How Us Parents are Hypocrites and Why it’s Ok!

The other night, I walked by my oldest son’s school and the playground that has provided so many memories for our family.  Nostalgia always creeps in about the experiences we’ve shared and how rapidly the future is approaching.  I’m a sap like that.

I started thinking about my boys and comparing their childhood to mine….what things I want to steer them TOWARDS and what things I want to steer them FROM.  As parents, I think it’s safe to say that we always want to protect our kiddos and provide them with a great childhood, far better than our own.  It’s a great goal to have.

Often, in pursuit of a great life for our kids, we provide boundaries, rules and discipline, hoping that these things point them in the right direction.  The “do this” and “don’t do that” list is long and boy, do we get frustrated at those little boogers when they goof up sometimes.  There is some comedy to the progression of life….us kids (you and me) becoming parents….shaking our heads as we enforce and guide our own children.  Here’s a simple truth:  AS PARENTS, WE’RE A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES!  It’s true and you know what, it’s ok.  Let me explain.

A partial definition of hypocrisy is:  “The behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do.”  (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).  While this definition is in the present tense, you could also tweak the sentence to say; “The behavior of people who HAVE DONE things (us parents) that they tell other people not to do (our kids).” 

We definitely all fall into this finger-pointing, “I can do it, but you can’t” category at some point, don’t we?!  It’s just one of those pesky flaws that we possess as humans.  Being a parent really highlights this whole double standard thing.  I mean really, when was the last time we sternly told our kids to stop whining, or to share, or to have a better attitude about school or to clean their room or to talk nice about others….the list goes on and on.  We’ve all been there, sternly enforcing the same things over and over and over and over and over again it seems!  It’s easy to forget that we were young once, disobeying our parents, hitting our siblings, pulling some random kid’s hair out of their head (ok, maybe that was just me), crying on airplanes or in grocery stores, receiving glaring stares from old people and other judging parents.  Now we’re the old folks, glaring at those punk kids…how dare they do those things!  🙂

The positive note to this whole parental hypocrisy thing is this: ALTHOUGH WE’VE DONE SOME STUPID THINGS AS KIDS, OUR LIFE EXPERIENCES HAVE EQUIPPED US WITH THE KNOWLEDGE TO PROTECT AND TEACH OUR OWN CHILDREN.

This has gone on for generations and although hypocrisy is not a great character trait in most cases, it’s played a big role in successful parenting for centuries.

So, before we get pissed at the crying kid on the airplane (super annoying, right?), let’s remember that we were once that crying kid, causing a scene.  Those rug rats will someday grow up to be parents, full of hypocrisy, just like us, getting mad at their kids for the same things that they used to do as children!  God must be so proud, ha!

Happy parenting! 😉

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

 

 

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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

Why It’s Ok That My Son Doesn’t Play Sports

016My oldest son, Ben is such a cool kid.  He’s smart, caring, loving and pretty darn handsome.

A little while back, we had a conversation that I never thought we would have…..he told me that he wanted to take a break from sports.

To be honest, my first reaction was to convince him to stick it out.  I tried to sway him with my best arguments, but to no avail.

He had played soccer for a few seasons and he was getting really good at it.  I thought he should keep playing.  I thought he should keep practicing and getting better.  I thought it was fun to see him practice.  I enjoyed being outdoors with the family, I enjoyed…..I, I, I, I, I.  There’s a lot of I’s there, I know.  It’s about Ben, not me, right?

As Ben and I continued talking about his reasons for not playing, I learned something:  Ben’s likes and dislikes are different from my likes and dislikes.  It’s a pretty simple concept really, but it’s been a little challenging for me.

So, to try something new, he wanted to learn how to cook.  My wife, Pam is so amazing in the kitchen and luckily, she’s open to sharing her skills with Ben.  It’s been really cool to see.

We also got him plugged into Cub Scouts.  What a neat, old-fashioned deal they have going there.

Oh yeah, he’s having fun learning how to swim as well.

Excitement, passion and contentment are shining through his big blue eyes as he pursues these new interests.  That excites me and it blesses me.

The truth is, I need to be supportive no matter what he pursues.  More than that, I need to walk beside him in love as his interests change and mature.

As a dad, I want the best for my son.  I’m learning a very important lesson as I see Ben grow:  Happiness and character don’t just exist once we reach the final destination….it’s the steps along the way that mold us most.    The journey is where we discover God’s purpose for our lives….our passion or calling, so to speak.

That’s where Ben is right now.  He’s finding his footing in life.  What a cool journey to witness and be a part of.

My job is to be there, always, with supportive words, fist bumps, forehead kisses and a whole bunch of “I’m proud of you’s.”

Truthfully, this isn’t only Ben’s journey, this is my adventure too.

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

 

 

Scars Are Cool

bruise on the boy's legThe other day, my oldest son fell off his bike and hurt his knee.  There was some blood and dirt involved.  You know, the usual carnage that we’ve all experienced as bike-riding kids.

He whined a little and had that, “I’m scared, make it all better!” thing going on.  It was pretty cute really.  Kind of a “welcome to manhood” moment.

So I did what any loving dad would do……I made light of it.  I started cheering him on and emphasized that scars were cool.  After that, I pulled out my phone and took some pictures.  His grimace slowly became a grin.

After the drama subsided, I was able share some of my own bloody knee stories.  I told him about the different scars that I’ve collected and the accidents that caused them.  He thought that was pretty cool and the pain/fear suddenly became a distant memory.  We were both now a part of the “scar club.”

My son felt comforted by the fact that I’ve experienced pain too.  That I’m human.  That I understand.

My boys want and need a dad who shows them his scars too.  I think all kids want that.  It opens avenues of trust.

You see, if our only role in a child’s life is that of power, a disconnect happens.  The transparency is lost and the door of communication remains slightly cracked at best.

My goal as a dad is to provide freedom.  Freedom to fail, freedom to hurt, freedom to be independent, freedom to choose, freedom to approach me with anything, anytime, anywhere……because I love my kids.  Period.

Within that freedom also lies boundaries and discipline.  There’s a fine balance there….one that will take me a lifetime to figure out, story by story, scrape by scrape.  By God’s grace only.

My son acquired a cool scar that day.  I acquired a full heart as we bonded over cool stuff like blood and dirt.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

FEELINGS – YOU CAN’T ALWAYS TRUST ‘EM

FeelingsFeelings, what can I say about feelings…..you ever notice that they never stay the same?  They are more fleeting than…well, they’re just fleeting…and inconsistent….and often unreliable.

No relationships last on feelings alone.  How could they?  Commitment and love should be the main ingredients and feelings should be the seasoning.

Whether it’s a friendship, a family member, or a marriage, faith in the process of maintaining relationships is the glue that keeps things together.

My relationship with God is definitely not based on feelings, it’s based on faith and belief.  It took me a long time to figure this out.  I came to a place where I started to doubt my faith because I didn’t “feel” as though I was floating on the clouds all the time.  I was frustrated, confused and pissed off.  Loving God = perfect life, right?  Not so much.

Coincidentally, I am going through a “non-feeling” time right now.  I kinda feel as though I’m just going through the motions.  I don’t feel close to God, but I don’t feel far away either.  It’s ok.  These are the times where I just keep seeking, persevering and absorbing.  Although it “feels” a bit lonely, I’m confident that God is there…He never changes and He never leaves us.

Sometimes, I think it’s good to go through times like these.  It builds our faith and it shows us just how much we need God’s guidance and presence.  I’m committed to keep pushing because my faith goes deeper than my mood or temperament.  It delves into the root of who I am.

My heart has been changed because of Christ’s love for me.  I’m not the person I used to be…..this is a fact and this is what I hold on to.  Each day is a challenge to see other’s through the eyes of Jesus.  I’m committed to keep pressing, holding on to the faith that saved me.

So, I’m gonna keep fighting the good fight.  If I feel lonely for a bit, bring it on.  I’ve been here before and it’s a temporary spot to be in.  After all, feelings are only fleeting, right?

“It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.” -Deuteronomy 31:8

God bless,

Paul

BECOMING DUST AND LEAVING A LEGACY

LegacyThe thought of life continuing after we’re gone is a sobering reality.

We work hard, we form relationships, we fail, we succeed, we get sick, we get well, we eat, drink and attempt to be merry……then it’s gone.  We die and the only thing left is the legacy that we’ve formed while we were alive.

I mean really, these bodies of ours are merely vessels to house the spirits within us.  They’re temporary and we forget that so easily.

Who we are and the convictions that guide us affect generations of people.  How we handle adversity and how we show love to strangers….these are the things that stick.

To be vain is a temptation we all face.  Let us not allow our shallow conceit to override the love within us.  Our things and our worries and our fretting and our anger and our accomplishments and our sadness are a mere warm breath on a frosty morning.  Inhale, exhale, wait a few seconds and the steam is gone.  Such is life.

It goes quick, really quick actually.

When I’m no longer here, I hope that folks talk about my character.  That, through my imperfections, others would have caught a glimpse of Christ’s love through me.  That my sons would understand how to be men….not just regular men, but good men, humble men, God-fearing men.  This is the stuff that matters.  This is the stuff that lasts.

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.  As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no moreBut from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children……”  -Psalms 103:13-18

What’s your legacy?

God Bless,

Paul