Monday, April 23, 2012

Birds and Bees - a flash fiction from "Embarrassing Moments!"

Birds and bees
For the third time I was a father. A lovely daughter was now at the hospital with my wonderfull wife. Every child birth is an amazing experience and as a father, I´ve always recognized my responsibility to teach my children about everything there is to life, even some of the more… well… should we say the more intimite issues. That one conversation about the birds and the bees has never been one I feared, but I´d have to admit, I didn´t think it would be so soon coming.

We were on our way to greet the new baby. On the back seat were my 4 year old son and his little sister, aged 2. They had both been at my in-laws for the duration of the birth and even though they may not have understood everything about pregnancy and giving birth, I am sure they had the notion that something out of the ordinary was taking place. And so the car was steaming with joy and excitement.

Suddenly the cosy nature of our being together in the car was broken by my son, who had most likely been speculation a lot on our way to the hospital.

"Daddy? Where did little sister get out?"

Complete and utter silence filled the car...

"Ehm," I said a little embarrassed, pausing for as long as I could in the hope that he would quickly forget about it again. He didn´t...

"Daddy?" he asked again, "I´m asking you something..."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. I heard you…” My brain was exploding with over time. How on earth could I squeeze my out of that one? "I, ehm, I really have to, ehm, I really have to keep my focus on the road and the cars on it, so…"

There were quite a bit of traffic, so for now he accepted the feeble excuse without much further ado. Still, I had a feeling that I wouldn´t be able to postpone the issue much further.

I was right, because shortly after he was there with his question again… "There are no cars now, daddy… where did my little sister come out?"
"Well… ehm, yeah, ehm… she, ehm, wel.. she came out the usual way, you know..."

I knew very well it wouldn´t do, men somehow I thought to myself that a boy his age really didn´t need all those details...

"Yeah, but where?"
"Well, you know, it´s ehm," I tried to pull time as best I could, "She, ehm, she came out… ehm, underneath, you know..."
"Yeah, but where?"

I was sweating like a pig and the seat was more and more gluing firmly to my shirt and skin, as I was fighting for my life trying to figure out how to get out of this predicament. I mean, what ARE you going to tell a kid only 4 years old about sex and birth and all of that?

I was fighting like crazy to come up with something that could draw out time, so that he would forget about it and think about other things. Things more appropriate for a kid his age, like playing with Lego and that sort of stuff,but there were no help what so ever. Not inside the car, not outside of it. If only I had bought him a teddy bear or a book or something, anything to keep him occupied, but nooo, I had to save money everywhere I could.

I really felt like an idiot. That´s when I saw it, coming to the rescue. It towered up like a protecting castle among all other buildings og behind the hedges you could just see a glimpse og the parking lot. Phew, saved by the bell - well, the building, anyway.

"Right, kids, that´s the hospital," I sighed with relief, "all we need to do now is to find a parking space and then..."
"Then you can tell me!" the boy lit up and interrupted me.

Darn! Once again the light son the first floor in my head were flickering. I can´t believe, how stubborn that boy is! That´s gotta be something he got from his mother´s side of the family. It was more than difficult concentrating on the simple task of getting the car placed in some sort of order within the two white lines. I was glad Linette wasn´t here to witness my struggle with it. She would´ve lavhed her rear end off og and I wouldn´t have heard the end of it. After all I usually tease her about not being able to park the car in the streets.

"Yeah, yeah, take it easy, boy. First we have to figure out the way to where your mum and sister are,” I said with the ferris wheel in my head spinning like crazy.

On the way to the elevator I did what I could to bring to the children´s attention all the magnificents you can experience at a hospital. That is, after all, an important responsibility being a father, that you teach your children about the world? Wheel chairs lined up like taxis in an airport waiting for a new ride, doctors and nurses in white and of course the most amazing and exciting magazine stand you´ve ever seen. But for some strange reason none of it really made any difference. No matter what I did to make concrete pillars, nurse bagdes and flower pots seem like the most interesting things in the world, the boys answer was coming to me like a parrot in a shop. "Yes, dad, but where did my sister come out?"

We found the elevator and I allowed him to push the button. At leas the would have that to keep him busy, even if it was only for a short while. An elderly lady stepped in there with us and pushed for the thirteenth floor. Our destination was the sixteenth. She nodded her head friendly towards the children and me.

"What lovely children you have,” she smiled as the elevator started moving. If she only knew the hell, that kid had been pulling me through, I thought to myself, men of course I didn´t say anything.

"Are they your own?" she suddenly asked, "Well, I probably shouldn´t ask, but these days parents are getting older and older, so when you see such a fine young man with two children, you really never know, do you?"

I suppose she was right. It was a bit unusual having two, no three children at the age of 26 and 28.
"Yes, they are mine. We are on our way to say hello to our new little sister," I responded and hoped in the bottom of my heart, that the pending question of the boy could at least wait till we left the elevator and the lady behind us.

But alas, I was terribly mistaken.
"Dad! " He was almost jumping up and down like a mad man. "Please answer, I want to know!"
I did nothing and decided to pretend I didn´t hear it. One thing was answering such an embarrassing question but answering it in front of strangers was a completely different matter.

As it turned out, it was a bad choice, because now the lady looked at me with an even bigger smile than before.

"So, we are a little impatient, are we? " she said, "Well, I can certainly understand that. It´s not every day you get to greet a new citizen in this world."
I was just about to give her some indifferent, but polite answer, but the boy was much quicker.

"NO! " he yelled, "I want to know now, dad!"

At first, the lady was taken by surprice at this outburst, but then, for reason above my comprehension, she decided to lend me a helping hand. Bending slightly forward towards the boy; as much as she could without falling with cane and handbag and all; she saw him directly in the eyes and asked the one question that would open the gate to everlasting pain and embarrassment.

"Well, my little friend," she said, "What is it you want to know?"

Oh, no! I quietly dreamed my way to the bottom of a wooden box with the lid firmly fastened by nails and with a sign on it saying: ”Caution, live animals” and another sign stating an address in Timbuktu. Instead, I had to wake up right there at the front gate of hell to a question demanding an answer here and now, before things got even more out of hand.

"Alright! Alright!” I almost shouted, ”She got out of mums vagina, then! Are you satisfied now?”

It seemed as if time came to a complete halt and the only sound you could hear was the lady´s mouth morphing from a big open smile to the most sour chicken rump mouth I have ever witnessed.

The girl in my other hand suddenly woke up at the sound of a word she recognized. She let go of my hand, pulled up in her skirt and down went her diper and stockings all the way to her anckles.
"gina," she said while pointing to her ”you-now-what” absolutely thrilled by recognition and smiling at the lady as if she had just won the world championship in some popular sport.

Too much for the elderly lady she decided that she wasn´t getting of at the thirteenth floor anyway. Instead, she jumped off as the elevator stopped at the eleventh floor and the doors opened. With a surprising agility she squeezed herself in between two mentally handicapped men, who were cheering my daughter on clapping their hands and shouting ”hurray” apparently thinking she was very clever.

I kindly asked them if they could wait for the next elevator and luckily they accepted with a smile and a ”have a nice day.” As soon as the doors closed, I pulled up stockings and dipers and downed the skirt.
During all of this my son hadn´t said anything, but even though I didn´t see his face, I was struck by a hurricane of his thoughts ramming into my brain stem about how hopeless his father was. And then it came. Like a fist in my guts almost taking away my breath.

"I know dad!” he said, ”But where? Was it at home or here at the hospital???"

Want to read the rest of the collection? Find it on Amazon US - or - UK

Friday, April 20, 2012

Why is spanking such an issue?

Writing about raising children and specifically when I´ve written about how spanking is not a very good idea (to say the least!) I´ve received a couple of complaints on the topic from people who disagree.

Now, that´s to be expected. We can´t agree on everything and if I wrote about things that no one disagreed on, it would be a rather boring blog, wouldn´t it?

But was has taken me by surprise is the way this topic (spanking) seems to have people agitated and angry in such a way that it brings the topic right up in the 'Debating Minefield' along with religion and politics.

Why is that? I mean, if you look at all the most embarrassing topics of life, say over eating or having a bad breath - or even when it comes to being unemployed, these topics are hot, yes, but they don´t even come close to the rumble and verbal attacks I´ve been experiencing when talking about spanking.

So this is the question I´ve been asking myself these past days - and you know what? I actually think I´ve come up with a likely answer.

When politics and religion are hot topics and bring people to say and do the craziest things, it has something to do with the fact, that they are closer to our hearts than they are to our brains. What I mean by this is that having faith as a Christian, Muslim or what ever religion is yours, connects with our deepest emotions. The questions raised an answered by religion (even if those answers might from time to time seem odd to other people than those who believe) are among the most important ones, because they have to do with our inner selves. They are existential in the philosophical meaning of the word. These Q´s and A´s touch our mind and soul and heart in a way that no other kind of thing in this world.

The same goes for politics. If you think politics has to do with opinions and ideology based on your life philosophy for the average voter, think again! Surveys show very clearly that any statement made by a politician  is interpreted by the general voter as a direct result of who´s statement it is! In other words: if you´re an Obama kind of guy, you will tend to agree more with a statement, if you´ve been told that Obama said it, than if you were told Romney said it...

Religion, politics.... it´s all about basic emotions - and so is spanking!

If you´ve been spanked as a kid, you will have very strong feelings about it, weither you´re pro or con spanking. This means that every time the topic comes up, you speak your heart about it, not your mind...

Do you agree? Post a comment! Disagree? Post a comment!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Want to smack your kids?

When I published the blog post about spanking there was a comment on about how paradigms and views are handed down from one generation to another. In this comment, a guy had had a debate with someone in a coffee shop about spanking. A man participating in the debate was pro spanking and became quite agitated through the discussion. After some time he was so outraged that he got to his feet and almost shouting announced that he had been spanked as a child and that it ‘hasn´t done me any harm!’

The reply to the angry fellow´s claim was just one sentence that stuck in my mind after reading it, because it really sums it up in a clear cut way. It went like this: ‘yeah, it did. It made you want to beat your kids...’

This is very much true! Your parents have put a mark on you, that will always follow you through life and this mark will influence what you do. This is not to say that if you were spanked as a kid, it´s inevitable that you spank yours. Not at all! The cycle can be broken, if you want to break it. I know, because I´ve been spanked as a kid myself and for many years I said just about the same thing as the before mentioned angry man.

What I learned by being spanked was that if there is something you want and you can´t get it by explaining why you need it and make a good argument for obtaining it, there´s always the last resort of dealing out some punches.

Not a very flattering thought, I know. Fortunately, I´ve never beat up my children and I feel confident, it´ll never happen. But I must admit to myself, that the urge to hit them, when they really misbehave, is there! I do feel that urge and the worst thing I can do is to deny it. Denying it would do me no good at all. Denying that this urge exist in me would only build it up inside of me and who knows, what would happen then?

So, however deflating this is to the positive image you may have of me, I admit it freely: I sometimes feel the urge to fling out a hand on my children! And you know what? If you have that urge yourself, try admitting it. It is one of the most relieving feelings to admit all the bad things going on inside of you. And even more importantly, admitting it to yourself is the first step to fighting that urge.

And one more thing I want you to understand is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you, if you have this urge! It´s perfectly natural. In fact, all the people on this planet have thoughts about hurting someone. 

It´s been said, that most people have even thought of killing someone, though there is no way of knowing if this is true or not. What *is* true, however, is that the one thing separating perpetrators from other people is not their urges and thoughts. It´s how they respond to them. Keep this in mind every time you might feel guilty having the urge to hit someone: there is nothing wrong with having the urge and thinking about it. In fact, you have to admit the feeling to do something about it. And do something about is mandatory when dealing with people.

So, instead of soaking yourself in self loathing, be brave and fight that urge! It can be done! The cycle can be broken! But it is you who must break it. No one else can do it for you!

Let´s sum it up:

#1: The children raising methods are handed down generation by generation and if the methods you were raised by are bad, you need to break the cycle

#2: To break the cycle, you have to be honest with yourself and acknowledge the urge inside you

#3: Feeling bad about the urge to hit your kids doesn´t do anyone any good. Don´t soak yourself in self pity, but fight the urge you´ve already acknowledged

#4: Very important! THE CYCLE CAN BE BROKEN! You can brake it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Read me a story, dad!

- how you can improve your children´s skills and have a good time while doing it...

One of the most important things when raising children is having a relationship with them. Many parents, especially fathers, aren´t connecting with their kids enough. For many years I had this problem and in some ways I still do. The funny thing is that being a parent, there should be every reason to find connecting with your children an easy task. Opposed to many other relationships, we always have at least one thing in common with our kids: we have been children ourselves. Still it seems like quite the task to remember being a kid.

But here´s a tip: read your children a story. A story is a good way to connect with your children and frankly, it doesn´t take that much of an effort. All you have to do is find a good story and set aside the time to read it. I promise you, that you will connect with your children this way. A story has the potential of becoming alive when you read it out loud and by doing this, you and your children have something together. Reading a story is a journey for the both of you and it doesn´t even matter, if you´ve read the story yourself before or not. If you´ve read it before, you are most likely to discover new things in the story and if you choose a story you´ve read before, chances are, you chose this particular one, because you liked it when you were a kid. And if so, chances are that your kid will love it every bit as much as you do.

If you choose a story neither of you have read before, reading it becomes a new venture for you and your children. You experience it together and you connect with each other because this story is yours in the journey you take together.

And you know what? In this day and age, finding a story has never been easier! Go to Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, iBooks or any other major retailer and buy an eBook. They are cheap and you can get the book within less than 10 minutes!

So, what´s to stop you? Lack of time? Take the time! Don´t know what to read? Anything you like or think you like! (My fairy tale ‘The Knight in Shouting’ fits well with girls who like Princesses and it´s good for building self esteem, but there are many other stories as well, if you think it´s a bit too commercial of me to suggest it)

Oh, one more thing: reading with your kids the most important advantage is connecting with them and building a relationship, but there is a neat side effect as well: reading with your kids stimulates their language and  literary skills! And downsides? There are none!

Remember this: reading a story doesn´t take much time and it´s an investment you will never regret making!

Your turn! - Share your experiences with reading stories or ask questions...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Time for a time out?

- when ‘time out’ works - and when it doesn´t

For some time I´ve been blogging about raising children. I´ve posted about spanking and about the basic principle of using force as a tool for getting the attention of your kids. Now, I want to present a way to use force, that really does work - and not, if you do it wrong. The main reason I wanted to share these thoughts is this: if spanking is not the way, we need something to replace it with. Something that works and something that does minimal harm to our children. Because let´s face the fact: any kind of using force is in some way harmful. The only reason we must use force, is that the alternative is more harmful than refrain from using force.

But before I begin, I need to address some ‘complaints’ I´ve received. Now, don´t worry, the complaints aren´t that bad. In fact, those who have complained have done so to help me improve my posts and I receive them in that fashion; feedback is my chance to better myself, weither the feedback is positive or negative.

One of the things mentioned to me is that my posts are long. Agreed, they are long. Perhaps I just have too much on my mind. I feel it would be wrong of me to just shorten the posts, because if I do, I may miss some important points. Still, I do want my readers to stick with it, so here is my solution: for the future my longer posts will be broken into to smaller pieces and then you can read as much (or as little) as you want. I hope this would do the trick?

Time out - the benefits
And now back to the topic of this post. Most modern day parents have heard about the use of ‘time out’ and it is widely used. There are some very good reasons why:

First of all, the ‘time out’ has a built-in strength most other ways of raising kids doesn´t: it has infinity! This is brilliant! By infinity I simply mean, that no matter (well, almost...) when, where and for what reason you give your kids a time out, the timer can be reset. If the kid has had a 2 minute time out and still doesn´t want to listen, you can give the kid an additional minute and keep expanding the time out till it works. The advantage of this built-in feature is a combination of at least three things:

#a: However the duration of the time out, it can always get worse: you can prolong it.

#b: There is always a way out: your child can decide to end the time out within a short period of time: by listening to you.

#c: The relation between parent and child is intact, provided you keep in touch with your kid during the time out.

Time out - when it´s not helpful
I´ll get deeper into these three advantages in another post, but right now I want to address an important issue: time out does not always work, because there is one thing you need to have when using a time out. One thing you cannot do without: Time!

In some situations we do not have the time for a time out. It can be that the whole family is on its way out or it can be that we are at a family gathering where there is no time, if we want to be good guests (and we do, don´t we?) or it could be that it´s around bed time and if we use a time out now, it´s almost as much a reward as it is a punishment.

If this is the case: there is no time or it´s a bad time; then we must understand that using the time out can be devastating. As a parent, I must win all battles! If I lose a battle I have to start all over again, because the kid has learned, that sometimes you budge, even though you said you wouldn’t.

But if a time out is fitting, it can be a very powerful tool for raising children. The important thing is to keep in touch with your children when using this tool. You can´t leave your kids in a time out and not speak to them for a long duration. You must stay in contact and keep the back door open.

And now the summing up:

#1: Time out is a brilliant tool for raising children. It has a built-in feature of infinity that gives you three advantages as described above

#2: Using a time out you need to stay in touch with your kid to keep the back door open, so that the kid can escape the punishment by listening to you

#3: Because a parent must win all battles, it is imperative to only use time outs, when there is time for it and when the timing and situation calls for it

Your turn - share your experiences - ask questions...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dictator or Father?

- raising kids is a discipline in itself

In my latest post about raising children, I was talking about the strange notion some people have that violence is not only a way to raise kids, but that it is needed to maintain discipline and respect. I was (I hope) very clear on this point: spanking is violence! Violence is a no-go!

Today I want to present an alternative to spanking. Or rather, I want to present an idea of what disciplining your kids really means. Remember, spanking is a no-go AND - very important! - IT DOESN´WORK! All you will achieve by spanking your kids is alienating them and making it impossible for you to help them in their adult life.

If you spank your kids, you won´t be able to share your wisdom and experience with them, neither when they are kids, nor when they are all grown up; because the day they leave your house to go live for themselves is the day your influence is declared null and void!

So, what to do, if violence doesn´t work? Do we not need some kind of power as parents? Some kind of leverage to get our kids to do right?

Force is a tool for change, not learning
Well, yes... - and no! - The basic mistake is this: the use of power is not - and I repeat: NOT IN ANY WAY - a tool for teaching your children anything. And I really mean *anything* - the use of power is a tool to get their attention, nothing more, nothing less. That makes power the last tool to grab from your parenting tool box, not the first or even the 10th.

I also need to emphasize that mentioning 'the use of force,' I´m not just talking about spanking. I´m talking about every and all uses of force, that is: any kind of action, where you as a parent use your power to make your kid do (or not do) what he/she doesn´t want to (or want to) do!!!

I just stated that the use of force doesn´t teach your children anything in itself. The reason is quite simple. No person in this world can truly learn anything important, if it is not learnt by heart. That is: true learning is not something going on in your brain. It´s not knowledge alone, it has to be combined with what you might call wisdom. It´s not a coincidence we use the term 'learning by heart' because really learning is about taking the knowledge in and implementing it in your life - willingly!

Let me give you an example from the adult world:

When ‘the coalition of the willing’ invaded Iraq, some of the most hard core politicians genuinely thought they could force Iraq into modern day democracy. Did they succeed? I think not... But! - what really *was* a success was the fact that a democracy was born from the ruins.

Not a democracy like we know it in the western world, but this is where we should remember that our democracies weren´t exactly free democracies in their childhood either. For instance, it wasn´t till the 20th century women were eligible for governing organs and neither did they have the right to vote in most western democracies before 1930 (in fact, the final canton in Switzerland to give women the right to vote didn´t till 1984!)

Iraq began its journey toward democracy following the invasion, but the Iraqi people have to find out the rest for themselves...

The same goes for children. You cannot force upon them the complete understanding you have gained from experience. They need to figure it out for themselves. But what you *can* do is force them to stop for a moment and think. And when they stop to think, they just might come to the conclusion that it is better to start listening to you.

Here there is something very, very important to understand about the use of force: you have to let go of that tool as soon as you see them stop and think. If you don´t, you shift the focus for learning from 'learning best way' to 'learning how to make mum and dad happy.' 

I probably don´t have to say this, but I´ll do anyway: This is just as useful in the discipline of raising kids as Burgers and fries as the main meal is good for your health.

The use of force is ONLY to be used as a wakeup call, nothing more. If you continue the use of force after they start to listen, you will force the child to replace their own thinking with an escape plan: ‘how can I get mum and dad to like me again?’ And this is never good.

Instead, as soon as you see the child stopping to think, let go of the power. Give the kid a chance to make up his/her mind and figure out that the best course of action right now is to listen.

Fear the right thing
My second point is about fear. Having a basic understanding that children are human beings with less experience and equally valuable to any adult, the intuitive understanding of fear is that if the kid experiences fear, it can never be a good thing... However, it´s a bit more complicated than that.

All human being experience fear and in modern society fear is one of the most common barriers for success. Fear can make us hide when we need to stand tall and fear makes us bend to other people´s will, when we need to make up our own minds. For those reasons (and many more) the popular understand is that fear is, per definition, ‘bad’ - but really that´s not the case. Fear is neither bad nor good. It´s how we react to our fears that determines good or bad.

My father-in-law was a farmer and the first time I entered the stable I had somewhat of a chock. The sight of 50+ milking cows´ rear end lined up on each side of me made me freeze right there on the spot. This was new to me and I was struck with fear, because I didn´t know how to handle these animals. Fear made me cautious; a good thing. My response to this fear was to observe, how my father-in-law handled the cows and little by little, I learned how to handle them as well.

I feared the cows and looked to my father-in-law to learn how to handle them and this is exactly what your children need to do in their lives: they need to understand that listening to you and observing how you do things can benefit them.

In other words: if your kids fear you, it´s a bad thing - but if your kids fear not listening to you, it´s a good thing!

Let´s sum up this post:

#1 - Force is a tool for change - As a parent, if you want your children to learn from you, power is to be used with caution. You cannot force your experience upon them and if you try, they won´t gain any wisdom. They will only become experts in making mum and dad happy. And even more importantly (though this is not very clear in the above due to my wish to economize writing space) if you try to force your experience on them, their focus will be on weither mum and dad loves me or not as opposed to mum and dad knowing best.

#2 - Fear the right thing - The use of power is a tool for getting the attention of your kids, but it´s important to let go of that tools as soon as you reach that goal - if you don´t, your kids will fear *you* instead of fearing their surroundings and look to you for help and wisdom. However, using force in the above mentioned way, you can get their attention and as they experience over and over again, what happens if they don´t listen to you, they will learn that one important lesson: listen to mum and dad, because they have been around for some time and most of the times, they have a few things to teach me.

For a tool using these principles, see this

Now, it´s your turn.  Do you have experience you want to share?

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to spank your wife

- tough love well practiced

Does the title of this post sound awkward to you? Perhaps it even makes you a bit angry? If it does, you´ve already gotten half the point, I want to make in this post. So - lean back in your chair, grab a cup of coffee or whatever beverage you prefer while reading important stuff (if you don´t want to get up yourself and get it, your wife is there for the same reason, isn´t she? - or not...)

Every once in a while, the question of how to discipline your children comes up in public debate and one of the most stunning (at least to me) claims is that if you won´t spank your kids, you´re actually doing them wrong. The argument by promoters of this statement is that without spanking, there´s no discipline. People insisting this to be true, thus see spanking and disciplining children as two sides of the same coin.

I strongly disagree!

To make my point, I´ve used the above title for this post as a imaginary pair of glasses giving a broader perspective. Imagine if someone, in all seriousness, claimed the same argument for marriage - or any other relationship for that matter: that the only way a man can ‘get some respect around here’ is to have a loose wrist and a trigger happy fist.

So, if the wife won´t get you a beer, slap her in the face; If your friend doesn´t want to lend you a hand with something, punch him on the nose; And if your children misbehave, grab one of them by the legs and use the kid as a baseball bat to slap his brothers and sisters around the house - yieehaa! A home run!

Doesn´t sound all that sound now, does it? But for some strange reason, many parents still believe that spanking your child is good for them. It will grant you the respect you deserve and need to discipline them well.

I hate to be the one to point this out (well, not really!) but if there´s one fact of life when it comes to friendship, love and relationships, be that between equals or between people whose distribution of power is unequal, it is this:

Respect comes and goes according to how it is dealt out!

So, if you believe your kids to have respect for you as a result of spanking them, you´re deluding yourself: you are confusing respect for fear - or said more to the point: Your kids do not respect someone, who slaps them around, they fear them! Exactly in the same way as your wife or your friends will fear you for violent behavior...

If you are sitting there, thinking that 'this guy has no clue' maybe you should read my post on Parental Blessings, where I tell about what our children did for my wife and me a couple of days ago. There you will see, that perhaps our methods of raising kids is not all that bad!

Now that we have that one parked, let´s look at what raising your children really means:

First and foremost, raising your children means exactly that. Raising means to lift up, that is: encourage, bringing up the best in them, praising them, enforcing their self esteem and building their self understanding and sense of themselves. In the past, raising children for most parents meant to indoctrinate, more or less, so that they would do what was expected of them, instead of making up their own minds. This only result in adults who cannot make their own decisions, but rely on others to decide for them. Is this what you want of your kids?

Secondly, disciplining is not about brute force. Many parents treat their children as animals to be trained. This view is thinking of children as entities becoming human as they grow up, instead of human beings with less experience. This way of thinking is directly derived from the above statement about the main base of raising children. If you have the first view, you will grant your children favors and rights when they do what you want them to and take these grants away when they do the things you don´t want them to do. While this may sound appealing, the problem is that using this principle, your kids will never learn what is right and wrong, but only what makes mom and dad happy or angry. Is this really what you want?

As a parent, you will need the latter view. Kids aren´t animals needing to learn which behavior they earn goodies by and which behavior makes daddy angry and hit you.

Instead, what they need is to learn from your experience. In the coming days, I will elaborate on how to use discipline in raising children. For now, I just want to point out one final thing:

Thirdly, raising children and disciplining them are two different things! Disciplining are the means you use to get your child’s attention, that is: to use leverage as an adult and a parent ‘opening a door’ to connect with your children, so that you can raise them. Raising, however, is your goal. Raising is what you want; disciplining is one among many tools to achieve that goal.

So, to sum up this post:

As a parent, I want to raise my children in a manner that will better their chances of success in life. This is my goal: success for my children!

Having this goal, I must understand that my children are first and foremost human beings and as such they are every bit as valuable as I, their father. Spanking my children does not comply with this view. If I wouldn´t spank my wife or beat up my friends to get them to obey me, I wouldn´t spank my children for the same reason, unless I view them as lesser beings. I don´t. I view them as equals in terms of value and being human. And therefore I won´t spank them, because it goes against one of my basic values: that children are as valuable as I am.

To achieve my goal: succes for my children, I use various tools in raising them. Disciplining them is one of these tools, but it´s neither the only tool, nor is it the most important one.

And finally, using brute force in disciplining will not achieve the goal: success for my children. It´ll only teach my children to obey me, but they will never learn the benefits of listening to my wisdom, so when they grow up and start a life of their own, my influence is null and void! As soon as I see them leaving their childhood home, I can only help them succeed, if I´ve chosen a better way than brute force.

More about this subject here

Now, it´s your turn.  Do you have experience you want to share?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Parental blessings

Today´s post is very different from any other, I´ve posted before, but I just think this is too good to not share with you:

I am so PROUD, PROUD, PROUD! Of my children!

As a father of four kids, I sometimes wonder, if I´m doing an okay job raising them. If you´re a parent, you will most likely recognize this feeling of being inadequate forever hanging over your head. Constantly worrying if you´re too hard on your kids or not hard enough, too commanding or too listening, treating them all equally enough without treating them so much alike, that you really haven´t dealt with them according to their personalities.

I suppose this is the case with a variety of things. In a business you have to always be on your toes to keep up with the market and changing strategies whenever necassary, but there is one huge difference between business and raising children (there are more, of course, but try following me here to catch my point) and this difference is that the reward from your investment is long due. Very, very long due! That´s why parent´s worry so much, I think... You have no clue as to weither you´re doing things the right way, because you haven´t reaped what you´ve sowed yet.

But yesterday was a real page turner for me and for my wife. We sometimes have these 'page turner' experiences, but this one was very special indeed. Here´s what happened:

It had been a long day (good day, but long) with my side of the family visiting for a three-kids-birthday (three of my children are born within the same week - two years apart, but in the same week) and we were tidying up. My wife and I had gone for 10 minutes to bring back some chairs, we´d borrowed and came back, tired and weary from a full day. All I wanted was to relax and do absolutely nothing!

But when we came in after bringing back the chairs, the three youngest (a boy at 7 yrs. and two girls at 8 and 11yrs.) had prepared a meal for the both of us. They´d set the table in our living room with flowers and candles and three bottles of various spirits (although a Bailey, a schnapps and a liqueur wine is not the most common drinks for a good meal, their intentions were impeccable) and they´d even taken the time to fold some napkins.

There they stood on a row with a towel over their wrists waiting to serve us as proper servants and my immidiate thought was 'oh, no, I cant cope! no more, please!' but nevertheless I decided to go with it. After all, who could bring themselves to reject such a declaration of love?

We sat down and had a marvellous time and the children had decided to eat in the kitchen to give us some couple time! How amazing is that??

I was SO PROUD! (My wife says I had tears in my eyes, when I praised them, but I´m sure I just had something in my eye... or something...)

I wish I´d had a camera, but then again, some things are just not meant for picture shooting, but are to be savoured in our hearts and taken up in our memory to look at when thinking of all the good times, aren´t they?

Right now I´m full of joy and love in my heart and I wish you all a fantastic day!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Husband´s Shopping Survival Guide

These past few weeks I´ve been writing about Norse Mythology, so this post is mostly a break feature to loosen up a bit.

The subject of the post was practically thrown in my face, when I was presented with an article from one of my firends on FaceBook. 

Instead of reporting its content, here is the article as it was presented to me:

This is the link to the share on FaceBook:

The article doesn´t go in to the reasons why this poor fellow decided to do these things, but I have an idea - and I would be very surprised, if not at least some of you guys out there have an idea as well. What IS it with women and their dying desire to buy all these things, they really don´t need and use their husbands as mules stacking up packages and bags and depriving them of their outlook only to be left to the guidance of their wives, who abviously have both hands free to browse for clothes and shoes and of course, to punch the key code for their credit cards?

At least this guy has retaken the fun of shopping the male way and we should do more than just applaud him for his efforts. That´s why I´ve decided to write a 'Husband´s Shopping Survival Guide' and I´m inviting you to participate. Weither you are a man or a woman doesn´t matter, as long as you provide me with more ideas on how to pass time when shopping with the wife or girlfriend.

Let´s see how well we can all prepare husbands all over the world for a shopping spree with great fun! Comment below with your ideas and I´ll put it all together in an eBook and publish it. When I´m done and published the thing, I´ll provide you all with a coupon code for Smashwords to get it for free.

So, without further ado, let´s get started. I will expand the list with three ideas and then I´ll be looking forward to your brilliant ideas. Only one rule: all ideas must be harmless! Let´s go:

#8. Play hide and seek with the kids
#9. Switch peoples shopping carts around when they´re not looking
#10. Wear a dress from the ladies departement and take a stroll round the whole mall with it Right! You turn!

Comment beneath to participate:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Places and realms in Norse Mythology

"Asgard Saga" is a series of books telling the stories of Norse Mythology. The first part has already been released and is available at and Amazon (and more will follow soon.) In it, you will meet various characters, all derived from the tales, Vikings have told about Aseir, Yetten, Vanes and a whole bunch of strange creatures. You will meet Thor, Odin, Freya, Mimer, Loke and elves, humans and giants.

Norse Mythology is rather complicated in the way these entities interact with each other and as to whom is blood related.

This post is meant as background material, or a guide if you will, giving you a better understanding of Norse Mythology, its characters and its view of the world. You will be provided with explanations: where do we find these myths? how do the different creatures relate to each other? what is the context in which the stories originated?

As I move forward with the writing of the Saga, I will post more, so that you will be able to get a basic understanding of it all.

First, let´s have a look at how the world is percieved according to Norse Mythology:

Places and realms

Illustration of Niflheim shamelessly stolen from
Niflheim: A realm far north, where the Ice Dragon Nidhug sleeps. "Nidhug" can be directly translated to "Eager to strike" or "Will bite" - Niflheim probably means "home of the cold," which is rather fitting, as this realm is cold and dark.

Muspelheim: Opposite of Niflheim in every respect, Muspelheim is guarded by a create by the name of Surt. "Surt" directly translated means "Sour" and is probably referring to the soil being of such a nature, that nothing can grow there. I have yet to figure out, what Muspelheim really means, so the only thing, I can reveal at this point is that the ending "heim" means home - as in home of. But I suppose you already figured that out.

Obviously Ginnungagab cannot be illustrated,
but this illustrates the creational myth
Ginnungagab: The space between Muspelheim and Niflheim. Ginnungagab can be translated to something like "the gap of nothing," which is exactly what it is: A whole lot of nothing. As the cold from Niflheim meets with the heat from Muspelheim in Ginnungagab, the first creatures of the world emerges.

Midgard: After creating humans, Odin and his brothers, Vile and Ve, built a fence to protect the humans from the Yetten and this area is called Midgard, which simply means "Place in the middle."

One of Loke´s children is the Midgard Serpent, which surround Midgard waiting for Ragnarok to begin. Then it´ll have an important role to play, before the world is doomed and re-created

Utgard: Everything outside Midgard is Utgard, which means "Place Outside."

Another shamelessly stolen illustration,
this one is from marvel,
Asgard: The home of the Aseir. They built it right after building the fence around Midgard. Asgard is placed over Midgard and thus represents Norse Mythology´s equivalent to Greek Mythology´s Olympia.

Vanaheim: Home of the Vanes. Only the name of the place can be derived from the early texts of Norse Mythology

Jotunheim: Another word for Utgard - or perhaps a specific place in Utgard, where the Yetten live.

Bifrost: The bridge connecting Midgard to Asgard. It is guarded by Heimdal, whose ears are so sensitive that he can hear the sound of grass growing. He lives in his house at the top of Sky Mountain.

An interesting detail is that while Bifrost is often depicted as a rainbow, like this illustration here, scholars today believe this is a misconception of the modern world. Instead they believe Bifrost to be the mythical object trying to explain - not the rainbow - but to explain the Milky Way.

Was this guide helpful?
Anything you´d like to add?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Asgard Saga - Odin the Creator released!

The most amazing thing just happened. I finished the first part of Asgard Saga much earlier than I expected and it is already available at

It is priced at $2.99 
     - "Hey! Didn´t you promise it would be only $0.99?"

Yes, I did, and I will keep my promise, of course. That´s why I generated a coupon for it to be used at only. Go to the book´s page at  and punch in this code before going to payment: DT64W

That´s it! You´re set to read! Enjoy!

Norse myth narrative

Writing the Asgard Saga is no less than a real treat to me. Not only do I love the stories, but working with them in a more modern narrative form is very rewarding. These stories have been handed down from generation to generation and were not written down before some time in the early 13th century after the chance from Heathen religion to Christianity. This brings a challenge differing from, say the Christian or Jewish texts.

The Jewish tradition is different from the Viking tradition, because the storytelling of the latter wasn´t a "to-the-letter" handing down. The base line was more important than telling the stories exactly in the same way, whereas the Jewish tradition demanded the handing down of myth and stories to be told word for word. This means that the stories from the Bible are very accurate. They are told in the original languages almost exactly as they were told 500, 1000 or even 5000 years ago.

The Norse myths aren´t this accurate and in time some of the stories have changed some of their meaning. For instance, there is some doubt as to weither Odin and Frey were married or not.

The most important thing, however, is that I want to make as good a balance as possible between telling the stories in such a way that the characters come alive, but still honors the original stories. This is a difficult task, mostly due to the narrative tradition of Norse Mythology, where the characters are flat, meaning that they lean towards action rather than the characters´ mindsets and characteristics behind the action.

This is their strength, but it also makes it difficult to describe who these characters really are. For instance, the stories do not reveal Odin as having a devious mind, but his actions are either devious or he is not aware of the results of his actions. Of course, the stories tell little by little that he IS devious, but you have to read quite a few of the myths to catch that.

That´s why I really enjoy writing my interpretation of these myths. It´s a challenge to bring the stories to life and give my readers a good reading experience without being unfaithful to the messages of the myths.

I am very much looking forward to getting feedback from all you people out there, just waiting for the first volume to come out and as a treat, I want to share with you the cover for the book. It´s not entirely finished yet and it may look somewhat different when I publish, but this is what I´ve got so far:

I hope, you´ve enjoyed reading my blog posts on the Norse Mythology and I can assure you, that I´m not even close to being finished with it yet. There will be more to come.

Do you like the cover?
Feel free to comment, even if you really, really hate the cover!