Posts tagged parenting
Tales from Two-Dad Parenting
 
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Nice to Give Mom a Break

David and I brought my mom and our then 2 ½ year-old son to Ireland.  I think because we were with my mom and, well, people say we kind of look alike (stay tuned for another tale on that), folks didn’t think we were a married couple.

One late afternoon, in the lounge of a nice hotel, we were waiting for my cousin to meet us and drive with us to his home in Waterford for the next leg of our trip.  Two women in their early sixties sat down across from us. They were from north of Dublin and in town for the weekend for a bird-watching tour with other folks their age.  We would chat amongst ourselves and then chat as a larger group with the two of them. While we were helping our son eat his food and drink from an adult glass, we overheard the ladies talking to themselves:

Lady 1: My George NEVER would have done that for me.

Lady 2: Don’ wha?

Lady 1: Give me the afternoon off and take care of the kids!

They not only didn’t think we were a two-dad family but they were shocked that men were showing interest in caring for a child.  We were “good lads” letting the moms take time off from parenting. It’s kind of funny on some level, especially when Lady 2 saw we were wearing matching wedding bands and was trying to gently kick her friend while muffling, “D’er married to eech udder!”  But overall, it’s insulting to all dads, to all parents, who are doing their best to raise their kids and want to be involved in all aspects of parenting. No one at our table was getting a break. We were both monitoring our son. He was behaving, but he could have very easily been stir crazy trying to run around the hotel, where a wedding reception was gathering.

Something that needs to change is believing it’s the mom’s job to take care of the kids all the time and that when dads are involved they are doing moms a favor.  While it’s seemingly nice that you think dads are being charitable, it’s also condescending.

 
From Picky to Adventurous: 5 Steps for Boosting Early Childhood Nutrition
 
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Nutrition is one of the most important factors in a child’s health. About one in five children are obese in the United States, and one of the biggest culprits is empty calories and processed foods.

A lot of parents don’t know what to do. How do they get a picky eater to approach green beans? What kinds of foods should their kids be eating in the first place? How much is too much food, or too little?

The importance of early childhood nutrition

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It has been said that the health of a nation depends, in part, on early childhood nutrition. Children who don’t get the right nutrients can have permanently damaged health and futures, including predispositions to illness and disease, decreased brain function, and a lower earning potential, just to name a few.

For the first time in generations, the American life expectancy is decreasing. Many doctors and scientists are looking towards preventable causes – like nutrition and physical health – as an explanation, and a solution.

The best way to support a child’s physical and mental growth is to feed them healthy, balanced diets that include protein, vitamins, iron, healthy fats, and balanced carbohydrates. Each developing area of the brain needs different fuel to grow and create connectivity and complexity. That’s why variety is imperative!

What does a healthy diet look like?

A healthy diet for children can be summarized relatively simply:

1.    Whole foods, and

2.    Wide variety.

When we think of “kids’” foods, we imagine bland, basic things – cereal, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and a few pieces of broccoli. We often limit a child’s ability to develop an expansive palate because we don’t think it’s possible. But that simply isn’t true!

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In Vietnam, a common breakfast for kids is Pho – a noodle soup with rich broth, vegetables, and possibly an egg on top. In Tokyo, and child might eat soybeans, miso soup, grilled salmon, and pickled cucumbers for breakfast. Children in India dig into curries full of aromatic spices and herbs.

The possibilities are only limited by what you feed them!

We create picky eaters

Food preferences are almost always learned behaviors. We learn what to eat based on what’s modeled for us and what’s normalized in our households.

It’s common for children to dislike a new food. Evolutionarily, humans had to be cautious of new things until they knew something was safe to consume. Just because a child rejects something upon first try doesn’t mean they’re only going to enjoy a diet of white bread.

Varied palates are trained, and it starts young. Through repeated exposure and a normalized culture in home, you can boost your child’s nutrition while also preparing them to be adventurous eaters for the rest of their lives. Not to mention giving them their best chance at health and happiness in the process!

5 tips for boosting nutrition

1. Get your child involved

Take your child shopping and let them select the fruits and vegetables. Have them help you wash the vegetables. Share what you’re doing as you cook, and “deconstruct” the meal together. What goes in it? How do you know how much to add?

Children are naturally curious, and they love routine. If you invite them into the routine of cooking and invite them into the process, they’ll be more likely to engage with new, healthy foods rather than reject them on sight.

2. Don’t insult your food

Part of increasing the variety of foods your child eats involves changing the culture in your home. This includes a changed mentality. If your child doesn’t like a food and they insult it, it perpetuates the mindset that some foods are “yummy” and others are “gross.”

Instead, encourage your child to take small bites of something new. Celebrate their willingness to “taste test.” Don’t call them “picky” but “adventurous,” and find different ways they can describe a food they don’t like instead of calling it “gross.”

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3. Don’t offer dessert as a reward

Besides the fact that sugar inherently tastes good to our palates, if we learn emotional associates with “treats” and “rewards,” we’re more likely to want them and less likely to desire nutritious foods. Don’t make dessert a reward for eating vegetables. It’s harder for your child to have a positive relationship with vegetables, because they merely become a means to an end.

Similarly, it’s tempting to express affection through treats. This also creates an associate between our love and sugar. Instead, use praise, attention, or special experiences to express your abundant love. Leave food out of it – we have enough obstacles to overcome as it is!

4. Find creative ways to incorporate vegetables

Even most adults don’t want to eat plain pieces of broccoli, and there are so many more interesting ways to consume vegetables. Add them to sauces, creamy curries, soups, with grains, and more. Shredding them is a great way to add vegetables to meatloaf or other baked items.

Enhance the flavor of your vegetables by adding spices or herbs, or incorporating them into meals rather than consuming them alone. The more interesting the vegetable, the more likely they’ll appeal to your little one.

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5. Start them young!

The sooner your child’s palate can explore a wide range of flavors, the better! Pregnancy is also a great place to start – when your child is born, they’re more familiar with foods their mother consumed.

Remember, a great way to boost your child’s nutrition is to feed them healthy, varied foods. And the best way to get them to eat it is to raise adventurous, bold eaters!

From our home to yours,
David and Danny, fathers and founders, Kekoa Foods

 
 
Every Parent Deserves Love – Celebrating Parental Diversity
 

It’s no small thing to become a parent!

The sudden responsibility of not only keeping your little one alive, but ensuring they have the healthiest, happiest, most fulfilled life possible can seem daunting. Throw in a whirlwind of sleepless nights, tears and tantrums, and comparison to other parents, and it’s easy to feel like you’re failing before you even start.

While the world seems all too eager to tell you the. one. right. way. to parent, the truth is the world is changing. Parents now come in all shapes and sizes and genders and couplings (and non-couplings!).

In the U.S. there are over 547,000 married same-sex couples and between 2 million and 3.7 million children with an LGBTQ parent, and approximately 200,000 of them are being raised by a same-sex couple.

It’s time to celebrate inclusive parenting – and stop feeling guilty when traditional parenting advice doesn’t work for you.


Parenting styles

There’s a lot of advice out there about how to be a good parent. From sleep schedules to disciplining to disposable vs. cloth diapers, everyone has an opinion.

Because there are so many variations it’s easy for people to get defensive about their parenting decisions. Often, it’s their way of feeling secure in the choices they made.

As researcher and popular author and speaker Brené Brown said, there’s no one way to be a good parent. In fact, there are a million ways… and none of them involve shaming other parents.

One of the secret keys to being a good parent might just be supporting other parents.

Diverse parenting

Like children, families come in all shapes and sizes. There are two dad families, two mom families, single-parent families, children raised by grandparents, foster families, one dad and an aunt… the combinations are abundant, just like parenting styles.

In a culture that likes to hold measuring sticks to various aspects of our lives, it’s time we dropped the metrics and simply supported one another. After all, the energy we put towards criticizing diverse parenting styles and choices means that we have less energy to love our children and ourselves. Judging and shaming only takeaway from being the best parents we can be.

The example you set

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If you still struggle with showing your fellow parents some love, keep this in mind: the behavior you demonstrate for your child teaches them more than what you say. The best way you can teach your child to be accepting and loving of other’s isn’t telling them – it’s showing them.

Every parent wants their child to feel loved. In turn, every parent deserves love, too. The days can feel long, the years short, and the mood swings erratic, but most parents would agree: this journey is the best one yet.

Let’s embrace one another with understanding and empathy in our hearts. Everyone is truly doing the best they can, and it’s a huge weight off when we stop judging others and start loving them instead.

The role of “parenting” can feel challenging, and we all need as much support as we can get.

That, and a weekend getaway.

From our home to yours,
David and Danny, fathers and founders, Kekoa Foods

 
 
"No, I'm Dad!"
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One thing that David and I hadn’t discussed even though we talked about having children starting on our first date was, what would our children call us? One night, we were watching a documentary about a two-dad family and one of the gentleman said he was Daddy-Papa. We heard that, looked at each other, looked back at the television, looked back at each other, and both exclaimed simultaneously, “I’m gonna be dad!”

“No, I’m going to be dad!”

“What?! I want to be dad.” David said.  “I’ve always pictured myself being dad.”

I responded, “Well, that’s what I called my father and that’s what I’ve always wanted to be.”  I never liked pop and father is way too formal, and nothing else felt right. So, it seemed at the moment that we had a dilemma.

We now started researching it informally, asking other gay men, mostly without children, what they thought children should call each of their two dads. They pretty much suggested what we had already thought of, one could be pop, one could be dad, one could be father.  Some of our Latino friends suggested that one could be papi and one could be dad. Although I like papi as compared to pop, being that we weren’t Latino, I thought it would seem a little bit odd. So we kept checking. Still the same thing – suggestions were: dad, father, pop, pop, father, dad, not very many daddy papas, but also no clear solution.

Then we made friends with another two-dad family where one of them was dad, and one was daddy. Our immediate reaction was, “Isn’t that confusing. You both have the same name.” Then being schooled by them, they explained, no dad is actually a one-syllable word, and daddy is a two-syllable word, just like if you meet two men named Tom and Tommy, you can distinguish between the two, right?

Hmmm.  They had a point, but it still felt like it was pretty much the same name and we weren’t really satisfied. I think because ultimately, we still both wanted to be, well, both, right? Aren’t dad and daddy the same thing? Doesn’t every dad and every daddy get to swap those two names if they want?  So, if we agree to this then we would never be able to use the other derivatives of dad or daddy or just both names really? So, we just kept tabling the conversation.

Fast forward to Kekoa being born and us really not knowing who’s going to be what. I started trying to execute my plan for myself and began referring to myself as dad when talking. Then I would catch David doing the same, referring to himself as Kekoa’s dad. So, Kekoa was just hearing dad quite a bit at home.  At the same time, everyone at daycare referred to male parents as daddy. So, he was also hearing daddy all the time there. They had no idea about the long conversations we’d been having for the last couple of years. So, we were both daddy at school, and both dad at home.¶

When Kekoa was about 1 ½ years-old he was hearing dad all the time and daddy all the time and it could be either one of us that’s being referred to. So, the poor kid had no idea what we were and how to distinguish us by name.  I’m sure he was pretty confused. Suddenly, he was speaking and he would say, “Dad”, and, like all parents, we were ecstatic that he was starting to speak and in particular referred to us by name. It was wonderful! We were dad, or daddy, and it didn’t really matter that it was us, not me, not him, but us. Paul knew we were his dads and we were happy. A couple of months go by, and we suddenly realized Paul wasn’t calling us both dad, or us both daddy.  He had made a distinction. He was mostly calling David “Daddy”, and he was mostly calling me “Dad” or “Dada”. After all this debate, discussions, and informal polling of how we would name ourselves as Kekoa’s parents, the decision ultimately didn’t fall to us. Rather, our little boy named us. And we thought it was pretty cool.