single dad and was willing to do everything to make it work.
He was always a provider. Now he had to learn to do some of the things he had taken for granted before since he and his wife were partners in raising the girls. He had to learn to do the girls’ hair and ensure things in the home were done. He became more involved in roles such as going to PTA meetings and school activities, scheduling them around work. He says, “Growing up in Christiana, Jamaica, in an atmosphere that fostered the importance of education and personal responsibility helped me in giving my girls the guidance they needed and continue to need.”
So he emphasized personal responsibility and education as the key to helping his young girls to become successful. His favorite quotes are:
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” - Ghandi
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”  - Ziglar
He worked early mornings so getting the girls off to school was a challenge. His in-laws, with whom he is still close to this day, helped during this phase. His in-laws don’t speak much English so there was a language barrier. But his daughters are bilingual, so they helped greatly in the communication.
Melvin’s persistence has paid off! Today his twins are graduate students in England and doing quite well. His youngest is in high school and is also excelling while preparing for college. She scored a 1690 on the SAT exams. That’s an exceptionally high score!
His daughters’ lives are guided by the principles that he has instilled in them. Their mother was warm, loving and wonderful and also instilled great values into them. But since November 2000, he has had to take the reins at a level greater than he did before.
One of Melvin’s more exceptional qualities is that he believes in touching the lives of others – not simply his own children. He is currently completing certification classes to become a Youth and Substance Abuse Counselor. So his kids as well as others benefit from his exemplary life.
His advice for fathers in similar situations to his is, “Be honest with your kids. Yes, there are times when they think they have all the answers. That becomes challenging, however, if you are honest with them, especially when dealing with "peer pressure" it helps them to make the right decisions. Secondly, trust them - let them know that you believe they will do the right thing. Third, emphasize the importance of education. This will help them become productive, responsible citizens and last but not least, spend time with them - go to movies, walks, parks, school functions and activities, for in doing so, you develop that bond with them that tells them you care and solidifies the trust factor. The little time we spend with them now, is what they'll always remember.” Wow! There are no words for me to add here. I could not have said it better!
Please join me in recognizing Melvin Thompson as the Upbeat Dad of the Week. His story is inspiring in so many ways. Regardless of your current situation, I trust that you would embrace the life-lessons in his story. The obstacles that life puts in our way are only there to make us stronger and more effective. His daughters are the better for this experience and his life has even greater meaning and effectiveness. I applaud him, on behalf of the readers, for being a good example and an Upbeat Dad!
If you would like to nominate your husband, dad, granddad, friend, relative or even yourself for this weekly feature, please do so by emailing us at: . Tell us of the person’s story and the exceptional qualities that make him an Upbeat Dad.

Have a great weekend!
The Upbeat Dad

Thursday, November 18, 2010

iPhone or Blackberry? And Who's Your Kid Texting?

So are you an iPhone person? Or Blackberry? Or Android? Or do you not have a clue what I'm talking about?
Well, we're in the age of technology and these are the major players in the mobile phone market. Cell phones have now become smart phones. Interestingly enough, for many of us, the thing we do least on our mobile phones is talk. With the internet and thousands of applications at our fingertips, talking on these phones is almost an afterthought.
A teenage family friend from our church told me that in a typical month, she uses less than 1,000 minutes of talk time but she sends and receives over 15,000 text messages. Not 1,500 but 15,000! Wow! That's like 500 per day!
Just like any popular modern invention, these phones have revolutionized the way we go about our daily lives. They're great but they come with drawbacks. Technological advancement is good but as parents we also need to be cautious.
Television, for instance, can be a useful tool. We watch the news and our kids watch educational programs such as Sesame Street. But television also features programs with violence and material that's just not suitable for all audiences.
The gun is also another good example. Police officers use them to protect the public. And people use them to protect their families. But in the hands of people with a different mindset, guns can become dangerous weapons that destroy the lives of many.
So we understand that it's not technology that we need to be cautious about but rather the use of technology.
As parents, many of us get cell phones for our kids for practical reasons. We need to be able to remain in contact with them. And also, it's good for them to be in contact with their friends. Plus the phones have games and other features that are nice tools for kids.
These same phones however can be used for unhealthy purposes. With easy internet access, they can access websites that are inappropriate for children - whether it's violence or pornography or some other inappropriate website.
How often do we hear of people meeting someone online and that leads to a nightmare story? Our wonderful children, under the wrong circumstances, could end up in one of these stories.
Regarding text messages and picture messaging, who do your kids text? And what's the nature of those 'silent' conversations? And who's sending them pictures or who are they sending pictures to? Makes you think, right?
Here are a few tips I think will help you safeguard your kids' use of their phones:
·         speak with them about the benefits as well as the drawbacks of having these powerful devices at their fingertips
·         set up password protected parental controls on the phones, to whatever extent possible
·         spot check your kids' cell phone activity. Examine the phones for the persons who they text and the websites that they visit. (NOTE: There are some privacy issues that need to be considered, particularly when our kids become older teenagers. We're not looking to see who has a crush on who - we're looking to make sure they're not going down a destructive path with the phones we provide for their convenience)
I hope that these tips are of some benefit to you. Part of being a loving parent is looking beyond what everyone else sees. It's not that you don't trust your kids - it's because we live in a world where the most unpredictable things happen. If we can protect them from the darkside of these great inventions, then we will have done them a favor, despite how they might feel about it.
So you see, with technology comes responsibility. Let's endeavor to do our best to protect our kids while they enjoy the marvels of technology!
The Upbeat Dad

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NBA Star Dwyane Wade’s Got His Priorities Straight!

Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat basketball superstar, Dwyane Wade, is easily one of the top 5 players in the National Basketball Association. The shooting guard is electrifying as he displays his skills each time he steps on the basketball court. He led the Heat to the 2006 NBA championship, being named Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the process. He’s well on the way to becoming a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee.
This season he has teamed up with two time league MVP Lebron James and Chris Bosh to form, what they believe will be a dynasty in South Beach. As a Miami resident, needless to say, I’m a huge fan and I do hope what they envision becomes reality!
Ok then, here’s where you say, “What on earth does all this have to do with The Upbeat Dad?” Well, I’m glad you asked! I also follow Wade on Twitter. And I noted something quite significant. Most athletes and other celebrities, in the brief bio/description on their Twitter accounts speak of their talents or other accomplishments. But not Wade –his simply states, “From Robbins, IL..I'm a father first and everything else after that...”
When I read this, I had to do a double take. Did this basketball icon just say that? In a league where many of the athletes are notoriously womanizers with multiple kids from different women and are absent in the kids’ lives, did he really say that? This was really a breath of fresh air to see.
You might be aware that Wade recently went through a messy divorce – one that became final this summer. No doubt, it took its toll on him. With his busy schedule, he has had to incorporate court appearances for his divorce and also for some other legal issues having to do with business deals gone bad.  Yet, he has remained focused on crafting his gift as an athlete and the special gift of his children.
I wrote in one of my poems:
Parenthood is forever
A spouse come and go
It’s a bond you cannot sever
It’s one law nature knows.

Dwyane Wade and his sons
Wade’s marriage produced two boys. The divorce has been finalized but the custody battle is just heating up. Yet, when all is said and done, Wade and his former wife will remain parents of these two young sons – who both need the love and care that their mother and father can give. Sure divorce can get messy – I know that from personal experience. But when the dust settles and the marriage is over, the children remain.

I speak of this matter, not endorsing custody of the children to Wade or his former wife. Rather, I’m saying that the kids need both parents and for Wade to even seek custody of them is commendable. How often have we heard of athletes who have to almost be dragged into court so that they would pay child support for their kids who they hardly know? Even this summer, I heard an interview with a New York Jets player who has multiple children with different women and he literally could not name all of his kids. How frightening!

Whether or not you’re a Miami Heat fan, if you support the mission of The Upbeat Dad – which is to believe in the positive influence that fathers can have on kids’ lives – I hope you would respect Dwyane Wade’s commitment to his sons. He’s recognized that his marriage is over but he does not want his boys to become isolated – without the continued love and support of their father. Both parents have a role to fulfill and I respect him for choosing to be “a father first and everything else after that.”

Have a great and upbeat day!

The Upbeat Dad

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Looking for a Few Good Men!

When I launched The Upbeat Dad in the first week of October of this year, I said that the blog is for fathers of all kinds - married, divorced, single, adoptive, etc. And the response to it has been tremendous!

I laid out my vision for the blog in several of those initial blogs including The Story Behind the Upbeat Dad and The Journey Begins. Quite interestingly, as time goes by, I'm beginning to realize that this is much bigger than I ever anticipated.  We're getting readers from all over the world - those who believe that positive fathers and father figures are very much in need.

This weekend, I looked at the first month statistics - who is reading the blog and certain insights on these readers. I've also tracked the activity on our Facebook page. Here are a few highlights from those stats:
  • Over 1,400 readers of the blog so far - including people in USA, Canada, UK, Jamaica, Haiti, Russia, Brazil, Germany  and Taiwan and more!
  • Our most viewed post to date is: The Story Behind The Upbeat Dad
  • We have readers from all age groups but the highest percentage falls in the 35-44 age range
  • Consistently, our readers are 60% female and 40% male.
The last stat is amazing to me - 60% female and 40% male. Wow! Recall, as I said above, the blog was launched for dads. Yet, 60% of our readers are female. This speaks volumes to me! You know what it says? The need for "a few good men" is recognized by males, females, young and old alike.

Therefore, as I write, I think of the larger audience of individuals - not just men. These persons recognize that fatherhood isn't a one-time exercise when a child is conceived. It's a lifetime responsibility - one that's filled with rewards.

I have since changed the wording in the description of the blog to say, "The Upbeat Dad is for all who believe in the positive influence fathers can have in kids' lives!"

There are so many studies that show that children who are raised by two parents are at an advantage over those who are not. According to the National Initiative on Fatherhood, children who grow up without their father in the home are more likely to drop out of school and are more likely to end up in poverty. One of every 2 females in prison did not grow up with a father in the home. There are so many more statistics that reiterate this point.

I want to commend the single moms for all they do to raise our children. But they were never meant to do it alone. Sometimes as men, we neglect to fulfill our obligation to our children and their mothers. And our lack of involvement leaves these mothers to fight an uphill battle. 

I also recognize that there are men who get frustrated with the family law system and just throw up their hands and walk away. The sad part is that in walking away, it's not the court system that suffers - it's the kids.

I can attest to this from my own experience when I went through a divorce in the early 2000s. But I recall thinking of my innocent 3 year old daughter. She didn't deserve to be neglected. She didn't ask to come into the world. Neither did she ask for her parents to be divorced. But divorce was the reality. She didn’t need for either parent to walk away from her. That was never an option - she's just too precious.

To our children, I say, "Take heart. We know you need your dads and we'll do everything to make that happen." To moms, I say, "We continue to look for a few good men. And I hope that this blog will be an agent of change in that regard." And finally, to dads I say, "Man up! It's our kids' lives that are at stake. Let's be responsible and give them all the love, affection and support that they're due."

If you enjoy reading the blog, do share it with your friends and colleagues. And consider those in particular who could use the encouragement. I believe that the potential impact of this information is too great to keep to oneself. Thanks for helping us create more upbeat dads!

So yes, we are looking for a few good men. I guess you could say we’re on a search and rescue mission! Won’t you join us in this endeavor!

Have a great day!

The Upbeat Dad 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Have an “A-C-T-I-O-N Packed” Week

And so we enter a new week – a week filled with hope and endless possibilities. It’s also the last week before the holiday season officially begins. In the United States, next week Thursday is Thanksgiving Day and then the holiday shopping bonanza begins.
To many individuals and companies, this will likely be the last productive week of 2010. I’m a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and I know that traditionally, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years are as slow as molasses. People are mentally checked out of life as usual and get into the festive spirit as the year draws to a close.
Having said that, I’ll just do a brief post as you get back to work today. Productivity is the name of the game this week because after this, it may be January before things get back to normal – whatever normal might mean for you.
In order to become productive, we have to take A-C-T-I-O-N.  The following poem from my book Poems of Inspiration: A Daily Dose of Self-Motivation is one I wrote to help us focus on the tasks that lie ahead. I have shared it on the blog before but I think it’s worth repeating today, as it’s so relevant to our topic.


Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses

Consider the limitless possibilities of what you may accomplish

Take small steps daily toward realizing your dreams

Inspire others to join you on your journey

Obey your instincts and work relentlessly

Nurture your dream until it becomes reality

This poem applies to both our professional and personal lives. If we want to accomplish great things in the workplace, we have to be proactive and take action. Likewise, if we want the families we dream of, we have to make it happen.
Our children live what they learn from us. If we want them to reach for the stars and conquer the world, we have to lead by example. How can we expect them to make good grades when the very thing that brings good grades – hard work – isn’t taught to them? If they see us working diligently, they will learn that success isn’t something you sit and dream about, but rather something to reach out and grasp for yourself.
Let’s take action today so that all the good things we envision for our families and ourselves will become reality.

Enjoy your A-C-T-I-O-N filled day!
The Upbeat Dad

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back to Life! Back to Reality!

Do you remember the song from the '90s that started with the words "Back to Life, Back to Reality"? Well, it's now Sunday evening and all over the world people are getting ready to head back to life, back to reality. Why? Because work beckons!

On the weekend, we relax and take it easy. Come Monday morning, we're back to reality.

Did you know that according to the American Heart Association more than 50% of heart attacks occur on Monday mornings. I believe that this is due to the process of gearing back up for life as usual - business meetings, deadlines, horns honking, etc.

It's not easy to get back into that routine at all. What do you do? How do you go about getting back to your normal daily routine?

One thing that works for me is thinking of my wife and kids as my bosses. That means I "kiss up" to them and try to please them.

Work can be quite fulfilling. But it does take it's toll at times. I find that when I use my family as motivation, it puts the challenging moments in perspective.

For some of you, this was your "every other weekend" when your kids come to visit you before returning to their moms. Kudos to you for that because it takes a special dad to maintain a loving relationship with his kids - even when they live elsewhere.

Let's get back to work - with the perspective that our families are the reason that we make our daily sacrifices.

Have a great week. Let's make it a great one.

The Upbeat Dad