The Missing Milestone

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The Missing Milestone

Not every moment in life is created equal.

Some moments have more weight and significance than others. These moments are called milestones. Milestones are moments that mark our lives. Things like the birth of a child, graduations, weddings, and retirements.

Imagine for a second how your life would different if it was not marked by some of these milestones. What if you went through school, but never had the milestone moment of graduation? What if you dated and got engaged, but never had a wedding? What if you worked for years and years, but never had a retirement party?

Milestones mark our lives by representing the end of a season and the beginning of a new season of life. They often signifying a profound change. And we often adopt a new identity after a milestone moment. When someone has a child they take on the new identity of mother or father. When someone graduates they are now an alumnus or alumna. When someone gets married they are now Mr. & Mrs. And when some retires they are now retired. There is a lot of weight and significance that is held in these milestone moments. Milestones have the power to transform our lives. 

But what if I told you that there was a milestone that was missing? 
You see throughout history in nearly every single culture there was a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood, yet sadly in our Western culture we have lost this important idea.  It has become the Missing Milestone.

The importance of this Missing Milestone can not be overstated. It affects our families, communities, and nation in innumerable and unmeasurable ways. And yet we continue to perpetuate this gap in our culture, this Missing Milestone, because most men also grew up without it.

When we talk to fathers about this idea, most of them understand this idea intuitively. They feel that it was missing from their life and they don’t want their son to grow up feeling the same void that they experienced. But the train of thought is typically the same… “I want to do this, but I don’t know when and I don’t know how.”
We would love to help you answer those questions with a few simple tips to create a rite of passage experience for your son:

1) It needs to be a moment in time, yet part of a journey.

Think about the other milestones we mentioned above (marriage, graduation, retirement) they all center around a singular moment. Yet that moment has had significant build up to it. It wasn’t out of the blue. The journey of dating and engagement led to the milestone of marriage. The journey of high-school or college led to the milestone of graduation. The journey of navigating a career led to retirement. The milestone is a singular significant moment, but there was a process and build up to it that made it important.

2) It should build upon ceremony and ritual.

All milestones are built upon ceremony and ritual. Think baby showers, pomp & circumstance, wedding rings and vows, and gold watches, and eulogies. That is part of what makes them feel set apart and significant. Make sure to weave ceremony and ritual into your rite of passage moment for your son.

3) It needs to include your blessing.

There is a book called The Blessing by John Trent PH.D. & Gary Smalley that says, “If a young man fails to receive the blessing of their father, they will spend the rest of their life looking for it in all the wrong places.” Think about that for a minute. Your son desires your love and affirmation more than anything else in the world. Weave your blessing into this rite of passage experience.

4) Do this with your son in middle school.

Middle school is perhaps the most important transition in your sons life. He is beginning puberty. He is forming his own identity. He is beginning to become independent. But more importantly he is asking bigger and more important questions than he has ever asked before and he is looking for answers. This your opportunity as a father to bring your voice into his life at the most critical time.

5) Don’t do it alone.

Bring in other wise men to speak into his life. Seek out other men who are in this same stage of life with their sons and have critical conversations together. Brining in others will help hold you accountable and motivated and create a better context for conversation. It makes everything less awkward to have friends do it with you (for both fathers and sons).

We hope these tips will help you navigate the Missing Milestone and create a rite of passage into manhood for your son. If you want to learn more about our experience, how we have helped hundreds of fathers navigate this important phase of life, and teach Commitment, Confidence, Humility, Accountability, Motivation, Perseverance, Integrity, Ownership, Sacrifice, Significance learn more at

The First Social Media Challenge Your Kid Will Face

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The news is often full of terrible stories about horrible things that happened to kids because of social media. These things do happen and there’s a long list of them to keep in mind as your kids navigate this digital world.

The reality though is that more than likely, your kid will face one particular challenge before any others. Want to know what it is?

Someone is going to block them on Instagram.

Or, someone won’t follow them on Instagram.

Those are similar issues, although blocking feels more deliberate.

When you were a teenager, a person who didn’t like you, just wouldn’t talk to you. Now though, they can block you from taking a peek into their life. They can shut a door firmly in the most popular place for teens to congregate, Instagram.

They can lock you out of their lives.

This is the easiest, most common way a teenager gets their feelings hurt online. When someone doesn’t follow you, that hurts too, but not in the same way. Maybe they didn’t know you have an account. Maybe they forgot to follow you. Maybe there’s some other reason they don’t right now. Not so with a blocking. When someone blocks you, they’ve deliberately sent you a message that they don’t like you.

In situations like that, the most important thing to assess is if the relationship needs to be repaired. Sometimes it does and your kid needs to apologize for something. Other times, there’s nothing to repair. You can’t force your child to be friends with someone and meddling in the situation will only make everything all the worse.

There’s a block headed to your future as a parent, I promise, it’s coming.

Instead of waiting for it, do the brave thing, and ask your child if they’ve ever been blocked on Instagram.

If they have, talk about it. Ask them how they feel. Ask if they have anything they need to do. It might seem like something small, but you’d be surprised at the big conversation it can start.

Does My Child Measure Up?

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Google “developmental milestones” and you may be surprised to see 1.5 million results. Are there that many milestones in the 18-year lifespan of a child from birth until they graduate from high school? No, definitely not. 1.5 million results tells us that common milestones happen at different times, on a different “schedule” for every single child.

No need to panic if your baby does not automatically become a walking toddler by that first birthday celebration. Your three-year-old who refuses to potty-train will jump that hurdle before she leaves home for college. And, your five-year-old who still can’t master zippers and buttons will achieve those skills before his first date.

Is it ever okay to compare your four-year-old to your best friend’s child of the same age or to your older child who said so many more words at the same age? What’s the harm?

Potentially, the harm can be that your child will sense that he or she doesn’t live up to your expectations. She may eventually quit trying to be the person that she thinks you want her to be, and can’t be, or experience stress and shame because she feels inadequate.

Comparing siblings may foster or increase sibling rivalry.

Worse yet, you may feel inadequate as a parent because you see your child as “not as good as” another child and you falsely interpret that as a negative commentary on your parenting abilities.

But comparing for the sake of understanding differences and strengths can bring insights. You may be alerted to real struggles or developmental delays that are best addressed by professionals during the preschool years. When you use a positive form of comparison, you are simply identifying your child’s strengths or their needs.

Your child’s unique strengths, personality characteristics, and temperament will start to shine through starting in the first few months of life. As your baby grows and develops in these early years, instead of falling into the milestone comparison trap, you can give your child exactly what he needs most in this phase: You can embrace him and demonstrate he is worth loving and exactly how he was created to be.

And then you can finally give yourself a break and know you’re an amazing parent who loves their child well.

Help! My Kid Got a Cell Phone. Now What?

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It seems that kids younger and younger are getting cell phones these days. There are many good reasons to get your kids a cell phone and there are equally as many reasons to delay as long as possible. The question I hear from parents is how do I keep my kids safe online and yet let them enjoy the freedom of a cell phone. The balance of safety and security is not easy to maintain.

I used to be an advocate of waiting until kids are much older to get a cell phone. I have changed my mind, with the pervasiveness of technology and the easy access of porn you have to teach your kids at a young age how to use technology without being ruled by it. If you just hand your kids a cell phone without teaching them how to use it or placing safeguards around it you are crazy. I love you but you are crazy. Here are a few things we have done and are putting into practice with our oldest as he joins the millions of kids who are connected around the world. These are a work in progress.

  1. We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do. –  Andy Crouch. No phones in bedrooms.
  2. We use Circle at home to filter content, enforce bedtime and to create timed boundaries. Circle is amazing! It is dead simple to set up it allows for a ton of flexibility you can filter and put time restrictions on individual apps. What’s also great about it is that it filters your internet so when friends come over it works on their device if they connect to your internet.
  3. We use Circle Go for on the go. We keep all our content and time filters in place on LTE and 4G cell phone coverage away from home. It has a monthly fee of 4.99 a month but is good for up to 10 devices.
  4. We use Life 360 to create digital fences that allow us to know when our child has left one place and arrived at another. This app also has functionality that monitors your kids driving their speed and disables texting when moving at a high rate of speed, it will also automatically call 911 if involved in an accident.
  5. Create a Cell Phone Contract. When they understand the privileges and responsibilities of having a phone. They also need to understand how to keep their phone and what will cause them to lose their phone privileges.
  6.  We have the passwords to everything. Privacy is not an option for Jr. Highers. Parents read your children’s email and text messages its being loving, not nosey.
  7. We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year, we turn off our devices and worship, feast, play, and rest together. – Andy Crouch
  8. Use the early years to teach your kids the etiquette of texting and calling. Let them know when is appropriate to do either and when is appropriate to do neither.
  9. For us at least, no social media until High School – Junior High is difficult enough allowing bullies to reach into the sanctuary of your home through social media is not worth the benefit.

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Parent Network Podcast – Stuart Hall

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What Fatherhood Looks Like in Different Seasons

Check out this podcast from The Parent Cue on different seasons of fatherhood.

Click here to listen.

Fatherhood looks differently as your kids enter and exit different phases of their lives, but one thing remains true through it all: Fatherhood presents a unique opportunity to speak life daily into your kids. Jeff, a father of two, Jon, a father of two, and Carlos, a father of three are all in different phases of fatherhood, and together, the three discuss:

  • How to encourage your kids to involve themselves in the right circles and how you can control the things you can and encourage your kids through the situations beyond your control (6:14)
  • How to model friendships for your kids through purposeful interactions and being comfortable with your kids confiding in someone other than you (12:32)
  • How to be intentional with the time you have together (15:01)
  • What it’s like to grow up with a parent in ministry and the various opportunities for growth (19:55)
  • How to navigate your kids’ faith through tension-filled times (25:00)

My Unexpected Goal as a Dad

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When it comes to parenting, it’s easy to think of a few goals for yourself.

You want to help your kids find something they are passionate about.
You want to give them a healthy self-image.
You want to challenge them and encourage them to grow.
You hope that they develop their own faith, instead of just parroting your own.

You could probably list a dozen off the top of your head, but there’s one unexpected goal I can’t stop thinking about.

What is it?

I want my kids to find me approachable.

It’s easy to approach someone with good news. I loved telling my parents I got an A or made the team or finished my project early. The bigger challenge is approaching someone with disappointing news. It’s harder to approach a parent when you’ve messed up or failed or made a mistake.

But that’s exactly when I hope my kids will approach me the most.

The alternative is deadly. The alternative is secrecy and hiding and loneliness for a kid who doesn’t know where to go with the trouble they’re carrying.

Often, when there’s a tragedy, you’ll hear a parent say about their child, “We had no idea.”

That’s one of the saddest situations in life to me. So how do we combat it? I have a few ideas:


I don’t just tell my kids they can approach me. That’s too vague. I say very clearly, “If you’re at a party and someone is smoking pot, give me a call. I’ll get you home.” Or, “If you make a mistake with some friends, let me know and we can figure it out.” I try to give real examples they can actually understand.


If you want your kid to talk to you, you have to create moments when they can. Some people grew up with dads who couldn’t be bothered when they got home. They’d hide behind a newspaper or TV, only emerging when dinner was made. How hard would it be for a kid with a secret to break the sanctity of that moment and share something difficult? Instead, do your best to create lots of moments where it’s easy to share.


My kids are going to be so tired of hearing me say that I am approachable. They are going to eventually say, “We know dad, we know!” Why? Because I never want them to forget it. I want them to always know they can tell me anything at any given moment. In order to get that to stick, I have to repeat it so that they actually believe it’s true.

A friend used to have a chair in her living room. If her daughter was in that chair, she had full immunity from whatever story she was telling her mom. Would that work for your family? Maybe, maybe not, I think it depends on the kid. But I applaud the parents for getting creative in their goal of being approachable.

It’s not the most exciting word. It’s not even a word we usually talk about when we talk about parenting. But trust me, you want to be approachable.

More importantly, your kids want you to be approachable.

Parent Network Podcast

We’re excited to launch our Parent Network podcast where we’ll interview people who can help equip and encourage us to help our family walk with God.  Click here to go to our podcast page and soon you’ll be able to subscribe on iTunes.

The Only Six Words Parents Need to Say to Their Kids About Sports (Or Any Performance)

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I’ll be honest: I kind of hate a lot about kids’ sports. It’s one area where Kara and I hold different opinions. I’m the wet blanket in the office about everything from little league to major sporting events.

Mainly I get concerned about the ways our culture obsesses about kids’ performance. All kinds of parental anxiety and dysfunction plays out on the sidelines and in the bleachers, and you only need walk to your local park to catch a glimpse for yourself. Sports have such potential to build character, perseverance, and skill. Sometimes they succeed, and other times coaches, parents, and mobs of hot-or-cold fans burn out or puff up kids in quite damaging ways.

All that aside, my son’s getting ready to play T-ball this spring. I say getting ready, because after sign-ups we were informed that “spring training” would begin immediately this week. I didn’t sign up for that. They want kids there four nights a week, pre-season, to build skills prior to being placed on teams.

Did I mention this was just at my local neighborhood park league, not “competitive” T-ball?

In the midst of considering my own response to this, I stumbled across this great article by student leadership development expert Tim Elmore. In it he discusses research on what parents can say both before and after the game to encourage their kids, without making everything about performance (either positively or negatively). Elmore suggests:

Based on psychological research, the three healthiest statements moms and dads can make as [kids] perform are:

Before the Competition:  

Have fun.

Play hard.

I love you.

After the competition:

Did you have fun?

I’m proud of you.

I love you.

It gets even better. Researchers Bruce Brown and Rob Miller asked college athletes what their parents said that made them feel great and brought them joy when they played sports. Want to know the six words they most want to hear their parents say?

“I love to watch you play.”

That’s it. Nothing aggrandizing like “you’re an all-star,” and nothing discouraging like “here are a couple of things I noticed that you can work on.” Just “I love to watch you play.”

As I gear up for T-ball, band concerts, gymnastics practice, and everything else I’ll be watching my three kids do this year, I’m internalizing these six words. I’m sure I’ll say other things, some that are helpful and some that aren’t.

But I want my kids to hear that doing what they do, and learning about who God created them to be, is a joy to watch as it unfolds.