Archive for the 'Parenting' Category

26
Oct
09

Forty percent challenge facing dads

Forty percent!  That is four out of 10; forty out of a hundred!  I know you can do the math too, but wow forty percent.  That surprized me.  But that’s what recent stats say regarding how many teens (aged 14-19) have had consensual sexual intercourse (see here: girls – 41.6%; boys – 38.1%).

Stats can be so impersonal.  Let’s work on that.  I have three live-at-home kids aged: 13, 17, 19.  These “stats” would suggest that if my kids were to mirror the culture at large then at least one of them would be or would have been sexually active.  That’s not impersonally that is scary!

As a dad, is there anything I can do to diminish the likelihood that my kids decide to become sexually active?  Yes, thank God there is.  In fact there is more than one post can present and certainly more than this dad has practiced.  With that said let me make the following suggestion for you to consider and even comment on.

Results show that teens who have a close or very close relationship with their father demonstrate a decreased likelihood of sexual activity during their teen years (boys – 16% less; girls – 12% less; see here p. 5).

Now that was easy to write, but many of us know that it isn’t easy to pull off.  Things clamour for our time and energy.  My own experience is that in the constant cacophony of calls for my attention my kids voices are easily masked or muted.  Sometimes, shamed to have to say this, it’s because it’s convenient.  What I mean is that there is too much on my plate and something has to slide…just for a bit…and that something is more easily my kids.  Oh, for sure I rationalize it, by saying when things slow down I will make it up to them.  You know I am still waiting for things to slow down!  Maybe you know of what I speak.

I think we need to find a different approach so that our kids receive a slice of us on a regular basis.  Not just because there is a favourable correlation with dad spending time with them and their choice to defer becoming sexual active, but for lots of other reasons.

Have I made no moves in this directions except for drawing a line in this post and daring myself to take up the fight to prioritize my kids?  Yah I think I see some scattered light that suggest a new day may be dawning for this old dad.

My daughter likes a particular TV show, she borrows it from the library on DVD.  I have become more intentional about when I watch TV  to watch it with her and others in the family.  She seems to love to sit next to me.  Go figure!

My son is home from university every other week or so.  Instead of car-pooling with others I drive him back.  It gives us an hour together to, wait for it, to talk!

I would love to hear how you are prioritizing spending time and energy with your teens.  Your ideas just might give me another nudge in the right direction.

17
Oct
08

Fatherly love – the (re)proof is in the putting

Our at-home kids each have chores that are to be done during the weekend.  The idea so they tell us is that during the school week they don’t have time, but during the weekend they do.  If you haven’t already guessed, it doesn’t always work out that way.  This past weekend was one of those.  A son forgot.  On Tuesday I talked to him about it, he promised to get them done that night.  He only did part of them.  On Wednesday we had another talk.  More promises.

I find this kind of thing frustrating.  I just wish the chores were done without all the drama.

This week I read:

11My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12for the LORD reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights. (Pr 3:11-12)

I learned two things.  First, part of the role of a father is to discipline one’s children.  Second, a father disciplines because he loves his children.

Those two things hit me.  There are times when I let things slide because I don’t have the emotional gas to do the disciplining.  There are times when my reproof is fueled by irritation and not love.

Looks like my son isn’t the only one that is coming up short!

18
Feb
08

Green side out!

//farm1.static.flickr.com/45/141173311_720d4200ce.jpg?v=0He talked about his journey toward God, while he moved the cube that his hands held. This way and that way went the cube, as did his journey. Then the moment came and he came alive to God in Christ; the green tiles of the multi-coloured cube were now aligned all on the same side. He turned the green side outward toward us and said that this represented his Christian ‘face’. By looking at the green side, he said, we might think that everything in his life was now together, but…he turned the back side of the cube toward us…there are still facets of his life that are not yet all together. Just like the backside faces of the cube they remained a jumbled array of coloured tiles.

It was an illustration with which I easily identified. I prefer to turn outward those ‘faces’ that are together, but I know that there are aspects of my life which are still being moved into full alignment with God’s purposes. For example, as a father there are too many times that I miss the teachable moment with one of my kids. I fail to build sufficient margin into my world so that I have both time and reserve to enter theirs and speak words of encouragement and gentle correction.

Anyone relate?

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Php 1:6)

02
Feb
08

4 challenges from an ancient foster dad

I spent some time this past week reading about Mordecai. He shows up in the Book of Esther; she is a young Jewish beauty living in exile, he is both her cousin and her guardian. Mordecai intrigues me. Just wait a minute. Let me shoot straighter than that, the guy challenges me. Let me mention a few things.

First, his heart is soft. He takes in his orphaned cousin and cares for her like one of his own (Esther 2:7). When Esther is chosen for the king’s harem, Mordecai checks every day to see how she is doing (Esther 2:11).

Second, his convictions were not negotiable. When the king ordered that homage be expressed to prince Haman, Mordecai chose not join the other servants in bowing down to the prince (Esther 4:1-5). His commitment to God would not permit him to so honour another.

Third, his faith in God was unshakeable. Because of Mordecai’s failure to pay homage, Haman was plotting not only his destruction, but the annihilation of the Jewish people. Mordecai urged Esther to exploit her royal position to intercede for her people, but if she proved unwilling, Mordecai was confident that God would deliver the Jewish nation some other way (Esther 4:14).

Fourth, he exercised power with compassion. Mordecai was eventually advanced to second in rank in the land. Although his power was great it did not corrupt him; he remained committed to the welfare of his people (Esther 10:3).

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26
Jan
08

Raising boys

//farm1.static.flickr.com/93/231624059_40a3b10388.jpgRaising boys, that is the topic of this post. I have three and let me say right out of the blocks that I am no expert. I have learned that each of my sons is not like the other: one loves guitar, another basketball and the third politics. So…I am learning…my approach to each one needs to be customized. With that I need help. Maybe you can relate.

An article entitled “How to Fix Boys” caught my attention. It is an interview with Leonard Sax, family physician and research pathologist in Maryland. Here are some quotes that caught my attention:

The six-year-old boy and the six-year-old girl differ from each other much more than an adult man and adult woman do. We all wind up in the same place: there’s very little difference in terms of adult men’s and women’s maturity, ability to sit still, how they learn. But there are huge differences in the ability of the average six-year-old girl and boy to sit still and be quiet.

Policies which ban children from playing with pretend swords or toy guns are not grounded in any research findings demonstrating that those policies accomplish anything good.

If you have such a son, who is very much engaged by competition and mastery, these games may pose a particular risk. They can be addictive, and I use that term speaking as a medical doctor: literally addictive.

The most startling change between teenage culture today and 30 years ago is the way more and more teenage boys have moved away from the courtship of girls. Online pornography has displaced the pursuit of real girls for a significant number of boys.

Dad has an important role to play, but boys have to see a lot of different men to have a healthy sense of what it means to be a man. They need a community of men, and we don’t provide that.

Look again at the last point. The church needs to be a place where boys find healthy role models. I would love to hear what your church is doing in this regard.

10
Jan
08

Recognizing the shadows in the lessons we caught

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My wonky ankle is aching again, so I have switched from running to riding a stationary bike. Not my favourite. It just doesn’t seem right to work up a big sweat by going no where (hmm that gives me an idea for another post…later J).

For my futile journey of all pedal and no progress I invited Reggie McNeal to be my ear buddy. Via podcast he filled my head with new notions regarding the essential disciplines of leadership (see his 2006 book Practicing Greatness). Reggie asked one question that stuck with me: “What is one thing that your dad taught you that he didn’t intend to?” Reggie isn’t talking about positive things here, he is talking about things we have learned from our dad (or from our mom) that have a dark side. Coming to grips with the lessons we learned in our home of origin, especially the unintentional and potentially detrimental ones, is part of growing in self awareness, a key discipline for leaders, so Reggie would argue.

In my home, I caught the lesson that “one does not make a scene”. In other words, one does not draw attention to themselves or to the situation. Conflict is to be avoided. The public stage, regardless of how small, is best left to others. In the last few years, I am beginning to realize the mantra, “one does not make a scene” can lead to some negative outcomes. There are times when avoiding conflict is not the right course. There have been times that trying to lead from the “wings” has been sorely ineffective.

Your turn if you would like. What lesson did you catch growing up that you are beginning to see is potentially detrimental?

09
Dec
07

Finding my way around “The Golden Compass”

In an earlier post I talked about feeling like a “dial-up dad” in a “high-speed” world. One of the things that I struggle with is trying to stay informed about the various media influences that swirl around my kids. The recent release of the movie “The Golden Compass” is an example of that. What is the good, bad and ugly? I need to know because I want to have an answer for my kids before the “buzz” begins. I stumbled upon this excellent review by Al Mohler while sifting through my feeds and thought I would recommend it to you.

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