Daddy-Daughter Dates

One of my goals each year is to take my daughter, Emma, on four datesddd-oct14 at some point throughout the year. We call them “Daddy-Daughter Dates.” Ideally, I like to do it at least once a quarter. For me to be intentional about it, I need to get it on my calendar and set up reminders to make sure I get it done. Sadly, I don’t think I got four dates in the first year or two I did this. But it is important to me to do this and it is fun to spend one-on-one time with her.

I have a couple reasons for doing it:
1) I get to know her
I try to take advantage of our time together and ask her questions about school, friends, current insterests, etc. It helps me stay in touch with what’s going on in her life. It’s a good time for me to focus just on her and understand what is going on in her head.

2) I want to set a precedent
If I decide to let her date when she’s older, :) I want her to have an example of how a lady should be treated. I don’t want some shmuck treating her badly or disrecpectfully. I also don’t want someone to not be interested in what she is interested in.

Dating yoddd-nov14ur daughter doesn’t have to be expensive. We’ve done all kinds of different things for dates. We’ve gone uptown for ice cream, we’ve gone out for hot chocolate, we’ve gone to the movies and recently we went to Chicago to see Annie, the musical. That last one was a bit expensive but I wanted to do something special. It could be as simple as playing frisbee in the park.

The key is to make it happen and take the time to make it happen. Taking time for your kids is huge in filling their love tank.

And this is a great opportunity to make a memory!

What are some date ideas you have for dating your daughter? Let me know in the comments!

A Cancelled Christmas

By now you have probably seen the story about the Utah couple who cancelled Christmas this year for their kids. John and Lisa will not be giving any presents to their children this year. In her blog, Over the Big Moon, Lisa shares why that is:

“John and I feel like we are fighting a very hard uphill battle with our kids when it comes to entitlement. Our kids have been acting so esteem-othersungrateful lately. They expect so much even when their behavior is extremely disrespectful.”

So many young people do seem to have a sense of entitlement. As parents, we need to train them to put others first and help them learn not to be self-centered.

Consider what Paul writes in Philipppians 2:3 – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (NKJV) Did you catch that last part? “…let each esteem others better than himself.” That is tough to learn to do as an adult, let alone when your a kid.

Because it’s difficult for us, it’s difficult for us to instill that in our children. So, when we make threats to our kids, we have to be careful to follow through on those threats. If we don’t follow through, then any threat we use will become meaningless as we then teach our kids that our threats aren’t anything to worry about.

“How often are kids threaten that Santa won’t come if kids are naughty…. yet have you ever heard of anyone that really followed through on that threat?” – Lisa

What it boils down to for us as intentional parents, is teaching our children to set aside their selfish pride and living with an attitude of humility. There may be no greater struggle in our human nature than our battle with our pride.

Not long ago, I wrote a post about one of our kids getting into trouble and how we didn’t allow them to go trick-or-treating. The thing with discipline is, you have to make it effective and memorable for your children so next time they think through a situation, whether it’s their behavior or lack of obedience, to make the right choice.

But we don’t want them to make the right choice so they can get stuff. We want them to make the right choice because it’s the right thing to do. We want them to make the right choice because they want to live in a way that is honoring and pleasing to God.

Parenting is not easy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. But keep at it! Stay intentional!

The Month of Christmas

a-christmas-carolTo say that my wife loves Christmas is an understatement. We had our tree up before Thanksgiving this year and usually have it up 4-5 weeks before Christmas. She really gets into the decorating, the baking, the music and, of course, the shopping. Less so the shopping than the other parts of it but she enjoys an annual excursion for the black Friday deals.

I play the role of the supportive husband. I’ve grown to like having the decorations up and the music playing in the background. Even as I type this there are pies in the oven for one more family gathering this Thanksgiving weekend. And I am being watched by her collection of ‘A Christmas Carol’ figurines.

Growing up, I lived in the country so there was no need for our family to put up outdoor lights. But we live in a subdivision on the edge of town now so my wife has encouraged me in putting up lights on the house.

A few years ago I bought a couple strands of lights and hung them up on the gutter. A year later, I bought a few more and hung those up on the gutter as well extending all the way across the front of our house. It is simple and tasteful. (Nothing like the Griswold’s.)

I don’t mind putting up the lights. I enjoy it because she enjoys it. And it helps get me into the Christmas spirit too. She makes the whole month of December a lot of fun around here. We get to enjoy Christmas for a whole month!

I know December is a busy month for most people, but I hope you get a chance to enjoy the season. I hope you have some fun family movie nights with your favorite Christmas movies. I hope you get to spend some time caroling or ringing bells or going to a Christmas party.

Above all, I hope you remember the reason for the season as we head into December. Jesus came as a gift to the world to save us from sin and death. Don’t forget the best Gift!

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
~ Isaiah 9:6 ~

 

Just Imagine

One of the things I love about home school is how it helps our kids be creative. Our younger two kids like to draw. I was in the office, where our kids have school, and found this picture of “Charly”. Apparently my children have a bunch of friends whom I have never met.

I don’t recall having imaginary friends when I was young so they must get it from my sister. She had a whole imaginary family. I think they lived in the old corn crib on our property. Maybe it wasn’t a family but there were a lot of them.

But it’s fun to see a piece of the creativity going on in their heads.charly

It’s important for kids to have a creative outlet. But if we let them stare at a screen all day, there is no opportunity for it to come out. Technology is great and fun and fascinating but it should not be consuming our time.

I was listening to a podcast a few months ago and was interested to learn that Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids have iPods and iPads. Though he was part of the Apple juggernaut to create such amazing devices, when it came to parenting, he was intentional to make sure this technology wouldn’t take over their lives.

In a New York Times article, Nick Bilton writes,

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.
Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.

Since then, I’ve met a number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists who say similar things: they strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends.

I was perplexed by this parenting style. After all, most parents seem to take the opposite approach, letting their children bathe in the glow of tablets, smartphones and computers, day and night.

Yet these tech C.E.O.’s seem to know something that the rest of us don’t.

Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now chief executive of 3D Robotics, a drone maker, has instituted time limits and parental controls on every device in his home. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” he said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

While we do allow our kids a fair amount of “screen time” (i.e. time on iPods, DS, computer, watching a DVD) we do try to be aware of how much they get.

Recently my youngest son bought an old pair of boxing gloves at a yard sale. The next evening, my kids were excited to show me a new game they created. I go upstairs to find them playing pickle ball using the gloves as the rackets and couch cushions as the net.

Being the responsible parent I am, of course I squelched their fun…though not before getting a game in with them myself. Fortunately nothing got broken and they were able to continue the fun the next day in the garage.

Difficulty in Discipline

Parenting is a difficult task that includes difficult decisions. We want our children to grow up to be responsible adults. Sometimes, in that process, discipline is required to try to insure that happens.

It is important that our children learn to be responsible and tell the truth.

room-cleanlinessRecently, one of our children failed to keep their room clean. This was what you might call an “epic failure” of room cleanliness. But it wasn’t only the lack of keeping the room clean as much as it was this child’s failure to tell us the truth about it. All of our children are old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. The problem was that over the course of many weeks, this child lied to us about the state of the cleanliness of the room.

In our household, this requires discipline. Among a sentence of grounding, included the privilege of trick-or-treating being taken away. Some may think this harsh and it hurt us as parents some because we realize there are only so many years you get to do this as a child. But the offense was realized the week of Halloween and happened to be during the term of the grounding.

We also knew that we had to hand down a punishment that would be remembered and would have an impact. This child was looking forward to Halloween, as many kids do, and going around the neighborhood with friends.

As parents, it is more important to us that our children learn to be trustworthy and responsible than that they get to do something they enjoy.

Sometimes, as hard as it is, you have to draw a hard line and stick to it.

Be consistent with discipline and also be fair. But know that what seems fair to you will likely not seem fair to your children!

 

Forced Intentionality

Being a homeschool family, we get to participate more in our children’s education. This year, I read through Where the Red Fern Grows with our youngest son. This has been a quality experience of spending time together and enjoying a great story. For those few minutes each night, we get to wander off into the woods and go ‘coon huntin’.

For those of you that haven’t read it, this book tells a wonderful story about a boy’s journey in acqshedule-timeuiring hunting dogs and teaching them how to hunt for raccoons. It’s filled with exciting adventures sure to engage and enthrall the minds of young boys.

My wife would get teary-eyed reading it to our 10-year old so I got assigned the task of the reading. This turned out to be an enjoyable time that both my son and I could look forward to.

As a Dad, it forced me to take time out of my day and spend it with one of the kids. This is important anyway, and having this “forced intentionality” was a helpful reminder to me to schedule in time with each of my kids.

About a year ago, I had the kids on a rotation where I would take one out for an early morning breakfast on Fridays. This worked okay but I typically leave for work at 6 so, to get them up early, take them out, bring them home and then leave for work, really wasn’t the most ideal situation for any of us. But the one-on-one time was good so perhaps I should do it on Saturday.

Lately, I’ve been playing games in the evenings, usually with my daughter, before bedtime.

Homeschool has huge benefits in that our kids aren’t involved in a bunch of school activities that takes them away in the evenings. We are not tied down to weeknights planned for us by the school schedule. Certainly there are benefits to allowing our children to participate in a variety of activities but there are also boundaries we can set as parents. How much family time are you willing to sacrifice so your child can be involved in another activity?

A schedule too busy takes you away from the benefits and blessings of reading a good book to your child. And it denies your child the blessing of spending the time with mom or dad.

7 Things Your Children Need to Hear You Say

Someone is watching you. He is three and a half feet tall, has grass stains on his jeans and answers to the name “Squirt.”

Our children are born into the world looking like us. Then they start talking like us and acting like us. Is it important to consider how we talk and act? Definitely. Your kids are watching you and taking it all in. You are their example of how to act in this world.

So, I am going to provide you with some things your children need to hear you say.

1. “I love you.”
This sometimes seems to be easier for mom than it is for dad, especially as the kids get older but this is THE most important thing you can say to your kids. You need to say it consistently every day. Your kids need to hear this to know they are loved! It makes them feel the safety and security that we all desire to provide for our children.

2. “Amen.”
Your kids need to hear you praying. Whether at the dinner table or quietly during your quiet time with your Bible, they need to know you have a relationship with the Lord. Whether your kids are born-again believers yet or not, they need to know that you are.

3. “I’m sorry.”
We often demand that our kids apologize to us or other when they have done something wrong. We need to also set the example and apologize to them when we do them wrong. We are not perfect and our kids need to know that we know we are not perfect and sometime make mistakes. Apologizing communicates humility which is a character quality we want our own children to have.

4. “You’re really good at…”
We all like to be affirmed in our talents. Let you kids know what they are good at, even if they aren’t really that good at it yet. Encourage them in something they love, whether it’s baseball, playing the piano, acting or riding a unicycle!communicate1

5. “I missed you.”
Let your kids know you like it when they are around. They will know this when you tell them that you missed them. After you get back from a trip or they get back from spending the night at a friends house, tell them you missed them. Again…even if you didn’t because you really needed the break! They will feel loved and safe and will be happy to be home.

6. “You’re funny.”
I don’t really do as well as I should with this one. I got this from somewhere else and I can’t remember where or I would credit them. But kids like to be funny and like to think they are funny. But kids don’t always tell the funniest jokes or stories though they sometimes try. But sometimes, try to remember to tell them they are funny after they’ve told you a joke. Communicate the appreciation you have of them. Let them know in this way that you like to have them around.

7. “You’re a great kid.”
Sometimes kids disobey and we need to discipline them. But sometimes they do obey. And sometimes they even obey without even being asked. Be observant enough to know when this happens. Pay attention and let them know you appreciate it. We all want to be better than “good”. We want to be great! Tell your kids they are.

BONUS:

You want a bonus? If you said “yes” then read on!

8. “I’m glad your my son/daughter.”
There is a lot of competition among peers. Sometimes kids think they aren’t good enough because other kids put them down so much. Let your kids know you are glad they are your child. This might be about as important as telling them “I love you.” Sometimes kids wish they were like someone else who is more talented or popular. But you need to let them know you like them just the way they are and wouldn’t want any other kid to be their son.

Maybe you already say these things but maybe there are some that you don’t say or don’t say enough. Start now. Start tonight. Continue to build your relationship with them. You can do it! I know you can. Because you’re a great parent.

Lead your children on!