Blog Archives

Father vs. Dad (part 3)

Those of us who understand that we must model proper authority to our children can still be a part of the fathering problem if we don’t intentionally model success. I wrote the following during the 2012 Summer Olympics:

By Way of Comparison

“Do you think someday I will be as fast as him?”

This is what my six-year-old son asked as we watched Usain Bolt win gold in the 200 meter race last night. Way to put me on the spot, kid.

That’s a tough question to answer when your son is grinning at you with that imaginative glow in his eyes. I didn’t want to belittle him or his six-year-old imagination that can still envision himself standing on top of an Olympic podium… I remember having that same dream when I saw Carl Lewis in 1988. On the other hand, I don’t want to fill his head with garbage. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how much he trains or works or runs, Jack just doesn’t have the genes to be the fastest sprinter in the world. I guess that’s my fault. Well, half my fault half his mom’s fault.

“You can do anything you put your mind to” may be the most-often quoted lie. Maybe second to “No, that doesn’t make you look fat.”

I answered him by saying something like “That would really be something if you could run as fast as Usain Bolt because no one else in the history of the world has ever run as fast as he can” and we went back to watching the Olympics. See how I didn’t answer the question and avoided crushing his dreams? I’m pretty good at deflecting. At least I thought I was good at deflecting…he was obviously still thinking about it because a few minutes later he asked another question that was easier to answer but a lot more to think about.

“Dad, someday could you teach me to run as fast as you?”

In the span of 2 minutes he had gone from an unrealistic dream of being the fastest man ever to the all-to-obtainable goal of being as fast as a thirty-year-old, slightly overweight guy who likes to go for a three mile run a few times a week. Who we compare ourselves to makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

“Jack, I will run with you as much as you want, and I hope you’ll be faster than me someday.”

So back to the current topic…

  • Every dad knows it—our kids learn from us.
  • Every dad gets it—our kids want to be like us in many ways.
  • If we’re honest, every dad all also understands that sometimes our kids say “I’ll never be like that.”

I wonder how much it would change the way I interact with my kids if I realized that I am my kid’s measuring stick for life. How they compare to me will be their gauge of both success and failure. If I kept that thought forefront in my mind, I wonder if I would have a better chance of being their idea of success.

Advertisements

Father vs. Dad (part 2)

It’s easy to point a finger at obvious evil, but perhaps even “good dads” are teaching much more important lessons than we think we are.

1. Fathers shape our impression of God

The Bible calls God our “Heavenly Father” many, many times. Jesus referred to God as “Father” over 100 times in the book of John alone. Paul called Him “Father” over 40 times in his writings. Many of the ways we interact with God mirror our own experiences with our dads—provider, model, teacher, judge, legislator, comforter, protector.

How we treat our kids will impact how they feel about their Heavenly Father.

  • Am I angry? My kids will probably think God never is satisfied with them.
  • Am I uninvolved? My kids will probably believe God is never there.
  • Am I selfish? My kids will probably live as if God is uncaring.
  • Am I harsh? My kids will probably consider God a tyrant.

But the flip side is true…

  • Am I loving?
  • Am I kind?
  • Am I consistent?
  • Am I just?
  • Am I patient?

The more I am like my Heavenly Father, the more realistic a picture my children will have of theirs.

2. Fathers shape our impression of all authority

People who grow up in homes without a dad are 20 times more likely to be imprisoned. There are all kinds of socioeconomic reasons that play into this, but I can’t help but think that a general lack of fatherly authority in their lives has led them to a mindset that rejects all forms of authority.

But having the wrong kind of authority could greatly damage a child’s perception of his own future role as an authority figure. Fathers who are harsh or lacking love in their authority cause an even more negative impact than the absent father. Dr. Stuart Brown studied serial murderers and found that, almost without exception, their fathers had forced extremely unrealistic regimens of work and rigid rules upon them at very young ages while failing to show any compassion or love. I wonder how many people who abuse their power as adults got the idea of rigid, uncaring authority from their fathers.

Those of us who understand that we must model proper authority to our children can still be a part of the fathering problem…

30 Days of Thanks #16- A Good God

Throughout the month of November I am writing about the first thing for which I am consciously thankful each day. I am doing this simply as a way to be more intentionally grateful. For more on this project, check out the first one or even last year’s 30 Days of Thanks.

My plan to be intentionally grateful must be working because I woke up this morning singing a song of thanksgiving despite the condition of my sinus passages. The specific song I was singing was Psalm 107 put to tune by my dad. He used to make up catchy tunes all the time when he was in charge of children’s church and it’s amazing how many I still remember.

O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.
They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
-Psalm 107 (KJV)

That one passage says a lot about our God. I’m going to attempt to meditate on that the remainder of the day and remember that…

Today, November 16, I am thankful for a good God who has redeemed me and gathered me to Himself.

30 Days of Thanks #9- I am NOT Attending the Ladies’ Retreat

Throughout the month of November I am writing about the first thing for which I am consciously thankful each day. I am doing this simply as a way to be more intentionally grateful. For more on this project, check out the first one or even last year’s 30 Days of Thanks.

That may sound like a really weird thing for a guy to be thankful for. Although I’m not really proud of it, I may hold the record for being the male who has attended the most East Coast Ladies Retreats. Unfortunately, I have been in charge of the audio at four of different ECLRs (I always pronounce that “éclair”) and only three of those were at my church. There are many, many reasons that I am glad that I am not making the trip to Goldsboro, NC to be a part of the overly-estrogenic festivities this year:

  • I don’t have to ride a bus for 4+ hours, stopping every 30 minutes for a bathroom break.
  • I don’t have to worry if I will be dressed up enough or too much for the conference.
  • I don’t have to remind myself that there is a fundamental difference in the words “retreat” and “conference” (ECLC is more accurate but less feminine).
  • I don’t have to boost the 4k frequency on a speaker’s microphone (just enough to ride the edge of feedback) before leaving the room because she is appalled at my masculine presence half-way through her illustration.
  • I don’t have to pretend to eat healthy food while stuffing my face full of every pastry I can get my hands on.
  • I get to stay home and hang out with my kids while my wife gets a much-needed break from us.

Yeah, I’m going with that last one. That list was starting to sound like a Dr Pepper Ten commercial.

Today, November 9, I am thankful for the chance to be a more hands-on dad this weekend.