Archive for April, 2009

No Regrets

April 29, 2009

My father died four years ago after a tough fight with leukemia. I had the privilege of caring for him during the last two weeks of his life when he was too weak to even climb a flight of stairs. In the years prior to his death, I’d taken many opportunities to honor and thank him for being my dad. And yet I have one regret. (more…)

Whose Dream is it Anyway?

April 24, 2009

Saturday afternoons from October through February would often find me in the basement of our 1 ½ story house in suburban Richfield, MN. Poised in front of a Minnesota Gopher basketball game, I continually made my best attempt to emulate one of the best sportscasters I had ever heard, Ray Christensen. With the golden tones of a 14 year old, I grabbed the attached microphone and spoke fervently to an imaginary listening audience, captured on an old flip-up tape recorder. I knew the lingo and every name of every player in the Big 10 conference. All the while I dreamed of one day being the voice of the Minnesota Gopher’s and the other Minnesota professional sports teams.

“Ray Williams dribbles toward the lane, dishes off to Mychal Thompson…he weaves his way past the last defender and lays it in for TWO…”    Ahhh…I remember.

My mom was a great defender of my dreams. She encouraged me in the things that I wanted to do. Her dream for me was kid-with-planel1that my dreams would come true. Eventually, I entered Brown Institute, a local school that spit out some of the best broadcasters in the Midwest and around the country. (more…)

The Pick-a-Pushover-Parent Plot

April 22, 2009

When I was in my early teens, I joined my first club; the Columbia Record Club. How could any kid resist their offer, a gazillion records for a buck? And each month for the next three years they’d send another long-play hi-fidelity album to evaluate risk-free. Wow! I was in heaven. As a teen, I was a man of certain means. I had the offer. I had ingenuity. And I had a buck.

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How’s Your Tread?

April 19, 2009

tire-with-air-valveTires are kind of like the “Rodney Dangerfield’s” of the car. Of course the engine gets attention. Incredible sound systems enhance the ride. Plush interiors or talking GPS units are attractive extras. Except for the monster tires that are four times larger than needed for the trucks they are on, tires are mostly ignored. Yet, without them you won’t go far. And, the most important maintenance tip you need to follow to get the maximum life and effectiveness out of them is making sure they are properly inflated. That’s it. What goes into the tire is what makes it most effective.

Tires are like dads. Sometimes our society forgets how important dads are. Heck, if it wasn’t for writing this blog regularly, I am sure I wouldn’t think about my role as a dad nearly enough. I forget until my kids start displaying conduct that reflects being neglected or they simply start living as though I’m not there. Just like a tire that has been neglected affects the ride of the car, the family begins to feel the impact of a dad who hasn’t been “maintained” well. (more…)

Confused Them With Confusion

April 16, 2009

When I was playing high school football, film day was on Monday. I never looked forward to Monday. No matter how well I played, there was always something I knew would be caught on film. After one particular game, which we’d won, I’ll never forget my head coach telling us how he thought we’d won the game. He said, “We confused them with confusion.”

You’ve probably had conversations with your kids that would lead you to believe they were trying to confuse you with confusion. One of my children once told me she was being disrespectful because Iconfused was disciplining her. Of course, I was disciplining her for being disrespectful. I tried to explain that using that logic was like telling the police officer you were speeding because he pulled you over. She didn’t get it. Clearly we weren’t communicating.

Two days ago, I was checking one of my other daughter’s blood pressure. We needed it for a camp she’ll be working at this summer. The display on the electronic cuff showed normal blood pressure, but an irregular heartbeat. I checked two more times with the same result.

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Allowance? Salary? Nothing?

April 14, 2009

Time for a DadPoll. Today’s poll is: How do you handle providing money for your kids? Do you give them an allowance that they use for their own fun? Do you give them a salary where they are to buy things that you might otherwise purchase (clothes, entertainment, etc)? Do they have to do chores to receive their moola? Or, do you not give them anything but simply provide what they need when they need it? What do you do??

Peeps Come and Peeps Go

April 12, 2009

Our family is untraditional.  No, I don’t mean different or non-traditional — though we are likely that as well.  I mean “untraditional” as in, we don’t have any.  Or, rather, we don’t stick to any for very long.  That may be mostly my fault – I like change too much.  When Tevye sings the praises of tradition in Fiddler on the Roof, I’m thinking, “You need to get out more.”

peepsBut Easter is one of two Christian holidays we’ve tried on a tradition or two.  Or three.  We’ve decorated Easter eggs, planted Gardens of Gethsemane, made Rice Krispie Peep baskets and even Easter cookies that pop up to reveal an empty tomb inside.  All fun stuff while the kids were growing up.  Each, however, seemed to be only for a season or two.  I guess it wouldn’t be appropriate to call these traditions, because they didn’t last.  They were more like an expression.   A way to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

Yesterday, we resurrected one of those old traditions, if you’ll permit my use of that word.  We made some Peep nests.  Our now young adult children thought they were pretty cool — like they’d never seen them before.  Admittedly, I didn’t remember those little yellow birds, either!  There is a good side to being forgetful – you can experience the enthusiasm of a new activity again and again… and again.

I used to feel bad about being an untraditional family — like we’re not doing our job as parents.  Then, I realized it’s not the continuity of an activity that’s important — it’s taking delight in the meaning of it that makes it worth doing.

SOUND OFF:  What are some of the traditions or expressions your family has found helpful to celebrate Easter?

Reaffirming Grace

April 10, 2009

You’re messed up. So am I. Sin has deeply affected us.

Some affects are obvious. We lie. We lose our temper. We gossip. We act selfishly.

Some affects are subtle. We judge others. We try to appear better than we are. We hold others to our standards. We give love when we feel it’s earned.

The good news? We live under God’s grace. Our sin is forgiven. We’re totally accepted. He’s fully pleased. We’re not a disappointment to Him. He loves us no matter what.

Do you have that kind of relationship with your children? I don’t mean you have to do it perfectly—God knows we can’t, but do your children live under your grace? Do they know they’re fully accepted and loved apart from their performance?

Could there be a more appropriate day than Good Friday to express to your children that they are deeply loved and fully accepted, not only by God, but by you?

Dad as Consultant-last in the series

April 9, 2009

Coach…Counselor…now Consultant. Over the past three posts I’ve shared a few thoughts about the importance of these sub-roles of being a Dad. Remember that I have stated you don’t distinctly move into these roles but there are phases where they become critical and are inherent in that phase. Coaching is ongoing but is really important during the first 8-9 years of your child’s life. Being a Counselor will undoubtedly be required as long your children are living but it is especially critical during this next phase of your children’s development, between 8-14 years of age. Then, there’s consulting.  I’m experiencing newness in this final sub-role as the consultant.

Having been in a number of business positions over the past 26 years, I’ve dealt with a lot consultantof consultants. I’m not sure I want to emulate many of them. However, they play a pivotal role in most organizations. They are able to step into a situation and see things from the outside and give a perspective that’s sometimes hard to see for the organization embroiled in the same issues day after day. So it is with a dad during this stage of life as he speaks into the increasingly complex world of his children.

Unlike a business consultant who can step away and move onto the next job without much ongoing ownership (other than the pride of knowing something he/she did helped an organization), a Dad is not supposed to step away in that manner from his children’s lives.  However, in this phase you must be invited in by your kids, much as a consultant being invited in by a company.   (more…)

Dad as Counselor

April 7, 2009

Merriam Webster defines a “counselor” as a person who gives advice. In the role of a lawyer, it’s someone who is an advocate for another. Both are descriptive of being a dad in those “tweener” years. Somewhere north of 7 or 8 years old and prior to high school, our children begin to put things together. The role of coach still applies (see previous two blog posts) but our kids are not as easily persuaded to simply take our “game plan” and they begin to want to know the “why” of life. They also need to know they have an “advocate”, someone who is on their side no matter what happens. Dad, you are “da man” for the “da job”.

dad_n_kidAs Counselor, you don’t need a degree in psychoanalysis to succeed in this role. You just need to begin taking time and invest in your children so that they can begin to ask questions about the life they are growing into. Somewhere between the ages of 8-10, I set up a time to “date” my children regularly. Coming up with a plan is half the battle. I took the birthdates of each of my kids and set that up as their monthly date night. (more…)