The Important Things

Life as we know it is very fragile and never guaranteed. Although we put all our chip into a bet on tomorrow, according to the United Nations World Population Prospects report, approximately 7,452 people die every day in the United States. People of all ages have their lives halted where dreams and plans were just forming. This being stated, what message would you leave for your children or even your grandchildren?

We as men don’t like the heavy conversations, at least those that instill emotions and or doubt. If you like these things, you are rarer than you realize. None of us will beat the clock, or should I say timer. When your timer sounds, there are no more do-overs and second chances. So what do you want your kids and future generations of those you love to know? I challenge you to formulate your own list of priorities, lessons, etc. Don’t feel that you have to dream everything up or your own. I encourage you to adopt ideas from as many resources as possible. To encourage you to do so, I am going to share with you my challenge, lesson, and hope for my own family. Many ideas that you have maybe the same, others not so much. Some of my thoughts or ideas you may laugh at, roll your eyes, or even disagree. That is okay. You need to formulate your “important stuff” for your family. Here is mine.

  1. The knowledge of and serving Jesus Christ is above all else. This includes your spouse, children, wants, and desires. If you strive for this, the rest will fall into place.
  2. Move forward. Do “something” toward your goals every day. It is like climbing. Do one step at a time. Eventually, you will turn around and say, “wow”.
  3. The easiest way has the most regrets.
  4. Instant gratification has the second most regrets.
  5. Listen more than you talk.
  6. Take time to respond
  7. Get your rest. This is not only good for you, but for those around you.
  8. Accomplishment means SO much more than possessions.
  9. Doing the right thing can be lonely…but it is still right.
  10. You are going to have people angry with you regardless of your decisions, beliefs, words, you choose, or the way you go. When you can get over that, life is so much better.
  11. Do you want to be a hero? Be a good husband/wife and parent.
  12. Do you want to feel better about yourself? This comes as a result of showing compassion and kindness to others. However, having your own feelings as inspiration for doing right will rob you of this value.
  13. People are going to hurt and disappoint you. Guess what…you will do the same to others. Learn to forgive and seek forgiveness.
  14. Most people don’t care about your opinion. Therefore, reserve it for when it is solicited.
  15. Read…read…read
  16. Use “please, thank you, sir and ma’am”. It is always in your best interest to do so.
  17. Take risks. No, I’m not saying to do stupid stuff. However, taking a chance and failing, many times has less regret than not trying.
  18. You are going to fail at times. Get up! Move forward. Try again.
  19. Refuse to live afraid. Doing so is a prison type of existence. 
  20. Life is not about how long you live, it is how you live.

I hope that this will help you formulate your wishes, desires, and important lessons to be passed on to your children and generations to come. It is important to communicate your heart to your kids. They need to hear from you. Things don’t need to be left unsaid. That is a recipe for regret. Your children are a gift from God, Take time to cherish and teach them. Love them as God intends for you to do so.

Be the best Dad possible.

Deacon

Getting out of God’s way

As a man, I can tell you that I have made so many mistakes and stupid decisions because I kept jerking the wheel when God is driving. I don’t know about you, but I have a false sense of security when I am behind the wheel. Ask my family what makes me nervous and they will tell you “other people’s driving”. I feel as if I have to be in control. I feel that somehow, I can prevent bad things from happening. I actually relax. If you think about it, it’s a really stupid concept, much like the idea that an inch and a half, to two inches of wood (the average front door), keeps us safe from all the bad people out there.

Most men are not very trusting creatures, by their actions. What we say may be totally different, but …umm…no. Obviously we must use discernment in our daily activities and judgments. However, a good dose of faith and trust can empower us in ways that can go beyond reason. As a professing Christian, I know what the bible says about worry. I am aware of the promises that are in the scriptures. This doesn’t mean that my knee jerk reaction is to trust, regardless of how many times the evidence has been there that I should. Now, add my kids into the mix, and I can become even more controlling, or feel as if I should. It takes a constant effort to trust them and God, get out of the way. I think too many times that I have the answers.

I have heard so many times in my life the phrase, “don’t dwell on your past”. Well, maybe I shouldn’t dwell, but I should be mindful. I’m not always right, and history proves it. Now, as a dad of adults, I hear the voice in my head that says, “are you sure you need to say that?” “Don’t give advice at this time.” “Just express your support and love.” This is not that we should live our lives in neutral or be complacent on every subject. Some times, your kids, even when they are grown, need for you to be the immovable rock, as I have discussed in other posts.

We have to realize that we are dad until we die. That does not change. It is a lifelong journey of love, support, and guidance. The key is to know when to speak and act. This is where faith comes in. If I accept the reality of God, then I believe he knows more than I do. As a believer, I want God to be pleased with me. That being said, I believe that he knows what best for my children. I believe that he guides them. Many times that involves me. However, there are times that I need to let go and trust. It is in these times that I have a tendency to screw things up if I don’t get out of the way. In my family, we relate a lot to soccer. If you have ever played the game, you are aware that the referee has to be mindful of his place on the field. Although he is in charge, he can get in the way. He can even impact the game in a very unfair manner.

If we get in the way, we can prevent our kids from taking that “shot”. We can prevent goals and victories. Even if we are not on the field, we can pressure them from the sidelines of life. Sometimes we want success for them that we add pressure. This can frustrate them, cause them to make errors, and cost them a potentially great performance. That is right. Being a dad is tough. Barking out commands and orders may make us feel more secure, much like my driving analysis. However, allowing God to work in our children’s lives, developing a trust relationship, and letting them work it out can be empowering for them. So what do you do? How do you find that balance? Your walk with God must be a daily journey. That relationship must be a priority. Then you can be an example to your kids and cultivate your relationship with them. If you don’t, you will always be grabbing the wheel. You will referee poorly. Finally, you will see a building frustration no matter how much you truly want to help them.

So is it really that simple? In concept, yes. Execution can be extremely difficult. My advice is to read God’s word. Read other books. Listen to wise counsel and learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. You don’t have to be caught in a mindset and cycle of behavior that so many fathers have found themselves in. You don’t have an infinite amount of chances to get it right. How many chances will you get? I don’t know. I have seen many a father screw up enough times or for such a duration that recovery was unlikely.

Does this mean that I have all the answers? Ask my family and they will verify that I do not. However, I am committed to learning, listening, and trying not to repeat my mistakes. Perhaps that is a start. What I want is to trust God and quit trying to control everything. I was my relationship with my adult children to continue to grow and strengthen. Sometimes, this means words and actions. Sometimes, it just means to love and support them. Being a dad is such an important job. It’s important that I keep learning, and that I am the best dad possible. 

Deacon

The God Foundation

I believe that God is the giver of life and my children are a blessing from him. I don’t make any apologies about my personal convictions. I struggle with the thought of people talking about their faith, then making an apology for what they “say” means so much to them. Do we really believe what we proclaim, or is the desire not to offend others greater than our convictions.

There may be those that read this that believe differently from me. Your beliefs do not offend me. I am not angry if you disagree. Should I, therefore, worry about what others may think? If you have rights, then so do I. If I can share my beliefs, so can you. Why do we fear the judgment or being different from the rest of the world? In this writer’s opinion, I cannot be a strong dad and be timid about what I teach my children, especially if I “really” believe it.   

Our homes and the lives of our children must have a foundation. For me and my family, it is the belief in Jesus Christ and the authority of His word (the Bible). Some may say that love is the foundation of their home. To me, I agree with the statement, but the source of that love is a God that is bigger and more sovereign than my fallible existence.

Perhaps your view is that we should live and strive for our kids to live moral lives. I can find nothing more moral than that of what I find in the Bible. Its teachings have served my family without fail. This has been a source of hope in many hopeless situations. It has brought assurance when life offers us none. A prayer time and learning together has served as a glue for our family bond. 

Let’s be honest. You will let your family down from time to time. You will fail. Your love will not be enough. These are times that we must look beyond ourselves. This is when we need a peace that passes all understanding. That being said, I cannot explain to you, nor prove to you what I have discovered to be Truth. This is an experience and a journey that cannot be put in a simple explanation. For me as a dad, it has all come down to an element of faith. However, this faith can convict you more than any shred of evidence that you could experience.

This faith has become a staple for my life, my marriage, and my children. We live in such crazy times. Our world is broken and hurting. The foundation of God is the only source of love, hope, and assurance that I have seen to answer the needs of people. Many people, however, reject the idea for various reasons. Whether you want to relate to this as a choice or divine appointment, the heart of man wants to do what it wants to do. To surrender to this concept is to give concession to our lack of abilities and faults. 

Although many may argue, it is my conviction that children are happier, less stressed, and strengthened by faith and that of faith exercised in their parents’ lives. This is not to desire contention with other viewpoints, however, it is one that I stand by and will not apologize for. If you are moved to investigate the God foundation further, I hope and pray that you will. If you need guidance, have questions, or desire to connect with faith as your family’s foundation, there are many resources that you can reach out to. However, I would advise that you compare your information to the source of faith. Just because someone claims to have spiritual answers does not mean that you should simply rely on their words. 

For me, I advise those with questions and interest in the Christian faith to compare teachings to the Bible directly. Unfortunately, there are those out there that would lead you astray. There are those with personal agendas and teachings that promote the ideas of a cause that is not in line with that of the Bible. Avoid these individuals, but don’t give up on your journey and seeking to find truth. Some individuals feel as if it is bad to question teachers, the Bible, and even God. However, I submit to you that you only grow stronger in relationships that you can have a dialogue with. On a personal note, I am convinced that God is not afraid of your questions. 

This subject needs to conclude with a challenge. The challenge is, will you follow the truth where it leads you? Will you follow it regardless if it is different from what you believed growing up? Will you challenge yourself? Do you desire to have the strongest foundation for your home? Do you desire to be the best dad possible?

Deacon

Are you a Prepared Dad?

One of the best things that you can do as a dad is to be prepared. Whether it is the scouts, military, businesses, or first responders, the motto is the same. Are you prepared? The lives of your children are paramount. The raw truth is that you most likely care about them than those outside of your home. That being the case, what are you preparing for? There are people, places, and circumstances that you need to think about. What is it that you need to know? You must have  knowledge of the tools and skills you will need. You must also have knowledge of the environment.

This may sound like I am trying to make you think negatively. On the contrary, being prepared for the good, unexpected, and bad is a very positive thing. What is it that you must possess or be able to perform to be a good dad? This article will be a first in a series discussing different needs or problems that you will or may need to address while your kids are home. These issues may require your presence, advice, verbal intervention, or action. So before we dive off into specifics, what resources and or skills do you need to bring to the table to be a prepared dad.

  1. Love
  2. Sacrifice
  3. Protection
  4. Provision
  5. Praying
  6. Teaching
  7. Counseling
  8. Supporting
  9. Listening
  10. Correcting
  11. And laughing….or being fun.
  12. Etc.

Along with these resources and skills, there needs to be a knowledge of any environment that your children may find themselves in. Examples of this are 

  1. Home
  2. Off with Extended Family
  3. Friends’ Homes
  4. Church
  5. School
  6. Sports or Social Groups
  7. Common Places
  8. And New Environments

No matter who you are, your kids are going to have needs, problems, serious issues, and even emergencies. How do we become prepared to assist or help them in their time of need?

We must start out by being observant. In the book Visual Intelligence by Amy Herman, you are taught to observe things that you may typically overlook. This is an amazing read. I highly recommend it. We need to take time and observe, really see and know the environments in which our kids interact. These environments are “where” their needs are going to surface. Depending on that environment, you may call on different resources and skills to best provide for them. 

Communication is key to know what to do when to step up or restrain yourself from getting involved. Many times, your kids won’t even know they need help. On the other hand, there are times when they will want it, but the best thing for them is to work it out on their own. How do you know what is right?

Before we move into this little series let me make a qualifying statement. Besides a physical threat, you and your spouse will rank these issues differently. The FIRST time you encounter a particular issue, it can appear larger than it really is. Let me quote from the Complete Survival Manual. “STOP. 1. Stop 2. Think 3. Observe 4. Plan”. Most people don’t realize that outside of an imminent threat, YOU HAVE TIME…use it. Give yourself time to respond instead of reacting. A sense of calm not only allows you to see more clearly but also calms others down. Whether you are on the inside, a display of calm spirit says you have some amount of control in the situation. This comforts others.

Over the next week, I will be posting different scenarios that you may encounter with or concerning your kids. Let’s serve our children well by being prepared, or as much as we can be. Thinking, communicating, and planning can go a long way for you to be the best dad possible. Don’t miss tomorrows post.

Deacon 

Dads are Not Secondary

Do dads really understand how important they are? I don’t believe that parenting is complete without a mother and a father’s contributions to the child’s development. My view is shared by many psychologists and angers some single parents. Not all the time, but for those that have a chip on their shoulder, angry at their spouse, their “x”, or the world, I have been known to be at odds. I don’t know why this is a contentious issue for some people. 

It really isn’t a competition. According to child psychologist Eric Erikson, “a mother’s love and a father’s love are qualitatively different”. We as dads don’t bring the same elements to the table. On the other hand, you could just say that we do it differently. Men and women communicate, educate, and encourage differently. One example of this is the nature for men to encourage risks more than women. Dad’s tend to push their kids to test and challenge their limits. Moms are usually a bit more protective. 

I remember encouraging my kids to climb higher, go farther, and push the boundaries of failure. One time, my middle child was about 9 or 10. He was a climber. Okay, honestly he was a daredevil. My wife blames me for this (laughing on the inside). We were at a motel that was close to the beach. This particular motel (single story) had a pool that was particularly close to the building. I could see that my boy was thinking how cool it would be to get on the roof and jump to the pool. He stared at the pool, then at the roof, then looked at me. I told him, “sometimes a man has to do some crazy things”. He smiled.

I forgot about our interaction until later that evening. We had been to the beach and were getting cleaned up. We noticed that my boy was not around. He was a good swimmer, so we were not in a panic. My wife walked to the door of the room and opened it just as her boy fell from the sky and made a huge cannon ball splash. She yelled at our boy for the act. He responded that “dad” said it was okay. She immediately knew that it was true. She looked at me and said “idiot”. My boy and I did a fist bump when she wasn’t looking.

Another time, we were at a soccer game. I was the coach and my boy was the star of the team. That particular day, we were starting the second half of the game with a strong wind at our backs. My boy had the kick off. I knew what a powerful shot he had. He looked at me and I said, “just score from there”. This was not exactly a smart game tactic. What I conveyed to my boy was that I thought he could. The other coach rolled his eyes and told his defenders to get ready for a quick possession. So, my son to a few steps back and launched it. Goal! My boy and I locked eyes in the midst of a primal scream with our hands in the air.

Dads don’t always make the best decisions, but I believe we have a bit more of a “go for it” attitude. Sometimes our children won’t succeed at our suggestions. However, risk taking does encourage them take on the world. Dads play rougher, enforce rules, and are the best examples for their kids to understand what a man is supposed to be. This doesn’t mean that we always are the best examples or teachers. Just as any human is fallible. We can always fall short of our goals as parents. However, dads have a way of loving, teaching, and encouragement that looks and feels quite different from that of a mother. 

I don’t like speaking or writing apologetically. People should not always have a pre-qualifier or caveat. There are moms all over the world that do a wonderful job giving their all for their children. I think most people would agree that moms screw up less than dads. However, this says nothing about the importance of one love and care over another. Kids need both. A lot of kids don’t get both and that breaks my heart.

Kids are in need of protection, comfort, nourishing, and teachings of moms. What I don’t think many people understand is the equality of a dad’s love for his children as well as their developmental benefits it has on his children. Research shows that children of a nurturing 2 parent home have an advantage. They need to feel secure, accomplished, loved, and affirmed. They need to be encouraged to grow, take risks, and reach beyond their comfort zone. All of this forms them into what kind of adult they will become. A mother’s love is paramount, but no more or less important to the balance that a dad’s love provides for them. Fathers need to understand their crucial role. They need to love as a dad should. They need to be the best dad possible.

Deacon

The Dad Evaluation

What kind of dad are you? Recently, my wife and I moved to a new community to be with my father, who is at this time 87. As empty nesters, we walked away from our normal grind and relocated to a new community, church, and environment with only each other. As I began to connect with some local men in my church, I met with a young man that inspired me from a bible study that I attended. Not really knowing many people, I reached out and met with him over coffee. 

During our conversation of introduction and scoping out our direction in life, He asked me a question that I had never been asked before by another human being. He asked me, “so what do you bring to the table of friendship?” I felt like I just applied for a job. I wasn’t offended, but was just taken back. This guy wanted to know if I was worth his time and investment. I was wowed and impressed. “This guy is direct”, I thought. I had to think. What kind of a friend was I? Why would this guy want me to be on his list of buds?

This made me ask the question, “what kind of dad am I?” My potential new friend was a new father/dad himself. He got me thinking. Dads come in all flavors and sizes. We have different skills, potential, as well as environments. If you watched television in the 50s and 60s, dads were very cookie cutter in nature. At least that is what the programs depicted. In reality and given time, you will run into all kinds of dads. I know so many that are so much the opposite as myself, with kids that think their dad is superman.

Do we have to have a particular style, attitude, or belief system? I would say “yes” and “no”. I believe that there is a foundation that we all need to be great dads. After the foundation is laid, it just matters what kind of house you want to build. The foundation must be a passion to put our children’s needs above our own, to be firm, yet loving, willing to sacrifice our ego to learn, and a good listener. After that it is up to your recipe. What do you want to create in your children? What are your goals and aspirations for them?

Remember that it is important to understand who you are before you can translate ideals to your kids. Understand that we ALL have biases. We have learned by our experiences and exposures over time. This shapes who we are. Combine this with personality, culture, and goals, you will start to see who and what you are. What is “your” character like? Do you look in the mirror (figuratively, or literally) and evaluate yourself? You should do this before you begin your dad journey.

I don’t like to look at my faults. I don’t like to admit my insufficiencies. I like to think that I have it all together and know what is best for my kids. This attitude is a huge disservice to your kids. I must have a spirit of learning. Only when we strive to learn, willingness to admit our mistakes, and tame the alpha male can we truly grow. This does not make us weak. On the contrary, it strengthens us. Like steel in a forge, you must go through the heat to make yourself stronger. Our forge is humility. Please not that I did not say weakness. You can be humble and strong. Your kids need your strength for them and in some cases against them.

Some may disagree, but I don’t think humility is natural for most men. This may seem funny or weird, but for me humility came in the form of God’s voice and a line from the movie, The Princess Bride. In the movie there was an evil character that thought he was a genius. He thought he was the smartest guy around. He kept using the word, “inconceivable”. Later in the movie, another character said to the “smart man”…”You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”. One day, God said to me, “you know…you are not as great as you think you are. You need to humble yourself and seek wisdom”. 

I can have a contentious attitude. I’m a fighter. I’m not afraid to go to battle, especially if I believe myself to be right. One day a wise boss of mine said, “you know, you can be right and yet still be in the wrong”. Our ideas may be correct, yet the way we communicate may be wrong. If we do so, we don’t prove our point. We prove that we are poor communicators and in translation are probably just jerks. I have known many jerks that were super smart. No one listened to their facts. All they heard was the jerk saying “blah blah blah”.

As dads we need to evaluate ourselves and turn away from practices and beliefs that don’t serve others well. We need to speak and act through our passion and love, not through our egos. Self-discipline is essential for you to be the best dad possible.

Deacon 

The Mistakes that Dads Make

Last night I wanted to be someone else for a few moments. My wife and I were at a worship service. Standing in front of us (everyone was on their feet) was a family. It consisted of a macho looking cowboy, his wife, 2 boys, and 1 girl. The kids were from ages 8 down to 3 (the girl). Both my wife and I were having flashbacks. We are now empty nesters watching this amazing family. All of the children were hugging and holding on to their parents with equal love and admiration. Wow, I was in tears. I was looking at the richest man in that room. I don’t know if he knew how fortunate he was/is. I just knew that this rough-looking guy had a gentle and caring touch. He was a hero.

This got me to thinking about the other dads. I pondered all of the fathers that did not “get it”. They screwed up, wasted time, and lived selfishly. It made my heart hurt. I don’t know how many men I have encountered that now live in regret. They shattered relationships because of a lie sold to them by the world on top of selfish ambitions. The lie was/is the perceived definition of what a real man is and the American dream (what you achieve and possess).

There is a way of thinking that we as men must get away from. That being said, I put together a list of the top mistakes that I believe men and dads make that prevent them from being the best dads possible.

  1. Your alpha male needs to be in check. Assert your dominance by being in control of your emotions.
  2. Life is about the glory of your creator, not you. The idea of “you”… do what is best for you, loving yourself, putting yourself first, looking after #1, is the epitome of evil. We should put others before ourselves.
  3. You will never be cherished in the memories of others because of your achievements and possessions. Only your love and giving will achieve this.
  4. You don’t know everything, quit acting like it.
  5. Winning an argument is not always winning.
  6. Avoiding issues does not make them go away. Sometimes it requires difficult and unpopular decisions for the betterment of those you love.
  7. The grass is greener on the other side of the fence because of the crap that comes with it.
  8. Immediate gratification usually ends up in regret.
  9. Doing what is right can be a very lonely feeling.
  10. Listen….stop….and really listen. Learn the ancient Chinese art of shut up. We talk too much. That is why we don’t learn.

The minute that you turn off your ears, mind, and hearts, you lose. “Pride comes before the fall.” – Proverbs 16:18. You can try to do things your own way. After all, we men, like kids, don’t like to be told what to do. We are even this way when people want to help us. It sounds kind of stupid, doesn’t it?

As a Navy Seal, the goal is to achieve the mission, not to demonstrate how tough you are. Don’t believe me? Check out Raising Men, by Eric Davis. I think we can all agree that the SEALs have the market cornered on being a badass. However, they will not engage or “make contact” if they don’t have to. This has a great lesson for us men and dads. Unfortunately, most of us care too much about how we are perceived by others. This gets in the way of doing what is in the best interest of those we love. 

You are called to love, provide for, and protect your families. You are not called to be the roaring lion or a dictator in your home. Are you tough? Show your strength by doing what is right regardless of opinion as well as having restraint. Power is being in control, this includes your attitude and words. We must be disciplined to put others before us. Evaluate yourself and be the best dad possible.

Deacon

Rites of Passage

Do American boys have any rites of passage these days? Is there any significant time, ceremony, or feat that says, “you are a man”? Today I am going to talk a lot about boys becoming men. Across the world and time, civilizations have had a tradition, ceremony, and even trials that must be faced for a boy to be recognized as a man. Aside from a bar mitzvah ceremony for Jewish boys, I can’t think of anything prevalent in modern western culture. I am not Jewish, but cannot find any significant task or requirement that truly sets the boys apart as men. I do realize that there certain communities that require fasting. I don’t think it is anything significant or grueling. Please comment in response if you have any information to the contrary. This is not a blite on any religion or group. It is about manhood.

As I researched traditions and rites of passage for boys on their quest to be a man, I was shocked and grossed out at some of the indigenous tribe traditions. Some I have been aware of for years. Some were a new source of learning and a resource for my gag reflex. Let’s be honest and say that torturing a child does not make the child a man or worthy of respect. However, American kids have gone to the other end of the spectrum with regard to the coming of age and responsibility. These days, young people seem to be extending their adolescence into their 20’s and beyond. They are not “growing up” as they should. Why is this? Many of us as parents have not required them to do so.

Boys must be shown how to “do it for themselves”. Look at the joy that a young boy gets when he experiences accomplishment. This may be something as simple as tying his own shoes, riding a bike, catching a fish, or making a good grade in school. The joy and the satisfaction are much greater than when he receives a gift. As men, we have a desire to be respected. We want to achieve. To complete a task that requires work feels good, yet it is avoided in many cases.

In her book, The Price of Privilege, Dr. Madeline Levine discusses how important it is for a child to “find themselves”. They need to know who they are and what they are capable of. For those that live in a life of “privilege”, where everything is given to them, yet whose parents have high expectations in performance, these kids are depressed. If you get a chance to check out this book dads, it is worth the read.

Young people, and not more so but specifically boys need to develop a sense of value in who and what they are. For them to accomplish this, we must allow them the opportunity to succeed and fail on their own. This does not mean that we inflict, but allow them to experience pain. This may come in the form of disappointment, a bruised knee, or a fall. They will be okay. Kids are resilient. They must be allowed to struggle and figure it out. We actually can do our boys a real disservice by giving them the answer or doing it for them. They need to view us as empathetic and encouraging. We need to fan the flame of wanting to try again and not quitting.

Young boys need to be given responsibility. They need to work. Hard work is one of the greatest teachers they will ever have. Both of my boys are in the military. They both initially went off to college and found that they were destined for an initial different path. I tried to always present the idea that their plans may not always work out. If they don’t, what are they going to do about it? To be successful and respected, they had to be willing to pay the price. Today, my boys have my undying respect for their grabbing the bull by the horns and taking on the challenges before them. Perhaps that was their rite of passage.

I know that as their father, I suffered watching them face life head-on. I knew that they were going to take the hits. I tried to give them a heads up. I wanted to warn them and have that warning be sufficient. No. They had to take the hits. Both of them had to struggle for what they want. This has been my most intense struggle as a dad to this date. Not only for my boys but for my daughter as well. 

I love the statement made by professor and author Jordan Peterson when he asked, “do you want your kids to be protected or strong?” That really hit home with me. Regardless of if there are labeled and celebrated rites of passage, they must find it and struggle. I wish that modern western culture had more traditional methods to recognize our boys becoming men. Until then dads, it is up to us to teach them, not to give to them. Empower your kids. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon