The 1-Week Yes Challenge
Two of our boys are currently playing Jr. league football, and are in complete football mode. Everything’s about football to them right now. So, almost daily, they’re asking me this question, “Dad, do you have time to throw the football around?” It’s almost to the point that it’s predictable when I know they’re going ask. And when they do, I have an intentional and important choice to make – to either say YES or NO. And it’s not always as easy of a choice as we think it should be.
However, is it just me, or do our kids seem to often ask for our time at the most inconvenient of times when we’re busy… you know, doing important things like adulting and such. If you ever find yourself struggling to say yes to your children as I do, here are a few things I try to keep in mind that help shape my perspective and response.
- I try to remember what it was like being a kid and how important it was to me when my parents said “yes” to my requests and prioritized me with their time.
- I stop and remember my priorities. No matter what I’m doing at the time, if I’m honest, it probably doesn’t have nearly the long-term impact or importance as those moments I can choose to spend with my child.
- I remind myself not to believe the lie that “I still have plenty of time.” Kids grow up in the blink of an eye. And I don’t want to regret having passed up on a single opportunity that I could have invested more into them.
I try to remember what it was like being a kid and how important it was to me when my parents said “yes” to my requests and prioritized me with their time.
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So here’s a “YES” challenge for you. Are you ready for it? – See if you can go the next 7 days, one week, without saying “no” to your children when they specifically make any request for your time or attention. In fact, you are going to intentionally say “yes” to your kids as much as possible, dropping whatever it is that would keep you from giving them your time. This act of saying yes to your kids will impact your relationship and the closeness they feel toward you.
It sounds easy, but you actually might find it to be harder than you think.
– Every time they want to play ball in the backyard.
– Every time they ask you to look at their project.
– Every time they ask for your help.
– Every time they want to talk or for you to simply listen.
– Every time they reach for a hug.
– Every time they ask you to tuck them in.
– Every time they want more of you.
– Every. Single. Time.
Will it be hard? Probably. Will it inconvenience you? Yes. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
How to Go the Extra Mile for Your Kids
My daughters have enjoyed giving me difficult challenges over the years. They like to see if I’ll go the extra mile. This little game recently played out on a family trip to New England. While in New Hampshire, my youngest wanted to see a baby moose in the wild.
Driving in a highly populated moose area, we, depressingly, had seen no moose and my family was growing restless. Suddenly, appearing out of nowhere, I saw a female moose in a clearing. Seconds later, my youngest shouted, “Baby Moose!!!” And there, about 15 yards off the road, stood a beautiful, sweet baby moose. Going the extra mile for your family is something to expect of yourself. Action always speaks louder than words, and the effort says to them – “You are worth it because I love you.” Here are 5 key areas that are critical for all dads to go that extra mile.
Action always speaks louder than words, and the effort says to them – You are worth it because I love you.
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1. Create Lifetime Memories
You don’t have to throw a Hail Mary hoping to see a baby moose to create a lifetime memory. All that’s required is an attitude that is determined to give 100% effort to your family. Holidays, family trips, and sporting events provide great opportunities. But honestly, the things they’ll remember most are the times at home when dad was just being creative and available. Sheet forts. Tea parties. Allowing them to make you over. Giving them your time.
2. Develop Their Brains
Building your child’s intellect and knowledge goes far beyond the school walls. Reading to them regularly, helping with their homework, providing tutors if required, and teaching them life skills. All are part of going the extra mile to make sure our kids receive a full and well-rounded education.
3. Loving & Respect Their Mom
Both sons and daughters are watching like a hawk in how we handle the relationship with their mother. Our actions are hardwiring behaviors and expectations they will have in romantic relationships later in life. That’s an enormous responsibility. No matter your current relationship status with the mother of your kids, it’s essential that they see their dad loving and respecting her. Even in circumstances when it’s really difficult, go that extra mile.
4. Promote Financial Stability
Today’s family is quite varied in who and what is providing the main income. This should not be seen as a threat to manhood. You may or may not be the primary breadwinner, but you’ll always be expected to promote financial stability for your family. It requires living within a budget and saving. It’s not where the money is coming from that matters. It’s how it’s handled.
5. Model Goodness by Example
Again, they are watching closely, and it’s the actions of a man that show others (and our kids) who we are. Not our empty words. We dream of our kids becoming these wonderful people in the future. The path towards that begins with how they see their dad walking through life. Does integrity matter? Sacrifice? Hard work? Compassion for others? Giving? They will emulate what they see and learn from our actions. Going the extra mile for your kids can be wrapped up in one statement: You are second. Live by that.
3 Things You Need to Consider to Help Your Kids Avoid Discipline
Discipline is never fun for the parents. Punishments for kids are never fun to give out. It hurts both parties involved emotionally and sometimes even physically. Here are 3 ways you can become a better rule setter and example to help your kids avoid needing to be disciplined in the first place.
Every child has things he does not want to do – brushing teeth, going to bed on time, taking a bath, doing homework, but they have to be done. Often, verbal, firm command is appropriate. But sometimes, making what your child needs to do fun works too. For example, “Son, it’s time to brush your teeth” is often met with, “I don’t want to.” Try grabbing his favorite toy and saying, “Buzz is coming with you, so he can brush his teeth too!” Then actually brush Buzz’s teeth too! Suddenly it has become fun, and your son is happily brushing his teeth with Buzz by his side.
2. Give Clear Expectations
So much disobedience and discipline could be avoided if we only talked with our children beforehand. Discuss consequences ahead of time. Tell them the reason you are talking to them about this – the reason you will or will not allow something – is that you want what’s best for them. Also, be clear that you love them no matter what. They need to know that there is absolutely nothing that they can do or say that will ever take away your love for them.
So much disobedience and discipline could be avoided if we only talked with our children beforehand.
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3 Be a Good Example
As much as you may not want to admit it, your kids see how you treat their mother and when you do the opposite of what you say. They learn more by observing than by being told what to do because your actions speak louder than your words. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it beautifully when he said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear your words.” As my kids have become teenagers, I continue to be amazed by what they pick up from watching me as I interact with their mom and my wife, Susan. Unfortunately, it seems like they pick up on the negative things I sometimes model more readily than the positive. As I get frustrated with my children when their actions aren’t honoring, I have to step back and ask, “Am I modeling what I am asking of them?” If not, change your ways now and be a steadfast example of how you expect your children to behave, benefiting them to avoid discipline.
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3 Ways to Parent through Age Transitions
I fondly remember the years of having two young kids that looked at me like I was the King of the Universe. All of that unconditional love and the way they run and jump into your arms. Having little kids is awesome, and that’s how most dads prefer to think of them. However, it cannot be said strongly enough: They grow up quickly. My kids are now 20 and 16 respectively, and we’ve seen a lot of stages of development through the years. These are the zones I have personally experienced:
- Infant Stage
- Toddler Stage
- Pre-K to Early Elementary Stage
- Late Elementary through Middle School Stage
- High School
- Senior Year High School through Mid-College Stage
- Late College to Adulthood Stage
Each of these zones has within them a completely different child than the one you knew before, excepting their fundamental personality traits. It’s imperative that parents understand this and not get bogged down by not transitioning along with the child. Here are 3 ways that I’ve discovered to parent through the age transitions.
1. Be an intentional listener
This summer, my 20-year-old was giving me signals that she’s moving fast towards adulthood. Initially, I didn’t comprehend, because I wasn’t being intentional in listening to what she was saying. In my mind, I was hearing whining. But in reality, it wasn’t whining. It was a plead to be taken seriously as an adult. Listening to what your child is really trying to say will save your family not only a little drama but will smoothly help them move to where life is going to take them. From the cries of an infant, the tantrums of a toddler, the curiosity of a kindergartener, the angst of a middle schooler, the rebellion of a teenager, the independence of a high school senior, and the graduation of a college student…they are always trying to tell you they are changing. Listen intently.
2. Don’t be afraid to let them grow
Whether it’s for sentimental reasons (losing that little girl) or for real-world issues (more freedom equals more danger), it’s easy to live in fear as a parent. You can’t do that. We have to lead by wisdom, caution, common sense, and experience, but never by fear. My 16-year-old is in one of those big scary zones right now. She’s driving, has the attention of boys, and is discovering her true likes and desires in life. It’s terrifying from a dad perspective. Am I to just lock her up and stunt her growth because I’m afraid? No. I’ve spent 16 years instilling all the right things into her. This is the time I have to trust the process. We can’t be afraid to let them grow, which means let them go.
We can’t be afraid to let them grow, which means let them go.
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3. Remain consistent through it all
As they are going through the emotions and sometimes turmoil of growing up, we need to always be there, stay on message, and move with them at their same pace. Remaining consistent means being a living example of where they are trying to go. When they look at us they should feel comfort in knowing it’s all going to turn out alright.
How to Be a Calm, Cool, and Collected Parent
Sometimes the daily stress of parenting can be overwhelming, especially with the weird things kids do, the unique way that they think, and the constant barrage of never-ending questions. Kids sometimes just have a way of pushing our buttons, don’t they? My wife and I were recently discussing that we’ve observed how some parents, when faced with these situations, lose it with their kids at the drop of a hat with yelling, threats, etc., while other parents respond to very similar intense situations without it even phasing them or causing them to get their feathers ruffled. So what makes the difference between the reactive parent and the calm parent?
Let’s be honest… parenting can be very intense, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be. Our children deserve parents who know how to balance the emotions associated with parenting without taking those emotions out on their kids. So here’s are a few practical reminders for how to stay calm, cool, and collected as a parent.
1. Remember, your response affects your child’s response.
A great parenting principle that shows this is found in Proverbs 15:1, which says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” In other words, when I as a parent stay calm and controlled, it is more likely that my child will as well. But when I lose it, it stirs up more of the same in them. It’s no secret that louder voices don’t raise more obedient kids. Yet many parents continue with their volume default on high despite the fact that it rarely produces their desired results. If we desire a calm and respectful response from our children, it’s helpful for that to start with us.
2. Remember, your kids are playing a game that you’ve created.
I hear parents often who say that they have to raise their voice or get mean because it’s the only way they can get their kids to listen. But that is simply because that is exactly how they have trained them to respond. Our kids may be small, but they are terribly smart. And they figure out the rules to the control game very quickly, and they know who’s in the driver’s seat. This is why many kids take advantage of parents in public places or know how many times they can repeatedly disobey before their parent will actually do anything – whether that be a consequence, a raised voice, or you simply losing it. They know the rules to this game that you’ve chosen to create (yes, you created it), and so they know your tolerance threshold, as well as your breaking point, and as a result, they take advantage of it. So maybe it’s time to change the rules to the game.
3. Remember, self-control is a choice.
We easily get frustrated with our children when they fail to demonstrate self-control, and by doing so, we become guilty of the very same thing. How many times have I told my child when they are faced with acting on impulse, “You’ve got to stop, think, and then respond by making the right choice.”? Yet, sometimes as a parent, I would do well to heed my own advice. As my wife and I recently observed parents we noticed that the way they responded to their children was very simply a choice – nothing more, nothing less. Regardless of whether or not you were raised by calm parents, you have no excuse for not being one yourself if you want to be. Because self-control really is a choice.
While these reminders are very pointed, they are also very honest. Being the calm, cool and collected parent that our kids deserve boils down not to our circumstances, our past, or even our personality. It boils down to a choice.
Let’s be honest… parenting can be very intense, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be.
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5 Common Ways Parents Neglect their Kids
I was recently in a local fast-food restaurant and sat directly behind a father and daughter at the table in front of me. I couldn’t help but notice that the only time the father talked to his little girl throughout their entire meal was when she started to reach for something under the table, and he snapped about how she should know better because of how dirty it was under there. Otherwise, he was on his phone or just stuffing his face and totally disconnected from this beautiful little girl right in front of him. Even her attempts to engage with him were unsuccessful. She turned around and looked at me multiple times. You could tell she was begging for someone to pay attention to her.
Sadly, I’ve seen this same scenario far too many times, and I’m often left asking myself the question – Are we raising a forgotten generation? Parents, we are falling captive to parental neglect of our kids without even realizing it. Here are 5 common ways that parents (and especially dads) neglect their children. Are you guilty of any of these?
This certainly ranks as one of the most common ways that parents are neglecting their kids. They have their eyes glued to a device in their hands rather than their kids right in front of them, to the point that they’re not just faced with the issue of distracted driving, but distracted parenting.
Solution: Put the devices down.
Do we really need one more picture, or do our kids really just need more of us?
And it’s certainly not only devices that are distracting parents from their kids, but many other sometimes well-meaning things like hobbies, television shows, and the busyness of everyday responsibilities.
Solution: Say no to the distractions.
Prioritize your priorities. Saying no now doesn’t mean you have to say no forever. Just make sure you get things in the right order. Your kids should come first.
3. To-Do Lists
We all have them, whether mentally or on paper. And there’s always a tension between the time we spend getting things done and the time we spend investing into our kids. Yet it’s still an easily justifiable way that we often neglect them.
Solution: Remember that the to-do list will never be the ‘done’ list.
No matter how much you get done, there will always still be more to do tomorrow. So don’t let those tedious things steal from you the most important things.
When time at work starts taking over or simply eating into our time at home, it’s usually our kids who take the greatest hit. We come home tired, short-fused, and on empty. And our kids not only get the left-overs of our time, but of us.
Solution: Leave work at work.
When it’s time to be home, be present. As best as possible, don’t take work home with you, and when you do have to, wait until those kid-free moments to do it.
Sadly, one of the most common reasons many parents neglect their kids is because they’re too afraid of maintaining their image, and of what other’s will think of them. They’re too busy ‘adulting’, and so they don’t get crazy, go all out, or make themselves vulnerable with their kids.
Solution: Forget what others think.
Dance with your daughter, run through the sprinkler with your son. Don’t let petty, prideful excuses rob you of memories with your kids that you’ll one day wish you’d have made.
They are only young for such a short time. So remember, your children are not an inconvenience, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
When time at work starts taking over or simply eating into our time at home, it’s usually our kids who take the greatest hit.
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