Category: Parent Ideas

The Family Google

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What if….?

Why do….?

Do you remember when….?

What was it like….?

Question after question after question is asked at my house. I would feel certain that it is not much different in other houses. We are bombarded with seemingly endless questions from our kids day after day. It can be fun at first but can often lead to frustration. We are busy people with busy lives and we often dismiss the simple questions thrown at us throughout the day. Perhaps, we are missing out on a greater opportunity.

Think about this idea with me for one moment.

We are the family Google.

Our children want the answers from us. They want to know that we have the answers to life’s simplest and most complex questions. They want the security of asking without the threat of feeling foolish.

Technology has given us access to information at the click of a button but it cannot give our kids what they desperately need: a deep, meaningful relationship with their parents. Intentional conversation is a key component to being a strategic parent and it starts early. Answering questions and leading conversations will lead to consistent conversation as your children get older.

The worst mistake we can make as parents is to give in to the technological pressure of today’s world and miss opportunities to get to the heart of our children. Technology has provided an easy escape from the work of having conversations with our kids. Sadly, it has only increased the relational gap between parents and children and we are seeing the effects.

So what do we do it about it? Here are some proactive steps to take:

  • Don’t use technology as a crutch to avoid having conversations. I know it is easier to let them watch a movie or play on an IPAD but it does not help foster strategic conversation.
  • Stay off your phone when you are with your kids. They will imitate what they see from you. If conversation with someone else is more important than conversation with them, you are setting the table for them to go elsewhere for important conversations.
  • Ask great questions. Try to phrase your questions in a way that force your kids to answer in more than one word. You must train them to talk without using one-word answers. If you start this habit early, it will pay off greatly as they get older.
  • Answer questions even if you are at the point of frustration. You never know when that heartfelt, meaningful question is going to come out. Shutting them out with frustration might eliminate an opportunity for an important conversation.
  • Take time and schedule for strategic conversations. You have to be proactive in this area. Schedule time to do something with them that they like to do and use that as an opportunity to cast vision and discuss strategies for dealing with issues that will occur in the upcoming months and years.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be the family Google. Use those opportunities as a springboard for intentional and strategic conversations with your kids.

The 3 Primary Roles of Fathers

One of the key ingredients to being a strategic and intentional dad is teaching our boys to apply biblical truth to everyday life. I have often found that life as a follower of Jesus often gets fuzzier the closer it gets to real life. As fathers, we must understand that we must fulfill three primary roles in the discipleship of our boys.

Dads must be primary teachers.

A father’s goal for his boys should be to root their identity in the existence and glory of God. Far too many times, I parent as if God doesn’t exist. We should never allow our children to believe in a God who is distant and uninvolved. That means we must make it abundantly clear that God is with us in the mundane, ordinary tasks of the day. Our boys must see us glorifying God in all areas of our life. We must seek to embed the story of our sons in the larger story of God.

Dads must be primary counselors.

A father must realize that he is the negotiator in a house full of sinners, of which he is the worst. God’s plan for the family is to be a picture of redemptive community. In order for that to happen, fathers must lead their families in gospel centered conflict resolution. Our sons must see a godly example from us on how to talk with another, serve one another, make decisions and deal with differences. We must make sure that we do not give into surface solutions rather than dealing with our son’s heart.

Dads must be primary coaches.

Great coaches prepare, model, and adjust. Dads must prepare like coaches by parenting with the end in mind. We must know our “personnel” and prepare them to be people of hope even in the midst of a fallen world. We must also parent with a humble awareness of our own sin. Last time I checked, I don’t recall Romans 3:23 saying that just our boys sin. Boys must hear from their dads that only through Christ can we truly experience freedom from the things with which we struggle. The hope of the gospel must be the constant theme in the life our family. Finally, we must be willing to adjust and make sure that we never let the minor trials of life take our mind away from the major issue at hand, casting and modeling vision for our boys about what it means to be a godly man.

These three roles will play a critical part in how we teach and shape the worldview of our sons. My prayer is that we all take each role seriously and that we strive to glorify God through the way we invest in the lives of our boys.

A Father’s Responsibility

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Fathers are called to show their sons what it means to be responsible. Responsibility shows that your son is growing up, maturing, and can handle bigger things. Doing dishes, mowing the yard, watching and playing with younger siblings and other acts of service are things that can yield more than allowance. We must teach our boys to take initiative to do those kinds of things without being asked. We must train them with the future in mind.

One critical element of growing into manhood and being responsible involves how to be an integral part of the family. I think many dads fall short in this because we either assume that our boys know what that means or we spend our time teaching other things. If we want our boys to lead their future family well, there are certain things that they must know as a son, which will help guide them when it is time for them to raise a family. I thought I would share just a few in today’s post.

*Teach your son not to measure their love of you by the material things you give or don’t give them. The last thing we need is another generation of young men who feel entitled, spoiled, and place too much emphasis on possessions.

*Teach your son that your love for him does not depend on his performance. The most stressful conversations for boys are often in the car after a game or in carpool after a difficult test.

*Teach your son that he is wired for connection and intimacy. We live in the most connected time in all of history, yet our families have never been more disconnected. Teach your son that family time is valuable and is a priority.

It’s easy for us to get caught up in the fast paced life and forget that we are seeking to raise up a generation of godly men who can lead their family well. If we do not take time to talk about family and model what that really looks like, I am fearful that we will continue to push our families farther and farther apart. Take time this week and make sure that your sons begin to understand what it means to be a godly man and how they are to lead their future family.

 

Are you willing to let your kid hang?

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Are you willing to let your kid hang?

Sky hanging.

Ever heard of it? I hadn’t either until I read this article and saw this picture courtesy of mustang wanted.

Apparently, a Ukranian daredevil has decided to get his picture taken from high places while he dangles from his hands and feet. I must admit that looking at the pictures freaks me out. I can’t even imagine the phone call from one of my kids telling me they are going to do anything remotely close to this.

The more I looked at the pictures and the more I thought about the craziness of this stunt, the more I began to think about how much control I actually try and place over my children.

Let me explain.

When God called our family to move into the inner city of Memphis, our parents were not pleased. They have since changed their opinion but it was tough at first. As our children are growing older, I began to think about how far I am willing to let them hang?

I can talk a big game but am I really willing to let them make decisions that others might consider “dangerous”? If they want to go live, love, and serve somewhere for the sake of the gospel, will I be excited for the opportunity or worried about their safety?

How about some questions that might hit even closer to home?

Am I willing to let my child fail? When he makes a bad decision, do I let him suffer the consequences or immediately try and bail him out? Do I even allow him to be in a position to fail? I think our default is to clean up the mess without letting our children get dirty.

Letting our kids fail and work through difficult situations helps them develop resilience, a trait that many college coaches say is lacking in college students today. While it may be a result of laziness on the child’s part, I believe that parents should bear the weight of responsibility on this one.

Part of being a strategic parent means giving our kids the opportunity to fail under our roof and teaching them how to deal with it. Teach resilience now so they don’t crumble later!

 

Application Not Just Information

One of the key messages that I try to convey to dads is the idea of parenting with the end in mind. We must have a strategic plan for what we want our sons to know and be when they leave us for that next season of life at eighteen. We must think and parent with college in mind. The best thing you can do as a father is take a day and walk around a college campus. This will give you a great perspective on what’s ahead for your son.

Thinking about college reminds me of a great story I heard from a parent about their son’s first few weeks at school. This particular young man was ready to go. He registered for classes and moved into his new home in the dorm. This young man was working his way through college and was on a strict budget. All he could afford for his meals were cheese and crackers. Day after day he would scrape by eating whatever he could afford. After two weeks of this misery, he decided to splurge for a meal at the cafeteria on campus. As expected, he loaded his plate as high and far as the tray would hold. When he finally made it to the cashier, he was nervous that it would be a huge blow to his limited budget. He asked the cashier what the total would be and the cashier asked for his student ID. The cashier politely told him that the cost of the meal was included in his tuition when he registered for classes.

From the first day of class, this young man had access to all the food he could eat yet he failed to understand how the meal program was applicable to him.This is parenting in a nutshell. Our job as fathers is to be the spiritual leader of our household yet we forget to think in terms of why we teach it. Our boys need to understand how the truth we are teaching applies to their life now and in the future. We are preparing them for life on their own. They must know God’s truth, why they believe it, and how that applies to their everyday life. Proactive dads  seek to be a representation of God’s truth and pass it on to their boys.

My prayer is that we take every opportunity we have to impart truth into the lives of our boys. We have a limited time with our boys. Don’t waste an opportunity to prepare them for life on their own. They need us to cast vision for what it means to be a godly man and how that applies to their life on a daily basis. Don’t let them feed on cheese and crackers when you can give them a whole meal. Take advantage of the time you have. It will be over before you know it.

A Poem Every Parent Needs to Read

Read this great poem today via Tim Elmore at Growing Leaders and had to share it. Take time and let this one soak in.

We read it in the papers and hear on the air; 
Of killing and stealing and crime everywhere. 
We sigh and we say as we notice the trend, 
this young generation…where will it end?

But can we be sure that it’s their fault alone?
These kids who do things that we don’t condone;
Who was it shaping their first twenty years?
And who made the world they enjoy with their peers? 

Are we less guilty, who place in their way.
Too many things that lead them astray?
Too many credit cards, too much idle time;
Too many movies of passion and crime. 

Too many books not fit to be read,
Too many damaging things they hear said.
Too many children encouraged to roam,
Too many parents who won’t stay at home. 

Kids don’t make the movies, they don’t write the books.
They don’t make the video games with gangsters and crooks.
They don’t make the liquor, they don’t run the bars,
They don’t change the laws, they don’t make the cars. 

They don’t make the drugs, that muddle the brain;
That’s all done by older folks…eager for gain.
Those self-absorbed teens, oh how we condemn,
The flaws of our nation and blame it on them. 

But rather than fixing blame, let’s fix the cause,
Let’s look in the mirror and conclude as we pause;
That in so many cases — it’s sad but it’s true –
The title “Delinquent” fits older folks too. 

 

Letter from a Desperate Dad

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I recently read a letter from a dad that was looking for a way to connect with his son whose interests didn’t match up the way with his. Instead of complaining about it, he used to his advantage. This is the letter he sent to some of the car dealerships in his city:

“I’m a desperate dad. I’ll do anything to spend time with my son, and right now he is in to sports cars. Would it be possible if I pulled him out of school and brought him up to your showroom so that we could take some test drives? I want to tell you up front, I’m not interested in buying a car.”

To his shock, he got positive responses from every dealership. He called, made appointments, and scheduled a day of test drives with his son. They tried out every car the son wanted to see. After an incredible day of test driving and discussing which cars they liked the best, this dad decided to make it a strategic event. After a lengthy talk about cars, the dad keenly used the art of the intentional conversation and switched the subject to what God calls us to value. A conversation on materialism grew out of a memory making event.

There are so many lessons to be learned from this strategic dad but I want to point out only one. This dad used a chief memory making moment to lead into an intentional and meaningful conversation with his son. Moms and dads, take note. Our children do not need to be treated like people on the FBI’s most wanted list. We can’t sit them across the table with a spotlight on them and begin our interrogation. Use the opportunities you create as a platform to reaching your child’s heart. You can learn so much by talking in an environment that your son or daughter is comfortable being in. Take time this week to plan a memory making experience and use it as a springboard for intentional conversation. I promise you won’t regret it.

What’s the climate in your house?

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In the book Polishing God’s Monuments, Jim Andrews tells the story of a plane disaster.

 

“What made this even a double calamity was the lethal convergence of two factors: bad weather and pilot error. The investigative report of the incident indicated the unfortunate pilot was flying in heavy fog. It went on to explain that when a pilot is flying in those conditions, it is vital that he rely solely on his instruments as opposed to flying “by the seat of his pants.” This is because without a visual point of reference, one’s senses can be easily fooled into thinking the plane is doing the exact opposite.”

 

As I read this story, I could not help but think of how it relates to parenting our children. Strategic parents are very aware of the climate in their house on a day to day basis. I am not talking about the actual temperature but the emotional climate.

 

Parents, especially dads, set the tone on how the evening is going to flesh out that night. If you come home angry and frustrated, the climate in your house tends to follow. If you come home excited to see your family, that climate also tends to follow. This places a huge amount of importance on how a dad acts when he first gets home and how a mother reacts when dad gets home. Don’t let your house be known for bad weather.

 

The second problem in the story involves pilot error. If we do not have a visual point of reference in our home, we are setting our homes up for a crash landing. It is very easy to think that all is well because there is no turbulence at the time. We all can fall into that trap. Instead, strategic parents should always be pointing the family towards the story of God, His character, His creation, and His redemption. He alone should be our visual point of reference. Our children need to see that visual point of reference in how we live, love, and serve.

 

Don’t let bad weather and pilot error crash a perfect opportunity for a great flight. Your children are counting on you to prepare them for their first solo flight. What you do now will greatly affect how that flight turns out. Keep striving to be strategic and intentional!