Archive for the ‘Discipline’ Category
It’s impossible to watch your children at ALL times. Nor is it even healthy. At some point you have to start to trust them… and teach them responsibility. And yet, we have our healthy fears for their safety. We live in a dangerous world!
I grew up in a family with multiple kids, so we had a fun numbering system. If all the kids were not in sight, but were in ear-shot, one parent could just call out, “One!” and one by one, in birth order we’d chime out, “Two!” – “Three!” – “Four” – until we were all accounted for and then the other parent would end the count concluding the operation. If a number wasn’t called, we all could begin to search for the missing child! Since I only have one child, I simple call out, “Luke, say hi” and listen for a “Hi, Dad” from around a corner or over a display, and know my little boy is still nearby if he has left my immediate line of sight for a moment.
But keeping focused on our kids involves a lot more than knowing where they are physically. It has to do with knowing where they are in others areas of their development as well. Keeping them safe from physical harm is certainly important – but they can be safe in your home, and their heart can be miles away if you’ve not worked to keep in touch with where they are in their relationships with their friends, peers, siblings, teachers, classmates… and yes, YOU.
When is the last time you asked, “How’s it going?” and actually took the time to listen to the long answer? Don’t settle for the pat, “fine” or “O.K.” Focused conversations take time and need to be earned through repeated attempts and by listening without correcting, judging or launching into unwanted advice.
The Bible offers some pretty good advice:
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
– Colossians 4:2
Start out by praying for your kid. Ask God to give you the wisdom to be watchful – to SEE things that might concern you. Ask Him to help you to be watchful for things things that you might want to ask about. Notice I said, “ask about,” not lecture about! But God also is quick to point out that you also need to be thankful! Your kid is still growing up, so don’t expect perfection – give them time to figure things out. Remember the old bumper sticker? “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” Be sure to notice all the GOOD things, and mention them to your kids – compliment them! Too often, they think all you notice is the bad stuff. It is said that negative comments are heard seven times louder, so you have to say seven times more positive things for every negative thing you say just to make it even! Even more, if you want to be considered more positive than negative! You might have some work to do, huh?
The Focused Dad is not just concerned with surviving each day and making sure his kid(s) get their responsibilities done – he is carefully watching to see where and how he can be used as a refining tool in his kid’s life. Gently, but intentionally. He wants to be a guide for his children. He wants to be coach and a mentor in his children’s lives rather than just a corrector or bringer of discipline when they mess up. This requires focus. At the end of a work day, this can be hard. But years from now – a Focused Dad is a dad kids are going to honor and thank. For they are going to be better off because you made the effort.
Study your kids character and ask yourself – how can I help mold them, not just scold them? That is what a focused dad does.
“Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.”
“God give me patience, but give it to me NOW!”
“I’m so efficient, I can watch 60-Minutes in a half hour!”
As men, we are in such a hurry. In fact, we’ve gotten so good at it – sometimes we have forgotten why we were in a hurry in the first place! Believe it or not, there are some days – whole weeks even – where there isn’t truly anything urgent, but we just feel urgency because we’ve conditioned ourselves that way! It’s become our default mode.
Don’t get me wrong – there are times we need to get it in gear! There are deadlines. Stress will never be eliminated. But it doesn’t have to be a permanent state of mind, and it CAN be set aside.
AND IT MUST BE when we are with our kids.
- Your child can sense when you are rushed.
- Your child can tell if you’d rather be elsewhere.
- Your child knows if something is more important than him.
- Your child senses if you are wanting to get away from her.
Our impatience is a sign that we have lost sight of what truly matters – of what will last – of what we will miss someday. And of unrealistic expectations on our children. The Bible says:
Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.
– Proverbs 14:29
We are foolish when we are impatient with our kids, because we display a lack of understanding for what they are capable of – but worse, we drive a wedge in our relationship with them. When we are patient we create the opportunity to invest in the relationship by to deepening their love for us. Why? When we are relaxed and more concerned about them than the clock, we show that they are important to us and have value.
As men we want to be STRONG! But too often, we think that strength is best shown in taking charge and getting our kids to hurry up. The truth is, that strength may be better shown in sitting down and being patient. Consider the words of a great King who once penned these words:
Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
– Proverbs 16:32
So the next time your kids are driving you nuts and you think you are about to lose it, sit down and be patient. Be that calm, quiet, patient warrior and realize – all too soon the house will be quiet, and the patience you will be working on, is waiting for them to come visit you and bring the grandchildren.
So sit down and watch them and enjoy. A patient dad will enjoy the sights and sounds of childhood, before they are gone.
Be a Man! How many times have we heard that demand? Well, sometimes being a dad demands that we keep our manliness in check for the sake our kids tender hearts. Yes, even our boys need us to be gentle towards them, at every age. Gentleness is being loving and kind, even when we are being firm. It is making sure that there is a stream of affection and affirmation flowing, even when we are angry or upset. It’s that controlled spirit that says I love you even while I am correcting you.
When we speak to our kids, our tone, attitudes, volume and emotions are amplified in their hearts and minds for two simple reasons. First of all, simply because of our sheer size as we tower over them! But more importantly, because of our importance and value to them.
When you express disappointment to your child, you may be just a little disappointed in them, and five minutes later the world returns to normal for you. It’s done. Just like at work when a co-worker irritates you and you are fuming mad, but five minutes later you are back to chumming it up with them – complaining about the boss or sharing an inside an office joke. But at home, five minutes later – hours later, your kid is still crushed inside, even if they don’t show it. They disappointed their hero! Their Dad.
What you intend as a tap with a picture hanging hammer can come off like a sledge hammer! You may not need to be as forceful as you think. Often, as dads, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I being too harsh?” – “Do I need to be more gentle here?”
Here’s an easy way to remember how to keep your words S.O.F.T. even when you do need to correct your child:
S = Speak Slowly and Softly
O = On their level
F = Face to face
T = Touch them affectionately
When we are gentle, we build trust into our relationship with our kids. That trust makes deposits that grow into an account will pay dividends for life. When we make mistakes as dads, we make debits. We all make debits. The goal is to make more deposits than debits! Gentleness is an easy way to make deposits and it assures our children of our love, and when they make mistakes, or especially when they have outright done wrong, that is when they really need to be assured of your unconditionally love and acceptance. Those deposits are extra large!
The Bible assures us that when we are gentle, our children draw closer to us. But when we aren’t, they pull away from us:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Be a man – and be gentle toward your child.
And Be The Dad, Today!