The Daddy I Don’t Want to Be

9407_0009_webCharlotte and I have two children.  Actually, they are now two women. They each have children and families of their own. This is hard for me to grasp as it seems like yesterday they were small and I was trying to figure out what it means to be a dad.

Now many years later, I have learned much about being a father.  I have also become more aware that I still have much to learn.  I am grateful for having some very good role models. In each congregation we served (over three and a half decades), I watched some fathers who took this role very seriously.  I also learned from some who unfortunately squandered many of their opportunities for influencing their child for God.

One of the most powerful ways that a father impacts his children is through the way he treats his wife, their mother.  Little boys and girls learn much from watching and listening to their daddy. These impressionable children can have a front row seat to witness how a Christian father values and cherishes their mother.

Instead, some boys and girls grow up seeing their daddy do the following:

  • They hear their daddy talk to their mother in a way that is condescending and dismissive.
  • They hear their daddy speak to their mother as if she lacked intelligence.
  • They witness their daddy use the children to manipulate their mother.
  • They hear their daddy call their mother demeaning names.
  • They see their daddy laugh as he makes fun of their mother.  He excuses his humor as “just having a little fun.”
  • They witness their daddy treat their mother as if she were of little worth.

What I Wish I Had Known When Our Children Were Born

 

SullyCharlotte and I have two daughters and a son-in-law.  We now have three grandchildren! Little Sully was born to Jamie and Cal just the other day.  As I drove home from Oklahoma City yesterday, I thought about what I wish I had known when our children were born.  Like others, Charlotte and I were trying to figure out what we needed to do as parents.  In spite of the way it may appear at times, no parent has this figured out.  Good parents are constantly learning.

What I wish I had known when our children were born:

The best gift two parents can give their child is for them to love each other.  If a husband and wife love, care for, and cherish one another, they have given their children a precious gift.  Children watch their parents closely.  Often parents think their kids do not overhear unkind words or see the menacing looks. Typically, children don’t miss very much.  They see the way their daddy treats their mother and the way their mother treats their daddy.  You cannot talk your way out of problems that you have created.  You can’t explain away the contempt you have for one another.

On the other hand, when children see that their mom and dad are tender toward one another and that they cherish each other, they experience a special kind of security.  When they see that their daddy adores and treasures their mother (and vice versa), they are witnessing something that can positively impact them for a long time.

Some of the very best parents I’ve known were single parents.  Some became single because of the death of their spouse. Others experienced divorce.  At almost every church we have served, there were single parents who gave their all for their children.  It is tough to be a single parent and yet so many raise their children in homes of joy and contentment.

What Good Parents Do

child-and-adultThose of us who have children are always learning, or at least we should be.  We have two daughters who are adults and are still learning what it means to be a dad and mom to two adult children.

James K. A. Smith, in an article in Comment journal (fall 2015) speaks of “the currents and dynamics of society that are essential but often ignored because they are banal and taken for granted.”  He observes that “While headlines focus on spectacles and draw our attention to controversy, the things that make a society tick hum away in the background, in the quiet of life-giving homes and the energy of formative classroom . . . .”  (“Health Beyond the Hospital” p. 2-3).

As parents, we need to be aware of the significance of the “quiet of life-giving homes.”  This may be where some of the most significant work of our lives will be done.  Yet in our busyness and fatigue, we may also ignore some of the most important realities of being a good parent.

What do good parents do who wish to raise children in life-giving homes?

Good parents continue to learn.  Pity the child who is being raised by a dad or mom who won’t learn, grow, read, or ask questions of others.  Their default is often their own experience.  “This is the way I was raised.  This is good enough for my children.”  Granted, all of us can learn something from our families of origin.  However, we bless our children when we continue to grow and mature as parents.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 4)

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The following is part 4 of a series that I have entitled, “41 Things Married People Ought to Know.” Most of these 41 statements I have learned from being married and observing others.  (Part 1 is here.  Part 2 is here.  Part 3 is here.)

31.  If a couple is at war with one another, almost any issue can be a point of contention. If a couple is pursuing peace and togetherness, they can work through almost any issue

32.  A couple can bless one another by creating an atmosphere in the home that is pleasant, inviting and warm. As a result, they will likely look forward to coming home after a long day at work.

33.  A husband or wife with a demanding spirit often pushes their spouse farther away. Regardless of the legitimacy of the issue, a demanding person feels threatening

34.  Married people, who are wise learn to look for the good in another. Too many of us become overly focused on the negative and the shortcomings we see in each another.

35.  One can add something positive to the home environment by being pleasant and enjoyable to be around. However, when a person is negative, pessimistic, and constantly griping, that person has a way of draining the energy out of the room.

36.  Being hard on one another may produce the desired external behavior— for a time. But, badgering and nagging someone can create deep resentment and anger. Such attitudes do not foster internal change.

37.  Most of us would do well to think before we speak. There is no real merit in allowing every fleeting thought to come out of our mouths unfiltered. (Please don’t say, “I was just being honest.” Honest words still need discernment.) We need to pray for wisdom regarding our speech.

38.  Every married person is married to a sinner. This person can never meet the deepest needs of his or her spouse. Only God is capable of bringing completeness to any person.

39.  Individual daily repentance will ultimately bless marriage. There is something good about getting honest before the Lord every day. A husband or wife would do well to examine how he behaved with his wife the previous day. Ask God’s forgiveness for an attitude, behavior, or words which were not Christ-like.

40.  Remember that you are married to God’s daughter or God’s son. You know how you feel when someone mistreats one of your children. You also know how you feel when someone has been a blessing to son or daughter. Think about how God might feel as he sees how you treat his daughter or son. God knows the intent of our hearts. What does he see? (Thanks to Gary Thomas for some of these thoughts.)

41.  Every good moment you experience in your married life needs to be received as a gift from God. Don’t act like you deserve these moments! Don’t think you are entitled. Christ-followers understand that we are totally dependent on God’s grace. It is out of that grace that we have air, food, and, yes, the good moments of marriage.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 3)

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The following is part 3 of a series that I have entitled, “41 Things Married People Ought to Know.” (You can find part one here and part two here)

21.  Marriage can be very satisfying and joyful.  Many couples experience great pleasure in their marriages. There is great pleasure to be found in marriage through friendship, emotional connection, emotional intimacy and sexual expression.

22.  Marriage is hard work.  A good marriage takes effort and often requires us to be intentional. As married people, we depend upon the Lord for strength to navigate our marriages well.  A very frustrated married person once asked me, “If marriage is right, why is it so hard?” Yet, simply because something was created by God does not mean it will be easy.

23.  Marriage requires that we be steady and consistent.  After all, the journey is long and requires constancy and faithfulness.  But shouldn’t there be sizzle?  Yes, of course.  However, one would think from watching the way relationships are portrayed on television and in the media that real life is to be found in encounters where there is no commitment to the future, but only an awareness of the moment.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 2)

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Are you married? Would you like to be married one day? The following is Part 2 of this series. (You can find Part 1 here.)

11.  Many women have a low perception of their body image. Television, movies, magazines all portray a certain type of female body to be desired. These women are tan, well endowed, and young. Meanwhile, many women often see such portrayals and perceive themselves as not measuring up. They see these images and conclude that their own body is inadequate.

12.  Wonderful, satisfying sex in marriage is not based on performance.Rather, such a sexual relationship is an outgrowth of an intimate relationship with one another. Far too many married couples put tremendous pressure on one another because of the performance view of sex. Pornography feeds such a view. Beware! When a person is using pornography, he will often see sex as something he “takes” in marriage instead of self-sacrificial intimacy.

13.  Many married couples have no idea how to handle their discretionary spending. Consequently, if the kids want something at the store and the parents know the money is in the bank, the kids get it. Meanwhile, the amount of credit card debt being accumulated by some couples is astounding. Many couples really have no idea how much they are actually spending each month.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 1)

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Several years ago, I posted a list of things I have learned about marriage from my own experience and observation. The following is an updated and edited list. Perhaps one or more of these will be helpful.

The following is Part 1 of a list of 41 things married people ought to know:

1.  Married people are called to move away from self-centeredness and toward selflessness. Self–centeredness creates a person in the marriage who “takes”. Such a person focuses on what he or she is getting out of the marriage instead of loving one another sacrificially.

2.  A couple can’t follow Jesus and at the same time settle for a status quo marriage. Jesus challenges both husband and wife to pursue something larger than oneself. They are called to something greater than their individual happiness. Sometimes, a wife or husband will desire to pursue a larger kingdom vision for marriage while the other person chooses to dig in his heels and remain stagnant.

3.  Married people can become very lazy in their relationship with one another. As a result, the husband and wife may no longer cherish one another. Tenderness slips away. Sarcasm and cynicism may overtake their relationship.

Seven Characteristics of a Great Dad

(Just Before Father's Day)

baseballWhat is a great dad?  Maybe he is a dad like the picture to the right.  After all, this is a good scene, isn’t it?  A father and son spend time together playing baseball. Many sons have good memories of their dads teaching them to play catch or how to hit a ball.

Yet, being a great dad is more than this.  Being a great dad is about passing on character and goodness which will bless generations to come.

Some what are some of the qualities of a great dad?

1.  A great dad treats the mother of his children with adoration and respect.  Little children see it all! Nothing gets by them.  They see the contemptuous looks and they hear the words that drip with sarcasm. The way you treat their mother, impacts the way they will treat others later on.

Focus on the Heart – (Part 1 of 2)

Choosing Spouses, Ministers, etc.

He sat in my office and looked troubled.  He said, “We are engaged, yet I’m not sure I want to go through with this wedding.  There is physical attraction, but I am troubled about some other matters.”

Far too many people, as they consider a potential spousethink-md, put their priority on physical attraction.  How attractive is she?  How attractive is he? While physical attraction may be a factor, Christ-followers have other concerns which stand first in the priority line.

Remember King Saul of Israel?  Tall.  A military leader. A warrior.  He looked the part.  Today, people today might say regarding a particular person, “He looks presidential.”  King Saul looked like a king.

Yet, even though he looked the part, he didn’t have the heart that God desired. Outwardly he may have appeared to be just right.  Yet, because of his heart, his life did not reflect what God wanted.  As Israel chose the next King of Israel, God desired to see a change.  God said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

10 Ways Parents Can Make a Difference

PinkLogoOne of the most difficult things I’ve ever done was attempt to be a good parent.  One of the most joyful experiences I’ve ever had was being a daddy.

Many men father children.  Many women bear children.

Some men seem to be only interested in playing with their children.  Yet, some of these same men want no part of the really hard work involved in rearing children.

Some women seem to get their ego needs met from their children.  Yet, being a parent is not about getting ones own needs met.

Parents need to be intentional about making a difference!

1.  Parents who make a difference practice what they claim to believe.  Our kids see right through us.  They see who we really are, not what we are attempting to project.

2.  Parents who make a difference know that their children may often hear more than we intend for them to hear. These kids also hear whatever I might utter under my breath, whether it be a pray or a comment regarding them.