Thursday, January 28, 2010

Commentary: A Standard of Excellence

Understanding “A Standard of Excellence” involves understanding the words “standard” and “excellence”. Words are often used with little thought given to their true meaning. We throw around the word “love” so much that it has lost its meaning. We “love” coffee, our pets, that jacket, those shoes, and even people we have barely known a minute. It stands to question whether we can have “A Standard of Excellence” with out having a true understanding of what it is.

A standard can be defined multiple ways. At one point a standard was a banner carried during times of war, it served as a rallying point, or emblem to gather the troops. It can be defined as a personal flag, one of a royal family, or organization. “Something set up and established by authority as a rule for measure,” is another definition. All of these would be appropriate to use at different times and give an idea of what a standard could be. For our purposes just about all can be applied in different aspects.

More often than not we are given standards for things by an authority. A standard ruler is twelve inches measuring a foot, a standard work day is eight hours, standard pregnancy is said to last for nine months, and your standard date is dinner and a movie. These standards were set by an authority, we do not know who yet we follow them readily. There are even standards set for what people should eat each day created for us. Someone created the standard quantity, weight, extent, duration, value, or quality and we accepted it. We accepted it unconsciously giving no thought to our own ability to create something different for ourselves. Most of us live unconsciously off of and by the standards set by others. We can raise the banner, flag, standard of our own Life. Two last definitions to take note of deal with structure, support, and stability. Standards give us those three things; the question is “to what standard do you hold yourself?” If your standard is excellence then the next step is to find out what it means to be excellent.

Excel, the root word of excellent, comes from the Latin word excellere meaning “to rise, project”. Sounds like we have passed “standard” before getting to define excel or excellent. To excel is to surpass in accomplishments or achievement, to be distinguishable by superiority. Superiority that is not arrogant or egotistical. This superiority speaks for itself, there are no words necessary, it has integrity, is confident, well put together, and moves with purpose. Excelling is going beyond a stated or implied limit set by an authority or established by a custom or tradition, and even past achievements. To excel one must push further than what is asked, transcending what is thought, moving past the norm to reach another level, outdoing your own past, and creating competition. Competition where there is only one person in the game, You. Excelling is continual. It is perpetual. There is no place called Excel City. It is a verb. Breaking through the ceiling called standard, status quo, or good enough creates excellence. It is a mindset, a place where you can live perpetually through excelling, being in motion, moving past yesterday; it takes motion to create excellence.

You are the authority which creates how you will measure the quantity and quality of the time given to tasks, people, and things. You say what a priority is, has value, and the quantity of money, time, and effort given to things in your Life. Only you can exceed standards set by authorities and yourself. Only you can push yourself past the baseline you have created. To have Life worth living, excelling must be one of the stones on which you build all aspects of your Life.

Set A Standard of Excellence in intimate relationships, with family and friends, in money management, with your health, in keeping your home, in dealing with and in your community, in communication, in your business, and see how things begin to come alive in your Life. Raise the Standard. A Standard of perpetual motion, outdoing self to the next level daily – that is the Standard of Excellence. Go beyond the norm, be distinguishable, be excellent.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Poppa's Baby. Momma's Maybe.

  We have all heard the saying, "Momma's baby. Poppa's maybe" indicating that fathers can always question paternity. And yes, that happens to be true. No one questions a Mother about maternity, sounds silly right?! One the other hand, when it comes to being a father, there are a plethora of articles, sites, blogs, and opinions which berate, belittle, and emasculate men as fathers. All too often the fingers point at fathers as a culprit of children being in poverty, in a "broken" home, or in situations which are less than ideal. These men are accused of not caring for the life of their child. They are given the label of a deadbeat Dad. And even characterized as heartless. As the mother of a son, it is hard for me to hear all of that without asking some poignant questions about the Mothers of these children? Just as having sperm fertilize the egg does not make a man a Father, logically, it follows that because your egg is fertilized does not make you a Mother.

  Plenty of mothers do not take the time to be just that, a Mother. It has nothing to do with age, culture, ethnicity, education, or socioeconomic status. A mother is not just someone who dresses up a child, but gives them direction and discipline. A mother has the ability to take herself out of the equation and do what is necessary for her child even if it means she must delay her own gratification. A mother takes time to engage in the education of her child, expose them to things that will grow their mind, and feed their potential as much as possible. All too often the finger pointing at fathers goes without looking at mothers who not prepared to take on the job of caring for Poppa's Maybe. And that makes them a maybe Momma. Read on and see why.

  If I may take a few lines to share a little about my background. My parents were married and they divorced in 1980. Prior to the divorce being final my father left. At that time, my mother was 34 with 4 children (one of which was her step daughter... get that!) ages 15, 13, 7, and 5. Along with being 35 with 4 children she was attending college, which she had put off to assist my father in completing his degrees. Following the divorce, we had visitation with him, my oldest sibling had left to live with her mother, and life went on. We were on and off welfare, sometimes had to cut grass at the home we were renting to make up for the rent shortfall, shopped at Kmart and The Goodwill, sometimes ate a local "soup kitchens", and ate "school lunch". With all that happening, there are a few things that I must get across:

1) There were few, if any, child support checks that came to my mother.
2) My Mother never spoke bad about my father in my presence.
3) We were never a ruse for her to "get him back" or  to "get back at him".
4) I wish my father had been there more often.

 With those things said, it is necessary to share that healthy fathers are an integral part of rearing healthy, well-rounded children. Girls need fathers to show them protection, give them positive self-esteem, and build them up as the princesses they are to be. How do you develop a healthy relationship with a man if you have never been shown a healthy man which to relate? It is not that it is impossible, but it make the interaction a bit difficult. The same can be said for boys. Without a healthy father figure their idea of right, wrong, how to behave and be man, the development of a work ethic, and the ability create an intimate relationship with a woman that is healthy as well. Fathermage.com has an article entitled, It's Fatherhood That Makes Childhood Possible. In that article, the following statement was made which reiterates the need for fathers in the home with boys and girls:

"A judge will try a divorce case in the morning and place the children in the mother's custody. He will try a criminal case in the afternoon and send a man to prison for robbing a liquor store. The chances are three out of four that the criminal he sends to prison grew up in a female headed household just like the one he himself created that morning when he tried the divorce case.[1] He can't see any connection between the two cases. The time lag prevents him: the kids he placed in the mother's custody were toddlers and the criminal he sent to prison was in his teens or twenties. Toddlers don't rob liquor stores.
Besides, most fatherless boys don't grow up to rob liquor stores and most fatherless girls don't grow up to breed illegitimate children. Therefore what? Therefore the legal policy of giving custody to mothers is OK? Therefore we can ignore the increased probability that fatherlessness will create delinquency?"
  There is a desperate need for men in the lives of children. Yes, preferably in the home, but when that cannot happen there is the relationship that must be maintain, fostered, and encouraged. Again, I only say if it is healthy. Now to address "healthy".

  As stated before there is a need for healthy men. That can be qualified as someone who has the interest of the child in mind, is able to keep them safe, is motivated to do something with their life or is already doing so, and is emotionally mature. With that said, the same must be said for the women. And here is comes. Too many mothers are not emotionally mature enough to have the children they want. How do we know that? Here are some signs of emotional immaturity:

1) Use child support as the bate and switch. Child support issues are separate from visitation issues. These things do not have anything to do with each other, they are mutually exclusive. In the mind of an emotionally immature mother, these two things live, breathe, eat, and sleep in the same room. Not so. Child support is to be used to support the child in clothing, food, activities, etc. It is not like paying to see a money. No pay, no child. An emotionally immature mother does not understand the separation, blames the father, and refused to allow the relationship between child and Father to grown due to a lack of child support. Again, my father was so thin on child support, there could probably tell me over the phone how much those 1-3 checks were. However, that did not prevent my mother from allowing us to develop a relationship with him.

2) "Your Daddy doesn't, can't, won't..." No matter the issues between two parents they should remain there. Children love their parents until someone tells them otherwise. Immaturity opens the door to speaking immature things, things that children do not need to hear. Yes, there are relationships that have ended terribly, had circumstance that were not ideal, yet, that remains something that need not be addressed with a child. At one point, my father was not coming to see us regularly. Did my mother run my father down because of it? No. She simply said he was busy or could not come. There was an incident in which she confronted him, but prior to that, they told us to go to our room. Now that is maturity! Yet, my memory is of my father saying he did not have the money to take us out and do the things he wanted to do with us. My mother's response has stuck with me for 28 years, she said, "these kids don't care about your money they just want you." The relationship later built between my father and I was never built on the view my mother had of him, rather the interacts or lack thereof.

3) "If you don't..." Using children as a pawn in a tit for tat game is a glaring sign of emotional immaturity. "If you don't come over here you won't be able to see your children", "if you can't buy these kids a thing you might as well not come see them", and many more statements like that damage the father and the child. There are men who want nothing more than to give their child the world, but cannot for financial or other reasons. Using a child as a ruse to get him to do something damages is will and desire to do for his child(ren). A man is designed to be a protector and provider, when they have children they want to do those things for them because there is love that grows uncontrollably in them. The love coupled with being a protector and provider is their motivation for being around. When you take the opportunity for them to do what they naturally want for those they love you are taking away the power and pride they feel. It diminishes into a helplessness that no man ever wants to feel. Emotionally mature men are not monsters, but what the emotionally immature mother must know is that everyone has their breaking point.

4) "We don't need him!" Daniel Amneus, the author of It's Fatherhood That Makes Childhood Possible, said this:

"This is the hitch, the reason we have a feminist revolution: Females dislike sexual regulation. Feminists say 'A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,' 'A woman has a sacred right to control her own sexuality,' 'End human sacrifice! Don't get married!' Women's primary object, according to feminist Anne Donchin, is to create a society in which 'women can shape their reproductive experiences to further ends of their own choosing.' "
  All too often, emotionally immature mothers play the "we don't need him card." For some reason they include the children in this statement, when it should be a singular statement about their need only. Children need their fathers. An emotional mature mother recognizes the need for the father. Regardless of what the mother may want, how the situation might have turned out, or what is not longer desired, the man will always be a father. No you may not need him, but all children need a healthy father.

  When it comes to parenting healthy children, the uproar comes in custody. Rarely do you see cases where fathers get custody. However, it happens, and there many cases where children are obviously better off with there father. Though they may be better off with their father the mother uses them as a ploy, refuses to admit that they are better off somewhere else, or the father does not believe that he could get custody. When a woman chooses to bring a child into the world, there should be consideration given for the father. And the father ought to begin looking at what is in the best interest of their child. There are times that the hard truth should be told. That truth maybe that the father can provide better for the child than the mother. Yes, it does happen. In those cases, it should happen.

Of the 2.5 million single fathers who are custodial parents:
  • 57% are divorced or separated
  • 24% are currently married (In most cases, these numbers represent men who have remarried.)
  • 16 percent are separated
  • 38% have never married
  • 4 percent are widowed
  • 8% are raising three or more of their own children under 18 years old.
  • 42% are divorced, ,  and . (The percentages of those divorced and never married are not significantly different from one another.)
  • 16% live in the home of a relative or a non-relative.
  • 27% have an annual family income of $50,000 or more.

  Single fathers are just as capable as a single mother, in rearing children. The Journal of Marriage and Family published research by Douglas Downey, James Ainsworth Darnell, and Mikaela Dufur which looked at the possible differences between living with a single mother or father. The research concluded the following:

Some researchers have claimed that the effects of living in a single-mother or single-father household won’t show up until adulthood, Downey said. To test this claim, the researchers examined data from the General Social Surveys collected by the National Opinion Research Center. They examined 4,400 adults who reported having lived with a single parent at age 16 (750 lived with a single father and 3,650 lived with a single mother). They looked again at a variety of measures, including years of education, family income and overall happiness.
“Again, the overwhelming pattern was one of little difference between those who grew up in single-mother households compared to those who grew up in single-father households,” Downey said.
Downey said family researchers need to distinguish between family characteristics that affect children’s development and those characteristics that do not.

“People have assumed that the sex of the parent has a major effect on children’s development, but we found that isn’t the case,” he said. “Researchers need to focus on other factors, such as family resources, which seem to have a real impact.”
  Just as people love to throw fathers under the bus about being absent and sperm donors. And just as all too often the statement is said that making a baby does not make you a Dad. The same can be said about a woman. As a female, it is like being a part of a sorority. There are some things you just are not supposed to say against The Sisterhood. However, when it comes to the life of a child, in my book, all bets are off. Just because you carried the baby does not make you a Mother. Sometimes it should be Poppa's Baby and Momma's Maybe.