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

Daddy Do-Over DIY

There are not many times in life that we get a “do-over”. Unlike childhood games or a reset button, relationships don’t work the same way. This is primarily because forgive and forget does not exist. People can forgive, but memory will always serve as a reminder to our failures, hurts, and disappointments. As fallible human beings, we will hurt and be hurt by others. In the case of so many dads, even if they get an opportunity for a fresh start, they don’t know where to begin.

There are some situations, especially that of divorce that carries with it a lot of pain. Kids are usually hurt the worst. Due to the fact that children of broken homes usually live with their mother, a dad’s opportunity for reassurance and relationship repair can be limited. So where should a dad begin a do-over if given opportunities?

As a young man and even into my 30s and early 40s, I believed that so many people should “get over it”. It was like I actually believed that people could choose to be okay. I treated human beings as if they had a reset button. To keep this in technology terms, people don’t have a reset but must have a new operating system installed, with programs and software after that. For those of my readers that understand computers, the computer looks the same but is not the same after this process. This is how people are. Features will be familiar, but there is just something that makes all applications different. 

This rebuild takes time. Sometimes, it takes several attempts for everything to load. Kids caught in a divorce situation can be this way. Getting frustrated will not help. We have to be methodical in our approach for the best results. So what are these methods? If you are a dad dealing with the pain of divorce, let me assure you that everything is effort and attitude. These 2 things are always in your control. You are not responsible for the response that your kids have, nor that of their mother. You must control you.

Rule #1 in this kind of do-over is to avoid bad-mouthing the mother of your children. Even if they do, it is not an invitation nor a license for you to do the same. As men, we are programmed to fight. However, I promise you this is NOT productive in this situation. Rule #2 is for you to be there and make every effort to keep your word. Whatever you have to do to be there for them, you need to do. When I was divorced, my son lived 2 hours away. There were times I had to borrow cars, hitch a ride, or even ride a motorcycle in the rain. Don’t miss the chance to see them.

Rule #3 is simple but difficult. Admit when you are wrong. Apologize when you make a mistake. Don’t blame others, even if it is not all your fault. Your children don’t need your excuses. They need a transparent dad, even with his faults. This being said, be careful not to make promises that you can’t keep. An honest response of “I don’t know” or “I can’t” is better than breaking your word.

Have you noticed that the challenges of a do-over all boil down to effort and attitude? Recently, I came across a poem that after reading several times, means a lot to me. It is called Opportunity by Edward. R. Sill. I hope that it speaks to you the same way.

OPPORTUNITY

by: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

HIS I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:–
There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince’s banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.
A craven hung along the battle’s edge,
And thought, “Had I a sword of keener steel–
That blue blade that the king’s son bears, — but this
Blunt thing–!” he snapped and flung it from his hand,
And lowering crept away and left the field.
Then came the king’s son, wounded, sore bestead,
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.

Many men give up because they don’t believe that they possess the tools to succeed. I love how one man was nothing but excuses and the next man seized the opportunity for victory. You may not have much to offer. You may feel like you don’t possess what it takes to make a situation better. However, in the life of a child, you can start with the will of not giving up and the words “I love you”. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

The Real Meaning of Dad

Before we can assess our impact as dads, we must first examine ourselves as men worthy of the title. To be a biological father, one only has to donate selfishly to his own desires. It doesn’t take any measure of character. To be a dad, especially a good one takes much more than an animal rutting season to achieve. It takes dedication, suffering, patience, selflessness, love, and learning.

We can’t be the dads that God has called us to be if we embrace the American dream. Okay, wait a minute. I believe that America is the best place to live in the world. However, the majority of the American Dream that is preached today is about what you get or have; owning a house, having your degree, owning a business, or making a lot of money. However, none of these things bring about true satisfaction in life. None of it means that you are better, more important, more desirable, more respectable, or even successful. Yet, we chase these things.

One particular program that I like to watch is the Joe Rogan Experience. If you are not familiar with it, just check it out on youtube. Joe has many really interesting guests on the show that discuss not only their area of expertise or fame but also the emotions, drive, as well as the struggle that these guests have or are currently facing. In a conversation that was taken from episode #1038, Joe was talking to Billy Corgan, from the Smashing Pumpkins. In this interview, I found it very powerful when Joe asked Billy, “when you reach a certain level and are selling out giant arenas and you are one of the biggest bands ever, where the f%@# do you go?” Billy’s response was “madness”. When Billy was told by a corporate individual that they were probably going to be #1 (back circa 1995), he literally responded with, “Isn’t there something higher?”

No matter how much we get, have, or possess, it will never be enough. This is because we are made to serve, give, love, and glorify God rather than ourselves. We always want that thing or a better thing. However, it never satisfies. One of my favorite quotes is by St. Augustine who once said, “Oh greedy men, what will satisfy you, if God himself will not”. Winston Churchill said. “…we make a life by what we give”. 

As a musician, I always had dreams of being famous or at least famous enough to hit the road and play music for a living. There is nothing wrong with that idea. However, there is a cost that comes with it. Being on the road, many times means being away from family. In a song entitled I don’t mind by Falling in Reverse (a rock band), the singer says the following…”Mama you are an addict and you passed it down to me

But who am I to cast a stone with a daughter I never see

And honestly this honesty is getting way too hard to sing

I’d trade it all, I would give it back to be a decent human being”. 

When my kids were little, I remember coming home from work and they would yell with joy and run into my arms. My brothers and fellow dads out there, there IS NOTHING that the world could offer me in exchange for that. Having guy time, a dream career, or the latest man toy will NEVER bring joy to your heart like loving your kids and knowing that they know…” daddy loves me and will never abandon me”.

Don’t waste your time chasing after titles, awards, possessions, and everything that will mean nothing in the long run. There is no selfish indulgence that will bring you the joy that is yours as a dad, especially a God-fearing dad. You will never be respected or remembered as a great man/human being for what you get in this life. Yet, the chase goes on. Hearts are broken, families are torn apart, and men are left with nothing but a neon light that blinks an arrow pointing at them.

Don’t wake up in your 30’s or 40’s to an epiphany. Start changes today. Learn from the mistakes of others. Stop the vicious cycle that is spinning out of control in so many homes across our country. Evaluate what really matters. You are going to go out of this world just as you came into it. Make your mission to give, love, and honor God with your life. Be a man of character. Be the best dad possible.
Deacon  

HOW to address Racism

Race is a subject that appears to be one that is simple to talk to your kids about. However, it has so many levels of approach that it most likely will not be a one-time discussion. This is a topic with a lot of bias and passion. Its history is littered with war, bloodshed, and even blind convictions. Depending upon your approach and your personal race, there are many issues to keep in mind when addressing this topic with your kids.

I don’t believe that we must approach the subject from an apologetic point of view. “IF” we are all equal, then I believe honest and unbridled discussions can take place. Discussing this topic without bias is difficult. Even if we say that we are open-minded to differing points of view, we have all had experiences and been taught by those that we “trust” to tell us the truth. 

For me, I believe that our Creator has created each man with purpose and value. I do not believe that one life is more precious than the next. However, the character of a man or woman may determine their impact on a larger group of people or culture. Each man and woman should be judged by their character, not the color of their skin, nor the history of their race. Believing that one individual is bad or of less value based on their appearance or heritage is ignorant. I want my children to treat others with dignity and respect, and to only judge individuals by their character.

To deny that people gravitate towards what is familiar is a given. We trust what we know more than what we do not understand. In a crowd, we choose to speak with or sit by those that we feel are like us. Does this mean that we value others more or less? It may mean that we are more comfortable with those of our own race simply by default. This of itself has no bearing upon the likelihood of this initial comfort serving one’s interest well.

Our kids need to realize that the actions of one or even a group of people at a particular time and place can predict the thoughts, words, or actions of a similar person or group in the future. If we are judging the character or actions of a people, it is the character or actions that must be judged and not associate that said characters and actions as an inheritance. 

Slavery is bad. I believe that we can agree on this statement. Slavery is not bad when it only affects one particular group of people during a specific time period. No, slavery is bad no matter the recipient or when it happens. If we look at the history of mankind, this is a matter that has harmed all races. I one wished to be contentious with this matter, I would refer them to the works of Dr. Nell Irvin Painter. She has an amazing book on the subject.

Racism is any platform that promotes one race as superior or any words or actions that uses race as a means to acquire a privilege that is not offered to people outside of that particular race. Finally, racism is a mindset that blames the success or failure of individuals because of their race instead of their intelligence and work ethic.

Our kids need to believe that they are responsible for their own future. They need to work hard, educate themselves, and strive to denounce any mindsets, statements, or actions, that either harm or favor a person on the sole merit of race. As a Christian father, I believe that all mankind has an invaluable soul. I have taught my children that all men and women have value and that the life of one race is just as precious as the next.

Sadly there are those that abuse this issue through evil and or ignorance. I believe that those who commit blatant acts of racism and those that default contention of ideas to race are both guilty and narrow of mind. The problem lies within individuals and is not systemic. For us to believe so is to concede that a media, community, culture, or government has the right and power to dictate what we think, say, and do. 

We need for our kids to act responsibly. Not only should they condemn racism, but also the default accusations that feed adversity and insight hatred. Our responsibility as dads is to be an example and to teach our children to live by the golden rule. We may not be able to change society, but we can change and affect the culture of our home. If we all did so, we would probably be in a different situation than we are today. Be the example. Teach what is right. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

How Marriage affects Your Children

Marriage is a topic that has unfortunately been under-rated and not respected as it should by many young adults today. Perhaps this is due to our social environment as well as our failure as parents to teach the importance of this union to our children. I realize that many readers have beliefs that may differ from this writer, but as I will respect your right to voice your opinion, I will also exercise my right to express my beliefs and hope they will meet with equal respect.

I believe that the health of a marriage is crucial in the lives of children. It is the foundation of what they know as security and trust. They want to believe in mom and dad as individuals and as a team. This is a foundation that they walk on although rarely vocalizing its importance. We don’t talk about air much, but how crucial is it? Kids are resilient and adaptable, but no alternative situation is more ideal for a child than living with a mom and dad where there is a healthy marriage.

As men, we like to feel and act like we are strong, sometimes more so than we actually are. We want to think that we can do everything for our kids. You can’t. You can’t be a mom. You can perform duties and roles, but there is an emotional and spiritual connection between mothers and children that you cannot fake. They need a mom. We need to recognize this and nurture this relationship. We need to cherish our wive’s role and strive to treat this relationship with respect.

Now, let me lay a heavy point on you dads. You are the example to your children of how a woman should be treated. This is true for your boys and girls. You set the example. They are watching you. Many dads, especially those that struggle in relationships don’t like the weight of this fact, but it is true. The responsibility lies within your words and actions. 

I realize that there are women out there that can be a nightmare to live with. This is why I stress to you, that if you are single, do not get married for the sake of marriage. Being with no one is better than the wrong one. You need to realize what it is that you are committing to and spend much time in prayer and consideration before diving off into a relationship that is designed to be life long.

Now to soothe the minds of my lady readers. Men, I believe that 80% of failed marriages are the fault of the husband. When you get married, you give your life to another. This means that you cannot live selfishly. You cannot live for #1 and be successful. To me, the perfect example of how a husband should be can be found in scripture. Now, those that are not religious may want to skip over this part. However, I challenge you to read the following and then examine women and marriage according to this standard if you adopt these principles.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 English Standard Version (ESV)

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

If we do nothing, but desire and strive to live this way, I cannot see the woman you love to not say, “I’m in”. “IF” we love this way. I believe that most ladies would respect and love this quality in us. The problem is that we think we can do this and maintain “I am man, hear me roar”. Do you want to be loved and respected? Then it starts with you, not with your wife. If you look at scripture we/men are given the command to love. So, not to burst your bubble, but if you are not feeling loved and respected, are you loving and living as the scripture definition above describes?

Our role as dads and husbands lie in our responsibility for our words and actions, NOT in the response of those around us. This is something that must be given effort and time. You can’t expect to live according to scripture definitions for a week and everything will be better. This is a commitment to your bride and to your children. We must be selfless, not selfish. We need to be the best husbands and dads possible.

Deacon 

Suicide

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the #2 killer of individuals between 10-34. The #1 being accidents. In 2017, suicides (47,173) more than doubled the number of homicides (19,510). These figures appear to be epidemic and are still on the rise.

Suicide affects so many families. The odds are that many of my readers have already been hurt by this horrible tragedy. As dads, what do we tell our kids when they encounter news or have questions about this topic? Is there a way that we can make any sense of it? 

When I was a kid and still to this day, I have heard the statement that suicide is one of the selfish things that an individual can do. Now, I only believe this to be true as long that the individual is rational. Perhaps you caught my approach. To those that are not hurting and suffering, putting those whom you are close to through such an ordeal is awful and selfish. I believe that suicide or any taking of human life is wrong. However, through my study on the subject, I’m not so sure that I can hold these individuals in contempt as I use to. I would like to share with you a process of thinking that may help you address this issue in your own mind and also have a way to explain it to your children.

Please note that I am not an expert in mental health, but merely share with you as a person that has been affected by suicide and as a dad who has had to discuss it with my children. Studies have shown that the same part of the brain that detects physical pain deals with emotional pain. That being said, part of my study on this subject has to do first with physical pain.

On the tragic day of 911, Americans witnessed the horror of the World Trade Center towers burning and ultimately collapsing because of an act of terrorism. Cameras captured not only the destruction of the buildings but the last moments of many trapped by the fire and building damage. As the heat became unbearable, several individuals lept to their deaths. Firemen in the lobby heard the horrific sounds of bodies hitting the ground. One stated in an interview that he could not imagine how bad it had to be up there that the idea of jumping was the solution.

In moments of pain, our natural instincts are to flee the source. Whether it is a knee jerk reaction, taking cover, or running while on fire, we want to get away. Is there really any rational thought process? Although it is different when we think of our feelings and emotions, the same part of the brain registers the pain. Can the pain become like the fire of those trapped in the WTC towers? Do we blame those at the fire’s edge who jumped? What about those with time to consider their pain in times of illness who say, “no more”?

Perhaps as dads, we should express to our children that there are those that are hurting so bad, that some people seek the end as a means to end the pain. However, not being an advocate for suicide, I believe we should instill within our children that there are things that we can try to do to help those that are hurting. Let them know that communication needs to always be encouraged and that we should not see such individuals as those who should feel shame. Our children should know that it is important to report any signs or words of self-destructive behavior. We should discuss with our children potential warning signs for them to be aware of when it comes to mental illness. 

Pain is real to those that experience it. Our kids need to understand that it is okay “not” to have all the answers but to be aware that there are those that are desperate and hurting. We cannot always see their pain. There are illnesses that some people have on the inside. What we can do for them is to make sure that we are NOT quiet. Secondly, we should not try to address the issue alone. We need to tell someone like a teacher, counselor, or even police.

Suicide and mental illness a problem that we should not avoid talking about. When kids have questions, they need answers. Don’t hide the ugly or painful truth. Kids are resilient and can handle more than we give them credit for. As someone that has dealt with mental illness in my family, I can boldly state that the answers are not always clear. Not understanding it has taken me through a period of anger and frustration. This never helps the situation.

We need to teach our kids about tough things. We need to teach compassion. Sometimes compassion is not just being kind, but taking action to. Teach your kids to be observant. Keep the lines of communication open and encourage their expressions of concern. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

Teaching Kids about Prayer

Having a child that is reverent is a blessing. No matter what your upbringing or background, I would argue that a child who prays is a positive thing. I am a Christian. To me and my family, prayer has been a source of strength, peace, and growth. I realize that various readers have a wide range of beliefs. If you are not religious or a professing believer, thank you for being a part of this blog and being open-minded to keep reading. I do think that it is important that writers not only give resources to their readers but also a “personal” message to people.

The older I get, the less I think I have to prove myself to others. I hope that this allows for an honest heart that wants to help people, instead of some authority that people should listen to. That being said, I have a heart for fathers and kids. I pray for my children regularly and have always emphasized to them the importance of prayer. 

I believe that we are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings. Prayer, therefore, is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. We teach our children to eat right and get exercise. We encourage them to pursue positive and encouraging relationships. These things are many times within our control, but requiring discipline to maintain. So what do we do about those things that are beyond us? Supernatural means that which is beyond nature. I attribute these things to God. I believe in a creator. We can discuss or debate this, but for me and my family, we acknowledge the sovereignty of a God that knows us, loves us, disciplines us, and is ultimately in control.

When my kids were little, this belief gave them a real source of comfort. Prayers, especially before bedtime became their desire. They would pray about the most amazing things. They expressed their compassion for others and a sense of thankfulness for what they had. It was beautiful. It blessed me just as much as it did them. I am so thankful to have been a part of it. I hope that one day, I will be able to hear the prayers of grandchildren. It all starts with a practice knowing that they can tell God anything. It instills a grateful and compassionate heart. That quality in a child is a wonderful thing. 

As they grow older, their perception of God will grow with reading and asking of questions. This is where you as a dad need to be the best example to them. Because of their trust in you as the dad, many kids will adopt your belief system. Does this mean that you are responsible? Yes. God gave these children to you and expects you to be the example of truth. Through their spiritual growth, they will want to know how and why things work as they do. They will want to know what God wants in their lives. Let me give you two things to remember. Read and listen.

Perhaps you have given or received the comment that says, “you can’t learn if you are talking”. I encourage my kids to read the bible and to make listening a part of their prayer life. In Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 it says, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” So what do they listen to? God speaks to us when we read his word, and through the words of others. This is where I would refer you back to my blog on discernment. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Prayer and discernment will help them filter the good vs. bad advice.

My wife and I taught our kids that prayer is an opportunity more than an obligation. Both our children as well as ourselves have been blessed by prayer and doing it together. We have seen God work in our lives, in those of our children, in addition to the relationship that we share. It has been a bond between us and has strengthened the family tie. We realize that there are those with differing faiths. However, we can only hold to what we know to be the truth and our experiences with it. 

As our kids develop, they will have needs. It is our job as dads to address these needs. The knowledge and practice begin with us. As in many situations, it is our job as dads to have our act together, before we address others. Although your spiritual growth is a life long process, the foundation must be laid, and it needs to start with you. Your kids are looking for answers. They want to be able to trust dad. Therefore, it is so important that we work on ourselves to continually give them the best guidance. Read, pray, and share. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

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