Working dads not absentee fathers

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.

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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.

Take a listen to this song from Kirk Franklin

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.
4.

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.

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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.

Ramble on…….

Sit down, keep your mouth shut and your eyes open….

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.

These kids just grow up so fast… or My kid is a technophile

Over the past few weeks honestly, my now 4 year old has completely figured out how to work the TV remotes.  TV, Apple tv, DVD, she can start her own movies, pause them to go get a snack, start them over, skip scenes she doesn’t like…  I don’t know why I was surprised, this is the same kid that at 2 1/2 could work an iPhone better than some adults.

Sometimes I think that she is still so little, then she will do something that just reminds me of how much she is growing.  And it is in these times, that I start wondering, am I doing everything I can to raise her right.  Are my wife and I teaching her the things she needs to know.  I mean she has already informed us that when her next birthday comes she will be in Kindergarten.  She has also told us that she is going to marry this boy at her pre-school, but thats a story for another time.  I also try to make sure that I am spending my time with her wisely.  When we are hanging out together playing am I teaching her the life lessons that will be important later on; sharing, helping others out, being a friend.

Too many times in our world today, our kids get put on the back burner.  As I have said before today, we are all workaholics.  We are plugged in 24/7, if you don’t have your phone within reach you feel lost.  You need to check email – work and personal, you need to check twitter, Facebook, G+….  It’s not that we are intentionally neglecting our kids.  We just miss those extra little things that they do.  I have seen many work emails sent at 8, 9, 10, 11 at night, to me this is prime time with my wife and daughter.  Now I will admit, I am guilty of doing this as well, I have my face buried in my phone playing a game or checking twitter, fb, G+, and not spending that time finding out what my wife has going on at work, what my daughter did at school, etc.  I have been making a concious effort the past few months to leave work at work, now there are exceptions, but from 6 – 12 its McGlone time.

You know, I got upset tonight when my daughter was watching Tinkerbell.  She was watching Great Fairy Rescue, and I couldn’t help but get mad at the little girls dad in it.  I know its just a movie, and honestly that is how they probably wanted you to feel, but it was such an example of our American lives, that we put work ahead of our kids.  We let our kids raise themselves and its time for a change.

I know I just one dad rambling on, but maybe another dad sees this and puts it to practice, and passes it on to another dad.  Kids today need their dads to be there for them.  To be in the house, to be in their lives, and to be a man.  There are too many stories out there of guys that leave after a kid comes into the picture, or has never been around.  I heard on the Steve Harvey radio show a couple weeks ago about a boy 19 years old, with 14 or 15 kids with 14 or 15 different girls.  Now I’m not gonna blame one side or the other, but where were the parents?

It’s stories like this that make me pray everyday that I am the father figure that God has called me to be for my daughter.  And I hope that my influence on her rubs off on her friends, and the other fathers out there.

Good night, God Bless.