Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Do what they do

My father passed away 22 years ago. He was my best friend, my coach, my counselor, and my hero. He was my everything. Can you believe it’s been 22 years and I still miss him so much. Over time, the sting has turned sweet but I still wish I could pick up the phone and call him. I’m so glad I’ll see him one day in heaven!

One of my fondest memories of him involved swimming pools on vacations- specifically, the pool at the Holiday Inn in Vicksburg, Mississippi. We stayed there every time we traveled from Fort Worth, Texas, my hometown, to Thompson, Georgia, my grandma’s home. I can remember the excitement of my 3 older brothers and me as we hurried out of the car, put on our swimsuits and jumped into the pool. Then we waited, watching toward the hotel room. We’d smile as my dad would burst out of the hotel room in his funny-looking bathing suit and splash into the pool with us. It spelled love to us boys because of one major factor: we knew he didn't like to swim. He was swimming for us and we knew it. We laughed and splashed and the memory is locked into my heart.

What memories are you instilling into your kids? Do they sense your love because you are going into their world or are you requiring them to come into your world? Being a part of their world doesn't mean you let your hair grow long and start listening to loud music. Simply look for opportunities to come onto their turf. Take time for shooting baskets, playing lego’s, drawing, shopping, whatever, but show them your love by doing what they like to do.

Take a few minutes to write down 10 ways you can come into your child’s world. You’re going to get wet for sure but there’s nothing more rewarding than loving your kids.

Now, put on that bathing suit!©

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Time Factor

Time may be the most important factor in parenting. Certainly, as parents, we’ve all felt the twinge of guilt as we’ve tried to make time decisions regarding our kids. We’ve all heard the saying that “love is spelled T-I-M-E.” Who’s not busy these days? Though I’m involved in ministry, I encounter the choice all the time- the choice of completing the project or completing the person. The choice between the date or the deadline. Do I open up the briefcase at home or do I play catch with my son? Certainly playing catch won't win me favor with God and man, but loving my son will. Loving requires time- both quality and quantity.

I once read that the average man in the United States spends his time:

-sleeping 8 hours a day for 75 years

-at a job 8 hours a day plus some overtime for 40 years

-eating 1 ½ hours daily

-working on the home and yard 2 hours weekly

-dressing and undressing 1 hour daily

Converted into years, that means the average man spends 25 years sleeping, 12 years working, 6 ½ years eating, 1 year doing lawn work and 3 years grooming. Now, how much time does the average man spend with his kids? One study showed that the average man spends 18 minutes a week talking with their kid. Multiply that by 18 years and the total time a father spends communicating with his child while he or she is growing up is just 11 days and 16 hours. Crazy.

Time is a question of priority. Teenagers today need to sense they are a priority by the way we are willing to invest into them as parents. They need our quality and quantity of time. Do they expect you to follow them everywhere? No. Teens have an amazing ability to discern motive. They understand that you have to work late sometimes. But they need to know that you’d rather be with them.

Make the quantity and quality of time with your teenager a priority. An article from years ago in USA Today quoted Settle Mariners star Pete O’Brien in his retirement announcement, “I’ve got four kids, a beautiful wife, and quite frankly, how much money do you need? Is that extra money going to take the place of an hour with my kids or a weekend with my kids? I love my family and I love the Lord. It’s time to move on.”

It’s time for many of us to “move on,” not geographically, but in our hearts. Make the tough decision to put your teen first. Don't expect them to acknowledge it, but they will know that you love them because of your T-I-M-E. ©

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Parenting the talent

“Searching for Bobby Fischer” is one of my favorite movie’s on parenting. Josh has fun with chess and his parents love him. Then the parents discover that their child is a chess prodigy. As the simple 8 year old boy wins trophies, the dad becomes more and more consumed with his son’s success.

In scene #1, Dad rebukes a teacher who suggests parents not pressure their child, “He's better at this than I've ever been at anything in my life. He's better at this than you'll ever be, at anything. My son has a gift. He has a gift, and when you acknowledge that, then maybe we will have something to talk about."

In scene #2, Josh is caving in under his dad’s pressure.“Maybe it's better not to be the best. Then you can lose and it's OK”, says Josh.

In scene #3, Mom is sensing that dad is ruining their son, “He's not afraid of losing. He's afraid of losing your love. How many ball players grow up afraid of losing their fathers' love every time they come up to the plate.” “All of them!”, fires back dad. Mom responds, “He knows you disapprove of him. He knows you think he's weak. But he's not weak. He's decent. And if you or Bruce [his coach] or anyone else tries to beat that out of him, I swear to God I'll take him away.”

In scene #4, a broken dad has come full circle back to just loving his son unconditionally, “You know you could give up the game, and that would be all right with me. In fact, I want you to give it up.” “But I can't,"Josh replies.” “Why not?," asks dad. “Because I have to play. I have to,"says a freed Josh.

The family living room is filled with Josh’s trophies. In one of the final scenes, Josh awakes on a Saturday morning to his dad moving the trophies into his room. “I think these are yours," dad says. Again, Josh has fun with chess and his parents love him.

Who judges potential? Our kids do- not us as parents. We’re simply to love our kids wherever they land. Of course, it’s not simple. But it is possible if we let go and let God.

Whatever the area of excellence for your child, let them decide where they’d like to venture with their talent. It’s there’s, not yours. Don't live out your needs through them.

Have fun playing chess!©

Buckle your seatbelt!

Parenting an oppositional teenager! It’s enough to start the dogs howling and send the normal parent running. Remember when you first saw your precious, compliant, innocent, newborn baby? You had no idea then that you’d be parenting an oppositional teenager now. Of course, calling a teenager oppositional is like calling sandpaper rough, of course it is! But I am convinced that hidden within the context of that opposition are the makings of an assertive, confident, risk-taking adult. In my work at Shelterwood the last thirty years, I have observed a common link between leadership and opposition. Shelterwood is a Christian State-licensed residential home for teenagers and their families. We help families put the pieces back together so the family can live back under their roof as a working, loving, dynamic unit. I have observed over the years that the teens that come to Shelterwood are the teens that have the confidence and assertiveness to take chances and sometimes get into trouble. They are the leaders.

I love to study history. Background checks of most famous leaders reveal people that didn't just coast through life. They were different. They were risk takers. They were willing to “cut against the grain.” True leaders are always willing to do it differently. Of course they may be oppositional during their adolescent years, because they are forming the confidence and spunk that, if molded and crafted correctly, lends itself to a productive and effective leader. Followers are important and needed, but the followers stay safe and calculated. The leaders step forward.

It’s true, not all leaders go through a significant oppositional stage in their adolescent years. Some do and some don’t. We’re not sure exactly why. When nature and nurture are added together, we’re all unique and different.

So, hang in the there. This won't be easy. This isn’t elementary school stuff. It’s Graduate school level learning. It’s difficult. It can be ugly. It can be confusing. And there are no guarantees. But in the end, all that’s asked of parents is to give it their best shot. When we, as parents, lay our heads on the pillow at night, we can rest knowing we’ve done our best.

So, buckle your seatbelt………..©

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Embracing the Obstacle

Embracing the Obstacle

I wanted to share a lesson with you God taught me a while back (again). I'm so thankful He is the Master Teacher!

What is the greatest hurdle you face today? What is the one obstacle that you feel, if removed, would make life so much better for you?

I heard Joni Eareckson Tada speak a while back ( she was paralyzed in a ski accident years ago and is an awesome speaker) and she said,"I am so excited for heaven and new body with legs that work! The first thing I'll do when I'm at the feet of Jesus is take this damn wheelchair that I sit in and throw it as far as I can. The next thing I'll do is look into the eyes of Jesus and say thank you for the wheelchair, cause it's the device God used to bring me closer to Him".

I visited with Becca last year, who went through Doulos in 2008. She injured her ankle that year and was on crutches most of the time with surgeries, etc..It's pretty well healed now. I said to her,"sorry for the ankle problem last year". She said,"you know Joey, actually I'm glad for the ankle problem last year. It kept me humble and dependent on the Lord".

I'm wondering about my greatest obstacle. Maybe I need that obstacle. Maybe my prayer shouldn't be "take this away Lord", but "teach me through it". Maybe my attitude should be one of acceptance and not of bitterness. Maybe I need to allow the Lord to use it to soften my heart and not make it harder. Maybe I'm just selfish and want life to be easy, not significant.

Paul said in 2 Cor. 12," Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong".

Lord, be my strength. Help me to be "well content". I need you.

Have a great day (with the obstacle).©