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 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  

Letters from Dad

Written affirmations and encouragements are invaluable tools that will go beyond you. How can you optimize your impact on your children? Put it in writing. To me, this has been especially apparent in the life of my daughter. By no means am I saying that it cannot have a huge impact on your boys, but I am convinced that daughters have a special treasured place in their hearts for such things.

Dads, your kids have different needs for guidance and teaching. However, they all need affirmation. This encouragement needs to be spoken and written. You don’t have to be a great writer to create notes of affirmation. “You are awesome.” “I love you.” “I’m so glad you are mine.” “You make my life so much better.” These will do more for the confidence and self-worth of your child than anything you could buy them or provide for them. 

More than ever, we are seeing how the role of dads is crucial in the lives of kids. This does not take away from the loving mother, but it does impact their lives in very specific ways. Kids with loving dads are shown to perform better in school and sports. They are less likely to develop unhealthy dependencies, less likely to develop a criminal history, and less likely to experience pregnancy prior to graduation.

Obviously, more is required than our presence. We need to be that rock for them. We also need to strive to be great communicators. My father, now 87 years old told me that his father loved him. He knew this. However, he could only remember his father saying “I love you” once. To me this was tragic. This also meant no cards or letters of admiration and affirmation. My dad did his best to do a better job for me and my sisters. However, this was difficult for him due to the fact that he had no personal model of this behavior.

One time, my dad told me of a time that he got into a fight in grade school. Back then, corporal punishment practices were much more severe. There was not a whole lot of positive reinforcement. However, he remembers his teacher taking him into the classroom and giving him a hug. My father wept. It is indescribable what love and affirmation do for a child at any age. We cannot rely on what they should know or their memory of the last time you encouraged them.

I know that you probably are encouraging and loving. However, this needs to take a higher priority with fathers in general. To me, I have found it invaluable to write things that will go beyond me, meaning my unpredicted lifespan. I may live to be a very old man. I may be gone tomorrow. That is why it is crucial for me not to wait or delay in getting on this train. My kids will need sources of referral when I am no longer around. What a treasure it could be to have letters, notes, texts, emails, etc. 

Another reason that I have found for implementing this practice, is that I don’t want to create an excuse for my children to fail. We live in a society where few people don’t blame others for their problems and failures. I believe it is important for my kids to own these times in order to grow and prevent an unhealthy cycle of excuses. Dads, if you don’t know by now, a lack of father’s affection is a default button for kids to dwell in mistakes and failures. Don’t allow this in your family. Your written affirmation will give them the “I can” attitude to pull themselves through the difficult times. 

The final benefit or “win win win” is what such practices will do for your marriage. Your kids are going to grow up and leave. Your wife will most likely still be around. You need to understand how a practice of love and affirmation affects your spouse. Your love for her children is by default an additional show of love for her. It brings peace to the home, makes you more respected, makes you more attractive…yes I said it. It makes you appear to her as the man she is proud of.

We don’t have any guarantees for tomorrow. Time is not on our side. Don’t let chances pass you by. Take time to write a note, send a text, a card, or an email. The benefits are overwhelming. Be who you need to be for your kids. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon  

Dare to be Weird

Being a dad requires a professional balancing act. There are so many roles that you play. It is hard to be supportive, maintain rules, be a counselor, a defender, a teacher, and yes…fun. We all want to have fun with our kids. We hope that our kids will desire to hang out with us because it is cool to do so. The sad part is that there are not many dads that I know who are willing to be weird. Let me explain.

Weirdness as a dad has everything to do with timing. We can’t be known as a joke. I mean, our kids have to take us seriously when things are serious. However, we must embrace laughter, fun, and crazy times to bask in the joy of life. Therefore, why don’t I just say “have fun when you can?” I like doing fun things that are different. For that, you have to care more about the laughter smiles, smiles, and fun, then you do about how outsiders see you. 

So what is weird? What is out of the ordinary for you? Do something most people may not choose to do or go where others would not go. By the time I had my little girl, and she was 3, I can’t tell you how many times she would want to paint my toenails on a Saturday night. Some of you may say, “what’s weird about that?” Did you ever wear sandals to church the following morning? Have you ever given your teenagers some spraypaint and a mask and allow them to go crazy on their walls in their room? Have ever had a junker car and let them paint it?

Go out to eat at places you have never been to before. Are you into rock-n-roll? Go to a ballet. Take your kids to a museum if that is rare. One thing that we liked to do is to locate where the food trucks would hang out in a given town to find something new. Do charitable projects with your kids. Giving and doing for others together is awesome. Google and research things to do within a 30mile radius of the house. I use to take to my kids to weird places for photoshoots…like at a graffiti wall, railroad stations, and bridges. 

One thing that several of my adult friends found unusual about me as a dad was my encouragement of my kids’ self-expression. Many fathers want to control so many things about their kids’ lives. In many cases, I believe it is a concern on how they (the fathers) are perceived by others  and not a fear of their children being judged. With everything, it must be kept in due bounds, but a hairstyle, clothing choice, and art can be a very freeing thing for them to find out who they are. That being said, none of my kids overdid it. My buddies that had much more strict guidelines found their kids testing and destroying boundaries. As a matter of fact, the tighter they squeezed, the worse behaved their kids were.

Growing up has a lot of pressure these days. Kids have to let off that pressure somehow. Finding healthy outlets for them, being okay with a mess or controlled stupidity lets them know “I get it. Go for it”. One time my oldest son was playing bass in a talent show with a drummer friend of his. My son had a couple of basses, so when the drum solo part came up, he took his bass off and threw it across the stage to a friend waiting behind the skirt of the curtain. Luckily, the kid caught it. My son grabbed another bass and came back in shredding. When he did it, everyone in the crowd was like “whoa”. I was like “yes…..rock on”. His jazz teacher found me a few days later and told me that he had never seen a kid so “free” in a performance. 

My second boy is a daredevil that likes to jump off things like bridges, cliffs, climb high stuff, etc. My daughter is an amazing judo and jiu-jitsu fighter. They are also talented artists. One day, a cowboy friend of mine said, “I can’t believe you let your boy do all those stunts”. I laughed at my friend and reminded him, “you let your boys ride bulls”. Kids and teens can encounter some confusing and frustrating times. I’m not advocating fighting, stunts, or throwing musical instruments, but they have to have an outlet. Be a part of that. Encourage the unusual and for them to be different. That along with the suggestions earlier in this post can have some amazing results for your kids.

Finally, learn to laugh. You have to laugh at yourself, life, and yes…at each other. Show me a kid/teen that can laugh at themselves and okay when others laugh, I will show you a pretty solid kid. The same thing goes for dads. Drop the egos. Drop the concerns about outsiders perception of you. Laughing with my kids was, and still is my favorite thing to do. Love life. Express yourself and encourage your kids to do the same. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

Your Kids should be your Hobby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deacon

Dads can be Heroes

The hugs and kisses that you get from your children are more valuable than gold. There is no such thing as a richer man than one that is the target of a child’s embrace. I wasted have of my life thinking about what success was and getting wrong. Chasing what is supposed to be the American Dream is crap because it is about what you have. It is materialistic or vocational status. 

My father was/is a very “decorated man”. He has built hospitals, been a big dog in Rotary International, the man of the year, an employee of the year, founder of several charitable organizations. He has been huge in his church and community. He was/is a go-getter. At 87, he works 2 jobs because he “wants to”. He also can drive a car like a pro. He is always on the go. However, he keeps telling me that none of the recognition and awards mean anything. What means the most to him is family. He looks back his life with regret concerning his schedule, wishing he would have spent more quality time with the kids. Ironically, he was always there as far as I can remember.

When I became a father in my early 20’s I was still immature and had no idea what I was doing. I don’t think that most young dads embrace the little things that make life wonderful. I became a quick learner. Being with my kids became the most awesome and valuable time I was spending at home. I loved getting trampled by them when I would get home from work. After dinner, it was playtime that usually resulted in tickling and wrestling. This was usually followed up by the dad trampoline. This was quite simple. I laid down on the floor and the kids would practice diving onto me. It was like we had our own pro-wrestling league and they would come off the top ropes to the roar of the crowd, which was actually the laughter of the others.

We would laugh, love, chase, wrestle until we were all pooped out. Then it was time for showers/baths. Once “jammies” we on, it was snuggle and veg time. My boys had energy from sources unknown. Any efforts to get them to sleep was a chore. However, my daughter would crawl up into my lap and lay her head on my chest/shoulder. She was OUT…lol. I never wanted those moments to end. I was a King! I was the richest man on the planet. Keep your riches and gold. I had everything I could ever want.

There are so many dads that miss out on this time. I feel so sorry for them. This is a time that sets up a success and open relationship that can continue for a lifetime. You need to start as early as possible. However elementary or basic these things may sound, don’t pass up these opportunities if at all possible. This when you can become a hero. Play with them. Do embarrassing and stupid stuff. Show me a dad with a daughter that never wore nail polish, make-up, or a crown at his daughter’s request, I will show you someone that has missed out.

So what if you missed those opportunities? Then you start from where you are. You will hear me say this many times. You can always start the race from where you are. This is the wonderful cheat of the dad world. I would never want to default to it, but it is there. However, I want to give you some clues on how to get on the hero list of your kids, whether they are biological or not. So here is a list that may help:

  1. Listen more than you speak. Dads like to give advice. Be cautious before you dive into this trend.
  2. Kids want to be heard, not necessarily having every issue solved for them. The one that listens to them is golden.
  3. Don’t dismiss their fears and anxiety. This is a common dad screw up.
  4. Be a ROCK. Don’t give in to things and ideas that you know are unhealthy or don’t serve the child’s best interest.
  5. Love them more than your popularity with them.

Being a dad is awesome but difficult at times. If you love your kids without limits, you will need to endure times that are difficult and uncomfortable. You must put yourself through the wringer so that they will have the best chances at success and growth. Dads, you can be the hero, but it will cost you. It won’t be a title given but earned. You can do it. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

A Serious Sense of Humor

Being a parent is a serious subject. However, it must be balanced by a sense of humor. I don’t know about you, but I love cooking shows. Yes, I am a dad and love the food network. One of the goals that is continuously reinforced is to balance flavors and textures. Sweet, sour, rich, light, creamy, and crispy can always be found in a chef’s determination to provide a balanced dish. I would like to assert that your parenting is like a dish that you wish to serve.

We all want smart and socially adapted children. We want them to be strong and prepared for life once they leave our “kitchen”. However, if you don’t include a sense of humor in your upbringing, your child will lack a real sense of balance. We cannot take every issue or situation without laughing at life’s little curve balls, mistakes, or misunderstandings.

You have to laugh. Laugh at yourself and each other. Yes, I said “and each other”. Life is too short. Laughter is a healing, healthy, and fun activity. My favorite sound in the world is a babies laugh. You know the one I’m talking about…when they just cackle. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go on youtube and select babies laughing. I can watch that for a long time.

Kids need to laugh. They need to see you laugh. They need to laugh at you. They need to laugh at themselves. They need to feel that bond that they can develop with a laugh partner. I remember when my kids were little. I would do the dumbest things to get them to laugh. I would embarrass myself, tell jokes, tickle them. They needed to see that side of me.

So many times I hear about fathers that weren’t around. I also hear about fathers that had no sense of humor. Wow, that’s kind of like NOT being there if you ask me. As serious and ugly as life can be, they need to see your joy. That relaxes a child. It lowers their stress. With lower stress levels, your child is healthier, happier, and can learn better. 

Check out this link. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/child-humor.html

Laugh with your kids. Watch funny videos. Tell funny stories, and be able to laugh at life. As a dad, you are going to make a lot of mistakes. Obviously not everything is a joke. However, the more you can laugh at or laugh off, will lesson your feelings of inadiquacy. I have tripped, made messes, and even had to chase my own car. All of which still prompt laughs and smiles today. Yes, I said chase my car.

When my kids were little I had my dream car. It was a 1972 VW Beetle. I loved that car. However, it had some issues. In addition to the fact that my wife called it an Easter Egg because of its paint job, it had starting issues. Therefore, when the turn of the key did not do it, I had 2 wires that would crank the engine when touched together. Keep in mind that the engine of this particualr vehicle is in the back.

One evening, I needed to go to the store. The bug was parked out front in the street. This particular day was a “no key start” day. So I had to get out of the car, go to the back, lift up the hood, and touch the 2 wires together so it would turn over. With my wife on te porch, and my youngest 2 children outside playing in the sprinkler, I cranked over the engine. However, I had forgotten that I had the car in gear. To my amazement and horor, the wires connected and grabbed together. This cause the cranking to continue and my car took off. Yes, going down the street without me. 

The initial reaction was one of shock, to everyone. I jumped up from my squatted position and took off running. Thank goodness the door was open. I dove into the car, slamming on my brake with my hand as my legs were dangling outside. The car came to a studdering start without the clutch pushed in. I took a sigh of relief, then immediately realized my embarrassment. A half block away, I heard laughing. My kids were in stitches. My wife was rolling on the porch.

You may be thinking that this could have been serious. However, since my body and the car were safe, it instantly turned into a frenzy of roaring laughter that lasted for at least 20 minutes. It is now a story for all social occasions and gets the same amount laughs. Funny things, dumb things, and unplanned things are going to happen. Be a dad that can laugh at yourself. Be a dad that doesn’t take everything so seriously. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

Daddy’s Girl 2.0

Today’s blog is part 2 of the Daddy Girls article that I posted yesterday. For the first part, please go to thedadmanual.com and Click on “Daddy’s Girl”. Many people say that kids are kids. Some specifically say that we should treat all of our children the same. I say, “Yes and no”. I believe that there is a natural “mode” that we are in when dealing with our kids. To this writer, the girl and boy mode are different. There is no less love. However, we must admit that it is different. I think I heard my brothers out there give me an amen.

Boys and girls are developing to be something different. I’m not here to debate over gender issues. I’m here to offer my findings and beliefs in order to be a resource for dads. I will speak conservatively on many issues. If you wish to debate gender issues and another agenda, I’m sure you can find those forums online with ease. 

Girls are developing into a different end product than that of a man. Left alone to their own choices there are many behavior differences as well as responses to human interaction. Let me be less clinical. My boys don’t necessarily “want” me mad at them. However, they react to me being upset differently than my daughter, especially when they were young. My boys required a stronger approach when seeking obedience, especially boy number 2. I had to approach my daughter differently. I needed to be more sensitive to my tone, volume, and expression on my face.

One time, I raised my voice to my daughter when she was acting up. When she turned and looked at me, she had crocodile tears. She looked at me like, “you’re my daddy. How could you treat me that way”? I wanted to crawl under a rock. My wife looked at me like “you s.o.b.” That’s right. I was the bad guy. This coming from the woman that could scare the crap out of a young wolverine when she is upset.

I obviously had to have a different game plan. My boys were nothing like that. They had a much thicker emotional skin. I notice similarities with my relatives and friends who have/had girls and boys. The ironic part of this situation was that my daughter was/is a fierce competitor. She was and can be “meaner” than both of the boys. She will take on anyone and anything. She is always ready to fight for what she wants. HOWEVER, daddy is different.

This is nothing new. I’m sure you have heard the story before you haven’t experienced it first hand. So how do you install discipline? How do you teach your values? How do you go about developing this little girl into a self-confident, strong, and smart woman? My suggestion to all the dads out there is to be a rock…an island. It does not budge. I’m not saying to never listen and avoid discussions. I’m not saying to rule with an iron fist. I’m saying that your word must mean something. If you say no…its no. You cannot be swayed by emotions. You don’t have to be loud. You must be solid. This takes some developing. It also takes some ships crashing into shore. However, once established it brings about the confidence that this child will have in you.

Dads that change their minds just because of someone being angry, disagreeing, or they just don’t want to deal with it, may give instant gratification, but does not serve the child well. As a matter of opinion, it means that your word is not worth much or carries little weight. This will hurt you on the bigger issues that they will face later in life. Girls need their dads to be strong and dependable. They need to be able to count on the rock being there. Being easily manipulated does not reinforce your guarantee that you will be there for them. This means lovingly but firmly standing against choices and situations that are not the best for them. 

As they grow older and become there own person, there will be some things that will not align with what you think is the perfect plan. This does NOT have to be a contentious situation. They just need to know where the island is. When they know this, it is easier to give more control to them as to how they drive their boat. Self-expression, style, and personality can be a very healthy thing. As a teenager, I never told my daughter how to dress, wear her hair, or how to be respectful. That was done from day one through her early childhood. 

Today, she is her own person. She makes her own decisions. It’s not my job to control what she does as an adult. I just need to be the rock. She still turns to me for advice, but I need her to drive her boat. I need her to continue to grow strong. I do this by being there and loving her unconditionally. I want to be the best dad possible.

Deacon

Daddy’s Girl

My daughter is nothing less than awesome. When she came into this world, she stole my heart and has kept it since. Today, I’d like to talk to you about the importance of daddy-daughter relations. I will probably refer to her several times for those that may follow this blog. However, at this point let’s focus on how important this relationship is.

Dads, guys, listen up. You will set the the standard and tone for so many things in your daughter’s life. How you treat your daughter is “how men are supposed to treat women” in their eyes. This is crucial at the beginning. She will hold this in demand for those she is around and especially for the one she will one day marry.

Let me take a moment to voice an opinion. Your daughter is going to get the attention of a young man one day. If she does not get it from you, she will get it elsewhere. The choice is yours. If her dad loves, protects, and encourages her, this can set her up for success. She will not accept behavior that is below par…you are par. If she does not get her needs met by a dad that tells her and shows her that he loves her, another man will set the standard of what is acceptable. 

Your daughter needs to know that she is your treasure. She needs to “hear” that you love her on a regular basis. You need to reinforce this as often as possible. In doing so, she is not the only that will benefit from this behavior. You will get so much more in return. 

I remember when my little girl would meet me at the front door when I came home from work. My wife would say “daddy’s home”. This was followed by an immediate run to the door. She wanted to open it up before I did. I would see this vision of joy with Shirley Temple curls and she would leap into my arms. I could have had the worst day ever, and my little girl could erase it and make everything wonderful in one second. That was approximately 20 years ago and I’m getting choked up writing this.

This was not time to toss my work stuff aside, get a beer, and turn on the television. I needed to give my wife a kiss to show my wife and my daughter that I loved mamma. Then I would go with her, sit on the floor, and give her my attention. Only when she “released me” or dinner was ready did we move on to other things. She had to know that I wanted to be there with her and her brothers more than anything. I was not just in the moment but setting standard for her future. 

I did not come about this because I was a wonderful person. I learned this from observing other dads and by my own mistakes made with my first child. When my oldest son was 5, his mother and I divorced. He was the only child of my first marriage. When he was told that he and his mother would be living without me, he cried a cry that haunts me to this day. Fortunately, he came back home to me when he was 10. I did the best I could during that time but always felt like a failure.

After my second and “final” marriage we had my second son and my only daughter shortly after. I was NOT going to screw this up. I knew I would fail at tasks, but I would not fail my kids if it was in my power. I don’t want you to read this thinking that my passion to be a great dad was because I was a great guy. It is because they were wonderful and after my oldest boy had been hurt, I was not going to hear that cry of heartbreak again.

Back to our daughters, we need to renew our focus every day. How do we do this? Mine was simple. I was addicted to her hugs and smile. I have to have them. Even today, as she is married and living in another state. I have to hear her voice, see a text message…something. Then when I do see her, I get that hug and never want to let go.

Where I think most of us screw up is when we start thinking that “we deserve” this or that. When we live for ourselves, we screw up. Even your hobbies can get in the way. Your daughters need to feel that they are a priority. They need to see you deny others that tug at your time. I’m speaking outside of the family. They know that you have to work and do things for the family that may demand your time. However, they must know where your heart is. This is determined by your time.

Talk is cheap if it is not aligned with your actions. Guys, you MUST give your daughters the love and time that they require. I promise that this will give her the best odds at being self-confident, strong, and successful. This is the greatest and most fulfilling way to spend your time/life. You cannot be disappointed. 

I believe that I may do a daddy’s girl 2.0 or even see if my daughter will write on the subject matter. Thank you so much for being a part of this blog. I hope that you will follow and or forward this on to those that you believe it may serve. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon

Encouraging a Child

When looking for inspiration I read a lot and do research. Yesterday, I found a video clip on reddit. This is a “must see”. Let me give you the link. https://www.reddit.com/r/JordanPeterson/comments/c4061g/dont_interrupt_kids/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share

For those of you who don’t want to view the video or don’t have time, this brought me to tears and gave me chills. A little girl is attempting a vertical jump like many individuals in CrossFit do. She “almost” gets it several times, but falls off. A few times she outright crashes. However, she keeps trying. She won’t give up. Eventually a man, assuming dad steps in. He kisses her and encourages her. On the next try, she makes it. Then the child lets out this primal yell in victory. The father does as well. She ends up leaping into his arms in celebration.

I love the fact that her dad gives her encouragement. I love seeing the joy on her face in accomplishment. However, this is not the part that made me blubber some tears. It was the fact that she refused to quit. It was beautiful. This is what we need to celebrate. Determination, work ethic, refusing to quit no matter how many times they fail. That is the example of a winner. That is a champion kid. Best wishes to her and that wonderful dad.

When we celebrate the fight and determination, that can always be replicated. Win or lose cannot. The outcome is never guaranteed. Even in our best efforts, the scorecard can be against us. Therefore, we must celebrate the spirit of fighting no matter what the score is. I am fortunate to have wonderful grownup kids that showed me this example when they were young. So many people give up when the scoreboard is against them, or if the likely outcome is a loss.

I remember one time, My middle child was playing soccer against a very prominent team. Our team had a few stars, but most of the kids were average at best. My son was a club player. However, this was a school team. When my son saw that others were emotionally defeated, he yelled at them, “I’m not done…come on”. My dad pride peacock feathers went into a full spread. I was probably strutting. They still lost the game, but the last 10 minutes of the game was a war.

We were always happy for our kids in their victories, but that never matched the feeling of seeing them slug it out, refusing to quit. This attitude is what winners are made of. This mentality spreads to other areas of life. Your outcome cannot be determined. Your attitude and fight can. It was refreshing to see that my kids based their joy after the game on their fight. There were times that they “won”, but they were disappointed in their performance. There were times when they lost and there was no lack of joy. Effort and attitude are everything. This puts things back in control of your child.

Please understand that I am not one of those dads that says, “oh well, you tried”. I hate losing. My kids hate losing. We never offered them an easy emotional out. We expected them to attack what they were doing like William Wallace of “Braveheart”. You can tell when your kids have the effort dial dialed up to “11”. This is what we celebrate. This attitude is worthy of praise.

Motivational speaker, pastor, and author Eric Thomas was quoted saying, “If you are not where you want to be DO NOT QUIT, instead reinvent yourself and change your habits”. We have to remember as parents that we must train ourselves as well. Only through determination, learning, and being open to new tactics can we be the best for our kids. They must see examples, not just hear empty words. This is why real parenting is different. You must lead the way, not lay around barking orders. What are you doing to challenge yourself? Are you taking risks? If your adventures don’t make you nervous, maybe it’s the wrong adventure.  Nobel Prize winner Andre Gide once said, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”.

The last point would be to constantly learn from your children as well. Ask them their opinion about what you are doing. Show them that you value their opinions and want to hear their thoughts. Anything that encourages communication and value is the way to go. From personal experience, I have learned so much more from my kids than I think they ever had from me. A kid can really be a resource of wisdom. However, they must know that you believe in them.

Celebrate the right attitude. Celebrate the fight. Celebrate new challenges. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon