Tag Archives: Fatherhood

A Few Blog Posts on Parenting, Family, & Fatherhood

This morning I received an unexpected phone call from a friend who is having some struggles with his kids. We chatted for a few minutes and I tried to provide a little encouragement from a waypoint just a bit further down life’s road. He texted me a few minutes later and said, “You should write a book for Dad’s raising daughters.”

Well, that was a very kind thing to say, though I don’t know there’s a publisher out there who wants to pay me to write that book. It did, however, get me to thinking that I have written a few things on the subject over the past ten years. So, for Remember When Wednesday, here are a bunch of posts I’ve written on Parenting, Fatherhood, and Family over the years. A lot of these posts are simple morning musings, so please don’t expect a thorough “How To” in there. These are in no certain order (sorry). Also, this is not an exhaustive list, so you can always search for topics on my blog’s homepage.

Cheers! I hope there’s a worthwhile nugget or two in here:

Top Five Tuesday: Five Things I Miss About My Toddlers

Speaking of the toddler stage…I know that pre-school kiddos are a handful. As a father who is about 20 years beyond those years there are things that I truly miss about parenting between when the girls were out of diapers and walking to when they were off to school. And, since I missed my “Memory Monday” post yesterday, let’s do a two-fer today. For the Top Five Tuesday and Memory Monday mash-up, here are the top five things I miss about parenting my two little toddlers:

  1. Bedtime stories.
  2. Cuddling (especially when they fell asleep in my arms).
  3. The screams of “Daddy!” and the sound of four feet running to greet me when I came through the door.
  4. The most hilarious things that came out of their mouths.
  5. Wrestling and rumbling on the floor, tickling, and the giggles, giggles, giggles.

Blind Spots

Davids Family TreeWhen King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.
2 Samuel 13:21 (NSRV)

David was a great warrior, a great general, and a great leader of men. Evidence leads me to believe that he was not, however, a great husband or father. As we’ve read David’s story he has slowly been amassing wives like the spoils of war and the result was many children. But, an army of children do not an army make. A family system and the complex relationships between birth order and gender can be difficult enough for a monogamous, nuclear family. I can’t imagine the exponential complexities that emerge when you have eight wives, ten concubines and children with most all of them.

As I read through these chapters I’ve noticed that we never see David telling his children “no” nor do we see him discipline them for their behavior. David appears to have even had a reputation among his offspring of not refusing their requests. David’s daughter, Tamar, tells her half brother Amnon that if he simply asks Dad she’s sure he’ll let them get married. When Amnon rapes Tamar instead and then turns her away we hear of David’s anger, but he doesn’t do anything about disciplining his beloved first born son. When Tamar’s full brother Absalom plots to kill their half brother Amnon in revenge, Absalom goes to David and presses good ol’ dad until David relents and sends all the brothers on Absalom’s little fratricidal sheep-shearing retreat.

David has a blind spot. He can lead an army to endless victories but his record as leader of a family is a tragic string of failures and defeats.

I cannot point at David without three fingers pointing back at me. We all have our blind spots. Our greatest strengths have their corollary weaknesses. We cannot escape this reality, but we can escape being enslaved to it. What we can do is be honest about our blind spots. We can choose to shine a light of our time and attention to addressing them. We can surround ourselves with others who will graciously help us see them, work through them, and who will patiently love us as we do.

Today’s chapter seems perfectly timed as I’ve been made painfully aware of a blind spot in my life. If you’re reading this, and are a person who prays, please say a prayer for me as I address it.

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10 Ways I Tried NOT to Exasperate My Children

Family
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord
. Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)

Exasperate v. \ig-ˈzas-pə-ˌrāt\
1. To excite the anger of: Enrage
2. To cause irritation or annoyance

From the home office in Pella, Iowa. Top Ten Ways I tried not to exasperate my children:

  1. Let them become who they are called to be, not who I wanted them to be.
  2. Be patient with their small mistakes and accidents. I make them too.
  3. Be patient with their big mistakes and accidents. I make them too.
  4. Expect progress, not perfection.
  5. Life is short: Enjoy letting them be children/teens/young adults with all the irritations, aggravations, lessons, and foibles. I’m the adult, and should be the one to understand that it’s a stage of life they are in and be patient with it.
  6. Found and complimented the beauty in who they were in the moment, refusing to tease or be critical of them in the awkward stage(s) they went through.
  7. Be critical of their behaviors, never of their person.
  8. Believe in and trust: Make my default answer “yes.”
  9. When angry or frustrated, express it appropriately. Sometimes yelling, ranting, and screaming are counter productive. Let silence do the heavy lifting.
  10. Forgive them, just as I have (and need to be) been forgiven.

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Chapter-a-Day Hosea 14

Photo taken by me as an example of a stay at h...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lord says,
“Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;
    my love will know no bounds,
    for my anger will be gone forever.
Hosea 14:4 (NLT)

It has been said that a child’s view of God often comes directly from their relationship (or lack of relationship) with their father. How a child sees God is often the same as they see their dad. I get why kids make the comparison, and as a dad I’ve often felt the weight of that responsibility.

Perhaps that’s why when I read the prophets I sometimes feel a pang of understanding with God’s point-of-view as He relates and responds to His children. While not universally true, I think it is generally true that fathers tend to be the hand of justice in a family while mothers provide a balance of compassion. Dads often make the unpopular and difficult decisions, risking the temper tantrums and cold shoulders, trusting that the child will eventually realize that it was ultimately for their benefit.

Dad’s also tend to be the executioner of punishment. Among my numerous friends with small children, I still hear the phrase “wait ’til your father gets home” used in high frequency. As the judge, jury and executioner of family justice, I find it easier to relate when the prophets warn, cajole and speak of God’s anger at His children’s foolishness and outright rebellion. But I also realize that this is not the whole story.

Underneath this father’s iron fist of justice beats a soft heart of love and compassion. Our daughters may have felt my stubborn wrath, but my wife will tell you at just how deeply I agonize over the girls when I have ever had to make difficult decisions that resulted in the girls disappointment, frustration, or anger. I get it when God continues to remind His children through the prophets that at the source of the fire hose of justice you’ll find the still waters of love and compassion. As the saying goes, “still waters run deep.”

Today, I’m thankful for being a dad and the spiritual lessons it affords. I continue to pray that, despite may many failings, I will always be for my children (and someday their children and their children’s children) a worth example of our Heavenly Father.

Taylor’s 21!

 

Cheers, Taylor!

 

Twenty-one years ago yesterday, Taylor was born on a 4th of July evening. With Taylor’s 21st birthday hitting this holiday weekend, my mind has been taking a lot of trips down memory lane. A small handful of my favorite Taylor memories are:

    • Taking her with me on hospital calls and to the nursing home when I was a pastor. Her contagious two-year-old smile and joyful disposition had more of a healing effect than anything I ever said or did.
    • Daddy-daughter trips to the Art Center and Cubs games.
    • Taking a clay class together downtown and teaching her the weather beacon rhyme.
    • Lots of singing and dancing together. I especially loved dancing together at the annual Daddy-Daughter Valentine’s dance when she was a little girl and of course dancing with her at her wedding.
    • Being on stage together.
    • Reading The Lord of the Rings at bedtime, especially when Gandalf fell in the Mines of Moria and she cried.
Taylor drew this as a gift for me on Father's Day
    Taylor has turned into a beautiful woman inside and out. She blessed me with a wonderful Father’s Day gift. She did a great portrait of me in charcoal from a photograph of me in college that she loved. I felt so honored.

Today I took Taylor out for a daddy-daughter date to celebrate her birthday and, for the first time, I bought her a drink. We had a nice conversation, we laughed, and we talked about life.

I remember when Taylor was a baby and I would try to picture what she would look like as a woman, what she would be like and how she would turn out. I never cease to be grateful for such a great kid who has been and continues to be such a blessing.

Happy Birthday, Taylor!

Chapter-a-Day Luke 2

So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people. Luke 2:51-52 (MSG)

My daughter, Madison, called yesterday. It was good to hear her voice. Now that she lives in a city hours away, I relish the sound of her voice. I’m thankful that technology makes it so easy to connect. Then, in the afternoon, I heard voices downstairs and discovered that Taylor had stopped by and was chatting with Wendy. Getting a hug from her made my day brighter.

As I read today’s chapter, I found it interesting that Luke reminds us twice that Jesus’ mother “held” the experiences of his childhood “deep within.” Having interviewed Mary after Jesus’ death, I wonder if those were her words, or if it was Luke’s observation as he listened and watched.

After 30 years of consistently reading God’s Message, I have a greater appreciation for Mary’s experience than ever before. I’ve read this passage countless times and have given little thought these words. Time and experience never cease to provide a more expansive perspective to each chapter I read, and now the words leap off the page at me. 

With the girls grown and gone, I find my mind constantly accessing the hard drive of my memory to view in my mind’s eye the moments from their childhood which I hold dearly, deep within. Who they are today, and who they are becoming is rooted in the very first steps of their own journey. I hold the memory of those first steps dearly, deep within.