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Parent Spotlight-David Dickerman

Name: David Dickerman

Location: Pennington, NJ

Occupation: Assessment Specialist at Educational Testing Service, Freelance Writer

Children (Names, Age): Spencer 5, Ruby 3

What brings you joy as a parent?: Watching my kids laugh and love each other. Also there are certain developmental "leaps" that happen throughout their growth. Some days it can be very significant and all of a sudden they can just to things they couldn't the day before. When those occur it is fascinating. Finally, seeing things through their eyes gives me a new fascination with things to which I may have become cynical to long ago.

What are some of your challenges as a parent?: Making the choice to win the battle or fight the war. Sometimes I need to just get through the moment or tantrum and often times that conflicts with what may serve us all best in the long run.

What is the best advice you received or lessons learned as a parent?: Just like romantic relationships, every child is different so I try not to give advice, only examples of what worked for my kids. One thing I will say though is that while having a child is a life altering whirl wind, they are generally very boring and do not to much in the beginning. You may be rushing to get everything ready for the arrival but you really have more time than you expect to get things ready and understand your child's specific needs.

How do you practice self care?: It takes a while to realize how important this is and feel like you are not abandoning your partner, but going to the gym, reading fiction, or a good binge watch works once you regain the time. My wife and I try to get away to a spa once a year. I also read this article recently about eating a cold orange in the shower. I highly recommend it.

How do you make time for your relationship with your partner?: In addition to our spa trips we try and plan date nights. Parents being close helps. Sometimes you have to force things but it is not just something nice to do, it is completely necessary in order to be a good parent. That said, parenting successes definitely bring us closer together.

Are your parenting styles different than your partners?  How do you manage parenting with your partner?: We are very similar in a lot of ways including how we were raised, so that helps. I am a big proponent of therapy no matter what the state of your relationship may be. Communicating and doing your best to support your partner's specific area of weakness is good. Everyone has a blind spot. With us, when one of us is down it causes the other one to be up. It took us a while to figure this out so spending time looking at that dynamic is important.

How do you spend quality time with your children?: Typical stuff like the going to the park, reading books, and playing board games. I am a comic book nerd so my son is finally getting old enough to be my movie buddy. They both have also gotten really into cooking so we try and have them participate as much as possible. Home Depot also has a monthly free workshop that is great for kids and gives them a real sense of accomplishment.

What parenting tools work for you and your family?: We are bad at incentive charts but Melissa and Doug has a really good magnetic one that gives the kids a sense of ownership and doesn't necessarily have them doing it only for the reward. Other than that, its all about routine.

Favorite parenting books or resources? Without a doubt "How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen Ages 2-7." It is practical, provides great summary charts, and takes right and wrong out of the equation. It also is just a great read. (And of course "Mom, Dad, and Everyone Else for blended families :-) )

What do you wish for your children?: I wish they will have less fear than I do. I don't mean this in the traditional sense that they won't be afraid of clowns have my bizarre fear of sun showers. Everything I struggle with whether it is anxiety, self-esteem, or trying new things stems from a deep sense of fear in some way. This is a root cause with which I pray they do not struggle. I also want to teach moderation. Some parents never let their kids watch TV or experiment with certain things. I think this is doing them a disservice as they will need to learn balance eventually (of course within reason). If they can use things responsibly I hope that it will prevent them from binging or withdrawing in the future. 

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