10 Things I’m Doing to Help My Little Guys Become Men.

Christian Parenting

As a father of six, I feel the responsibility of the title “Dad”. Including my wife, I have seven people who depend greatly on me. As a result I often feel the pressure of making sure that I’m on my game. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 17 years of marriage, it’s that this doesn’t happen unless I’m constantly working on it. Two of my six children are “men in the making”. Every day I look at these little guys and I wonder what kind of men are they going to grow up to become. It’s my desire that they grow up with a strong faith and become great husbands, great dads, and great leaders.

Here are 10 Things I’m Doing to Help My Little Guys Become Men:

1. Let him help

I try to let my boys be hands-on in the things that I’m doing. When you’re letting them help, you’re teaching them skills.

2. Let him get messy

They’re boys… I just believe they need to get messy sometimes.

3. Let him get hurt

I want my boys to get 100 little cuts. It’s the lessons that are learned when they “test the boundaries” that save them from getting big cuts later on in life. Sometimes, we try so hard to protect them that we forget that failure is another good way to learn valuable lessons.

4. Tell him I love you and I’m sorry

My little guys need to know that I love them deeply. They also need to know that I’m sorry when I mess up. Expressing love and forgiveness are things that are Caught not Taught. So I need to show them how to do it right.

5. Shoot Something

We shoot the BB gun

We shoot Airsoft targets.

We shoot baskets

… Just go shoot something.

6.Go Camping 

We go hiking.

We go in the woods.

I let them “go” in the woods

We campout in your backyard.

I believe that all of these experiences turn little boys into men.

7. Wrestle 

Physical touch is huge with my boys. I wrestle with them. I throw him up in the air until they scream. I play too rough with them. I’m constantly teaching them to toughen up and the importance of fighting through pain.

8. Make him aware of his surroundings 

I’m teaching them to be aware of what’s going on around him. I teach them to be aware of shady characters in the parking lot. I teach them to be aware of other people’s feelings.

9. Explain “the why” behind what I do

Whether they asked for it or not, I want to explain why I’m doing what I’m doing. Part of the role of dad is to be a teacher. I want to let them know that there are reasons why I do what I do and it’s not always “because I said so”.

10. Let him know I love his mom

Above everything else I need to let them know that I love their mom. They need to know that I love her more than anyone else on this planet. They need to learn from me how to treat a woman with respect and dignity. They need to learn from me how to sacrifice, serve, and honor.

By no means am I perfect with all of these. I’m sure there are some weeks when I miss the mark on everyone of them. But when I miss it up, I just tell them I’m sorry and I go back out again. It’s a great thing that love covers a multitude of sins.

So if you’ve got boys – what’s on your list?

 

A Christian Parenting Mile marker: The Birds and the Bees

Christian Parenting

~Here’s another great post by my amazing wife!

 

mile-mark·er

[mahyl-mahr-ker]

noun

A numbered milepost along a highway: used as a way of determining the exact location of a vehicle.

We have all seen them…you know…those little, green road signs that show how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.  They help keep us on track and encourage us to celebrate how far we have come.

Mile-Markers are crucial in parenting. After that evening in Starbucks scribbling our “Family Purpose and Values” on a napkin, we wrote down all the Mile-Markers or milestones our children will hit….the birds and the bees talk, when they can shave their legs, becoming a teenager, when will we take mission trips, etc. Then we asked, “When and How do we want to CELEBRATE these Mile-Markers as parents with our children?”

It is easy to miss Mile-Markers because we get too busy or get distracted and we’ve already missed our turn and someone else…school, friends, church has already hit it for us. Every family is different and every child is different, but the key is to have a plan. Each mile-marker is determined by values of your family, maturity of your child, and what culture you live in (typical social pressures, when schools discuss/educate about sex education, internet safety, current media exposure). Obviously Mile-Markers are on-going. They are not a one time event…just a beginning of a Mile-Marker in parenting.

Here is another Mile Marker, we have now hit this one with 3 of our children…”The Birds and The Bees”, the sex talk. When the kids were little, I dreaded this day and sweated all the possible questions, but as they grew older I realized that this is actually a fun and special milestone to be able go through with them and takes your relationship and communication as a parent with your kiddo to a whole new level. Ok…it maybe a little awkward for them and each of our kids responded differently, but we choose to CELEBRATE this mile marker. We want our children to hear about this God ordained gift from us, as well as understand the science behind it in a educated manner. We want them to have a biblical and healthy view of sex and know the age appropriate answers at the right time and each child is different.

Here is how we celebrated: We choose to have a “girls or guys day out”, which includes going out to eat and shopping to get something special and having “the talk”, as well as a heart to heart talk on modesty. We let them know that if they ever have any questions to never to be afraid to ask us and if their friends are talking about it to not be afraid to either walk away or to stand up and say its inappropriate conversation.

Here is another idea: we have friends who choose to do an overnight getaway to celebrate this milestone. How fun is that! The important thing is to do what is right for your child, for your family, and to celebrate it!

 

 

What to Do When Christian Parenting Doesn’t Feel So Much Like Christian Parenting

Christian Parenting

I want to take a minute to share an email that was sent to me this last week. After responding to this couple, I asked for their permission to share with you all and they graciously agreed. (Naturally, I’ve changed their names and bla bla bla,)

 Hey Joe, 

My son, says that his father and I are one of only a few parents that have such strong convictions re: music and internet access. He says we need to “Loosen up”. Sometimes I feel we must agree with him because it appears as if so many “Christian” families allow their kids unlimited access to all kinds of devices and allowed to play all kinds of violent games. Yet…our standard remains high. 

Do you find many fighting this battle …not so much against the “world” , but the body of believers they walk with each day. 

Fighting the battle but…it’s pretty hard!  

Your Friend

 

Dear Friend,

 I was going to joke with you and say that I didn’t find too many people fighting this battle…only the stuffy, nerdy Christians. Actually, Aime and I deal with this all the time. 

So here’s a couple pieces of advice.

 Make sure you’re not parenting from fear. 

Make sure that that he’s equipped and not just shielded. Our decisions need to grow their hearts and not just to shield it. Remember to keep your “voice” in his life. : Early Childhood-PROTECT, Elementary -TEACH, Middle School-MODEL, High School-COACH, Adulthood-MENTOR.

 Be careful as identifying your standards as “higher”. 

They might not be necessarily higher, they might just be different standards than another family… and different is good.

 The most important thing is that your and your husband are on the same page. 

If you are, it’s ok even if theres a million other parents not on our page.

Growing up, my mom had a saying (actually, she still has it) – when we wanted to do something that was different than our family standards and we asked “But Why?” She’d simply say, “Because WE don’t do that!”  

Not always right or wrong… sometimes it was just “we don’t do that”. – we’re different, and that’s ok.

As you can imagine, the conversation continued and as usual, nothing is ever “clean cut”. Nor is it ever as simple as following three simple pieces of advice. I want this friend and others to know that I actually spend time praying for situations like this. It’s so tough when we “see the enemy and he is us”. It’s tough when we feel like we’re fighting a losing battle, because our battle is not with “the world” but with other Christians.

My encouragement is this: You’re not alone! Keep emailing… keep connecting… and keep seeking help. God often times will meet with us through the encouragement of others.

Where Have all the Flowers Gone – Raising Boys to be Men

Last year, I had a really disheartening experience at one of my daughter’s choir concerts. This concert took place over Memorial Day weekend and one of the final numbers was a medley in honor of all the men and women who have served in the armed forces. As the choir would sing, the the respective song, that branch would stand. Kicking it all of of coarse was “The Army Goes Rolling Along”. As usual, I stood respectively only to discover that I was the only one standing. A minute later, they sing the Air Force Song… no one stands. They sing “Marines”… No one… again and again. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that my heart sunk a little that night. I was really bothered at the fact the it seemed to me that we were missing something… or at least, we were losing something.

flowers

A couple years ago, my family made a move back to Ohio. During this move, I had one prerequisite – we needed to find a house with trees, woods, and a creek. You see as a little boy growing up, I had all these things. I remember heading down to “the woods” first thing in the morning… every morning… every summer. My twin brother and I spent more time in the creek bed than we did in our own bed. To put it simply, we were raise to be boys!

Many of you know that I have a serious pet peeve of raising little boys to be little girls. It seems that over the past twenty years, in our attempt to “civilize our men” we as a country have lost focus on how little boys need to express themselves. Although people often joke about how “barbaric” men and boys can be, I believe as a whole we’ve lost sight of their need to be rough, tough, and adventurous AND unfortunately, we see this played out as they get older. Injustice raises it’s ugly head… and men do nothing.

 

What “REAL MEN” aren’t: 

Before I get into what little boys need, I want to be clear on what I’m NOT talking about.

Abusive

No “Real Man” is abusive. There is no place in our country (or world) for men who will take advantage of anyone else. Men should defend and never abuse.

How to Get My Child to Sit in an “Adult” Worship Service

There are times when parents believe that this is one of the greatest challenges parents face. If this is your greatest challenge while parenting…consider yourself blessed. With that being said, I completely understand the frustration that many parents face EVERY WEEKEND. You work all morning to get the kids ready. You’ve finally made it into the front doors of the church and then it feels like “Round two – getting these kids to sit still for the next 60 minutes”. Hmmm…

wooden chair

If you resonate with this, I hope you find these four tips to be helpful.

Set Expectations

Children need to know what is expected of them. Sit down with your child (preferably, a day or so before the weekend service) and talk with them about what is expected and why. For example: can they talk? How loud? Can they read? Do they have to take notes? Is there a quiz to follow? These expectations are important to establish ahead of time.

Be realistic

It’s important to be realistic. Know what your child can handle. (i.e. a 2 year old cannot sit still for 60 minutes…not even when they’re asleep) Be sure that you are setting your child up for success and not failure in the first place. Being realistic also means that you can and probably should expect your 2nd grader to be able to sit still. Don’t set the bar too low either.

Be Prepared

Rule #1 with kids – “Have a plan for them or they will have a plan for you. Bring paper, pens, books, ask question, have them take their own notes (older kids), let them look the verses up.

Practice makes perfect

This takes time. Don’t expect perfection the 1st time. Reward success, and encourage them when they need to do better.

Try not to be a distraction to other, but also don’t shy away from your responsibility to BE THE PARENT. –They need to learn to worship and follow Christ from you! It’s your job.

This was originally posted on June 23, 2010 and is also a featured article in my FREE eBook –31 Character-Shaping Tips for Today’s Parents Subscribe to the right and receive these posts in your inbox and get your FREE COPY right now.