Whose Problem Is This?

Every week my wife and I face situations where we must help our boys learn the responsibility of the choices they make. Believe me, there are plenty of opportunities with three boys around. The challenge is allowing them the freedom to make decisions and walking them through the consequences. Some of the choices they make are good and beneficial, while others are not and create messes. When this happens, our job as parents is to help our boys “own their messes.” This was especially difficult when they were younger because we didn’t like to see them fail, feel pain, or lose out. Sometimes it was just as easy to solve it myself and move on.

Either way, we came to realize that our approach was not working for two reasons. One, our boys’ messes eventually became our messes, even if we had nothing to do with it. Two, it became apparent that our boys weren’t learning for themselves how God designed them to grow into maturity. The day my wife and I figured this out and implemented a different plan with our boys, a surprising transformation took place in our home. We breathed a little easier, the arguing diminished, and the communication of what was expected of them became much clearer.

Here’s an example. Each of our boys has chores around the house. Each of them knows what is expected regarding when and how the chores are to be done. Recently, the chore of taking out the trash went “unattended.” It was overflowing and was smelling something awful. Now, how did I used to handle this? Yell, fuss, belabor the point of how it needs to be done without me always having to give reminders…interject some threats of punishment, and then send him away.

How do we solve this issue in our home now? I calmly called for my son, asked for his cell phone, told him the trash was not taken out by the time we both agreed upon, and informed him he would get the phone back at a later time. No yelling, threatening, or arguing. I know it seems too cut and dry, almost too easy. Rest assured, it doesn’t always go smoothly; but it does create the results we want for our boys.

Whose Problem 5.png

Below are a few things we did that laid the groundwork for this kind of environment in our home. I also added, in italics, how these points applied to the “taking out the trash” situation above. Know that it will take time, diligence, and even courage to establish this kind of environment, so be patient and graceful. Remember the goal…heart connection.

1)    Make the expectations clear for both of you. Mutually agree upon who is responsible in each situation, especially when something doesn’t go right. (My son understands that the trash cannot get to a point of overflowing AND/OR be constantly reminded to do something he already knows to do)

2)    Offer them “real” choices. Not just a choice between what you want them to do and don’t want them to do. That’s a set up for failure. Offer two options where either one will work for you. Help them understand the benefits and consequences of not choosing either of the options. (If I don’t allow my son to have some control in how he decides to do his chore, then he might feel like he has no ownership—choosing the day, time, or way empowers him with responsibility. Having a cell phone is a privilege that requires responsibility in other areas of his life.)

3)    If they choose “poorly” (kids who push the envelope will do this) be prepared with a plan of what YOU will do to still make it their problem. What I mean is this: consequences breed ownership, ownership breeds responsibility. (On occasion I get push back– you know, a little attitude. I respond to this by saying some of the greatest words a parent will ever learn: “I’m sorry you feel that way, but that’s not my problem.” This keeps the problem where it should be…on its creator. If I get more attitude I encourage them by saying, “I understand this is hard for you, but I think you’re fully capable of figuring this out. If you need help with that, let me know.”)

4)    Guard your heart! It’s easy and tempting to become frustrated, desperate, or even angry. Keeping our emotions in check prevents the situation from escalating any further. Just as God is long-suffering with us when we are figuring out life, we need to be the same with our kids.

Teaching our kids (especially boys) to create solutions for their problems without us deciding for them is one of the best gifts we can give to them while they’re in our home. Doing this with sanity and patience can only come from the Holy Spirit’s power working through us. If this is a challenge to you or you have questions about this topic, I invite you to share them with me.

http://chadssmith.com/

Men’s Breakfast

Men's Breakfast BoyDads

Friday Morning.

6:15 AM.

Boys #1, #2, and #3 are all up, dressed, and ready to go. The reason?

Breakfast with Dad.

We had a great time enjoying morning conversation and pancakes that, as boy #2 said, “…were as big as my head!” I am going to be intentional and make this something I do every 6 to 8 weeks. It is easier than trying to do lunch at their school with them individually, and it is great to get some time with my men-in-training.

Here are 3 reasons you should take your sons to breakfast sometime soon:

1. Build memories — You do not have to have amazingly deep and meaningful conversation for the time to be memorable. They will remember the time they spent with you. Save the money you would spend on them for “stuff” and use it for experiences. When you are a kid, breakfast with dad on a school day is an experience to remember.

2. Lay the foundation — While you may not have many serious things to talk about with your kids when they are 8, 6, and 4, you will as they get older. Having a routine of getting away with them is a good start and something you can build on. As they grow and mature, so will your conversations.

3. Because you are dad — I know you are busy and you have lots going on. You are an important person. I get it. But, you are their father before any of those other things you listed in your head as to why you do not have time for this. Your engagement in their life matters. It impacts them in ways you will never know. Just like your absence.

So, go have breakfast with your kids. And if you do, get the pancakes. They are as big as your head!

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Being called to be a Godly husband (leading his wife to all God intended her to be) and raising his boys into Godly men is the greatest calling that Dustin Kaehr knows.He has a passion to do these things everyday. He truly wants to be an Authentic Man that Rejects Passivity, Leads Courageously, Accepts Responsibility, and Expects the Greater Reward, God’s Reward.  You can find him blogging about fatherhood, marriage, and godly living at www.dustinkaehr.com

Learning to Control Our Thought Lives

Learning to control our thought lives.png

Ever since I passed my 40th birthday, I have found that my metabolism is starting to slow down. Up until then, I could eat whatever I wanted with very little consequence.

Now, however, I need to pay attention to what I eat, how much I eat, and when I eat. A few months back I stepped on the scale and did not like the number the scale showed me. It was time for a change. The weight loss that has ensued has been a mental and physical journey, but it also became a spiritual journey as well. I learned that I could go to bed hungry and that is okay. I learned that life is not about satisfying my every indulgence. Through it, I learned that I need a greater focus on what God wants of my life, and less focus on my own needs.

It is not quite fasting to lose a little weight through self-discipline, but but it does bring more clarity and focus into my world.

Side effects of this journey: I lost almost 50 pounds. I have more energy, my nightly heartburn is gone, I moved down a few sizes in clothes, and my thought life is more under control. I know, it seems funny that by not indulging in food without restraint, my thought life would change as well. To me, this has been more about learning to to say no to cravings of the flesh and asking God to give me the strength to keep my resolve.

If you are like me, you are quite glad that you don’t dwell in the company of mind-readers. I can be just floating along minding my own business when a thought comes through that is just not something to be proud of. If I don’t capture those thoughts and focus on more noble things, I wallow in shallow self-indulgent daydreams. God wants more from me, and from you too.

In Philippians 4:8 (NLT) the Bible says:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

My wife deserves to hold a starring role in my sensual thoughts. My friends deserve my thoughts to be encouraging and non-judgemental. My God deserves my thoughts of adoration without the distraction of idols.

I also need to take this beyond my thoughts and teach my children about disciplining their thought-life. too. I need to show my sons how I turn away from looking at a woman who is wearing something that reveals too much, and I need to encourage them to do the same. I need to teach my children that they need to control themselves, even when they are angry or frustrated. My kids also need to hear me tell them no, when they want the latest, coolest gadget–learning that they must wait instead of immediately satisfying their desire for things.

Are you feeling weighed down by unrighteous thoughts and the associated guilt? I encourage you to begin the journey of losing the weight, the burden. And losing a few actual pounds might be not be so bad either.

Disclaimer: I am no workout junkie. Just the opposite. I still enjoy a well-made burger, a large order of fries, and a chocolate (no wait, maybe a strawberry) shake. I battle daily with doing the right thing, just like you.

God’s Grace in Dad’s Failure

I am a screw-up.

This is one of the many valuable lessons I took from my high school youth group. That, and the indispensable knowledge of just how many marshmallows I can fit in my mouth and still say, “Chubby Bunny.”

Anyhow, like most people, I am painfully aware of my mistakes – often even as I am making them. This awareness of my failures and flaws often leads me to a place where I believe I’ve disqualified myself in God’s eyes. Not that I’ve lost salvation or taken myself out of His family, but that I have acted in such a way that He can’t, or won’t, use me.

The sense sometimes becomes overwhelming that I, because of mistakes, because of willfully following my own desires instead of God’s, can no longer live and serve effectively. As if I could nullify the grace of God. As if I became exempt from serving God because I could not maintain perfection, or committed a “big” sin. As if I have the authority to sideline myself because of my own self-disdain.

And I’ve found that this kind of mindset bears a direct correlation to my parenting. For, after all, if I am not suited to serve God, how could I be suited to fatherhood? The thinking goes something like this: I am flawed. I have failed countless times, even today. How can I have anything to offer to my sons, to ensure that they will grow up to be godly men?

I guess what I’m talking about here is guilt; guilt that paralyzes us, instead of catalyzing us. Regret that holds us back from action, or causes us to think we have to make up for our past mistakes. Sorrow that causes us to withdraw, and hide away that broken part of ourselves.

God's Grace in Dad's Failure

And all the while, we ignore the grace of God and the intercession of Jesus Christ. 1 John tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness… If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 1:9, 2:1)

I don’t know about you, but I struggle accepting grace and forgiveness. I have a hard time believing that God truly remembers my mistakes and failures no more. I hold onto them, internalize them; and they become ingrained into who I am. And my inability to receive grace sets an example for my sons: that though they have confessed, though they know Christ, though they turn away from sin, it’s still not okay.

Our children need to see grace in our lives. Not just our grace toward them, but also God’s grace toward us. In other words, it is fine for us to tell our children that God is gracious, that He forgives sins and doesn’t count them against us because of Christ; it’s an entirely different thing to live the grace of God for our children. If they see us constantly downtrodden and defeated because of our past mistakes and failures, how can we expect them to learn how to get back up and move on? How do we expect them to learn that Christ, rather than failure, defines them? And how do we expect them to learn not only moving on, but growing up, through their mistakes?

It is in our failures, our willingness to accept grace, and our striving to become more like Christ, that our children first see the grace of God being worked out. It is when we allow them to see, at least in part, some of our struggles, and the power of God in transforming those struggles into victory, that they gain a sense of God’s greater redemptive work, and His desire to effect it in their lives, too.

Our failures as dads and men don’t disqualify us, as servants of God or as parents. No, they are not to be sought, or desired, but they can be redeemed, and that redemption will change the shame of failure into the beauty of grace.

Prayer Day

It’s time again for our monthly Prayer Day. We want to consistently offer the opportunity to bear each other’s burdens, because everyone needs a safe space to come and ask for prayer.

Prayer Day for Boy Dads. Know any dads who need prayer? Point them this way!

Leave your request in the comments. Then, if you have the time, leave another comment with a written prayer for the person right above you. Let’s support each other, holding up each other’s arms in this battle to raise godly men.

Let’s pray. 

(Photo Credit)

 

Don’t Feed Them Cheese and Crackers

Don't Feed Them Cheese and CrackersOne of the key messages that I try to convey to dads is the idea of parenting with the end in mind. We must have a strategic plan for what we want our sons to know and be when they leave us for that next season of life at eighteen. We must think and parent with college in mind. The best thing you can do as a father is take a day and walk around a college campus. This will give you a great perspective on what’s ahead for your son.

Thinking about college reminds me of a great story I heard from a parent about their son’s first few weeks at school. This particular young man was ready to go. He registered for classes and moved into his new home in the dorm. This young man was working his way through college and was on a strict budget. All he could afford for his meals were cheese and crackers. Day after day he would scrape by eating whatever he could afford. After two weeks of this misery, he decided to splurge for a meal at the cafeteria on campus. As expected, he loaded his plate as high and far as the tray would hold. When he finally made it to the cashier, he was nervous that it would be a huge blow to his limited budget. He asked the cashier what the total would be and the cashier asked for his student ID. The cashier politely told him that the cost of the meal was included in his tuition when he registered for classes.

From the first day of class, this young man had access to all the food he could eat; yet he failed to understand how the meal program was applicable to him.This is parenting in a nutshell. Our job as fathers is to be the spiritual leader of our household, yet we forget to think in terms of why we teach it. Our boys need to understand how the truth we are teaching applies to their life now and in the future. We are preparing them for life on their own. They must know God’s truth, why they believe it, and how that applies to their everyday life. Proactive dads seek to be a representation of God’s truth and pass it on to their boys.

My prayer is that we take every opportunity we have to impart truth into the lives of our boys. We have a limited time with them. Don’t waste an opportunity to prepare them for life on their own. They need us to cast vision for what it means to be a godly man and how that applies to their life on a daily basis. Don’t let them feed on cheese and crackers when you can give them a whole meal. Take advantage of the time you have. It will be over before you know it.

 

Photo Credit: Matza by Mike Wirth, from The Noun Project and Cheese designed by Alessandro Suraci from The Noun Project

Parenting Your Children For Eternity

Parenting Your Children For Eternity ~www.boydads.com

I have no idea whether my sons will grow up to be pastors, doctors, teachers, athletes, musicians, politicians or laborers.  But the one thing I do know with certainty as a Christian parent is that my children will stand before God some day.  With appropriate reverence, I understand that they will either stand before their Father in Heaven having believed in Jesus or not.  Eternity awaits every single one of our children – that I know.

In 1888, J.C. Ryle, the English writer, pastor, and father of five, wrote a sermon called “The Duties of Parents.”  It was a 17 point sermon on Proverbs 22:6.  These were his closing words to his church that day:

“Train well for this life, and train well for the life to come; train well for earth, and train well for heaven; train them for God, train them for Christ, and train them for eternity.  Amen.”

Though this sermon (and now book) has many great biblical insights, encouragements, and reminders, there is one phrase that has both stuck out to, and stuck with me.  It is the phrase, “train them for eternity.” To put it simply, Ryle is reminding Christians to parent their children for what really matters.  In a culture where the opportunities (some of which are good) are endless, it is easy, if not tempting, to lose sight of eternity.

As parents, our most prized priority must be to diligently and graciously train our children to grow up to love God and love the world.   One of the greatest joys we have as parents is to teach, guide, warn, model, and encourage our children from the Bible. The Apostle Paul makes an interesting comment regarding Timothy’s training as a child.  Notice what he says in 2 Timothy 3:14-15:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Paul suggests that Timothy, from a very young age, was being taught the Bible.  The fertile soil of Timothy’s heart was being plowed and prepared by a parent who was pursuing eternity.

The following are simple and practical ways to help show your son(s) that you are living with eternity in mind:

  1. Spend meaningful time with your son(s) talking about spiritual things
  2. Share with your family what God is teaching you
  3. Pray for and with your son(s)
  4. Lead family devotions
  5. Let your son(s) see you reading God’s Word, praying, or sharing your faith
  6. Let your son(s) see you serve by using your gifts in your local church
  7. Give generously and sacrificially to God’s kingdom – For example, give to missions, your church, a family or individual in need, etc.

Today I want to remind you that you also can be that kind of father: a father who is living with one eye on this life, and the other eye on the life that is to come.  It is by God’s grace that any of our children come to faith in Jesus, but we must not forget that God has also uniquely chosen parents to help pass along faith to the next generation.

In Jesus,

Patrick Schwenk, The Dig for Kids

It’s No Cake Walk

Hey Dad,

Greetings from vomit-central. I’m typing away on an iPad from my bedroom where my kids, Cal (6) and Maggie (8), have been quarantined and are eating popsicles and watching videos. I’m on duty because my wife doesn’t do body fluids…if she’s forced to she is prone to adding to them.

Up until last night we have been stomach flu-free. All that changed so quickly. And now here we are hoping we’ve stemmed the tide before we have an all out epidemic.

No Cake Walk

That’s just part and parcel of being a dad. It’s always something. Last week it was another something. I ‘caught’ one of my children…or better yet God placed me in his path so he would get caught.

We both knew right away that this was going to be a big deal. He tried to deny it, but I knew he was guilty and so we didn’t give him much room to dig any deeper. It wasn’t one of those things where you can just yell and chastise…it demanded more involvement than that. It required me to talk, probe, understand, and pray. My wife was indispensible and deeply involved as well.

It wasn’t very fun, but we made it through and I find myself so thankful it happened and was uncovered. Still, I hate those times. I would much rather smile though parenting, pop in a video, eat pizza, and have good memories. But that’s not the way fathering works.

Sometimes it’s not much fun…like when you’re emptying another trash can full of puke at 3:30 in the morning. But that’s what being a dad is all about. It’s hard, stinky, messy, and terrible. But our children need us as much when they’re heaving up…stuff, as when they’re caught in sin. It’s why God gave them to us. And in a way…I like it. I like being a dad.

You should too, my fellow father, because you’re doing something big!

You da dad,
Todd

=