I was intrigued when I first came to know about Mark Borowski. He seems to have the magic of combining two totally different topics together: poker and parenting, in his book Big Slick Daddy: Poker Strategies for Parenting Success.
Yes, he is a poker player. In this interview, however, we’re not going to talk about poker. We’re going to talk about fatherhood, parenting and raising happy kids instead.
Here are the 15 good parenting tips from Mark. Enjoy!
1. How do you come up with the idea of linking poker to parenting as what you did in your book “Big Slick Daddy: Poker Strategies for Parenting Success”?
I attended a writing workshop for the Wisconsin Professional Speakers Association in September 2004. The workshop facilitator had us do an exercise where we listed all of our hobbies and interests on one half of a sheet of paper and all of the phrases and ideas for our book topic on the other half of the paper. Since I listed poker as one of my hobbies I made the connection to parenting and began writing with poker as the metaphor for parenting.
2. Gambling is bad. What if your children had the tendency and interest to dabble in gambling, would you allow them?
If they were still actually children, no I would not allow it. If they were young adults, I would probably allow them to make their own decision. But by that time, we would have had many conversations about the negative affects of various addictions, so as to discourage gambling.
3. If there’s only one thing, what would be the best gift you can give to your children?
Love! Show them and communicate your love to them as much as possible.
4. What’s your parenting style (eg: authoritarian, permissive, etc)? Are you happy with your style?
I believe I am Authoritative, although I have not taken an assessment. Yes, I am happy with my style since it appears to be the most effective style. I can always improve my parenting but I am satisfied with my style.
5. What’s the biggest problem you ever faced so far as a father and how did you overcome it?
My oldest daughter, Ashley, was diagnosed with diabetes at the tender age of 2 years-old. I overcame that obstacle by learning all I could about how to properly care for her. My wife and I also try to focus on the positive effects of the disease. For example, Ashley has learned discipline and self-control because she can’t follow her impulses to eat whatever she wants, whenever she wants. She has also learned to eat healthy and on a regular schedule. There are other benefits too.
6. Apart from being an author, you do carry other roles like trainer, speaker, and poker player. How much time do you spend with your kids and how do you balance work and family out of your busy schedule?
I started my own training business 8 years ago so I could be home 2-3 days a week with my kids. So I balance work and family by having a flexible work schedule that revolves around my family. I’m the primary caregiver in our family so I am usually the one who makes meals, packs lunches, drops off and picks up kids from school or daycare, etc. But parenting is definitely a two person job and my wife does a lot of the parenting responsibilities too.
7. What do you think are the top three mistakes most parents make when it comes to raising kids?
They make the same mistakes their parents made because they don’t consciously choose to change or improve how they were raised.
They don’t set clear limits and boundaries and hold their kids accountable.
They don’t spend enough time with them.
8. Every parent wants a happy, confident and successful kid. What’s the best way to achieve this?
To have a confident and successful kid, a parent must consistently give feedback to him, especially positive feedback. A parent must also set limits on their behavior and have high (but realistic) expectations that they communicate to him. Build a child’s self-esteem, don’t tear it down.
9. Who is your role model in being a good father and what’s the best thing you learned from him?
Honestly, I don’t think I really have a father role model. My father was a role model to a certain degree, although growing up we didn’t always have a close relationship. Probably the best thing I learned from him was the importance of discipline.
10. Every child has his own emotions and can be in bad mood once in a while. How to handle a child who is upset, misbehave and refuses to listen to you?
Giving a child a timeout often works. I also try to stay calm and talk to them, trying to find out what is wrong. If you consistently handle the same situation in the same way, I have found that eventually the child responds.
11. When is the right time to teach our kids about money and how?
It seems that kids start to learn about money when they are about 3-4 years old, which is a good time to teach them that they can not have everything they ask for in a store, etc. It helps to teach them that money is earned through work, which helps them to learn the value of something.
12. Should you reward your child when he does something good? If yes, how to do it right?
Yes, I believe rewards work well for the most part but they can be overdone. Praise and positive feedback can be rewarding enough for toddlers and sometimes for school-age children. Rewards such as money, candy, gifts/shopping, or special treats can be effective too but I would make sure they are appropriate for the behavior you are trying to reinforce and explain to your children that rewards are not given all the time.
13. What’s the best activity that you do with your kids as a father?
The best activity is probably just playing with them – but playing what they want to play, not what I want to play. It’s important to do what your kids enjoy doing and have a lot of fun doing it.
14. If your child wanted to be in a less than glamour profession (for example bus driver), would you encourage him to follow his passion or would you advise him to change course to a more glamorous and lucrative career?
I think one of the most important lessons to teach children is that they should follow their passions and be whatever they want to be. I would also help them by explaining the pros and cons of each choice but ultimately, it is their choice. As long as they are using their God-given talents to serve others, they have made a good choice, whatever it is.
15. What do you think is the best way to discover your child’s innate talents?
Two ways come to mind: 1) Be sure to involve them in different activities to help them discover what their talents are. 2) Pay attention to your children so you learn what they enjoy or are good at and talk to them about these activities.
Mark Borowski is a husband of 10 years and a father of two great kids, Ashley and Olivia. He started his own training business, The Learning Interface, when his first daughter was born so he could be more of an at-home dad and put family first. He just released a parenting book for fathers titled, “Big Slick Daddy: Poker Strategies for Parenting Success.” Learn more at his website, www.bigslickdaddy.com, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.