Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

PARENTING AND CHARLIE’S COLD

Posted: February 2, 2012 in Parenting
Tags: , ,

I went by my daughter’s house on my way home yesterday.  She is such an amazing cook and since they are not much on eating leftovers, my wife and I get to help them not feel guilty about wasting food.  We do eat leftovers – and like them.  I believe some foods are even better when they are leftovers… but I digress.  My point is, I got to see my grandson Charlie.  I currently have two grandsons, Charlie and Callen, and I say “currently” because we are expecting another one around the end of April (Praise God from whom all blessings flow!).  One of the side effects of this Man Cold I’ve had for almost a week is that I have been quarantined from them.  My original plan was to just go to the door and pick up my rations and leave but that is not what happened.  I need to confess to you that those little hands reaching out to me and that little pitiful I-just-woke-up-and-I-need-my-Pop voice was more than I could handle.  I was weak and I gave in.

Now before you cast too stern of a judgment on me I have two points of rationalization for you to consider that were the basis of my decision to expose this sweet little sixteen month old to my infection.  First, my daughter had obviously had a very bad day.  She is the one that is carrying the new edition to our family and was in, what appeared to me, need of a few minutes of “mom” time.  Since my wife was with me I took Charlie and went to the other room.

My second point of rationalization was that it was probably little Charlie who infected me with this horrid flu bug in the first place.  He has been dealing with the kid version of the Man Cold for close to two weeks.  Last week he was eating a cracker and decided it would be the spiritual thing to do to share with Pop.  I declined the offer but the little guy can be very persistent with those blue eyes and all.

Still not convinced I was right to hold him in my condition?  Well you are probably right.  It was all about me.  I wanted to be the hero.  I wanted to rescue my daughter and be the “man” with Charlie but it was all about me.  Here is the real sad truth, many times as a parent I used the same type of irrational logic with my own kids.  Instead of doing what was best for them, I did what was best for me. I did not want to be the Big Bad Dad; I wanted to be Disneyland Dad!  I wanted us to all just get along and on many occasions I said yes when I shouldn’t have.  My own fear of rejection caused me to go along to get along, putting my kids in danger.

I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases Proverbs 13:24, “A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them.”  My interpretation of this verse is that if I really love my children (and grandchildren), I will do what is best for them and not what is most convenient for me.  For years now there has been a cry rising up from the younger generations.  The cry is, “I don’t need you to be my best friend, mom and dad, I need you to be my parents!”

Parenting and Grandparenting is not easy.  Pray for me.  I’ll pray for you.  Also pray for Charlie’s cold!

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GAME PLAN

Ok, let’s get more specific. How does the game actually work in relationships?

In my previous post I wrote that all you needed to play the kids version of King of the Hill was a bunch of kids and some elevated surface. To play relational King of the Hill what you need is a basic belief that the way you relate to others is the right way (and even if it’s not, it doesn’t matter).

In other words, you have to have it in your mind that your way of doing things – including relationships – is superior to everyone else’s; that there isn’t a whole lot left for you to learn on the subject; and even if there was, it doesn’t really matter because you are strong enough to make everyone around you submit to your way.

Most of us aren’t quite as in-your-face as that. We’ve learned that there are several strategies to get the upper hand and to take charge of those around us. As I hit on these you might want to place a mental check mark next to the ones that apply to you.

1. “Pull rank” verbally or non-verbally.

When your kids complain about your policies and decisions and want to know why, is your primary explanation to them “because I said so?” “I’m your father” …”I’m your mother” … That’s what it means to pull rank.

In essence, whenever we communicate, “you have to do it my way because, right now, I am higher on the hill than you are” we’re pulling rank. And if we’re not careful, we can fall into a pattern of doing that to our spouses, children, subordinates at work and even our friends.

Is there ever a time when it is valid to pull rank? Yes, but very rarely. Only when it is critical that things be done your way and only after every other option has been exhausted.

2. Take offense when someone questions you.

This communicates that you don’t like anyone thinking that they may have a better way or better idea than you do. To be King of the Hill, you need everyone to automatically assume that your way is the best way, that your ideas are the best ideas. So, you need to let people know that if they don’t do that, you are going to make things hard on them.

3. Expect others to compensate for your relational weaknesses.

Have you ever heard yourself saying to someone else, “Look, this is just who I am. This is how I roll. Take it or leave it”?

Occasionally, it may be ok to say something like that, but people who play this game say it all the time. Instead of admitting their weaknesses and trying to improve themselves, they throw the burden onto everyone else. “You learn how to deal with me,” they say, “and we’ll all get along just fine.”

4. Stick together primarily with “birds of a feather.”

It’s hard to play this game for a long time because it hurts to have people leave you or distance themselves from you. So, you need to have other people (who are also playing the game in their relationships) encourage you that your way is the right way. They understand exactly how you feel, because they, too, are surrounded by jerks who just need to get in line.

5. Rely on logic to control people.

“Knowledge is power”, they say, and so people who play this game strive to become masters of knowledge – or at least enough knowledge to have control over others. (Very rarely does their knowledge ever apply to them personally). They know it all and they know how to present it in a way that makes everyone else look stupid or foolish.

So, that’s the strategy, But how do you win?

A win (and I use that word somewhat sarcastically, because nobody really wins in this game) amounts to successfully covering up your personal insecurity through pride.

That’s the real goal of people who play this game. On the outside, they appear totally self-sufficient. But, on the inside, they are full of self-doubt. “Do people really care what I think? Will they listen to me? Am I valuable? Am I capable?” … and the list of questions goes on and on. So, to compensate, they put on a front that says, in essence, “I’m better than you”, which is the definition of PRIDE.

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A third way you can create a significant life is…

3. Look for eternal significance in all you do.
Three brick-workers were asked what they were doing. One said, “I’m laying bricks.” Another said, “I’m making $17.50 an hour.” The third said, “I’m building a cathedral for the glory of God.” All three were doing the same job, yet all three had a different perspective about it.

The key to significance–to living a satisfying life without regrets–is in recognizing the eternal value of the little things you do.

Steve May, a pastor to whom I give much credit to for this series, punctuated this truth. He said a young widow told him “It was about a year after her husband, Tim, had passed away. She and her family were having Thanksgiving Dinner and everyone was saying what they were thankful for. Her 8-year-old son said ‘I’m thankful for the days that Dad went outside and played catch with me.’ The woman said, ‘Tim’s office was at the house. Whenever a client missed an appointment, he would take Michael outside to play catch. He did it to defuse his anger over the client missing a session; he had no idea he was creating a memory that would last a lifetime.’ Then she said, ‘If he had realized how significant it was, I’m sure he would have done it more often.'”

Every day matters, even the mundane, are filled with eternal significance. It may seem to us that we’re just killing time, but we could be strengthening the bond of a relationship. It may appear just small talk to us, but we could be saying something that will change someone’s life forever. We may think we’re just laying bricks, but we could be building a cathedral for the glory of God. Look for meaning in the little things.

We see this principle in the life of Christ again and again. He would be having a meal with a friend and turn it into a life-changing experience. He would be walking along the road with his disciples and see a tree, and teach his disciples a lesson in faith.

Do you want to create a life without regrets? Remember this: There are no throw-away moments. Every day matters. Look for the eternal significance in your work, your words, your relationships, and your actions.

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1. Sharpen Your Arguing Skills

I really hope you didn’t think that you and your teenager would never have conflict.  Conflict is okay. It’s part of the maturation process for them and you.  Your teen’s growing independence is naturally going to cause him to question your values? I still don’t see eye to eye with my parents on everything (Don’t tell them ’cause I’m not sure they know).

Conflict happens. Why not use those times as an opportunity to develop your teen’s independent thinking. You will also be allowing them time to process your side of the argument. They’ll never place value in your side until you at least validate their right to theirs.

Here’s what I am saying: don’t allow conflicts to hinder your relationship with your teen. It’s okay to have a heated discussion from time to time. But scripture reminds us to “Be angry, but don’t sin.” I would suggest the following boundaries for arguing;

  • Never, never, ever let an argument get physical.
  • Never be disrespectful to each other.
  • Never be demeaning.
  • Know when to call a time out to allow emotions calm down. Resume the discussion on more respectful terms.

Even if neither mind has changed, end the argument on a loving note.  A good way to do that is to make a rule that every argument must end with a hug. That’s the goal. Even if you can’t agree, you are the grown up, and you can at least agree to disagree because it was all talked out.

2. Continue To Engage Your Teen

Have you ever heard a parent say, “Just get out of my sight?” I hate to be the one to break this to you but that is a MISTAKE!  That may be ok until everyone has had a chance to cool off and respect is restored but ongoing avoidance will only serve to build walls between you and your child. Instead, by engaging in discussion you will let your teen know you’ll continue to love them and spend time together even though there is a disagreement.

I have shared this with the kind congregation at Wahoo a number of times because of its impact.  A young couple went to a toy store to by a gift for their child.  When they engaged the sales clerk they told her that they were looking for a toy that will keep their child busy and be educational.  They told the clerk that they want the child to be able to love and hold the toy when she gets afraid or lonely.  After showing the couple several toys, the frustrated clerk told them that she was afraid that she would not be able to help them.  She said, “It sounds to me that what you are trying to find are parents and we don’t sell those here!”

Kids need to know that you are there for them even through the stormy waters of rebellion.  Make sure you are scheduling time for them in your day and engaging them in conversation.

3.  Model Positive Problem Solving Skills

Life is not a TV sitcom where major life problems are solved in an hour or less.  For the most part, teens are somewhat limited in their ability to solve problems. They often don’t have the maturity to unravel life’s bigger issues, and they don’t understand how to change their behavior in ways that are beneficial to them. That’s where a parent comes in. Demonstrating your own resources for managing frustration is one good way to teach your teen how to handle their frustration. Tell them how you go about solving problems at work, or with your spouse. Let them know you need God’s help, and that you don’t have all the answers. Help them learn how to use different behavior as a way to solve their own problems or to change their situation for the better.

4. Choose Your Words Carefully

Don’t set yourself up for failure by the words you use. Avoid words like “you” or “always.” Speak in broader, less offensive terms. Be more open to what you will and will not support. I know you’ve probably heard this but I am going to remind you of it: pick your battles carefully.

I read this just today. Be clear on your limits. Don’t say, “It’s your choice,” or “What do you think?” It is better to say, “Here are my limits…what I will and won’t allow in this situation. Then take some time to explore their needs and ideas and try to find a way to meet each other halfway, listening more and talking less.

5. Let Them Know You Are Stubborn With Your Love For Them

I guess what I am saying is (and here’s that word again) model before them God’s love.  Teens need to know that there is nothing they can do to make you love them any less and there is nothing they can do to love them any more than you have always loved them. I did my internship for my doctorate at a nearby children’s home. The one problem most kid’s I counseled dealt with was feeling like a failure.  The relationship with their parents was performance based and they felt as if they could never perform up to their parent’s expectations.  So they gave up.  Try a “grace based” relationship instead of performance based.  They need to know that they have your unconditional love, acceptance and worth.

Conflict, when handled properly, can improve relationships rather than tear them down. You can be certain that your teen will have conflict with their future college room-mate, their future spouse, a future employer, and even their future children (turnabout is fair play- Cha Ching!). So, engaging with your teen in conflict now is more about teaching them how to manage conflict in the future and less about who wins today’s argument.

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Smurf Fishing

Posted: July 24, 2010 in Humor, Parenting
Tags: , , , , ,

Ok, here it is.  This past Tuesday my son, Clayton, and I were out on Playalinda Beach in Canaveral National Park surf fishing.  Clayton decided he would video me fishing (I supposed at the time for an instructional video).   After watching it over and over I decided he filmed it for America’s Funniest Home Videos!

If anyone draws any spiritual applications from this please let me know!


I have already been made aware that the title of yesterday’s post was becoming a model man and just to the left of that title was a picture of me.  In the interest of full disclosure, I know that I have not achieved the status of model man or any other model for that matter.  The picture is in reference to the fishing trip with my son that I mention later in the post.  So save your stamp and emails (you know who you are).  Now on with today’s edition of the model man series:

Another character trait of a model man is COMMITMENT.  That’s the value that makes you great.  Men who do what my football coach used to exhort my high school team to do, “man up.”   What I think he was saying is that losers give up but if you want to win in life you have to be willing to man up!

Guys, to say that we have a problem with this “C” word is an understatement.  I Googled “Men of Commitment” and got things like: Why Men Are Commitment Phobic, Men Afraid of Commitment, 5 Reasons Why Men Fear Commitment, and Why Men Don’t Commit.  That is not a very good sign.  We don’t have a very good track record here.

What do we do to turn this trend around?  STOP BEING WIMPY WILLIES!  The number one complaint I get from wives in marriage counseling deals with passive husbands.  She says, “My husband is a go-getter from the word, Go, when it comes to his business.  He is highly motivated, energetic.  He takes on the world with a vengeance.  He even takes on his sports with a vengeance.  He’s incredibly active in taking the initiative.  But when he comes home, when it comes to helping me, parenting the kids, and spiritual matters, he abdicates all leadership and becomes passive.  Then the catch 22 is that he resents me for taking the lead.  He resents it and he’s jealous of it and he even puts me down for it.”  That is sad!  Really sad!

Where are all the Joshua men from Joshua 24 in the Bible?  Men who will say “I don’t know about Media Max’s family but as for me and my house we are going to do it God’s way.”  Where are all of the men who hang on to their promises with the tenacity of a bulldog?  Another saying that my coach would preach to us is, “Winners never, never, never quit and quitters never win.”  The problem is, when we men quit, the losers are our families which has a ripple effect to our churches and communities.  Let’s “man up” men.

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Come to some agreements on how you will raise your children

As parents we have the opportunity to shape the destiny of our children. That’s why the Bible says,

“Discipline your son in his early years while there is hope. If you don’t you will ruin his life.” Proverbs 19:18 TLB

“Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it. Proverbs 22:6” TLB

The problem is that Larke brings an entirely different perspective to this task than I do. I am this strict disciplinarian and she is more the laid back type (Insert “lol” or “Mmwah ha ha” for those who knows Larke and me.)  Guess what? We all bring different perspectives to the table because we all grew up in different homes, hopefully!  Those perspectives can cause a lot of tension between us. We’ve got to come to some agreements on these things.

“Let there be real harmony so that there won’t be splits in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” 1 Cor. 1:10 TLB

This verse was obviously intended for the church, but it’s not a bad idea for marriage. Have you united in thought and purpose on how to raise your kids? I’m not talking about being in perfect agreement about every little detail, but the basics. Things like their spiritual life, education, discipline. When you can agree on these basic things, you inherently minimize the amount of conflict in your home.

When I am counseling couples with parenting questions, I have them write out five or ten values they want their kids to have before they leave home.  These values will guide their kids in their decision making process in life. 

The truth is, you are teaching them values, good or bad.  The question is, are the values they are learning those you want them to have?