Your Kids should be your Hobby

Do you have a hobby? Do you golf, workout, hunt, bowl, or paint? I have been a musician most of my life. I LOVED playing live and hanging with my bandmates. Unfortunately, it became a part of my life that I could have used to spend more time with my kids. I’m not saying that hobbies in of themselves are bad, but your time with kids is more important. Does your hobby cause stress at home, fights with the Mrs., or incur an expense that could be better used to help the family? If so, I want to encourage a change.

Let’s say that you are going to live for 75 years. Optimistically with today’s medical advancement, probably more. However, let’s just say 75 years. Having a child in your home until they are 18 years old is only 24% of your life. You have 76% of your life to do you if you want to put it in those terms. If 76% of just you is not enough, perhaps you could develop a hobby that coordinates with or for your children.

I really only knew 2 things, music, and soccer. My oldest son gravitated to music. My younger 2 towards sports. This was fortunate for me. I had something I could contribute towards both of them. However, the band thing that I wanted to do was more exclusive than inclusive. Kids have a way of being a “buzzkill” for bandmates that don’t have kids. This is not to mention the late hours and traveling that can accommodate such hobbies. 

I decided to step away from band life. I jumped into coaching with my younger 2 kids, while playing music with my oldest son in church and helping him with some of his music writing. This transformed who I was, and what I was. Chances were that I was never going to build a better life them the way I was. Now we were doing life together, and it was awesome. It was so much more fulfilling. In addition to this, it GREATLY improved my relationship with my wife.

Love is about time. You can be the best golfer, biker, tennis player, or out of shape church league softball team member, but if you suck at being a dad none of your “victories” and/or achievements will mean much later in life. You will never be more famous than in the embrace and heart of your kids. Thousands can chant your name. It will never compare to how your children feel about you.

What if you don’t have the knowledge or skills that it takes to be incorporated into your child’s activities? Start from where you are? Can you learn? Even a consistent effort is viewed as a cool thing to your children. Talk to them. If there are no hobbies or passions in place and active, search one out. Learn how to do something new together. 

Many dads have crazy work schedules. I understand that and God bless those of you that do what it takes to provide. I would like to submit that I believe kids have a formula in their heads that allows for that. However, it is the time “you have” that counts. What do you do when you CAN be with them? For you workaholics out there, kids have really good b.s. meters. Don’t try to justify yourself. When there is an opportunity for family, what do you choose? I use to choose the band. You know those guys. The… I’m never gonna make it big anyway but I gonna waste precious time and money to try to convince myself that I am or could… You get it. 

Hobbies can be a wonderful tool to get the family together. Some people have many hobbies. The important take away from this is your time. Does your hobby promote time with and for your kids? Does your hobby tell your kids that you prioritize them? I encourage you to dive in and incorporate your kids or begin a new journey together. 

For me, the ironic part of all this is my kids, now that they have left home, they are encouraging me to do music again. I’m not going to try the “band” stuff anymore, but my church has an amazing program. So last week I booked an audition to be part of their program…and made it. Guys…you have plenty of time for you. I pray that while your kids are at home, don’t focus on yourself. Don’t be selfish with your time. Give of yourself to your kids. Be the best dad possible.


Learn Grow Love!

I love the movie Driving Miss Daisy. It came out in 1989. If you haven’t seen it, you must. If you have seen the movie, you will recall the wonderful story of friendship and love that developed throughout the story. The part that I love so much about the story is the raw honesty, verbal battering, and understanding that developed in the story.

Miss Daisy, played by the amazing Jessica Tandy was a stiff-necked widow and retired school teacher. Morgan Freemon played the role of Hoke, the man hired by Miss Daisy’s son to be her driver. Miss Daisy was a rude and snobbish old lady at the onset of the film. In one scene, Hoke revealed to Miss Daisy that he could not read. Miss Daisy fussed at him, gave him a brief grammar lesson to enable him to find a specific headstone in a cemetery. During the “lesson”, Miss Daisy said, “I taught some of the stupidest children that God ever put on the face of this earth…”. 

Although it commanded a chuckle of “amen” from many old school teachers in the theater, it made me do some serious contemplation about kids and their learning. I started to look into their development. I always looked at kids as young, but rarely as unable to comprehend. I’m not talking about toddlers, but young teens…middle and high school ages. When looking at their behavior, there were many times that I pulled out my stupid rubber stamp. I never took the time to consider how they think and their brain development. 

In a book entitled The Teen Whisperer by Mike Linderman, the author states, “Many teens, because their brains are still growing aren’t capable of the kind of higher-level reasoning, abstract thought, formulating a vision of the future, and feeling empathy for others the way adults can”. I had heard the suggestion and claims many times throughout the years, but never put 2+2 together. Perhaps I was the one with the incapability. Not of the tasks in his statement, but truly understanding kids and teens.

One thing I hate is excuses. I try not to make them because I can’t stand them when they come to form my students. I had to come to a place where I owned my own lack of understanding. I always viewed those that gave excuses as weak or dismissive of responsibility. I had to learn. The first step in learning is to shut up. That’s right…eyes and ears open…mouth shut. After that, you can question for clarity, not to debate your own convictions. I had to ask myself what it was that I truly wanted to learn and why. 

I needed to learn in order to grow as a man, teacher, and dad. Only then could I give my kids and students the type of love that they needed which would open their minds to learning. Remember, where there is hostility, little learning takes place. Where there is misunderstanding relationships don’t grow. Lastly, only through compassion and love will you ever reach a child’s heart and mind. Please note that I never removed discipline from the equation. Discipline and guidance must be present for a child/teens sense of security. It is up to you as the dad however, to balance the other elements for their development.

Does this mean that I would need to embrace excuses? Never. What it means is that by understanding grow and abilities, it allows me (the adult) to make sure that I am communicating and teaching with the proper tools and language. I think giving kids an audience for excuses increases their likelihood of more failures throughout their lives. I think it says that failing is okay. Failing is only okay when you react to it properly, owning it and trying again.

When my middle child went off to college, it was a very proud moment. He had graduated high school and worked very hard to get a college to draft him as a soccer player. Guess what. His college career lasted one semester. He traveled a lot with the soccer team and did not put the time into his school work as he should have. He failed. I told him this as he sat on my couch between semesters. He needed to own it. This was painful. He flushed the chance that he had wanted for so long. “Now what?”, I asked him. “You are down now. How are you going to get up?” His “formulating a vision for the future” was not there. I could not believe it and wanted to dismiss his lack of drive to be stupid. I was the stupid one. He needed me to understand what he could not put into words, have compassion, and guide him. “I” had to learn how to help him.

Dads, you are going to struggle with your kids/teens as long as you sit on your dad throne. Humble yourselves and learn. Then through love, compassion, and guidance, you can grow. Your children can grow. The relationship can grow and you can be the best dad possible.


Don’t Make Excuses

As a blogger, I have to do two things a lot. I have to READ and write. I emphasize the READ part because putting stuff on “paper” is relatively not hard. Reading ideas, articles, books, blogs, and research is the heavier part of the job. Today I read an article on parenting during the “Trump Era”. I won’t quote the source and try to start a debate with the “Dr.” that wrote it. However, I must say that I was rolling my eyes so much I was losing my place. 

The author was talking about the “stress” that has risen due to political rhetoric. People can get emotional on political issues. Some people may cry. Seeing a parent cry can cause distress. OMG! There are some wonderful writers out there. They have wonderful ideas, encouragement, useful information and tools that can help build a parent into a resourceful strong individual that kids need. Some of these quacks do the opposite.

I don’t like writers that try kick an emotional hornet’s nest. I don’t want someone trying to install fear into the lives of readers and making something bigger than it should be. However, my biggest pet peeve is when writers encourage the blame game. We do not grow as dads my brothers if we ever embrace the blame game and or victim status. Crappy situations are everywhere…so are crappy people. However, we must own our own mistakes and DO something to improve our situation. 

In the book Raising Men by Eric Davis (the Navy Seal Sniper Instructor for Marcus Luttrell and Chris Kyle), Davis writes, “We must become solely responsible for what is going on inside us”. He was talking about things that “make us upset”. He was talking about the core of who we are. The core of who we are cannot be determined by others. Throughout history, children have witnessed and survived through horrors that I personally could not imagine. I think their mental well being can withstand someone getting upset or crying. We must teach our kids to let things like that go. We must also teach our kids to be responsible for themselves regardless of the words or actions of another.

Jordan Peterson, author/professor/psychoanalyst stated in an interview that “you can have your kids protected or strong”. We as dads obviously wish to protect our children from imminent danger, but must allow our children to wrestle and problem solve on an appropriate level. We must reject victim mentalities. We must reject the blame game. We need to embrace the idea that they are not helpless to waller in a “woe is me” because of the past or current contention. 

“Well, she has this condition…she can’t…”. What can she do? “Well, he was treated this way…”. So were many people. Many of them rose above it. We have to divorce ourselves from “can’t” and excuses. We must teach our kids “NOT” to accept a victim mentality. I use to ask my kids how “they did”…not the team. When my kids were in a bad situation, I asked them “what are you going to do about it”. I never want my kids to embrace excuses. I never what to hear that they are not where they want to be because of another person, or a law, or a situation. 

The last time I spoke about a matter like this, a very angry lady said it is easy to make statements like that if you never experienced anything traumatic. I asked her if she was referring to the abuse I received from a neighbor boy when I was 5 years old, or my drug use, divorce, or academic failures. “How much do you want to know about?” “None of it defines me. I am responsible for who I am. My past is the past”. She got quiet real quick. I’m not going to allow my kids to embrace excuses, play the victim card, or blame others. I want them to be strong. The first step therefore was to let go of all those things and move forward.

Please understand that I know people suffer. I know bad things happen. I am also not suggesting that I got over my own issues overnight. I did, however, “get busy”. That is the secret of success. Move. Do something. Get busy. How are you going to reach your goals? I love the mindset that author Eric Davis speaks of when he describes having to swim 5 ½ hours in SEAL training. “Inhale, exhale, keep swimming”.

Dads, to accept the blame game, victim status, and excuses are to make your kids slaves to someone or something. Let them know that they are responsible. They have the ability. Encourage them to move forward, get busy, and accomplish goals. Be an example. Be the best dad possible.