The Important Things p.2

Today is a follow up to my last post called “The Important Things”. If you haven’t read that piece, I encourage you to click on the link before proceeding here. Today is not about a lot of legacy instructions for a child to be the conquering hero. As a matter of fact, it may seem dull to those that are not yet fathers, or fathers of small children to which some of these points may not apply. However, as I think of things that would be beneficial for kids to know beyond part one, here are some ideas that I hope will be helpful.

Keep in mind that these points are obviously more geared to a specific time or season of life. I hope that you can make the obvious connection. Let me know what points you would add to your list. For now, here is my top 20 for practicality.

  1. There are certain body parts that need extra care for the aging process and thus should be a focus of a proactive lifestyle. However funny a few may sound, just think about what it would be like to have a lack of healthy function for the following: 
  1. Good dental hygiene
  2. A healthy back
  3. Healthy feet
  4. Healthy hands
  5. And good G.I. or gut health (from mouth to pooper)

       2.   Be mindful of safety. This allows you to do more of what you want tomorrow.

       3.   You will never be a specific athlete, performer, or artist. Improve YOUR game.        

             Be known for what You do, not that you are Like someone else.

       4.   Don’t brag about yourself. Let others do that for you.

       5.   Being respected and being popular does not always coincide. 

       6.   Do you want people to think you are smart? Speak less

       7.   Don’t be quick to respond. Say, “let me get back with you” if you need to think.

       8.   Learn how to manage money and credit.

       9.   The “field is greener” on the other side of the fence because it has more crap.

     10.   Chivalry is never a mistake.

     11.   Date someone that is LOW maintenance.

     12.   Discipline yourself and your children.

     13.   Try to maintain fresh breath and lack of body odor. 

     14.   Getting help is not a sign of weakness.

     15.   Taking medication is not a sign of weakness.

     16.   Being honest means you have to remember less.

     17.   The opinions of others rarely make a difference in your life.  

     18.   Be proactive at work. It speeds up the day and makes your boss quieter.

     19.   Arrive early, this eliminates stress.

     20.   Learn how to say “no”.

The lessons that we want to give our kids can grow in length and complexity over time. However, these are a small list that you may be able to draw from. It is important that we take from each other and learn when it comes to knowledge and skill. Like any acquired abilities, these items must be reinforced and practiced with repetition. For example, if you were to instill the “Golden Rule” as a priority in your home, this would not be a one time lesson. As opportunities or even trials present themselves, this standard should be reinforced. Over time, it is more likely to take root and be adopted with other important standards of living.

Let me stress, that depending upon the phase of life they are in, our children will do better with the appropriate lessons being taught at the onset of a particular time in life. Teaching the Golden Rule should not be introduced to kids when they are entering high school. Likewise, practicing good dental hygiene should be stressed before the age of 30. You get what I’m talking about.

It is our job as parents to set the standard for our children. As they grow, hopefully, they will adopt healthy habits and standards that they will not only practice in their daily lives but will one day pass down to their children. Be proactive and consistent when it comes to teaching your kids. From the moment they are born, they are watching, learning and taking in information. Be a good example. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon  

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

Kids and Pets

The journey of caring for a pet teaches kids so many wonderful and important lessons in life. I am a dog lover…okay, fanatic. They just make me happy, and my kids have been raised around them. Let’s just say that we are a Fido family. It’s not that I hate cats, but I am taken back by the excitement and love that dogs can show.

As a child, I struggled with allergies and asthma. AlthoughI wanted to be around animals SOOOOOO much, my immune system and modern medicine were not up to par. Therefore I had to admire them from a distance or rush myself into scrub like a surgeon if I ever pet one. Praise the Lord that I grew out of that and that my children were not allergic.

We decided that we would have dogs as we raised our children. In that decision, we also included our children in every aspect of this responsibility. My wife had been a veterinary technician for many years and was as redneck as they come. Due to this fact, she was in charge by default. She was also stronger when it came to the circle of life and could take the lead on unpleasant tasks. This may not be the same for your family, but as for us, my wife was Dr. Dolittle.

As you can imagine, dogs have brought us a lot of joy, but equally as much of a pain in the butt due to the fact that dogs will be dogs. While young and learning, they all had a tendency to be destructive, forget where the bathroom is, and perform escape acts that would impress Houdini. Then there was the added stress of enjoying your pets while trying to prevent them from intruding on the neighbors, who may like them a lot less. This can range from barking late at night or very early in the morning to expressing their love or lack thereof for neighbors and their furry friends.

I must say that one of the biggest advantages that we experienced as a family was the protective nature of our dogs along with the unconditional love that they showed. This really gave my wife and me a peace of mind and an additional sense of well-being as our children were living at home. The downside was dealing with the circle of life.

Kids must understand about death. I have to admit that this has been the worst part of being a pet owner. However, it is a powerful teacher. My advice is that you NOT shield your child from these times. It royally sucks but does so much to teach about grief and compassion. I have to admit that I have to lean on my wife’s strength during these times. Losing a pet emotionally wrecks me. Perhaps my grief allows my children to be a part of the comforting factor. They know that it is a REAL sensitive area with me.

It is at this point that I want to stress the importance of vulnerability. Kids need to understand what makes us tick and hurt. There is a point of being tough for your kids. I understand that. I condone that strength. However, they need to see that dad “feels, hurts, and can show sadness”. These moments allow us to bond together in a unique and special way. Dads that resist this are missing out on a blessing as well as being a healthy example for their children. 

The other important lesson that kids can learn from caring for animals is that service is an expression of love. We feed, water, clean, clip, medicate and even pick up nasty stuff because we love our pets and want them to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible. In addition to this, kids can see that discipline can make for a happier animal. An animal that is taught to behave is more welcomed, included, and appreciated. This is an amazing opportunity to talk about your children’s happiness.

The last point to make is that there are times when the best thing to do is to NOT buy, adopt, or grow your animal family. We all love the sweet puppies that we come across. However, the discussion needs to be held about responsibility and what is best for the dog. There are many situations that do not lend the best care to an animal. Therefore, refraining from bringing them home can in of itself be an act of love.

The concept, love, and learning experience that our kids can have with animals are amazing. However, we still need to guide during this time. We need to have open communication with our kids concerning the benefits and hurdles that this lifestyle has. We need to examine the needs and resources of the family to make the best decisions. I hope you can enjoy this amazing experience with your kids. I hope that it can be a small part of YOU being the best dad possible.

Deacon  

Teaching Kids about Variety

Introducing variety to your kids will broaden their world and expose them to their own personality cookbook. The last thing that I wanted for my children was for them to be clones of myself or my wife. I wanted them to have their own recipe for what makes them unique. The best way for them to understand the spices of life is to experience them. So what are the spices of life? Am I talking about living in a manner that throws caution to the wind? The answer to that is no. However, fun and experience can be somewhat adventurous.

For your kids, let’s start with the senses. What they see, hear, smell, taste, and feel are paramount to their development. It is important that we introduce them to experiences that can mold them as individuals. For my family, this started with taste. You don’t have to venture much further than your grocery store to find new food and taste ideas. It can be a lot of fun to shop and cook together something new. I have found that it is a very healthy thing to switch up the diet and not stay with the same thing all the time.

Take time to go to places that are new. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. One thing that my wife and I wanted to do was to travel. However, when money is limited, you can always bring the world and even a time capsule to you by visiting museums. Being able to see history and creations from all over the world are amazing learning experiences for your kids. Take the time to ask them what they like. Ask them to explain why they appreciate a specific exhibit or piece of art. Don’t tell them what is good or not. Don’t express to them what art is or is not according to you. Tell them what you like if they ask. Express to them how awesome it was to see those pieces or exhibits with them. Applaud their interpretations, insight, and imagination.

Music is another element that needs to be experienced. This is where I have seen most parents struggle. We have our own tastes and many of us like to stay in this comfort zone. However, music is art whether you interpret it as such or not. For me, I appreciate many forms of music and try to keep my own listening spectrum as broad as possible. This to me is also like food. I don’t want to be a meat and potatoes man. I want to have different experiences that feed the mind and soul. Your kids may find other forms of music that they connect to. I DO NOT condone dismissing this experience to chance but suggest that you listen with them and discuss. Just as there are unhealthy diets, there are unhealthy messages that need to be monitored. Do your best to discern from content and taste.

Take your family’s entertainment away from the norm when possible. Walks, picnics, parks, plays, concerts, community events, church events, and many other activities will widen their perspective of the world around them. When possible, get them away from the “screen”. Encourage interaction with nature and other people. One thing that I use to do was to make a fire. We lived in the city, but I bought a small portable fire pit that we could use to roast hotdogs, smores, or just watch the fire. My kids would invite friends over. Believe it or not, this was a best seller in the entertainment area. Obviously it is more fun when it is cooler outside, but not mandatory. This was a great time to just “be” with my kids, their friends, my wife, and our friends. If you ever want to host an informal dinner party, make a fire. It is awesome and encourages conversation.

Activities that encourage human interaction, imagination, debate, and learning are awesome at providing your kids with the spices that will be their “dish” in life. Take time to discover the little things that others may fail to see or experience. The other day, we had our first cool front of the season. This came with rain, a breeze, and an obvious clothing change. I opened the garage door, sat outside, and listened to the most beautiful symphony. As I was covered by the garage, I could get close enough to the rain without getting wet, hearing the rain, wind, wind chimes, and birds. I was taken back to the times when my kids were young and the profound moments we experienced entranced in our own entertainment.

The last point is one that I personally would have wanted to do better at. When my kids were young, I did not have a passion for reading as I do today. I wish I would have encouraged reading more than I did. My daughter naturally gravitated towards books, but my boys and I were deficient. I used to think that life was all about doing. To my ignorance, I did not realize how much of a world that books could open up for me. I would have encouraged them to read, to read to me, and evaluate literary works. Bravo to you who are already doing this. You won’t regret it.

Take the time to introduce variety to your kids. Be a part of expanding their world and helping to find the spices that will form them into amazing individuals instead of part of the common crowd. Learn and experience together. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon 

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