Harley Rotbart, M.D.

At-Home Dads Epitomize “No Regrets Parenting”

The 18th Annual At-Home Dads Convention was recently held in Denver, Colorado. I was honored to be their Keynote speaker, but more importantly I was privileged to be witness to the extraordinary commitment these men have made to their families. Typically, my “No Regrets Parenting” Seminars focus on helping busy parents make the most of the time they spend with their kids, and finding more time despite their frenzied lives.  But, for the At-Home Dads, there were two added nuances to my presentation. Stay-at-home parents, dads or moms, spend lots of time with their kids as it is. But these parents have additional challenges:

1. Making sure the need for efficiency – getting everyone where they need to be when they need to be there, and getting everything done around the house – doesn’t overwhelm the joyous experience parenting should be; and

2. Helping the working spouse or partner to get more out of his or her parenting experience.

I hope I was able to convey those important ideas to the Dads last week. But whatever I was able to contribute, they contributed more to me in the lengthy and animated question and answer period following my talk. I started the discussion by asking “what works” in your house to make parenting more fun. I wish I had recorded their answers – it would have been my next book! Fabulous ideas ranging from “Talk like a pirate day (on International Talk Like a Pirate Day)” to “May the Force Be With You Day (on May 4, of course!) ” to practical jokes (put a fork in your kids’ breakfast cereal for a hoot) to scavenger hunts and “geocaching” to homemade ice cream and costume parties.

Jane Goodall, the famous primate researcher, childless herself, is quoted as saying: “One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.” Well, one thing I learned (among many) from the At-Home Dads is…They DO know how to have fun with their kids.

Thanks, Dads, for all the good stuff you are doing for your kids. You are role models for “No Regrets Parenting.” More about the At-Home Dads Network at: http://athomedad.org/

“Pitch and Run” Backyard Memories

Hope you’ll experience some very special goosebumps from these backyard memories; we still do.

My new post for Parents Magazine:


“Manning” Up as a Parent

Being a football fan in Colorado means being a quarterback authority. From John Elway to Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning, we have had some of the most compelling quarterback sagas play out in our own backyard. This past week ESPN aired a special called “The Book of Manning,” which told the story of dad Archie Manning and his 3 boys, Cooper, Peyton, and Eli.

Archie was, arguably, one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history. He and his wife Olivia raised their boys to love each other, love their parents, and love the game of football. Unlike other “sports parents,” Archie never coerced his kids to play – he didn’t have to. He was the kind of dad who kids want to be like – not because he was a great quarterback, but because he was a great dad. Great dads teach kids, by example, how to do all the important things in life – love, listen, learn, support, appreciate, show respect, take responsibility, act kindly, be gracious, etc.

If parents model those behaviors, kids will grow up showing the same attributes. And, if all of that is coupled with a rifle arm, lightning reflexes, and a mind like a steel trap, you’ve got a pretty good chance of raising star footballers.

See what parenting a superstar-to-be is like, in the Book of Manning.

Origins of the Psychologist and the Lawyer

We are very fortunate parents. Our three kids are 2 years apart from each other in age, and have always been each others’ best friends. To this day, now in their 20’s, they continue to rely on and support each other, and together keep each others’ secrets from us. But, because they are so close, they’ve also always known how to push each others’ buttons. Now, as adults, the button pushing is in a playful way. But there were times, when they were younger…

They were 5, 3, and almost 1 year old and everything that our oldest touched became our middle child’s obsession. If he was playing with a toy truck, she needed the truck. If he had a snack, she wanted to share it with him. If he was watching his favorite show, she wanted to watch her show instead on the same TV.

One day we pulled our 5 year old aside and taught him a trick – “psychology.” If his sister grabbed the toy he was playing with, pretend he didn’t want it anymore, and she would move on to something else. If he was eating a snack and she reached for it, let her have it and she’d lose interest. It worked for a while. When he’d forget and become upset at his sister’s pestering, we’d remind him, “Remember to use psychology” and he’d feign disinterest to win back his territory.

I guess we’d reminded him once too often within earshot of his sister, because one day she went after his baseball mitt and he walked away saying, “You can have it, I don’t want it anymore,” just like we taught him. She looked frustrated, ran after him, and said, “Don’t use Chology on me!”

Now, 20 years later, we wonder if those early experiences led to our daughter’s becoming a psychologist. Finally, she gets to use “chology” on others. And maybe to our son’s becoming a lawyer – he’s apparently found another strategy for dealing with conflict.

More at www.noregretsparenting.com


It’s Little League World Series Time Again!

My love affair with baseball is deep and long-standing. I love all baseball, from T-ball through the Major Leagues. What I love about baseball is the sport itself,  the strategy, and the skills players must master to succeed. But what sets baseball apart from other sports, in my mind, are the life lessons it can teach kids. Every year, as the Little League Baseball World Series airs on national TV, I’m reminded anew of everything there is to learn from this game. Our kids played baseball starting at age 5, all the way through high school and into college. I coached their teams. A few years ago, I wrote a book on the subject called The On Deck Circle of Life – 101 Lessons from the Dugout (www.theondeckcircleoflife.com) which I’m thrilled to say continues to be a staple for youth baseball leagues, coaches, and parents.

Tune in all this next week for this year’s best rounds of the LLWS.  To understand why, here’s a reprint of the piece I wrote almost exactly a year ago, during last year’s Little League World Series:

So, I’ve been addicted, as usual, to this year’s Little League World Series telecasts. There are few things I’m slightly disturbed by in the games, but very few. For example, some kids are spitting like their big-league idols, and some coaches are a little too intense, like their big-league idols. But mostly I love everything about Little League. Here are 10 things I’ve seen on the televised games in the last few days that should make you love kids’ baseball as much as I do:

1. The pitcher from the Mexico team accidentally hit a Chinese-Taipei player with a pitch…and walked over to him at 1st base and apologized. When’s the last time you saw that in the Major Leagues?

2. The best hitter on the California team, a kid with multiple home runs and a batting average of 0.700, bunted with runners on 1st and 2nd base and no outs. It paid off – the throw to 1st base was wild, runs scored. Team comes before personal glory.

3. The players on the Japanese and Chinese-Taipei teams take off their hats whenever their coaches speaks to them, as a sign of respect.

4.The grandfather of the 2nd baseman/pitcher for the New England team died back in New Jersey while the games were going on. All the players on that team “carved” the grandfather’s initials into the dirt of the batter’s box before stepping up to hit.

5. After every game, the players on all teams face their fans in the stands and tip their hats in gratitude for the support they’ve gotten.

6. Major League baseball players from the hometowns of teams in the Little League World Series make telephone conference calls to the kids on “their” team, and send pictures of themselves in Little League hometown uniforms watching their Little League counterparts on TV.

7. Outfielders “hit” their cut-off men and back up the infielders on throws from the catcher. Batters run all the way “through” first base on ground ball outs.  Infielders field ground balls from the front instead of from the side. Fundamental skills like those are often lost by the time players make their way through upper echelons of the sport.

8. Players rarely if ever show displeasure with the umpire’s call, and if they do, it’s an almost imperceptible grimace or groan. There is no grandstanding.

9. Players are clearly having fun. More fun when they’re winning, of course. But scenes from off the field, after the game, show even the losing teams running around,laughing, and eating funnel cakes.

10. Baseball is a language unto itself. A universal language. Little League baseball is played in more than 80 countries. At the LL World Series, teams from Curacao face off with teams from Canada, teams from Mexico play teams from China, and the first ever team from Africa (Uganda) competed this year. A Tower of Babel off the field, but on the field strikes are strikes, balls are balls, outs are outs, and home runs are home runs – in every language.

- See more at: http://www.noregretsparenting.com/why-i-love-little-league-baseball-and-why-you-should-too/#sthash.6op9uv89.dpuf

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