Growing Up Social: Family Friendly Book Review

As my regular readers of Family Friendly Daddy Blog already know, my family is building a house; closing date in January 29th, 2015.

In the process of planning out the rooms, my wife and I have decided that while we will have a TV in the bonus room, we won’t have one downstairs in the living room; or any other room.

That means in order to watch TV, you actually have to walk upstairs and isolate yourself. Therefore, the temptation is greatly reduced to walk in the door and veg out without spending quality time with other family members.

I believe it’s “little” decisions like that which contribute to health family communication and relationships.

Growing Up Social: Family Friendly Book Review

A few weeks ago while reviewing a car here for Family Friendly Daddy Blog, I was sent an iPad and an iPhone to use in conjunction with the vehicle’s 4G LTE capabilities.

I should point out that I’m of the American minority; we have no smart phones in our household. My wife and I both have “dumb” phones instead.

The main reason is because we’re not willing to pay for a data plan. We are on a family plan with my parents and pay a monthly total of only $30 per month. Again, that’s total; not per person.

But even if it cost us no extra money per month to own smart phones, I still wouldn’t be excited.

Here’s why:

I fully recognized that my family’s life is hurried enough. My wife and I both work; our son is in school all day. The commute time in Nashville is longer than the average large city.

We don’t need more interruptions or distractions in our lives. I feel that if we owned smart phones, it would only add to the anxiety.

Sure, I get the irony in the fact that I run this blog from a cheap ASUS laptop and a dumb phone. I was the official daddy blogger for Parents Magazine for 3 years and never once touched a smart phone.

Of all people, I should own a smart phone… or at least want one. But I don’t.

I won’t deny the fact that having a smart phone for that week made certain things more convenient. However, I found myself getting frustrated that I couldn’t use manage my blog with the same ease as a laptop.

Plus, I don’t like knowing that I can check my email or Facebook at any time. I’d rather just “shut it off” during the day.

Growing Up Social

With that being said, you could imagine I would easily like this book…Growing Up Social, by Gary Chapman (The 5 Love Languages) and Arelene Pellicane (31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife).

The book causes you to ask yourself, “Is technology bringing your family closer together or driving you farther apart?”

Growing Up Social teaches the five skills that every healthy child needs to master: affection, appreciation, anger management, apology, and attention:

The Skill of Affection – How do you show real love to another person?

The Skill of Appreciation – How do you cultivate a grateful heart?

The Skill of Attention – How do you focus and be a good listener?

The Skill of Anger Management – How do you express anger in a productive way?

The Skill of Apology – How do you mend a relationship after you make a mistake?

The focus is raising relational kids in a screen-driving world. So relevant!

And one lucky reader will win a free copy of this book today…

Just be the first person to post on the Facebook wall for Family Friendly Daddy Blog (not a private message), asking me, “Did I just win Growing Up Social?”

If you’re the first person to do so, I will respond by saying yes… After that, I will follow up by getting your address to give to the publisher so they can send you your won copy!

Update: A winner was found within just a few minutes of this post going live. The giveaway portion is now complete.

Did I just win Growing up social????

Thanks for reading today! And remember, I’ll be giving more books away; so stay tuned…

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: ‘Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising’):

Many thanks to Propellor Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Major Nerds and Super Geeks: We Become Specialists in What We are Naturally Good At and Love to Do Anyway

In order to be cool these days, you have to embrace your inner dork.

By a college student’s junior year at a large university, there is no denying what he or she is majoring in.  Because by that point, there are certain undeniable quirks which have been weaved into the way they speak, how they spend their free time, or most importantly, who their friends are.  So when I chose the term “Major Nerds” as part of the title for this, it’s a play on words with a dual meaning like the classic TV show “Family Matters”.  It seemed to me that while in I was in college, a student became a nerd or a geek for whatever their college major was.

For me, the easiest ones to spot were the drama majors.  When a drama major walked into a room, they basically sang everything they said.  Their private conversations were never private; instead, everyone else in the room was an audience member for their traveling play production.  Of course they were also some of the most sincere and friendliest I knew in college.  Or were they just acting?  I guess I’ll never know.

I earned my degree from Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world.  So it’s no surprise that in addition to every typical degree you could think of, they had a few peculiar options as well.  In particular, I’m thinking about the Worship majors.  These were the students planning a career in leading worship music at large churches… I guess.  Because every time you saw them, they were carrying a guitar playing “Shout to the Lord”, somewhat successfully drawing in a crowd of people singing along.

And if they weren’t doing that, they were inviting people to their “Night of Praise”: As part of their graduation requirements, the Worship majors had to entice an audience to come to a worship service in which the Worship major ran the thing.  For me, it was the most random thing someone could major in at our college.  I just couldn’t understand why a person would be willing to limit or brand themselves with such a specific degree.

What if after a few years of leading worship at a church, they decide they’d rather work in a bank?  And during the job interview, the employer says to them, “So, I see you have a college degree in… worship?”  And too, it’s just a weird concept to me that a person has to learn to worship God or lead others in worshipping God.  It makes sense, but also, like I told my friend James Campbell, whom I recently lost contact with because he evidently “quit” facebook: “Is that really something that you have to be taught?  Isn’t that comparable to having to take a class on ‘how to make love’?”

Then again, I’m not the one who feels I was called by God to work in the ministry.  So of course I can’t relate.  As for me, as if it wasn’t blatantly obvious, I was an English major.  To caricature us, I would say we were a strange hybrid: Decently liberal and very artistic on the inside, yet pretty conservative and sophisticated on the outside.  In other words, baby Literature professors in training.

Our heads were in the clouds, yet our feet were on the ground.  We were trained to dissect and diagram every situation into literary components; we were the Grammar Police to our dorm mates (see I am the Human Spell Check).  We were the only students who actually enjoyed writing papers.  In fact, I didn’t start out as an English major- I became one my junior year when I realized that if I enjoyed writing term papers, and all my friends came to me to proofread theirs, that maybe I should stop looking at some big dream of a career and just to what came easy to begin with.

And though those last two paragraphs about English majors were written in past tense, I can’t say that any of those characteristics about me have changed, simply because I graduated.  In fact, they’ve only increased in intensity.  In my office, I’m still the guy people come to when they need a letter written or an important e-mail proofread.  Obviously, I still enjoy writing- you know, hence the website and everything.

And really, that’s the way it works.  Most people end up majoring in whatever comes most natural for them anyway, for however they are wired.  Is it true that Finance and Accounting majors love working with numbers?  Sure, but it also comes easier for them then it would for me.  We all still like being challenged in our particular field.  When we can succeed in the difficult tasks of our specialty, it furthers us in becoming a locally recognized expert, equipped with knowledge and experience that impresses and possibly intimidates those who in different fields than we are.

I can tell you why the “k” in knife is silent and I can spell any word correctly without thinking about it, but I can’t do numbers.  I can’t do science.  Nor am I a computer whiz.  There are so many things I’m not good at and that I know little to nothing about.  But when it comes to the English language, literature, creative writing, and any kind of written communication in general, I’m your guy.  In other words, I was an English major nerd.  And always will be.

I use the word “nerd”, but I could say “expert”, or “go-to-guy”, or “whiz”, or even “buff”.  It’s all the same.  We all like to be good at something.  And when we can, we like to THE person for our niche.  Which often means we all have a bit of quirkiness attached to us.  Everyone’s at least a little weird.   Even the people we think who are the most normal.

What Not to Say If You Want People to Like You 101

Exploring the unspoken rules of conversation.


As an avid fan of clear communication and healthy human relationships, I have made myself overaware of the common courtesies of speaking in North American culture.  The problem with being so sensitive to the unwritten rules is that it can be much easier to become annoyed when other people break these rules.  Yet still, these rules exist.  Until now, they have remained invisible- but it’s time for a review of what we already know and hopefully live by.

Knowing when not to talk to a person. It’s not so much a “not before I’ve had my coffee” situation, as it is that many people (even if they are indeed “morning people”) do not enjoy engaging in conversation for the first hour of the day- especially if it involves hearing petty stories involving pet problems or car trouble.  Also, if a person seems quiet like they may be upset or stressed, do not say “Well, what’s wrong with you?!”  Instead, politely ask them if they want to talk about it.  If they say no, then say, “I’m here if you need me” and don’t talk to them until they talk to you.

Knowing what not to say. Refrain from pointing out obvious cosmetic flaws: recent weight gain (this includes pregnancy), hair loss, acne, scars.  The person may not ever forget your comment if it involves any topic like those.  They may never refer to you as a “nice person” again after that- but instead, you’ll be forever engrained on their “rude” list.

Knowing how to have an opinion yet not preach.  Many people are into healthy lifestyles these days, being much more aware of organic eating.  When asked by someone about your own lifestyle choices, simply answer their questions.  Only continue the conversation from there if they sincerely show interest.  Do not debate with them or become their “food judge” by saying, “Wow, you’re actually gonna eat all those carbs?” as they walk by with a big bowl of spaghetti.

Knowing how to be positive. No one likes a whiner.  While the poor economy and the Gulf Oil Spill Crisis are common knowledge and therefore make easy topics, avoid initiating a conversation about them.  Look for ways to “make a person’s day” by what you say instead of simply adding to the noise.  You’ll stand out, in a good way.  Needless to say, for more reasons that one, please never get caught saying, “I got a case of the Mondays!”

Knowing how to actually compliment someone. Make sure a compliment is truly a compliment.  If there is a casual criticism thrown in there, it voids out the positive vibes.  Like this: “I really like that purple shirt you’re wearing, even if it makes your skin look a little pale.”  Not cool.

These starters are only the tip of the iceberg.  But they are real reasons why some people are “good with people” and others aren’t.  Either way, good communication is a learned skill- it’s just that some people are more observant than others.

Leaving a Voicemail Vs. Text Messaging

It’s never been easier to communicate with people on the phone,  but it’s still as complicated as it’s always been when the person doesn’t pick up the phone.  Though it really doesn’t have to be…

Something I’m pretty horrible at is listening to and erasing voicemails.  At work, about once every week I get a message from Nick Burns, my company’s computer guy, saying I need to erase my messages- the average of my unlistened to and unerased messages is typically around 88.  And currently on my personal cell phone there are about four voicemails waiting to be listened to and erased.  I just don’t know when I’ll get around to it.  It’s homework.

Maybe I can blame it on my generation; I’m stuck in the middle of two of them.  I was born in April of 1981, the final year for Generation X (1961-1981).  Generation Y began nine months later (1982-1995).  I’m sure I inherited a shared amount of traits from both generations, but the tendency to put off what is irrelevant is linked to both generations.

This is how my mind processes communication regarding a cell phone: “If it’s important, they’ll text me.”  Which is different than what is typical with Baby Boomers (1946-1964) who think, “If it’s important, they will call and leave a voicemail if I’m not available”.

The easiest way to communicate with me is via text message.  I respond within 60 seconds because my phone is always right next to me.  As for a voicemail, I may not ever respond.  I strongly don’t believe in having a landline phone because it encourages people to leave voicemails and if a person really needed to talk to me they would reach me through my cell phone.  By texting.

Of course, there are times for actual conversations.  But when I see a missed call, I’m going to return the call anway.

Just as a reminder to those who haven’t yet realized why voicemails are so awful:

1)     To check them, you have to call your voicemail box.

2)     You have to punch in your password.

3)     You have to listen to the voicemail which is essentially someone telling you to call them back.

When I call someone and they don’t pick up, I just hang up.  Because obviously they will see on their phone that I tried to call.  Then I’ll instantly text them in abbreviated form what I needed to talk to them about.

There are so many minutes of our time that we’ll never get back, having been wasted on listening to not only the person I am calling explain to me on a recorded message that they’re unavailable right now but to leave a message and they’ll call me back, but then have to listen to the Verizon lady go through all the options, including  hearing her talk about leaving a “callback number”.

For the times we must endure having to leave someone a voicemail, there should be a new official sound we hear that would soon become as universally recognizable as Mario dying when he falls in a hole in Super Mario Bros.  Just a two-second blip that we all know means “leave a message beginning right now”.

That’s the world that I want to live in.

For a related post by the same author, read TMTT (Too Much Trouble to Talk).

What Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences Taught Me about Why I Have Such a Good Memory

 

In 1988 for Ms. Riddle’s 2nd grade reading class we had to write a poem telling about a time when we really wanted something for a long time and finally got it. I remember Susan Johnson writing about getting to go to the beach. And Diego Reynoso wrote about getting a pet dog. That was the general idea of the assignment. I, on the other hand, wrote a poem about how happy I was when my dad went to the True Value hardware store and bought an adapter so I could play my Atari games on the TV in my bedroom.

Ten years and 3 weeks ago I walked across the stage for my high school graduation. All seniors had been given a document from the principal listing the proper attire to wear underneath our gowns. We were clearly told to wear black shoes. The token rebel thing to do was to go barefoot. I, instead, chose to wear canary yellow Saucony tennis shoes and hold out a stick of Mentos candy to the audience as I crossed the stage. It’s simply what’s expected from the kid who was voted “One and Only” for the Senior Who’s Who.

One question I have consistently been asked throughout my lifetime is, “You just HAVE to be different, don’t you?” Assuming it must be true, I would always casually agree. But then two weeks ago my wife came back from one of her Master’s classes for Childhood Education and dropped some science on me. Having learned Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence (1983), she told me that I am a “visual-linguistic learner”. That’s when it was officially confirmed: Yes, I HAVE to be different.

 

I have been hard-wired to seek out the road less travelled, every time. Not a rebel in the expected way, but a rebel in the fact I am prone to find a different perspective on everything I encounter in life. I was never the annoying kid in class who tried to argue with the teacher. That kid always annoyed me. But I was the kid who, when given a project, always ended up with the weirdest possible submission and was able to pull it off.

Noted, my long-term memory is often exceptionally unbelievable. In high school, many people were forced to be made aware of my obsession with 1980’s trivia, since I could correctly tell the year of any movie or song, my specialty being 1983. In college, most people who knew me were forced to be made aware that they could name any celebrity and I could accurately tell the height of that celebrity. I’m simply not much fun to play against in modern trivia board games like Scene It or Trivial Pursuit and being the first to solve the puzzle while watching Wheel of Fortune just comes natural.

And it turns out I’m not the only one. A quick visit to Wikipedia helped my life make a lot more sense:

“Verbal-linguistic Intelligence

This area has to do with words, spoken or written. People with high verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and MEMORIZING WORDS ALONG WITH DATES. They tend to learn best by reading, taking notes, listening to lectures, and discussion and debate. They are also frequently skilled at explaining, teaching and oration or persuasive speaking. Those with verbal-linguistic intelligence learn foreign languages very easily as they have high verbal memory and recall, and an ability to understand and manipulate syntax and structure. This intelligence is highest in writers, lawyers, philosophers, journalists, politicians, poets, and teachers.”

Being raised my whole life in the South, people from the North and out West have always questioned my lack of a Southern accent. Because my mom moved from Buffalo, NY when she was 14, I always assumed that neutralized me. But after realizing anyone who’s ever met my mom says she actually has one of the biggest Southern accents out there, I’ve recently come to terms with the truth there is another reason people think I’m from Pennsylvania or Ohio.

The reason: I am overly aware of how words are supposed to sound. I could never bring myself to say “Eh’ll seeh yuh nehxt Tuesdee, Eh reckin!” (“I’ll see you next Tuesday, I reckon!”) For me, that’s a sin. That’s breaking so many rules of pronunciation and is a threat to clear communication. I never realized I was so OCD about words and speech.

Speaking of communication, when I met my wife for the first time on October 5, 2006, it was her beauty that captured me from across the crowded lobby. Anytime I revisit that event with her she confirms it was because I was good at telling stories and entertaining her that caused a random new stranger like me to be able to steal her attention. (I purposely stood next to her as we waited in an hour long line- that’s how we met.) As we began dating four months later (to the day) and immediately fell in love thereafter, two particular things attracted her most to me: 1) I knew “who I was” and was confident in that, 2) She knew because of my random knowledge that we would never run out of things to talk about.

Not because I was suave and charming, but because my randomness of speech worked for me.

So thanks to Howard Gardner, it’s safe to say I’m not that weird after all. Actually, I am- but at least now I have been diagnosed. While I may be a bit of a prodigy at a few things, any talent I have in other fields is completely absent: Math, science, multi-tasking (driving while talking on a cell phone), and sports (except Corn Hole and Mario Kart Wii). Like by magnetic force, I am drawn to what is offbeat and untrendy.

This, has been my version of a Top 25 or a “Which Power Ranger Would You Be?” quiz.

The other intelligences…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences