Public, Private, or Homeschool part 3

Your child’s education is a serious matter and investment in their future. Today in this final post of comparison, we will address homeschool as well as a summary of your choices. If you have not read part 1 or part 2, I invite you to do so by clicking on the link. In the chance that you may have any questions or comments, please send those to deacon@thedadmanual.com 

Homeschool to me is like gravity. I have seen its results, but I am not one that can do more than to report on what I have experienced with those in the field. Most of those that I know who have chosen homeschool have a history with it or have tackled the task as a result of their desire to keep their children out of the public education system. Most of those that have an academic plan catered to them do see many benefits. Those that I have encountered are particularly bright as well as inventive. 

On the downside, I have noticed a struggle with many of these students to navigate social circles unless they are part of a co-op that keeps the students engaged in group activities such as the arts and sports. It appears that the more social interaction that they acquire, the better they do in future endeavors. 

The only other downside that I can see with homeschool is the struggle that they may encounter in being accredited, thus enabling the students to be able to merge directly in a four-year college should they seek to do so without the transition of junior college. However, many of these programs have and are changing to benefit these students as well as others with alternative education documentation.

Every educational system will have its pros and cons. There is no such thing as a perfect situation when it comes to this topic. The best thing that you can do is to complete your due diligence. Educate yourself. One of the dumbest things that dads can do is to assume that we know it all. We are living in changing times. Not only is education like it was when you were young, but your kids are not just a mini version of you. You are your kid’s primary advocate, not the system. “They” do not know what is best for your child, nor do I. You do. This means that much of the responsibility is yours.

Fortunately for us today, we have the technology, information, and answers at our fingertips. Much of the information that you need is online. However, you must remember that online information is NOT unbiased. This information must be put there by individuals. These individuals are doing so with a purpose. They are either trying to promote a program or tear it down. Both of these should be taken with a grain of salt. Don’t hang your hat on all that you read.

You need to compare information and consider the source, especially when it comes to rating the program. As I posted earlier, ratings are the most subjective bits of info that you can read. Those that praise and give five stars are usually associated with the organization. Those that slam organizations can be isolated cases or just a disgruntled former employee or parent that discovered that junior was not the genius angel that promoted him to be. Most of the negative press that I read concerning the organization that I worked for over twelve years came from one of three sources. 1. A parent of a child that got kicked out due to behavior 2. A former student that was mad for being expelled 3. Or the disgruntled former employee. This does not represent a general consensus. It represents those with an ax to grind.

After you take information with a grain of salt, interviews, and face to face encounters are a must. Gather information from other parents, as well as meet school officials. I recommend developing a list of questions or concerns. After you research these questions online, take them to the school administration. Many parents may feel awkward about scheduling such meetings. You have to get over this and remember that this is for your child. 

In conclusion, I would not rate one particular form of education over another. There is however one that is best suited for your child and your family situation. It ultimately comes down to knowing the facts and making a decision. They need your involvement regardless of what you decide. Be a part of the journey. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon  

Public, Private, or Homeschool part 2

While educational options are constantly developing, according to the Huffington Post, “in 2021, it is projected that private schools will have 9% of the US student population. That being said, the majority of young people attend public school. Whether this is a preference or a status held begrudgingly, many parents may not have the down-low on private school life enough to make an informed decision as to if this to be considered. 

Today, I will specifically give you my evaluation of this environment for your consideration. The first assessment that many parents consider is the cost. However, if you find an educational environment that best serves your child’s needs, consider the cost after you weigh the pros and cons…obviously putting the cost as a con. The first element to consider is safety. 

The larger the population, the higher the risk of an incident. This is sheer numbers and common sense. More students to manage is more difficult than a smaller group. Secondly, most private schools have application and interview processes for admittance. Schools will have automatic disqualifiers such as a history of violence, emotional disturbance, drug use, or other behavioral issues. Is this evaluation full proof? Absolutely not. Although school records are required, letters of recommendation acquired, and a trained interviewer assessing the child, information can go undiscovered. Most of the time in my experience, parents of troubled students will cover up or even lie for their child to get them into the school. 

Private schools in general also have a higher standard of behavior as well as academic performance that students must adhere to or risk being removed. The counterpart to this guideline is that private schools rely strongly upon tuition. Depending upon the financial stability of the institution, there may be strict or lax adherence to admittance guidelines. Ask for a financial report. Pay special attention to the endowment amount as well as the annual budget for the clearest picture as to the health of the institution. The healthier they are, the less they need numbers and are therefore able to be more selective of their student population.

Next, you should be granted access to student body testing results as well as a report of academic achievements, college acceptance rates, military enlistment, and sports or other competition results. Although these numbers do not guarantee success or the healthiest environment, it is a good indicator. 

Next, talk to other parents. Don’t rely on online ratings, as these are usually dictated by extreme situations as well as staff testimonials as a part of marketing to offset negative remarks. When you do speak with other parents, it is easy and expected for you to hear about what they “like”. Ask the parents what they would change, or to give you an example as to any struggles that their children have faced at the school. Any report that is completely one-sided cannot be trusted.   

Finally, let’s get to the money. Why does private education cost as much as it does? The answer is simple. They must pay the salaries of their employees, pay the bills, and they do not receive state funding like public schools. Please keep in mind that teachers in private schools normally make around $10,000 less than their public school counterparts. This is good and bad. The reasoning, I will mention tomorrow in my 3rd and final post on this topic.

While the money is definitely a determining factor, keep in mind that most private schools have financial assistance. There are donors, programs, alumni, and even family that may be willing to assist you. The question is how badly do you want it. If getting them into a private school environment is what you want, you will try to find a way. Keep in mind my comment in part one of this series (click here to view). Vocational opportunities at many private schools come with tuition advantages for the children of employees. This is how I was able to manage our costs.

Your child’s education is a serious matter. It is one that takes assessment and investigation to arrive at an educated decision. Take the time to do your due diligence. Be well informed. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon    

Public, Private, or Homeschool?

School choices are not always on the menu for parents. Depending on the many factors of the family make-up, many if not most kids find them having to survive the academic years without any advantages from the starting line. They will have to succeed with their intelligence and home support systems. 

Today is the first of a series that I will address on this very important topic. There is just too much information to contain the information needed to optimize your child’s success. Therefore this will be followed up in 2 more posts. Today I will intro some pros and cons.

As a former educator in the private school sector, I can validate only through what I have witnessed, the pros and cons of different educational environments. How can I evaluate the public schools and home school education, only by the performance evaluations, testing records, and testimony of those that came from those sectors to our private institution? I was a part of the admissions department for a time that would interview families and students prior to enrollment. Due to this, you may surmise that I would have more negative things to say about those environments due to the fact that those I encountered were seeking to move to private education. This is not in itself true.

I grew up as a product of the public education system. My kids all began their academic careers in the same. In hindsight, I would only say that 1 of my children “needed” a private school education. The other 2, while they did see benefits, could have succeeded just as easily in a public school setting, and in some areas, more so than their private school could provide.

When you are evaluating schools, the first thing that you need to do is to assess your options. Before you move to the evaluation of your child’s needs, explore if there are ways that you could increase those options. I could not afford a private education for my kids. However, many private schools offer discounts if not free tuition for the children of employees. This was the route that I took once my kids were through elementary school. We did not have the education background, connections, or the financial means to choose to homeschool. Therefore, at that time, we only saw 3 options. 1. The local school 2. Moving to a district of a school that may have a better reputation, or 3. Private education.

Knowing your options, you then must assess your child’s needs. This is not only academic but social in nature as well. My oldest child was a loner. He was not big for his age and had struggled with bullies in elementary school and the beginning of Middle School. Being able to provide him with an alternative was a true blessing. In a more controlled environment and a smaller student/teacher ratio, he was able to flourish.

My younger two were more social, street smart, and made friends easily. They desired to attend our private school because they liked the environment. A smaller population allowed them to stand out in many ways that public schools may not share the limelight. For organizational and sporting activities this held true. However, when it came to their overall class rank, it hurt them. Let me be specif as to how that works.

One of your child’s measurement of collegiate opportunity is their grades. However, the other aspect is how they compare with the performance of others. Public education in the United States is free. We must offer it regardless of a child’s abilities, resources, or even behavior (within certain limits). Due to this fact, the number of kids that attend public schools vs. private schools, this makes public school ranking far less competitive. It is much easier to rank in the top quarter or even the top 10%. Thus, these students have an advantage over private school students, where the majority will attend college, and the margin of competition is much closer due to the lack of numbers.

Let me state clearly that I have changed my position on the mandatory college way of thinking. For the longest time, I associated college with success. In itself, this statement just is not true. Many people without a college degree have more success than that of graduates. A degree does not mandate that you are smarter, more skilled, or are more financially secure in the future. Depending on the field that you pursue, it serves as a notch in your belt but means nothing about your character, or what kind of an employee that you will be. The important thing is to discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Explore together what options and directions. You cannot “make them” achieve goals. You can, however, walk with them. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

Stay tuned for part 2

Read More Win More

Research confirms over and over again that kids that read more win more. Well, let me clarify. The benefits not only relate to academics but also to personal development. I will get into all the benefits in a minute. Let me tell you that as a dad, this was an area that I believe I failed in, look back when my children were growing up. What do I mean? I was unaware of how crucial it was for my kids to get ahead. 

I was a video and movie guy. This translated to my children. My daughter, fortunately, learned to love reading despite my lack of leadership. My wife was into books. Thank goodness. My boys were unfortunately just like me. Would you like to know who struggled and had a mediocre academic foundation? That would be my 2 boys as well as myself. My oldest developed a passion for reading much later. The younger boy still moves at such a fast pace that I remained concerned for him in this area. Thankfully, I developed a love for reading when I went back to school to finish my degree.  

When I was young, I looked at reading or schoolwork as something to get through so I could have fun. However, when I got the reading bug, it was as if a light went on. Learning developed my mind, vocabulary, and gave me the important answers that made me more valuable at work or in counseling others. It made me better. When I came to this realization, I felt so stupid. Upon further examination, as I looked back to the bookworms of my youth, they all had better-paying jobs, better credit, and were ahead of me in the hiring line.

Reading, in general, is a positive stimulus regardless of genre. However, for me, it is biblical, non-fiction, and poetry that serves me best. I want to read about the foundations for living well, to learn about history and how-to, and to understand human thoughts and passion. The biblical reading is a foundation that strengthens my faith and hope. Understanding history and learning how to do things gives me a practical core of operation to get things done. Finally, poetry is the rawest form of expression that I have ever found.

I want my children to be well-read for several reasons. The most important reason for this is to enable them to navigate life. I want them to know things. I want them to be able to draw on various resources. Well, read individuals sound more intelligent. They can usually argue their points better. By developing their vocabulary, they become better communicators, thus earning advantages in society and in the workplace. 

To learn more about the benefits that you and your kids get from reading, all you have to do is google it. There are numerous sources that confirm these points. The important thing is that you set the standard for your kids. If you have little ones, read to them. When they learn words and can tell you what they are, celebrate. When they read their first book, read out loud, or read without your prompting, celebrate. Reinforce this in their life. When they begin to read well, take them to libraries. Go online with them and research sources of books and appropriate sources of learning.

Let me assure you that I believe in kids getting outside, playing, and creating. However, scheduling or developing time to feed the mind is crucial. It will give them huge advantages as they go off to school. In addition to smarts, it can also serve in their protection and minimizing bully encounters. If your child excels academically, they may have opportunities to be grouped with students that show fewer discipline problems than the general population. Most behavioral problems in classrooms are not a result of the more intelligent child. I understand that there are medical conditions that can contribute to behavioral struggles. However, in the general population, the more advanced the class criteria, the less misbehavior tends to be a problem.

Does a love for books guarantee academic and life advantages? No. It does, however, increase probabilities which is the best that any parent bestows on their child. You cannot make them have a love for something, but you can encourage it. Repetition and consistency are crucial for developing skills. We usually love what we are good at. Children are the same. How can they get better at it? Do it. Practice. 

Your kids are looking for you to be an example. Therefore, it starts with you. You have to show them, not just tell them what they need to do. Reading will put them a new level of cognitive and academic development. Give them your best efforts to encourage this important part of their growth. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon 

The Making of a Princess

Little girls, teenagers, and young ladies have a special and unique need from dads. This is a subject that keeps me humbled and ever mindful of my responsibility. It is not that boys lack love and encouragement. However, there is a specific attention and assurance that is vital to girls. I know that I have touched on this topic before on my blogsite thedadmanual.com, but today I would like to address it with a bit more detail and clarity.

My first child was a boy. Seven years later, I had another boy. I was living in the world of “been there, done this”. This was comfortable ground. I knew how to care for boys. To me, they were low maintenance. Yes, they needed protection, love, and encouragement. However, they appeared to be “free-range” in their growing up. You just had to set them in motion.

Let me be the first to say that I screwed up in so many areas with my first kid. I did not know what I was doing. I learned by doing so many things wrong. You would think that when my second son was born, I would be more careful. No, I thought I was pro. I did make fewer mistakes but still did an injustice by not trying to educate myself on Dad 101. When it came to my little girl, this would be a different story…sort of.

My little girl had the same basic baby needs but quickly grew into a different creature. Her needs were different. I quickly noticed that she was developing quicker when it came to smarts. Not that I am calling my boys dumb, but things just came quicker to my daughter. She was growing up, but not with an outward trajectory as my boys. By boys required less protection, but my girl still desired it. She wanted to be near me. She wanted a safe place with dad. This would prove ironic later in life. As she grew, she became such a source of my strength.

Little girls crave that their dads notice them, love them, treasure them, and protect them. I am thankful that I quickly recognized this. Let me tell the dads reading this one important thing. You CANNOT tell your daughter that you love her too much. You also need to show it. I would write little notes and put them in her room, backpack, or other places that she would find them. I would send her flowers at school. Not just on special occasions, as often as I could afford to do so. Let me stress that it is NOT buying them things that will make the difference. It is you telling them that they are special.

If you have a little girl, start now. Give them your time. This is not just designating a time. Seek them out. Color with them, have tea parties, wrestle, tickle, sing to them. Be willing to be seen as silly. My little girl liked to paint my nails. Yes, I said it. I was willing to be silly and a fool for her smile. 

As she grew older, I praised her hard work and encouraged her to tackle the world. When she got knocked down, I would tell her that champions get up and fight again. When she would do so, I would praise her regardless of outcomes. This practice helped form her character today. Yes, she still desires dad’s safe arms and kind words, but she is a strong woman with a fighting spirit. So she needs me but doesn’t “need” me. Do you get it? 

The final point that separates the needs of boys and girls is your daughter’s need for you to be vulnerable. As a man, I can’t say that I fully understand this. They need to see you when you are sad, weak, or hurting. This is something that most men strongly avoid. We don’t like being vulnerable. We feel exposed, embarrassed, and less manly. However, if you will let your daughter in your safe space, it does something that bonds the heart. You will see that her presence alone is a comfort.

Your boys will be your chest-beating pride. Regardless of his recent troubles, I loved how Bill Cosby explained the father/son feeling. In his first major standup video, he was saying, “see the boy running the touchdown, that’s my son”. Daughters can also make us proud, but more so by reflecting on their character, intelligence, and drive. I found that if I lived vicariously, it was through my boys. My daughter was different. She was her own person. She was just so different. She was my princess. She did and does represent what is good and right…not just how tough she is. I hope fathers reading this will give an amen.

Your daughters need you in a special way. They need your words, actions, and your heart. Wholeheartedly serve them as the dad/man that they need. They are your princess. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

Fathering Older Children

We never stop being a dad, no matter how old our children are. Your children still need you, but in different ways…obviously. It is important that you adjust to this role in order to be the most effective dad possible. The adjustments need to be done by you, not your kids. They will naturally evolve into their new world. It is us, the creatures of habit, that need to learn new things. We have been used to doing things a particular way for at least 18 years. Most of us don’t like change.

What is it that we need to do for our children, once they leave the nest? You will hear ideas about letting them go. Let me assure you that this is a poor choice of words. Yes, we let go…but we NEVER let go. Our desire to help, fix, and do for them is still strong. The real plan of attack is to address how this is done at this point in life.

For me, I had learned that the most important thing I could do was to be a listener. This is hard because I am so opinionated. I KNOW how I would fix all their problems. Most of my ideas may actually be correct. What I have to remember is that you don’t give an adult a baby bottle. You need to teach them how to if you have not already. You can give them suggestions. However, for their growth and confidence, they must achieve due to their own efforts, attitudes, and decisions. You need to be a source for their success, but not the sole reason. If you don’t let them own their own victories and failures, they will never grow and will be dependently disabled.

Notice that I included their failures. I don’t know about you you, but I have learned so much from my failures. No lesson stands out so much as one that you own 100%. The overcoming and self-confidence that a person can attain by correcting mistakes and conquering failure are invaluable. This gives your child a clearer picture of their own identity and what they are capable of. Bailing kids out of a jam just reinforces the idea that they can’t do it without you. I do recognize that situations may arise in which you are the only source for assistance, but this needs to be extremely rare and not commonly sought as a cure-all.

I have several friends that have grown children. Those that try to do everything or will do everything for their kids are hindering their growth and making them weaker adults. If they have an unhealthy lifestyle, your assistance can make us enablers. Dads need to be very careful in offering assistance. The other and many times more difficult discipline has to do with advice. We have been telling our kids what we think all their lives. This needs to be monitored and reigned back when they are older.

My father is a doer, fixer, and unwarranted advice giver. Let me assure you that his heart is to help, but regardless of his intentions, he does this too much. One of my sisters is 65. My 87-year-old father still cannot help but dive into the adviser role. This is an ongoing understood joke amongst my siblings. While I am grateful that we can joke about it, there has been damage done to relationships regardless of intent. He also becomes very hurt, any time his help is rejected or not coveted. This has had a huge impact on me and my relationship with my children. I have purposely held back from giving advice unless it is solicited. Even then, I ask my children if they are sure that they want my advice.

I want my children to be strong. I can’t have them become so and protect or control them. My job is to love and pray for them. Interestingly enough, this method has actually prompted them to ask my opinion in many situations. However, when they do come to you, let me not encourage you to tell them what they want to hear. Tell them what you are convicted of as the truth. You must remain if not intensify your foundation and resolve. While you may not have instant gratification or happiness, you will develop more trust and joy in your relationship.

Consistency in parenting does not change in parenting, regardless of their age. You must be solid. If you are solid, they will value you more. Just don’t walk away. Keep telling them that you love them…and that you are proud that they belong to you. That makes you the man they can count on. I don’t know how you can get to a higher position in life as a man. 

Develop your listening skills. Read and learn as dads, no matter how old you are or how old your children are. Restrain your words and opinions. Pray for them, Love them, Encourage them. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

Teaching Kids to Argue?

Is it important for kids to know how to argue? When we default to the idea of kids arguing, we generally think of them misbehaving. I would, however, stress that there is a huge difference in making an argument and showing disrespect. Children need to know the power of debate and verbally striving for their goals, and what they feel is right? The question is, how could we, or why would we encourage them to argue their point. Please notice that I did not say encouraging them to be argumentative. If you are arguing a point, aren’t you being argumentative? I believe yes and no.

As parents, we don’t want a child challenging our authority on every issue or request. We want them to be obedient. Getting back to my double edge answer of yes and no, I believe that the word argumentative is associated with misbehavior. Arguing a point could be a completely positive and healthy mode of communication. We have to develop an understanding with our kids as well as laying a set of ground rules to develop this skill without losing control in our homes.

The foundation begins with knowing right from wrong. So, what is right and wrong? On what we call the big DOS and DON’TS, most of us would probably come to an agreed consensus. Do good. Don’t hurt. Show respect. Don’t lie…etc. Since these principles align with biblical teachings, many of us can and do refer to these rules for living as God’s rules. 

After the “biggies” which has to do with life, the secondary list of rules could be the rules of the home. What are some examples of these? Establishing a curfew, chores that must be performed, and restricted activities such as the use of electronics could serve as a start. Many of these house rules are handed down from generation to generation. Some of these rules have to do with the established character of the child as well as the conviction of the parent.

In my home, I would not put up for debate the idea of God’s laws or the “biggies”. However, if my children ever wanted to argue for an amendment to the home rules, they were allowed to do so if they did not break the big rules in doing so. Some dads may think it ridiculous to open up this hornet’s nest. Dad’s word is final. Well yes, I understand that. However, it is your job as a dad to assist your kids in all manners possible that will benefit their future. That being said, they don’t need to be puppets for in the world that they live. Their ideas and words are important. Especially, when it is for the rights of others, reaching healthy goals, and the benefit of the family.

As a dad, I encourage my kids to challenge ideas, requests, information, or attitudes that don’t promote a fair opportunity, Godly behavior, or honor the family. I have to be the first to admit that I don’t always get it right. Everyone needs to be held to a standard. The desire of my wife and me is that they would stand for these issues. 

Importantly, your kids need to understand that arguing a point, even if they are right can be viewed as disrespect by others. This is why it is so important to discuss ideas. Your kids need to know where you and your faith lies on a plethora of topics. They need to know that you will support them should they argue a point in school, community, or even a place of worship. 

In our society/community, there are those that will abuse power, deny fair opportunity, try to silence us, or violate standards that we believe in. They need to be heard. They need to be supported. This support and encouragement can take your relationship of trust with your kids to another level. However, MUST stand firm on your foundational rules and beliefs. NEVER compromise your principles to be popular with your kids. This will backfire on you in the long run.

Your kids need to show respect, be truthful, and seek truth in their discussions and debates. Making an argument for what is right needs to be viewed as a healthy and honorable action as long as it is done showing proper respect. There is nothing disrespectful to say that a hurtful action is wrong. Therefore, they need guidance as to how to fight for what is right and possibly show dissent.

Arguing is an art that takes time and a compass of morals to do properly. Help them to be independent and strong. It is important that you show them proper and improper examples of both. This can be done easily with today’s technology. Tell them what you will support. Show them what behaviors and actions that you will not support. Give them the tools needed to a strong representative of the values that you hold dear. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon 

Getting Help Follow-Up

Trying to do everything by ourselves is a foolish way to live as well as a poor example for our kids. Today is a follow up to my blog post yesterday entitled Teaching Kids about Getting Help. In that article, one point was to encourage our kids to be problem solvers. Now, I want to look at the extreme opposite of this approach. 

Do you have any men in your family, now or in the past, that refused to go to the doctor? I say men because we are usually the most guilty of this particular mindset. I call this the “rub some dirt on it crowd”. It is composed of 3 kinds of men. 1. Stubborn 2. Scarred 3. Combo of 1 and 2. Everyone has fear. Unfortunately, old school thinking says that men are not supposed to feel or show it. The outright stubborn man usually dies earlier than he should. Whether it is stubbornness or fear, it is the wrong message to portray to our kids.

There are many issues that we should not try to face by ourselves. Health (physical and mental) issues obviously would rank #1 to this author. Other situations could be those that we lack the proper knowledge or expertise. An example of that for me is mechanics. If I work on a car, there is a big chance that I will cause more damage than good. I need to defer to the professionals. My kids will shout amen at this one. Lastly, there are situations in life that are much better to handle with the support of others. These could be issues of weight loss, addiction, or spiritual growth. 

There are issues that we will face that are beyond our abilities to conquer or cope with. We need to understand that getting help is essential. For men especially, this can be embarrassing. We don’t like to admit weakness. For many of us, we only turn to others for help when we have hit rock bottom. This is especially true when it comes to unhealthy lifestyles. 

The other night I was researching addiction by observing online forums and chat rooms for alcoholics. It is designed for a 24/7 resource for those that are trying to stay sober. While I must agree that we spend too much time plugged into technology, I believe that a resource such as this is amazing. However, as I was reading, I ran across several participants who were complaining about the “God” references in AA’s 12 step programming. One individual posted, “I think AA is great, but I wish it did not have religious overtones”. 

According to an interview that I watch on the Jackass star Stevo’s struggle with drugs and alcohol (see the interview…viewer discretion advised), he said that only 5% of alcoholics will be victorious in their struggle and recovery. That being said, why would someone NOT want to invoke God for help? If you knew that most people will fail in their attempts to get healthy. Would you want to place your success rate in the hands of those that will most likely fail? I say this for 2 reasons. 1. I know that I am sober only by the grace of God. 2. If I REALLY want help, I want it from those that have the highest probability of success, not those that I may be the most comfortable with.

I feel strange combining the scripture with a Stevo quote, but I believe that there is a great visual in these examples. Bare with me and see if these make sense to you. John 15:5 New International Version (NIV)

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. Stevo said that we are like refrigerators. We must remain plugged in, or everything goes bad. 

We need others. That does not mean that we should rely on other people for everything. As the last post stated, kids need to struggle and try to fix their issues. This, however, does not negate the idea of God and the community. Our kids need to know that both approaches to problem-solving are important. As a Christian, I believe that invoking the help of God is important whether you are alone or in a community. I pray that God will empower me, or that he will give me the wisdom to conquer a particular task or struggle. The answer may be revealed to me to fix the issue with or without others. However, I need to utilize the resources provided.

Pride can a real killer. We and our children need to understand humility and the grace that can come from having such a spirit. Others will have a much easier time coming to our aide when we are humble. This is also scriptural for those who follow biblical teachings. Show your kids how and when to invoke the assistance of others. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

Teaching Kids about Getting Help

Dads need to teach their kids where to turn for help. This may sound like a no brainer. However, turning to the wrong sources for help, or always seeking help can actually hurt them in the long run. As dads, we want to be the one to help our children when they need it. We like to fix problems and have the right answers. The problem with this way of thinking is elementary. We are and will not always be around. Secondly, although we may be brilliant, there are topics beyond our expertise and places where we have little authority. Finally, we want our kids to learn how to fix problems on their own when possible. This will make them independent and stronger as they become teenagers and young adults.

The key is for your child to know when he/she cannot remedy a situation on their own, to be willing to ask for help and to know the best resource for the remedy that they need. This lesson starts with us as dads being honest about our own levels of knowledge, ability, or the lack thereof. Some may think this shows weakness, but I would argue the contrary. Honesty builds trust regardless if the information is good or bad. The other part of that scenario is that we have to remember that providing our kids with resources is part of helping them solve problems.  

When they are babies and little, you as dad will have a more hands-on solution to their needs. This is because their needs are basic: food, shelter, protection, and love. However, as they grow and their world expands, so will their need for others that can assist them with their goals and struggles. 

No man could love my kids more when they were little. However, regardless of how much I loved them and wanted them to have their heart’s desire, there were some things that were beyond me. There were some situations that I was powerless to assist them. An example of that was “making the team”. If you have read many of my other posts or my book, Surviving the Smiles, you know that 2 of my kids had quite impressive soccer careers. I was a soccer coach for little kids, as well as a licensed select team coach. As a former player myself, I had the knowledge of all the basics for them to learn the game and enjoy themselves. However, as they got older and their skills developed, they grew beyond my abilities to take them to the next level. I had to seek out the right people who could meet their desire for something bigger. In a sense, I had to turn them over to the professionals.

When faced with these challenges, the important thing for you as a dad is to research their options and find the right people/resources. Although you may not have a direct impact in every situation, introducing and supporting outside help carries a lot of responsibility. There are good teachers and coaches, and there are those that suck. Keep in mind that what determines this is not how your kid performs, but how they develop. Growth is key. Your kids won’t always win and there is usually someone better…somewhere. Don’t blame teachers and coaches if your kid messes up. Just because Junior didn’t make the team, that doesn’t mean the coach is the one with the problem.

Kids need to have a work ethic that drives them to want to be and do better. The responsibility lies with you as a parent. These lessons come at an early age. Secondly, the truth is that kids can accel in certain areas and fall behind in others. Are you trying to force something that is beyond their capabilities? Should efforts and time be placed in a different area?

We need to encourage our kids NOT to rely on others to fix everything. They need to struggle. Yes, they need to work out, work through, fight for, and learn to solve problems. They also need to learn how to seek out resources and research those resources. By teaching them to do these things, you are setting them up for success. This is accomplished by you showing them how.

Lastly, I have found an absolute truth that ALL kids need to know. They need to address adults as sir and ma’am. They also need to show gratitude. Adults want to help respectful and grateful kids. Most of them will go out of their way to help this type of kid/teen. It is an art form. Do you want your kids to GET more, be considered above others, and to keep resources? Teach them manners! Sir, ma’am, thank you and please are GOLD! Show them how to show appreciation, write thank you notes, how to speak, and how to conduct themselves. This is a WIN-WIN. Doing this alone will give them such an advantage. It also helps you to be the best dad possible.

Deacon

How to be a Good Brother/Sister

When my wife and I were raising 3 children at home, we emphasized the necessity for the boys to be good brothers and our daughter to be a good sister. We told them that we are a team and what each of us does either helps or hurts the family. That may sound like a heavy burden for a little kid. However, in our case, the results were that each child felt more valued and responsible for the family. 

This does not mean that they didn’t fight like cats and dogs from time to time, especially the younger 2 that were so close in age. However, the right to oppose was limited to them. If any outside individuals caused grief or trouble, the others were quick to rally. As a matter of fact, my boys took that VERY seriously. No one was allowed to hurt family…especially their sister.

One Saturday, I was at the kitchen sink that had a window looking outside. My oldest boy was at a friend’s house, but the younger 2 were playing in front of our house. They were approximately 7 and 8, my boy being the older of the 2. The rule was that they had to stay on our street which had very little traffic and we knew the neighbors. Two houses down from us, there was a 12-year-old boy. He was a little jerk. Well, on this day he had made my little girl cry by making a rude comment to her. He said, “I can see your panties”, as she rode by on her bike. Our son came into the house and went to his room. He sad nothing, but emerged with his pellet gun. He stepped outside, took, aim, and pop. He then walked in, saying nothing and went to his room. 

He had been responsible and taught safety when it came to the pellet gun. I knew this to be true. However, I stepped outside and looked for what he shot at. I saw and heard nothing. I just saw my daughter riding her bike with a smile on her face. I walked back inside, put my dishes away and walked to my son’s room to inquire about what happened. When I reached his door, there was a knock at my front door. So I went to the front door to find the man who’s 12-year-old lives 2 doors down. He wanted to inform me that my boy had shot his boy with his pellet gun. I immediately went into investigative mode and retrieved my children. I learned what the neighbor boy had said to my daughter, and that my son, therefore, decided to shoot him in his panties. Thank goodness that the father was more embarrassed about his son’s behavior than he was mad about him having a stung pee-pee (my daughter’s words….lol).

So how could I ever take this event and turn it into a constructive lesson that does not advocate violence? Good brothers and sisters protect each other however they can. They do for each other. This could be babysitting, fixing a sandwich, or even something as simple as listening. Obviously, appropriate boundaries and lessons need to be taught. That particular day earned my boy some restrictions when it came to the use of his pellet gun. However, I did let him know that I loved the fact that he loved his sister, and would do anything for her.

As kids grow older, we as parents want them to maintain a close bond. Sometimes that is the case, but many times they drift apart and are not what we might call “The Waltons”. However, there are things that we can do to maximize their interaction to encourage a growing bond. One thing we can do is to eat together as a family. We can mandate that we as family support and attend each other’s extracurricular activities whenever it is possible. Game night or activities that involves shutting off electronic devices encourage interaction. Going to church as a family does likewise. The key is to encourage interaction and not isolation. Unfortunately, today’s technology can monopolize our attention and time.

Sometimes, establishing rules can be met with resistance. Let me encourage you to be consistent. Start as early as possible. The more interaction is a way of life, the deeper the roots of relationship will grow and serve them later in life. The later you begin this process the greater the obstacles will be.

Finally, we must acknowledge that the age gap between the siblings will determine a lot of their interaction. However, regardless of age, each child should feel their responsibility and ownership in the family. Older or younger, they all need to feel loved and important. This is a task that you will try to tackle all of your life. It never stops. Invest in them as individuals and as a group. Reinforce how they are needed…for the family…and for their siblings. Teach them to be the best brother/sister possible.

Deacon