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10 Reasons to Home-school Your Children

Deciding to home-school can feel like a massive undertaking, but it is worth it. Here are some gems from a father’s firsthand experience. As the primary educators of their children, stable parents are best-placed to form their offspring, and have access to many resources today.

Merriam-Webster’s base definition for homeschooling is “to teach one’s child at home.”

Whether you’re a parent who is new to homeschooling or you’re a parent against homeschooling, chances are you’ve engaged in homeschooling at some point in your child’s life without knowing it.

Homeschooling is a legitimate life-giving education pathway that has here-and-now as well as eternal rewards.

While the homeschool education pathway is as simple as pointing kids in the right direction and showing them the way forward, the long-term benefits of going deeper with this parent-involved approach to education often outweigh the costs.

Here’s why homeschooling is an attractive option for the parents of the 26,000+ students currently being homeschooled in Australia:

1. Opportunity

The number 1 reason to homeschool is opportunity.

Crosswalk called homeschooling the ability to give kids ‘a top-notch education, without the budget cuts.’

They were then right to assert, ‘the educational limits of homeschooling are simple: you and your children are limited only by what you choose to do (or not do).’

It is home education’s flexibility that powers this point. Flexibility offers homeschooling families an opportunity to bond, create, and do life together, in a way that formal schooling’s segregated halls disallow.

This is why Business Insider, when discussing the types of freedom homeschoolers enjoy, noted:

‘Without formal curricula to guide their education, homeschoolers get the chance to explore a range of topics that might not be normally offered until high school or college.’

In sum, any healthy activity is a learning opportunity. Education is not limited to meeting the requirements of standardised tests.

As Maths Australia recalled, flexibility gave them the opportunity to travel, care for others and assimilate education into their family’s lifestyle.

Simple tasks like preparing lunches and dinners, for instance, are potential homeschool lessons in serving others, food safety, and healthy eating.

Homeschooling empowers opportunity, argued Sam Sorbo — wife of actor Kevin Sorbo (Hercules; Andromeda), adding,

“Education is not about downloading information into the child. Education should focus on how to learn, not what […] We need elasticity in our abilities and that comes from being able to teach ourselves.”

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2. Better Curricula

Having access to a wide range of better curricula is another great reason.

Homeschooling, by definition, dictates that parents have a greater say and involvement in what their children are taught.

Therefore, the curriculum (or what a child learns) is in the hands of parents, not the government or a surrogate. Parents can vet ABCD education from other acronym indoctrination, utilising a curriculum that hasn’t been tainted by agenda-bending activists.

A better curriculum means that homeschooled kids have more time to learn from the world’s best, unhindered by political conformity.

Also, the homeschooler’s world forms the backbone of their education. As they get older, homeschooled kids learn to love learning by helping to choose the curriculum they might want to explore.

The homeschooler’s curricula choices are not limited to agreeing with whatever ideological fad the government or its tenured teachers are pushing.

New York City’s Department of Education explained this independence well:

‘[Homeschooling parents] choose the subjects to be taught (based on a child’s age and ability) as well as the curriculum and methods of teaching, plan the schedule, and teach or facilitate instruction.’

For example: As a homeschooling parent, I bring the best of both worlds together. I join Australia’s focus for English on phonics and text types with curricula from the United States, which focus more on sentence structure and classical conventions.

3. Time Efficiency

Reason number three for why you should homeschool is time efficiency. Homeschooling translates into more quality time with family.

For instance, homeschooling families don’t usually have homework to drag themselves through at the end of a tiring work day. This alone creates a healthier home.

Homeschooling requires little to no homework. This minimises afternoon lag, and the nagging, which often brings the entire house down with it. This energy and time can then be better spent working on dinner, or afternoon sport.

If done right, most of the lesson (or chapter) can be covered during the day. Homeschooled kids are consumed by a social need to impress friends or teachers — they’re busy learning.

To defer back to Crosswalk,

‘Precious family time does not last forever. While playing teacher can certainly be vexing at times, nothing beats being there to experience your children’s successes and help them overcome any setbacks.’

For homeschool veteran Jeanne Faulconer, homeschooling ends time wasted waiting in school pick-up lines, on the bus, or during lunch breaks — where some kids end up standing around idle, wandering around aimlessly trying to fit in.

Faulconer added that homeschoolers can work ‘at their best time of day. You don’t have to work against a child’s natural body clock, so you can get more done in a shorter time.’

Hence, Calvert Education asserts,

‘Homeschooling allows you to take all the time you need to ensure learning is taking place.’

4. Sharpened Professional & Personal Development

‘To teach is to learn,’ said Søren Kierkegaard.

While many homeschoolers put their career on hold, their professional development doesn’t have to stop.

If asked, a majority of homeschooling mums and dads would quickly testify to how much they also learn.

Rather than shutting off potential, homeschooling presents a whole new horizon of possibilities, bringing new skill sets, networking, and experiences.

Education publisher Scholastic agrees. It encourages homeschooling parents to ‘learn as they go, and adjust to the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling.’

Scholastic also notes:

‘There are so many ways to approach your task. Remember that you’ll be defining — and constantly redefining — yourself as you go.’

The other benefit to this feature is parents learning with their children.

As online short course provider Udemy stated in Abby Banks’ 101 on how to homeschool: right from the start, homeschooling parents are learning, adapting, and revising the process.

Homeschooling parents are often homeschooled themselves along the way. They bring to their children existing knowledge and skills, while matching those with new knowledge and skills as they homeschool together.

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5. No Deadlines. No Demands.

Wherever homeschooling is legal, the general rule is that homeschoolers are free from following the formal school year calendar.

There are no deadlines, school bell times, or set exams. For this reason, homeschoolers enjoy a better quality of life. They don’t have to deal with stress and anxiety from proving their intellectual worth by sitting for tests.

This is one of the best reasons to homeschool. Simply because when a homeschooler is given timed tasks to evaluate their knowledge, any gaps in their knowledge can be identified and corrected.

This contrasts with formal schooling, where the class moves on, and the failing student can be too easily left behind.

As author, YouTuber, and Australian homeschool mum Rebecca Devitt wrote,

‘Homeschoolers can avoid unnecessary tests, and if testing is needed, it can be done in a gentler style. (i.e. instead of sitting kids down for a stressful test, narration is a great way to test comprehension after a passage has been read).’

The how-to-homeschool legend then added,

‘Children don’t have to endure and feel discouraged by critical peers. This is less stressful and, therefore, a better learning environment.’

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6. Resilience

The accusation “lack of socialisation” is a whip statement often only deployed to discount homeschooling.

Rarely, if ever, is the charge made against the schooling system, which allows 60-minutes+ of sparsely supervised play each day.

What is meant by socialisation is usually whether or not a child can conform to the rules set by their peers in the playground, or submit to, rather than resist, the peer pressure associated with it.

Given the wide range of ages homeschoolers engage with, and the unique learning opportunities they are given, homeschoolers are often better socialised, because they’re resilient. They lack the social anxiety induced by class uniformity, and the impossible “fit in, but stand-out” paradox of modern society.

Most homeschoolers are better socialised because they’re raised by their parents, not left to be raised by the meta culture, or their peers.

It is good parents, not peers, nor the education system, who instil in their child the ability to relate to the world and those around them. It doesn’t take a village. It takes wise parents and teachable students.

Big Bang Theory and Blossom star Miyam Balik homeschools her children. Here was her response to the “socialisation” whip:

“I would argue that we are oversocialized. We have soccer four nights a week, taekwondo two nights a week, my older son is in violin quartet and orchestra, my younger son has taken art classes. Oh, they both like Shakespeare classes. Name it, and homeschooled kids do it too.”

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7. Homeschoolers Become Thinkers and Doers

Tutelage was the stuff of privileged pre-20th century aristocrats. Some taught their own children, others outsourced the teaching, employing a personal tutor.

Of those who were taught at home in the past, many are celebrated as achievers today.

The information age brings the library of a tutor into the living room, free of charge.

The abundance of options means easier access to reliable teaching aids and programmes that surpass government-sponsored ones.

Homeschooled kids have more potential to fine-tune independent thought through engaging with subjects like classics, civics, logic and theology.

One-on-one tuition also allows homeschoolers to learn at a pace different to that of the outdated, rubber stamp, industrial-age education mills.

Homeschoolers tend to have a good work ethic. This healthy approach to work is instilled in them by the natural process of applying themselves to learning about subjects, even if they’re not all that fond of them.

8. Greater Family Unity

Those who learn to love learning together, often stay together. This is because homeschooling fosters greater family participation.

The old teach the young, and sometimes the young get the chance to teach the old. There’s a mutual reciprocity that can also bring different families together through outdoors extra-curricular activities.

Having the freedom to spend precious time together fosters unity. For instance, thanks to flexibility, homeschoolers are free to travel. As homeschool curriculum publisher EUKA explains,

‘Many [of their] students are Athletes, and have rigorous travel schedules. Others are in fine arts, music, and theatre, and have rehearsal, work, and performance schedules that make mainstream school impossible.’

Homeschooling ‘allows parents to better manage their kid’s schedules.’

Likewise, said Lonely Planet, ‘Travel doesn’t have to stop after having kids.’

Highlighting the examples of the Larmour and Jacobis families, Lonely Planet described life on the road as ‘practical learning, that brings learning to life.’ Something that could not happen without organisation and families working well together.

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9. Self-Discipline

A key complaint I encountered during orientation day at college was that universities were increasingly faced with students who were not self-motivated to learn. They expected the work to be done for them.

Unlike institutionalised kids, homeschooled kids play an important role in their own education.

Much like university students, a homeschooler’s education isn’t spoonfed to them. A homeschooler’s education is facilitated.

This fathers self-discipline and individual responsibility. This is because for a homeschooler to progress, they have to take part ownership of the education process.

Being able to adapt to last-minute activities, changes in routine, and show initiative in helping maintain the daily grind, make the self-discipline home-educated kids acquire another great reason to homeschool.

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10. Raising Well-Grounded Adults

There is no better fruit to testify to the truth of “in raising up others, we ourselves are raised,” than when good parents nurture their child through a holistic, classical approach to education.

Whether homeschooling or not, having a mother and a father involved in a child’s life is paramount to that child becoming a well-rounded adult.

Concerned about the downgrade of culture, homeschool advocate and childhood television star Kirk Cameron began homeschooling his six kids after sixth grade.

Although he was apprehensive at first, he now believes no one is better suited to set their kids up for success than their parents.

Talking with the Daily Signal about his film Homeschool Awakening, Cameran said,

“Parents are waking up to the fact that you only have so much time with them to shape their little hearts and minds. No one loves [your kids] more than you do as a mom and dad, and no one’s better positioned to teach them. You’ve been doing it since Day One. You taught them how to walk. You taught them how to talk.”

Cameron added: “Homeschooling is a fantastic option.”

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Opportunity, better curriculum, time efficiency, personal development, no deadlines, resilience, work ethic, family unity, self-discipline, and well-adjusted adults, are solid reasons to consider the homeschool pathway.

While I am firmly convinced parents are the first port of call in the education of their children, I’m conscious of the fact that homeschooling is not for everyone.

For some, if the foundations of the home are not stable enough to support the homeschool life, homeschooling won’t just be difficult, it will be harmful.

The good news is that seasons pass. If the foundations at home are right, you’re more than ready to homeschool.

If kids have a joy-filled stable home environment with mum and dad at the helm, you’ve already met one of the main requirements for being homeschool parents.

Assuming this joy-filled stability exists in the home, homeschool where you can, when you can, if you can.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko.

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What Will Your Children Say About You?

As fathers, we will leave a legacy for our children, whether good or ill. Start working on your legacy today, that your children may have a brighter tomorrow.

I can remember, as if it were yesterday, the last day I spent with my Dad. We had an enjoyable day together meeting with business leaders in the Sydney CBD. Three days later, the police knocked on my door to notify me of my father’s passing.

I was shocked at my own expression of grief and how long I took to get over his death. I wrote about it in an article titled, “You Are Never Ready to Lose Your Father.”

My dad was 74 years of age when he passed, which was the average age of death for a man in 1984, so arguably a good innings, but still a shock. It is 38 years down the track, and I still miss my Dad.

My Dad was a massive inspiration to me. Thankfully, I have been able to pass some of that inspiration on to my own children.

As Shannon Alder wisely said,

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

My daughter-in-law lost her Dad in March 2019. She misses her Dad so much. He was a salt-of-the-earth man with some colourful language to boot. He was a brickie, so he always got straight to the point.

As a fellow tradesman, I wrote a tribute piece to his passing titled, “A Man Called Mick.” At his funeral, this is what my daughter-in-law said about her Dad.

“Even though we were loved, Dad always made it really clear to us that Mum was his favourite, he called her his sweetheart. They were like two peas in a pod.

  • Cuppa every afternoon (beer in summer). Mum put it in the freezer 30min before Dad got home. If we came out the front, we were told to go away. It was their time to chat and catch up.
  • Every Valentine’s Day, Dad would pick Mum a rose from the garden and make her a cup of tea and put it next to her bed before leaving for work.
  • He always said that the best thing about his day was seeing Mum when he got home.
  • Mum would tuck Dad into bed every single night. Even when they weren’t on speaking terms, Dad would still let Mum know he was going to bed, and she would tuck him in.

The truth is, Mum and Dad really loved each other, for better or worse.

The four of us (my brother & two sisters) got together this week to talk about what we wanted to share about Dad. We had so many stories, so many funny times and great memories, but more than anything it was some of Dad’s simple character traits that we really loved and will miss the most.

Dad had a strong presence that always made you feel safe.

He was full of integrity, and taught us about responsibility, honesty and a good work ethic.

We all knew that honesty and telling the truth was important. You could get away with a lot of things in the Robbins household, but if you got caught lying… *whistle*… LOOK OUT

Dad always made sure we were ok... We had great Dad. And we know we did…

We have put together some photos of Dad’s great life, so get your tissues out.”

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I came across a great article by Nick Saban called “The Story of My Dad.” Nick’s story reminded me of how we miss our own dads. I will let you be the judge.

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss and think about my Dad. His passing at forty-six years of age seemed unreal and was devastating to our family; yet he is always with me in spirit, in my heart, and in my mind.  

We had a unique relationship because he was my Dad, my boss, and my coach. I loved him very much and want everyone to know that I wouldn’t be the person I am nor have had the success I’ve enjoyed without the experience of Dad in my life; he was my champion! 

He set a standard of excellence and provided a set of values and direction for my life that I still follow today.

legacy

The last conversation I had before Dad died of a sudden heart attack was just after the start of my first season as a GA in 1973. I told him I wanted to be a coach like him and he gave advice, as always, “I’m happy you want to be a coach, however, the expectation, no matter what you choose to do, must always be to do your best and to be the best.”

I promised him I would always try… that was the last time we spoke. I am so thankful I had my father as an example of uncompromising values, standards to live by and, especially, his love for me and compassion for others…

Dad’s headstone recalls his legacy, “No man stands as tall as when he stoops to help a child.”

Lovework

As fathers, we all leave a legacy.

What will your children say about you? That’s why I write to you every week. Give it your best shot before it is too late!

Yours for Leaving a Legacy,
Warwick Marsh

PS: If you want to build a greater legacy for the ones you love, please join us at the Men’s Leadership Summit, Tops Conference Centre, on the weekend of 26-28 August 2022.

Bookings close midnight this coming Friday 12 August 2022.

See video promo here, or watch below.

Download Summit flyer here.

Register here.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Alena Darmel.

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Dad Adventures in the Backyard

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” These are the inspirational words of Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The fact that Tolkien was one of the biggest-selling adventure authors of all time with 150 million copies sold gives extra credence to the quest for adventure brimming inside all of us.

Why am I writing about adventures with Dad? Never thought you would ask!

You see, we are currently filming our Father’s Day TV Community Service Announcements (check out last year’s here) and interviewing dozens of children. We are asking very simple questions like, “What do you do with your dad?” and “Why do you like your dad?”

The answers are sublimely brilliant and revealing all at the same time.

What is undeniable is that fathers are the source of fun and adventure for our children. The moral of the story is the more fun and adventure, the merrier. Children love laughing, enjoy adventure and love doing unusual things with their dads.

As Richard Branson said,

“If happiness is the goal — and it should be, then adventures should be top priority.”

So, if adventures should be a top priority, why don’t we do adventures more often? I think one of the answers to this question is that we think adventure needs be undertaken in a far-off place, in exotic circumstances.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Just start in your backyard. Go outside your door like Bilbo said, and begin the adventure. Let me give you an example.

It was my daughter-in-law’s birthday and my son bought a large metre-wide helium heart balloon. Well, my four-year-old grandson wanted to release the balloon into the air ‘to see what happened’. Mum had the presence of mind to grant him his wish.

From my grandson’s point of view, Bilbo’s words came to pass with the helium balloon, “There’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” This outside-the-door adventure of the balloon going up and up and up became the adventure of the day.

Check out this beautiful “A Toy Train in Space” story below by a true dad adventurer with his young son. It has almost 9 million views and at 2.5 minutes is a great watch with the whole family. The pre-sequels humour is worth the watch too.

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To be fair, devoted dad Ron Fugelseth’s adventure is a little bit further than the backyard, but a variation of the same could still work outside your back door. This is where your Dad Adventure creativity really begins to count.

The next Dad Adventure video I would like you to check out is totally backyard. Yes, you can do this and your children will love you for it. It is descriptively called, “Camping in the Backyard Adventure! All Fun with Dad!” Another great watch for the whole family.

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Jawaharial Nehru said, “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

Payton Fisher, the lovable dad in the camping-in-the-backyard video, was looking at camping in the backyard through the eyes of his children. This is the key to being a good dad adventurer.

The second key to being a good dad adventurer is developing the spirit of adventure in you. Wilfred Peterson gets right to the point when he says,

A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, travelling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.”

Brett McKay, who runs the Art of Manliness website in the USA, recently featured an amazing guest. His podcast called “Become a Backyard Adventurer” helps individual dads develop the spirit of adventure in practical ways. This will help you do the same with your children.

Brett had this to say about his podcast guest,

“A lot of people feel like they’ve seen and done everything there is to see and do in their local area. They’re bored of their daily routine, and contemplate going off on some grand adventure in an exotic locale.

My guest would say that you don’t actually have to wait until your next big trip nor go far afield to mix things up, and that adventure can be found right where you are, in your ordinary routines, the everyday landscape of your life, and even DIY projects, if you decide to approach them in a different way.

His name is Beau Miles and he’s an Australian filmmaker who documents his own small-scale adventures on YouTube, as well as the author of The Backyard Adventurer”.

Beau has even written a book called Backyard Adventure. His most popular video with 4 million views is called “Running a marathon, one mile every hour“. One of his quirky adventure videos, with half as many views, is running along the track of a hidden overgrown railway line.

Beau, as a dad, incorporates his baby into this video of his adventure below.

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“Today on the Art of Manliness show, Beau shares his experiments in proving anything can be infused with the challenge, intrigue, and fun which mark adventure, if you add in some intentional risk, difficulty, and simple what-the-heck quirkiness.”

Lovework

Well, you now have some inspiration for your new “Dad Adventure in the Backyard”. It can be as simple as jumping on the trampoline with your children. A walk to the park or a drive to the beach with your children. Normally it starts as Bilbo said by, “Going out your door.”

Yours for More Dad Adventures,
Warwick Marsh

PS: I encourage you to join us at the Men’s Leadership Summit, at the Tops Conference Centre on the weekend of 26-28 August 2022.

See video promo here, or watch below.

Download Summit flyer here.

Register here.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Kampus Production.

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Victory for Mothers and Fathers

Believe it or not, any victory for mothers is also a victory for fathers, and ultimately for children.

Sall Dover, a new young mother, after protesting on Twitter about the forced use of the Orwellian phrase “birthing parent”, has scored a victory for motherhood.

It takes a man and a woman to create a child, and a mother and a father to raise a child. All the social science research shows that this is always a best-case scenario.

Sadly, a small clique of radical elite activists has been trying to eliminate and derogate the role of mothers and fathers for many, many decades. In doing so, they also harm our children.

In a quote from her book aptly called Seducing the Demon, Eric Jong elucidates the strategy of these radical elite activists:

“Language matters because whoever controls the words controls the conversation, because whoever controls the conversation, controls its outcome, because whoever frames the debate has already won it, because telling the truth has become harder and harder to achieve in an America drowning in Orwellian Newspeak.”

The story broke on Sky News and Channel Nine’s Today show with Karl Stefanovic and Ally Langdon. Watch the video below.

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Olivia Day, a journalist for the Daily Mail in Australia, reported the story in an article titled, “New mum is OUTRAGED after being called a ‘birthing parent’ instead of a mother by the Australian government — as Ally Langdon slams the move as ‘dehumanising’”.

“A new mother has called out the government after being referred to as a ‘birthing parent’ rather than a ‘mother’ on a healthcare form.

Sall Grover, from the Gold Coast, said she was shocked by the ‘alienating’ form that has been introduced in some hospitals as part of a trial to upload new baby details to Medicare.

She pointed out the form asked for the ‘birthing parent’s full name’ in one box and ‘birthing parent’s signature’ in another instead of ‘mother’ and shared an image of it on Twitter.

‘Attention women in Australia: On the form to put our newborn baby on our Medicare card, we are referred to as ‘birthing parent,’ Ms Grover wrote.

‘Enough is enough. This absolute bull***t is exclusionary, alienating and derogatory towards every woman who wants to be and is called “mother.”

‘I know enough what is happening at the moment with women’s rights, and the erosion of our language and spaces, so I know where it’s coming from,’ she said.

During an interview with the Today Show on Thursday morning, she said the new consent forms were simply to please fringe activists and lobbyists.

‘The fact that it was on this government form saying ‘birthing parent’, shocked me.’

Today Show host Karl Stefanovic said he ‘couldn’t believe’ the form had been changed in the first place and described it as ‘bureaucracy gone crazy’. 

Motherhood is about so much more than that, it is every other day from then, you have your first few days of excitement, being part of that and then you see “birthing parent”, are you reducing the role of me getting her here,’ Ms Grover replied. 

She called on the people offended by the term ‘mother’ to ‘get help’.

‘If the word “mother” bothers you so much, I mean motherhood is going to be quite a shock. Get help, go and deal with it if the word “mother” bothers’, she said. 

Today Host Ally Langdon said as a mother herself, she found the term ‘birthing parent’ dehumanising.

‘I feel divided about it, if I’m perfectly honest. As someone who does identify as a mother, I see that and it’s sort off-putting to see birthing parent,’ she said.    

‘It’s dehumanising to me.” …

The new mother re-appeared on the Today Show later on in the morning, after news broke the new forms had been dumped.Sall Grover

‘Since that interview went to air, Bill Shorten, who is a regular on the show, has been in contact to confirm these forms have been dumped,’ Stefanovic said.

‘Replaced with new ones that use the word “mother” not “birthing parent”.’

Ms Grover said it was ‘amazing news’. 

‘I was actually just talking to my own mum about it and I was saying it’s awesome, fantastic. No complaint,’ she told the hosts. 

‘It doesn’t take a genius to work out that it should have been ‘mother’ all along.”

Huge congratulations to Sall Grover, a courageous mother who is prepared to stand up to the attack on our children. This victory is really good news for mothers and fathers all over Australia. Even better news for our children!

Last year in a Father’s Day article, I wrote the following words addressed to men:

“Children need a mother and a father. Children grow up best in the midst of the tension between the masculine and the feminine, as long as that tension is constantly resolved in love.

The best way to resolve this tension for the benefit of your children is to get married and stay married. You as a man need to keep love alive!

Such love will kill you, but what a beautiful way to die! Out of the death of the two in holy wedlock, will come one. Out of that oneness of the masculine and the feminine your children are created, will flourish and become their true selves.

Such is the mystery of marriage. Mothers need fathers, and fathers need mothers, but children need them both.”

Lovework

Keep speaking up and defending mothers and motherhood.

Start by singing the praise of the mother of your children.

As a great woman once said, “Love begins in the home.”

Yours for Protecting Motherhood,
Warwick Marsh

PS: Just letting you know that the 2022 National Grandparent Conference is on Saturday 17 September 2022. Get more information here.

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First published at Dads4Kids.

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No Man is an Island

Fatherhood is a journey full of unforeseeable developments, but if you gather like-minded friends around you who can provide support along the way, and practise humility while learning how to best love and care for your family, you can triumph over the challenges which come your way.

“Life is strange with its twists and turns”, is a quote from a famous poem written in 1921 called ‘Don’t Quit’ by Edgar A Guest. For many years I had the entire poem pinned to my wall and drew great encouragement from reading it regularly. I have used the poem in the “Men in Crisis” article and another called Making Good Decisions.

But what does it mean, ‘Life is strange with its twists and turns’?

This is what Google said:

“Our entire life is like a journey on a road with many turnings. We have no idea what will happen next. It may bring good or bad things. In the journey of life we face new things, events, discoveries, surprises, successes and failures.”

Sounds a lot like being a father. Right?

Unexpected

“Is this what I signed up for?” every father asks. It sure felt that way when we had children and it also felt that way when my wife and I founded Dads4Kids in 2002.

One of the Dads4Kids founding board members had said to me many years earlier, “You should do something for fathers and families.” That conversation stuck in my head and often came back to me at the most unusual times. What were we to do, and how should we do it?

There was a very specific reason he said that to me. Everyone knew me as the Dad and band leader of the Marshes. We had recorded several albums and toured Australia and other parts of the world.

People loved us. Not so much for our music but because we were a family, that is, a mother (keyboards/vocals) and a father (guitar/vocals) who played music and sang with our five children. Four boys and a young daughter which was comprised of, in order, drums, bass, saxophone/didgeridoo, guitar and lead vocals/flute.

The attraction was not the music, but the fact that we loved each other and enjoyed playing music with each other. We actually loved being together, and it showed.

Everyone, as a result, presumed that I knew a lot about fathering and raising a family. That is why my friend said to me in the nineties: you should do something for fathers and families.

The truth was that I felt I knew very little about such things. At the time, I found it quite strange that people would look to me as an expert on family and fatherhood. In some ways I felt the least qualified, having grown up in a semi-broken family myself. The quote by Alexander Pope comes to mind, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

Lifelong Learning

Since co-founding Dads4Kids in 2002, I have read hundreds of research papers and over thirty books on fatherhood and attended/spoken at dozens of conferences and written over a million words on the subject of fatherhood and families,

“Surely you must know a lot about fatherhood now, Warwick,” you say. I hate to disappoint you, but I take solace in the words of Aristotle, “The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know.”

Interestingly, I came across an article of the same title by Ardalis, a software engineer, writing about the danger of becoming over-confident when first learning about a subject.

Early on, in the first few years of Dads4Kids, I thought I knew a few things. Ardalis calls this the ‘Peak of Mr Stupid’. There is even a scientific name for this arrogant phase of learning. It is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Dunning–Kruger Effect

Relation between average self-perceived performance and average actual performance on a college exam. The red area shows the tendency of low performers to overestimate their abilities. Nevertheless, low performers’ self-assessment is lower than that of high performers.

The next stage of the journey is the ‘Valley of Despair’ according to Ardalis. Thankfully the last stage is called the ‘Slope of Enlightenment’.

We all know as fathers the stages of the Dunning-Kruger effect. We have all experienced the ‘Peak of Mr Stupid’ the ‘Valley of Despair’ and the slow upward ‘Slope of Enlightenment’.

However, being a father to a growing family means that the Slope of Enlightenment goes up and down sometimes. In fact, the Valley of Despair is often a reoccurring stage too. All part of those wonderful ‘twists and turns’.

Important Lesson

So, what is the one thing I have learned about fatherhood and being a successful father to my family?

My answer to this one question is always the same. Humility!

Humility is a place somewhere between the ’Peak of Mr Stupid’ the ‘Valley of Despair’ and the ‘Slope of Enlightenment’. To enter that place you need total honesty and the help of other men.

As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “No man is useless while he has a friend”. The challenge is that total honesty can drive you to despair. That is why you need other men to pull you out of the Valley of Despair and on to the upward Slope of Enlightenment.

Simply, we need each other to find that true place of humility as fathers. We also need the input of these same men to stay humble. Our pride has to be challenged by those who love us enough to tell us the truth!

With humility, we can always learn and change. With humility, we can develop the fierce commitment that our families need — to love and care for them at all costs.

Lovework

I meet with a bunch of guys for breakfast every Friday who share my passion for the things that matter. Find a way to get with other men on a regular basis who have a passion for family and fatherhood.

You will never regret it. As John Donne wrote, “No man is an island.”

Yours for the Upward Slope of Enlightenment,
Warwick Marsh

I encourage you to join us at the Men’s Leadership Summit, at the Tops Conference Centre on the weekend of 26-28 August 2022.

You need other men just like I do.

Early Bird bookings close on 15 July 2022.

See video promo here or watch below.

Download summit flyer here.

Register here.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Kampus Production.

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Less is More

We may become overwhelmed by our family responsibilities and job expectations. Recall the adage that less is more, and prioritise your main role, in which you cannot be replaced.

“You can’t have it all,” used to be a saying to describe women juggling careers and motherhood. Mothers are caught in the conundrum of trying to be present for their children while having a successful career, all at the same time. It is very hard.

Anne Marie Slaughter, a Princeton University Professor, who got her dream job in the government in Washington DC, realised she could not “have it all”.

So she wrote an article called, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”. Anne Marie’s article is searingly honest and revealing. Her video interview about her story is also very good.

It is not just women who can’t have it all. Dads are the same. We have to make a decision on what we are going to have, and what we are not going to have, and sometimes less is more.

Harmony

Jason from Dad University gives us some great insight into the need, not for Work-Life Balance, but Work-Life harmony.

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My son’s wife is struggling with recovery from post-natal depression.

Twelve months ago she was going really well, but when she had a relapse, my son had to make some adjustments in his priorities, because less is more.

My son is an engineer, and his company is very family-friendly. They allowed him to start late every day so he can run his children to school and in exchange, he loses his rostered day off. He can’t go surfing that day, but less is more, and better still, his wife is happier and getting better by the day.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a very successful businessman who gives some very good tips about work-life harmony here:

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Recently, I came across the Australian Fatherhood Research Consortium and its monthly newsletter. In it, I found a great article called “Take it easy on yourself, Dad” by a father with a young baby juggling the challenge of being a father and successful in his work.

“As I write this, my little nine-month-old boy Jack is sound asleep, something that has been a rare occurrence in our household up until recently. I had been told by everyone to be prepared for the lack of sleep a baby brings to your life, however, being a shift worker gave me a sense of false confidence and I thought I would cruise through these sleepless nights with ease.

I was wrong! I was working 12hr days, studying, trying to be a good husband and father and it was slowly wearing me down. I found myself feeling really low and disappointed as I had a feeling, I wasn’t being the father I had imagined myself to be.

Even though our wives and partners often bear most of the workload with raising children, I felt a lot of pressure as a dad to be this superhero-type figure that doesn’t waver under pressure and will always be a solid rock that the family can rely on. 

My wife is amazing and seems to have an endless abundance of energy. She has handled the sleepless nights much better than I. It took some honest conversations with her and a hard look at myself to realise I was running myself into the ground. This was counterproductive to being a good father.

It was then that I made the decision to take a step back from some of the areas of my life that were adding pressure and direct more of my focus to being present with my son. That small change had a huge positive effect for myself and my family. I have realised through having our son that I can’t do everything all at once and it is ok to ask for help, take a step back and sometimes less is more.

I have found success in parenting my son through not being so hard on myself and trying every day to just enjoy the little moments I get with him. I can be the rock my wife and son need, but I’m only capable of being that if I don’t take on too much work and added pressure. 

After all, my first and most important job is being a father.”

Lovework

You cannot have it all. Something has to take precedence. The key thing is to work out what is important to you as a father, and as a man with a vocation, because less is more.

Yours for the Important Things,
Warwick Marsh

PS: A massive thank you to all those who donated to our end-of-year Dads4Kids matching challenge. The stupendous news is: we met the target! The really good news is that your giving is going to enable us to help many more dads be better dads and put a smile on many more children’s faces.

Together we are making a difference! You can still donate today if you want to. Just that you will have to wait for a while for a tax deduction. Donate here!

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Kampus Production.

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Dads4Kids Celebrating 20 Years Helping Our Children Thrive

Dads4Kids has been on a mission to turn the toxic tide of fatherlessness throughout Australia and even the world. With your help, we can continue building up better fathers, who will lay the foundations for their families to flourish throughout their lives.

I have warm memories of my Dad telling my brother and me stories, each night before we went to sleep. Stories of adventures in faraway lands, strange encounters with tigers and black panthers in the wild jungle.

True life snake stories (my favourite) and stories about stockmen and horses in the Australian outback. These stories were always riveting and greatly encouraging.

Looking back, I realise that the reason they were ‘warm’ and ‘greatly encouraging’ was because it was a real live Dad, who loved his children and who was giving his children his undivided attention through telling stories.

It left a long, warm glow on the inside of me, and the comfort to go to sleep and dream the beautiful dreams that every child deserves to dream.

Grief

Sadly, within a few years, my Mum and Dad went their separate ways for a time. I found out later that my Dad was heartbroken as a single father without access to ‘his boys’. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were heartbroken too.

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Daddy Doesn't Live Here bookI didn’t realise how heartbroken I was until my early thirties when I randomly picked up a children’s book on a sale table in a shopping centre. My children were young and as a young dad, I was always looking for books to read to the children at night before sleep.

The book, Daddy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, caught my attention in the most unexpected way. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at the pages. I knew the story well and the broken heart that went with the story.

Crucial Foundation

Last Thursday at the Dads4Kids Breakthrough Webinar, a single mother, Sarah Shannon, was asked, “Why are you such a strong supporter and regular donor to Dads4Kids?” My heart skipped a beat when she replied.

“I lost my Dad at the age of eleven. When he passed away my whole world went upside down. I know the importance of having a dad around. He was our solid rock. He was the love of my life. I looked up to him. He taught us many things. When he passed away heaven had gone and hell had come into my life, so I know the importance of having a loving, supportive Dad. The mission of Dads4Kids (to give our children the best start in life) is something I am 200% in support of.”

Our stories are not dissimilar. The pain of fatherlessness is expressed in many different ways. That’s why fatherless children are more likely to end up on drugs, to self-harm, be more prone to suicide, more likely be sexually abused, more likely to drop out of school, more likely to get involved in crime and end up in prison, and the list goes on.

The good news is that when we turn the tide of fatherlessness, our children get the best start in life. Children of involved fathers have a higher IQ, do better at school, enjoy better health, have better relational outcomes, have superior problem-solving skills, have higher levels of economic and career success, and all this is just the beginning.

On a Mission

Over the last 20 years, Dads4Kids has worked hard to turn the tide of fatherlessness in Australia. In 1998, our dear friend Pastor Ron Williams, Indigenous Elder and Leader, declared:

‘The greatest need in Australia is the restoration of fatherhood.’

This led Alison and me, with the support of our wonderful board, to found Dads4Kids in 2002.

Since then, over 21 million people have viewed our message of excellence in fathering found in the Dads4Kids Community Service Announcements as seen on television, inspiring men to be better fathers.

Over the last 20 years, Dads4Kids has equipped, encouraged and inspired millions of fathers through the web, social media and mainstream media. Through our new Dads4Kids Inside-Out Fathering Program, we will support Indigenous and other incarcerated dads within the Australian prison system.

The Dads4Kids weekly email newsletter, inspiring fathers and encouraging families, has been sent out over 3 million times since 2002. Beginning in 2004, the Dads4Kids 10-Week Good to Great Fathering Program has trained over 420 men in excellence in fathering.

In 2007, Dads4Kids helped pioneer a National Men’s Health Policy in the federal government. Through our efforts, the lives of over 3,000 men have been saved. With your help, Dads4Kids has campaigned, and will continue to campaign, against child sexual abuse and to protect women and children from sexual exploitation.

Global Reach

Dads4Kids is the main global supporter for International Men’s Day on November 19 every year. Worldwide, we have campaigned strongly for improvement in men’s health and a reduction in the global male suicide epidemic. Dads4Kids has helped save tens of thousands of men’s lives worldwide over the past 14 years. With your help, we will save the lives of hundreds of thousands more men in the years to come.

Through Dads4Kids Courageous Online Fathering Courses, Dads4Kids Fatherhood Success Seminars, and the annual Dads4Kids Men’s Leadership Summit, we have helped thousands to become better dads, and trained hundreds of dads in how to train others.

In short, the Dads4Kids mission can be spelled out in three words: “Help people love.” Love is the Greatest Force in the Universe.

We could not do all these things without you, our amazing Dads4Kids supporters, subscribers, volunteers and donors. We look forward to 20 more years of transforming Australia, and the world, by inspiring fathers to help their children be the best they can be. Together, we can make a difference.

Lovework

We announced at the Dads4Kids Breakthrough Webinar that strategic supporters of Dads4Kids have put up an amazing $87,000 matching challenge!

Your one-time gift, or the annualized amount of your monthly pledge to Dads4Kids, given before the 30 June, will be instantly doubled. The really good news is that this is a great way to reduce your tax!

Every donation is tax-deductible!

[GIVE HERE]

Yours for Our Children,
Warwick Marsh

PS: Last Thursday’s Dads4Kids Breakthrough Webinar was very real, raw and yet deeply moving. If you have not yet seen it, check it out here.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Pavel Danilyuk.

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‘Top Gun – Maverick’ is Action-Based “Dad Cinema” At Its Very Best

The moving story in “Top Gun: Maverick” of a fatherless son’s journey toward healing is proving popular with audiences worldwide. This is a film highlighting the importance of fatherhood, portraying a tale of reconciliation and redemption.

Top Gun: Maverick is smashing box offices, and it’s easy to understand why.

The film is spectacularly outpacing its weak-because-they’re-woke counterparts, because the film’s unapologetic dad themes resonate.

Alongside the gutsy F-18 camera shots, audiences are in love with the Tom Cruise/Joseph Kosinski sequel because its father-son backstory hits home.

Even the, “it’s all flag-waving, MAGA propagandist tripe” critics are applauding the sequel for keeping to the consistency of the first film’s deep relational backbone.

As The Atlantic’s David Sims explained, the film’s ‘emotional weight rests on Pete Mitchell (Maverick) fighting to earn the respect of Goose’s son (Rooster), who blames Maverick for the tragic loss of his father.’

Childhood Memory

For me, Top Gun: Maverick cut deeper.

My family and I recently saw the film for a birthday bash. The only thing missing was my dad.

Watching the first Top Gun at the cinema with my dad was to be one of the only long-lasting positive memories I would have of him.

It was 1986, I was 9, and we’d turned up late to the cinema.

Missing the iconic afterburner intro of the first Top Gun, dad and I slid into our seats in rhythm with Tony Scott’s smooth golden orange sunset, shot high above a lone F-14 landing on the silhouette of the USS Enterprise.

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It became a shared interest, a mutual pursuit, a common bond solely shared between father and son.

From the soundtrack, which always seemed to be on repeat in our broken-down housing commission home, to the old-school Amstrad computer game, the movie connected us.

This was true, right up until my dad’s final week, when, knowing he would never get a chance to wear it, I gifted him a T-shirt with the Top Gun logo on it.

Now covered in dust, I still hold onto the volumes of Warplane magazines he’d chosen to buy me, instead of paying “through the teeth” for participation in a weekend sport.

Healing

I related to the second film because of the first.

Similar to ‘Goose’s’ son in the film, I was confronted by what was lost, what might have been, and what my dad chose to abandon somewhere along the way.

The sequel made the memories all the more material when Val Kilmer (Iceman), tells Maverick — still haunted by the death of ‘Goose’ — “It’s time to let go.”

Seeing the first film at the cinema in 1986 with my dad was an oasis event, an anomaly of normalcy in a wasteland of ash.

This explains why, in almost every scene of Top Gun: Maverick, I heard, and felt my dad’s absence, and choked up at Hans Zimmer’s rendition of Faltermeyer’s iconic Top Gun anthem.

We’re taught in The Good Book to raise up thanksgiving in the face of suffering. Even the smallest object or event that is worthy of our gratitude puts points on the board when it comes to healing trauma.

In retrospect, watching Top Gun with my dad in ’86 was the first, and only time he offered me a healthy introduction to manhood.

His wasn’t perfect, but that was a perfect day. That day my dad did good, and for that I thank him.

For me, the only thing missing from Top Gun: Maverick was the man who took me to see the first one, sitting, at his best, beside me and my uber-impressed family.

Top Gun was, and is, about loss, grief, and recovery; fatherhood, and fatherlessness — as much as it is about courage, defiance, and the determination to overcome obstructions encountered along the way.

The sequel builds on its original father-son backstory. It is “dad cinema” at its very best.

To lean on Miles Surrey’s review in The Ringer,

‘Every single dad — past, present, and those who are expecting to be dads in the near future — should check out Maverick, if not for the sanctity of ensuring Dad Cinema doesn’t fade away, then for experiencing a blockbuster that surpasses its predecessor in every respect.’

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First published at Dads4Kids.

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Relationships Matter: Keys to Be a Good Father and Build a Good Marriage

In the face of possible death, a husband and father realised that his family mattered far more than his business. With a new lease of life, he embarked on prioritising his relationships. Dads4Kids invites you to do the same.

Harvey MacKay said, “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships.” MacKay knows a thing or two.

Harvey is a very successful businessman, married for over 50 years to his architect wife, with three children and eleven grandchildren. Harvey MacKay has sold over 10 million books about business and building a successful life.

Interviewing Steve Smith for the Dads4Kids podcast reminded me a lot of Harvey MacKay. Steve is an intentional father of four, husband and businessman. MacKay once said, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Priorities

Steve Smith is the inspirational planner who puts his close relationships at the top of the list; his business always comes second — and he is all the happier for it. Watch his story below.

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In 1991, when Steve was only 25 years old, he was diagnosed with leukemia and given six weeks to live. Miraculously, he survived. In his own words, he said, “I am a tough bugger.”

This proved to be the defining moment in his life. He realised that people, not possessions, were his most valuable assets. You can’t possess people, but you can build mutually caring, loving relationships with them and in so doing, build a wealth that money can’t buy.

This is the core message of my wide-ranging interview with Steve Smith, and it comes through in every aspect of his life and his story:

“Relationships are the greatest treasure.”

Lessons During Loss

In this podcast, I share my own ‘dark night of the soul’ with Steve Smith. In 1984, I lost everything in a business collapse. Whilst it was humiliating, it was also invigorating and taught me the same lesson that Steve learnt.

In life, relationships are everything. Yes, you have to eat and live somewhere, but your relationships and the integrity you need to keep them, matter more than anything else.

I asked Steve for his best tip on having a successful relationship with his wife.

Steve told me,

“Warwick, I did not know how to love my own wife because I never had any good examples. My own mother and father got divorced when I was 26 years old. Thankfully I started to hang around married couples who had good relationships and were actively working on them. I watched them closely and I started to emulate their good points and my marriage got better.

“One of the major turning points for me was learning my wife’s love language. The big one for her was affectionate touch, but I had to learn this, Warwick, and it took me a while.”

“So, what are your wife’s five love languages in order of importance?” I asked.

“Affectionate touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and much to my dismay, receiving gifts is last. That’s why you have to know what is at the top of the list and what is at the bottom. Harvey MacKay was right to say, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’.”

“What else has helped you to be a better dad and husband over the years?”

“Warwick, your weekly newsletter has helped me enormously. I have reprinted articles and read and reread them. It was through your newsletter that I got introduced to Darren Lewis at ‘Fathering Adventures’.

“All four of my children have done the younger and the older adventures. My youngest, who has just turned 16, was on to me asking me when we are going to do the final father and teenage son adventure of a lifetime. It is a good thing to be pestered about.”

I asked Steve what his top three tips are for Dads:

  1. Intentional time with your children.
  2. Live by the example you want them to follow. (The words of Mahatma Gandhi come to mind, “You must become the change you seek.”)
  3. Let your children know they are loved — TELL THEM OFTEN.

Lovework

Wow! Steve Smith is a hard act to follow, but let’s see what we can learn from him and put it into practice this week. Now that’s a challenge! If you have a question for Steve Smith, register for this coming Thursday night’s Dads4Kids Breakthrough Webinar. He will be one of our guests.

Yours for relationships that truly matter,
Warwick Marsh

PS: This week has been a big week. The booking information for the Men’s Leadership Summit has been released. Download the brochure here. Watch the promo video here.

PPS: We also opened the registration process for the ‘Dads4kids Breakthrough Webinar’ for next Thursday PM. Australian boxing champion Gavin Topp is one of the featured guests talking about manhood.

Watch the promo video here or below.

Register here.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Jonathan Borba.

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Leading from the Heart

Kevin Allen was a pretty committed father before he did the ‘Good to Great’ Fathering Course. When he completed the course in 2019, he went through a supercharging process in his fathering.

I can remember talking with Kevin shortly after he finished the course. He told me at the time that his business bottom line had improved markedly. More importantly, his relationships with his three young children had changed completely for the better.

Kevin also told me that his marriage needed more work. True to his word, within 18 months his marriage had turned around for the better as well. Watch the Dads4Kids video podcast below.

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Within 12 months of completing the Good to Great Fathering Course, Kevin took his daughter on a father-child campout. This is what she had to say to her dad afterwards:

“Dad, you are the best person I’ve met in my life. Thank you for one of the best experiences of my entire life. I love how you always encourage and support me. I’m so sorry if I’ve ever said anything to you that has made you feel bad. Sometimes I just don’t know what I’m saying, and I really wish you would understand it, which you probably do because you’re a psychologist (you probably just don’t know it yet). I’ll love to do anything with you again!!
I hope there’s always going to be something we can do together. I also love how much effort you put into trying to be a better dad. You’ll always be the best person in my life but as well as mum. Night xx
😊🥺🦋💖”

Money cannot buy this sort of beautiful affirmation.

It took a lot of effort to create such change. Notice that his daughter’s reference to the fact that Kevin had done the course, but was still engaged in the journey of improving himself. “I also love how much effort you put into trying to be a better Dad!” Children notice these things and it makes all the difference.

When I asked Kevin in my interview what the key was to such massive change, he gave a very profound but simple answer:

“I changed from making decisions in my head to making decisions from my heart for my family.”

Interestingly, nowhere in the Good to Great Course are those words expressed verbatim.

Kevin continued,

You see Warwick, I had modelled myself when I was working as a store manager at Woolworths on the successful people above me who were making decisions with their heads. They were working ridiculous hours to get ahead. I was doing exactly the same thing and destroying my family in the process. I had changed occupations but had not changed my attitude.”

“The Good to Great Course helped me recalibrate my thinking and I started to make decisions from my heart or leading from the heart as I like to say. It changed my bottom line in business. It changed my relationship with my children, and it ultimately changed my marriage.”

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Kevin Allen in Dune Buggy Deserts WA

“This recalibration of my decision-making led me to take my ten-year-old son on the Dacca Tour, in the Great Victorian Desert, outback Western Australia, in a custom-made dune buggy.  We had about a dozen guys on dirt bikes, so we came up behind while they went on ahead. As a father and son, we had the time of our lives. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

It gives me great joy as the cofounder of Dads4Kids to know that men are making quality, life-changing decisions from the heart. My wife and I are just catalysts for the process. The good news is that once it starts, it doesn’t stop.

It reminds me of a very old saying in the book of proverbs:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Lovework

Start dreaming about your family’s life. As you do, contemplate your direction and the decisions you must make. Follow Kevin’s example and make those decisions from your heart. I promise you: you will never look back.

Yours for Leading from the Heart,
Warwick Marsh

We can confirm that Gavin Topp, author of Man Alive, is coming to the Men’s Leadership Summit, 26-28 August 2022. Darren Lewis from Fathering Adventures is confirmed as well. SAVE THE DATE NOW! Full release this week!

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First published at Dads4Kids.

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