My Unexpected Goal as a Dad

** The following article was copied from theparentcue.org
http://theparentcue.org/my-unexpected-goal-as-a-dad/

 

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:

1. SAY IT CLEARLY.

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.

 2. CREATE CONVERSATION MOMENTS.

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.

3. KEEP SAYING IT.

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 Power of Intentional Parenting – SLIDES

Stuart Hall gave parents a lot of great things to think about at our Parent Network Event.  Here are his slides.

Keep Showing Up – It Matters!

** The following article was copied from theparentcue.org.

When you first have a baby, there are many questions you start to wonder about parenting, like . . . what have I gotten myself into?! You may also begin to wonder as you wipe the spit-up off your shirt . . . Am I doing anything that really matters?

Perhaps you secretly set a few goals for yourself for the day. Maybe you hoped to do any of the following:

  • Shower
  • Write a bestselling book
  • Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Learn Chinese
  • Run a half marathon
  • Cook a 7-course dinner

This is actually what you were able to accomplish instead: Kept three tiny humans alive, clothed, fed, changed, rested, and entertained.

Parenting is not the flashiest of gigs. It’s made up of hundreds of small, repetitive tasks. Nobody claps when you change nine newborn diapers a day or you finally convince your little one to try the baby peas. Surprisingly, there are no awards for the stamina it takes to hold a baby and make dinner one-handed. But it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve one.

So many hours of our time as parents are filled with mundane tasks that do not seem extraordinary or remarkable in any way. The list feels endless. So at some point, you may wonder, did I do anything that really matters this week? Yes, you did. You showed up. Sometimes being dependable is more important than doing something remarkable.

When you are consistently present, you are answering your baby’s most heart-felt need. You are communicating to them that they are safe, and you are setting a foundation for their future security and success. Even though no one will throw you a party to celebrate your efforts, the attention you give your baby now and in the weeks to come is making a difference. Believe it!

Switch One Word and Change Your Family Dynamics

** The following article was copied from theparentcue.org.

Growing up, I always knew I wanted a family of my own—the wife, the kids, the whole bit. In college, I remember having “deep” conversations with friends about how I was going to do family right. I remember thinking, I’m going to be a great husband and dad. 

Then I became a husband. I instantly found out that I wasn’t all that I had dreamed I would be. While I had my good moments, too often I had bad moments. I was much more selfish than I knew. I was confused on a regular basis. What did I say wrong? What did I do wrong?

Before we had kids I thought, Well, I may not be a perfect husband, but I’m going to knock this dad thing out of the park. Three nights in and I was pretending not to hear the baby crying in the middle of the night.

Now that I have been married for 22 years and have three teenagers, I’m not really sure about anything. Add to that all the pressure of really wanting to be a good husband and dad and I can quickly feel overwhelmed. But I have realized that a lot of the pressure I feel to be a good husband and dad doesn’t have anything to do with my wife and kids.

Let me see if I can explain, then tell me if you have ever been there. Often, I don’t want things for my wife and kids as much as I want things from my wife and kids. And there is a huge difference.

Let’s start with how we want things from our family. If our goal is to be a good spouse, then the only one who can give us The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval is our spouse. So, if we do chores around the house in order to get a “that a boy/girl” from our spouse, we are probably going to be disappointed and frustrated with our spouse. Likewise, if we parent teenagers expecting respect and appreciation from them, then we are . .  . what’s the word . . . idiots?

Now, let’s flip it. If we do chores around the house because we want something for our spouse, that’s different. We’re not doing it because we want to feel validated; we’re doing it because we want something FOR them. We want them to feel love through an act of service, to be less stressed during a busy week, to feel like they are not alone in all there is to do.

Do we want our kids to be respectful and our spouse to be grateful?  Absolutely. But what if the better way to get those things is by switching from to for? I think our home and family may be a much more peaceful place for us all to live. Why? I think it has something to do with humility, selflessness, and peace. So, let’s give this a test.

Run your latest family conflict through the grid of this question: During this conflict, was I frustrated because I wanted something from them or for them? Then tell me what happens. I’m still figuring this whole thing out. I don’t have this one mastered for sure. But as I’ve played around it for the last few months, and it works. Try it, and please let us know how it works for you.

How to Have Deeper Conversations With Kids

** The following article was copied from www.allprodad.com.

How to Have Deeper Conversations With Kids

Recently, I had some downtime in my work day and I walked by my son’s room to find him leaning on the steps of his bunk bed staring and doing nothing (I work from home and he is homeschooled). So I walked into his room and rested next to his bean bag chair. He immediately came off the steps and sat next to me. I asked him, “What’s on your mind?” What followed was a deeper conversation than I anticipated. It started light with basic topics covered — his sister’s 16th birthday party, my brother and his family who had recently visited from out of state, and some of the superhero movies we had recently watched.

Then we found ourselves talking about school concerns, to problems he and his siblings had been having, and more. As we talked I realized how important these one-on-one talks are. I need to be intentional in fostering these types of conversations regularly. Now I have scheduled times for each child to have alone time with me. It’s my way of making these types of conversations happen. Here are 4 ways to have deeper conversations with kids.

Get on their level

Our 6-year-old is the youngest and shortest in the house. One time I got on my knees and walked around a little bit. It was a completely different perspective, and that is his view all the time. He looks up to everything, making it seem like everybody is looking down on him. So, I often squat or sit down when I speak to him. It enables me to get face-to-face, to look him eye-to-eye and gets me on his level. When I do, he knows he has my attention and the conversations flow. Try getting on your kids level, physically, when talking to them.

Get comfortable in their space

As I reflect on the conversation I mentioned in our son’s bedroom I’m realizing some of our best and deepest conversations happen there. When I sit or lay down in his room, It’s like I’m in his area, where he’s most comfortable, and he opens up. The same happens with our other two kids as well. They sleep, hang out, and just spend time in their rooms. They are very comfortable there and it’s private. They can just relax, open up, and be themselves.

We have talks at the kitchen table, but that’s not just their space. Deep conversations have happened there, but I think the deepest conversations we’ve had happened when I got comfortable in their own space. I believe the same will happen with you.

Never stop talking

Small talk, deep conversations, talks about goals, about school, sports, whatever, never stop talking to them. Even when they aren’t as talkative. Keep the lines of communication open, and have as much conversation with your kids as you possibly can. The more quantity conversation you have will open the door for more quality conversations. When the communication dies in any relationship, the relationship will soon follow. Never stop talking to your kids.

Never stop listening

Make sure you are listening, intently. I’m guilty of forming an opinion before they are done speaking. Or going into problem-solving mode when they just want to express themselves to me. Your kids aren’t always looking for an answer, sometimes just an ear.  Listening to your kids will keep open the door to deeper conversations.

As dads, we want to have meaningful influence with our kids. If we have a surface-level relationship built on surface-level conversations, then our influence will be limited. Practice what I’ve mentioned above and you’ll be able to go deep with your kids.

Self-Esteem is Ruining Your Kids

** The following article was copied from samluce.com

As a child of the 70’s I grew up 80’s where baby boomers were loving life, loving love and loving themselves. This translated to every area of life including their parenting. The seeds of self-esteem were laid by my parent’s generation and have taken full root in my generation. It’s this idea that kids need to have a positive outlook in life, they need to love themselves. While in limited ways this can be true the pervasiveness of this idea is killing the collective conscience of our country and is ruining our kids.

My parents were not primary concerned with my self-esteem for that I am thankful. I remember my mom saying something to me when I was younger that always stuck with me. She said that her and my father were not concerned with how our peers felt about us they would always watch how adults interacted with us and would listen for the assessments adults had of us. Why? Because my parents were more concerned with our self-awareness than our self-esteem.

How kids interact with adults is a great (not perfect) indicator of how self-aware your kids are. So many parents today are concerned with their kids having friends, their kids having the right kids of friends, their kids not getting their feelings hurt by their friends because they want their kids to have good self-esteem because they love their kids. They are doing their kids a disservice. Parents today take their child side over the word of another adult because they don’t want to crush their kids. In doing this they are eroding the very things that will make kids successful in life. I am all for good self-esteem and smarts in school but what makes you successful in life is self-awareness. And here is the truth that parents so often totally miss that when you raise a kid who is self-aware you get self-esteem thrown in, but if you try to raise a kid with your primary goal being good self-esteem you get neither.

3 Reasons why self-awareness should matter to you as a parent.

1. Self-awareness produces confidence in your kids and confidence produces self-esteem.

2. Self-awareness makes your kids other focused because you are confident and understand their strengths and limitations it allows them to flourish and not have to pretend, lie, cheat or steal to be something they wish they were and not who they really are.

3. Self-awareness allows your kids to see themselves as the desperate sinners they are. When you are aware of who you are in Christ you have a desperate confidence. You understand that you are a desperate sinner but have a confidence in a sinless savior. The cross is not a boost to your self esteem it doesn’t feel good to talk about the cross. Kids whose awareness is understood in light of their shortcomings and Christ’s sufficiency, glory in the Cross.  Kids who have learned to nurture their self-esteem run from the cross those who are self-aware run to it.

The Secret of Superman

** This article was copied from www.theparentcue.org

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Superman. Seriously! I still remember the day my parents handed me a box from Sears and Roebuck that contained a red cape, blue tights with a red-and-yellow “S” shield on the chest. When I put it on, something magical happened. It transformed me from a shy six-year-old to a super hero with unique powers.

I was more powerful than my dad’s parked car.

I could leap tall fences with a single bound.

I was faster than our speeding fox terrier.

Looking back, I am absolutely positive that I could jump higher, run faster, and do more whenever I put on that suit. That was the year I got in trouble with my mom for running across the roof of our house in my red cape and underwear. It was just one of those days when I had to get suited up fast, so I left the tights off and just went with the cape. And don’t ask me how I got up on the roof. You should know. I flew, of course. At least that’s what I remember.

I don’t actually recall when I stopped believing in Superman, but his story did convince me of something that is true.

Good will ultimately win over evil.

It’s ironic that the story of Superman was created in 1938 by two high school students in Cleveland Ohio. Superman literally showed up in the nick of time. It just happened to be the same year, Hitler appointed himself as the supreme commander of the armed forces of Germany and set the stage for the most horrific war the world would ever know.

It’s intriguing that while nations were drawn into a world war that would threaten their existence, a fictional story of a superhero would entertain the imagination of a generation to suggest that good will somehow always prevail. I guess you should just never underestimate the power of a good story.

The point is the stories you tell to your kids every week really matter.

Why do you think…
Frodo in Lord of the Rings
Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia
and a boy named Harry have such an appeal to the imagination of kids?

Because they echo an aspect of an ancient narrative that God put into motion at the beginning of time.

They remind us of…
the struggle between good and evil.
the existence of a supernatural and miraculous power.
the potential to be personally restored and transformed.

The right story can inspire.
The right story can incite faith.
The right story can give hope.

If you want to change the way kids and teenagers see this world, then make sure you give them stories over time.

That’s why we like to tell parents that stories over time = perspective.

Everybody loves a good story.
You latch on to someone who is going against the odds.
You identify with their struggle to push through.

Stories are powerful. Especially when they reflect God’s story.

So do whatever you can to amplify the best stories around you.

Read them.
Watch them.
Tell them.
Create them.
Write them.
Illustrate them.
Video them.
Live them.
Collect them.

They can make life fuller, faith deeper, hope stronger.

So, what if I was never able to fly? There’s a secret I’ll always know because of Superman.

Good wins in the end.

6 Short Sentences Your Child Needs to Hear You Say

**This article was copied from allprodad.com

6 Short Sentences Your Child Needs to Hear You Say

In raising our five children, Susan and I have tried to consistently convey to each of them these 6 short sentences. We’ve done it with our words and our actions. And, as I write this post, I’m realizing I need to say these things even more because they can’t be said enough.

Saying these six short sentences will give your child a strong sense of security, identity, belonging, and value.

1. “I’m here for you.”

Being available for your child is incredibly important. They may not need you when you tell them this, but they’ll remember you promised to be available to them when they need you the most. This sentence is more than just giving them permission to find you when the going gets rough…it’s an invitation to them. It tells them, “I will do whatever I can to help you whenever you need me.”

2. “I’m proud of you.”

Some middle-aged men I’ve talked to have never heard, or have waited years to hear, their dad say “I’m proud of you.”  And many of them thought if they just performed better, if they just made it big in sports, or if they just had a thriving money-making career, their dad just might notice. Ladies and gentlemen, please don’t make your kids wait. Tell them today.

3. “I believe in you.”

Remember back to your teen and early adult years?  How confident were you in yourself? And how confident are you today in yourself? Self-doubt and second-guessing come with the territory of being human. And you can be a great source of support to your child through these struggles. Your child needs to know that somebody somewhere in this world believes in them and their immeasurable value.

4. “I want the best for you.”

This sentence has a couple of benefits. First, it tells your child that you have a purpose behind your parenting. They may not understand how you see “what’s best” and they may not even agree with you, but they will hopefully start to appreciate it over time as they see you working hard to do what’s in their best interests. I have often said to each of my kids, “I’m doing this or saying this because I always have your best interests at heart.” And they know they can always trust me. Second, it puts you in their corner. Again, they may not always see how your ideas, your standards, or your consequences are really for their benefit, but giving them this regular reminder at least assures them, in the depths of their heart, that you are for them, not against them.

5. “I will stand with you.”

I saw a video recently of a dad dancing with his daughter at a talent show. The girl had a severe and rare disorder that keeps her from having almost any muscle tone, control, or physical abilities of her own. But as her dad picked her up out of her chair and danced around the stage, her nearly inexpressive face suddenly blossomed with a huge smile. This girl knows that her dad is willing to risk embarrassment, harassment, or scorn from any person in order to be counted with her. This sentence tells your child that you are willing to be identified with them even when they’ve made a mistake or have to do hard things.

6. “I love you.”

This is, quite simply, a sentence that cannot be said too many times. Big family moment?  “I love you.” Quiet and quick goodnight? “I love you.” Dropping them off at school or a job? “I love you.” Just for no particular reason at all in the middle of the day? “I love you.”