Josh Misner, PhD

Mindful Living in a Distracted World


Family Traditions

The 12 Days of Fatherhood

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote, “A few days after we came home from the hospital, I sent a letter to a friend, including a photo of my son and some first impressions of fatherhood. He responded, simply, ‘Everything is possible again.’ It was the perfect thing to write because that was exactly how it felt.”

Parenthood is all about possibility and new beginnings. Many of us, myself included, may have grown up in less than ideal conditions when it comes to the father-child bond, but that doesn’t mean that those patterns have to continue. Each and every day we wake up again, we have the opportunity in front of us to do it all over again, or as the Auschwitz survivor, Viktor Frankl said, we can “Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.”

Personally, I am a walking example of this. Being one of four children myself, as well as the youngest, I grew up pretty independent and fending for myself. Though I didn’t suffer or starve, I found myself on many occasions craving something from my parents that they weren’t equipped to provide, and that was the gift of presence. Ever since becoming a father myself, now a father of four, I have seen firsthand the impact a father’s presence can have upon his children.

In today’s media, you may read that fathers are more important now than ever before. I believe that is misleading. Fathers have always been important throughout history, fathers are important today, and fathers will continue to be important tomorrow.

Today, I’d like to share with you a plan I call “The 12 Days of Fatherhood.” These are simple, down-to-earth activities that we can all do with kids of any age, once a day, starting on the 14th of December. I have done all of them before, by the way, but I plan on sharing with you stories from my experience on how they have impacted my relationship with my children. If we merely spend a fraction of our time committing to the once-a-day activities on this list, that minuscule investment of time will have greater returns on your investment than you could ever imagine.

Continue reading “The 12 Days of Fatherhood”

Day 4 – Family Dinner

In my original 12 Days of Fatherhood post, I mentioned that Day 4 should go as follows:

Have dinner together. Bring your children into the process of making the dinner, as much as safely possible, and then eat together at your table (or couch, if you don’t have a table). No TV, no phone, no tablets, no computers – just you, your family, and conversation.

In following my own plan, I asked the kids yesterday what they wanted for dinner.  As I mentioned in another post, the purpose of allowing children to have a stake in decisions is to foster a sense of initiative, which can later develop into a sense of purpose and a better understanding of their individual role in the family.  

So, what did they choose?  A family favorite, creamed eggs.  This recipe is a staple of every holiday breakfast, but also makes for one heck of a gut-warming (and filling) comfort dinner on a cold Northwest winter’s evening.

The recipe is surprisingly simple: Continue reading “Day 4 – Family Dinner”

Why Saturdays?

Setting & Keeping a Technology-Free Day

Every semester, at the beginning, as I am painfully explaining the details of my syllabus to classes filled with impatient students, I eventually get to talking about my contact information and office hours.  See, while I keep regular face-to-face office hours as all instructors are required to, I am also notoriously OCD about responding to emails.

When I first started teaching, I would check my computer multiple times each hour, seeing if there was a new message waiting for me.  Psychologists would likely suggest that I had been socialized to do this in a similar fashion to Skinner’s mouse, who was trained to push down on a lever with the same obsessive frequency because once, just once in a while, that lever push would reward the mouse with a yummy treat.  I don’t mean to suggest that I was receiving any tangible compensation for checking and responding to student emails so frequently, but what I was getting was the interaction I craved. Continue reading “Why Saturdays?”

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