Welcome to Session IV of our Fatherhood Round Table Discussion. This time, the dads will talk about household chores, money, religion and advice for new fathers. If you’re just joining us, please read Session I, Session II, and Session III.
Once again, allow me to introduce our panelists:
Eric Payne – Father of two children and author of Makes Me Wanna Holler
Fred Campos, Jr – Father of two children and author of The Thoughts of the Average Christian Servant
Paul Easter, III – Father of two children and author of Dear Mr. Man
P.J. Mullen – Father of one child and author of Real Men Drive Minivans
L. Dijon Anderson – Father of two children and author of No Off Season for Dads
Shawn Dennis – Father of two children and author of Dad Unmasked
Maxwell Reddick – Father of four children and author of Soul Brother v.2
After you’re done reading this session, please visit all of the panelist’s blogs. Their writing on fatherhood is eye-opening and poignant.
Now let’s start the discussion.
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MD: How do you handle household chores in your home? What is the division of labor?
Eric: I’m a neat freak and a closeted perfectionist so I have to restrain my desire to clean the whole house in one sitting by myself. But to not delegate the responsibility is a disservice to my children and prevents them from learning how to do things. It also teaches them to respect the place where they live. What is the division of labor? My son has to clean his room, the bathroom he shares with his sister, take out the trash and recycling, wash the dishes and put them away. He also knows that he must clean up after himself in the kitchen and at the dinner table, although none of these items I just listed come naturally to him, and he often has to be reminded. His sister only has to clean up the toys and dolls she takes out which she is typically excited to do.
Shawn: My 7 year old feeds the dog and her fish. Both kids are required to clean their rooms once a week.
PJ: We split everything pretty evenly except I do all the cooking and my wife does the laundry. Also, I don’t do windows.
Paul: Next question.
Max: Because of our many responsibilities at work and in the community, the division of labor in our home depends on who gets to what first. In other words, if it needs to be done, you do it. Usually, whoever gets home first does the cooking, and we try to practice cleaning as we go. I usually do the laundry because I am able to do that as I read and write and check papers. My wife usually assists the children with their homework because she is much more patient than I am, plus I tend to be a little complex in my answers and explanations. Our children also have assigned chores. They rotate washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, and they are responsible for cleaning their rooms and their bathroom.
Fred: Unless you have four legs, you must do chores in order to live in our house. It is all part of being a growing functional family. The chores increase with age and are addressed as primary and secondary functions:
- Karen: Primary – Shopper, all things school related, homework helper, decorator of all things outside, keeper of the dog, master family schedule keeper. Secondary – Fred’s backup, vacuuming, a rare occasional shower cleaner.
- Fred: Primary – Bread winner, bill payer, and budget producer, family laundry washer & folder, in charge of washing dishes and placing in the dish washer, all things electronic & computer related. Secondary – Karen’s backup, hard homework and major kid’s projects.
- Caitlyn: Primary – Reading and attending school, keeping room clean, dish washer emptier, must put away all her folded clothes, collecting dirty clothes, vacuuming. Secondary – Feeding the dog, cooking one night a week.
- Zachary: Primary – Reading and attending school, keeping room clean, table setter, mopper of kitchen and tiled floors. Secondary – All things electronic & computer related.
Dijon: Chores are now assigned to the boys. They have to complete chores at least three times a week. I am working on getting them to do it when they see it needs to be done.
MD: What do you teach your children about money?
Eric: Money doesn’t grow on trees. Respect it. Save 15% of everything you receive. My daughter has a thriving loose change collection service which keeps her piggy bank full.
Shawn: They must earn money by doing little chores around the house. I encourage them to save their money for something that they really need instead of spending it on junk.
PJ: This is one area I’m looking forward to teaching my son when he gets older. My parents were very diligent in teaching me the value of a dollar and for the most part it has served me well in my adult life.
Paul: Money is a tool. It is to be saved and tithed. It has been difficult to make this one stick. The kids want to buy everything they see. We will continue to work on this.
Max: Now that our children are older, we allow them to participate or at least watch as we take care of the household bills. We discuss with them budgeting and balancing the checkbook. Also, they are given a weekly allowance, part of which they must deposit into their savings account. Also, we asked them to pick a high dollar item that they really want, and we give them a little extra to save for those items. That way we hope to teach them delayed gratification.
Fred: Money is to be earned by trading time for money. To become wealthy you must learn to residual or duplicate your time to increase your money. You must save 10% and give away 10% and learn to live on 80% until you become rich then those first two numbers must go up.
Dijon: They have a specialized piggy savings bank on their dresser. It has four slots (savings, spending, charity, and investments). I got this system from Lenox Advisors, a great investment company out of NY. Anytime the boys get money, they need to divide it into those slots. We have also had miniature devotions on money as well.
MD: What type spiritual or religious teachings do you share with your children?
Eric: I share my Christian faith and espouse my beliefs to my children. I’m not doing so well in getting us up and out of the house on Sundays to go to church.
Shawn: I’m not a religious person, but I do allow my kids to go to church with my mom. They are free to believe what they want.
PJ: We baptized our son in the Lutheran faith when he was six months old. My wife is Lutheran and I am Catholic by birth. I’m not the most religious person, but believe it is our responsibility to expose him to religion and allow him to find his own way when it comes to his spirituality.
Paul: We are Christians and teach them the lessons of the Christ. They have been very good students. Better than I was at their age.
Max: A guess it is time to drop another link. I touched on this issue a while back in the post “Right Back on My Knees.” I was raised in the church. In fact, most of my family members, to include my father and two brothers, are ministers. However, at this time, I am trying to put my faith in perspective. And during that time, we have been out of church. However, I still teach my children about Christianity and attempt to cultivate a certain spirituality in them. The main tenets I attempt to instill in them are love, compassion, and faith.
Fred: Basic Christianity. When they get a little older, we will impart into them “Red Letter Christianity.” The reality is that God is real in our lives and we cannot separate it out in everything we do. Thus their Christianity is inevitable by modeled association.
Dijon: Our family knows that our standard is the Bible. That is what we follow. We teach the principles of it each week and other times when the situation arises. But we read it (The Bible) daily and often times talk about it in the car, on the way to school, or other places.
MD: What advice would you give to new fathers?
Eric: It’s a journey of a million miles, but you only get there by going one step at a time. Don’t focus on the million miles; just take it one day at a time. Don’t punish yourself for making mistakes. There’s no book for this stuff (well there are plenty, but life is the best teacher for your own individual circumstances).
Shawn: The only advice that I have to do the best that you can.
PJ: Get involved. As cliché as it sounds, time truly does fly and these precious moments will be gone faster than you can ever imagine. Change diapers, clean up vomit, take the late night shift on feedings. Do whatever you can to give your wife a break. It will not only help you have some time to bond with your child, but will help strengthen your marriage.
Paul: Be patient and be there. The most important thing you can give your kids is your time. Remember that all they learn is primarily from you. Watch what you say and do because they are watching. Try not to disagree with you spouse in front of them. This will give them mixed signals
Max: For new fathers, I would encourage them to trust in their instincts, and allow their own experience as children to inform them as parents. And when all else fails, pray until sweat runs down like drops of blood.
Fred: Now is the time to be the very best person you can be. As a dad, your influence on your kids will be far greater than your wife’s. Your child’s success, promiscuity, drug problem, integrity, and grades will be in direct proportion to your active involvement in their lives. The next 25 years will go by faster than any other year of your life—take some time and be present in your kids’ lives. Hug, be real, and say I love you—all the time!
Dijon: You know more than what you really think. God has given you an innate sense of how to raise your family. Use wisdom and everyday situations to teach. My dad always told me that being the head of my house meant that I am a Protector, Provider, Preacher, and Prophet. You can take that however you want, but it made sense to me.
MD: Please share a humorous fatherhood experience.
Eric: 1. When my daughter was born, for whatever reason, I was the only one she would spit up on — no matter what. 2. I never said I’d wipe another man’s poop, but I’ve done so, often since my children came around and it never gets easier. Each time is like the first time – AWFUL!
Shawn: When my 7 year old was 3 and was being potty trained, she passed gas and thought she pooped on the floor. She blurted out, “Oh my god, you’re going to step on it!” I think I laughed for 30 minutes straight.
PJ: A few days ago I asked my son what vegetable he wanted with his dinner and he replied “bean beans.” So, I made him some green beans and he went about his business making a mess. At one point, he put one of them right up his nose. Immediately I told him to get the green bean out of there. He did so without hesitation, but then he tried to offer it to me with the look “oh, did you want it?” He’s a very thoughtful, if misguided, young lad.
Paul: Please read my post “Fatherhood Friday: Yo’ Mama Is So Ugly…”
Max: Forgive me but this is a little gross and possibly off-color. But my children are only nine and a half months apart (no jokes please), and when they were toddlers, we did not want to entrust them to any daycare. We were both working for the phone company at the time, so we chose to work opposite shifts so that we could care for the children ourselves. My wife worked the day shift and cared for the children in the evening and at night, and I worked the night shift and cared for the children during the day. Well, every now and then I would doze off on my shift, and one such afternoon when I dozed off, I awoke to the overwhelming smell of doo-doo. Puzzled, I looked around only to find my children calmly sitting and watching television, only they both were not wearing diapers. Then I noticed doo-doo smeared all over the coffee table. Then I noticed doo-doo smeared all over the couch. So I went into the bathroom to retrieve cleaning implements to clean up my children and the furniture when I happened to glimpse myself in the mirror. And darn it if I didn’t have doo-doo smeared all over my face to include my beard and eyebrows. I spent the afternoon washing and disinfecting everyone and everything. My aunt advised me to bathe everyone in water with a little Clorox in it. Evidently, while I was sleep, my children had decided to remove their own diapers, and once they got them removed, they decided to have a little playtime with the contents. Today we refer to this incident as The Great Doo-Doo Incident of 1997.
Fred: Before I took daily ADD medicine, I had sleep apnea and would fall asleep reading to my kids. One day my kids were playing house where the parents were the kids and the kids were the adults. My son goes, “Ok, I’ll be the dad, he grabbed a book and proceeded to pretend to fall asleep on the couch and snore loudly. We all busted out laughing! Remember more is caught than taught. Now go have some fun with those kiddos!
Dijon: When my son told me that he thought when people were having sex, they were sharing pee!
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That’s the end of our discussion for now. The panelists and I will continue the discussion in the comments area. Feel free to comment and ask questions in the comments section. We want your honest opinions and thoughts, but keep it civil and respectful. If you have a question or comment for a specific panelist, please address him by name and I will forward the comment to him for a response.
Tune in for the final install of the Father Hood Round Table discussion where the dads will answer reader submitted questions.