Important Conversations With Your Kids

By: Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC

I lay down on my six-year-old son's bed the other night before he went to sleep.

It's a time when we have some of our most interesting and precious talks. This evening, I was preoccupied with other thoughts. While lying next to him, my mind was a million miles away.

My son was being unusually quiet as well.


"Yeah, buddy?"

"Which of these would you rather do? Die, eat boogers, or eat snails?"

It took all my strength to keep from laughing.

"Well, that's an interesting question. I guess I'd take the snails. How about you?"

"I'd go for the boogers. I wouldn't want to die."

This was the beginning of a far-reaching discussion of death, life, and disgusting things we are faced with in our lives. And in that single question, my son had freed me from the depths of my worry and concern. He had brought me back to the precious present moment, where all happiness exists.

In a moment, he had transformed my night.

Had this fascinating question not been posed, I would have remained in a work-related stupor. My mind would have been filled with unnecessary worry. It was only the latest example of how my children bless my life. And it was the latest evidence of how being involved in my children's lives provides me with more than I could ever dream.

In the book New Strategies for Balancing work and Family (1998), researchers and authors James Levine and Todd Pittinsky found that involved fathers were actually healthier than fathers who were distant from their children. They also found that fathers who had the fewest worries about their relationships with their children had the fewest health problems.

And, when involved fathers are happy at home, they feel less stress, and actually perform better at work. Levine and Pittinsky found that when men are comfortable at home, their sense of accomplishment and confidence carries over into the workplace.

This research shows what many have suspected for some time: The qualities that make someone an effective father are the same qualities that make them an effective husband, and an effective employee. We live whole lives, and the thoughts and feelings we carry around don't stay in separate compartments. Every part of our life impacts the other parts in a big way.

And while many of us know how good fatherhood has been to us, it's easy to get stuck on how much we do for our kids. It's easy to think about all the things we could be doing if we weren't serving our kids in some way. And before you know it, we can become victims. We can see how little appreciation there is for what we do, and how hard we work.

But we're fooling ourselves when we take this path. We are forever changed for the better when we commit to fatherhood, in ways that are deeper than our understanding.

So what choice will it be for you? Gratitude or victimhood?

It's a choice that's even easier than death, boogers, or snails.

Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches fathers by phone to balance their life and improve their family relationships. For a free twenty minute sample session by phone; ebooks, courses, articles, and a FREE newsletter, go to or email him at

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