Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Reflections on Parenthood from the Father of the Bride

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With the advent of my daughter Nicole’s wedding this coming Saturday at the National Museum of Dance, I marvel how time has passed so quickly since she was a little girl. Where did the years go, and am I really this old? I am also inspired to reflect on that special bond between fathers and daughters. How often do we take the time to treasure the times with our children, and to reminisce on the many memories that have shaped our family? For all of you in the depths of parenting, treasure the moments, and emotionally focus on those kindred times that pass in a blink of an eye. Two essential questions to ask yourself are, what will my children remember me for, and what emotional legacy will I pass down to the people I love most? It is never the memory of what someone had that is everlasting, but always the memory of what they were, and the positive difference they made.

Personally, I can recall physically being there when my children were young, but I was emotionally in the pursuit of striving for “success”, and building a career. At times, I was not thoughtfully mindful of what I was missing with my children, because my agenda was more important. I am here to share with all of you, your agenda is never more important than the time you establish to influence, and be a positive example for your children. We are all parentally challenged and no one parent or family is perfect. However, do not miss the opportunity to establish genuine love and a mutually respectful bond with your children, before they walk down that isle themselves.

The following are several effective parenting characteristics that children learn to admire and respect as they mature. *Discipline - children are yearning for strength of character and structure in their lives. *Integrity - no child, or adult for that matter, wants to be around those who are indecisive and inconsistent in their behavior. *Core Values - provides an established expectation of behavior and defines the structural emotional foundation for the family. *Honesty – is the key to building trust, resulting in healthy communication, and the ability to face challenges, and persevere through adolescence, peer pressure and the ever-occurring parent/child bickering and argument. *Self-Esteem - is earned not given, and we are the catalyst to eliminate that sense of entitlement and “everyone else is doing it” mentality our children may possess. *Accountability - is the antidote for thinking our children our blameless. They are not angels, and it is not everyone else’s fault for their misbehaviors and misgivings. Parents should not fall into the trap of making excuses for their children. It sends the message that “whatever” and “my bad” are acceptable which negates personal responsibility. *Manners - are the expression of respect and behavioral protocol within our relationships with others. As parents, we set the example in how we communicate, respect, tolerate, react to and judge those around us. If we exemplify and communicate derogatory, discriminatory, and degrading behaviors, why would our children be any different? Two final encouraged behaviors to exemplify are empathy and humility. To be understanding of others and be modest in our own importance is essential to establishing a sense of service for our children beyond themselves. In all areas of human ability there are those more talented and those less talented, but for us to appreciate our skills and those of others is to respect the world we live in and the lives we impact.

Our children are an extension of us genetically, environmentally, socially and emotionally. Although we do not create the ultimate end product we certainly have the ability to love and mold the product as it is being produced. My daughter is someone that will always be an extension of me, I love her, respect her, and I wish her all the joy the world has to offer as she ventures to achieve fullness of character, happiness, love, and contentment. To my fellow dads, always remember, a daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.



Personal Loyalty: Committing to Your Future

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In the midst of our ever growing economic, political, environmental and social uncertainly has the commitment to personal loyalty and values taken a back seat to personal gratification and selfishness? What does it mean to be loyal, and have we lost an understanding of the importance of loyalty directed toward our values, family, community, institutions and even the principles our nation was founded upon? To be “loyal” is defined as, “giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution”. Without loyalty within a family, workplace and/or community there is dysfunction, inefficiency, disharmony and most importantly a lack of trust crumbling communication. I believe personal loyalty is dedication to upholding the values you believe in and the value based actions that structure your character. It is the act of not wavering from your commitment to living a life that is an honest reflection of who you are.

To be disloyal to oneself is to project an image to the outside world in contrast to how you genuinely feel about yourself. It is energizing and gratifying to meet someone who views you as you want to be viewed, but the important question is, how do you view yourself when that someone is no longer looking? Do you feel as good about you as they do? When one is loyal to their core values, divergence in self-reflection diminishes and a unified self is solidified. Personal loyalty strengthens character, self-respect, integrity, and aligns actions with mind, heart and soul. I also attach personal loyalty to family loyalty. Although those you love may not be you, our devotion to those who love us is as important to being loyal to the values we believe in. To show allegiance to the person we partnered with, and the children we have brought into this world, having shared with them the many joys, sorrows and challenges of our life, is Loyalty Class 101. A family is an extension of the personal characteristics of each member within it and loyalty to those members ultimately contributes to the growth or dismantling of that family. Personally, I believe loyalty is non-existent in the character of a “deadbeat” dad and mom who provides for themselves, but fails to care and provide for their children. Demonstrated disloyalty toward personal values and families has also undermined and negated the critical importance of loyalty in our communities, our nation and our way of life.

Non-personal loyalty is loyalty directed toward the leadership of the community we live in, business entity we work for, institution we belong to, and nation in which we pledge allegiance to. The degree at which the mission, purpose and vision of these areas of personal participation compliment our personal values will determine our level of loyalty to the leaders involved. In addition, issues, causes, and principles we are passionate about will significantly influence the amount of loyalty we commit to a specific person, group, establishment or institution. The most important question to ask yourself is; do the values that structure my personal and family loyalty, compliment and support my non-personal loyalty commitments?

There is also a dark side to loyalty that stems from blind obedience and misplaced loyalty to a person or entity where the aftermath of such obedience and loyalty is the violation of ethical and moral behavior and/or the destruction of human life and human dignity. It is the manipulation of the masses by leaders and those in power, combined with the ignorance and apathy of those being led that spawn these destructive forms of allegiance. Healthy personal and non-personal loyalty results in the betterment of ourselves, our relationships, those we impact each day and the world around us. It is being loyal to the goodness in ourselves that will reflect in the goodness of loyalty demonstrated to others. Let us not throw away loyalty because it takes to much work to understand it, and achieve it. Like self-respect, loyalty is not given but earned through our behaviors that reflect commitment to our values. As American Philosopher Josiah Royce stated, “Unless you can find some sort of loyalty, you cannot find unity and peace in your active living.” Activate your life by being loyal to what you love.





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