From Absentee Father To Super Dad

Father and Son Playing Video Games

A non custodial father has a lot going against him when it concerns his children. Depending on his situation, the fact that he isn’t always present in the home as his children is one that has the potential to take it’s toll on him; as well as his children. Another factor against us is that some fathers may not live in the same state as their children. Even in the best of circumstances many fathers struggle to be actively involved with their children. The important thing for non custodial fathers (and those that have custody) is that we do matter in the lives of our children, and that striving to be more active in their lives is more than just a matter of getting child support payed on time.

The Missing Role of the Super Dad

Dr. Ken Canfield, Founder and President for the National Center for Fathering said something that I think is very important for fathers to remember, “Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” . I remember the first fishing trip I took my sons on, while they weren’t too interested in the finer points of fishing; such as baiting the hook, or even how best to cast a line. What was important was that their dad took them somewhere, did something with them, and interacted with them in a way that was specifically there own. It could be something as small as giving advice to my teenage son about young ladies, or his two younger brothers on friends and peer pressures they may face. The same with my daughters, as well, taking them shopping (not that I’m big on shopping), or for a tea party. Even learning to braid hair can be a worthwhile skill to learn in connecting with you child. The role of father is much more than a paycheck, or means of financial stability.  There has been an increasing amount of research done on the roles fathers play in the lives of their children (links to relevant sources are included at the end of this article).

3 Simple Steps to becoming a Super Dad.

I have always had a lot of respect for my father. Looking back I understand he wasn’t perfect, however, what I respected about him most was that he was the hardest working man I’ve ever met. He was never out of work, and as hard as he worked he always took out the necessary time with me and my siblings. He helped me get my very first job, went to my karate matches, and even helped me keep my Gi clean and freshly pressed (along with my other clothes). Fathers are a child’s link to how they should respond to, and engage the world around them; giving them the tools to deal with their emotions, and develop the tools necessary to be more independent and ready for the world that awaits them as they grow older. There has been an increasing amount of research done on the roles fathers play in the lives of their children:

1. Communication is key – Yet it’s a need that should be stressed, a useful booklet I’ve found from National Fatherhood Initiative, “The Ultimate Guide To Connecting With Your Child” includes questions that dads can ask their child (children) to start conversations with them when fathers aren’t living in the home. Along with regular phone calls and actual physical visits this booklet can help fathers address the negative feelings children may have as a result of their dads living separate from them.

2. Stay consistent in what you say and do – I make it constant reminder myself to never make promises I can’t keep. While our lives are already stressful enough in this fast paced world of ours, filled with deadlines, schedules, and other things that we are rushing to get done; we tend to forget it may not be that way for our children. No matter how small the promise, the fact that you did what you said you were going to do out weighs anything that may come up. A promise to call at a particular time, or a gift that child wanted. The wisest course would be to remember, if your not sure you can deliver don’t promise it to them. It’s better to say no, or that you will keep the request in mind.

3. No small deed goes unnoticed – I remember an argument my ex wife and I got into, I had allowed my life to become too busy in my search to get out of unemployment. She was well aware of my situation and how stressful it was, yet I was unaware at the time how my infrequent phone calls due to my stressful busy life schedule was having a negative impact on our children. “Being there for children is about more than just money, it’s about being a part of their lives, and participating in it no matter how small it may seem.” she reminded me. For fathers who live far away from their children a simple phone call, a letter, email, even a picture of them you make into a card via photo shop. Children don’t look at the size or expense of what you do, rather what’s important to them is that you did it.

As was stated earlier there is a multitude of ways fathers can establish a better relationship with their children, but it takes effort, and the willingness to stay consistent even when things get rough.

http://fatherhood.about.com/cs/divorceddads/a/keep_close.htm

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The Case For The Beard

beard net blog pic
    Every once in a while it comes up, and it irritates me. It’s the myth that a clean shave face is a must in an interview if you want to make an impression. You have heard that right?
Of course beards are making a come back among men, and the clean-cut (or shaven) look is starting to take a back seat. However, this may not always be the case. I’ve personally found that some jobs still require its employees to shave, making it uniform among male employees. This makes it a hindrance in a job seekers search due to having beard whether for religious reasons, or other wise; since it still carries the stigma of giving the person a lazy and unclean appearance.

In Defense of the Beard

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 While companies reserve the right to hire people, and deny employment to whom they choose. It still smacks of unfairness in some cases, for example, in most fast food chains and other restaurants male employees are required to shave due to health standards of working around cooked food. However employees of Beef, and other raw food processing plants that have higher sanitation standards do not, and are even accommodated with hair and beard nets. What’s the point you may be wondering? Let’s say, God forbid, someone happens to eat a burger with a stray hair in it his/ her chances of getting sick (really sick ) aren’t that great. However, if a stray hair happens to fall on a piece of beef carcass during processing and left to be contaminated it can spread to other product causing pustules in the product and if eaten cause greater harm. Besides, people have done worst things to food being served to rude customers than a stray hair or two.
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I remember one particular instance where I went to an interview for a local Jack in the Box. As a Muslim, it goes against my faith to shave my beard, with this in mind, I figured I’d be smart and prepared; and along with a well crafted resume I had a letter from the Mosque (Masjid) typed and signed. The letter stated that not only was it a religious requirement for me to keep my beard, but also that I was willing to provide and wear a beard net, along with a number where a representative could be reached for further information. While the interview went well, in my opinion, I wasn’t hired. Persistent, I went to an open interview a couple of weeks later for the same store and the results were the same. In the competitive job market where hiring managers are still being swamped with applicants for jobs it can be just one thing against a job seeker. No hiring manager wants to have hanging over their head the hiring of someone who may potentially sue the company due to a misunderstanding leading to violation of their civil rights.
  It has happened, the news has testified to companies that have had to shell out thousands of dollars over the misunderstanding between an employee, and manager over company standards vs. religious/personal freedoms. For example, McDonald’s in a December 2013 suit ended up paying 50,000 to a Muslim employee who was fired due to not shaving. This gave Mcdonald’s good reason to refine some of it’s policies regarding grooming. In my own personal job searches, where I didn’t get the job despite performing well at an interview I’ve been tempted to name the beard as the culprit between not being selected. While not always the case, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who have found and maintained employment, for many still this comes up as an issue. The question being, why? Does the way a person look, especially the wearing of a beard really matter? Why is it so hard for employers to recommend accommodations for individuals who have a valid excuse, such as religious belief, for example. While Employers and hiring managers aren’t always willing to come forward on the answers to these questions. There are some things job seekers that have religious exceptions can due to ensure they aren’t discriminated against:
 1. Know your rights – As I’ve stated before, companies have the right to hire, or deny employment to who they will, and the reasons are many. However there are a few reasons that are actually illegal, and while we know them they can at times be done subtly.
  • Religious affiliation and  practice: This includes grooming, clothing, religious days of worship. So long as the aren’t an undue hardship (and few are) employers are encouraged to give accommodations to such employees, and job seekers.
  • Gender: This includes pregnancy based discrimination, which is illegal; and employers are expected to treat these cases as temporary illness or other temporary condition necessitating special consideration.
  • Age: Age discrimination is a practice specifically protected by law. With a few rare exceptions, companies are forbidden from specifying an age preference is job advertisements. Employees must receive the same benefits regardless of age, the only exception being when the cost of providing supplemented benefits to young workers is the same as providing reduced benefits to older workers.

  2. Groom to impress - Whether you keep a beard for religious reasons or personal ones, grooming it will help to take attention away from it. Obviously the Grizzly Adams look will be an automatic disqualification at any job interview. While every man’s style of grooming his beard will vary, the best tip I can give is keep it tailored to the shape of your face. Also, wash and condition it there is a large market for beard products out there that help with the look and feel of facial hair. Here is my personal favorite:

This spray helps to not only condition, but also gives the beard a pleasant smell. Made with Made with Virgin Olive Oil, Jojoba Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, and your choice of natural fragrances. http://www.sistertaliahsnaturals.info/#!products/cjg9

This spray helps to not only condition, but also gives the beard a pleasant smell. Made with Virgin Olive Oil, Jojoba Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, and your choice of natural fragrances.
http://www.sistertaliahsnaturals.info/#!products/cjg9

3. Go to every interview well prepared. – It goes without saying, the best way to get your foot in the door with any job interview is to go well prepared. Actually, you should have been preparing in between filling out the application and waiting for the interview. Taking the time out to craft a winning resume to present, research the company you’re applying for, and preparing answers (and questions of your own) to questions the interviewer will ask about you and your interest in the position you’re seeking.

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The Comeback of Reading Rainbow.

As a long time fan of the Reading Rainbow television program, I can honestly say I’m elated that is starting to make a comeback in a new area, the classroom. Currently the Reading Rainbow team has raised a considerable amount of money to bring  what made the show popular to classrooms.  the fostering of a love of reading, and its importance.
Through rallying support from fan conventions, art contests, as well as pledging, over 6 million dollars has been raised.

The Age of Digital Reading

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Reading and writing has changed so quickly! With so many different ways to access literature online, the digital screen has replaced paper books.

In a 2010 biannual report from Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL), the global children’s publishing, education and media company, and the Harrison Group, a leading marketing and strategic research consulting firm, reports that children who have read an ebook has almost doubled since 2010 (25% vs. 46%). Also, half of children age 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to ebooks – a 50% increase since 2010.
Overall, about half of parents (49%) feel their children do not spend enough time reading books for fun – an increase from 2010 when 36% of parents were dissatisfied with time their child spent reading.

For Reading Rainbow fans young and old this means that there will be more ways for parents as well as children to access to the love of reading that made the show popular. What are some of your thoughts? In what ways will the comeback of Reading Rainbow bring to children’s reading habits?

 

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Building a daily writing habit

I’ve always been a fan of Jeff Goins ‘Goins, Writer’ blog. It’s helped me a great deal in my own writing and promoting my craft as a writer. I thought for this next post I’d share one of his posts that I found helpful and informative on building a daily writing habit. Just like with any craft, you won’t get very far if you don’t commit to practicing, and that’s one of the points Jeff makes in his post. I hope it is as helpful to you as it was for me, enjoy :)

http://goinswriter.com/start-writing-daily/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GoinsWriter+%28Goins%2C+Writer%3A+On+Writing%2C+Ideas%2C+and+Making+a+Difference%29

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Inspired youth making a difference.

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Chad Odufuwa and fellow young scientists are helping to save their communities water supply.

By Ahmad Jenkins

My second oldest son, Chad did something that made me so proud of him. He put forth all his intellect along with his fellow classmates to give back to a noble cause they felt strongly about.

Inspiration to learn more: Young scientists in action

The power and influence youth have on the world around them is an awesome thing. Whether it’s in the field of science, religion, social activism, etc. They can if given the right inspiration use those passions to truly make a difference. Chad participated as a member of the ‘Arsenic Arresters’ which consisted of sixth and seventh grade boys along with their Advisor Laura Wilbanks from Texas Tech University and Dr. William Rodgers, an Associate Professor for Agriculture and Natural Sciences from West Texas A&M University. This group of young scientist formed hypothesis around addressing arsenic poisoning in their area’s water supply.  For all the hard work these youngsters put in they won $25,000 after they took the top spot in the Lexus Eco Challenge, a national competition whose entries focus on innovative ways to improve the environment.

Arsenic, according to the World Health Organization, is a toxic metal that is a naturally occurring, and a consequence of pesticide use. Arsenic is a known carcinogen and is the number one environmental chemical of concern for human health in the United States and worldwide.

http://www.theprairienews.com/2014/04/22/grade-schoolers-battle-arsenic-in-water/

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Maximizing Your Potential During Interviews

Stand out

In today’s still competitive job market the interview still remains on of the most stressful aspects of job hunting for the job seeker. Sitting across from the first, and one of the most important people the job seeker will have to make a favorable impression on.

As foreboding as it may seem there are actually several actions that can be put into play to make the interview not so stressful; and in fact something that will more enjoyable, if not informative about the position you are seeking. As a fellow job seeker, I can also attest to how frustrating, if not scary interviews can be at times (especially if it’s for a position you really, really want.)

Four tips to maximizing your potential at Interviews

1. Finding your passion

I guess it would be a bit needless to say, your best bet at growing your potential at any interview would be before the interview, and that by applying and going for job positions your not only qualified for; but also have a passion for.  Of course this requires a bit of reflection apart from sifting through online job boards, or even applying in person. Here are some questions to reflect upon in the search for a career that helps a person fulfill their passion, rather than just find a simple job:

  • What makes me happy?
  • What adjectives would people who know me use to describe me?
  • What are my core values in life?
  • What is my definition of success?
  • What things at work am I good at accomplishing?
  • What things at work do I hate?
  • What do I want to be known for?
  • What would be the description of my “perfect job”?With what kind of people would I be working?
  • How would my work benefit me?
  • How would my work benefit other people?
  • How would my work make me feel?

Take the time out to go to a place where you can find quiet to reflect and honestly answer these questions. Being successful at whatever you chose means taking out the time to find what your truly passionate about, and that passion extends into your work where it will come across clearly not only to you, but also to those you work with.

2. Do as much research as you can on your targeted companies/job openings. 

Once you’ve found that passion, that position that wakes you up every morning, and even keeps you up late (sometimes). Do as much research as you can about the position your going for. What do you as a job seeker bring to the table that allows you to stand out from others. Your research will also help you during the interview where you will face some very tough questioning from the hiring manager, for example one infamous question I’m sure we’ve all had to answer ( and even get briefly stuck on..) is ” Why do you want to work here?” Of course, for many of us the the first answer that springs to mind ( sometimes sarcastically) is, ‘I need a job’. As true as that may be, it actually says nothing about you that helps you to stand out as a good candidate for a position that hundreds of others are applying for.. and they also share your sentiment of needing a job.

Being prepared for a job interview, not only concerning what skills you bring to the position, but also why you are pursuing it will boost your chances of standing out among other job applicants.

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Humble’s Climb

This short story is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “Church Bells”. I wanted to to write a series of short stories to begin to introduce the characters and their background. 

 

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All her training had finally come to this moment, for Humble this would be her most challenging test so far in her training. Since she could remember Humble and her siblings; Tegina, Chad, and Donte have trained in Ninjitsu under the instruction of their father Mr. Mohammed.  Mr. Mohammed was careful to pick tests that were not only challenging and fun for them, but also tested them in something they feared, or saw as an obstacle. Humble’s oldest siblings Tegina and Chad had earlier completed thier first tests. They both passed with flying colors, Tegina’s test was that she had to go on a three-day quest to fulfill a set of tasks known only to her and Mr. Muhammed. She returned exhausted, but had the biggest smile on her face. Chad’s challenge was just as exhausting, it consisted of one of the most extreme obstacle courses the children had ever seen; complete with rotating platforms, a small pond he had to swim, booby traps, and a small make shift fort to infiltrate without rousing the guards (Humble, Tegina, Donte, and Mr. Muhammed).

Humble’s test was no less difficult, and now she stood there staring at one of the most difficult challenges she had ever faced as a young ninja. There wasn’t much Humble feared, what few things she did she kept to herself. This however was different, she had to climb a 12 foot wall. Padded ‘logs’ were set up to swing across the length of the wall designed to knock the unwary climber off. On top of that 2 feet from the top blocks within the wall were set up to extend alternatively, creating platforms that appeared and disappeared. Letting out a breath, Humble adjusted her hijab and mentally prepared herself for the climb.

“Are you ready?” Mr. Muhammed asked. Humble turned to her father, and before she could say anything he gave the signal for her to begin her test that would challenge her and everything she had so far learned. As she began, Humble kept in mind what her father taught her about climbing. “It’s not a race, take your time… every step, hand hold and foot placement has a purpose…”. She was also careful not to look down. Before she knew it she had reached the halfway mark, and could see. A log swung close to her nearly knocking her off, Humble struggled to regain her composure and nearly got knocked off a second time by a second had she not pressed her small lithe body against the wall. Humble stopped short of the extending blocks, ” How am i going to get past these?” She thought briefly. She soon came up with a remedy, she had watched her mother play Super Mario Bros. so many times, and from that she had an awesome idea. She could time the extending blocks and use them as platforms to jump from to the other. ” Why not? It’s worth a try.”

Humble continued to climb until she was close to the first block, and after taking a deep breath launched herself to it, and scrabbling on top. She had mere seconds to jump to the next, and wasted no time in keeping time to keep from tumbling off. Before she realized it Humble was near the top, and pulled herself to the top. Standing up to get a full view of her accomplishment, she almost lost her balance from the dizzying height. At the base of the wall she could see her sister, brothers and father looking up at her. Chad, Tegina, and Donte (her youngest brother) were clapping and cheering for her. This was Humble’s proudest moment. She had conquered something she had been training to achieve for so long, and felt like dancing… of course she didn’t for fear of falling.

 

 

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