Dad Fail

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son had a soccer game.  I’ve always loved watching him run around on the field, giving it full effort, working with his teammates, going for it.  To be honest, this last game didn’t really represent these things.  He wasn’t playing to his full potential and I could tell he was being timid out there.  As a dad, my competitive juices start flowing and I admit, it’s hard to be super positive after a game like that.

As we were walking back to the car, we recapped the game.  We talked about the challenges, set backs and some positive stuff as well.  I told him that he did great and that I was proud of him for getting out there and playing.  Then the dad-fail came….immediately after the compliment, I mentioned that he seemed a little tired, maybe intimidated and that he didn’t really seem to play like the kid I know.  Stupid mistake.

Soon after we got home, my son called me out.  With frustration in his voice, he told me that I had really discouraged him.  That I told him I was proud of him one second and then immediately went to something negative, deflating any encouragement given.  You know what, he was right, I messed up.

Sure, it’s ok to offer constructive criticism to our children, but at the proper time.  My timing was bad and I apologized.

What a great lesson for me to learn as a dad.  Sometimes, kids don’t need us to fix them or offer them advice.  Sometimes, they just  simply want to know that we’re proud of them.

God Bless,

Paul

The Night We Looked Into The Mirror Together

mirrorThe night was winding down and it was time to brush teeth and get ready for bed.  It was just me and Ben, my oldest son in the bathroom.  After we were all done going through the routine, I felt the need to have him do something different….something outside of our usual order of things……I said, “come here Ben, let’s look into the mirror together….what do you see?”  We stood there for a few seconds, my hands on his shoulders…my adult frame acting as a large backdrop against his small 8-year-old body.  It was a great dad/son moment for me….pretty cool.  He sat there pondering as his eyes wandered, investigating all of his features.  “I see my birth mark.”  That is the first thing Ben stated.  We went down the list of his other physical features like ears, blue eyes, hair, etc.  He then said “I think I look weird.”  I appreciated his child-like simplicity and honesty.  At first, his statement made me kinda sad, but it created an awesome opportunity to talk about some good things.

I think we’ve all gone through stages in life where we think we look “weird” or we’re not satisfied with who we are as people.  I know I have.  Growing up, looking in the mirror was a constant struggle for me.  For some reason, I was ashamed of myself…..I’m not sure why, but I was.  Because of this, my time with Ben in front of the mirror was special.

We were able to discuss how important it is to be different.  That we are all special and handcrafted by a God who loves us.  That we’re all weird, but in a good way!  That, out of the billions of people alive today, not one person is exactly like the other.  That Ben is special and every mark and crease and gap and color and detail makes up his very own identity.  Fantastic!

Next, the conversation led to purpose and exploring God’s plan for Ben.  I asked him what he thought he was created for.  He said, “well I know one thing that I was created for.  I think I am a peace-maker.”  That was awesome to hear.  I wish I was that insightful when I was a kid!  He then asked, “do you think God has a plan for me?  Do you think He has a plan for you, dad?”  I obviously gave an enthusiastic “absolutely!” and explained that we are all created for a purpose.  That, as we go through life, our purpose will hopefully become clearer.  I also explained that even though I’m an adult, I’m still trying to figure out my purpose, but I know it’s out there, ready for me to find!  He nodded his head in agreement, shifted his eyes to the side as he pondered the conversation, we gave hugs and “I love you’s” and then we were done.  Simple stuff, yet such a sweet space in time.

I’m learning that our children often become what we speak into them.  As parents, we are shepherds, doing our best to guide our little ones down the right road.  Although we can’t force our children to become anything or anyone, we can sure clear a path for them, love them, speak confidence into their lives and pray for them….trusting that God has them in His hands.

I invite you to join me in being intentional with our kids our nephews and nieces, our cousins, our friend’s kids….basically any kids that we have contact and relationship with.  They need us….oh yes, little imperfect “us.”

We are responsible for molding the next generation…..what a privilege and honor!

 

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

Why The Simpler Things Can Be Better

004Kids don’t typically care about fancy stuff.  As long as they’re entertained, they’re happy.

You know how it is….you spend a lot of money on a fancy toy, thinking the kids will be totally stoked and over-joyed…..and they may be excited for a moment…..until you come into the room and see them playing with a toilet paper roll, or a rock, or a box.  Meanwhile, that shiny, expensive toy is in the corner collecting dust.  Pretty funny.

A few weeks ago, I sent my wife away to the beach and the boys and I had a guy’s weekend.  We had a lot of fun eating junk food, watching baseball, bowling, farting, burping, etc.

Although we did a lot of fun things, sitting in the back of my truck, at the airport, eating burgers and watching airplanes was my favorite.  I think the boys enjoyed it too.  It was simple-fun, you know, memory stuff.

It seems like, at least with my boys, the experiences that cause life to slow down a little are what matter the most to them….the times where conversation is shared and time has no hold.

Don’t get me wrong, they love video games and new toys and shiny cool stuff.  Usually though, after a while, most of it ends up in the closet.

Finding that balance between shiny stuff and good ‘ol fashioned interaction is tough, especially in this day and age.  Kids are adaptable though and over time, they’ll follow our lead if we’re consistent and deliberate.

As a dad, I’m more interested in creating memories vs. stockpiling toys.  Hopefully my boys will find more value in relationships vs. stuff someday…..I think they’re on the right track.  For now, they’re just kids, figuring stuff out and I’m ok with that.

A great reward for me would be 20 years down the road….while drinking coffee or something, my boys start bringing up memories from their childhood.  The simple, good memories of laughs shared, experiences had and freedom felt.  I hope to experience this kind of reminiscing someday….God willing.

God Bless,

Paul

 

Why Kids Are Like Dogs

kid and dogI love kids.  I love their simplicity.  I love their trust.  I love their freedom and I love their grace.

In fact, I get energized by just being around the little squirts.  Similar to catching the wind draft of a passing truck, their little spirits cause mine to sway and turn and lift a little.  They remind me of who I was and who I should be……myself.

I’m the proud dad of 2 handsome young men.  They have my heart and I’m gratefully humbled by the responsibility of leading them.

We also have a dog named Sami.  It’s a love/hate relationship really…..mainly on my part.  I like dogs I guess, but I don’t LOVE them.  My wife is the one who would do anything for our little fury, “first-born daughter.”

One thing that I do appreciate about dogs in general is how easily they forgive.  You can scold, yell and discipline them like crazy.  The next minute, those slobbery faces are covering you with kisses.  All is forgotten.  Time to move on and have fun again.  Life is good!

I think kids and dogs carry a strong resemblance in this regard.

There’s been days where I’ve completely lost my temper, thrown one of my boys in their room, slammed the door and left them there to think about the consequences.  Then, when I’ve cooled off a bit, I’ll slink back to their room at half-posture, asking forgiveness for my tantrum.

ALMOST EVERY SINGLE TIME, they give me a hug, wipe the tears and forgive me.  It’s a prime example of Christ’s love for us really.  Unconditional, grace-filled love….it’s a beautiful thing.

I’m grateful that I’m allowed to be less-than-perfect with my boys.  Love and trust definitely override the mess ups.

As a Christian, we are told to forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive again…not because we have to….but because we GET to.  Afterall, we have been forgiven, right?  Every day we are forgiven by a God that loves us, made possible by a certain Sacrifice by an amazing Man/God named Jesus.

I wonder if God put kids and dogs together in this world as reminders of forgiveness to all of us……I wouldn’t doubt it……I really think God has a sense of humor…..in fact, I’m convinced of it!

God Bless,

Paul

 

The Mixed Bag of Being a Parent

Toilet paperBeing a dad, or mom, or whatever is a crazy journey.  It’s a mixed bag really, full of good times and not-so-good times.

In the end, every second is worth it.  One thing that’s for certain is that sometimes, I’m left scratching my head, searching for answers, wanting to know all of the creative solutions but coming up short.

Dang, it’s frustrating, but pretty normal I believe.  I think as parents, we’ve all been there and we’ve all experienced the imperfect blessings of parenthood.

I’ll tell you what though, if you want to be challenged, become a parent.

If you want to be humbled, become a parent.

If you want to grow, become a parent.

If you want to learn patience, become a parent.

If you want to experience a “I have no idea what the heck I’m doing” kind of feeling, become a parent.

If you want to get used to bodily fluids, consisting of yellow and brown colors and those in between, become a parent.

If you want to witness your own faults, reflecting off of your children like a shiny mirror, become a parent.

If you want to learn cool songs and dance a lot, become a parent.

If you want to get really good at unclogging things, become a parent.

If you want to be a hero, become a parent.

If you want to create awesome memories, leaving a legacy for years to come, become a parent.

If you want to fail, become a parent.

If you want to experience the struggle of letting your kids fail, become a parent.

If you want to experience true, deep, unexplainable love, become a parent.

What a messy, beautiful and real opportunity we have to shape the lives of little ones.

I could go on for pages, but I’ll end here.  Love is the main ingredient that holds it all together.  It doesn’t matter how many times we mess up or how many times we get it wrong.  What matters most is the consistency of our presence in our children’s lives.

The same goes for our kiddos.  Sure we need to discipline, give wedgies when needed and be tough at times.  That’s just being a good parent.

Really though, our kids truly need to know that when they fall, and they will, we’ll be there to help them up every time.  After all, we’re not too perfect either, right?

When I was younger, my dad used to tell me something like “whether you’re good or bad, happy or sad, I will always love you.”  That’s the message right there…..to live that unconditional love out daily, in word and deed……..this should be directed not only to our kids, but to our messy, old, imperfect selves as well.

God Bless,

Paul

 

Playing Ninjas on the Playground

SwingsetI’m really proud of my son, Ben.  He just started 1st grade and we all can’t be more excited for him.

Unfortunately, Ben had his first real experience with a bully.  This kid wouldn’t leave him alone…he called him names, made personal attacks, nagged him to death, etc.  I have to admit, I’ve envisioned myself hanging this little twerp by his underwear on the flag pole outside the school.  I know, I know, I need to calm down.  As a victim of bullying myself, it’s tough not to get heated.

Although I would never want my son to get pushed around, it’s been a great learning experience for all of us.  My lovely wife gave him some sound advice and I paraphrase: “sometimes, mean kids just need somebody to be nice to them.  Jesus was nice to mean people all the time.  Sometimes, that bully could even end up being your friend!”  Brilliant.  This great advice made for some deep dinner conversation.

A couple of days later, Ben blew my socks off.  He proudly called me at work to explain a conversation between himself and the twerp…..I mean kid  :).  They spoke in the bathroom at school.  Ben approached the kid and said something like “I’m sick of us fighting all the time.  Can we just be friends?”  The kid responded with a quick “yep.”  It was a simple exchange with profound results.

At recess, they played ninjas on the playground.  In Boy Land, that means that all is right in the world.  That some healing and acceptance has taken place.

Due to Ben’s love and grace, the kid has left him alone.  Apparently, he’s still causing trouble in other ways, but the direct harassment once focused on Ben is no longer there.  Most of the time,  love can be the best deterrent against negativity.  It’s pretty cool how God designed things.

My son inspires me.  I see Jesus in his eyes, in his demeanor, in his hands and in his feet.  I’m proud to be his dad.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

Dads, We Are Blessed

Dad and son shavingHey you dads, future dads and dads at heart, I have some words to share with ya.  With Father’s day coming up, I’ve been reflecting on my own role as a dad.  Here’s a few thoughts:

God has given us a blessing.  An absolutely rewarding, challenging, humbling, legacy-filled blessing……..the opportunity to be fathers.

Our role as fathers shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Our kids are watching us in many ways:

  • How we interact with others
  • How we treat women
  • How we respect their moms
  • How we lead
  • How we follow
  • How we handle problems
  • How we show grace to others
  • How we serve and who we serve

I think it’s important that we remain true to ourselves and to who God created us to be.  We each have certain skills and abilities, strengths and weaknesses.  Amidst the expectations of society, it’s really easy to lose focus of this.

The daily pressures that we face to be “manly” all the time can feel overwhelming.  I’ve personally struggled with this at times.  Culture tells us not to show our tears.  I encourage you to do the opposite……show your tears and humbly admit when you’re wrong.  Show vulnerability.  Your kids will respect you more for it.

When you feel weak and inadequate, turn to Jesus for strength.  Sometimes, falling on our faces out of reverence gives us the strength to stand firmly and confidently.  In fact, it’s right where God wants us to be.

Join me in praying for our families daily.  Let’s pray for God’s protection over our children during such crazy times.  That His guiding hand would cover them.  That God would go before them and prepare a way of blessing, that they may be a blessing to others.

This world needs more loving fathers.  Men who have found the balance of firm leadership and gentleness.

Never miss the opportunity to scoop your kid’s cheeks into your palms, kiss them on the face and tell them “I love you.”  Your words make a difference.

Look for the small moments. Teach them how to skip rocks, make sandwiches or pick berries.  Make farting noises, laugh out loud and be goofy.  It’s often in these in-between times that memories are made and legacies are left.

Think of the good men in your lives who have shaped you….be like them.

The words that I write come from my own experiences, failures and hopes.  By no means have I arrived.  This imperfect journey in fatherhood will continue for years to come.

Let’s be men full of integrity, love and strength, by His grace only……little ones are counting on us!

God Bless,

Paul