Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Few Thoughts As You Go Shopping!

Hope your weekend's off to a good start. Today's post will just be a short one - a few thoughts on the season and enjoying our families through it all.

We're here in our winter wonderland called Miami, Florida. It dipped into the 50s last night. Bbbrrr!! I'm originally from Jamaica so I'm not too used to cold weather like this. Although I grew up in Texas - from age 12 through my mid 20s - I never liked winter weather. To each his own, right?

Anyway, what do you do for family fun this time of year? I take it many of you are crowding the malls and swiping credit cards like no other time this year. Others of you - like my good friends in Texas - go deer hunting. Here in Florida, fishing is pretty good this time of year too!

This is such a beautiful time of the year. My best childhood memories mostly seem to have something to do with this season. First of all, my birthday is December 22. So I'd go the entire year and not get any presents. Then I'd get birthday presents and again 3 days later on Christmas Day!

Family bonding during this season is special. I remember growing up with our family buying a Christmas tree together, then putting it up and decorating it. My parents, my siblings and I often went caroling and sometimes we went driving through ours and neighboring communities to look at Christmas lights. Then came Christmas Day - presents and lots of food! We always went to 6 AM church service to get the day started. Then after all this fun, a week later we'd welcome in a new year and make resolutions - that we'd generally break within a few weeks :-)

This season creates so many lasting memories! I know many of you are of other faiths and may not celebrate like I do. But I think we all agree that this time of the year is like no other. The shopping, the fun, the laughter all make it "the most wonderful time of the year!."

During the season, let's really embrace the privilege we have to share it with our kids. It's something that years from now they will recall with fond memories. And I'm sure if we make the right impression, when they start their own families, they'll want to do the same.

I should also say that as much as we shower our kids with the things they wish for, let's not think one season of gift-giving can replace all the other things we should be doing with them. I know parents who don't really pay much attention to their kids throughout the year and think opening their wallets can make up for the essential quality time that their children need. So let's get them gifts but let's shower them with love and affection 12 months a year.

Ok. In the words of Porky Pig, "that's all folks!" Here's to a wonderful weekend for you and yours!

The Upbeat Dad

Search for Fisher Price toys

Friday, December 3, 2010

Upbeat Dad Of The Week: Your Dad!

As promised, today's Upbeat Dad of the Week is more of a tribute, a "shout out" if you will, to our fathers. Many of you have responded so I'll yield to you today and let you do the talking.

I'll just say that we often hear of "father's rights". And I'm a big proponent of that. I also recognize fatherhood as a privilege. Some of us are natural fathers. Others, step-fathers or adoptive fathers. I see all of this as a privilege because we get to sow positive seeds into the lives of the persons who will lead the next generation.

By the way, I wish special holiday greetings to my dad, T.P. Walters. He was featured as our Inaugural Upbeat Dad of the Week!

To all our fathers, I say, Happy Holidays! Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza!

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, I hope that this season is filled with joy and the best of everything. And thanks for being the positive influences that our kids need to become successful!

The Upbeat Dad

Dad. I pray for good health, humor, and a winning streak for your beloved Rockets. Here's to celebrating a wonderful season of watching classic black and white movies on TCM with you!
Love, your daughter - Nikki M-W.

I love you very much daddy!  You are the best! Thank you for everything! Love Brianna M.

Dad, you have been the epitome of love and a parent and there is none other I would rather have as a father and role model.  I may not tell you everyday, just how much I care....

But pouring out my heart right now is bringing me to tears.  You are truly one in a million, the very best dad I know, and I will always love you, even if it doesn't always show.  You are amazing and truly a gift to us from God.

I love you!! - Lezonne C.

Hey Luke,

Happiness is a decision...thank you for all the time you have shared with me.  FEAR...I finally am figuring it all out.  Forever Onward...I know, there are many more.

 I love you, always. -Talitha L.

Merry Christmas Daddy! You are more than amazing and I am so thankful that you are my Father. I appreciate you and all that you do for me. I will forever be your little girl no matter how old I get :). Love you more than life itself, have a wonderful Christmas! - Christal R.

Dad, thank you for loving me unconditionally and teaching me how to be a Godly man and father. I pray that your Holiday Season will be filled with joy and peace. Words alone will never be enough to express how much I love and respect you. HAPPY HOLIDAYS! - Arthur E.

Wishing our wonderful fathers Rev. Arthur B and Bishop Quiglen D a blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
Love you both - Chris and Fiona D.

To the most influencial man in my life, the same one that taught me how to ride a bike, the same one that saw me off to my prom, the same one that would do anything in the world to see his little girl happy... A Merry Christmas! I love you Daddy! - Denae C.

I love you daddy. Thank you for giving me all the stuff that I need. Thank you for loving me. Thanks for being the best dad in the whole world.  I'm glad I have you. I love that you're so nice to me. I love you. I'm thankful for all the stuff you buy me. Thank you for helping me with everything I can't do myself.  I'm glad you provide for me. - Christina W.

I want everyone to know that i have the best daddy in the world. We have fun, we talk and he always makes me laugh. Merry Christmas! - Ashley E.

Happy holidays to all the 'Upbeat Dads' in my life. May you receive the Lord's continuous blessings this holiday season and may you continue to be a blessing to your children and grand-children. Love - Dinley W.

Strong, passionate, loving father: that’s the man that I know, and the Dad that I love in Terence W.

As kids, we knew him as a tough disciplinarian; but only when we emerged from his loving care as adults could we truly understand that the discipline was there to allow us to be the best adults that we could be.

In that sense, Daddy raising us was like him driving a car that needed to get up to a certain speed; the firm hand of discipline was the accelerator, and our development was measured by the speedometer; as we grew and became more mature, he gradually eased off of the gas, until we hit a satisfactory cruising speed, and he lovingly retired the gas pedal.

Now, we know Daddy as a fun-loving, patriarch, fiercely proud of his kids and grandkids, and always willing to have a deep conversation about what’s wrong with the West Indies cricket team.

We love you Daddy!!! - Brian W. and family

I have heard it all my life and I know some of you have heard it too.  “You look just like your Dad.”  And while I am glad our good looking strong genes are being passed down generation to generation, I am even happier of the fact that my Dad  is striving harder to look even more like his Heavenly Father.  This makes me want to emulate him even more.  Merry Christmas to all the Dads with a higher purpose.  Merry Christmas to the “Upbeat Dads" - Clynton B.

I am wishing a Merry Christmas, to my father...Everard P. known to me as P.  I just want to take the time to tell you I'm so grateful to have you in my life. It's one of the best feelings when your parents stop being parents, and start being your friends. And not only are you my friend, you are my electrical consultant, mechanic, my nurse/drill sergeant. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be who I am and our family would not be what it is. You became the father that you never had. Love your best Mummy - Shara P.

Welcome New Countries!! - December 3, 2010

We'd like to welcome the following countries to our growing list of readers of The Upbeat Dad blog: Denmark, Croatia, Latvia, Brazil, Nigeria, Japan, Russia, Puerto Rico, India, Ukraine!

You can check out The Story Behind The Upbeat Dad to find out what we're all about! Check out our Facebook page. And follow us on Twitter. You'll enjoy and share our excitement about fatherhood. Dads, moms and children are always welcome!

Later today we'll be posting holiday greetings to our dads. You can still send your greeting and we'll be sure to get it in the post. You can post a comment here or send an email to:

Come back often. And get engaged in our conversation! There's always something new!

Have an excellent day!

The Upbeat Dad

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What Exactly is Child Support?

When I went through a divorce in the early 2000s, for the first time, I got a real close up view the family law system - and I didn't like what I saw.
As I mentioned in my post The Great Oxymoron: Family Law, I think that the system, as it functions in the United States and perhaps many other countries, is very anti family. It's a sleeping hungry lion - as long as it's a asleep, you can dance around it and have a ball. But the moment it awakens, it's ferocious and can shred you to pieces.
By the way, I'm not speaking against family law attorneys. I had a pretty good one myself and I personally know some who do read and follow The Upbeat Dad and think it's great. I'm just referring to the fundamentals of the system - the industry, if you will. It does not promote reconciliation but rather, further division.
Now to the question of the day: What exactly is child support? I asked myself that question when I was going through a mediation at the end of my divorce proceedings.
It seemed to me that it was just a mathematical calculation. I'm a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and I do many mathematical formulas for calculating income taxes and payroll deductions. So seeing the way the calculation works reminded me of my daily work.
The calculation, I think, is fair. It takes into account the income of both parents. And it seeks to ensure that the children are adequately supported. The non-custodial parent writes a check to the custodial parent for the portion that applies to him or her. That's quite good, I believe.
Now here's my issue with the whole concept. Some fathers go into court and walk away with the belief that as long as you pay child support you're a good dad. And unfortunately, the court helps to convey that message. So you can be a loving dad who's close to your kids - and then you're divorced or otherwise separated and then your support for your kids is reduced to a bi-weekly check? That's not right.
I know fathers who live locally and see their kids sparingly. But they always pay their child support. And as far as the court is concerned, they're good dads.
In my mediation, I ended up losing so much. But one thing I would not compromise on was time with my then 3 year old daughter. I refused to reduce the role that I played in her life to a payroll deduction or a check that I write. What about quality time? What about helping to teach her right from wrong? What about helping with her homework as she starts school?
You cannot adequately function as a parent when the only contact with your child is every other weekend. It's more like you're a member of the extended family who sees the kids and plays with them and sends them home to the place where life lessons and discipline are taught.
I don't even mind the "every other weekend" visitation concept all that much as long as the non-custodial parent is always in contact with the kids. If you see your kids every other weekend or if you live in different cities and you only see them every few months, always be in contact with them. With technology today, there are so many ways and means to be involved in their lives.
A good dad, in the eyes of the legal system, pays his child support and sees his kids every 2 weeks. An upbeat dad, on the other hand, not only pays his child support, but also tries to get more time with the kids. And he also is in constant contact with them.

I even remember when my daughter lived with my ex in New York, I not only called her daily, but I went over her homework with her on the phone. Sometimes those calls would last over an hour. And to me that was time well spent. Now that she lives with my wife and me, I invest even more time in her life, knowing that my "child support" is a lifetime commitment.
I don't know how things may be in your life today. Perhaps you've been disillusioned by a system that says you're a good dad but you're losing that essential connection to your kids. I have often said, "What's a 4 letter word that let's your kids know you love them? T-I-M-E."
When I was 16 years old, I went on my first date. The movie we saw was, "Can't Buy Me Love." The essence of that concept was that money can't buy you the love and affection you need. The same applies here. Money is an essential part of the equation as you express your love for your children. But more essential is the time, affection and devotion that you just can't buy.
I encourage you to learn this very important lesson. The bond I have with my daughter today didn't come accidentally. If you devote yourself to your kids unconditionally, then it will pay lifetime dividends.
The job of a parent is the role of a lifetime. It's not fair for moms to have the responsibility to do everything for them while our only involvement is a check and a periodic visit. We owe it to our kids to do everything to ensure they're comfortable and well-adjusted.
If you should embrace this message, then I believe each of us - dads, moms and kids - would benefit greatly.
Have an awesome day.

The Upbeat Dad

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Broken-Hearted And Alone During The Holidays? Cheer Up, There’s Hope

Recently, I wrote a post about my personal testimony about the devastation of my divorce in 2001 to where I am today. That post seems to have struck a chord because it’s the third most read post that we’ve had in the brief history of The Upbeat Dad. It’s a reminder to me that the lessons I learned during that turbulent period are too precious to keep to myself. As we live, we learn. If we don’t teach what we have learned, then others will be at a disadvantage. So it’s important that we share what we learn with others.
Anyway, today I will address what I feel can be a very sensitive matter. It’s about those who are where I was during the holiday season in 2001. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read that post – Click Here.
Something about the holiday season is so special. Thanksgiving, then Hanukkah and Christmas are all such wonderful times of family and friends coming together. As a holiday song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Yet, for many of us, or our friends, relatives or neighbors, it’s a very challenging and difficult time. As I shared on the previous post, I was so thankful during that holiday season. I was surrounded by so much love and support. But I was going through turmoil. The marriage that I thought was for a lifetime was done and over with – in less than 5 years.
Yet I’d go out in public and I’d see families just enjoying each other and having fun. I went to the mall to do a bit of Christmas shopping. I saw couples holding hands. I saw kids sit on Santa’s lap and take pictures. The joy and laughter echoed through the air. But deep within, the laughs cut me like a knife.
If you’ve been there, you may understand the following statement: it’s not that I didn’t want others to have fun and enjoy the holiday season; I was hurting and saw my world fall apart and it was just too much for me seeing what seemed like everyone have fun in the festive season and it seemed so unfair. There’s an expression that says, “The one who loves feels the pain.” That was me – I loved, therefore my heart was on the line. And since it was on the line, when the relationship ended, I literally felt the pain.
Would you imagine that at the time of the year when everyone seems to eat so much - in what I call a guiltless overindulgence – I actually lost 30 pounds. I really couldn’t eat. That chapter for me was too traumatic.
The most difficult thing for me throughout the entire ordeal was seeing my daughter coming to grips with the fact that her family had fallen apart. She was quite young so she didn’t know all that was going on. But she knew that her parents were no longer living together. And Thanksgiving and Christmas were not quite the same. That whole transition period for her and me, as well as my former wife, I’m sure, was different and quite trying.
Perhaps you find yourself in this boat during this holiday season. Or perhaps you know of a loved one who’s in that boat. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s not easy. It’s even more difficult when you have children and for the first time, you’re having to attend family gatherings without your spouse or perhaps without the children. And as much as many might try to be sensitive, there always seems to be that family member or friend who knows just the right words to say to stick the knife a bit deeper in your heart.
If you’re in these shoes right now, my encouragement to you is to just be yourself. Sometimes you may want to cry. So go ahead and cry. If you feel like being alone, be alone. Just don’t allow yourself to fall into a state of depression that becomes long-lasting. Or at other times, you’ll want to be around people who care and understand. Whatever the case, just be true to yourself.
And particularly if you’re a parent, do your very best to shield your kids from the emotions that you’re feeling. If you’ve built up anger or resentment, tell it to the wall – or to another adult who cares for you an what you’re going through – perhaps a professional. Do whatever you will but don’t let the kids hear you say something negative about the other parent. It can only work against you in the end.
I remember going through a class for moms and dads who were going through divorce and one gentleman said in reference to his soon-to-be former spouse, “I don’t want her to die; I just want her to get leprosy.” We had a good laugh at the expression of his sentiments towards her.  But those types of feelings you may have should not be shared in any way that your kids might hear. It’s their other parent, afterall.
After a while, you’ll realize that life goes on. You can bounce back like a champion. Today I look forward to the holiday season with great anticipation because it’s family time. I’m remarried and now I appreciate my wife and two children so much more after having had that experience.
Hang in there. It gets better. Just keep a level head. Be true to yourself and inevitably, things will turn out fine for you and for your children.
Have a great day. And despite anything you might be facing, do enjoy the holiday season.

The Upbeat Dad

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another Major Milestone! Plus Change Has Come!

Hope your day is off to a good start!

I have great news to share with you! I'm excited to say that The Upbeat Dad has hit another major milestone! Yesterday, we had our 2,500th hit on the site! Remember, we just launched in October! We literally have readers from every continent except Antarctica! The most recent countries to come onboard are Ukraine, India, Malaysia, Poland, Honk Kong, Sweden, and Thailand!
And it’s not just one time readers. People are reading and coming back, which confirms to me that we’re doing something right – we’ve struck a chord. Thanks to you for tuning in and making it happen! Remember, the sole purpose for our existence is to help fathers to be the best dads for their kids! And in turn, these men will become better husbands and more involved, responsible citizens.
Having said this, I’m pleased to share with you some recent changes to our site. You may notice the obvious difference in the template – new colors and background. But that’s just the start. Let me also say that I don’t believe in change just for the sake of changing. Progressive change that enhances the site and your experience on the site is what we’re about.
Here are the major improvements that we’ve implemented:

·    “Check Out Our Most Popular Posts”  lists the 5 most read posts on our blog

·    “Reactions” Button : You can click “Like” or “More Posts Like This”. This gives you a chance to give instant feedback without necessarily adding a comment

·    You Tube Videos on fatherhood embedded within the site. This way you can watch them without leaving the site

·    New ways to follow the blog and share what you’ve read by adding the Google Friend Connect icon

·    Opportunity to support the Children’s Miracle Network at NO EXPENSE TO READERS! This is particularly exciting! All you do is complete some activities and corporate sponsors will take care of the rest!
There are a few other subtle changes but these are the major ones. I think you’ll agree with me that these changes will enhance your experience when you visit.
Remember, this coming Friday we’re going to post holiday greetings to dads of all types – dads, granddads, uncles, cousins and others - basically, those who have made a difference in our lives. If you haven’t already done so, please submit a greeting – up to 5 sentences – and we’ll accumulate and post them so our dads are encouraged during this holiday season.
Next week, we will resume our regular “Upbeat Dad of the Week” feature where we highlight dads who go above and beyond the call of duty to be there for their kids. Quite a few of you have already nominated your dad or other loved one for this feature. If there’s someone whom you believe should be featured, go ahead and send us that information for consideration.
You can post your correspondence as a Comment here on this post, on our Facebook page or by email:
As I’ve said before, do share The Upbeat Dad with those you know would benefit from the positive message. If you haven’t already done so, please join our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.
I hope you share my excitement about all of this! There’s always something fresh and new here and I just know that families are benefiting from our efforts – our children especially. Kudos to you for that!
Now let’s go out and have a great day!
The Upbeat Dad

Monday, November 29, 2010

Profound Lesson for the Divorced from New Orleans Visit!

As you may know, this past Thanksgiving weekend, my family and I took a road trip from Florida to  Texas with some other family members. We had a wonderful time with my parents and other family in Houston. On the way back, we took a slight detour and visited the city of New Orleans. And boy, am I glad we did!

I grew up in Houston so New Orleans wasn’t far away. I have visited on a few occasions but not for over 15 years. In August 2005, this great American city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Over 80% of the city was flooded in what was one of the worst natural disasters this nation has seen. Thousands lost their lives and even more left this once populous city for greener pastures. Accordingly, the economy was brought to a standstill as the remaining residents wondered how they could continue to live in a city with most of its population gone.
In addition to Katrina, New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast was severely affected by the BP Oil Spill – the worst disaster of its kind in the history of the United States. The toll on the economy of New Orleans and surrounding communities along the Gulf Coast was huge.
So suffice it to say, New Orleans has had a lesson or two in dealing with setbacks. But as I traveled through the city, it was hard to recall the turmoil that we have heard of so much. What I saw was a proud city whose citizens rallied together to keep their city going. Much of the population has returned even though thousands are still away. The French Quarter area of downtown is open for business. And business is booming! As we traveled by the Superdome, the epicenter of the Katrina tragedy, a college football game was in progress. And the city was alive and well!
I couldn’t help but think of a perfect analogy to the life of an upbeat dad. As you probably know, The Upbeat Dad is for dads of all types but there’s a special emphasis on those affected by divorce and separation. In my posting The Story Behind the Upbeat Dad, I wrote of my own turmoil as I experienced a painful divorce in the early 2000s. It was an emotional and financial nightmare. The worst part of the experience was seeing the effect on my then 3 year old daughter. I thought that my life was over – in a figurative sense, but in a way, it also could have been literal.
Many of you have experienced divorce or another devastation of some sort. You were probably written off and cast aside. Your obituary may have been written, as on-lookers awaited the inevitable pronouncement of your demise. Some of you may be in turmoil even at this very moment. But take heart, there is a lesson in New Orleans for you!

Here are some lessons from this great city by the Gulf of Mexico:

  ·  In times of hardship and difficulties, your true character is revealed

  ·  You may not be able to control what happens to you but you can control your reaction to it

  ·  Do not allow others to determine your ultimate fate

  ·  Be the captain of your own ship and be determined to succeed against all odds

  ·  Where there is life, there is hope

  ·  When you come back from the brink of disaster, you tend to appreciate life much more

There are many more lessons that we can draw from the city of New Orleans but I’ll leave it at that for now. No doubt, it was dealt a major blow - crippling in many ways. But the city has fought back like a champion. Even the current defending Super Bowl champions, the Saints, hail from this city!
As I thought of how the city has come back, I couldn’t help but think of my own life and how, several years ago, many thought they had heard the last of me. But today, because of the love and support of so many, I’m still standing. And I couldn’t help but think of the families that suffer from the epidemic of divorce – the children, in particular. Tears come to my eyes when I think of the thousands of homes that are broken each year with children as the collateral damage.
Let this lesson from New Orleans serve as a reminder that difficulties may and do arise – that, we cannot control. Well, in a sense, there are things we can control but there will always be situations that are totally out our control. Our response is what reveals our true nature and character.

Today, I’m happily remarried with a newborn son. My daughter is now 12. She lives with us and is doing well in school and in her social life. So life has turned out quite fine. But I refuse to keep these lessons to myself. Others stand to benefit from things I’ve learned the hard way so I’ll do whatever it takes to share them. You should develop a similar mindset – teach the lessons that you have learned.
Here I am in front of the New Orleans welcoming center

If you’re a dad or mom, for that matter, whenever you think of a family situation that breaks your heart, just think of New Orleans and let the lesson inspire you to succeed, despite the odds. As I wrote in one of my poems, “No matter how strong the winds of life blow, you will rise above and stand on your own.”
Have a great day!
The Upbeat Dad