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On the drive to school with my sixth-grader this morning, I asked her about some of the school activities she was considering. I suggested the chess club. “Too many boys”, she replied.  I came back with what a great mental discipline chess can provide—mastering strategy and learning to think a few moves ahead.  She veered […]

Parents as gardeners, not carpenters

Psychology professor Alison Gopnik has a book coming out tomorrow about the parent-child relationship, and her recent essay, A Manifesto Against ‘Parenting’, in The Wall Street Journal is brilliantly provocative. She suggests that too many parents see themselves as carpenters, mistakenly thinking they are shaping and building toward a finished product. Instead, she says, parents are […]

You are the message

“Your kids… They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” –Jim Henson via Austin Kleon What you consistently do and how you act, that’s your message. What you say is pointless if it’s not in sync with who you are. Even kids—especially kids—can see through empty words.

Obama’s greatest legacy: Family

From a Washington Post article I read on Father’s Day about President Obama’s remarkable commitment to his family: Soon after being inaugurated, Obama established what New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor has called “an unusual rule for a president.” As he informed all his aides, he vowed to have dinner with his family five nights […]

Writing that moves: Posnanski makes like Maddux

My morning in this lovely AirBnB cottage near Venice Beach has been made reading a couple of Joe Posnanski’s pieces. (This west coast time zone had me up early, watching my kids sleep as we continue on our California vacation.) Posnanski is a sportswriter, but it’s his stuff about fatherhood and family that gets to […]

More music, more happy

My family recently upgraded our primary television and added a Sonos Playbar as well. It was an expensive addition to an already costly purchase, but it’s proving to be well worth it. (Remember: “The things you use every day should be the best-designed things you can get.”) We use TV almost exclusively for streaming Netflix, […]

Adam Grant on what thwarts creativity in kids

This was an enlightening New York Times column by the prolific young scholar, Adam Grant. He highlights research that shows that too much structure and a rules-focused environment are not conducive to sparking creative thinking: So what does it take to raise a creative child? One study compared the families of children who were rated among the most […]

School yourself, rule yourself

   The last day of the school year and the first day of the school year are two of the happiest days.  My daughters returned to school today, and there was much rejoicing.  The kids are excited about new adventures, new teachers, and old friends.  The parents are excited to have some structure back in […]

Staycation, all I ever wanted

It’s my daughters’ last week off before school starts next week. And I’m taking the week off to be with them for one last bit of relaxation before the school-year grind begins. I’ve done this the last couple of years. My wife has to work, so we don’t head to the beach. The kids and […]

Super Dad and the hero quest of fatherhood

The college dorm room I shared with my best friend was at the center of the hall and, for that reason or not, became a gathering space for many of the guys.  At some point guys on the hall began using our door frame to mark their heights, like little kids do to measure their […]

Pick a path and get moving

A thought worth considering from Donald Miller’s memoir about relationships, Scary Close: “I wonder if what might help couples build great families is to pick a place for their family to go and then hit the gas, to work toward their vision and build it out. Relationships have a way of stabilizing when in motion. […]

Sweet spot

I woke up this day after Christmas, stepping around empty boxes and delaying the clean up of the remaining dirty dishes from last night’s family dinner, and I feel remarkable satisfaction and gratitude. It’s easy to let some post-holiday blues settle in right about now. All the excess. All the stuff and the hurrying and […]

Our family code

My wife surprised me with this beautiful gift on Christmas morning – our family charge, hand-lettered by a talented friend. (Thanks, Candice!) We came up with these four reminders – “Spread love; Live now; Be true; & Shine!” – when our girls were toddlers, and they can recite them on cue. We even had t-shirts […]

Crafting conversations

As you prepare for holiday gatherings with family and friends, think back on leaving previous gatherings and how you felt about your interactions with those closest to you. I often leave those gatherings and realize I somewhat went through the motions of being affable and interested without actually having many substantive conversations. What if we […]

The magical math of marriage

I was intrigued by this book on marriage and ordered it last week. It just arrived, and I haven’t started it yet. I have not read many books on marriage. But I’m looking forward to thinking more clearly about how my wife and I can make our marriage even better. I want to be more […]

Shine for someone

I found this anecdote a while back: “Maya Angelou was once asked what was her secret to being such a good writer and poet. Her response was, ‘Because when I was a little girl, every time I walked into a room my daddy’s eyes lit up.’” I can’t trace it to an interview with Maya […]

Designing my next decade

I’ve been thinking about the “long game” since last week’s post. With a big birthday for me this weekend – both digits are turning over – I’m in a reflective mood. If the long game is, say, to peak at 60, I’ve only got ten years till maximum awesome. We tend to overestimate what can be […]

What movies teach kids

I enjoyed this TED Talk by Colin Stokes about the way movies are affecting his young children. He makes some great points about the role of female characters, but his key point is what movies are teaching boys. As the dad of two young daughters, I want my girls regularly to see strong and smart […]

Beginner’s mind

Today was “meet the teachers” day at my kids’ school. Tomorrow is the last day of summer break. Rather than being sad, my girls are excited. (For now…) A new school year is a new beginning. New teachers. Different classmates. New possibilities. I remember the little thrill even of picking out school supplies. “In the […]

I know what we’re going to do today…

I’m off for the next six days to celebrate the end of summer with my kids. We’ve got no set plan. Yet. But they go back to school next Wednesday, so we are going to make like Phineas and Ferb and come up with fun adventures each day until then. If you don’t know Phineas […]

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