It starts 9 months before birth. In the very formation of your life it is determined if you will someday get the opportunity to be a Father, and even better than that a Dad, and even better than that to be called Daddy. It is a Y that determines the gender of a baby as it is still forming in the mother’s womb. But the Y later turns a good name, Dad into a heart melting name Daddy.
We have all seen and or heard the saying that “Any man can be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a Daddy,” and we all know that this is true. The difference in the names just feels so much different even though they may refer to the same person. We also hear the non complementary terms about dads; dead beat dad, absentee dads, estranged father, etc. Then we hear people talk about single fathers, and stay at home dads, and the praise that goes along with those titles. But what I want to talk about is what I was blessed to have, what my wife had, a Dad that’s there.
We live in a culture now that the majority of kids are growing up with only one parent or between parents. Then we also have the families that are “in-tact” but not everyone is present. A kid needs a dad that is there. Dads need to be there for their kids, not just show up to things, but put up and shut up where our kids our are involved.
As I said above, and I have said before, I was very blessed to have a dad that was there for everything. He was my soccer coach, he was my boss, my teacher, scout leader. He was there for everything, he taught me how to work with my hands, how to respect people, how to work hard for what you want, and how to be a good dad. These are all lessons that I could have learned from somewhere or someone else, but he knew it was his job and responsibility.
And I don’t understand how a man, and I will use the term loosely in this case, can beat, neglect, or just leave their kids. The first time that my daughter said daddy, actually the first time I held her, I knew that I had something special. You other dads can’t tell me that when one of your kids says, Daddy jump please, you don’t say how high and how many times. Now I’m not saying its good to let the kids control things, but it’s just something about the “Daddy, …” along with a look that can make the hardest man melt. When a child says “Dad..” it doesn’t carry the same weight. It’s the Y that gets added to it, and makes the whole difference.
Happy Father’s Day to all the great Dads out there. Enjoy the day and enjoy your kids.
This past weekend, our pastor was talking about being a leader, but also about what really breaks your heart, and what can you do about it. This really got me thinking, What really bothers me, what can I do to make a change, in my world/city/office….. Then it finally hit me, as I was on the road again for work, Why is it that as parents, mainly us dads, worry so much about being successful and getting ahead that our kids suffer. It should never be this way.
Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” (Nehemiah 4:14 NLT)
As parents what are we doing to continually pour into the lives of our kids, not pouring money, but pouring love, encouragement, life lessons, into our children. Today kids are growing up so fast, we are all becoming accustomed to an instant gratification life style. We have smart phones on 24/7, device after device, on our person, in our cars, OnDemand TV, everything is at our beckon call. Many of the generation behind me, the 24 and under crowd, at least many of the ones I have been around, have had life handed to them. Now I’m not saying that I had a rough childhood, but something that was instilled in me by both of my parents, and also my grandparents, was that if you want something, you sure will be working for it. Things were not just handed to you, you did your chores, got your allowance, saved and got those things that you wanted.
Again this trait was mainly pushed on me by my father, and the other male influences in my life. My parents, my in laws, my grandparents are and were very hard workers; that being said, they were always at home for dinner, at every basketball, soccer, baseball game, every school event. Today we see too many parents that say, Oh I will just go to the next one, there is only one first performance, only one first goal…..
Now granted there are times, that a parent cannot be present for these things and I understand that, and I’m not talking about one offs. I’m talking about, working to the point that your kids see you twice a week for an hour when they are going to bed, and in that time you are on your phone/computer/whatever. Pay attention to your kids and family. At the end of the day, another job will come along, but family is forever.
Those that have read my post before know my posts have as much ADD as I do, so back to my original point on this. I have come up with a few should’s and should nots:
Being a working Father Should:
1. Help instill the value of hard work into our children.
2. Provide for our families.
3. Cause us to thank God everyday for all that he provides.
Being a working Father should not:
1. Cause us to miss out on our children’s lives
2. Cause our wives to live as single mothers
3. Stop us from always being present.
4. Make us feel that our family is an obligation.
I want to draw attention to should not #2 for a second. Many people have jobs that take them on the road for days/weeks/months at a time, I was recently on a project that had me away from home 3 days a week for 3 months practically. During this time my wife had a lot of additional responsibility, and it killed me that she was having to tackle our crazy, sweet but crazy, 4 yr old by her self. I did what what I could while I was in town, but it was only a fraction of what needed done. Another great point of this, is an interview I heard about with Jeremy Camp, the Christian musician. In the interview he was asked if it was easier on his wife when he was out on tour, to this he replied that he hoped not. If this was so he was not doing his job well enough when he was home. As dads we need to be co-captains of our team with our wives. We all have shared responsibility, not in the it takes a village sense, but in the it takes a daddy kind of way. Our kids need and deserve to have a dad around, not just present, but truly present and attentive.
Also family, is not an obligation. I’m drawn back to the Tim Allen movie, Jungle 2 Jungle, and the lesson he gives his son about obligations and then later calls his son an obligation. How would you feel if your kids felt obligated to spend time with you? Don’t spend time with your kids and wife just because you have too, get your priorities inline and make sure that your family is the most important thing in your life.
Spend good quality time with your loved ones, don’t be absent in your presence. Your kids should feel comfortable coming to you, knowing that you are listening to them, playing hard with them, cleaning the house with your spouse.
So my challenge to all the other working dads out there: The remainder of January, turn off your cell at 6:30; have family dinner at the dinning room table without distractions at least 2 nights a week; make your kid pee their pants(not really, but play and laugh to the point that they might have to run to the bathroom.); get someone to watch the kids and take your wife out on a date just once before the end of the month; and at least 3 times a week pray and get into God’s word as a family.
Try these things, and leave comments and let me know if it has strengthened your relationships. I also welcome any and all suggestions and criticisms.
Over the past few weeks I have been putting in quite a few miles for work, 6 different states, 4 different sites, over 3000 miles in about 20 days. Over this time I have had many hours to reflect on the things around me. The one thing that I do when I am going to have to travel is to make sure that I spend the morning with the munchkin. I take the few hours before I get on the road to keep her home from school for a bit and just have time with her. If she wants to lay around in bed, we do that, if she wants to go get pancakes, we do that. This is her time to have daddy to herself.
By having this time and then the time on the road I go to thinking about all the distractions we have in life. I know I have wrote about turning the phone off, playing, listening, and all that before, but this time is a little different. I got to really thinking about some of the things that we tell our kids; Do it this way, Color inside the lines, write with the other hand….. We try so hard ourselves to conform to society and we push our kids to conform as well. But why not, to a safe extent, let them do what comes naturally to them. By just observing my daughter I have seen her emmense ability to comprehend and grasp many different concepts. The way she figures things out is amazing, the things that she understands at 4 blows my mind. Then I started thinking about how she is able to do this, she will watch everything that we do and then act that way. Even though I don’t think she is paying attention sometimes, or she isn’t listening, the actions that come later prove me wrong. Also in all of the driving, I was listening to some old @Common tracks. One track jumped out at me, Pop’s Rap II, from One Day It Will All Make Sense. In the middle of the track, Pops is talking about how when Common was a kid he taught him more than he taught Common, with a few simple words. It is when we shut up and listen to our kids, that we can learn the most from them.
We have all heard the saying, Out of the mouth of babes, and it is true, the most honest answer that you will ever get is from a child.
When, I was thinking about all of this, I was trying to figure out what God was trying to tell me or if it was just on my mind. Then Sunday at Church, our Pastor was continuing our current series called Strong. It is about having a stronger relationship with God, and doing the things that He has told us to do to build that relationship. This week was about fasting and solitude. And this really started to hit home, I have fasted before…. Usually when I want God to do something or show me something. But never to do it just to get closer to Him. Fasting is all about getting closer to God, it was laid out as something we should be doing as Christians. It helps us to focus in on JUST God. It is that time that we put everything else out of our way, and listen to Him. Just like when we think our kids aren’t listening to us, Are we listening to God? The example our pastor gave was of when you are listening to the radio, while driving down the road. You get some stations perfectly clear, no static just pure sound; then as you go on down the road there is a little more static, and more and more and more, until finally you can’t hear that station anymore for all the static and other noise you are picking up. In our daily lives, it may not be that we are getting farther from God, but that we have too many things fighting for our attention. Too many things are putting static into our minds, that we think that we can hear God, but we aren’t sure. It is our uncertainty that causes us to not act on things that He has in store for us, we get nervous, and continue with our mundane lives.
God listens to us whenever we come to Him with our whole heart, He knows what we are coming for before we ever talk to him about it. He listens to us as if we were the only ones around, we have a direct communication line with him. He doesn’t get distracted and bogged down like we do. I know many of us, specifically us dad’s – lets face it we all have ADD; Will respond to our children, out of routine, with an “Uh huh”, or something of the like, when we don’t know what they really said, (We get in big trouble when we take this approach with the wife, who knows the things we really agree too.)
So I challenge you, to take an extra 20 minutes in the morning, to Shut Up and listen to God. Then take an extra hour with no TV, no phone, no electronic interference, to talk with your kids, talk with your wife/husband/significant other, and just see how things in your life change. Hey if nothing changes, I just saved you some electric and phone minutes, but I hope things get better.