Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Parenting for Departure

It was a violently cold night.  I parked about a block away in Adams Morgan and briskly walked to Bourbon, a restaurant/ bar that specializes in (you guessed it), bourbons.  I was enjoying a birthday celebration with some incredible men that I've known for years.  All of us were fathers, some of young kids and some who are clearly in their twenties.  Since I arrived there last, I had to sit next to the door. People walked in and out, neglectfully leaving the door open.  Ummm, did they not realize that it was -216 degrees?!? I digress.  We talked about different things, such as football, whiskeys, and of coarse, our kids. It was inevitable.  As I mentioned, some of these fathers were already empty-nesters.  As the conversation continued, one of the men said something that completely stuck with me.
Image result for pictures on child leaving home
Photo by Life Yomi

"You have to parent for departure.", he said.  Profound.  I don't remember anything else from the night.  It was if Charlie Brown was listening to his teacher as she said, 'Whaa da waa whaaa' (if you don't know what this really sounds like, watch an episode of Charlie Brown).  This was easy for him to say because he has three children who are out of the house.  With his wife, they have done a remarkable job with their kids.

Parent for departure.  What does that truly mean?

Well, as I have now have two teenage boys (17 & 13), this three-word phrase is beginning to mean so much, maybe too much, and I am still grappling with it.  That being said, I am going to write a blog series on this very topic.  It's going to be very engaging, informative, real, and a bit funny at times. What do you think it means?  And what would it mean for you?  Hope you're ready.

I am a dad with growing boys trying to get them ready to get out my house.  I really have No Off Season...

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Down & Dirty- Having Serious Conversations with Your Children

I have two sons, 16 and 12.  They truly keep my life moving.  As I have told many people (as well as those who personally know us), my house stays live, never a dull moment.  I can boldly say that since I have been married and with children, I have yet to be bored in over 18 years!  God knows how to make life to the fullest!

Well, that brings me to this point.  A part of having an ever-exciting time in my home is due to talks.  You know…talks.  Yes, there are the talks about the birds and the bees.  But who are we really fooling, birds and the bees are really about sex!  Just say it…sex!  What I know of sex is often times completely different from what my boys know.  And it can be shocking about how much they know and how much they don’t know. Okay, we move on.

Then there are other real talks.  Talks about life, chores, responsibility, girls, friendships, money, family, school, and the list goes on and on.  I am reading a devotional series on ‘Being a Fulfilled Father’.  The devotional I read was entitled, ‘Down and Dirty’, where I got the title for this posting. A passage that struck me was the following:

‘…do not be surprised if you discover that some things you thought were working are not.  Conversely, do not be shocked to learn that a few things that you thought were insignificant are making a huge difference.’

One thing I know about my introverted self is that I don’t talk a lot. That has its good and bad moments.  Don’t believe me, ask my wife.  In fact, if you’re married, ask yours! My boys need me to talk to them about the good and the bad.  Not all conversations are hard to speak about.  Yet, not all conversations are easy either and I often times don’t know how to approach them.  But I have to. So do you.  Sometimes I can be outrageously clueless.  This is where I enlist help.  In the Bible, there was a man named Nehemiah who went to rebuild a wall that had been broken.  As you read the book (and I highly recommend it for fathers) you will see that in order for him to rebuild he had to enlist the help of many men.  Well, I have some men in my life that are not afraid to talk or my boys.  I want them to.  In fact, I want them to be so comfortable talking that I may or may not know what they spoke about, but I can see change.  They have had conversations and I didn’t even know they happened.  I appreciate that.  I do think there needs to be criteria set for the men who you want to enlist.  I believe they are the following:

· They are great examples in their community
·         You trust them and they trust you.
·         They have a spiritual and moral foundation
·         They’re adults who act like adults.  They have put away childish behaviors. 


You may have other criteria.  These are just mine.  You will want to adjust these criteria if you have daughters.  Let me also be clear of this: there are incredible women who help mentor my sons.  They give prime wisdom and knowledge as well and I always welcome their help.


Yet, these men and women DO NOT take the place of my role as their father.  I have to be alert to what’s going on in their lives.  The more my mouth is open to address the intricacies of their heart, I know that I am helping them to become better men.  I gotta change this.  And for some who are reading this, you may need to as well.

What have been some straining conversations you have with your children?  How did you handle it?
Do you have other men and women in your life that can be a sounding board for your children?  Are you making yourself available to be a sounding board for others?


Fathers, don’t be afraid to get down and dirty.  I plan to.  Besides, I have NOS…

Saturday, February 13, 2016

As I Do So They Do--- Imitating Parental Habits

"I like driving with one hand.", my son says as he drives for the fourth time in his life.

How about this one: "I want to drive with my knees." 

My son hasn't been behind the wheel a full hour in his life yet, and he's talking about driving with his knees?!? Where did he get that from? Where did he understand that driving with one hand was okay or using my phone while on 495 was cool?  

In fact, where do most of the things that my children do get it from?  You guessed it...their mother!  I will not take responsibility for...okay, I'll stop.  Yes, they get their habits from me.

I know I've written about this in the post to some extent, but I believe it's worth mentioning again.  Our kids watch us like a hawk although they might not be looking at us directly.  They see and hear your habits, including the good and often bad habits.  Understanding that they see me, I gotta figure out how I need to change for their betterment.  

I read an online article written by Michelle Castillo of CBS News entitled, 'Parents' TV Time May Be the Biggest Influence on Kids Viewing Habits'. (July 15, 2013).  It stated the following: 

"Research published July 15 in Pediatrics shows that the amount of time parents watch TV is connected to how much TV their children watch, even more so than the location of the TV in the home or the family's rules for television watching."  

What an eye opener.  The Andersons love TV.  There are certain shows that NEED to be watched.  My wife loves to watch the 11 o'clock news.  I stop everything if a superhero movie comes on (my wife is so sick of seeing The Dark Knight).  These are habits.  

Or what about the condition of our bedrooms?  Are they neat?  Are your kids' rooms neat?  Do you rush or always behind in time?  Do they rush? Can they manage their time well?  Do you brush your teeth in the morning?  Do they...never mind.  Don't answer that.

Dads, answer these questions for yourselves: 

  • Are the habits I keep for the betterment of my children?  In other words, if they imitate what I do, is it for their good or detriment?
  • What habits are you teaching them to have?  Better question:  do you teach/ coach them to have quality habits?

My No Off Season continues...